Spicing It Up

Rosella fruit

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.

These days, while some of us are still learning how to make the most of them, we at least know about native spices. But certainly for me, they are more accessible and useful than I realised.

The lower mid north coast is not considered to be an arid kind of a place. So I was surprised to discover a thriving farm devoted to growing organic native Australian spices, all of them local to this region. Banishing stereotypical images of stark seeded bushes growing in a desert, these native spices grown amongst the green hills of Lorne – near Port Macquarie – include lemon myrtle trees, aniseed myrtle trees, lemon tea trees, rosella bushes, davidson plums trees, lilli pilli trees and dorrigo pepper trees. Former IT workers Barbara and Bruce have worked hard over several decades (and by the way, they’re ready to retire, so it’s for sale!) to raise awareness about the benefits of their produce, with very tasty results (just try their lemon myrtle cheesecake!). Fortunately, with technology comes access, and the global market has opened its doors wide to our native spices. But whether its tea, oil, pasta, jams, cheese or banana cake recipes, sauces, or even chocolates (check out Babalila Chocolates), there’s a wealth of flavour linked to native spices that many Australians themselves are still yet to discover…

So go on, I urge you, discover it. It’s worth it.


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