Announcing the new Saskia Beer Churchill Fellowship

02 Dec 2020

Colin and Maggie Beer, on the bench between the original Farmshop and daughter Elli’s Eatery on reopening after COVID lockdown reminiscing about their journey. featured image
Colin and Maggie Beer, on the bench between the original Farmshop and daughter Elli’s Eatery on reopening after COVID lockdown reminiscing about their journey.

Colin and Maggie Beer approached the Churchill Trust several months ago, with the idea of setting up a perpetual legacy for their daughter Saskia, after she died unexpectedly, yet peacefully in her sleep at the age of 46 in February this year.

The Saskia Beer Churchill Fellowship will be offered annually to national applicants from 2022 onwards, with the criteria to be focused on artisanal food production and/or small-scale farming innovation. All Fellows will be required to publish a report and actively engage in disseminating their findings within the food industry when they return.

The connections between the Churchill Trust and the Beer family began almost 50 years ago, with Colin Beer awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1978 to study overseas developments in commercial game bird breeding and its tourist potential.

As Colin notes, “at that time, there was very little knowledge to be gained in Australia. The only way to find out more about the breeding of game birds was to be able to open doors in Europe and the States where it was more common.”

“In my travels I visited a turkey farm on the border of Scotland that was a lightbulb moment of how we could use the base of this in the Barossa. Apart from learning more about the breeding of game birds, the Farmshop we opened the next year became the catalyst for everything else we’ve done. It was a very early paddock to plate scenario” said Colin.

With both Colin and Maggie at the helm, the Farmshop then morphed into the highly awarded Pheasant Farm Restaurant, from which The Maggie Beer produce label evolved and is now a much loved and international success story. The Farmshop is still open on its original site, where the Beer family continue to farm.

Pictured L-R Colin Beer with a pheasant from his farm, 1978, the year he received a Churchill Fellowship to study overseas developments in commercial game bird breeding. Colin and Maggie Beer at their Barossa Valley Pheasant Farm near Tanunda in 1979. Colin Beer with a pheasant from his farm in 2020.

As Maggie Beer writes, “even though our products are known all over the world, the Farm Shop remains in our family as our special place that we love to share with visitors.”

“Given that the Churchill Fellowship was the springboard for our food journey when Colin was awarded it to study game bird breeding, the synergies with this award and Saskia’s work seemed so perfect. We hope this new Fellowship will open doors for new ideas just like it did for us,” says Maggie.

Adam Davey, CEO of the Churchill Trust, highlights how honoured the Trust is to be announcing this new Fellowship.

“We feel privileged that the Beer family have chosen to partner with us to offer an enduring legacy to reflect Saskia’s work in, and passion, for the food industry, and enable others to pursue excellence in this field, for the benefit of many Australians,” said Adam.

The Saskia Beer Churchill Fellowship will be available for aspiring Australians in the Churchill Trust’s next application round, which opens in February 2022. For more information please contact kirsty.guster@churchilltrust.com.au.