A new farmer and a bright future for local food
On Monday I got to meet out latest farmer, Heather Lacey, when she visited us in Rozelle for the first time. Heather turned up in her little 3-door car, with its pictures of brightly coloured frogs painted around the sides and the back seats loaded up with 40kg of freshly picked yellow grapefruit. She’s a twenty-something Inner Westie, who grew up in Budgong, which is just up the hill to the south west of Kangaroo Valley. Her family has had land with citrus trees there for decades, but so far the fruit has only ever made it to charity. Heather is changing that by taking the initiative and providing fruit to Food Connect.
Heather also brought with her some lemonades, so we cut them and some Grapefruit open and had a taste. The lemonades are exquisite, at their peak for the season in terms of flavour and sweetness. The grapefruit is deliciously juicy, sour with a lovely slight sweetness, perfect for a healthy kick-start at breakfast time.
Heather is the youngest farmer on our books by at least a decade. That’s significant when I think that one farmer from Berry (just over the hill from Budgong) who I spoke with recently bemoaned his perception that farmers are a dying breed – “we’re all over 50 – who’s going to be around to carry this on?” From my perspective as produce coordinator I’m actually seeing a more encouraging trend. David Sikora, who supplied our rocket a few weeks back, is in his thirties. Meanwhile Kim and Chris, who grow our mushrooms, couldn’t get by without the help of their sons, who independently run market stalls for them every week. Then there’s Rita and her husband George, who are training up their teenage son Duncan in the business of market gardening. The point is, there is a new generation of farmers out there, with many people who value the land and the growing of healthy, chemical free produce. That’s heartening knowledge, given the importance of growing sustainable and secure local food systems that will feed us well into the future.
This week, all the boxes (except the fruit ones of course), will have Wombok in them, otherwise known as Chinese cabbage. We’ve featured this veggie before but not for a good eight months. Next week’s Womboks are coming to you from Hapi and Cath at Field to Feast. Its great to be able to support them after their unfortunate bovine rampage incident last week (see the previous blog entry below).
Wombok is from the Beijing region of China, but is common throughout Asian cuisines. In China it is often called Napa, which translates roughly as ‘leaves of vegetable’. Its also big in Korea where it is the main ingredient in the most common type of Kimchi, everyone’s favourite fermented cabbage dish (ok, you either love it or you hate it).
At home you can use fresh Wombok in a wide variety of ways. Try various Asian recipes, be they stir fries or noodle soup. I also found this great recipe for a Wombok, Green Bean and Bacon salad – perfect considering that all the boxes get green beans this week too!
Ingredients (serves 4)
- Olive oil spray
- 6 short cut bacon rashers, coarsely chopped
- 250g green beans, topped, halved diagonally
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 fresh red birdseye chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
- 240g (4 cups) finely shredded wombok (Chinese cabbage)
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh coriander leaves, to serve
- Spray a large non-stick frying pan with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until brown. Add the beans, garlic and chilli and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until beans are bright green and tender crisp. Remove from heat. Add the wombok and gently toss until wombok just wilts. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Divide wombok mixture among serving plates and sprinkle with coriander. You can serve with pork on top, as in the picture.
(thanks to www.taste.com for that one)