People often think that innovation is the domain of our city dwellers, but as the founders of BumNuts Australia show, regional inhabitants are just as capable of transforming an idea into a thriving business opportunity.
Theresa and Craig Robinson, who live on a rural property near Gunning in southern New South Wales, initially started rotating chickens across their paddocks as a means of cost-effectively improving their pastures.
“The chickens play an important role in building up the vitality and nutrients in the soil profile. They scratch and dig up the surface, fertilizing as they go. We then move the chooks onto fresh pasture and let the paddock rest and with a bit of rain, everything comes back to life,” Mrs Robinson said.
Yet the by-product – pasture-raised free range eggs – soon became a hot commodity, which led the couple to establish their business selling these prized eggs.
“The 'bum nuts' is something that my husband's family had always called [eggs] for years, so it was such an Australian name. We had to toss it up for a little while, because where we're situated, we're right next to Canberra with all of the public servants and parliament and everyone is politically correct, and so we weren't sure whether it was going to go down too well, but we did it anyway. You can't take farm life too seriously,” said Mrs Robinson.
The Robinsons have been overwhelmed by the success of the venture, and are now in the process of developing a franchise model.
They started by supporting her cousin in Bundaberg, who is now also unable to keep with demand, and so a broader franchise expansion of the BumNuts Australia brand is in progress.
“We've got one in the pipeline for 2017. I'm currently working on the legality side of things, tying up all the bits and bobs before I get to a franchise solicitor,” Mrs Robinson said.
“There's about five other people who want franchises.”
According to Mrs Robinson, there is enormous demand for local seasonal produce, with commercial chefs and consumers alike begging for fresh, organic foods.
“I really do think that the agricultural industry is the way to go – not just from a large scale, but even small plots in your backyard, using your nature strip, all that sort of stuff – because we really need to secure our food economy,” she said.
“I've got restaurants asking me for organic product, fruits, vegetables, you name it. If I could set up an orchard tomorrow, I would. If I could have six acres of vegetables, I wouldn't have a problem selling it.
“People want locally grown, seasonal produce – the market is there.”