Ron and Bev Smith
Meet Ron and Bev Smith: Nestled in picturesque Fish Creek, respected organic dairy farming pioneers and founding co-operative members, Ron and Bev Smiths’ farm is 86 hectares in size and recently added an adjoining fifteen hectares.
Ron started milking cows for his family at the young age of 15 while Bev spent her first two years on a dairy farm. Following a career in herd testing, Bev met Ron during her work in Gippsland. They married in 1970 and share-farmed until 1978, and then leased their current farm with an option to purchase. The Smiths have a large family of eleven children who all grew up on the farm.
The Way we Were:
Extensive work was carried out on the farm to clean it up and prepare it for farming. They originally started farming with a spring herd of around 110 cows and supplied conventional milk.
Seasonal benefits made them change to winter milk. Ron experienced headaches and asthma problems each year when the superphosphate was applied to the farm and this was the turning point where Ron and Bev started to think that there must be a better and more environmentally friendly way to farm.
A Better Way:
Chemical usage was phased out in early 1980 and alternative methods were adopted, including applying lime to the land.
Cow health became much stronger and Ron was no longer suffering with his asthma bouts or headaches.
Mineral balancing was something that needed to be achieved and during the 1980’s, many other farmers were observing and contributing to these farming methods. that were being adopted and successfully achieved by the Smiths.
The next phase was to boost the biology and feed the soil better. A NASAA inspector who visited with a group in 1989 suggested that they become certified and an application was made with full certification being achieved without having to go through the in-conversion process, the Smiths’ farm becoming what was the first certified organic dairy farm in Victoria.
Organic Awareness: Ron & Bev were eager to market their organic milk with all its health benefits and to raise awareness to the public.
Sandhurst’s originally purchased the Smiths’ milk bi-daily even though Organic milk was then something very new and only just becoming trendy overseas.
The Smiths found that they were frequently approached by companies and individuals seeking their milk and also information on farming methods and benefits.
In the early 90’s a group would gather to share information and chat about “Organics”. As the interest was growing rapidly, they decided to call themselves VODFA (Victorian Organic Dairy Farmers’ Association) and then in 2002 the Co-operative of Organic Dairy Farmers Co-op (ODFC) was formed.
The Human Diet: More recently, Ron and Bev have joined the Weston A. Price Foundation which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet and which supports movements that contribute to this objective such as organic and biodynamic farming.
Sustainable Existence: The Smiths’ farm now milks around 85 cows, which is a comfortable amount given seasonal conditions and accommodating the Smiths’ passion for continuing organic information-sharing with people interested in learning about and adapting to a healthier and more sustainable existence.