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Snail farmers make most of European shortage
Reporter: Sean Murphy First Published: 29/10/2006 SALLY SARA: First up today, we're looking at an emerging industry, which supporters are certain has export potential. I'm referring to the farming of the common brown garden snail. Here, in Australia, they're widely regarded as a pest, but in many parts of Europe and Asia they're seen as a delicacy. The problem is that snail numbers in Europe are declining, so an enterprising group of Australian snail fanciers is now well on the way to establishing Australia's very own snail industry. SEAN MURPHY: It looks just like a market garden, but this crop of silverbeaten forage brasicas is feeding tens of thousands of snails. Helix Aspersa, to be exact, the common brown snail found in gardens across Australia. And their home here is part of a rural industries development corporation study on an Italian free-range farming system. SONIA BEGG: What it has demonstrated is that we can mass-rear snails, and, also, it's far more cost-effective than the previous method of farming snails, and it's sustainable. So we're really pleased with the results. Melissa, that little collecting basket, do you mind just grabbing that so we can put these in? MELISSA: Yep. SONIA BEGG: Because I don't want to waste these. SEAN MURPHY: Sonya Begg is Australia's original snail lady. She's been internationally recognised for her work in developing an Australian industry over the last 20 years, and she's the driving force behind this fully biodynamic free-range farm near Orange in the central west of NSW. How did you get into it? SONIA BEGG: Well, I always say it was a mid-life crisis, but how long can you have one of those for? But, no, seriously, how I got into it was that we moved into a house in Gunnedah that was literally overrun by snails, and I said to my husband, "We should be able to do something with snails, you know, why can't we eat them? People in other countries do." And he sort of gave me one of those looks. But I just pursued from there. It was just something that I thought it could have potential. SEAN MURPHY: The snail farm is part of the Ross Hill vineyard, and, according to manager James Robson, it’s a good fit with his family company's biodynamic wine and olives. JAMES ROBSON: Well, it gives us a great point of difference. And we also do a lot of wine and snail tastings and we do it once a year. We get between 100 to 200 people come out here and do a tour with Sonya, and then try some snails and drink the wine. So, yeah, it's a great combination. SEAN MURPHY: Although the farm can produce up to 2,000 snails a week, it's exposed to the elements. So the snails go into hibernation during winter.

Ross Hill Snails

Sonya Beggs - Ross Hill Snails Ph: 02 6361 8104 Email: snails@netwit.net.au Helen Dyball - Snails Bon Appetite Ph: 02 4998 0030 Email: info@snails.com.au



I mean. that doesn't worry us at all. there’s lots of things that are seasonal. Before I was stomping on them. How are you both. And we found that that doesn't worry the chefs at all. now. they know when the season starts and finishes. Basically. process and package. HELEN DYBALL: They pay us a contribution fee and. and. SEAN MURPHY: In their temperature-controlled snail igloos at Upper Mile on the mid north coast of New South Wales. SEAN MURPHY: John Lockern and Debbie Robinson are part of a growers network. SEAN MURPHY: As a former nursery owner. You know.net. HELEN DYBALL: We now have 12 growers on board. and I was looking for something new. it's feeding. And we buy them back and then we purge. hi. DEBBIE ROBINSON: Yeah. who modelled the concept on the poultry industry. So now the snail pellets get thrown out. There's growers in Queensland now and there's growers in Northern Territory. you can't get all sorts of food during certain times of the year. they know it's seasonal. how are you? Got some snails for us? How many? DEBBIE ROBINSON: 850. cleaning their pens out. SONIA BEGG: No. they're your best friends. 4000 to 6000 a week.and that is our quality control. such as John Lockrein and Debbie Robinson. the couple are producing about 1000 snails a week. DEBBIE ROBINSON: Basically. that’s right. Debbie.au/landline/…/s1774369. it's been a bit of a joke even within the nursery industry. and this came up. DEBBIE ROBINSON: They're actually very easy maintenance. there is no year-round production. the chefs ends up with a better product in the end. And just feeding them a couple of times a day. you know. That's basically it. snails would have been virtually public enemy number one. HELEN DYBALL: Fantastic. SEAN MURPHY: The growers network is the brainchild of Helen and Robert Dyball. SEAN MURPHY: Snail farming is a growing cottage industry in Australia. hopefully. they get startup snails. that's just taking all the dead snail poo and everything off the surface of the soil and perhaps topping it up with soil. and because the snails are allowed to go through their biological cycle.they get all the assistance that they need and support and a guaranteed buyback. abc. John. for that. are producing fresh snails all year round. New South Wales. SEAN MURPHY: And size is no barrier. now. I was in the nursery industry before. It's something that I could apply my knowledge from the nursery with propagation and that into doing something with snails. and we're hoping that they will pick up the slack in the winter months down here when a lot of snails hibernate. they get the food . Maureen Dearing is farming snails for the network from the backyard of her home in suburban Lake Macquarie. So we should be able to have snails all year round.htm 2/4 . and expect to increase their production three-fold in the next 12 months. and small landholders.11/2/2011 Landline . they said "Huh? That doesn't make sense". I'm growing them and saving them. our food . So. HELEN DYBALL: Hi. hey? Both keeping well? Hi.000 to build their first igloos.29/10/2006: Snail farmers … Unlike temperature-controlled snail farms. When we said we were going to snails. They paid $8000 to join up on top of about $14.

and where there's a lot of water. to collect new breeding stock from the wild.11/2/2011 Landline . mostly from Asia. But why snails is because they have a flavour of their own and if you have them in a different angles and ways. which is here. you know. It feels like a little. something not chewy. they mate for up to 20 hours at a time. 18 months to grow large. They don't smell. these snails have been purged as well. The grower network's Hunter Valley snails are now being exported to Europe. ROBERT MOLINES: Well. but something really nutty. and. they will take 14. Despite their fertility. That is a good description. HELEN DYBALL: In controlling their environment. You get pocket money that adds up and you can save it and do a lot with it. Now. providing you have shade and ventilation for them. insects. you get a bit of pocket money. and around trunks of trees. Helen Dyball says it's just a matter of managing that environment to achieve a year-round product with consistent quality. Don't forget that in some of the French cuisine we use offal. But because in our igloos. SEAN MURPHY: And it looks like a lot of fun. I wonder if vegetarians can eat snails actually. Where are the best places to find them? JAYDEN WOOD: In bushy places where there's lots of shade and moisture. So we're going to basically count up to about three to four minutes. it's a lot of fun and more kids should get out there and do it.when a snail is awake and active they're eating and that's what we need. with both male and female sex organs. producing about 100 eggs at once. All the kids come and have a look. they are vegetarians. and so what. such as Jayden Wood and Bree Stafford. certainly.we feed them every day . If you keep the lid down. they're controlled feeding .au/landline/…/s1774369. it can be quite delicious and delectable. it's good for the diet. and with the food that we have. they're woken up to eat . they don't make a noise. It's really fun. I suppose it's a variety of food. anything is synonymous to French cuisine. nutty. SEAN MURPHY: Australia still imports about 5 ton of snail meat a year. and down in deep holes and under bathtubs. like frogs. because this is the experience of having a good snail. And that is the biggest difference. you know. and we're going to add some salt to it.net. have long sung the praises of the humble snail. I guess. yes. What do you think? Very healthy and very nutty. Yeah. ROBERT MOLINES: Well. SEAN MURPHY: Snails are prolific breeders and although they're hermaphrodites. So here we go. but demand for fresh first-world produce is growing. SEAN MURPHY: Once they're adapted to an artificial environment.htm 3/4 . such as Robert Molines. but possibly we have made use of everything. It's not fat or anything so. they don't go away and it's just a really interesting thing to do. In the wild. certainly. it's quite enjoyable. Great for the neighbourhood. JAYDEN WOOD: Yes. it is not the flavour that profoundly tells you what a good snail dish is all about.and they're in a clean environment. And how I do it is quickly into boiling water.29/10/2006: Snail farmers … MAUREEN DEARING: You can have quite a few snails in a relatively small area. so they can get all their food and nutrition from there. and. SEAN MURPHY: French chefs. we're able to produce a 3cm snail within nine months. rather than some of the snails which you possibly can buy imported already in a tin and they're basically just rubbery and they're meant for lasting a lot longer in the tin and. the growers network still employs a team of youngsters. abc. snails. They feature regularly on the menu of his Hunter Valley restaurant. And I'm thoroughly enjoying it. to top it off. I'm going to cook the snails in very hot boiling water.

net. FARM FACT: SONYA BEGG WAS PRESENTED WITH THE COVETED "SILVER SNAIL" AWARD AT AN INTERNATIONAL SNAIL FARMING CONFERENCE IN ITALY IN 2003. We still have our major companies that are here like the coal industry. and.11/2/2011 Landline . now. yeah. SALLY SARA: Sean Murphy on the snail trail. I'm really after all these hard years of work I'm pleased to be able to see that it certainly has. So that allows us to be able to look at export markets down the track.au/landline/…/s1774369. if that's what we want to do. © 2006 ABC | Privacy Policy abc. but what we're seeing now. And they're the kind of people that are thinking globally. people are eating all sorts of different things today and looking for new food products like our snails. SONYA BEGG: The potential is much stronger and greater now because we actually have a sustainable farming activity. SEAN MURPHY: It’s a tribute to the passion and perseverance of Sonya Begg. plus. So. there's new jobs being created as a result of it. diversified industry. they're investing in the region.29/10/2006: Snail farmers … JEFF LATHAM: It's a new. It was just something that I thought could have potential.htm 4/4 . which is very exciting. is the emergence of the small to medium enterprises. for example. potential's good. SONYA BEGGS: You might just want to give those a bit of a spray-out. who now hopes to establish an Australian snail breeders' association.

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