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

Hidden Valley Honey

Hidden Valley Honey

Hidden Valley Honey, Wherrol Flat, NSW

Organic, no sprays. Raw Bush Honey farmed at Wherrol Flat, NSW

Introducing raw, unpasteurised bush honey from bees that feed on native eucalypts, blue and grey gums, tallowwood and yellow box.  The honey is less sweet than commercially available honey, but has a real depth of flavour and a beautiful floral bush bouquet. You can find their honey in 450g jars and 1Kg tubs under Feature Fruits and in the Honey and Jam section.

Hidden Valley Farm in Wherrol Flat is run by Shane and Brooke Hulands.  Although Shane had experience working on the family farm, he and Brooke only started farming 3 years ago.  They’re running cattle, pigs and about 500 hens, and collect bush honey from about 50 hives. Both are saying that they haven’t worked as hard as they are now, but loving every minute of it.

The Wherrol Flat farm is 475 acres and is mostly timber.  All their animals are running free range, using holistic management and low stress stock handling principles.

On their farm the cows eat down the long grass, and are moved on to another paddock. They are followed by chooks who live in the paddocks in mobile caravans. One hectare at a time is sectioned off with electric netting, and once the area is fertilised the caravan is moved on.

They say they’ve seen the soil improving, holding moisture better. They’ve also noticed the pastures change from bracken fern and Parramatta grass to having a significant increase in plant diversity, including a return of many native pasture species.

“For us it’s about seeing the land comfortable. If we see that we know the soil will be good and our animals healthy, creating a future for our children” says Shane. “We are doing what feels right and it seems to be working.”

“We’re redoing internal fencing so we have better control of our paddocks and letting the stock do the work for us.

“We don’t need to mulch. The cows tread in the older grass to build the soil carbon, so we retain moisture in our paddocks.”

The Hulands moved up from Sydney for family health reasons to raise their young family. Shane had previously worked on a family farm. Brooke is city born and bred, but would never go back now. She says “I’ve never worked so hard in my life but I’m loving every minute of it, and it’s fantastic seeing the kids getting involved.”

“It’s not a job, it’s a passion” adds Shane.

Shane and Brooke sell pastured free range eggs at the Wingham Farmers markets and some retail outlets. They are in the process of setting up paddock to plate pastured beef and pork.

Support local bee producers?

Support local bee producers?

Bees pollinate around 70% of the fruit and vegetables, whilst our birds (even the Cockatoos play a role here cracking open seeds) ABC RN discussion Friday 22 August 2014 where they mention the role of birds in polination.

Bees dropping off

It seems that due to the number of bees dropping off some of our major suppliers are importing from Turkey what they call “honey”, as was the case with Bera Foods brand, Hi Honey which showed to contain C4 sugar, that is likely to be corn syrup.

Local Beekeepers

So the upshot here is to buy local and support those keepers who are making the effort to produce. They may be slightly more expensive but well worth keeping them in business Bees at the Boxand maintaining the colonies of bees that we have and the integrity of the honey industry like the Wollemi Honey we provide from the Wollemi National Park.