NSW Regional Food Brillig Farm, Taluca Park Free Range Eggs. What’s growing in the highlands.
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that there are people who grow our food. Real people. I need as much reminding as the next person, I’m a bit of a city slicker born and bred.
There’s no preaching here.
How amazing is it that you can get into the car and drive for two hours and be in a world where people are concerned about our daily eats. NSW Regional Food hunting can be a rewarding experience, as I saw this weekend at Brillig Farm, Taluca Park Free Range Eggs
I visited two different farms in Exeter, NSW and although both are vastly different they share the same passion for what they are doing. It must be very fulfilling to grow fields full of edible plants or raise animals.
Just last week I was boasting about growing a pot of oregano, and I have been known to pat myself on the back for raising a child into adulthood. Imagine how pig headed I’d be as a farmer?
The producers I met on the weekend were gently laid back, creative and so pleased to share their stories with me. They are also both starting out in their respective businesses, bravely going where we (city people) don’t. They need support.
Taluca Park Free Range Eggs
Frank and Annamaria Vigliante are relatively new to the area arriving a year ago. In that time they have achieved a lot. Annamaria was a fitness trainer in Sydney her husband Frank has Italian heritage and a background in farming. They have 3 small children and a growing family of free range animals, Pigs and newly arrived piglets, Chianina cows with fresh babes and Scottish Angus black cows who are enjoying the life here fattening up on the green grass of the southern highlands.
I am here to see their biggest growing project so far, the girls that will hopefully lay the golden eggs.
After seeing this picture @talucaparkfreerange on Instagram I was keen to visit . Their Instagram feed is well worth a look.
They started last year with 30 hens, they now have 400. It’s been a learning curve but it seems the whole family has taken to the task of making free range egg farming their thing. The kids are incredibly enthusiastic showing me how the eggs are collected and where the hens roost. Their mobile “Egg laying Villa”only arrived on November 1st 2016. The lush green fields are paradise for a chicken as they dig and collect bugs and squabble over holes they have dug to have a dust bath. Every couple of days the entire enclosure (about the size of a soccer pitch) moves so that fresh new pickings are available. This also keeps the fields fertilised as they go.
In January a couple of Alpacas arrived to guard those precious chickens. Maremma Sheep Dogs are a common companion animal to protect livestock and flocks against predators, but in this case there are children running around the farm and it was deemed wiser to try the Alpacas. ( I can’t remember the last time someone was savaged by an Alpaca). I had no idea Alpacas could be companion animals but Alpacas hate Foxes and visa versa so, it seemed the right solution.
For now the family collect around 350 eggs a day and have eye catching new packaging to poop those eggs into. They sell them at markets, privately and through the #exetergeneralstore. You can get hold of some in Sydney at The Wholefoodie Co in Coogee #truefreerange. Contact Taluca Park free range on Instagram.
Brillig Farm. Small Urban Farms of NSW
Brillig Farm is growing all kinds of unusual edible plants, grown with out chemicals, hand planted, hand picked and sold by the bag to very willing customers.
BRILLIG – A nonsense word originating form Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. In the poem Humpty Dumpty describes “Brillig” as “four o’clock in the afternoon — the time when you begin broiling things for dinner. That makes me laugh each time I hear it. It’s a fun and inventive name for a food business.
This Urban Farm, a dream in the making came about when Sam and her partner Elisabeth’s tree change happened a little bit more rapidly than planned. After making the move from inner city Tempe to Exeter, they hoped to commute to jobs at Sydney Uni until they were ready to start their project. Fate got in the way though and Sam found herself retrenched and jobless. Seems this turned out for the better and work began in earnest to start on their business. That business is up and running in record time. Despite the hardships of the first winter living in a shed in the southern highlands, they now not only have a stall at the local markets but they are selling to their first local restaurant.
Growing a commercial quantity of anything is daunting but doing it for the first time while trying to earn money requires fortitude. This area can dish up harsh weather ranging from high heat and sun to misty night time lows. They’ve found an enthusiastic market for their baby greens including heirloom and distinctive flavoured leaves in the mixed baby greens lettuce and the tiny sprouts. Little Purslane leaves, Shiso, Wasabi mustard greens and black mint are a part of the exotic bunch. They are now planting winter leaves going where they haven’t been before.
Experiments with apple molasses and gorgeous clear apple jelly are happening as a side line. These are being made from heirloom apples growing on a property just down the road.
Follow Brillig on Facebook where you will find information on what markets they are at and you can also learn about some of the varieties of Clean Greens they are growing. They are generally at Southern Highlands markets like Mossvale. If you are interested look them up.