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13 Food & Beverage Businesses Hoping to Culture Success

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The Cultivate program is looking to take niche food and drink businesses to the next level.

Seedlab Tasmania has announced the third cohort group of 13 businesses in its business development program Cultivate: The Accelerator.

The 13 have all just graduated from Seedlab’s ‘Bootcamp’, an incubator for Tasmanian startup food, drink and agritourism businesses who want to start, scale and grow to become export-ready.

“Our Seedlab Tasmania village has become a vibrant and values postcode for the 105 businesses who have so far taken part in the program,” said Dr Hazel MacTavish-West, the Founder of Seedlab Tasmania.

“We are immensely proud of the progress made by our first and second crop of cultivators, and we can’t wait to start working with these new businesses next week.”

Esther Rupenovic, of Jack & Chelo (taking part in Cohort Group #2 of Cultivate) said: “Seedlab is fantastic for sole entrepreneurs that need help finding all the people and resources to get them moving towards becoming a successful and scaleable business.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Emma Hamilton of The Devil’s Own Ice Creamery who said the program has helped them better understand their business metrics and who are target market are. “They have helped us improve our marketing strategy and helped us identify new sales channels. We also now have a better understanding of how to scale up our business in a more safe and sustainable way.”

Meet The New Group

Alchymia Distillery, Table Cape (north-west Tasmania)

Sarah and Matt Packwood-Hollings are the founders of Alchymia Distillery, in Tasmania’s Table Cape area in north-west Tasmania. They will be making their own wash on-site for single malt whisky and the base spirit for gin. Their longer-term vision is to grow their own barley at Table Cape, and to be able to share that experience with visitors on-site in their farm stay accommodation, but one step at a time. They are currently renovating an old barn on-site into the distillery and tasting room and finalising recipes for their first release of gin.

Braeside Farm, Franklin (southern Tasmania)

Susie and Andrew Hunt are the founders of Braeside Farm, an agritourism (accommodation and garlic production) venue offering night sky tourism in southern Tasmania.  Braeside Farm is 10 acres of north-east facing fertile farmland (a former 3rd generation apple orchard) high on the sunny, gently-sloping hillside of Braeside. Braeside Barn is a fully restored apple packing shed sleeping up to 4 people, and offering authentic, affordable apple shed farm-stays for couples and small families. The goal: to create memorable, authentic guest experiences that showcase our amazing local produce, landscapes & farm life of the Huon Valley.

Hazelbrae Hazelnuts, Hagley (northern Tasmania).

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Christie and Michael McLeod and their family own Hazelbrae Hazelnuts, in Tasmania’s North. Purchased in 2014, Hazelbrae’s transformation from family farm to agritourism attraction will continue in an effort to educate and inform more people about the benefits of local hazelnut products and share the beauty of the once private gardens with the eager public. Already a successful hazelnut farm with significant value-adding and a farm café, Christie and her family want to extend their agritourism offer around treetop accommodation, and also to develop new products and packaging for export markets. They are also looking to utilise ‘less than perfect’ nuts in a processed way to increase their profit margins. 

Herbert & Co. Honeybee Products, Glenore Inn, Whitemore (northern Tasmania).

Cat Nicholls and Ian Herbert are relatively new to the beekeeping scene and currently have 34 hives. With a strong background in agriculture, Cat and Ian’s core focus at this stage is to provide pollination services to farmers, and develop the by-products including honey and beeswax. They are keen to ensure the honey side of the business hits a high-value target market, with the potential for export. From Seedlab, they want to ensure they develop the business in a strategic way that maximises their chance of success and ensures they achieve their goals. 

House of Fudge, Hobart (southern Tasmania).

Roz Madsen and her family own House of Fudge, based in Mount Stuart, Tasmania.  House of Fudge currently produces 13 varieties of fudge made from local ingredients and sold throughout Tasmania.  The gluten-free range is available in 13 flavours and has won a gold medal at the Australian Food Awards. They plan to expand their production base, develop new vegan and sugar-free varieties, and also focus on national and export markets. 

Huon Me Crumpet Co. Glen Huon (southern Tasmania).

Ally and Cameron Skeels started producing handmade, small batch, naturally- fermented sourdough crumpets in lockdown, and now supply the food service industry, a number of retail outlets, and sell at markets. They are interested to expand their business and learn how to deal with medium-sized retailers and also undertake longer term business planning including an exit strategy. 

Leap Farm, Copping (Southern Tasmania).

Kate and Iain Field established Leap Farm, a 108 ha property, in July 2012. They farm Swiss Toggenburg dairy goats and produce Tongola Cheese on farm, in addition to beef and goat meat.  The Fields are now setting their sights on expanding their agritourism offerings.

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Old Beach Berries, Old Beach (Southern Tasmania).

Cathryn Maloney and David Wareing purchased Old Beach Berries in 2019, where they produce blueberries and olives. With a background as speech therapists, their aim is to enhance their business skills so they can compete with the world’s best and become great Tasmanian boutique suppliers of blueberries and olive products. They have an opportunity to provide a workspace for disabled people, building on their careers and to be a flagship for Tasmanian produce. 

OMNI Salt Tasmania, Blackmans Bay (Southern Tasmania).

Emily Quintin established her business on the back of a TikTok trend for bagel seasoning. Emily has a range of three seasonings, which according to her young son ‘make him an omnivore who will eat anything’. Emily has created super-tasty seasoning blends from quality seeds + spices, including ‘Tasmanian sea salt and locally-grown poppy seeds. Her first Omni Salt blend is the All-Purpose Everything Bagel Seasoning which adds ‘extra flavour and a crunchy bite to your meals with very little fuss’. Other new flavours are on the way. An ‘everything bagel’ is a traditional bagel topped with a mixture of individual bagel seasonings — poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper, hence the name ‘everything; it became popular in New York in the 70s & 80s, and is still a best seller to this day. Emily is looking for assistance to scale-up. 

Shelduck Farm, Montana (Northern Tasmania).

Sally and Rob McCreath own Shelduck Farm, a working farm in the heart of the Meander Valley, Tasmania. It was once a family-owned dairy farm and then sold and planted with blue gum trees for harvesting. Sally and Rob now run Shelduck Farm which produces beef as well as a range of traditional home-made baked goods. Guests are welcomed to the farm for food experiences and to stay in the boutique accommodation. Married to a Scotsman, Sally has also developed traditional oatcakes in plain and pepperberry. 

Southarm Craft Distillery, Rose Bay (southern Tasmania).

Jean and Kent Moore are both creatives, and after a career in teaching, are looking for a sea change. They have established a boutique distillery and acquired the trademark ‘Taswegian’.  They currently produce gins and their vision is ‘to design, craft and release unique small batch spirits; creative, authentic and innovative, recognising originality but bringing diversity to type/style’. The gins are made and aged at their coastal site. 

Wellington Park Distillery, collinsvale (Southern Tasmania)

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Dale Williams and Claire Poole are the founders of Wellington Park Distillery which is located at the edge of the Mt Wellington reserve near Collinsvale, Tasmania. The distillery is set on 32 acres of farmland. Beyond the cellar door they have dreams to produce berries and botanicals for gin as the land was once a berry farm. They create ‘Eden’: Pure Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky from Tasmania’s highest distillery.

Winsome Spirits, Lower Longley (Southern Tasmania).

Brian Hatfield has created a range of truly unique spirits including the infamous absinthe, but also spiced rum and liqueurs (including owning the trademark ‘Drink Me’!).  He has previously sold these products at events including the Taste of Tasmania, but is now looking to find new outlets as a result of the impact of COVID.  Brian focuses on natural botanicals. The colours you see in his products are natural, derived from what’s on offer from nature’s bounty, and arrived at through a lot of trial and error to get the balances just right with the different floral and herbaceous inputs.  


The program commences with a live online program undertaken over two weeks, called ‘Bootcamp’. This is an introduction to Seedlab and provides tools for better understanding of your brand story, your target customers, your business growth aims, and your routes to market.  Approximately half of the Bootcamp businesses are selected to take part in ‘Cultivate’, a 6 month Accelerator program which takes the businesses on a journey to help all aspects of their enterprise.

Seedlab has supported 105 businesses statewide, many from regional areas (15% in the north-west, 23% in the north and 55% in the south with both coasts also covered). All participants are sole operators or family businesses, with 28% in agri-food, 58% in food/drinks, 11% in agritourism, and a few service businesses too). 65% of the businesses are totally founded, or significantly co-founded by women.

Outcomes from the early participants taking part in Cultivate #1 and #2 (27 businesses): new businesses have been firmly established, sales contracts have been cemented with major retailers, and many have expanded and diversified their businesses models and market segments.

Cultivate concludes with ‘Harvest’ a graduation day to which stakeholders, sponsors and media are invited to. You can see a sneaky peak at the outcomes from Cultivate #1 here:

Cultivate #3 Commences on 15 June. 

Source: Tasmanian Times

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