“Seasonal” is a word that’s bandied about a lot in relation to food at the moment – although unfortunately it’s not always linked to the word “local”; to paraphrase an unrelated saying, “it’s always summer somewhere.” Eating seasonally is inextricably linked with eating locally – on the down-side, you might not be able to enjoy raspberries and zucchini all year round, and you may need to adapt recipes with substitutions because seasonality looks very different where your recipe is written; however, eating locally and seasonally creates local jobs, means your food is fresher, and provides a virtual guarantee that your food is grown in accordance with local food safety standards (and in many cases also avoids quarantine fumigation). However, I think the biggest argument for eating seasonally is that it forces you to maintain a varied diet – and also teaches you to value food as the minor miracle it is, at the mercy of the seasons and of nature itself.
Spring isn’t so much an event as a transition in the seasonal eating calendar – whilst the occasional glorious day we’ve had lately has been handy for hot-house growers, the generally cold temperatures delay the progress of crops (e.g. potatoes) for which heat is a catalyst of growth. This week we welcome back the Brandsema family – as the work they’ve done over the winter pays off and their one hectare hot-house begins to pump out not only tasty tomatoes, but cucumbers; a recent diversification to better suit their increasing focus on supplying local markets. John Brandsema began growing hot-house tomatoes in Turners Beach in 1951 along with other market garden staples, but over time the family have grown to specialise in tomatoes, and in particular cherry tomatoes (in contrast to the truss tomatoes mostly grown by the Cracknell family in the south.) Combined with the deliciously aromatic basil from Hills Hydroponics just ten minutes away, this week’s box feels a bit like summer!
At the other end of the seasonal transition on show in this week’s box you’ll find beetroot from Premium Fresh, kale from Richmond Farm, pumpkin from Moore’s Farm Fresh, and White Elephant potatoes from John – which with a moderately waxy firm flesh are suited to baking whole or boiling. Bream Creek Community Market Garden have also supplied us with some deliciously fresh Asian greens, and some fennel that might be small, but pack plenty of flavour and would go perfectly with the jumbo pack of cherry tomatoes also in the $40 boxes!