Steve Birkbeck doesn’t want to be the biggest and the best in the world anymore. He’s already been down that road. These days, the perfume pioneer is all about family. About 10km west of Denmark, three generations of Birkbecks are living and working on a 332ha farm backing on to William Bay National Park. Mr Birkbeck and his partner of 45 years, Karen, are sowing the seeds for a sustainable future with their three daughters, partners and five grandchildren. Now, after a decade of keeping quiet about their new regenerative farming, agri-tourism venture, the family are ready to reveal their vision. “The world has changed, and growth for the sake of growth is not where my values are,” Mr Birkbeck said. “For me, the most important thing is to hand over a sustainable future to my grandkids. “To make that bigger than just what we are doing here and create something that other people can learn and build from. “I’ve always done that. I have always created momentum.” The Birkbecks are channelling their energy into Raintree Estate, a company of nine enterprises, with the family farm at the centre of production and innovation. Across their sprawling estate, they produce 350 head of cattle, two tonnes of marron and 2500 oak trees growing truffles beneath the soil each year. They are also throwing their weight behind the fledgling industrial hemp industry, with an 8ha crop. The lifeblood of each enterprise is water. Forty dams across the estate provide 200 million litres of water from limestone-filtered springs, with 120 million litres sourced from a huge dam at the entrance of the property. A bitter dispute with former State planning minister John Day over the dam has cast a shadow over the past decade for Mr Birkbeck. In an unprecedented move, Mr Day took Mr Birkbeck and the Shire of Denmark to the State Administrative Appeals Tribunal over the dam he had built in 2007. At the time, Mr Birkbeck was told he did not need planning approval for the dam. But six years later, a bureaucratic nightmare forced Mr Birkbeck to fight against the need to retroactively seek a development application. “I could view it bitterly but I don’t regret anything in my life,” he said. “It just made us recluse for 10 years. It cost us an enormous amount of money and I stopped investing in this region, in WA. “We even contemplated selling our farm.” Since slashing that red tape, Mr Birkbeck has shifted his focus to building a tavern-style venue overlooking the body of water he fought so hard to keep. The Dam, a 2380sqm agri-tourism venue, will accommodate up to 70 patrons, with bar and cellar-door sales of premium food and beverages from a distillery on-site headed by his son-in-law Matt Beaton. Mr Birkbeck has lodged a development application with the Shire of Denmark which is out for public comment until November 20. Next to the main building is a 500-tonne stone amphitheatre created by Mr Birkbeck, which he hopes to use as a space to amplify Indigenous voices and causes taking action against climate change. The Dam will provide a “flagship rural showcase” sharing the Birkbecks’ low-carbon, regenerative approach to farming and produce from across Raintree Estate. Embodying a farm-to-table, farm-to-bottle philosophy, the products will be cultivated from more than 95 per cent farm produce with a reduced carbon footprint, including ethanol produced from crops on the farm. Mr Birkbeck said exploration of industrial hemp was central to The Dam. Drawing on his pioneering experience in the luxury fragrance industry, Mr Birkbeck has been using industrial hemp as a solvent to draw out flavours and fragrances from homegrown crops to infuse with produce grown on the farm including beef and marron. “All my life experience has been in perfume, but the similarities between fragrance and flavour are really quite compelling,” he said. “Effectively flavours are not an industry in WA. But it’s a huge $25 billion industry around the world. “What has never been done is to use industrial hemp as the solvent.” One breakthrough has been developing a first of its kind perfume using cannabis and truffles, a project which has been slowed by regulations surrounding the use of industrial hemp. “The reason I succeed in new industry is I’m not very good at established big business,” Mr Birkbeck said. “But going from zero to $20 million of turnover, that is where I am nimble and quick because I always find my way around something.” Mr Birkbeck said the family hoped to push the boundaries for industrial hemp and see how it could enhance the flavour profiles of their sustainably farmed produce. “When we open our facilities we will become an advocate, not just for hemp, but for ecologically responsible products and concepts,” he said. The State Government recently backed The Dam with a $53,000 Regional Economic Development Grant. Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said The Dam showed a clear shift back to diversification on farms. “The Dam is a great example of how this can work: combining premium food and beverage, industrial hemp, cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals into a tourism and agricultural venture in the regions,” she said. “Hemp is still a relatively small industry in WA, but we see real potential given its multitude of end uses — from food to clothing, building materials, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.” Mr Birkbeck said The Dam would open as a private venue in the first half of next year.