On the weekend of the 18th/19th October we experienced first hand how three Food Connect farmers connect to nature through their ecological land practices. The main purpose for the farm tour, however, was to find more great produce and extras we can offer in the not too distant future.
After a brief pit stop in the beautiful blooms of Toowoomba and a tyre change en route our first planned destination was Robin & Kay Curtis’ farm a few kilometres south of Millmerran. We were greeted with hospitality that makes country folk legendary. We enjoyed tea and scones and a chance to hear a few observations from Robin’s forty plus years farming and engineering. He answered questions like a Professor or a Buddhist Monk giving the willing student just enough information to further investigate the answer via their own efforts.
No irrigation is used in this dry country (averaging approx 250mm of rain per year in recent years) however Robin utilised a clever combination of water conservation and farming with nature in a process called Keyline farming. As a result his paddocks are a vibrant, healthy, curvy collection of life which utilises the natural hydrological and geological features of the land. In the Food Connect boxes during mid-summer expect rockmelons and watermelons grown in Robin’s lighter soils and in the future we hope to supply whole grain sunflower, sesame, red wheat, gala wheat, spelt, barley and golden linseed grown in the heavier soil.
Robin possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge and one could spend years gleaning from this well of wisdom. Both Robin, Kay and the farm itself are true assets to the region and we hope to bring you more from this superb property.
After leaving Robin and Kay’s property, we then ventured to Ray and Sam Palmer’s magnificent property (formally Ray’s grandfather’s) nestled in the undulating granite woodland country of Stanthorpe.
By the time we had arrived and set up camp the night had crept in and it was time to share food, stories and a few quite ales around the camp fire.
The earth was cool and soft in the morning as Ray, barefoot and fresh for a new day, collected an enthusiastic group of willing workers to help harvest the spinach.
An exclusive Food Connect farmer (and his own stall at Northey St and Stanthorpe markets), Ray will supply leek, diakoms, horse radish, and kohl rabi in the coming weeks. In the nursery greenhouse awaiting planting are non-hybrid zucchinis, cucumber, heritage tomatoes, squash, black kale, celeriac, chard, cavola nero, romanesco broccoli and a variety of large chillis.
We then visited Neil Cook’s organic apple orchid a few kilometres down the road. Many of the apple trees are still in bloom so we can all look forward to enjoying them again early next year. We also sourced some apple cider vinegar for use in Angela’s preserves which we hope to offer for sale in the not too distant future (both the preserves and vinegar!).
It was time for us to move on back to Ray’s via a great little cheesery. We had a quick dip in the water hole before heading home via Killarney.
I am most grateful to the farmers for their time and inspiration. I definitely feel more connected both to our community of farmers and the land on which they apply their craft.