“The Award last September and attending evokeAG. in February this year changed my headspace and I realised I had to be more creative and resilient in our farming and how we generated income,” said Claire.
The Kyneton resident is on a mission to inspire Australian beekeepers to increase their hive numbers while also exporting Australia’s healthy and clean bees to the world.
As a beekeeper, Claire is involved in breeding a genetically diverse range of queen bees that are healthy and adaptable in a variety of climates to address declining bee colony numbers.
Claire is also an innovator. Her farm business, The Good Life Farm Co, boomed during lockdown, and she even found time to launch Sweet Justice, a social enterprise for young people.
Always fascinated by queen breeding, Claire decided early on she wanted to be a queen breeder rather than a beekeeper for honey.
In 2017, after a decade working in the city stockbroking, Claire purchased her first hive, which she still has.
“I naively brought the hive home in the back of a two-door hatchback with bees escaping while driving down the Eastern Freeway!”
“Eventually I left my career in the city and moved into bees and the world of regenerative farming practices and my life has never been the same since.”
“I have been working away on the bees and building my experience in beekeeping and queen rearing. I have applied for a grant with Melbourne University, to work on a honeybee genome project so fingers crossed.”
Cracking egg sales during Covid-19
In 2017, Claire’s farming family expanded to include pastured egg business, The Good Life Farm Co, and the farm now runs 1,200 free-ranging hens. The Good Life was lucky enough to be the first farm in Victoria to obtain a Low-Density Pastures Poultry permit, which allowed the farm to produce enough high-quality produce to attend farmers markets nearly every weekend.
In November 2019, they moved into online sales but found that selling a dozen eggs online was a tough business model, so they added in other local small-scale veggies and products from local farmers.
“We were travelling along fine until Covid-19 lockdown hit and then things went boom and our sales skyrocketed,” said Claire.
“At the start of lockdown we were the only sales point for many Central Victorian farms, and we helped keep farmers moving produce and paying the bills. This earnt us a mention in parliament and the Victorian Minister of Agriculture followed suit with the introduction of a Victoria wide online farmers market.”