Dalveen couple add relish
HUSBAND and wife Christy Quilliam and Shaun Pettigrew took on a new challenge on the Granite Belt last December, a far cry from their respective upbringings in North Queensland and London.
The pair bought The Straw House, a two-room bed and breakfast at Dalveen sitting on almost nine hectares, just before Christmas last year.
One year on and the couple are continuing to grow their business, making organic jams and chutneys from their home-grown produce and selling them for the first time in Warwick at the weekend.
"We haven't done any markets with these products before,” Ms Quilliam said.
"I used to sell leathergoods at Bondi when I was living in Sydney years ago, and Shaun used to vend at Portobello Rd in London.”
"We really just wanted a change of lifestyle,” Mr Pettigrew said.
"We had been based in Auckland for a while and we wanted to do something a bit different.
"When Dalveen came along it was just the right property for us and we had a vision for it.”
The couple both still work in the film industry - Ms Quilliam as an actress and Mr Pettigrew as a cinematographer and photographer.
Ms Quilliam said it was while they lived in New Zealand the fondness for jam making came to the fore.
"When we were in Auckland we had a fig tree in the backyard,” she said.
"I'm not much of a fresh fig eater so I was giving away fruit as much as I could but it still seemed like a waste to not use the fruit.
"I started making a fig chutney out of it which our friends really enjoyed and that pairs really well with meats.”
The products under The Straw House brand vary from a sweeter spiced pear jam to a tart grape jelly made from cabernet sauvignon grapes.
Following an organic growing philosophy, Mr Pettigrew said the pair had marked success in adding a variety of different ingredients on their property.
"We had for a while been interested in organics and permaculture, so everything we grow is organic,” he said.
"We don't have any sprays on our fruit and it's all from right off our
"We'd grown stuff before but on a much smaller scale,” Ms Quilliam said.
"We want to start making more jams, like chilli jams and chutneys, and begin selling commercially.”
Mr Pettigrew said since moving to the region, there had been a lot to learn but the couple were eager to take on the challenge.
"I'm rebuilding a tractor at the moment, and we had to learn how to concrete and pave to put in our driveway,” he said.
"We're just finding our way as we've come from such different backgrounds.
"Everything's a challenge but we wouldn't be doing it otherwise, plus it keeps us active.” "We'd both been self-employed before but we'd never run a bed and breakfast before so we're learning a lot,” Ms Quilliam said.
The Bed and Breakfast is located at 21 Straw House Ln, Dalveen.
For further inquiries and bookings, phone 0457680653.