from generation to generation
After buying a rundown dairy farm in the Byron hinterland in 1989, it was another ten years before Pam and Martin Brook made their shift to the Northern Rivers.
During this time the couple and their two young sons would drive up from Melbourne four times a year, slowly planting native trees and regenerating the property, while enjoying the Northern Rivers lifestyle.
Their vision to create quality food products from macadamias was ripe when they finally made the move in 1999 and launched their business.
Brookfarm is now one of Northern Rivers’ great food business success stories, employing more than 70 people. But the foundations for this success stem from a slow and steady approach. And a long-term view is all part of the plan.
“It took us two years to get the first products to market,” Pam says, with Martin working full-time on the business while Pam also worked part-time as a dentist.
The kids, Will and Eddie, who are still involved in the family business, pitched in from a young age – being 10 and 13 when the first products launched. “They used to stick the labels on the bags and be paid in donuts and hot chocolates at the markets,” Pam says. “They’d get up at two in the morning with us to go to Newfarm Markets in Brisbane.”
Brookfarm’s first sales in 2001 were at the Bangalow markets selling toasted and natural muesli and macadamia oils, and they expanded from there up through the Gold Coast and Brisbane.
By 2003 the couple decided to ramp it up. “It’s always a question in business – how much do you risk? You always have to put things in to get things out.”
The risk they took was investing in building a bakehouse on the farm, Pam giving up her part-time work, and bringing on their first employees.
“That’s when we knew we had a business,” Pam says.
Almost 20 years on and Brookfarm now has more than 20 products including muesli, granola and other breakfast products, as well as nut mixes, bars and oils. It distributes across Australia and exports to the Asia-Pacific, Europe, UK, the Middle East and the US.