One of the things we appreciate in Australia is the clean air and rich soil that we have in our own backyards which makes growing fresh produce something we can all generally have a go at. Growing and buying organic food is becoming more and more common place and the popularity of farmers markets, where you can buy straight from the growers and producers are evident, with big crowds drawn to them every weekend around the country.
Even when you are travelling you’ll find weekend farmers markets in all of the capital cities and most of the bigger towns. Local Tourist Information Centres, councils and libraries are all good sources to find out if there is one in the area you are travelling in.
It’s not too hard to give growing a veggie garden a go at home, even if you haven’t got the biggest yard, many things can be grown in pots or small planters. In fact we have been known to take small pots of herbs on holidays with us so that a) they keep growing and don’t die and b) we can have fresh herbs for cooking with on holidays. This of course is an idea that will work best if you are heading to one spot and intend to stay for a while. Otherwise, farmers markets are the way to go for fresh local produce.
I recently went to a ‘meet the authors’ evening and book launch for a new book called Magic Little Meals – Making the Most of Homegrown Produce. It was written by Lolo Houbein and Tori Arbon, two South Australian ladies with a wealth of knowledge and experience behind them. It’s published and distributed by an independent book publisher, Wakefield Press which is based in Adelaide.
The basis of the book is how to grow, how to cook and how to celebrate food and who isn’t interested in that? Lolo Houbein is a passionate food gardener and one of the founders of ‘Trees For Life’. She has written other books on the subject of growing your own food they are, One Magic Square: Grow Your Own Food on One Square Metre and its companion, Outside The Magic Square: A Handbook for Food Security. This book completes the trilogy by providing recipes for using all the homegrown produce especially when supply is plentiful.
The co-author of the book Tori Arbon was inspired by Lolo’s first book and she went on to create Magic Harvest, an organization that connects neighbours who grow their own produce and passes on knowledge of growing, harvesting, cooking and other skills throughout their neighbourhoods. It encourages produce swapping and the handing on of knowledge so that everyone can enjoy home grown. A kind of support group where everyone has individual strengths and people help each other. With Australia being such a multi-cultural country it’s a great way for different cultures to share favourite foods and recipes.
This latest book is a guidebook for inspiring you to grow more and try more by listing an A to Z of vegetables and giving you growing notes, then tips on how to use the produce and a few favourite recipes. As well as vegetables it also covers herbs and spices you can grow easily at home. There are handy recipes for making your own sauces, pickles, chutneys, dips and dressings too. Following on from the vegetables is a section on growing fruits and berries, again with growing notes and recipes.
Lastly the book talks about taking charge of what and how you eat, including getting back to the basics of buying what is in season, visiting farmers markets and of course starting off by even in a small way, growing your own produce.
The evening was hosted by Sophie Thompson from the ABC television show ‘Gardening Australia’ and of course what else could you possibly give the ladies as a thank you? Well vegies from the garden of course, which Sophie did!
This magic little book is one that will get used often throughout the year for ideas on what to do with in season fruit and vegetables. Why not look for a farmers market where you are this weekend!