Erica and Nic Dibden are on a mission to bring back Tilba’s dairy industry. They are reopening their Tilba Real Dairy farmgate shop to customers this week, from 10 am until to 3 pm. The store is a valuable outlet for locally produced foods, including condiments, jams and meats, which are showcased alongside award-winning dairy products.
There has been some recent confusion about Tilba Real Dairy’s ownership, which stems from the almost continuous resale of the local ABC Cheese Factory, which now also belongs to Erica and Nic.
Tilba Real Dairy was founded by the couple in 2012 and remains 100 per cent Australian owned by them.
“The ABC Cheese Factory had many owners, including National Foods, which bought it as part of the assets of King Island Dairy in a series of takeovers back in the 1990s and 2000s,” says Erica. “After that, they moved cheese production to Melbourne.”
Erica and Nic were able to buy the ABC Cheese Factory – which sat vacant for many years – and restart local farm production and farmgate sales in the Tilba region, and take produce to the Capital Region Farmers Market in Canberra every weekend.
“We sell locally sourced produce, including milk, cream and cheese from our beautiful Jersey cows, and honey from locally sourced Australian farms in the area,” says Erica. “ABC Cheese Factory has plenty of local products, including jams and spreads that are made by local farmers from local produce.”
Tilba Real Dairy’s philosophy is to create quality food and contribute to the future of regional NSW through job creation and long-term sustainability. At their Mountain View Farm, the Jersey herd grazes pastures sustained through biodiverse farming practices, including muck spreading, a sustainable way to fertilise pastures, green crops, and using flow forms to aerate water which keeps the pasture soil healthy.
Erica and Nic established their Jersey herd in the 2000s, when Erica received a scholarship to study cheese making from the Australian Dairy Corporation. Since establishing the herd, and beginning to make cheese in her own kitchen at home, Erica is now proud to have the Tilba Real Dairy brand making award-winning cheese at the ABC Cheese Factory.
“It’s been a tough year with the bushfires, when no delivery truck was seen for more than a week, and now COVID-19 shutting our only retail outlet,” says Erica. “But we’re determined to keep the industry alive. We’re hoping people will come back to support the dairy and our fabulous team who make and sell our cheese and produce.”
Tilba Real Dairy at the ABC Cheese Factory, 37 Bate Street, Central Tilba is open from 10 am to 3 pm daily, and is at the Capital Regional Farmers Market in Canberra every Saturday, which returns this weekend to EPIC in Mitchell from 7:30 am to 11:30 am, where they will have a range of cheese and dairy products for sale.