Green Cauldron Farm: Gold Coast’s Food Business
American James Geralds and British/Thai Katie Chira Geralds moved to the Gold Coast six years ago after spending many years in London and Bangkok. They have set up a number of food-related businesses. Here, they tell us what their working week at Green Cauldron Farm is like.
Why did you start your own business here?
We live on the Gold Coast so obviously that was a big reason for starting our business locally. Having said that, the Gold Coast has a lot to offer businesses. The location is great base for sending products all around Australia and even the world. There are a lot of commercial properties available and many supporting businesses (suppliers, trades, logistics) either here or nearby in Brisbane. With the ease of getting around and so many activities available you can really achieve a great work/life balance.
Tell me what your business does?
We have a few businesses but all centre around our passion – food! We started Green Cauldron Farm located in the picturesque Northern NSW town of Tyalgum just over a year ago. This was to realise our dream of growing and supplying healthy, soil grown organic produce. On the farm we started growing flowers as a way to attract beneficial insects. This later turned into our edible flower business called Bloom Edible Flowers.
Around the same time, we discovered the amazing tastes of Australian native fruits and nuts. So we wanted to raise the profile of and share these fantastic ingredients both locally and abroad. So, we started The Native Collection which is a premium brand of pantry preserves using locally-produced Australian ingredients. We currently make cocktail syrups, cordials, jams and preserves and a range of hot sauces. We have many more products under development and look forward to releasing them soon.
Why did you choose this business?
We have always been passionate about food, from growing, all the way to the end product on the plate. We considered the restaurant business but with young children we thought the lifestyle would be quite difficult. That’s not to say that farming is any less arduous but most of the hours are taken up during the day rather than the night. We both had corporate jobs previously. We wanted to work on something that was more grass-roots, like Green Cauldron Farm .
What is an average day for you?
Each day is different as we have a few projects on the go. We spend a few days on the farm each week. We have a fantastic growing crew in place and we have weekly meetings to discuss strategy, infrastructure works and crop planning. One day a week (our favourite day) is dedicated to new product development and product tastings. At our Gold Coast based development and production kitchen, we work with our full-time chef Susie to create new recipes using Australian natives and the produce we grow on the farm. It is a really fun and creative process.
We also spend a lot of time working on the marketing and branding, so we regularly meet with our agency Zakazukha on various marketing ideas and campaigns. The rest of our time is spent meeting potential clients and dealing with the administration side of the business.
What are you trying to achieve with your business?
We really want to highlight the importance of a local food system. We want more people to engage with those who grow their food, to understand their stories and to make conscious selections based on the seasonality, quality and locality of their produce. At Green Cauldron Farm we want to further emphasise the importance, both nutritionally and ecologically, of organic soil grown produce. For us it all starts with the soil. Ultimately, our goal is to become an education centre where we can teach and encourage other people to enter into small-scale farming so that a true local food system is realised.
Who are your clients?
Most of our clients are local businesses on the Gold Coast and in the Tweed although we have started to supply bars and restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne. We also have had a lot of international interest from Asia, Europe and the USA. We have sent samples to these countries and are in negotiations to have our products supplied overseas.
How do you get new business?
Our focus has been primarily on social media and through word of mouth. Our social media efforts have really helped build a strong brand image especially as our products are so photogenic. The edible flowers make for really colourful posts and the farm and The Native Collection all involve food, something people really want to see. Over the past 12 months word has also got out about our products and we’ve supplied orders in Western Australia, Victoria, NSW and throughout Queensland, all based on referrals.
What is the best thing about doing business on the Gold Coast?
The proximity to everything. Green Cauldron Farm has great local customer bases from Brisbane down to Byron. Also through Coolangatta Airport we have amazing access to every major Australian city and many international cities. The people are also very friendly and relaxed, but still take business seriously.
And the worst?
Sometimes there’s a lot of red tape to contend with, but overall there’s not a lot to not like about running a business here.
What do you love about the Gold Coast?
What’s not to love! Great weather, amazing food and produce, easy access to anywhere in the world, lots of activities for kids…it’s really paradise and all part of the reason why we moved here. We could have chosen anywhere in the world and we decided to come to the
What are your favourite haunts on the Gold Coast?
We live near Burleigh and are kind of partial to the places that use our produce so tend to visit them a lot! Our regulars are Harry’s Bistro for a great family steak dinner, Jimmy Wah’s for delicious Asian, Balboa for traditional Italian and of course for that special night out our favourite, and a true Gold Coast treasure, The North Room in Mermaid Beach! We have recently started supplying Kokum at the Palazzo Versace and Rosellas in Burleigh but haven’t had a chance to visit them yet. They are definitely next on our list! As we mentioned, food is our passion, so we are constantly trying any new restaurants; to meet the chefs, see what is trending and figure out how we can develop new and amazing products to bring unique taste experiences to our customers.