Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

Published 5:00am 28 September 2022

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A new paddock to plate dining experience featuring fresh strawberries has opened in the Moreton Bay Region.

Kylie Fairweather and her husband David are serving up strawberries direct from their farm - Stothart Family Farms Pty Ltd in Bellmere - for their new café called the Strawberry View Coffee Shack.

Just as the name suggests, visitors can sit and treat their tastebuds while overlooking the fields of strawberry runners, with the Glasshouse Mountains in the background.

Opening the café has long been a dream of Kylie’s.

“For the last two years during COVID, we ran a little strawberry stall where everything was takeaway,” Kylie said.

“Everyone who visited kept telling us they wanted to stay and enjoy their food and a coffee, so we started thinking about an onsite café.

“We kept thinking should we or shouldn’t we, but in the end, we just looked at the view and knew this would be the spot.

“That’s when we decided to go for it and give the café a go – you never know until you give it a try.

“We opened the cafe four months ago, and while it has been a big journey, I am so glad we did it because people love it.”

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

If strawberries are your jam, you've come to the right place

Highlights of the menu include homemade scones with jam and cream, waffles topped with strawberries, vanilla ice cream, strawberry syrup and Belgium chocolate, plus skewers with strawberries and marshmallows with a drizzle of chocolate, as well as strawberry and cream ice cream.

The sweets continue in the cake display cabinet, where there is a range of gluten free, dairy free and vegan options, all handmade by a woman on the Sunshine Coast.

If you’re in the mood for something savoury, the café also plates up ham, cheese and tomato toasties, toasted fruit loaf, ham and cheese croissants and sausage rolls.

Visitors can quench their thirst with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, iced latte, milkshakes, fresh smoothies and strawberry soda.

“Making sure we have really good coffee is also really important to us,” Kylie said.

“We use seven miles coffee, which is organic.

“We trained with one of their coffee trainers to ensure we all make the coffee the same way.

“We are really passionate about making sure we have good coffee and good strawberries.”

Kylie estimates she makes roughly 70 scones each day, and the café uses anywhere between 100-200kg of strawberries a day.

Both Kylie and David also like to get creative with their menu, with Kylie making homemade strawberry syrup, and will start to make jam soon. David has also created a strawberry, chilli and lime paste.

“It’s something I have been working on for a few years, and it’s delicious with a glass of wine, cheese and crackers,” David said.

You can also purchase large punnets of strawberries to take home from their fridges.

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

A growing team 

The café has also helped create jobs, growing from five staff to 12.

“We have an amazing crew,” Kylie said.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the help of my managers Betty Varela and daughters Taryn and Shay.”

The Strawberry View Coffee Shack is open Monday to Friday from 8am-4pm, and Saturdays from 8am-3pm.

There is also a small playground located next to the café to entertain the kids.

The Strawberry View Coffee Shack is located at 205 Stern Rd, Bellmere.

You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

A family legacy 

Kylie and David (pictured above) have been working at Stothart Family Farm for years, as it was Kylie’s parents who bought the land.

“Mum and dad (Bryan and Jane Stothart) started a small strawberry farm in Morayfield, and from there the bought the land here in Bellmere 31 years ago,” Kylie said.

“They bought the land here with their friends Merv and Marilyn Schiffke, who bought the land next door so they could be side by side.

“I think my dad would have loved to see the café – sadly, he passed away a few years ago.

“He was always walking around the farm, so I think of dad a lot when I am working here.”

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

Picking the berry best 

Today, the two farms are among the largest producers of strawberries in South East Queensland.

While they are located adjacent to one another, and have their own separate packing stations, they come together and sell the strawberries to Coles Supermarkets under the brand Taste ‘n’ See.

Their strawberry punnets are sold in Coles Supermarkets as far north as Townsville, as well as throughout New South Wales and Victoria.

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

A strong partnership 

While working in the business world with friends can be problematic for some, this working relationship has proven to be successful, even today.

David works closely with Laura Wells (both pictured above) from next door, who is the daughter of Merv and Marilyn Schiffke.

Laura and her two sisters bought out their parents in 2018 and changed the name from Schiffke Family Farms to TSL Family Farms Pty Ltd.

David originally worked for Merv Schiffke and has known Laura “since she was around nine years old”, before marrying into the Stothard family.

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

Following in her parent's footsteps 

Having spent her young life working on the farm, Laura always knew she wanted to continue her family’s farming legacy.

“I’m a school dropout – I did Year 8 and that was it,” Laura said.

“I have always worked on the family farm, and I was just happy to come and pick strawberries and do all the planting, leafing, weeding, and packing.

“I was married young, had kids young, and just grew up doing this – as you do on a family farm.

“I think it was training for my future of actually becoming a farmer.”

Laura said she was taught to care about the look, feel and taste of the strawberry, ensuring every strawberry was one that customers wanted to eat.

“We were trained to always care about the customer, and trained to always care about the flavour, the smell and the look of the strawberry. We are not driven by the money, but more around good produce,” Laura said.

“Working in the pack shed in my younger years helped me get an understanding of what I actually wanted to eat, and what I wanted the strawberries to look like.”

At least 80 per cent of the strawberries are packed and shipped interstate to New South Wales and Victoria, while the remaining 20 per cent remains in Queensland.

Berry exciting: Strawberry farmers open new café to sweeten your day

Call to support local farmers 

With the cost of living and the cost of food being at the forefront of most people’s minds, Laura is urging everyone to support local farmers, regardless of whether you buy from a large chain supermarket, smaller independent grocer, or the farmers’ markets.

“COVID taught us a lot, especially when there were shortages in fresh produce, meat and most recently eggs, so it is important to support your local farmers,” Laura said.

“During that time, it was hard to see a lot of keyboard warriors posting things online about leaving the produce on the shelves at the larger chains and supporting smaller business, but what they don’t understand is those shelves in the larger retailers are stacked with produce from local farmers as well.

“We are local farmers, and we are putting our produce into a major retailer, so I say you should support them as well, because this way you are still supporting us.

“We are a local brand and a local farm who are thankful to have a place in the supermarket – it allows us to be profitable and sustainable.

“Supporting local farmers isn’t just about going to your local deli, farmers’ market, or buying from a little independent – that little independent also buys from the markets, such as the Brisbane markets, where all the farmers sell.

“I can understand though that the cost of living has gone up for individual families as well, and it’s something that has hit them in the pocket, but it’s like a ripple effect because we are also in the same boat.

“In times like this, we cannot produce for the cost that people want or expect it to be sold at.”

You can follow Taste ‘n’ See Strawberries by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

You can also see more photos in the gallery below. 

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