Barossa's Table: The Food Forest3/10/2011 10:33:00 PM
The first stop on my busy Barossa's Table itinerary was The Food Forest, a permaculture farm in Gawler. It was literally my first stop: straight from the airport to the farm! I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as my itinerary only said, mysteriously: "Food Forest Workshop". I'd had a quick sticky-beak at their website the week before, and learnt that they produce around 160 varieties of organically certified food, run courses on sustainability and host visitors for educational trips. Great stuff! But I still couldn't figure out what I'd actually be doing there. Would they teach me how to forage for food? Would they set me to work on their farm? (Eep - manual labour is not my strong point!)
What we actually did was relaxed and low-key, but still informative and enlightening. (Especially for a city-slicker like me!) I enjoyed lunch with owners Graham and Annemarie Brookman and their WWOOFers (Willing Workers On Organic Farms), and then they took me around the farm and showed me how permaculture works practically.
Let's start with lunch:
The WWOOFers had made pickled zucchini and hot pickled chillies - delicious. One of the WWOOFers, Gabe, had also made acorn flour the week before - how cool is that?! Unfortunately there wasn't any left so I didn't get to try any. I wonder what it tastes like? I'll have to make it a point to find some and try it.
Following lunch, Annemarie took me into the garden and showed me how they designed it according to permaculture principles. Basically, permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is based on the relationships found in natural ecologies - it is about sustainable land use. (Thanks Wikipedia!) That definition does sound a little theoretical and academic, but as I saw, the actual practice of permaculture is extremely practical, and involves a good deal of plain common sense. It's things like having north-facing windows to maximise light coming into the house, collecting rainwater for household use, using a natural reedbed system to filter grey water so it can be reused in the garden, and even just keeping the veggie and herb patch near the kitchen so that it is in easy reach.
Annemarie and Graham built this pizza oven from scratch!
Apart from fruits and veggies, Food Forest also grows nuts, and is a prominent producer of organic pistachios (Graham gave me a bag of raw pistachios - they were so good!)
|Top: Raw Pecan Nuts|
Bottom: Raw Pistachios
|Funky pistachio machine|
Graham said he'd normally cook it, but those "raw-food-types" would eat it raw, so I thought, "why not?" and chomped straight into it.
|Such delicious corn!|
And you know what? It was the best corn I have eaten. In my life. Seriously. It was incredibly sweet and juicy, better than any supermarket corn I've ever had. Apparently once corn is plucked, the sugars in it turn to starch (rather like peas), so the fresher you can eat it, the better it is.
Here are some awards that Food Forest have won...
They also produce wine (I soon learnt that almost everyone in the Barossa is connected to wine in some way!) Graham generously gave me a bottle of semillon and one of cabernet merlot - I can't wait to try them! (The rest of my Barossa trip was very wine-heavy, so I didn't even get a chance to try these wines while I was there.)
They've got chicken, roosters and geese as well. This was about as close as I could get to the geese before they started waddling away!
As I mentioned above, The Food Forest is available for tours and school groups, (you do have to book in advance though) and is a great place to learn about permaculture, sustainable farming and sustainable homes. Big thanks to Graham and Annemarie for an educational and enjoyable afternoon!