The Heijse family
Jochem and Kate, together with their children Teddy and Violet call Spring Creek home.
Growing up in the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Jochem always wanted to farm. But with an aversion to the high input farming sector in his homeland he set off travelling in search of the perfect country where agriculture and nature could co-exist.
When he met Kate, who grew up in Perth, the decision of where to settle and fulfil their dream of farming became a lot simpler.
The couple travelled to Australia on a reconnaissance trip visiting a number of holistic managed farms
“Every single one of them had a beautiful farm teaming with wildlife, healthy livestock, heaps of grass and generally a good feel about the place.” – Kate Heijse.
The decision was made then and there that Australia was where they would settle.
Today, living and working at Spring Creek, located in the Riverina region of NSW, the Heijse family are fulfilling their dream of farming in balance with nature. They have room to roam, great people around them and a beautiful environment to raise their children.
“Through Provenir our name is connected to the steak on your plate.”
“It gives us the opportunity to see in what quality and where our product ends up, which makes us proud of what we do and create.”
“But it also gives us a face and with that an accountability and responsibility to produce something that’s not only healthy and delicious but also sustainable for generations to come.”
“And that’s what makes us even more proud.”
– Jochem Heijse
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||Spring Creek|
|Farm Size||1,435 hectares|
|How many cattle?||600 breeding cows, in an average season|
|Who works on the farm?||Jochem and Kate with the help of occasional contract workers|
|Favourite cut of beef?||The ‘forgotten’ cuts like hanger, brisket, beef cheeks, ox tail|
|Why Provenir?||We’re proud of what we produce and seeing it disappear in the generic market without accountability of what we’re producing is less satisfying. Also, less stress hormone and adrenaline in the meat, makes for a better and tastier product.|
Why we farm
Inspired by nature itself.
Farming runs in Jochem’s family, and while his parents didn’t farm it must have skipped a generation because from as far back as he can remember, Jochem always wanted to work with animals and to be a farmer, or a vet.
While for Kate, the closest she got to a farm was visiting family in the English countryside, that was until she met Jochem. Born in England, Kate grew up in Perth and studied commerce, before moving to London where she worked as a production accountant in film and TV.
While a far cry from her upbringing Kate shares Jochem’s passion for regenerating the farm and creating a property that’s good for their livestock and the whole farm ecosystem. They both love that they can live and bring up their children within a beautiful environment.
Inspired by the beauty of the natural world, Jochem feels a deep sense of satisfaction from creating something tangible out of nothing but sunlight and rain.
He also loves the size of their ‘office’, and that as farmers they get to work in a multitude of disciplines such as genetics, animal husbandry, plant biology, engineering, trading, finance, mechanics and so on.
The name remains a mystery, but the beauty is certain.
Spring Creek is a beautiful property that forms a natural valley, surrounded by hills, bush land and borders a National Park. The neighbouring bushland makes for a lot of wildlife which Jochem and Kate try to encourage. They leave dead trees standing or lying as they fall so as to create nesting places for birds, reptiles and small mammals. The couple believe that the greater variety of species they have on their property, the stronger it makes the whole ecosystem.
Initially part of a much larger station the property, now known as Spring Creek, was sold off to big property out west about 50 years ago. While there is a creek running through the property, it’s not called Spring Creek, so the name of the property remains a mystery.
" Provenir has the same high standards of animal welfare as we do
and with the provenance they have in place we are able to sell our product
outside of the generic market where our product was disappearing in anonymity. "
– Jochem Heijse
Black Angus for eating quality, marbling and positive fat.
Great eating quality, combined with the premium price black cattle demands in the markets, led the decision to farm Angus cattle. If it weren’t for these factors Jochem may have otherwise selected a more light coloured breed since the Australian sun can be relentless in summer.
Starting with a small herd of beautiful cattle from Tasmania, nowadays the Spring Creek sire lines come from a local breeder, which means the bulls and their offspring are well adapted to the local environment. The bulls are selected on high fertility traits, medium growth and good carcasse traits such as marbling and positive fat.
Positive fat means that the cows put on a lot of fat during spring, which may be seen as costly because that energy is stored in fat rather than muscle, but for Jochem he sees the benefits of this ‘cheap’ feed, stored on the backs of the cows pay for itself in late summer, when the quality of the grass has gone down. Cattle graze on native and some older improved pastures, and with these fat reserves available they don’t need to be fed any hay or silage, they do well even in the harshest months of the year.
The best management technique is being observant.
Practising low stress stock handling, Jochem and Kate moved their cattle on to fresh pasture regularly, and without any extra work the cattle are calm and relaxed around people.
Believing that being busy or rushed and creating complicated systems doesn’t make for a better farmer, Jochem is rewarded when buyers remark on how quiet and nice to handle his cattle are, which happens regularly.
A believer in the best management technique being observation, Jochem is inspired by the old stockmen and drovers who sometime work with him on the farm.
“I’ve noticed that the old stockmen and drovers always seem to see things and pick up things I haven’t noticed. And that’s just because they take their time, they’re not rushed. They spend time with the animals and in the paddocks just observing the cattle and their surroundings.” – Jochem Heijse
Holistic management is a way of life for Jochem and Kate.
When Kate and Jochem started on the journey of holistic farming they joined up with seven other likeminded families, who all manage their land and livestock using holistic and other regenerative farming practices.
The group, known as the 8 Families, meet regularly to discuss and help each other with problems they may have encountered running their individual businesses. They also share ideas, failures and successes and together find opportunities in the way they farm and look after their livestock and land.
“We don’t use a lot of technology, but we do use a lot of science” – Jochem Heijse
With an ever increasing knowledge of how all the different ‘actors’ in the environment interact, it has becomes easier for Jochem and Kate to let the individual actors play their role and allow nature, with the help of their livestock, recreate an ideal natural environment that has evolved in this region and climate.
Five years ago the farm had 23 paddocks, it now has 54 and counting, and a lot of work has also gone into building dams with long contour line overflows, so that when it rains moisture is captured high in the landscape, sustaining better and longer duration for pasture growth.
“We are passionate about regenerating the farm and creating a property that’s good to us, our livestock and the whole farm ecosystem. What’s more we are so happy that we can bring our children up in this beautiful environment” – Kate Heijse
" Through Provenir we can show that our farming practices are not just an ideologic way
of saving the planet, but that these practices actually create a very high quality product that people love to eat, and that we can earn a living from it, next to the very important bonus that it regenerates our land and waterways. "
– Jochem Heijse