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June, 2012

  1. Life’s Simple On The Flower Farm

    June 21, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Flower Farming
    ON THE GLOBE
    Cradoc, Tasmania, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Sam Calvert

    You don’t have to have a degree to succeed so long as you put the effort in and make it work.

    For three weeks, we had the extreme pleasure of living on the farm in Tasmania with our dear friend from Leeds University, graphic designer Jess Nicholls and her boyfriend, flower farmer Sam Calvert. If we’re being totally honest, we spent a lot more time playing with Sally “Fish” Fisher the sheepdog, drinking copious amounts of latte round the fire, and sampling culinary delights around this foodie island than we did working. But we did spend a couple days creating bunches and bouquets for Mother’s Day and our time there was a one-of-a-kind experience we’ll never forget.

    As a huge computer nerd and internet entrepreneur, I’m on my computer almost all the time (well, when I’m not traveling that is!) and though I love it and don’t want to change, it was refreshing to see and experience this lifestyle. It’s hard work but its straightforward, and when the weather’s good, you’re outside with the dirt and the wind and the sun really experiencing the beauty of the place. During winter, you zone out and get into the pattern of creating bunches, listening to Triple J, Australia’s unbelievably good radio station, and having a ton of laughs with the rest of the farm hands. You’re up and at it at 8am, no need to shower, dress fancy or wear makeup, just head out the front door and into the farm shed out back. Warm up with a hot cup of tea and a fresh buttered crumpet every few hours and the work day ends at 4:30. It’s a great space to rest your mind and work your body. A couple of the workers came to do just that after experiencing a burnout in more mentally challenging working conditions, such as nursing and teaching.

     

    What’s the history of the Bloomin Good Flowers farm?
    Dad was a forester so he spent a lot of time away from home. Mum was a dental nurse so she was out of the house a lot too. They both wanted to do something closer to home. They researched some options before recognizing a gap in the flower market. Dad grew trees and Mum loved gardening so it ‘bloomed’ from there. This must have been about 23 years ago now.

    So, in the beginning they both worked and ran the farm on the side?
    Yes, until they decided to expand, that’s when Mum quit Dental Nursing. Dad never completely quit: he still does his forestry.

    What’s your favorite part of running the flower farm?
    The outdoors, being out in the open air is good. I get to work to my own hours sometimes. It’s really satisfying growing something from nothing and seeing the end product. I find it really rewarding.

    Is this what you wanted to do when you were little?
    Growing up on the farm I knew I would always have the opportunity to do this. When your family has a business, a kid can feel forced in to it but for me it was the opposite. If anything my parents made sure that I explored other avenues rather than going straight from school into working on the farm. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until well after I left school. I thought that I wanted to get involved in the hospitality industry, but after a couple of years I realised that it wasn’t for me, so came back to the farm.

    Are you known locally as ‘Sam the Flower Man’?
    No, just Sam. Although most people know me as Calv.

    Does running a flower farm compromise your masculinity?
    When I was little I used to get teased quite a bit about the farm, kids can be cruel! Now everyone appreciates it.

    Did you bring your teachers flowers in school?
    No.

    How about girlfriends?
    Yeah, a bit of that went on.

    Which of your flowers are the bestsellers?
    The most popular would have to be tulips or lilies. We grow tulips for 8 months of the year. You are able to control them making them easy to force and manipulate. I can know to the day when tulips are going to be ready to pick, whereas lilies can range.

    It has taught me that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, you can achieve anything.

    Do you feel that forcing flower growth out of season might be ethically wrong?
    No. It’s all about trying to produce flowers out of season. Customers can’t get access to them out of their natural season so the demand becomes higher. There are a lot of farms that grow flowers in their natural season as they don’t have the facilities to force the growth. The process of freezing the bulbs and placing them in hot houses is known as ‘vernalization’.

    Is there a lot of competition in the flower farm business?
    There’s only us and one other farm in Tasmania that produces flowers out of season.

    Can you see yourself doing this forever?
    I guess so. I enjoy it but it’s very hard work. It’s a 24/7 job so it can take its toll but if all goes well, I’d like to think that I would carry on for a while yet.

    I love Tassie! I think it’s the lifestyle and people, it’s very relaxed. We’ve got the beaches, mountains, national parks, the weather – it’s all of Australia’s best bits in one state.

    Do you hope that the farm continues to be passed down through the family?
    That would be great! At the moment though it’s tough in all industries due to the global crisis. If I can keep the farm successful long enough to be able to pass it down, that would be ideal.

    What does it take to run a successful flower farm?
    Hard work. Long hours. I’ve found that you need a good crew, you can’t do this by yourself. You also need a lot of luck as there’s so many little things that could go wrong.

    Why should customers buy your flowers over anyone else’s?
    A lot of flowers these days aren’t fresh. At florists or supermarkets the time from picking to being sold could be anything from 10 to 14 days. Here you know they’re fresh. We guarantee them so if people aren’t happy, we offer to replace them. Over the years we’ve built up a good customer base, they know ours are the freshest and tend to last the longest.

    Do you think there will always be a demand for fresh flowers?
    I like to think so. There will always be Mothers Day, Valentines Day, etc. As much as people like to buy other things for these occasions, there will always be a demand for flowers. Weddings and funerals will always happen, I doubt flowers will ever truly be replaced.

    Have you had to make many sacrifices for the farm?
    Well, there’s no such thing as a day off. I don’t get any of the public holidays off. It always seems like I’m at work so I feel like I sacrifice a lot of my personal life. I’m passionate about sport but can’t always find the time to play. It’s a lifestyle choice. You have to be prepared to give up what other people working in 9-5 jobs might take for granted, like weekends and public holidays. There’s always something on the farm that could or does go wrong, so you’re always at work. Flowers don’t know when it’s Christmas Day, I haven’t had one of those for about 8 years!

    If you want to start a small business you’ve got to be willing to go through the ups and downs. You’ve got to be passionate about the business too. If you don’t enjoy it you don’t put the effort in, so you won’t get anything out of it.

    Have the flowers taught you anything?
    I was self taught. I had no qualifications in horticulture or agriculture. They’ve taught me that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, you can achieve anything. You don’t have to have a degree to succeed so long as you put the effort in and make it work.

    What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on the farm?
    A few things I guess. A while ago we had the drug helicopters land here looking to do a drugs bust. They did searches for Marijuana in the hot houses. There’s been a few funny injuries too. I remember when Dad and Ben were building the hot houses, Dad nailed his hand to the wood. Looking back that was pretty funny.

    Are you running the business side of things as well as the farm?
    I do the day to day processes. The management side is also run by me but my Dad oversees it and gives me ideas. So I guess I’m running it, yeah, but with a bit of guidance.

    Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a business?
    If you want to start a small business you’ve got to be willing to go through the ups and downs. You’ve got to be passionate about the business too. If you don’t enjoy it you don’t put the effort in, so you won’t get anything out of it.

    Who has been the most inspirational character in your life so far?
    Denzel Washington.

    What is it about Denzel that you admire?
    His talent. He was one of the first African American actors to win an Academy Award too, he’s a pioneer! I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without Denzel or Michael Bolton.

    Have you got a preferred song that you like to listen to whilst bunching a bouquet?
    Put on anything old school, up-beat and 80′s and I’ll be happy!

    What hearty food do you eat daily to make sure you don’t go hungry whilst working?
    It depends on the season. In winter I like a good pie or noodles – anything hot. In summer I tend to eat a lot of salad rolls.

    Could you please explain what the job involves for anyone wanting to work on the farm whilst in Australia?
    Our farm is great for travellers wanting to get visas. The time of year to apply would be October to March/April. It’s dirty work, so you have to be prepared for that. We’re always on the lookout for keen people wanting to help out.

    What makes a perfect employee here on the farm?
    You have to have common sense and a lot of it! It helps if you’re practical and the outdoorsy type, it’s a dirty job.

    What do you think makes the Cradoc area and Tasmania in general so special?
    I love Tassie! I think it’s the lifestyle and people, it’s very relaxed. We’ve got the beaches, mountains, national parks, the weather – it’s all of Australia’s best bits in one state. For some reason it’s got a bad reputation so people stay away but it’s got so much to offer.

    If you’re in the area, Bloomin’ Good have a flower stall at the Salamanca Market (7am-3pm).
    You’ll find them opposite the Republic Café on the corner of Montpellier Street.

    http://www.bloomingoodflowers.com/

    Tel: + 61 (0) 439 681 654
    Email: bloomingoodflowers@hotmail.com

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  2. Tasmania’s Controversial Museum

    June 18, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Tasmania is, despite erroneous myths of inbreeding and being overrun by hillbillies, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Generally a peaceful, quiet rural island full of great fresh food from local farmers and stunning natural beauty, you wouldn’t expect to find one of the most shockingly un-vanilla art museums in the world on the island. Chock full of penises, macabre, and unexplained homages to pop stars, this museum is an odd-for-its-setting but refreshing and intriguing place.

    MONA was officially opened on 21 January 2011. $100 million museum owned by David Walsh, it is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. The impressive building in Berriedale took more than three years to complete and is as interesting as the art it contains. At the end of the vineyard-lined driveway, visitors are greeted with an amazing view of Hobart and the first surprise – a rooftop tennis court speckled with giant Mickey Mouse-esque glove shaped seats.

    The building itself, designed by the Melbourne architect Nonda Katsalidis and built by Hansen Yuncken, is an engineering feat – three levels underground, carved into the sandstone cliffs of Berriedale Peninsula. Inside is a labyrinth of spiral staircases, lifts and foot bridges. There are concrete floors, beautiful wooden benches and beanbags offering guests a place to sit and digest the works on show.

    At the bottom of the staircase sits a bar serving Moorilla wines and Moo Brew, which are both made onsite. Walsh positioned the bar here stating that, “You’re here to have a good time”. He believes that the understanding of many of the museum’s artworks is assisted by increased alcohol levels.

    Upon arrival at MONA, you are given an iPod and headphones. Using clever software and GPS, the devices automatically detect where you are standing in the museum and offer information about nearby artworks. You can hear interviews, music, and even rate whether or not you like each piece of art. All data is uploaded randomly, making the information you are reading different to everyone else around you. At the end of your tour you can opt to receive an email telling you how long you spent at each piece and offering links to more facts about the work.

    Among the 400 pieces on show, a couple really stood out to us. ‘Cloaca Professional’ by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, is a machine that imitates the human digestive system, producing waste at regular intervals. This intriguing mad scientist approach to such a natural bodily process really interested us. Inspired by his belief that everything in modern life is pointless, the most useless object he could dream up was a machine that serves no purpose at all, besides the reduction of food to waste. Despite the unavoidable stench in the room, the intricately constructed pods with digital displays of temperature and pressure entice you to take a closer look. The work seems to make comment on the art world and how it has been so far consumed it has almost ‘come out the other end’.

    In a room resembling an over sized light-box, 30 Madonna fans sing renditions of her Immaculate Collection album, each one on their own TV screen. This exploration of idol-ism and super fandom is sure to make anyone smile. They all sing like no one is watching with dramatic gestures and the glimmer of hope that Madonna might one day see the footage, making it a refreshing and lighthearted installation in an art collection heavy with dark subject matters.

    That's a whole lot of poop.

    Another piece that got our attention was an installation called ‘Fat Car’ by Erwin Wurm. The bulging red body work of the Porsche Carrera seems to make comment on consumer over-indulgence. Wurm takes one of the world’s most desirable objects and totally defaces it, almost beyond recognition. The perfect red paintwork stretched uncomfortably over the bloated body turns a once beautiful object into a beautifully shiny, but ultimately useless pile of car. The detail is impeccable, even the interior is ballooned – the seats bulge at the seems and the wing mirrors are covered in swelled red metal. Well known for the use of humor in his works, Wurm has been quoted saying: “If you approach things with a sense of humor, people immediately assume you’re not to be taken seriously. But I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. You don’t always have to be deadly serious. Sarcasm and humor can help you see things in a lighter vein.”

    http://mona.net.au/

    655 Main Road | Moorilla Estate, Berriedale, Tasmania, Australia

    T: (61-3) 6277-9900

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  3. Best Sushi in Tasmania

    June 3, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Masaaki prepares fresh Tasmanian wasabi.. this stuff packs a serious punch.
     
    ON THE MENU 
    Tasmanian Miso Soup, Fresh Wasabi on Spicy Tuna, Prawn & Snow Peas Sushi
    ON THE GLOBE
    Geeveston, Tasmania, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Sushi Chef Masaaki Koyama

    Finding gourmet sushi in the midst of rural Australia was a pleasant surprise to say the least.  Our friend Jess, who lives in Tasmania, recommended we pay Masaaki’s Sushi a visit and we’re so glad we did.

    Masaaki’s shop may be small in size, but it is bursting with quality (and people).. you literally have to wait outside the door while the party before you makes their sushi selections.  You see the day’s fresh rolls lined up beautifully under the glass, with Masaaki and his small crew working hard in the kitchen behind it.

    The magic behind Masaaki’s success is as powerful as it is plain to see–he’s mixed his masterful experience with the freshest local ingredients, a solid crew, and the joy of doing something you really love to do.  Simple goodness.

    We caught Masaaki on his lunch break on a sunny afternoon last week, and his smile and sushi put warmth in our hearts and bellies.

    It was quiet and I found that many people had never had sushi before, which was very interesting.  I gave sushi to everybody who asked, now there are many sushi fans here in Geeveston.

     

    How did this all start?

    At the beginning it was very quiet but now many local people are supporting us, we’re very busy. We are only open Fridays and Saturdays but we have to work more on the preparation side, we spend a lot of days organizing. It’s sometimes very difficult to run the sushi shop but I’m very happy and I’m enjoying myself.

     

    Why did you open your shop here in Geeveston?

    Because my partner, Lucy, lives here. Her Father owns the jewelry shop next door and he suggested to me that the space next to his shop was empty. At first I thought it would be difficult as it’s very different food for the local people. I did the sushi store at the Tasmanian Food Festival 2009 and it went very well. It was busy, so I thought maybe this will be okay! That’s why it all started – slowly, slowly making 5 rolls a day and nobody came. It was quiet and I found that many people had never had sushi before, which was very interesting. People were always asking, “What is this sushi?”, “What is wasabi?” so I say try! I gave sushi to everybody who asked, now there are many sushi fans here in Geeveston.

    Are there other sushi shops in the area?

    Yes. There is one in Hobart called Orizuru Restaurant. Also a takeaway sushi shop called Sush. And others, they are all nice.

     

    But this is the only sushi in the Huon Valley?

    Yes, this is the only one.

     

    We saw that you were featured on the Gourmet Farmer, how did he contact you?

    It was interesting, we were at a friends birthday party and there was a camera man. The Gourmet Farmer was asking me what brought me to Tasmania, so I told him the story about meeting Lucy. He asked me about my job as a chef, at this time they were just starting filming the show. After a few weeks he contacted me asking if I was interested and I said no because I was busy! Then a few more weeks passed and they asked again. I’m very glad I did it as it was good publicity for my shop and a great experience.

     

    Where were you living before Tasmania?

    Japan. I met Lucy in Japan, where she was teaching English. I was one of her students.

     

    So now you get to practice your English a lot…?

    Well, this is a problem because she speaks Japanese perfectly so my English doesn’t really improve!

     

    How did she learn Japanese so perfectly?

    She lived there for 7 years.

     

    Do you both go back to Japan often?

    Yes, sometimes. Next week we are going! So this is the last weekend for a while. It’s lucky that you caught me here. We come back end of June.

     

    Sushi is very popular in California, which is where I’m from [Melissa]. Your sushi looks different, do you make it special in some way compared to other chefs?

    Yes, it could be that way. For me it’s not so special but I have been doing this work for almost 20 years. I’m 41 now and I started when I was 18.

     

    Do you use fresh ingredients from Tasmania?

    Oh yes. We try to get everything from this area.

     It has to be local, fresh veg, that’s most important.

    Your soup has been celebrated as ‘the best Miso soup you’ll ever have’ (Jessica Nicholls, 2012), what’s the secret?

    Really? Oh, thank you! When we make it with crayfish, which is why it tastes very rich. You have to use fresh vegetables from around Geeveston. It has to be local, fresh veg, that’s most important.

     

    What’s the most popular sushi roll that you make?

    Tuna rolls are very special, and also prawn and avocado. Our inari (stuffed bean curd pouches) is good too! I only make maybe 6 or 7 different varieties everyday, pretty much every time we sell out. They all seem popular!

     

    (We notice food half unwrapped on the table in-front of him) But you’re not having any for lunch today?

    It’s hamburger!

     

    Where do you get a hamburger here?

    Around the corner, they make very good burgers.

     

    Do they come to you for lunch?

    [Laughs] Yes!

     

     

    For more information on Masaaki and his famous sushi, please see:

    Masaaki Sushi

    20b Church Street, Geeveston, TAS.

    0408 712 340

    masaakikoyama@me.com

    Open Friday & Saturday in Geeveston (11:30am – 6:30pm) and every Sunday at The TasFarmGate Market in Hobart

     

    Special thanks to chef Masaaki, Cassy and Ken for making this happen.

    
    

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