It all began in 2009 when I was nine years old. It had been my chore looking after our small flock of hens in the farm. One day Mom looked at me and said “why don’t you do all the work and then you can have all the money from the eggs.” Forty hens didn’t seem much work, so I gladly agreed. I became the sole person responsible for my hens.
Initially I sold eggs to our neighbours for $4/dozen. I expanded my flock and realized I needed new customers. I also needed a name and a label. The name came to us from a friend. She opened a dozen eggs and seeing the blue and green Aracauna eggs, as well as all different brown, white and even a pinkish eggs, she said you have rainbow eggs! And so it became Josh’s Rainbow Eggs.
Every Friday afternoon I would go into Gisborne with Dad and cold call into the local stores there and ask employees if they would like to buy my eggs. I explained to them how I look after the hens and how fresh the eggs are. Most times people bought my eggs. I used to walk the streets with two cloth shopping bags each with 8 dozen. On a good day I sold about 30 dozen.
When Mom bred some more hens for me and I got to a flock of 100, I knew I needed another market. The Lancefield farmers market, our biggest local market, was keen to let me have a stall. The first market I sold 40 dozen eggs, it was amazing. Every few months or so Mom would hatch more hens and I would have more eggs. I did all the chores, ordered supplies, cleaned the eggs (although the family did help with this), did the finances and talked to all the customers. Mom and Dad made me give some money back for capital investment – which was mainly the fencing, put half into my savings bank and the rest was for spending. The markets in the Macedon Ranges were great and soon I was at a market every Saturday (Lancefield, Woodend, Riddell and Kyneton). I started giving talks at markets and local libraries and then we had our first big farm day and I led a tour of 250 people around the farm.
When I was 11 we had a friend recommend us to a small shop in Yarraville, Plump, and I went and met with Jock and he became my first real shop. We started off selling 30 dozen a week there. Amazingly we still sell eggs there but now we sell over 100 dozen/week. When I got to 800 hens Dad suggested the local Foodworks in Riddell. Mom and I met with the manager and she fortunately already knew us from the market and so was very keen to have my eggs in her store. From there as I added hens we added more independent supermarkets in our area.
In 2012 we began to employ people to help with the chores as now we had over 1200 hens. I no longer received all the money, I filled out a timesheet and was paid based on the work I did on the farm and at the markets. The next big leap came when we started selling eggs at LaManna Direct, a great big independent supermarket in Essendon Fields. We would go there on many weekends and hand out flyers to customers and talk to them about our eggs, we even cooked eggs there and handed out samples.
In 2014 Mom and I met with the National Category Manager at Coles at head office. He was very supportive and didn’t hesitate when we asked about Coles selling our eggs in our local store. Now we are at seven Coles stores, and we also added three Woolworths stores. Our eggs are in nearly every supermarket in the Macedon Ranges and in a number of supermarkets in the city. We go to eight farmers markets a month, Jack my younger brother does the local market (which is pretty amazing as he is only 10!), Jess and Dad do the Melbourne market and Mom and I visit supermarkets and talk to customers and deliver the eggs. Mom stocks the shelves and makes sure the eggs are super fresh and I have lots of conversations with people. It seems that most people in the supermarkets like hearing about the hens and want to know how they live and where their eggs come from. I also give talks at schools, particularly to the grade 5 and 6s, and also at libraries. The kids at the talks really like playing with our hens. At the Melbourne market, many kids have never held a hen. We have Blackie, Henny and Penny with us and they are cuddled all day by the little kids.