An hour’s drive north of Newcastle a herd of Mediterranean buffalo roams.
They call the hills and valleys of Bungwahl home and supply milk to owners Elena and Andrei Swegen who transform it into mozzarella, yoghurt, feta and signature fresh cheese Dolcenina.
The licensed products are made by hand, on site, using traditional southern Italian methods.
Burraduc Farm opened for business just last month and is a labour of love for the Swegens. It took eight years for them to breed and train a productive dairy herd. Preparing for the certification of their dairy and on-farm cheese-making facility took close to three years.
Elena Swegen was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2014 to pursue a research project on innovation and welfare in the water buffalo dairy industry. Her studies took her to the southern Italian region of Campania where she researched Mediterranean buffalo bloodlines and perfected her mozzarella-making skills.
“The Churchill fellowship trip was a wonderful learning experience, especially in teaching us that there is more than one way of doing things in the dairy industry,” Ms Swegen said.
“We believe that high quality, delicious products can and must come from animals that are treated with love and respect, and the same applies to the ecosystems that support the farm.”
At Burraduc Farm, which prides itself on being “ethical”, dairy calves are kept with their mothers and biodiversity is supported by recognising the role of predators in maintaining a healthy balance of the ecosystems.
The farm’s soils and pastures are organically managed and fresh cheeses are produced from 100 per cent pasture-fed milk, with an emphasis on minimising the time between milk harvesting and processing into cheeses. Buffalo milk, Ms Swegen explained, contains less cholesterol than cow milk and is much higher in calcium and magnesium content.
“Burraduc’s farming concept is modelled on the southern Italian buffalo farms which sell their own mozzarella and ricotta – products so fresh and delicate that they are not considered suitable for supermarket shelves.”
The farm can be visited by appointment only. Produce can be ordered from Burraduc direct or bought from selected stores. Phone 0416 027 683 or visit the farm’s Facebook page for details.