Fiona Briers and her partner Ben Grounds are ethical duck producers farming in the central highlands of Victoria. Self-defined francophiles, Fiona loves working on the land and applying traditional French techniques toher work.
As well as being one of the primary producers, Fiona is also the butcher for the farm. This allows Fiona to have a really good understanding about how the food and lifestyle of the ducks impact of the final product. Very valuable for someone chasing the best flavour possible!
Vue Du Volcan farm sources their feed from a range of local grain producers, sourcing organically where possible, and processes the whole grains on site. They are always perfecting the ideal mixture for their ducks – and it certainly shows in the quality.
We caught up with Fiona to discuss life as a duck farmer.
What do you do that is different or special?
There are very few ethical, pasture raised, slow grown duck producers in Australia. We are very proud that we produce such a beautiful product in an ethical way. Ducks are a great animal to farm - they are great foragers and respond really well to free range systems. They are also delicious! Our whole system on the farm of frequent rotations is designed to not only be good for the ducks, but also the pasture and the soil. Its a win - win system that we have developed.
If you could have one thing magically appear on your farm, what would it be?
Lots and lots of mature trees. As the saying goes - ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago’. Trees play an important role on a farm - they help cycle nutrients, provide shelter and protection, create microclimates, can produce crops, and are beautiful!
What is your favorite tool/appliance in your kitchen?
My chefs knife - or my cast iron pots. Absolutely essential tools in any kitchen I believe. The knife is pretty self explanatory - but good cast iron pots are often overlooked - they are such a great vessel for cooking in. They hold the heat and distribute it really evenly - which I love.
Who should people look up if they are interested in sustainable food and farming?
A good starting place is AFSA (Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance) and OFN (Open Food Network). They are a good collection of generally small ethical producers. From there a number of networks and circles sprout. There is a lot of great stuff to read (Dan Barber, Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, Allan Savoury, etc) but there is also great value in talking to local farmers who are innovating and producing excellent food.
Who is your sustainable food hero?
I love Michael Pollan. Everything he writes is interesting and relevant. Food can be produced in such a bad way - but it can also be produced in a an incredibly nurturing, regenerative way. Michael is very good at writing about these issues in a very eloquent way.
What do you love the most about doing what you do?
Connections: with the land, the animals, the seasons, the air and climate, and the eaters.
Where can people buy your food?
People can buy our duck online at the Open Food Network (openfoodnetwork.com.au/vue-du-volcan-farm/shop) or at Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers Market on the 2nd Saturday of the month or Fairfield Farmers Market on the 3rd Saturday of the month.
Produced by: Ian Parish Creative
Recipes inspired by Fiona's produce
This blog is a collaboration between the Social Food Project, Ian Parish Creative and Matt Houston Photography.