On Monday, Mini Farmer and myself took a drive over the Border, into the land of Vic… to find out about one of our family’s favourite foods – berries. Of all kinds.
Not knowing too much about Shannon Glen, except that they grew berries, we were pleasantly stoked to find out that they do in fact grow – berries… of ALL kinds.
Some of these I recognised instantly and many I had read about but not seen; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, loganberries, marionberries… The interesting part was seeing how they all grew.
This farm is run under biodynamic practices. For those who are clueless about what this means (as I was prior to becoming an organic farmer) – biodynamics in layman’s terms is one step UP the rung from organic farming. Biodynamic farms utilise organic methods – but seek to not use outside inputs at all where possible. Everything is farmed in such a way as to increase soil fertility and plant health to produce an overall awesome product. You can read up on it if that floats your boat, or you can just taste it. These are some seriously yum berries.
Many of the soft berries are grown in a large covered garden (also excellent for Mini Farmer containing…)
The strawberries are grown in raised beds to assist with ergonomics, weeds and pests…
And the blueberries, are grown under these smaller coverings.
What immediately stood out, is just how small the blueberry plants are (they are extremely slow growing) – and how few berries are on each plant relative to a punnet.
Let’s be honest here – I think anybody who has gone to buy a punnet of fresh Australian Blueberries has wondered at the price. At around $6 a punnet, without knowing how they are grown, they may seem like a luxury item. Well folks, here you go. You now know how the berry goodness comes to be. Each plant needs to be nurtured all year round, wages must be paid, they must be handpicked, packed and transported to you. To my eye, it looks like not very many punnets to a bush.
Suddenly, they seem pretty damn cheap!! With the added bonus of knowing that Australia’s strict hygiene practices mean you won’t find any ummm, ‘extra’ stuff on your berries. I’m not saying it. You all know. I prefer my berries without the added extras, so you’ll find me supporting local. Thank YOU.
Many of you have previously purchased these beauties fresh in Mount Gambier. However whilst Shannon Glen is literally JUST over the border – the rules changed in the last couple of years in order to maintain adequate border protection from Fruit fly. No fresh berries may now be brought over the Vic / SA border without certification which can be cost prohibitive to a small family business. So sadly, a huge part of this farm’s business was taken away.
Being true farmers, they have adapted their strategy in order to not only survive, but thrive. You will be able to buy frozen berries in SA during the growing season, as well as the new range of value added products; jams, sauces and other goodies.
The berries will be available at the Mount Gambier Farmer’s Market on SELECTED weeks during the growing season. So keep an eye on Shannon Glen’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008835228330&fref=ts
And the Farmer’s Market Page: https://www.facebook.com/Mount-Gambier-Farmers-Market-128811497270900/?fref=ts
You can enjoy them fresh by purchasing (and eating them) in Victoria, at many outlets including the Portland Strawberries’ Shop. (https://www.facebook.com/Portland-Strawberries-208694199168247/?fref=ts). (If you are wondering why our ‘South West’ buddies are being included in our ‘local’ food project – our rules state that we are to source our fresh produce in a 200km radius from Mount Gambier).
And after tasting these – let’s just say I’m pretty happy with this ruling. 🙂