Bottle feeding lambs, driving her dad’s tractor and baking are just some of Fiona’s earliest memories of life on the original Springhill Farm in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. Springhill Farm started out as a kids education farm where children from the city would visit to experience rural life, feed the baby animals, milk cows and try milling flour. The children’s last taste of the farm was a muesli slice baked by Fiona’s mum Jo Barber, which, unbeknownst to the family at the time, has now become their bread and butter.
Fiona is a Jill-of-all-trades – she is a fully qualified physiotherapist and Pilates instructor, can shear a sheep blind-folded (well, almost!), and is a busy mum to three boys, Charlie, Henry and Freddy. She now runs the show at Springhill Farm alongside her husband, James, since taking over the reins from founders and parents Jo and Ray in 2010.
A country boy through and through, James grew up milking cows and feeding calves on a dairy farm in Nanneella about 20km south of Echuca. From the farm James headed to the big smoke for an education in socialising and then back to the country to forge a career as a farm business advisor, helping farmers to become more efficient and manage their risks. After two years of weekends spent driving the 700km round trip to see his then girlfriend and now wife Fiona Barber in her hometown, James moved to Ballarat.
They say that if you can’t beat them join them, and after two years of family dinners with the Barber family where the conversation invariably turned to Springhill Farm, James decided to join them.James began working for Springhill Farm in 2010 and since then the baking industry has become an all-consuming passion. As Springhill Farm’s chief product developer James finds himself in the test kitchen more often than his desk, evolving the traditional recipes that Springhill Farm is so well known for. When asked: “Computer or apron? James replied: “Apron, any-day!”.