Christmas in the northern hemisphere comes in the middle of the least productive (at least agriculturally speaking) time of the year; hence Christmas feasting traditions revolve around meat, non-perishable crops like potatoes, preserved goodies like dried fruit and sometimes winter crops like brassica. Here in Australia we still haven’t fully shaken off the mantle of the seasonal, pagan roots of Christmas, but December is certainly anything but a period of scarcity.
In Tasmania, December is generally the beginning of the fruit season – at some point in the month, raspberries and blueberries begin to be picked, and the first stone-fruit also start to come off the trees. New season potatoes start to become plentiful (and are probably much nicer than the months old roasties being enjoyed in the northern hemisphere at Christmas!), and carrot season also gets into full swing. Savoury fruits – tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant and zucchini – are a more complicated story, with field-grown plants still waiting for the weather to warm up, but hydroponic hot-house tomatoes and capsicums already producing in abundance. Legumes are a bit hit and miss – peas are winding up, beans are yet to start – but lettuce and salad greens are not only great eats for hot days, they also grow quickly, providing a better return for farmers than during the colder months.
This year, after wrestling with issues with availability of popular lines of produce at Christmas last year, we made the decision to offer a box of seasonal vegetables with the option of adding fruit, potatoes and herbs – all of which we were confident could be supplied. The decisions about what would be included in the box factored in both what was popular at this time in previous years, and what was available and of good quality. Looking at the boxes heading out this morning, we’re confident we made the right decision – beautiful new season potatoes from farmer John; delicious fruit from the Huon valley; lovely crisp and fresh market garden lines from Maurice at Dendra Market Gardens; sweet and plum capsicums and cherry tomatoes from Brandsema; fresh asparagus, rhubarb, broccoli and carrots from Premium Fresh; and delicious lettuce and sugar snap peas from Grown for Taste. You could almost call it a greatest hits compilation…
We hope that you’re able to share this Tasmanian bounty with your loved ones this Christmas, wherever your feast may be; and we’re glad to have had the opportunity to spend your money with local growers and producers, helping to ensure they also have a prosperous and merry Christmas!