Backyard Bounty all-Tasmanian Vegie box: 27th April

This week is either the last or second-last week of Tasmanian corn from Elphin Grove farm for this season – one of the challenges in what we do is finding people around the state who grow things that we aren’t already able to reliably get hold of, and when we stumbled across Matt & Ruth’s operation a few years ago, we were pretty excited to have found not only a source of locally grown, but also something quite new to us – celeriac, something we’ve grown to love as we’ve learnt more about how to cook with it. Many large-scale vegetable farmers primarily supply processing operations – this can be much more cost effective when specialist equipment is required for harvesting and prepping for sale – which means that they often also remain quite anonymous (including to prospective buyers like us!), and sometimes also can be quite isolated from each other.

One of our aims for this season is to try to buy direct from the farmer and the farm as much as we can – whilst we do always ensure that all produce is locally grown, some lines do need to be obtained via processors and wholesalers – and we feel that one of the key things we offer our customers, over and above great and fresh local fruit and veg, is the opportunity to get to know who grows the food, and how they do it, through our relationships with our growers. Cabbage has been a particularly challenge in this department; I put this to Matt the other day and he was able to hook us up with a grower in the region who we’re hoping will be able to supply us into the future.

Elphin Grove have done a great job in terms of sharing the stories of what they do through their social media – Facebook and Instagram (the latter is something BB is planning on making forays into shortly too…) – but Matt has also quietly been involved in a side-project, contributing to the development of a platform called Farmer Exchange, designed to give our hard-working food producers the ability to easily network with other farmers across Australia. Every farmer has a great deal of knowledge – inherited, experiential and learned – to share, and making it easier to connect with others and share their knowledge, along with sometimes much needed words of encouragement and reassurance, sounds like a recipe for even better Australian-grown food into the future. Well done Matt!

This week’s box includes plenty of gourmet delights – baby carrots, fresh fennel, celeriac and more – along with staples like Mesclun mix, pumpkin and potatoes, and treats like strawberries, cherry tomatoes and apples; all made possible by great Tassie farmers.