Vasse Valley Hemp | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2020
When Bronwyn and Chris Blake bought a small farm in Margaret River, the idea was to start a family and become self-sufficient. With a
background in agriculture, the Blakes knew that running livestock and growing grapes were pursuits mired in hard work — and often with little financial return for small producers. The couple began looking for alternative land uses, hoping to identify a new niche with plenty of potential to value-add.
They happened upon hemp, specifically the use of seeds as an alternative protein source for human consumption. More readily digestible than meat-based proteins, with the added benefit of high levels of fibre and good fats, hemp ticked all the boxes.
The Blakes started playing with ideas and found the main limitation was a lack of local processing facilities to produce hearts (the inner part of the seed), protein powder and oil — the crop’s three main products. Searching for other options led them to roast the seeds then mill them to break down the husk and release flavour. The result was unlike anything else on the market.
While their product range encompasses the three traditional products, it’s the roasting process that sets Vasse Valley Hemp apart, allowing it to offer new and fresh alternatives including the award-winning Hemp Seed Dukkah and Crumble products. The use of whole seeds is also unique to the Blake’s offering, providing the products’ full nutritional benefit. A true paddock-to-plate ethos means every process in the line is strictly controlled.
Access to the Agristart Connect program incorporating six months of masterclasses on topics ranging from capital raising to digital marketing has been instrumental in forging the business direction. Already selling in close to 100 retail stores and online, current expansion plans include development of the company’s own manufacturing and processing facility, which will increase capacity by 2000%, allowing it to better reach national and international markets, taking Vasse Valley Hemp health-giving gourmet products to the world.