Although Jane Boniface says that everything she does is ‘a mistake’, she seems to have the knack of turning things to her advantage. When she and her partner Jose first bought their farm, they weren’t really looking to become farmers, but now she’s a regular at the farmers’ markets with an award-winning product.
So how did they buy a farm? Jose, a trapeze flyer and acrobat with the Spanish boys circus, Los Muchachos, had become a tent master with Circus Oz when he moved to Australia, and was looking for a property to store his equipment and prime movers. Jane, on the other hand, was just looking for a place for horses when they discovered a 40-acre farm for sale in Numulgi. They purchased the property and these reluctant farmers inherited custard apples, stone fruit and many old citrus trees.
‘The farm had been on the market for years, people with farming experience knew how much work it would be,’ says Jane. ‘We bought it and called it Rancho Relaxo, although it hasn’t been all that relaxing. We arrived on the property and were overwhelmed, and then we saw the chemical shed and thought “Oh my God, no way”.’
Once the couple realised how many chemicals farming stone fruit required they removed these trees and instead threw themselves into citrus, planting 1000 new lime trees, as well as mandarins, lemons and 400 elderflower plants.
‘Everything I do is a mistake, I was experimenting with our produce and trying out my cordials with friends and it was incredibly popular, so I began to bottle it – we knew very early on it was a winner’.
‘I sent the bottles to a food technologist who helped us with nutritional analysis and food safety and we set up a factory on the farm. Then on a whim we sent them to the Sydney Fine Food Show and we received a silver medal on our first submission’.
Rancho sell three cordials; mandarin, lime and elderflower, as well as dehydrated oranges and a blood orange and lime marmalade. Recently, they have branched out into shrubs, selling these vinegar-based tonics in a variety of delicious flavours.
The difference between these products and the cordials available in supermarkets is easy to define. ‘Oh, ours are super, super fresh, everything is made by hand and grown on the farm, and grown organically. We make the products almost every day in two to three dozen batches and we have designed the varieties in the orchard to ensure we have fresh fruit year-round,’ says Jane.
At home Jane drinks her cordials just with ice and water, although she can also add gin or vodka if the mood takes her. ‘They are really amazing in a margarita, we even include a margarita recipe on the bottle’.
You’ll find Rancho produce at New Brighton Farmers Market 7–11am Tuesdays, and Mullum Farmers Market 7–11am Fridays.