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May 02, 2018

Biodynamic Marketing Company Q&A with Mark Peterson Part 1

Biodynamic Marketing Company recently caught up with Demeter bio-dynamic dairy farmer Mark Peterson on his Alcheringa Dairy Farm north of Melbourne in the small town of Nathalia. From the outset, it was clear that this was no ordinary Farm. Mark’s passion, knowledge and the care he has for his animals, product and the Demeter Bio-dynamic farming method is truly inspiring.

Mark Peterson on his Demeter bio-dynamic dairy farm in the small town of Nathalia, north of Melbourne

It all started for Mark when he started a farming apprenticeship upon the completion of his school studies and as part of this apprenticeship, Mark was required to complete a field trip to a bio-dynamic farm. It was immediate, “It just made sense” Mark says of his time on the field trip. They were milking 50 cows on 60 acres and had very little trouble with mastitis or any other health troubles with the animals. Mark remembers following these bio-dynamic farmers around like a puppy dog. Post field trip, Mark then made contact with the biodynamic farmers in his area and continued to learn as much as he could.

Mark moved up to the Farm in Nathalia in 1976 from Melbourne on what was a former 123-acre soldier settlement farm, and it was then in 1987 the Mark started with the Demeter bio-dynamic farming method. Going just over 30 years now, Mark certainly has no plans of slowing down and with his Demeter Biodynamic Milk ranked as the no.1 milk in a blind taste test, it’s no wonder why. We sat down with mark and asked him some questions.

Q –  What products do you produce out on the farm?

A –  We produce fresh milk. Unhomogenised which is by far our biggest seller. We also have Homogenised and a low-fat milk. Unhomogenised is the milk where the cream rises to the top. This is part of the natural process and because it is less processed then the other milks.

Q – What are the benefits to the consumer who purchase your milk?

A – Without a doubt, FLAVOUR! That’s what we get told all the time. Both by itself and also the high-end coffee trade that buy our milk tell us that the milk compliments the coffee very well. It enhances the coffee rather than overpower. Also, the fact that there no chemicals in the milk and I like to think that the way we farm here on Alcheringa is probably the most environmentally friendly in the country, perhaps the world. We are tying carbon up into the soil, increasing the hummus levels in the soil and doing this in the most sustainable way possible.

Q – What gets Mark Peterson out of bed in the morning?

A – Sometimes there is frost, sometimes it’s pouring rain, and sometimes its stinking hot. But to know that we are going to put a decent and high quality product on someone’s breakfast table tomorrow morning that they really do appreciate; that certainly gives you a bit of a buzz! If I was just producing a conventional commodity like the milk powders that go over to China there’s not a lot of reward in that for me. It’s not about the money it’s about producing something of substance and quality that the consumer will enjoy.

Q –  Can you explain the importance of the soil structure in relation to the Demeter bio-dynamic farming method and your milk?

A –Essentially it all starts with the soil. You need to create a healthy and well-structured soil to grow your plants in. This is a big part of what Biodynamic Farming is all about. It’s about getting that biology in the soil doing the work for us instead of bringing in any outside chemicals and minerals to push it in a certain direction. The cows can then graze on these healthy plants and they get a well balance diet and the bi-product of this is that it produces an amazing and natural flavoured milk. I think it’s a real credit to the Demeter Biodynamic system and method as this really does all of the work for us. We just focus on creating the environment to allow nature to take its course.


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