In the year 2000, when GST had just been introduced and farms weren’t selling, Erica Dibden and her husband Nic decided to take a chance and buy a property in the Tilba Valley.
The couple worked hard improving the soil structure and infrastructure on the farm, and in 2012 decided to start bottling their own milk and making their own cheese. They bought the ABC Cheese Factory in Central Tilba, and now produce a range of award winning dairy products, including full cream milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream.
Tilba Real Dairy supplies to tourists and wholesalers, and to a range of businesses in the region. Erica says Canberra is an integral part of the business because it’s so accessible; they regularly travel to Canberra for the Farmers Market and sell product to Canberra locals who holiday in the area.
Erica and her husband are passionate about supporting the region, employing 20 local staff members and investing money locally wherever possible. She believes that the conditions in Tilba are ideal for starting a food business. “The region is pristine. We have pure water, pure air, and beautiful soil. There are many benefits to tap into in this area. We also have Sydney and Canberra, and a growing population.”
Erica says they feel very lucky to live in Tilba. “It’s stunning. And yes, it is hard work. But we don’t have neighbours in our pocket, we have beautiful rolling green hills, animals, the kids can ride their motorbikes, and I’ve got a massive vegie garden. There are so many positives to living on a farm!”