50 years ago on September 6, 1969, Grant Paech picked the very first strawberry on the Beerenberg Family Farm in Hahndorf, South Australia. A half-century later, the family-owned and operated business is a household name, known for over 100 different jams, condiments, meal bases, and slow cooker sauces, as well as their famous strawberry farm where visitors from around the world visit to pick their own strawberries.
A South Australian Family Business
The Beerenberg Family Farm is located in the picturesque Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Johann George and Anna Rosina Paech sailed with their five children from Prussia to South Australia in 1838. Along with 52 other Lutheran families, they established the village of Hahndorf, named for their ship’s captain, in Adelaide Hills. Together, they used their skills to work the land as subsistence farmers, producing fruit, vegetables, and livestock.
Five generations later, Grant and Carol Paech inherited the family farm in 1969.
After growing tired of the day-in-day-out grind of being a dairy farmer, Grant had the idea to go against family tradition of subsistence farming and to instead use the land to grow strawberries. Three or four mornings a week, he would wake up at 3am and take the strawberries to the local markets to sell. One morning, after picking berries for a specific order, it fell through, and Grant was left with a bounty of fresh strawberries and no one to take them.
After asking both his mother and his wife Carol to make the strawberries into jam and being turned down, Grant took his mother’s recipe and prepared it himself. “It boiled over and made a huge mess,” his daughter Sally remembers her mother sharing, “but he got the hang of it eventually, and we sold out completely on the first day.”
That first batch of strawberry jam made by Grant himself in 1971 was the beginning of Beerenberg as we know it today.
The Growth of Beerenberg
The Beerenberg name came to be in 1971, when Grant and a close friend cooked up the
brand name Beerenberg, meaning ‘Berry Hill’ in German. With the growth of the Beerenberg business, the family farm would come to share the same name.
Within the first few years, they introduced new varieties of jams, sauces, chutneys, and pickled onions. The success of the products led to the opening of the first Beerenberg shop and ‘pick your own strawberries,’ which attracted locals and tourists alike to visit the Beerenberg farm.
In 1987, the success of Beerenberg jam soared above the clouds—literally. At that time, Australia’s top airline Qantas was serving imported Scottish jams to their passengers. Upon hearing this, Grant called up Qantas and pitched Beerenberg jam. Qantas was interested if Grant could find suitably sized jars for their flights. So, Grant found another Australian company, ACI Glass Packaging, and they created a 42-gram glass jar. Together with ACI Glass Packaging, Beerenberg won the business with the support of South Australian politicians, who also felt that Australian jam should be served on Australia’s top airline.
Beerenberg Celebrates 50 Years
After many years of growth, the business is still 100% family-owned. The sixth generation of the Paech family now run the business. Grant and Carol’s sons Robert and Anthony Paech serve as the Farm Manager and Managing Director respectively, while their daughter Sally is the Marketing Manager. They make all business decisions with their mother Carol as a family.
Sadly, Grant Paech passed away in 2015. But Carol, Robert, Anthony, Sally and the rest of the family know how happy he would be to celebrate 50 years since he picked that very first strawberry.
“I know our dad would be extremely proud of this milestone and all that our family has achieved since that first patch of strawberries was planted on our farm,” says Sally Paech, Owner & Marketing Director.
To celebrate and commemorate their 50th anniversary, Beerenberg and the Paech family are excited to launch a new limited edition ‘Strawberry & Rose Jam,’ so named for the fact that their dad Grant grew the strawberries and their mom Carol grew the roses.
The limited-edition gift box is available exclusively from the Beerenberg Farm Shop in Hahndorf and the Beerenberg online store. As the first strawberry was picked in 1969, the product will retail for $19.69.
Support the family-run business by voting for Beerenberg in the 2019 SA Premier’s Food and Beverage Awards.