In the beautiful landscape of Marshdale you will find our next CommuniFoodie - a place no vampire dare travel too – Four Acre Farm.
Dominique and Tom previously from Hamilton, knew they wanted more space for a growing family. With a keen interesting in gardening, permaculture and a desire to learn more sustainable practices, the young couple and their kids are already doing some great thing and learning as they go.
“Dominique loved gardening and I learned to love it…(haha)”
Set on Flat Top Road, the family resides in a beautiful country home, lovely views and enveloped in Australia’s bush land. The farm features sections of seasonal flowers, leafy greens and their most popular item, Garlic.
Starting in March, Dominique and Tom plant over 10,000 seeds in the three plots set out for their Garlic Journey. Garlic, being a part of the amaryllis family (onions, shallots, leek, chives) is not a popular item for pests, so the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilisers is not required, allowing for their garlic harvest to remain natural and organic.
It's all hands on deck, with the pair calling in the family to lend a helping hand with this years harvest. The team divided with some hands in the field pulling bulbs whilst others were on the trimming and bundling efforts. The lands at Marshdale are fairly dry, with the drought affecting the farm and surrounding areas but the garlic harvest was still proving to be plentiful.
"There's a 90% chance of rain today at 5, which is great, but it means we have to get it (garlic) all in before then..."
Planted, is several different types of garlic, ranging from Southern Glen, Italian Purple and Elephant Garlic. Dancing between the European varietals and some from South East Asia, all complimenting different types of meals and diverse flavours.
“After we pull the bulbs from the ground, we trim the roots and bundle them, ready to hang to dry out and cure.”
The drying process is how the garlic cures. Properly cured garlic will keep for 5 months for turban varieties, to 8-10 months for artichoke varieties and if you get your hands on some of Four Acre Farms garlic, you’ll want it to last as long as possible!
The thousands of beautiful bulbs that were being pulled from the ground created an aromatic cloud around the family and farm, it was enough to make your taste buds curious about when you were going to indulge! Most of the garlic you will find in shops and supermarkets is imported garlic or heavily treated, so discovering there is thousands of Australia grown by local community members is the ultimate win.
The talent doesn’t stop there. With Dominique’s history in floristry, the duo recently opened ‘The Flower Shop’ in Dungog, where they feature their own flowers and supplement what else they need from local or various suppliers. They grow their own organic, field-grown flowers and are the perfect option for those that are wanting to support local growers with sustainable efforts. The pair take orders (with wholesale subscriptions currently booked out) and curate weddings and special events. They are regular attendees at the Maitland Markets, Loveys IGA, Dungog Growers Stall or ‘The Flower Shop’ open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
To get your hands on some beautiful garlic, you can order yourself a box or half box from the team yourself by clicking here. They feature at the Slow Food Market in Maitland each Thursday, the local IGA in Dungog and you might find a bulb or two in ‘The Flower Shop’. Once you have tasted the garlic of Four Acre Farm, you’ll have a yearly subscription, with customers as far as the Blue Mountains placing their orders.
Upon leaving the property, turning back to wave, it was so nice to see a family congregated around the mounds of garlic, all with a knife or scissors in hand, sharing stories and memories as they all played their part in the harvest effort. Not to mention the family of geese, the dogs and the beautiful ducklings making the experience even richer.
What was most evident was that family feeling, the community feeling, supporting local farmers and growers and getting in amongst the action was again, a humbling experience. You’d never guess that garlic could bring so many together, breath mints not required!
Check our Dominique and Tom at Four Acre Farm and support the people doing great things in your community. Let us know what you think of the garlic and share your garlic stories.
Where: Flat Tops Road Marshdale. Slow Food Hunter Valley Markets, Maitland Markets, Dungog Growers Market, The Flower Shop and Dungog IGA.
What they grow: GARLIC, sustainable, organic field-grown flowers. Leafy Greens and a small amount of various vegetables.
How they grow: No fertilsers, pesticides or chemicals, ORGANIC.
Until next time.