Blueberry Fields is very much a family business with father-and-son team Otto and Jasch Saeck working alongside each other on their 160-acre farm at Brooklet. Farming is part of their DNA. Otto’s father farmed potatoes and cattle on the NSW south coast and his grandfather was one of the first qualified viticulturalists to come to South Australia (from Latvia) back in the 1880s.
Despite this, both Otto and Jasch left the land to initially pursue other careers – Otto in industrial relations and Jasch in engineering – before being lured back.
‘I was brought up on the farm and was on a tractor by the age of 10,’ Otto says. ‘But I did want to try something else and I left the family farm after I got my pilot’s licence and went aerial mustering up north before going to uni.’
Otto earned a degree in economics and industrial relations, which landed him a job in the public service. But it wasn’t long before he realised that an office job was not for him.
A connection to Ridley Bell – who brought blueberries into Australia – saw Otto leave the city to help set up the first blueberry farms on the North Coast.
‘I left a very secure job for half the pay in a new venture in farming, but I’ve never regretted it,’ Otto says. That was 40 years ago, and in that time, Otto and his family have established their own farm and have been selling their blueberries at Byron and Bangalow Farmers Markets for almost 20 years.
In fact, Otto and wife Lynette were founding members of Byron Farmers Market in 2002. And Otto credits the farmers’ market for changing his direction in farming.
‘We started out farming traditionally – using chemicals – and it wasn’t until we started selling at the farmers’ markets and listening to our customers that I wondered if we were doing the right thing,’ Otto says. ‘So, we looked at using alternative methods to traditional chemical use.’
Today, Otto and Jasch use biological farming methods to grow their great-tasting blueberries.
Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays 7–11am at the Cavanbah Centre and Bangalow Farmers Market is Saturdays 7–11am behind the Bangalow pub.