Dry as a bone

Dry as a bone

The Bureau of Meteorology has just declared an El Nino on the Eastern seaboard of Australia this Spring  Read more on this….. Well it seems that this has already started with the added knock on of climate change. In Wherrol Flat the old timers are seeing definite changes that have increased in just the past few years – ie less rainfall, more fires.

To read more what causes El Nino see this information….

So our local growers in August 2018 have been showing us their crops and what the dry has done to them. Without water many are having to turn to town water. One grower tells us this means he will get a quarterly bill for $6,000 from using town water on his crops. Others lucky enough to be located on rivers are on restrictions for pumping water. Often barely enough to water their crops properly.

Cherry tomatoes Aug 2018

 

So we know the cherry tomato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures are more powerful than words so take a look at what the growers of our food are facing. These were taken in Horsley Park, Sydney.

Cherry tomatoes dried stands Aug 2018Cherry tomatoes dried Aug 2018Cherry tomato rows

 

 

Avocadoes from Comboyne

Avocadoes from Comboyne

Ron the grower talking with Anton

Ron the grower talking with Anton

Avocadoes like well drained soil and there is a higher altitude are north of Sydney, north of Taree known as Comboyne. The town is small and quaint and if you drive through a wonderful Cafe to have lunch.

Ron avocadoGrower Ron Lindsay is following a passion with growing his avocado trees whilst renovating a former cheese making warehouse into his home, cafe and maybe a home brew …… mmm have to say their guacomole was dynamite, extra garlic, would go great with a home brew beer…of things to come.

So we thought you  might like to see where your avocadoes are grown.

Where is Comboyne?

Where is Comboyne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three photos showing country avocadoes are grown in and the trees.

Avocado trees Aug

 

 

 

 

Ron Avocado country ComboyneRon avocado tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parramatta Grass & Parra Trouper

Parramatta Grass

Parramatta Grass & Parra Trouper

Parramatta Grass has hit our farm area near Wingham and it is growing everywhere so native grassses can’t grow. It also makes it difficult to lay beds down for permaculture.

Video explaining Nigroospoea oryzae Parra Trouper an organic week control.

The use of Parra Trouper is a natural way to create crown rot in the Parramatta Grass.

It’s important for us to use non-industrialised chemicals so the organic option, whilst takes longer, is more beneficial overall.

read more about the people who discovered the Parra Trouper. Jeremy Bradley and Cathy Egger, of Hastings, took research by David Officer of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and commercialised it ….

Hidden Valley Pasture Raised

Hidden Valley Pasture Raised

At Hidden Valley Free Range we operate a number of farming systems to help improve our soils for the benefit and future of our children. The integrated systems are called Holistic Management. As part of our farming system we utilise pastured free range chickens to add fertiliser to our soil and provide us with delicious pastured free range eggs.

2 of our ladies in their laying boxes

2 of our ladies in their laying boxes

 

To ensure our eggs are the freshest and healthiest possible we house our chickens in caravans. These vans have been modified to incorporate mesh floors with perches and laying boxes. Our caravans are kept in an area surrounded by electric fence netting to keep away any unwanted visitors.

 

 

Whilst in the paddocks the caravans are moved every couple of days to ensure the chickens have fresh green grass to pick and to allow an even spread of manure. We have a maximum stocking rate of 500 chickens per hectare (10000 square metres). This allows our chickens to live a happy carefree life with minimal stress.

Laying Boxes

                               Laying Boxes

 

To make sure our eggs are collected and provided to you in the shortest time frame possible our young family is involved in the entire process from providing food and water through to collecting, processing and packing our pastured free range eggs.

 

 

 

One of our laying boxes after our chickens have visited. Eggs in their most natural state. The bed of rice hulls allows our hens to scratch and maintain their natural habits and instincts.

At Hidden Valley Free Range we want you to enjoy the healthiest, most nutritious eggs available. This is why we make available our delicious pastured free range eggs to you, our valued and cherished customers.

Next generation of farmers

                                                   Next generation of farmers

Insect Hotel

Insect Hotel

These fabulous photos show first Sonya’s garden and the Insect Hotel. What a joy to share a morning looking at these wonderful creations. Great to get updates Sonya on your garden stories.

Sonya the garden Wahroonga

Hubster, Sonya, in Wahroonga has a passion for all things green and growing. She has a magnificent food garden, fully fenced that stops even the most wonderful of Brush Turkey high jumpers, and was totally energized to try out the Insect hotel we spoke about some time back. Used by farmers keeping bugs as part of their ecosystem whilst giving them a place to eat and sleep – hence the Insect Hotel. Permaculture works when we work with the environment.

Insect Hotel by Sonya Wahroonga

We tend to manicure our gardens to the point of no return for some insects that we need to encourage to pollinate, act as controllers of other insects we don’t want like aphids. There is a balance in the Web of Life. By providing a home we keep the ones we want – ladybirds and they love the aphids, Lacewings will eat aphids and mites, bees will also find a home.

 

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

They take care and patience to grow. With changing climate Heat, Rains, Winds makes it a challenge. At one point the heat went to 51C in the growing pods – how can anything survive this? The flowers die and they are needed to grow the tomatoes. Too hot even for the bees to pollinate.

So if there are no tomato flowers and the tomatoes won’t get pollinated which in turn means that the fruits won’t form. The tomato flowers encourage the bee to land on the flower and vibrate its wings thereby shaking the pollen from the anthers onto it’s legs.

So the tomatoes this week from Nymboida above Coffs Harbour are a bit of a miracle. They have had a stop start journey in growing. Thanks to the persistance of our farmers we have in our kitchen delicious, juicy cherry tomatoes.

Here is their story:

Cherry tomatoes Nymboida

Choi Sum Damaged

Choi Sum Damaged

Choi Sum damaged Simon and Gary Chong in Leppington

The storms let rip on Friday.

On Friday morning, we saw Simon and Gary Chong in Leppington to check out the Choi Sum that we wanted to have in this week’s Value box. It all looked great, until ‘that storm’ came through late on Friday. Within 15 minutes, the storm had flattened a large part of the crops.

The extent of the damage became clear when the brothers trawled through the paddocks: most of the Choi Sum was shredded and smashed by rain and hail – along with parsley, Chinese broccoli and coriander.

 

They rang around other growers to try and source Choi Cum – but there wasn’t much around.

Good news

However, some baby buk choi had survived – and the rest they managed to get from neighbouring farms.

So this week’s Chinese vegetable, Choi Sum, will be replaced by baby buk choi instead.

The damaged greens will be ploughed into the ground, and they expect to have choi sum ready for picking around mid-March.

Please do share this story as we’d like everyone to know the challenges in farming and just how lucky we are to have farmers like this who battle on regardless.