A RUPANYUP farming family hopes to promote the town as a food and tourist destination through selling the region’s pulses.
Wimmera Grain Store sells Rupanyup pulses directly to wholesalers, retailers, cafes and restaurants.
Owner Jenny Moore started the business about five years ago after discussions with her brother David Matthews.
“Our grandfather moved to the Wimmera years ago to farm,” she said.
“My dad was a farmer and then my brother became a farmer.”
Mr Matthews started Wimmera Grain Company with his wife Sam.
“The business started in the domestic market but then moved into exporting,” Mrs Moore said.
“I was complaining to my brother one day about the cost of childcare, as I had three children under five at that stage, and I was wondering what I could do for work.
“He said there were struggles with Wimmera Grain Company because no one was looking after the domestic market anymore, and asked if I wanted to explore that.”
That was how Wimmera Grain Store was born.
The store sells bags of chickpeas, red lentils, green lentils, faba beans and chickpea flour.
Mrs Moore said the goal of the business was to make people more aware of small towns like Rupanyup.
She said they had just changed their packaging to depict the Rupanyup silos, which were painted as part of Yarriambiack Shire’s Silo Art Trail.
“I’m passionate about promoting the Wimmera and our produce,” Mrs Moore said.
“It’s about broadening people’s awareness of towns like Rupanyup and getting them to come to the town.”
Mrs Moore said it was difficult for shires like Yarriambiack Shire to compete as a food destination across the state.
“We are up against the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley,” she said.
“It’s hard for the little guy on the block, but I’m interested in finding innovative ways to put our town and our shire on the map.”
Two years ago, the Rupanyup community re-branded itself as ‘a town with a pulse’.
The idea was about residents banding together to celebrate the town’s biggest and best commodity – pulses.
“That was our first crack at creating awareness and it’s been building since then,” Mrs Moore said.
“The silo art trail was fantastic and we asked the artist if we could put a photo of her artwork on our packaging.”
Mrs Moore said the new bags were being packed at Horsham’s Axis Worx.
“On the back of the package is information about our region and our town, and hopefully it makes people drive out to see it.
“If we don’t get people up into the region, then how are we going to get them to do a tree change?
“The new packages will soon go to a Ballarat distributor and we will know in about 12 weeks if it has made any difference to tourism.”
Mrs Moore said over the past five years, the business had grown in volume and turnover.
“We are getting more awareness and learning how best to do our packaging, and how best to dispatch larger quantities,” she said.
Mrs Moore said she was a full-time mum with a part-time business.
She said she had help from her niece Dom Mathews throughout the journey.
“Because we decided to put the silos on our packaging, we are now looking at going through a distributor as it is more than Dom and I can handle ourselves,” she said.
Mrs Moore said it was important more people promoted the food they grow.
“We are the start of the food chain,” she said.
“We should be taking pride in our produce and sharing that pride through our products.”