Heidi Rookyard is the owner of Suburban Paddock, an online farmers’ market supplying quality produce direct from the farm gate in Central Western New South Wales. All the produce – including lamb, beef, pork, eggs, milk, cheese, honey, cordials and more – is ethically and sustainably produced and has been harvested specifically for the order. The business was launched in October 2017 and is quickly taking off with Sydney-based customers keen to access fresh amazing produce. Suburban Paddock delivers to Inner Western Sydney.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m married with three boys aged nine, 12 and 16 years old. I live on a property at Leadville, in Central West NSW, where we produce lamb. Our closest town is Dunedoo, which is 17 kilometres away by dirt road. We’re about 100 km from Dubbo.
What did you do prior to setting up Suburban Paddock?
Before I got married, I was living in Sydney, doing a traineeship at St Vincent’s Hospital. I met my husband by chance on a harbour cruise, and the rest is history! He eventually convinced me to come back to his farm in Leadville.
After I moved to the country I decided to train as a photographer and then set up my business Heidi Rookyard Photography. Initially my motivation was to be able to take great photos of my family, but soon I began photographing other families and weddings. Although Suburban Paddock takes up most of my time, I still really enjoy shooting country weddings on the side.
Photo © Heidi Rookyard
What inspired you to set up Suburban Paddock?
There is some amazing produce coming out of this area. Our Sydney-based friends would often ask us how they could access the produce from our farm and surrounds. So we decided to collaborate with other local farmers and artisans to sell our produce under the one umbrella to the Sydney market.
How does it all work?
Basically we’re an online farmers’ market. Customers place their order by 12 pm on a Monday to be delivered on Friday afternoon. All the produce is harvested specifically to order. We collate all the orders at a cool room facility in Orange, New South Wales and then transport the produce to Sydney. Orders are distributed to the homes by courier. There are no sign-up fees and no minimum orders, although shipping is included for orders of $85 or more.
We offer products from the following businesses: Thorndon Park Lamb (which is lamb from our farm), Farmer Brown’s Eggs, Hello Lovelies, the High Valley Mudgee Cheese Company, Honey Co, Gundooee Organics, Little Big Dairy Co, Milla Cordial, Red Hereford Beef and Trunkey Creek Pork. Every one of our producers attends physical farmers’ markets and has a product going to market each week.
What can customers expect from their Suburban Paddock order?
A customer can expect excellent quality, farm-fresh produce – and I mean produce that is truly fresh! The milk we sell, for example, is just six hours from cow to the bottle. The juice we offer is from oranges picked on Tuesday. The meats that we sell are export quality and almost all the produce has won awards at the Royal Easter Show.
As all our produce comes from individual farms, the customer also knows its exact origin. There’s not one thing that we sell where we don’t have a direct relationship with the farm. With the produce coming from the one locality, we’re talking relatively low food miles too.
Photo © Heidi Rookyard
How have customers responded to your services?
We’ve had very positive reviews! Several customers have said that certain meats, such as the pork belly or the beef, are the best they’ve ever eaten. Everyone has been so supportive of our new business. My faith in humanity has really grown!
What advice you can offer mums wishing to transform their career?
Honestly, I’d say, just go for it. Jump in. If you’re passionate and want it to work, you’ll make it work. You’ll have the support of your family and friends – even if they do think you’re a little crazy! I like to say, bite off more than you can chew – you’ll learn to chew fast! And if it’s not working out, then it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Go find something else you want to do. You only live once.
What is advice do you have have new parents?
Enjoy your time with your kids. Don’t try to be the perfect mum. Your kids will always love you regardless! Looking back at my kids’ early years, all the things I felt I was failing at they wouldn’t have even registered. As mums, I think we put far too much pressure on ourselves.
Cover photo © Carolina Gonzalez Photography