Healthier, delicious beef is only the beginning

Gundooee Organics is dedicated to sharing its organic story

Smart Farmer News
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Australia's first organic Wagyu farm at Leadville is passionate about sharing its organic story.

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PASSION: Rob Lennon, Gundooee Organics, Leadville, was the first breeder of organic Wagyu. Rob supplies a number of butchers, as well as running a farmstay where visitors can come and learn about organic farming.

PASSION: Rob Lennon, Gundooee Organics, Leadville, was the first breeder of organic Wagyu. Rob supplies a number of butchers, as well as running a farmstay where visitors can come and learn about organic farming.

Rob Lennon admits that once upon a time, taking his boots off at the farmhouse door was his extent of farming knowledge.

But today, he is the owner of Gundooee Organics, the first organic Wagyu producer in Australia. And he is keen to help others understand more about his style of farming.

Rob, helped by his partner Sophi, runs his certified organic property at Leadville, and he feels he's finally where he wants to be.

Rob grew up in Newcastle and Sydney, but after visiting a farm in Gloucester while he was at school, he felt like farming was something missing in his life.

He found a job driving a wheat truck in Narrabri, and worked on a cotton farm, and eventually headed off to Marcus Oldham College in regional NSW.

"I was surrounded by people who were on the land, but I wasn't," he said.

After college he managed a number of properties, mainly cropping and fat lambs, but it was 23 years ago he bought Gundooee.

MARBLING: Gundooee Organics Wagyu is both delicious and nutritious.

MARBLING: Gundooee Organics Wagyu is both delicious and nutritious.

And according to Rob, it was pure luck that he came across Wagyu cattle. His neighbour bred Wagyu cattle, and helped Rob out with a bull. And it was when he tasted the Wagyu meat that he knew he was onto something special.

"We soon learned that Wagyu was not only more flavoursome, it also had healthier fat," he said.

"It has a lower melting point than many breeds, it's a robust flavour and very nutrient dense. And the fat is high quality, monounsaturated fat."

Rob is passionate about organic farming, and had his property certified with Australian Certified Organic (ACO) 17 years ago. It was then that he really started his business, contacting butcher shops to sell his organic Wagyu. And that's when he found TJ Quality Meats in Balmain, as well as three other butchers, to start things off for Gundooee Organics.

And it turned out Grant Hilliard visited TJ Quality Meats, and came across Rob's Wagyu 15 years ago. So when Grant opened the renowned Feather and Bone Butchery, Rob's Wagyu was a feature, and he has been supplying them ever since.

But while Rob was dedicated to providing a chemical-free product, he was also focused on taking a regenerative approach to his farm, and encouraging diversity and growth.

He was keen to work with the farm's ecosystem, not against it. This includes ensuring good ground cover and not overcrowding paddocks, which maximises the benefits of rainfall events, and helps soil microbes and native grasses to thrive.

"I see myself as a soil microbe and gut microbe farmer," he said. "It is a passive, patient approach. It's just like life in general - the people you want in your life, you make an environment for them. As an organic farmer, you thrive on observation."

Breeders are joined from November to January at their friend's certified farm in Queensland. Calves head to Gundooee to be finished. Some of the breeders are Wagyu Angus-cross, which are then put back to a pure Wagyu bull.

TASTY: Rob Lennon, Gundooee Organics, found that Wagyu was not only more flavoursome, it also had healthier fat.

TASTY: Rob Lennon, Gundooee Organics, found that Wagyu was not only more flavoursome, it also had healthier fat.

The weaners are pasture raised on predominantly deep-rooted native perennial pastures. "It means the cattle are growing at a rate which is natural to them."

But Rob isn't opposed to growing a pasture mix, such as a legume, to help increase available plant nitrogen which helps with soil conditioning.

The finished cattle are processed at Picton Meatworx, and then distributed to mostly Sydney and Brisbane-based butchers, but Rob can still supply butchers as far south as Melbourne and as far north as Mackay.

And the organic Wagyu is making a name for itself - it has been named as a state winner in the delicious. Produce awards.

Rob is in charge of the promotion of Marcus Oldham College and mentors some school and agricultural students at Gundooee, but he also does talks on soil health, organic farming and Wagyu.

But he's taken it one step further. He has built a cottage on his farm as a farmstay, so visitors can learn about organic farming, and enjoy some country hospitality.

"Gundooee Getaways is all about education," he said. "My main business objective is to inform consumers."

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