Kate Washington from VIVE

Version 2

Kate Washington of Vive knew she had a big decision to make before she accepted the Willunga Farmers Market’s 2015 Young Farmers Scholarship grant.

As she weighed up the realities of small-scale farming, the sort that involves long, physically demanding hours, irregular income, and limited resources to do the job profitably; she took a deep breath, and decided to follow her dream. It set Kate on a career path that’s changed her life – and what she hopes, is contributing to sustaining and valuing the traditional methods that support our precious food systems.

Having already invested her own money into irrigation, seedlings, seed and compost, the scholarship assisted Kate to take the next step towards growth as it covered costs for business insurance, key hand tools, water bills as well as improving irrigation.

“The grant allowed me to operate at a scale that could turn my market garden into a viable business.” Kate explains. “This has been achieved” and in less than one year “I now have reasonable part time income because I was able to expand and grow more food crops.”

“I’ve developed an efficient irrigation system and mulching helps to reduce evaporation. I grow crops that aren’t water greedy – such spinach, chard, French breakfast radishes, zucchinis and potatoes. Watermelons actually improve their sugar content through water stress, making them beautifully sweet and flavoursome.”

A typical week for Kate involves one full day of harvesting and two full days of labour which includes weeding, clearing crops, preparing beds, fertilising, planting, building infrastructure such as more than 100 meters of hand dug irrigation and a shed.

Kate’s farm is located on a picturesque block that was once a vineyard in the heart of McLaren Vale’s farming district. The block is very small, about three quarters of an acre.

“Because I don’t have a lot of land I have to find ways to draw an income more regularly. I’m working towards increasing my supply of baby vegetables because they allow me to continually rotate my crops. I’ve also found that baby vegetables are in high demand from my customers. I’m experimenting with heirloom, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks, baby kiplfler and dutch crème potatoes and smooth skin beetroot.” Kate explains. Especially popular are the French breakfast radishes “they always sell out.”

Under the scholarship program “I was mentored by Annemarie Brookman who was fantastic because she gave me the confidence to develop my own crop plan and other farm management systems. It’s vital to get the diversity of crops and rotational planting right at the beginning because it helps with the biodiversity of the block. A planned and effective system confuses the pests and reduces the amount of soil born diseases, and from an organic perspective there is less need for sprays. Sometimes sprays are necessary so I use organic based sprays such as garlic spray, which I make myself.”

“Currently I’m planting and growing cover crops – fava beans & clover. They fix nitrogen and at the end of season I will cut them down and feed them back to the garden as mulch. It helps build up the organic matter.” Kate informs me.

Kate has also learnt how to work with the sandy soil, which allows her to get plants into the ground earlier than other local growers. “The soil temperature is important because it determines if a seed will germinate”.

Mentoring in brand development and effective social media presence benefited Kate’s business enormously. “My mentor, Malcolm Leask’s advice was invaluable and he was also incredibly generous. He reinvested his fee to employ a promising young graduate graphic designer to develop my visual brand and it looks fantastic!”

Sitting next to her farming commitments, Kate also works as a garden specialist with the Stefanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program at Woodend Primary School. “It’s full on but I love it and it takes the financial pressures of full time farming away”. She works with about 125 primary school children every week, teaching them all about seasonal planting, building their own compost piles, companion planting, seed propagation and harvesting techniques.

Kate recalls her previous life, achieving a Masters in Environment at the Australian National University while working as a public policy officer for the federal Department of Agriculture. “I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I’ve learnt to value hard work, resilience, simple living and farming has made my passion for growing food even stronger. In the end, I wanted to grow food where the method for growing was as important as provenance, but the biggest reward is that people are eating this precious nutritious food.”

September 18th, 2016|Food|0 Comments

Pork Cheeks Braised in Pale Ale

Braised Pork Cheeks in Honey Wheat Beer

Prancing Pony Brewery produces a pale ale and sufficiently bitter beer of delicate flavours and floral aroma. The special thing about this dish is the beers transition to a deliciously fragrant, light and golden sauce as a result of slow cooking. The surprise is the Wistow Springs Pork which is ethically grown and free to roam. It ends up as a feast of firm yet tender flesh, so full of flavour, protected beneath its soft golden fat of molten sweetened pork essence.

It holds the promise of a meal so good; you won’t stop thinking about it.

1.5kg Wistow Springs Pork cheeks
3tlb olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 small fennel, sliced
2tsp fennel seeds
2tsp coriander seeds
375ml Prancing Pony Brewery Pale Ale  (approximately)
2tlb honey Try Do Bee Honey for beautiful, pure, cold extracted honey
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
In a non stick fry pan, Dry roast fennel and coriander seeds until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Choose an ovenproof casserole with a tight fitting lid. Heat a little olive oil in casserole and add onion. Fry for about five minutes over medium heat or until softened. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the spice and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine then add the honey and let it bubble up for a minute. Place the pork in the casserole and pour in enough beer to reach halfway up the sides of the pork but not right up to the skin. Cover with the lid, turn up the heat and bring to boil. Place in the oven. Cook the pork for approximately 2 hours, spooning the pan juices over the pork three or four times, or until the pork is very tender and caramel in colour. Set aside and rest for 15 minutes.Slice pork and serve with pan juices, sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. Serves 8

September 11th, 2015|Food, Food we love, Recipes by Lyndall|0 Comments

For the love of PAELLA

img_6838

For a number of years I’ve been working toward mastering PAELLA and I’ve come to appreciate that mastery is all about the technique! Amazing paella is about cooking each individual ingredient in a way that allows the natural textures and flavours too shine.

Last Sunday I cooked a jumbo paella for 20 friends and family and it was sensational! Here is an adapted recipe that serves 6-8 people. Simple, delicious and soul pleasing!

100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion diced
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1tlb thyme leaves
Paella spice mix – ¾ tsp each of mild, sweet and smoked paprika, a pinch of saffron threads
1 red capsicum, deseeded and diced
1 cup sofrito (slow cooked tomato sauce consisting of onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt and a liberal amount of olive oil)
1 fresh chorizo, sliced
500g firm fleshed white fish, chopped into large chunks
500g mussles and or cockles, scrubbed, cleaned, debearded
1 raw crab, broken up into pieces
1 squid, sliced
2 cups paella rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water

In a 45cm paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Next, add the garlic, chilli and thyme, stir and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant.
Add the paella spice mix, stir continuously and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Next, add the capsicum and chorizo, and cook for about 5 minutes. Pour in the sofrito, stir well to combine with the other ingredients and leave it to bubble for 5 minutes.
Next, add the seafood and combine with the other ingredients so that each piece is well coated with the sofrito. Sprinkle the rice around the pan then pour in the wine and wait until the rice absorbs it. Pour in the stock and water, season with salt. Check that the rice is evenly distributed and that the grains are below the surface of the liquid. Do not stir again.
Cook uncovered until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the rice grains are tender – 15-20 minutes. If the rice is still not cooked then add a little water – tablespoons at a time and cook for a few more minutes. Remove the paella from the heat, cover with paper towels, then rest for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley, then carry the paella to the table and serve from the pan. Share and enjoy with lemon wedges, aioli and a crisp green salad dressed in olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt.

June 19th, 2015|Food, Food we love, Recipes by Lyndall|0 Comments

Lemons, tomato and orrecchiette

A huge lemon tree, currently heaving with ripe fruit, takes pride of place in my backyard and as a cook, no day passes without an opportunity, to appreciate a lemon’s ability to transform the food I love. Here is a simple idea that I come back to, again and again, because it is utterly delicious and even better, it takes no time to put together!

IMG_2270

Orecchiette with Lemon, Tuna & Broccoli

Orrecchietti, which translates to “little ears”, is a slightly chewy dried pasta which is perfect for drier sauces. This is a very tasty, quick pasta dish that has an excellent combination of salty and acidity. Serves 6

2 red onions, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
600g broccoli, use stalks and heads, cut into small florets, like a large caper
2x 185g can tuna in oil, Italian style
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 cups passata
500g orecchiette, cooked as per manufacturers instructions
Parmesan to serve
In a wide, shallow pan fry onions in a generous amount of olive oil until softened. Next, add the garlic, chilli, lemon zest, parsley then fry for a minute or two until fragrant. Add broccoli and cook for a few minutes. Next add the tuna and combine. Pour in pasatta, bring to the boil then lower heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Add orecchietti, lemon juice and Parmesan. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.

June 12th, 2015|Food, Food we love, Recipes by Lyndall|0 Comments