A CHAPTER in the culinary history of Orange came to a close this week after the region’s only commercial free range snail farm was dismantled and relocated to Victoria.
An unusual addition to the food and wine scene since it was first established in 2003, Ross Hill Cool Climate Snails is no more after entrepreneur Sonya Begg was forced to retire due to ill health.
Late last week the contents of the farm were packed and loaded onto a truck bound for Yarra Valley Snails, north of Melbourne.
The equipment and materials were purchased by Yarra Valley Snails owner Robyn Schrader after her own snail farm was destroyed by the devastating Black Saturday bushfires.
“After I made the decision to retire I planned to sell the farm locally but I was involved as a consultant when Yarra Valley Snails was first set up and I knew it had been burnt out so this option made sense,” Sonya said.
“It’s really sad to see the truck drive away with all the equipment. It’s been such a huge part of my life. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about it all but there comes a time in your life where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
A pioneer in the industry, Sonia started Australia’s first commercial snail farm in 1987 and is widely regarded as being instrumental in developing Orange’s status as a food and wine destination.
Her snails were recently given a highly commended award at the Vogue Entertainment and Travel Produce Awards and were a regular fixture on the menu at local gourmet eatery Lolli Redini.