A recent trip to Berridale has restored my faith in organic produce. To many, organic produce are misshapen, bruised and overpriced objects of unwanted fruit and veg at the supermarket.
Richard, a commercial photographer from England and Nina from Finland are a whole world away from their former lives in Europe. Their tree change is our gain as they focus on growing rare and exotic vegetables in season, along with a selection of delicious organic berries like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.
Berridale is proof that when you blend terroir, passion and determination, organic produce can be exciting again.
Richard with his polished English accent takes me down to the vegie patch for some talk and taste. Because the farm is totally organic it’s quite safe to pluck and eat but of course you have to be careful not to swallow one of the army of bees and butterflies on constant patrol of the spring flowers.
We find Nina on the farm planting a rare type of Chinese artichokes. Nina has the hard task of managing the farm, a relentless battle against the whims of Mother Nature.
Just as well I’m hungry because we taste our way through everything from exotic carrots to sweet juicy radishes, turnip flowers and tiny Japanese turnips. There are even “radish pods” that have been making the chefs go gaga.
Next it’s up to the berry farm. Hidden under hectares of netting are raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. “This is my great joy and great sorrow”, says Richard and rightly so. One year wiped out by a one in a hundred year hail storm, another year wiped out with damp, but this year may be different. The flowers are full, the plants are healthy and maybe just maybe the tempestuous weather will be right for a bumper crop.
Back at the stead we sample pure unadulterated redcurrant and blackcurrant juice from last year’s crop. It has an intense, sweet yet sour tang and importantly gives me an instant uplift from the high dose of vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s no wonder the Scandinavians use these fruits for their healing properties.
Three hours has passed in what feels like one and it is apparent that the other thing that the Kalina’s have in spades is hospitality. My visit with Richard and Nina has reinforced my belief that organic produce can be so much more than pesticide free.
If you’re reading this before 21 Oct 2011, we invite you to meet Richard Kalina during Crave Sydney International Food Festival – What’s Next in Organic Cooking, as we demonstrate cast iron cooking and talk about organic produce and sustainable living.