It’s hard to comprehend the difference between the lengthy drought experienced during the filming of this story, and the disastrous severe flooding events our region is currently experiencing. Admittedly, Flower Power was filmed haltingly over a period of many months, being weather and timing dependent (whoever thought a coastal region would run out of water?!). And to confuse things even more, when I began writing this, the long dry finally burst its banks – literally – and I witnessed the grass grow in the time it took the drops to fall.
The other morning we got up early and took a daybreak flight over The Artisan Farmer via our drone. It felt like we were in a Grand Designs episode of our own choosing as we soared like birds over the farmland and framework of The Artisan Farmer’s main build. Thanks to Hughie for the incredible drone work – takes a steady hand! Hope you enjoy the flight across our mid north coast landscape as much as we did…
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.
The Artisan Farmer’s Woosters Lane, by Andreas Tychon.
Frost? Heat? Neither.
The passing of seasons is often taken for granted, as the changes occur over a period time that we are constantly adapting to. So I was taken aback to find these photographs by local Diamond Beach photographer Andreas Tychon showcasing The Artisan Farmer‘s paddocks were taken at the same using different effects, including the use of infrared. Thanks so much for sending them to us Andreas – love your comment : “The Nabiac locale is great for this type of photography, lots of trees and grassy expanses as well as mountains and hills.”
Indeed, Nabiac may be a small village on the Mid North Coast, but we consider it the centre of the universe, with a bit of everything!
The effect of frost at The Artisan Farmer. Photographs by Andreas Tychon.
It was hard to know how to name this story – really, it should read ‘Perfecting Pasta and A Few Sauces Along The Way’ but that seems a little wordy (let alone, ‘Perfecting Pasta and A Few Sauces Along the Way While Gaining An Architectural Degree and Building A Tiny Home‘ – nice one Dan!)
And yet such diversity encapsulates the cottage industry producer – having enough products to appeal to everyone, but without diluting the main idea behind the thrust of your actual passion and business.
Fortunately for Mel and Dan, sauces and pasta go naturally together and they are great at growing and making both. Continue reading “Perfecting Pasta… and more!”
One of the great things about this job is learning small things across a wide range of topics… And the field of mushrooms is no different… so if you already know that mushrooms ‘pin’, well, you are steps ahead of me.
Awhile back, I headed out to the hills behind Wingham to meet Levi and Kelly. The inspiring duo are putting their words into action, ‘living the dream’ to live off the land, growing exotic but highly edible (the all important word) mushrooms.
Armed with their own DIY science gleaned from that instructive omniscient resource called the Net, they successfully brave winter’s cold and beat summer’s heat to fight the good fight for their fungi, uncovering new depths to the terms ‘a sterile environment’ and ‘invention is the mother of necessity’ . This incredibly hardworking team has cheerfully approached the daunting task of growing shiitakes, oysters, king browns and more with creativity, determination and innovation, resulting in mouth-wateringly delicious results.
Amidst it all, they’ve been preparing to move the whole operation up the road to become bigger, better and even more carbon neutral. In fact, from what I’ve seen on their facebook page, that move is currently underway (that’ll be Mushrooms Episode #2!).
So forget those processed supermarket mushrooms – wrap your mouths around these tasty morsels instead. Thanks Mooral Creek Mushrooms!
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”
The building of a gourmet food outlet in the region is underway.
Drive past the block on the Pacific Highway, corner of Woosters Lane, you might have seen local man Zane Temple’s earth shifting prowess in action, readying the block for The Artisan Farmer, a locally built food hub celebrating… well, food.
It’s fair to say it’s a milestone moment in a 20-year dream for the Doyle family, locals who moved to the region almost two decades ago from Sydney to raise their family and a bevy of farm animals including Wagyu herds, pigs, and sheep. Once a weekly commuter between Nabiac and Sydney, Peter Doyle moved his core business closer to home several years ago to enjoy what’s now a five minute commute.
Freed up to spend more time on the farm with his family, along with the food he has turned his gaze homeward to find others who are on their own journeys to embrace the lifestyle they dream of. As a result, The Artisan Farmer will eventually include on menus and shelves an extended family of local producers, contributing towards not just a retail deli, but a bakery, café, and produce outlet. The gardening team behind Eat My Farm – Tim and Ange – are already well and truly in the thick of growing many of the vegies which will eventually supply The Artisan Farmer, and more (look out for those weekly boxes!).
Taking the concept beyond a gourmet meal, a library of specially commissioned short films will also showcase some of the stories behind regional produce – stories which are helping inspire the project as it grows. After all, what does lead people to move out of their comfort zone to live their dream? (Just please take care not to run over the girl on the bike in the films, if you happen to see her on the backroads.)
So as the concrete is readied for the mixer, as the pad is flattened and the roads established and the people to run it brought on board, starting from the end of this week we will release a little taste of those stories, with more to come. We hope they will whet your appetite!
Thanks for the interest,