Country Valley Dairy in Picton needs your help

Country Valley Dairy in Picton needs your help

Country Valley in Picton is suffering through a bad drought. This dairy farm with its own dairy makes and distributes Country Valley milk, yoghurt and cream – and is the last remaining dairy farm in the Sydney basin.  The drought is forcing John to buy hay throughout winter, which will cost him $1350 per cow.  He needs help: sponsor a cow, and bring your family on a farm visit to Picton, just 2 hours south of Sydney. Read his story below and contact him via Facebook (@CountryValleyMilk) or phone 02 4677 2223 to make a donation, big or small…read on below photo.

Country Valley farmer needs your help

John Fairley is a 5th generation dairy farmer in Picton.  The farm was established nearly 150 years ago and is now one of the last remaining dairies in the Sydney basin.  “With the urban sprawl getting ever closer, the harder it becomes to keep places like Picton rural. However, farming is more than a job, it is a way of life and it effects the lives of more than just the families who farm. To us it is not just about dollars and cents but about our heritage and the way we want to see our valley stay as farm land”, says John.

After deregulation of the milk industry in 2000, farmers like John were paid 26c per litre by the milk processors.  Which much of NSW in drought, John decided to become ‘Master of his own Fate’: he built his own dairy and started selling milk and yoghurt under the Country Valley brand into the Sydney and Canberra markets. It didn’t take long before he started buying milk from nearby farmers, paying them 20% more than what they got from the processors.

Country Valley went on to win prizes at the Royal Easter Show, and Pepe Saya uses Country Valley cream and milk to make his premium cultured butter.

For a few years, Harvest Hub sold Country Valley products.  Our members loved the creamy taste of the fresh milk and the thick yoghurt (without gum) – until the NSW Food Authority tightened the compliance requirements for storing and transporting dairy products which made it prohibitively expensive for small distributors like us.

However, times are lean on the farm right now.  Picton, and the wider Wollondilly shire, are in drought. Says John: “The time has come to swallow my pride and ask for help. The realisation that we will be fully feeding cows, all winter, has arrived. Even if it rains next week and we get crops in, it will get cold and we will still have no feed. My 83-yr. old Dad said he has never seen it worse than this.

“One of our options we put on the table to get through the drought was to shut the dairy down. I just can’t do it.

“We have developed the herd over time, milking daughter after daughter. We all grew up helping our Dad’s and Grandfathers on weekends and school holidays. The dairy is a part of who we are. ‘It takes a tribe to raise a child’ resonates with me.

“I want my grandkids to help my son and maybe my daughter in the future.

“I am asking our supporters of Country Valley to adopt a cow or a calf, to help my family get through to Spring. Any amount, with enough people, will help. You will receive a photo of your cow which you can name if you like. Then we are offering a visit to the farm on a roster basis over time. You can introduce yourself, to the cow that is, and me as well of course. You can milk a cow which might not necessarily be yours, depending on the timing. We finish the day by helping to feed the calves and choose a sample bag to take home.

“I have estimated that it will cost $1350 per cow to feed her until the end of September. And I have 130 cows to feed! This is by no means a minimum amount for adoption. I’m just trying to let you know the scale of my problem.

“Anyone kind enough to help out please email me at johnfairley@countryvalley.com.au with your details and we can register you in the Cow Diary. Or call 02 4677 2223 and ask for Sally or Tom in business hours. Any help will be greatly appreciated”.

Dine Below The Line

Dine Below The Line

UNSW Dine Below The Line Event Columbo House June 2017

 

Oaktree Foundation – Dine Below the Line

So, what’s this ‘Dine Below the Line’? Let’s break it down for you:

Dine Below the Line is a Live Below the Line challenge to host a dinner valued at just $2 a head. In exchange for their feed, guests will give a donation to Oaktree’s cause (the idea being that it be equivalent to the amount they would normally pay for a meal out). And that’s it!

The first step to creating change is by starting conversations, and hosting a DBL is the perfect way to get the ball rolling! So sign up to host one today at bit.ly/lbl2017a.

UNSW (University New South Wales) – Colombo House Hub hosted a dinner for ‘Dine Below the Line’ on Friday last week.

Colombo Dean says:

” We used a donated large Harvest Hub Bag of mostly local Sydney Basin produce and cooked the following up for about 15 people, raising $120.

It was a really fun way to spend a Friday afternoon / evening in the College and raising funds for those less fortunate. There was a heap of food left over, we could have easily have fed over 20 people! We will run it again and improve on this in Semester 2.”

The Menu

Vegetable Soup                                                                 Stir-fry with steamed rice

Vegetable soup Dine below the Line UNSW

Stirfry with steamed rice Dine below the Line UNSW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple+Pear Crumble with Custard

Apple Pear Custard UNSW Dine Below the Line

 

 

Do we value our food and those who grow it?

Do we value our farmers

Do we value our food and those who grow it?

The recent storm up north, Cyclone Debbie, has brought to the fore the question – Do we value our food and those who grow it – enough?

This was one of the responses, from a farmer who gave up farming 5 years ago because of poor returns:

“(…) The answer is people have to pay more for their food and allow food producers enough money so that they can rotate their land so as to rest it e.g. five acres of land producing a crop should have at least two acres of compatible land “resting” so the cost in that alone blows out. We need to allow for the cost of water as it is not something that can be just used at will. There are also many other problems that are swept under the carpet just like the recent floods – they have not been costed into the price of food!

As a food producer I have not seen a price rise in my crop for the last five years so have decided to retire – it has now become uneconomical to produce food for the normal market – even with me who produces for a top end high quality market it is no longer profitable!”

Vulnerable Farmers

Farmers are vulnerable to  weather events read more…

We need to flesh this out as there are 2 or 3 story lines that intertwine:

  1. High retail concentration has driven large-scale corporate/industrial farming, which tends to practice mono-culture, has high input costs (chemicals), often degrades soil, wastes water and has high rates of waste and spoilage.  Because of scale, they tend to rely on labour hire firms which have proven to employ farm workers on below-award wages and conditions
  2. This food production method doesn’t properly take into account the cost of soil degradation, water use, nitrogen wasted in run-off and the subsequent environmental damage this is causing to plant and marine life.  It is also not sustainable long-term, as more and more inputs are required to achieve the same level of fertilisation, pest and weed control

So on several levels, we are not paying enough for our food.  Many farmers are reporting little or no increase in farm gate prices of many farm commodities.

Household expenditure

This is also illustrated by the lower share of household expenditure that food makes up: in 1984, we spent nearly 20% of our total spend on food.  In 2009/10 (the last available period), this had dropped to 16.5%. This is indicative of the degree of commoditisation of food over the past few decades, which coincides with the growth of supermarket chains which now control 80% of the grocery market, and the wholesale disappearance of independent grocers and fruit shops.  This is only partially offset by growth in farmers markets.

How to make food production more resilient.

To make food production more resilient, it needs to be decentralised, grown by many smaller farms across many different regions using more holistic methods of weed and pest control (e.g. permaculture and polyculture). However, to attract more people to become small-scale farmers, we would need to expect to pay more to ensure farmers get a reasonable return on their investment and labour.

Harvest Hub Farm

Harvest Hub is putting its money where its mouth is: we are in the process of buying a run-down farm on the NSW mid-north coast, and over the coming years we’ll be re-developing this as a permaculture farm.  We’re also sourcing fresh produce from surrounding farms in the Wingham, Manning and Hastings Valleys and supplying this to Hubs across the Central Coast and Sydney Basin.  Yes, it’ll keep us busy – but we’re very excited about this new adventure!

 

Mayflower Brushed Potatoes

Mayflower Brushed Potatoes

Mayflower potatoes Wilberforce

Mashing and Roasting -recipes below

 

The Mayflower is a relative new potato variety with rich yellow flesh and great flavour.  It’s good for mashing and roasting, but arguably it’s one of the best chipping potatoes.

It’s grown by Gerard and Emile Saad in Wilberforce.

What to do with them?

Perhaps deep-frying potatoes is not so fashionable these days but oh so yummy when done well.  (And if you don’t like deep-frying, you can bake or shallow-fry the Mayflower).

Hints to get a great potato cooked

For starters, don’t slice the potatoes too thin.  A thicker cut absorbs less oil.

Secondly, make sure the potato slices are dry.  Either dab them with a paper towel, or air dry them in a low-heat oven.

Thirdly, use good oil – and cook in small batches.  Cooking them twice is the secret for crisp chips.

Recipes

Mayflower Boat

Veal mince patties with mushroom sauce and twice cooked chips  

 

Mayflower Boat

Mayflower Boat
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • ½ cup finely chopped ham or bacon or chicken or veggie alternative such as shallots/mushrooms.
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or a white sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Flavourings to add shredded cheese, garlic, parsley, sauteed mushrooms, etc
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 230C.
  2. Bake potatoes with skin on for 30 minutes at 233C. Let cool slightly and cut in half lengthwise or you could just lop off the top of your potato for bigger boats. Scoop out the centre leaving a thick shell and cut removed portion into small cubes. In a bowl mix meats/mushroom and cream then adding flavourings. Fill the boats with the mixture. Place boats in a buttered dish and brush with beaten egg yolk. Continue to bake until golden brown and tender. Serve with a sail which can be a piece of capsicum cut to shape or cut out of paper.

Veal mince patties with mushroom sauce and twice cooked chips  

 

Veal mince patties with mushroom sauce and twice cooked chips
 
Author:
Recipe type: Patties
Ingredients
  • For the Veal Patties:
  • 500g ground veal (500g)
  • 2 tsp of butter
  • ⅓ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ½ clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1½ cups mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ⅔ cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbs virgin olive oil
  • For the Mushroom sauce:
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • ¼ cup beef stock
  • ⅓ cup thickened cream
  • For the Twice cooked chips:
  • 2-3 Mayflower potatoes, peeled (give them a scrub with a brush)
  • Oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. To make Veal Patties:
  2. Place meat in mixing bowl and set aside. In a frying pan melt the butter and add onion and garlic. Add the mushrooms and cook until they give up their liquid. Continue cooking until this liquid evaporates. Let cool and then add the mixture to the veal. Add the remaining ingredients, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, parsley, egg, seasoning except the Virgin olive oil and blend well. Chill mixture in fridge for ½ hour.
  3. Take out of the fridge and to make the patties take a scoop to make them at least 1.3cm thick. If your wanting to still do Valentines use a heart shaped cookie cutter or with the kids any shape that doesn’t have too many corners. Press the meat into the shaped cookie cutter to make the patties. To cook put patties In a frying pan with some olive oil on medium heat brown each side - about 5 minutes each side.
  4. To make Mushroom sauce:
  5. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add onion and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until soft. Add beef stock and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. To make Twice cooked chips:
  7. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into chips. Place in a microwave safe bowl, cover with a piece of damp paper towel and microwave on High/100% for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Drain well and pat dry with paper towel. If you prefer steam the potatoes but only until crisp. Pour oil into a medium saucepan until one third full. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Deep fry chips for about 3 minutes or until beginning to colour. Remove from oil and drain on wire rack. Allow oil to heat up again and re-fry chips until crisp and golden.

 

The Future of Sydney’s Food Bowl

The Future of Sydney’s Food Bowl

The Sydney Food Bowl is slowly disappearing due to housing creep, increased pressure from supermarkets wanting ‘cheaper’ fruit & veg so encouraging ‘industrial’ large scale farming away from the city centres – food miles increase, natural resources are challenged, packaging increases, food security an issue as food supply centralises and only a few have control of it.

Local produce does not mean it is expensive. This is a misnoma. With lower food miles, less packaging, and the money you spend buying local produce it goes back into the local economy not sent overseas.

The farmer spends their money in their community. Buying machinery, paying their way.

We at Harvest Hub have for 7 years supported local growers as we are passionate about saving the Sydney Food Bowl.

We purchase seasonally around , sometimes more,80% local and the rest Australia wide.

The produce is supermarket price competitive, not stored and picked within 48 hours of delivery to your pick up point.

There are many many people working to keep our Food Bowl and so in turn our Food security. If we don’t maintain our local growers we run a grave risk of large industrial farming centralising food supply, control of it centralised and profits not staying in Australia. With Climate changing supporting local becomes imperative otherwise we will loose the ability to have an independent, clean and safe food supply.

Take a look at the UTS video made on

The Future of Sydney’s Food Bowl

Peats Ridge Money-for-Jam project

Peats Ridge Strawberry field week 1531

Peats Ridge Money-for-Jam project

Our Peats Ridge strawberry growers, John and Marika Vella, have lost nearly their whole wintercrop to frost.  (Some of you will have seen some berries with black spots on them). Actually, it was the combination of frost and wet from which they didn’t recover.  The loss represents some 6 weeks of picking and was a big blow to the family who have 4 young kids.

When we found out about it, we were determined to help them out. And we soon hit upon the idea of turning the strawberries into jam – inspired by the many varieties of jam cooked up by the Armenian residents of the Ivanhoe public housing estate who receive most of our donated fresh produce.  Jam Maker-in-Chief Araxi sees it as an opportunity to give something back and has volunteered her services over the coming month.

Access to the commercial kitchens of Macquarie Uni, some student volunteers, discounted jam jars from Plasdene and donated sugar by Harkola means that we keep Money for jam project jar with straw in backgroundthe cost to a minimum – and so close to 100% of the sales is going back to John and Marika.

If you are not a Harvest Hub member and would like to order jam or are a Harvest Hub member and have a group then you can request an order form info@harvesthub.com.au

375gms for $5.00

Lose weight with Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice Facebook

Lose weight with Grapefruit Juice

Wanting to keep the winter cushion at bay? Lose weight with … Ruby Grapefruit Juice. Harvest Hub are now squeezing ruby grapefruit from Leeton NSW, near Griffith.  Drink 1 glass a day to help lose weight.  A 1L bottle is $3.90, and like all our
juices, it’s squeezed within 24 hours of arrival.

Ruby Grapefruits ability to lower insulin levels allows the body to use food for energy rather than storing it as fat.

A study published in October 2014 in a peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, two UC Berkeley faculty members led the new research showing improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol compared with their water-drinking counterparts.

 

 

 

Me Farms a local farm

Me Farms plot

Me Farms plot

Me Farms a local farm

Harvest Hub are reaching out for truly local into the suburbs. In Fairfield and Bankstown there are farms which produce amazingly flavoursome produce. Harvest Hub guarantees that 50 cents in the dollar spent goes back to their farmers.

Multicultural Enterprises Australia (MEA)

Me Farm Seedlings

Me Farm Seedlings

Multicultural Enterprises Australia (MEA) established out of the Cabramatta Community Centre in 2011 began MEFarms. Supported by Community Builders state funding for 3 years we have incorporated KPI’s of this funding with objectives so the farm could be self sufficient.

MEA is a social enterprise championed by Suji Upasena. Together Suji and a working party consisting of several local Fairfield, Cabramatta and Liverpool agencies initiated a farm concept to support migrants, refugees, and local residents in pursuit of horticultural training and work experience to operate in a fresh produce farm environment.

MEFarms supporting migrants & local residents horticultural training and work experience to operate in a fresh produce farm environment. Fairfield,Bankstown.

Winter and what happens at the farm.

Me Farms tell us, “Sydney has just passed the longest day of the year and with only two months before spring is well underway with seeding in our nursery. Our mild winter days are up to 20 degrees and our nights only down to 5 degrees. This has seen some remarkable growth in our young seedlings. Right now were sowing leeks, swiss chard, carrots, beetroot, radish, sunflower, Brassicas and garlic.”

Xmas Trees

Xmas Trees

Christmas trees now from Oberon, Hub or home delivered

Xmas Tree OberonHi everyone,

As announced in last week’s newsletter, we will be selling Christmas trees this year – but instead of Duffy’s Forest (who may be short on trees this year), we will be getting them from Oberon instead. Oberon is a small town with some big broccoli growers, as well as the home of Merlino’s Christmas trees. They grow the Monterey variety which is known for straightness and uniformity. Provided they are regularly watered, they keep for 4 weeks.

For every tree sold, Merlino’s plants 2 new trees. Once they reach maturity, they absorb CO2 and help to reduce carbon levels.

A better deal
Because of the lower land cost of Oberon (compared with Duffy’s Forest), the trees end up quite a bit cheaper – and because we now offer both delivery options (Hub pick-up vs home delivery), the cost reduction is pretty significant. Hub pick-up is now viable because each tree is wrapped in netting which means it’s easier to handle and will drop fewer needles.

Xmas trees in potsIn early January, you can have your tree picked up for recycling into mulch. This option costs $15, and prevents your tree from ending up in landfill. Mulching (compared with burning) will significantly reduce the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

And last but not least, we now also offer a Live Tree option in a pot so you can enjoy your Christmas tree for many years to come (provided you look after it).

And remember: $5 of every tree sold is donated to the Salvos at Ivanhoe to pay for the Christmas dinner for the residents of Ivanhoe, as well as toys for their kids.

So here is the revised deal:

Xmas Trees cost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAND $40. We also offer a sturdy stand for $40. All prices include GST.

If you’ve missed the order cut-off, you can email your order info@harvesthub.com.au by noon the day prior to your Hub delivery.

Help in a small way at Christmas

Help in a small way at Christmas

 

BEFORE Harvest Hub donation to Ivanhoe

BEFORE Harvest Hub donation to Ivanhoe

Let’s help the Salvos give the people of Ivanhoe a great Christmas

Read about The Ivanhoe story….read more

Ivanhoe is a Housing Estate with around 600 people – one of the largest in Sydney. It has had a chequered past, with “with high rates of crime, violence, property damage and drug related crime”. It’s located near Macquarie University – on our back doorstep.

That all began to change with the Salvos moving in in 2001. They have worked tirelessly to rebuild the community, and although many residents are still doing it tough, there is a strong sense of community spirit.

After delivery Ivanhoe

After delivery Ivanhoe

Over the past few months, Harvest Hub has been delivering excess produce to Ivanhoe twice a week. Nathan and Karen Moulds from the Salvos, who live on the estate, put out tables, we put on the fruit and veg, and within a couple of hours it’s gone!

Every year, the neighbouring Macquarie University is putting on a jolly good Christmas dinner for the residents of Ivanhoe. Overseen by Executive Chef Peter Brewty and cooked in the University’s commercial kitchens, the meal has become an institution.

And this year, Harvest Hub is joining forces – by supplying the fresh produce to Peter’s team at no cost, but also by raising funds to buy toys for the many children in Ivanhoe. And we’d love you to help!

How can you help?

You can help by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Make a straight donation through the normal Harvest Hub order page.       Under the Weekly Specials, as well as under the Community section (bottom of the order page)
  2. Donate your bag in the week(s) you’re away. Rather than cancelling your order, leave it in place and send an email to info@harvesthub.com.au letting us know you’d like to donate the order.  Your order will not be packed and delivered – but rather, the order value is used to fund the Christmas Eve dinner and kid’s toys
  3. Buy a real Duffy’s Forest Christmas tree (home delivered w/c 8 December), and $5 of the purchase price will be donated to Salvos Ivanhoe
  4. Buy a Christmas Ham, Turkey or Tiger Prawns (for delivery w/c 22 December to your Hub), and $2.50 of the purchase price will be donated to Salvos Ivanhoe
  5. Spend $60 or more for your Christmas order (w/c 22 December), and 2.5% of the total order will be donated to Salvos Ivanhoe.

Remember, Harvest Hub will continue deliveries during the Christmas and New Year weeks, but all deliveries will be compressed into Tuesday and Wednesday of both weeks. More information about changed order and pick-up days/times will be made available next week.

And don’t forget: 2.5% of every dollar you spend with Harvest Hub between 24 November and 20 December will be credited against your Christmas order. For example, if you spend on average $75 per week over the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, we’ll credit your Christmas order by $7.50. This will be done automatically.

Fruit & Veg Month Celebration

Fruit & Veg Month Celebration

September 2014 celebrated with Healthy Kids Association and Health NSW

Singing about seasonal fruits

Singing the ‘World Food Rap’

Beresford Road Public School

At Beresford Road Public School the Year 5 and 6 run the Harvest Hub each week doing a divvy of fruit, veg and groceries into Harvest Hub bags which their teachers and parents pick up every Tuesday from the school. This gives the children the opportunity to touch and get to know local seasonal produce. They also learn to work as a team and take

Doing the Divvy

Doing the Divvy

responsibility for the Hub. It provides endless conversation about sustainability and food security at the school and taking these conversations home. What a great way to inspire these children to become informed consumers!

Early Start

This week started with an early start 5am for Beresford Road Public School on Tuesday. Celebration F & V MonthWe were there to celebrate Fruit and Veg Month with Healthy Kids Association with whom Harvest Hub put Food Hubs into Primary Schools in order to encourage healthy eating.

Channel 9 Today Show

Channel 9 TODAY show came and filmed the children packing their Harvest Hub bags, kiwi and spoon race and over & under melon race. Steve Jacob’s was fabulous. Getting the message out about healthy food choices and access to mostly local food. Thanks to all the parents, children and teachers from Beresford Road Public School for participating and a big shout out to Jane from Harvest Hub for organising the event. Well done all.

Write up in the local paper

There was a great write up in the Parramatta Sun about the day.