The Men Behind the Milk pt 3 - Simon Schulz

Simon with Abbey, Elise and Thomas (plus one more!)

Simon with Abbey, Elise and Thomas (plus one more!)

Our trilogy of stories on the Schulz family dairy farmers reaches its natural conclusion with this piece, that is of course until the next generation takes over! This time around we are featuring the third Schulz to build his name and livelihood from dairy, Simon.

In previous editions we’ve recounted Hermann’s move into cheesemaking with the Timboon Farmhouse Cheese brand as well as Michael’s 30+ years of commitment to top-quality milk. Now we bring you into the modern day and the current Schulz family business, Schulz Organic Dairy.

Simon will grimace when we say this, but the best way to describe him is as an innovator. He began developing his vision for Schulz Organic Dairy from a young age, and has been refining his products and brand ever since. Simon believes that farms are the perfect place for young entrepreneurs to add value to the primary product and offer something unique.

In Simon’s case, the plan was simple: Schulz Organic would produce ‘real’ dairy that’s as close to fresh-from-the-cow as you can buy. The original products; Raw or ‘Bath’ milk, natural whey, traditional yoghurt and Quark (Hermann’s original recipe).

Schulz Organic Dairy was launched in November 2005, when Simon was just 21. A truckload of youthful enthusiasm in tow, Simon brought with him the knowledge gained from a stint consulting in a Melbourne yogurt factory with Grandfather Hermann. By September 2006 the first range of branded products were available for sale.

Simon credits the Melbourne Farmers Markets and Victorian Farmers Markets Association movements for providing the platform to sell to consumers. The Schulz Organic range was a hit with farmers market regulars with many shocked to taste ‘milk that tastes like it used to’. From there, Simon gradually built up a dedicated network of local stockists whose focus was on independent retailers supporting local and quality products.

Melbourne-based Passion Foods, Curds & Whey as well as Richie’s IGA in Timboon were the first larger retailers to embrace the range. Leading the charge for Melbourne cafes, Market Lane Coffee’s taste for the Timboon ‘liquid gold’ milk heralded the inevitable implementation of pasteurisation.

By 2009; with milk, quark, yogurt and a couple of others in play; Simon was still the sole employee of Schulz Organic Dairy. Bottling, processing, deliveries, farmers markets… You name it, Simon did it! Something had to give and it turned out it was Simon’s back. Bedridden and mentally drained, it was time to do things a little differently. The demand was there, the customers couldn’t get enough; it was time to scale up.

2010 saw a ramp up in staff and facilities propelled the business into the next phase. Of particular pride for Simon was now having the ability to hire some of the local Timboon Farmhouse Cheese staff that had been left jobless when the the company that Hermann sold to had shut it down in 2008. Since that about turn Schulz Organic Dairy has gone from strength to strength, now employing nearly 40 staff and supplying over 200 trade customers throughout Australia.

Expanding has helped Simon to keep a broader eye on things, and he attributes Schulz’ three consecutive Gold Medals since 2015 in the Delicious Produce Awards ‘From the Dairy” category not only to their commitment to quality over quantity but also as proof that their vision is actualising.  

Getting Schulz Organic Dairy products into fridges and coffee cups in NSW is the next big project in terms of distribution and there some exciting product developments in the works. Sustainability is a big part of the Schulz DNA and Simon is proud to be expanding their plastic free range on the back of their success with refillable 15L stainless steel milk cans in the commercial arena. In October, Schulz will be piloting a returnable and refillable glass bottle milk option for farmers market customers, taking the milk industry one step closer to minimising single use plastics.

Business isn’t the only thing that’s growing! Simon, wife Abbey and their children Elise (3) and Thomas (2) are keenly awaiting the arrival of the newest Schulz in October! We can’t wait to meet them and see what else October holds!

Liquid Gold - Schulz Full Cream Milk

DPA_GoldMedalist_2017.jpg

We're ecstatic to report that our Full Cream Milk has been awarded a gold medal in the 'From the Dairy' category of the 2017 Delicious Produce Awards! The mix of culinary heavyweights on the judging panel was eclectic, including: Colin Fassnidge, Matt Moran, Guillaume Brahimi, Christine Manfield, Alla Wolf-Tasker, Shannon Bennett, Andrew McConnell, Ashley Palmer-Watts, Maggie Beer and Peter Gilmore.

It's not our first rodeo though, this gold marks three years in a row!

We were particularly chuffed that our full cream milk was the only primary product to win gold in the category, as the other medal winners were all cheeses. This award supports our belief that the processes and ethics we hold at the farm translate into product quality, and that makes us very happy!  

So why do we have the best milk in Australia? Here's a few reasons...

Certified Organic Milk
Our products are certified organic and biodynamic. Organics is not just “chemical free”. It is a whole system or holistic means of growing and handling the things we consume. The whole system is linked – soil, plants, animals, food, people, environment. ‘Certified Organic’ products are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers or GMOs. Just pure, simple, natural.

Great Ocean Road Region
The Schulz farm is located in Timboon, 200 kilometres south-west of Melbourne and just a 20-minute drive to the famed 12 Apostles. This Western dairy district of Victoria receives some of the highest rainfalls in the state, making Schulz’s 1025 acres of pasture extremely fertile and rich for grass grazing.

Single Herd, Single Site, Small Batch
Schulz organic milk comes from our own 480 Friesian and Jersey cows who graze on our own organic pastures. Our products are all small batch; we bottle and package on site and we even manage our own distribution - true grass to glass stuff! All of this gives us direct control over every aspect of milk production.

No Homogenisation
See the lovely rich layer of cream on top on our milk? As grasses and organic feed change with the seasons, so does the fat content from which cream is naturally derived. That’s a natural and desirable element that we embrace, so we choose not to "standardise" our milk through homogenisation . We only do want we are supposed to do, other than that, we let the cows do their thing.

Pasteurised Low and Slow
We choose the low and slow way to pasteurise, to ensure the flavours of our milk are not compromised. Pasteurisation is a legal necessity in creating milk, to ensure any potential pathogens are eliminated. We opt for the gentlest process, heating the milk to 63°C for 30 minutes. Most milk producers use flash pasteurisation (72°C for 15 seconds), a method that is one stop short of the process used to create long life (UHT) milk.

What to get your hands on our milk? See our retailer list here

See the full list of winners here 

The Men Behind the Milk pt 2 - Michael Schulz

In follow up to our first story 'Hermann Schulz - The Man Behind the Milk' we thought it only fitting that his son and lifetime dairy farmer Michael was next. Through the generations and iterations Michael has been a constant, working hard and producing top quality dairy year in, year out.

Michael was kind enough to put his story in his own words, so without further ado...

Following my parent's migration from Germany in 1954 they moved about western Victoria several times searching for job security. Their time was mostly spent in rural areas but there was also a four-year period when the family lived in Geelong. It was when I was 11 that we moved to a large grazing property in Gellibrand near Colac. This was my first real memory of actively being involved in farming activities. I learnt to drive tractors, motorbikes, bulldozers, ride horses and muster sheep and cattle. Here my love for agriculture evolved, as this property was very much a mixed farm, which also included potato growing and an intensive piggery.

It was when I was 16 that the family moved to Timboon. My parents had a hobby farm for a short time which they sold in order to buy the Timboon dairy farm. It was here that I was introduced into dairying but I was determined not to immediately go into farming once I finished school. I studied Agriculture for three years and then spent another three years travelling and working as a public servant before I decided that it was better to be self-employed on the farm. So in 1982, my career in dairy farming began.

In 1982 my father (Hermann) and my sister (Audrey) started Timboon Farmhouse Cheese. I had unfinished business with dairy farming, so I went down that path and it remained a separate entity to the Cheese factory. Timboon Farmhouse Cheese sourced all of its milk from the farm. The farm had been run under biodynamic principles for 10 years at this stage, but as the farm grew, it changed to organic certification. There are many challenges in dairy farming and the “game” is always changing; even more so with organic farming, as we rely on mostly traditional practices which are more labor intensive and require more input. I employ farm staff to assist with the work load and recently my focus has been on the overall planning and general management of the farm.

The local community has always been important to me and I am involved with the local football club and the local Recreation Reserve at Committee level. I am proud of the town of Timboon and that it is now a focal point of a regional “Foodies Trail” to which Timboon Farmhouse Cheese and more recently Schulz Organic Farms is a major contributor. The district now boasts many visitors.

Much has been written about the halcyon days when Timboon Farmhouse Cheese had a great range of products and that it was supplying portioned camembert (‘Berties’) to Qantas. Hermann and Audrey were the drivers of this enterprise; Hermann with his entrepreneurial drive and Audrey with her marketing skills. Both had outgoing and engaging personalities. Marlis (my mother) stayed in the background and kept the family together. I remember spending time socially with the different cheese makers that came to Australia, months at a time, to develop the cheeses. They all commented on how great our milk is to work with and that they hadn’t seen this quality before. In 2000 Timboon Farmhouse Cheese was sold to National Foods. National Foods continued to work at the site until 2008.

Fast forward nine years from the sale of Timboon Farmhouse Cheese and a new business had emerged, Schulz Organic Farms. There are similarities but the market focus is different. Simon started on very small scale and it took two years before the business produced a profit. Fast forward another six years and here we are, a booming regional family business. Today’s fresh milk market has enabled Schulz Organic Farms to grow at a rapid rate; in fact the farm is currently providing three times more milk to the factory in 2017 than it did in 2000. Simon’s goal to take all of the milk that the farm can supply is now within reach.

Michael Schulz
Dairy Farmer