There’s no doubt the last six months across this region and beyond redefined the boundaries of ‘challenging’ for many Australians. But life is resilient, and despite the drought, bushfires, floods, and threat of Covid 19, work has continued behind the lockdown to realise the full potential of The Artisan Farmer within an onsite presence of a cafe, deli and bakery. So pop open that champagne bottle and watch this space, the site office has been delivered and the Construction Certificate and its commitments, are in. Sometimes it’s the journey as well as the destination that matters so please, join us as we take our steps, slowly but confidently, towards realising a dream.
There’s a lot to learn about avocados. Firstly, did you know the plural of avocados is not spelt with an ‘e’ (oops. Lesson learnt). Secondly, the origins of the name comes from the Aztec word for ‘testicle’. It has also been called ‘alligator pear’, referencing the rough skin and shape of the fruit. Thirdly, when growing avocados, it’s important to fertilise, mulch, and have two different types of tree – which gets me to my last point. Some types of avocado trees are A types, and others are B types. It takes a B to fertilise an A, and it takes an A to fertilise a B. This is because each tree has BOTH female and male flowers which open at opposite times of the day. For example, the A type tree’s female flower will open in the morning, and its male flower will open in the afternoon. But the B type tree does the opposite, with the male opening in the morning, then the female in the afternoon. I believe with a bit of luck and the right wind or insect, they can even pollinate their own flowers in the brief period where the male and female flowers overlap. Confused? Me too. But I think it’s still impressive.
So many thanks to local growers Sandra Fishwick and her sons Joey and Carl Hanly from Red Plateau Organic Produce, who gave me my introductory lesson in growing avocados, seen here in this short film. They have successfully navigated the sometimes choppy waters of succession farming by expanding their business across not one but now two farms. Interestingly, other local farmers are also taking up the avocado mantle, swapping dairy herds for avocado orchards as they tap into a burgeoning industry. With avocado consumption on the rise and recipes incorporating them continuously emerging well past the traditional salad, they are part of an increasingly busy local mid north coast industry supplying both big and small business nationwide.
They say if you haven’t planted your garlic by May, then you might as well forget it.
Well, it’s now May, and as per usual I haven’t done a thing about it… But I bet Jan Goroncy has.
I first heard about Barrington’s Jan Goroncy when I was working at the local paper – a local fondly referred to him as ‘the father’ of Gloucester’s garlic movement, and it had just won a foodie award in Melbourne.
“Well,” I thought, “there’s a story.”
Juggling responsibilities between an online healthcare business and his farm near Barrington, Gloucester, Jan’s passion for wholistic farming is contagious. He is a biodynamic farmer – think Steiner, think anthroposophy, linking a mystical cosmos to the natural world of scientific facts. He buries cow dung in cow horns in synch with seasons and the moon; undug months later, the revived dung no longer has the qualities of poo – it doesn’t smell but instead has turned into an incredibly rich, fertile soil which is heavily diluted with biodynamically ‘treated’ water and then used as a fertiliser. Of course I had to ask – turns out the water treatment is about ‘breaking the memory of the water’ – then I had to ask about that too and found a simple answer – all water on earth is recycled, so it has millions of years of memory. Now there’s an interesting concept!
With no chemicals used; locally re-purposed oyster shells ground for their calcium; ‘heavily scented’ (there’s an understatement) re-purposed ‘fish stew’ brewed for, um… everything, the farming is hard work, but the flavour of produce speaks for itself. Suffering from a slight bout of pneumonia at the time of filming, Jan’s garlic nonetheless blew my head off. Fantastic!!
Imagine throwing your energy and money into growing something for people who didn’t even know such produce existed. I realise all farming is a risk, but generally it follows trends enhanced by political or corporate decisions. To actually go out and decide to grow produce before the mass market (indigenous Australians excepted) actually exists is a pretty brave decision. But that’s exactly what native spice growers Barbara and Bruce Barlin from Barbushco decided to do, almost 30 years ago. And thanks to industry advocates, it’s paying off. Continue reading “Spicing It Up”
I’m no natural gardener, so when I come across those who are, I bow my head in reverence. It means I’m looking down a lot (makes cycling hard) because I happen to live in a region prolific with green thumbs – with four such thumbs digging in the soil behind The Artisan Farmer as I write.Continue reading “Paddock to Garden to Plate”