Plenty of growers have a unique point of difference, something that makes them stand out from the crowd, and for Kerri Lamb it’s the way she grows potatoes.
Kerri helps run the family’s Killarney property, on the Condamine River in southeast Queensland with her husband, Haydn, and you would be hard pressed to find a potato grower down south that has a similar growing method.
“We do a lot of dryland farming with potatoes at Killarney, which is quite unique in Australia,” Kerri said.
Kerri’s family has been “making do” since the 1950s, when her grandparents settled in the area and started a mixed farming operation, called Merv Wickham and Sons. The business has thrived over the ensuing decades, with Wickham Farms growing beyond the boundaries of its central farm at Killarney.
It now has properties spread across strategic Queensland locations — Gatton, Atherton Tablelands and Clintonvale — allowing it to produce potatoes year round.
The farms employ a total of 75 people across some 900ha. All of the pre-cut produce — whether it be diced, sliced or rough peeled — ends up with food manufacturers, such as Lite N’ Easy; quick-service restaurants, including Red Rooster; nursing homes and pubs.
“It has taken a good 50 years to really establish this model,” Kerri said. “We decided to value-add about 20 years ago, with skins from potatoes (for frying) or diced potatoes for prepacked wet salad mixes.”
The value-added line also squares nicely with the growing consumer appetite for pre-prepared meals. “It definitely creates diversity in the business, but it is also the future of food production,” Kerri pointed out.