Grand Designs

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…

 

An Auspicious Day

 

 

25 August 2020… An auspicious day for The Artisan Farmer project, with 36 HUGE HOLES OF PERFECTION FRESHLY DUG AND CEMENTED IN!!! Ah, the things we get excited about. Local earthmover extraordinaire Zane’s mechanical extended arm worked tirelessly to move truck loads of soil out with farm manager Murray’s help in readiness to welcome the steel frame for the build. With the large frame due in 5 weeks or so, follow this space for updates and another local producer’s story (soon to be released… yes, it’s been waiting on the sidelines for this moment) while the concrete cures. Here’s looking to mid 2021 for the grand opening!

 

 

 

Perfecting Pasta… and more!

A variety of seasonal flavours, inspired by the garden

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!”

Glorious Garlic

Mulch, mulch, mulch the garlic.

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!!

 

 

 

GALLERY:

Mushroom Magic

Cute and edible!

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!

Continue reading “Mushroom Magic”

Culture and Chocolate

It’s no secret that I am addicted to chocolate. I keep it everywhere. Even as I sit here writing, I have some by my side. So when cheesemaker Peter from Comboyne Culture pointed me in the direction of Tash from Babalila Chocolates (located by the picturesque maze at Bago Vineyards’ tasting room, just over an hour north… just in case you’re looking for something kid and adult friendly during these summer holidays), I didn’t hesitate.

Like her chocolate, Tash’s background is rich and colourful (Baba is ‘grandmother’ in Russian. Lila was Tash’s mother, a Shanghai Russian prior to migrating to Australia. And her father? He was a Russian opera singer, singing to the masses. As I said… a colourful background!). So tapping into both her Russian and Australian heritage, the flavours and textures in her fondants are complex and… well, wonderful. Is it possible that history and the use of simple ancestral family utensils can add that extra sense of something special? Continue reading “Culture and Chocolate”

Welcome to The Artisan Farmer

There’s been a bit of movement on the northern edge of Nabiac lately, and the word is slowly getting around.

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,

Bec