The smell of onion jam wafts invitingly from Leanne Wheaton's warm and oh-so-welcoming country kitchen at "Coorong", Jindera.
Leanne jumps up occasionally to stir the jam bubbling away in huge pots on her stove while she tells me about the huge increase in sales of their Grass Roots Beef products both online and at farmers' markets during COVID-19.
Leanne and her husband Gordon Shaw have witnessed an influx of new customers lining up for the weekly farmers' markets still operating at Wodonga (Saturdays) and Wagga (Thursdays) as well as a spike in online sales since the global pandemic hit Australian shores.
The couple, whose beef business runs under the "feel good about the meat that you eat" motto, have noticed customers are younger and hungrier for information about how the beef they are buying is raised.
"There have been a whole lot of people coming to the farmers' markets we haven't seen before," Leanne says.
"People selling fresh produce, like meat and fruit and vegetables, have been doing well.
"Before COVID-19, our best day at the Riverina Producers' Market, for example, was $1600; now it's more than twice that."
While Leanne acknowledges beef is very much a seasonal thing (more steaks, sausages and rissoles are typically sold in summer versus slow-cooker cuts in winter), she has noticed a difference in what's being sold in the current coronavirus climate.
"Everyone is buying chuck steak and slow cooking," she says.
"I'm not sure whether it's to do with being at home more or being careful with money.
"They are also tackling cuts they might not have tried.
"If someone buys brisket, it's nice to be able to tell them how to cook that with confidence; we also have a lot of recipes on our website."
Gordon and Leanne, who offer cuts you don't find on supermarket shelves, usually entice customers to their stall with the help of a mouth-watering slow cooker dish.
In fact it's just about the only thing the close-knit partnership disagrees on - Gordon swears by a beef curry while Leanne usually insists on osso bucco topped with gremolata.
Quality to tempt the tastebuds
It may seem like a strange thing for beef producers to say but Gordon Shaw and Leanne Wheaton are "really happy" about the fact people are eating less red meat.
"We want people to eat - and taste - better quality," Leanne says.
That "less is more" philosophy was the catalyst for the beginnings of their Grass Roots Beef venture in 2015 when they decided to develop a paddock to plate brand delivering ethically produced beef to customers.
The 1600-acre family property at Holbrook, originally run by Gordon's parents and owned by Jim Shaw and Cathy Simpson, provides the optimum environment to run the 500 breeding cows that form the foundation of the business.
The good soil and reliable rainfall, for which the region is renowned, allow the family to produce 100 per cent grass-fed beef year-round.
Gordon and Leanne also have 40 hectares at the idyllic Jindera property they call home.
"The animals get fat on grass," Leanne states.
"We don't run our farms hard; there is a lot of natural bush, we rotate cattle and have a tree planting program. In the last drought we fed silage we made in 2005."
While the entire farming operation at Holbrook sees cattle sold conventionally through the saleyards, 20 per cent of the "best at the time" are picked for the Grass Roots Beef business.
Cattle are handled quietly, they are processed locally at Gathercole's Wangaratta and butchered at Meat Talk, Albury with Gordon going in to make sausages and rissoles.
They started at Wagga and branched out to Beechworth, Rutherglen, Wangaratta, Myrtleford and Border farmers' markets; they also make monthly trips to Canberra and Melbourne.
Leanne is particularly excited about moving to cold compostable vacuum packing with their trays made of recycled water bottles.
"We are passionate about the environment and sustainability," she adds.
When they started on this path, there was a lot of talk about grain-fed beef.
"Just as there was an awareness that having chickens in cages was not humane, people were starting to realise their red meat was being farmed in the same way," Leanne says.
"And if you want a reliable food supply I think people need to support local producers and the local community."