Rob & Deb
Rob Bauman and Deb McLucas have a lifetime of experience in agriculture as fourth generation farmers. They were both riding horses and driving tractors even before they started school and share a passion for animals and the land.
After his ‘childhood apprenticeship’, Rob spent 20 years running the family’s Central Queensland cattle and grain business with his brother. They ran a conventional farming operation and were devastated when Rob’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease while still in his fifties. His Dad had used arsenic and other extremely toxic chemicals without protection as a boy and this was identified as a contributing factor to his condition. For Rob, this was a turning point in recognising the dangers of chemical farming.
Around this time, Deb was working as a jillaroo in Queensland and the Northern Territory after finishing her ‘on-farm apprenticeship’ at the family farm in Southern Queensland. She then completed a journalism degree and worked as a rural reporter and broadcaster for ABC Radio. In her job Deb learnt about the philosophy of holistic farm management and became aware of the financial and environmental limitations of conventional farming.
When Rob and Deb met they immediately recognised that they shared a common view for the future of agriculture and have been working to create their vision since that time. They started their own business in 2005 and began by transforming a conventional grain farm into a biological operation.
In 2008 Rob and Deb purchased the property at Brightly near Eton, which is now the home base for Freckle Farm. They spent the next two years restructuring their business to enable them to focus on developing the new farming concept and in 2010 Freckle Farm was born. The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.
Despite his stature, Rob is the brawn of the business and manages the day to day operations on Freckle Farm. He has an aversion for office work and loves nothing better than to be outside with the animals or building some new piece of farm infrastructure. Rob has a knack for creating useful farm equipment from recycled materials and will happily talk about this and other topics with visitors for hours. He has taken on the challenge of learning new farming skills and also copes well with his role as delivery driver.
Deb loves the outside work too, but these days she spends most of her time in the office managing the growing business. She is passionate about sharing what they are learning and has drawn on all of her communication skills to create strong links between Freckle Farm and the local community. Deb has a work ethic that sometimes frustrates her more relaxed husband and she is always dreaming big and thrives on a new challenge. Deb manages sales and logistics and is also developing new skills in building websites and managing social media.
It’s no wonder that together, Rob and Deb are at the leading edge of regenerative agriculture in this country.
The next generation
Freckle Farm is family friendly and unlike conventional farms, there are no nasty chemicals or dangerous activities that we have to shield children from. Our three girls love helping out with every aspect of what happens on the farm.
Hannah (13) and twins Laura and Megan (11) absolutely love what we do and we predict that it won’t be very long before they will be telling us what to do on the farm. They know and understand so much about natural farming and get just as excited as we do about seeing fungi at the base of a plant, or chooks catching bugs in cow dung.
This kind of farming breeds bright-eyed, observant and engaged children and we have three shining examples. Our girls are our greatest achievement and we know they will take regenerative farming to the next level as they grow older.
Laura Davis – Administration/Sales
Laura is a third generation Mackay girl originally from Blacks Beach. Daughter of Marianne and Don Phimister, Laura was brought up with the best of both worlds being close to the beach as well as her grandparent’s mango, citrus and cattle farm. Laura is married to Shane Davis and they live at Dumbleton on 3.5 acres with their 2 dogs and a cat. They have plans to grow their own vegetables using permaculture principles and to establish exotic and unusual fruit trees. Laura would also like to get a donkey – if she can talk her husband into the idea.
If you meet Laura you will quickly discover her passion for food, paddock to plate cooking and creating food that simply brings family and friends together. Laura’s flare for cooking with local ingredients was recognised when she was selected as one of 60 winners from across the country I the ABC’s Australia Cooks competition. Her entry for Berkshire pork on sugar cane skewers will be published in the cookbook celebrating regional produce. Laura also has a serious love of gardening, stand up paddle boarding and wakeboarding.
When the position at Freckle Farm came up, Laura knew that this was the job for her. She loves the mix of administration and hands-on farm work as well as the opportunity to highlight to the broader community that it is possible to purchase amazing quality and ethically raised produce in Mackay.
Laura is a firm believer in ethical treatment of animals and the need for humans to live sustainably. The Earth needs to support us for a long time yet!
Sarah Woodman – Farmhand
Sarah is a fifth generation local; a proud Gargett girl who knows just about everyone in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Her family originally farmed sugar cane and 12 years ago branched out into Brahman stud cattle. Sarah has a real love for cattle and has plans to further develop her current herd. She also has five rowdy pigs, two dogs, a suborn cat and three Sussex chickens. She has always had a passion to both live and work on the farm and eventually work her way to having a property of her own.
Sarah was the Central Queensland Rural Ambassador for agricultural industries in 2015. Her role was to showcase rural industries and create interest for others to get back to the bush and experience life on the land. She is a prime example of the talent and enthusiasm that abounds among the next generation of farmers in this part of the world. In her spare time Sarah enjoys playing netball, water skiing, fishing, camping and horse riding.
Before coming to Freckle Farm, Sarah tried her hand at hairdressing, station work and fashion retail. However, Sarah’s dream was to work full-time on a farm where she could maintain her connection with her family and growing animal menagerie. This arrangement works very well for everyone and Sarah reckons she has the best of both worlds now. With a natural affinity for animals and the land, Sarah is quickly building on her farming skills and experience. The Freckle Farm animals are well looked after with Sarah on the job!