Honey, Crumpets, Ice Cream and a Toast to Oatcakes

More food for thoughts from Seedlab

Skilled with Bees

Rachel Marshall and Mathew Winskill own Winskill’s Bees, with hive sites on the West Coast, an extraction site in Wynyard and a home office in Launceston. Rachel and Mathew make raw Leatherwood and high grade Manuka Honey, and they have a range of personal care products including handmade soap, Beard Balm and Queen Bee Balm.

In addition to a small private apiary of 30 hives, they also have 700 hives in partnership with Tasmanian Pollination Services, on much sought after Leatherwood sites on the West Coast of Tasmania. Winskill’s also have a Sponsor a Hive program for the general public who like to make ethical investments in a low risk high return investment that helps to sustain our food supply.

Keeping it all in the family: Mat has been beekeeping since he was a small boy, learning everything his late Uncle Bill Winskill could teach him about beekeeping, Uncle Bill being a long-term beekeeper on the West Coast. Mat grew up in West Coast mining town Tullah, and was initially an apprentice to his builder father, and became a builder himself. He later followed his mother’s example of being one of the longest mine employees at 47 years, by going into the mining industry, where he leads a shift team of about 25 people in a shift rotation. When he is not at the mine, Mat’s looking after bees or pursuing his passion for hunting and foraging.

Rachel grew up in rural Queensland where her family have been farmers, producers and horticulturalists for many generations. Rachel’s background is in sales, marketing, account management, and she now works in commercial and rural insurance across regional Northern Tasmania. 

Rachel says: “when the two of us met, we found we not only had a passion for each other, but one for a shared venture to create legacy, and an enjoyment of being connected to a community food system”. Rachel’s passion is telling Mat’s family story and working hard on the brand, supply and distribution opportunities and product development for Winskill’s Bees. 

Rachel says they “have a strong sense of family legacy, what with Mat being the last Winskill in his family line. We also want to be able to provide sustainability to the future of food production and contribute to the strong demand and desire for local clean products in Tasmania”. The goal longer term is for Mat to leave mining and work in the business full time and create a family legacy for children.

In terms of their honey, Rachel reminds that Leatherwood forests which produce the unique tasting honey, are only found on the Tasmanian West Coast. The couple were thrilled with the certified results from their first Manuka season, a product from a special location that his Uncle used to take hives to, which has produced a high grade active honey with medicinal benefits. Winskill’s Honey can be found online, via the Tasmanian Produce Collective, or from several other outlets on the West Coast and further afield.

But wait: there’s more! Shortly the couple will launch a Wildflower Gin produced with Kristy Booth-Lark from Killara Distillery, and a honey whisky is the couple’s next venture

Mat and Rachel applied for Seedlab, because although they have “passion, endless ideas and drive, we need help to connect the dots and find efficiencies to scale-up and reach some reliable large customers. We have access to a high amount of stock due to our relationship with Tasmanian Pollination and our own hives”.  The say they “have a lot to learn and need to balance our passion with a solid business plan and know our costs!!

They are in the right place, that’s for sure!

And now some updates from some longer terms Seedlabbers:

The Crumpeteers Expand

Ally and Cam Skeels of Huon Me Crumpets (Bootcamp and Cultivate 3), based in Huonville, Southern Tasmania have undergone a recent 40% increase in production as a result of 2 new cooktops, from around 500 packs a week to about 700.

They now have 11 stockists including Hill Street Grocer in Devonport, Longford, Sandy Bay and West Hobart, and of course you can still get them every Sunday at Farm Gate Market in sunny, downtown Hobart.

They have a new, local employee 3 days a week: Hayley, who apparently “doesn’t have a background in sourdough crumpet making, believe it or not, but is a keen home baker and is fascinated by the sourdough process”, says Cam.

Cam says that “Having the extra capacity of two new cooktops, and Hayley, means we can just step back from the edge a bit. Things are just less frantic on a big cook day. We’ve even been stopping for lunch!”

School Holidays with the Devil!

Emma and Martin Hamilton and their family at the Devil’s Own Ice Creamery (Bootcamp and Cultivate 2), Lawrence St Launceston have just successfully launched their new winter and kids menu. Martin says: “With the changing seasons, people are loving that we are a full cafe and not just ice cream. The soups have been a great hit, as have the kids’ pizza pancakes. The buzz when the cafe is busy has been the tonic we needed, and we hope it continues as it has been.”

Other new developments include the Devil’s Own spiced pear sorbet (infused with star anise, cinnamon and clove… tastes like a poached pear, but in scoop form) being on the menu the Metz in Launceston. Also, after some trial and error, they are also launching a new, non-coconut vegan vanilla bean ice cream. A recent vegan customer tasted it, and said “You know, I haven’t had proper ice cream in almost 20 years, but this tastes exactly the way I remember real ice cream does.” Martin says the customer then had an affogato with a scoop of the new ice cream, and practically licked the bowl clean.

Emma and Martin are working on getting their our wholesale licence for ice cream sorted, and when that happens they say: “There will be no stopping us!”

A Toast to Baijiu

We recently reported on the launch of Ian Sypkes’ Sanyou Baijiu (Bootcamp and Cultivate 1), a unique distilled spirit made the traditional Chinese way in Launceston. I popped in a week or two back to get my bottle (No. 12), and to see how the pack off of orders was progressing. Ian was surrounded by a wall of cardboard boxes, and thrilled with the interest the launch had engendered.

Ian says: “We’ve sold bottles into every corner of Australia, with a couple being forwarded into China to family or business connections. Our first bottle onto the USA will go to the leading Western voice on Baijiu (Derek Sandhaus) this week”.

Ian goes on to add: “We’ve had great feedback on the flavour, and this is the best one: It’s amazing. Really pure. And a kick to it! Congratulations. A work of beauty”. Well done, Ian, who is working towards assembling a small team of around 3 to do the operations in Sanyou. 

And finally Oatcake Congratulations are in order.

Sally McCreath of Shelduck Farm, Deloraine (or Sally Shelduck, as I call her; Bootcamp and Cultivate 3), informs me she has just been awarded Gold at the Tasmanian Fine Food Awards for her savoury Traditional Oatcakes, and Silver for both her Rosemary and Tasmanian Mountain Pepper Oatcakes. Congratulations, Sally! Sally’s trotting off to the UK next week to catch up with family and look through oatcake factories in Scotland, and we are expecting great expansion on her return (and lots of news and pictures). If you haven’t already tried Shelduck Farm oatcakes, you can pick them up at most Hill Street Grocers, or directly via her website shelduckfarm.com.au