21 October 2011

Green manure.

I took the photo above about a year ago. It was meant to accompany a blog post I had been thinking about writing about soil. About how much of the farming that we do at Daylesford Organics is not really about the fruit and vegies and eggs we produce, but about the soil they grow/feed/live on.

I was going to talk about how we at Daylesford Organics actually consider ourselves soil farmers. Our work is to constantly improve the soil. To make it healthy and full of nutrients so that it can then do it's own important work.

We swear by this soil philosophy. We observe our soil, we add micro organisms and organic matter and compost teas. We use the chooks to fertilise and we obsessively make and dig in compost. And we don't overwork our precious soil. We let it rest in between plantings and we often plant crops that we plow in to feed and nurture it.

We try to listen and nurture.

After ten years of organic farming and the worst season of farming we have experienced, we decided it was time to look after the farmers of the soil. After the steepest learning curve of moving from the city to become farmers. After building up the wonderful business that is Daylesford Organics and after experiencing some of the biggest highs and some pretty awful lows, we decided it was time to look after us.

To plant a green manure crop.

So in July of this year, our family of five left the farm and drove off in an old caravan we had renovated. We drove up the centre of Australia and are now on our way down the west coast.

We are looking after the farmers. We are taking some time out to look at things from the outside. We are talking a lot about possible new directions we as an organic farm can take. And we are getting inspired all over again.

We are so lucky and grateful to farmers Liam and Pierre for keeping things going while we travel. You guys are ace! x

We have got some exciting plans to put into action when we return so watch this space.

In the mean time feel free to follow our caravan adventure here on my other blog.

See you soon.

01 June 2011

Heirloom beetroots and carrots.

It's the first day of winter here in Southern Australia and our little farm is full of rainbows.

Rainbows of heirloom beetroots. Five varieties.

And rainbows of heirloom carrots. Five varieties.

The vegetable cool room is on and full of crates of gorgeous certified organic vegies.

And the farmer boys are a blur of picking and washing and weighing and packing.

It's been a crazy season and we are about five months later than usual, but we are finally doing what organic vegie farmers do and wow it is fun!

19 May 2011

Chook love art.

Produced, directed, photographed, fed and tended to by Farmer Pierre.

17 May 2011

Crimes of Farm Fashion Part 2.

Other possible titles for this post:
  • We are finally harvesting rainbow carrots.
  • Our two new green shipping containers arrived this morning.
  • Can you believe they let me take this pic even after I told them I would be putting it on the Internet?
  • Sorry girls, they are both happily married.
Crimes of Farm Fashion Part 1 is here.

09 May 2011

Dear Delicious magazine,

We are sad to have to inform you that Daylesford Organics will not be submitting an entry into this year’s Delicious Produce Awards.

In a world of celebrity chefs and chefs hat awards for restaurants, we think it’s wonderful that your magazine has an award that celebrates the producers.

Our win in the From The Earth category in 2009 and our gold medal in 2010 for our heirloom veggies have been among the highlights of our ten years in business.

Although the past growing season began with great promise, things soon changed. Our market gardens were flooded three times in four months; and we experienced high humidity, not enough sunshine or warmth, and so much rain we considered building an ark. By the time the locusts arrived there wasn’t anything much left for them to devour.

Last year we submitted a rainbow of heirloom vegetables to be judged. So many colours and flavours, shapes and sizes. This year we don't have any produce to pull out of the ground in the submission time.

We are most disappointed for ourselves as well as for the many other heartbroken farmers around Australia who have been affected by the crazy weather.

We hope the judging of this year’s Produce Awards goes really well. We look forward to sending our entry next year.

With best wishes,

Kate and Brendon

Daylesford Organics

06 May 2011

Roasted beetroot divine!

Happy weekend folks!

To celebrate weekend eve, we made the yummiest dinner. Every single ingredient except the olive oil and the feta was grown right here at Daylesford Organics and everything except the garlic was picked less than an hour before it was cooked.

Four colours of heirloom beetroot. From left: Detroit, White Blankoma, Golden, Chioggia.


Tossed together with some garlic and olive oil, baked for an hour and then served with a lettuce and fetta salad.

It doesn't get much better than that. Simple, colouful, fresh, seasonal, organic, delicious!

We hope you have the most wonderful weekend.

25 April 2011

Day trip.

Early this morning we hit the road and took a drive to visit a couple of our newest customers.

First stop Colliban Food Store in Trentham. A gorgeous and glamerous new restaurant and food store just off the main street.

Paul the owner, came to see us about a year ago to tell us of his vision for the store and talk about what produce we could supply him. It was a sunny Autumn day and we stood around in the farm stall and chatted. It was a fantastic feeling today to see him and his team and his dream come true.

You can buy our eggs and seasonal vegies in the store to take home or you can have them cooked for you in the restaurant and eat them there.

Then we drove on to Kyneton and to deliver eggs to organic patisserie, Inner Biscuit.

That's Mara there at the coffee machine. Inner Biscuit is her gorgeous cafe. I love everything about her place. I love the way she's decorated it, I love that all her ingredients are organic, I love how friendly her and her staff are and I loved our coffees, lemon cookies and almond croissants. Yum!

I bet I'm not the only one to leave that place and consider starting an enamel tea pot collection.

All in all a wonderful day and some fabulous coffee. I think we might have to do a tour of some of our Melbourne customers soon.

Have a wonderful week.

14 April 2011

Crimes of Farm Fashion Part 1.

I'll be back as soon as I get over those fluoro vests to tell you about the other fun stuff that's been going on here at Daylesford Organics lately. There's been honey collecting and spinning (possibly another fashion crime), preserving, 600 baby chickies, carrots, apples, beetroots and all sorts of other fun farm stuff.

See you soon.

ps stay tuned for baby chicken live cam.

31 March 2011

Rainbow carrots are back!!

Hooray for the very first bunch of rainbow carrots of the season.

I know they are small and not all that impressive but we are thrilled!! This bunch got three cheers. We've been waiting a very long time for our own carrots this season and because of all the floods they are two months later than usual.

Late but still delicious. This bunch were gobbled up less than a minute after the photo shoot.

Actually, that's not entirely true...some were set aside a few minutes to decorate lunch.

27 March 2011

The top orchard.

Ten years ago we bought this farm off a guy called Tom and his wife Lois. When Tom and Lois first moved here about 15 years before that, they hadn't been too sure of what to do with this place, so Tom made an orchard up near the house and planted one of every fruit tree he thought might do well and then watched them to see what would happen.

He planted a few varieties of plum, lots of different apples, some pears, a quince, cherries, apricots, lemons, mulberries and peaches.

After a few years he saw that this area is not suitable for growing peaches and apricots and lemons because it gets too cold but he also saw that the apples thrived.

So Tom set about planting an apple orchard and while they lived here he grew and sold certified organic apples.

In the ten years since we have been here we have planted about five hundred more apple trees and lots of other fruit trees too. These apples are the working apples. The farm fruit trees. But the top orchard is a bit like the home orchard. It doesn't always get as well maintained as the other orchards and often the fruit doesn't look as good and the birds and kangaroos get a lot but its always worth a walk through in Autumn to see what's around.

Today we found lots and lots of apples. Most are spotty and starchy still but we'll keep checking them now and pick them as they ripen.

We picked the last of the plums, including this love heart one.

A crate of quinces.

A crate of Pepper.

Jazzy upside down fruit.

And loads and loads of pears.

Its been a horrible year for the farm apples with the humidity and mould, but somehow these fruit trees on the top of the hill haven't done too badly. I'm not going to question why, I'm just going to enjoy them.

Have a wonderful week.

16 March 2011


I know I haven't posted on this blog for a month, far longer than I had intended.

But do you mind if I start from here? Is it OK if I skip over the past few months that should have been full of vegies and harvesting and colour and excitement but weren't and start again from now?

The puppies are almost twelve weeks old now.

At six weeks old they moved from our back deck to an enclosure on the other side of our house. A couple of chooks and then some roosters were introduced bit by bit.

And then when their Mum Willow looked exhausted all the time and couldn't escape them, they took their first car trip down to the paddock and joined their Dad Nick and a flock of 500 chookies.

They have been running and chasing and playing and wrestling ever since.

They are getting a bit rough for Miss Pepper though, bowling her over and scratching her face. They must sense that we call her Puppy and want to play and wrestle with her too.

But for now its safer to play from this side of the fence.

The first puppy to leave us last week was a girl. The new owner is a ten year old boy who has started his own chook business. he decided to call her Joey which made me happy as that's the name we gave her sister when she was first born.

Its exciting and a bit sad to think that one day the others will be off on their own Maremma journeys. I hope when the time comes there will be less tears from the Farmer girls than last week.

So that's it, I'm back.

See you soon.

13 February 2011

Garlic bulbils.

Do you know what this is a photo of?

These are garlic bulbils or garlic flowers.

They grow from the top of the stalk of the hard neck varieties of garlic.

They start off white and as they dry out they become more and more purple.

Many farmers of hard neck garlic remove the bulbils as they are forming to promote the growth of the bulb below the ground. At Daylesford Organics we believe in allowing a plant to grow in its natural form so we leave the bulbils on the plant. Cutting them off is like cutting off its reproductive organs.

The advantage of not removing the bulbils is that we harvest them as well as the garlic cloves when they reach maturity.

There are several things you can do with these flowers.

You can replant them. This is an economical way of building up your planting stock. It will take two years of replanting for the bulbs to reach a decent size. Alternately you could plant the bulbils in your herb garden and harvest them as spring garlic, like spring onions.

The other use for the bulbils is the one we are most excited about and that is to eat.

Over the past few weeks we have been sprinkling these gorgeous seeds on salads, bruchettas, stir fries and eggs.

They look gorgeous as a garnish, they give that delicious garlic kick and all without the bother of having to peel them or prepare them in any way.

Can you tell we are excited!!

If you buy some garlic bulbils from us over the next few weeks, we would love you to share your own personal bulbil recipe with us. Please leave a comment on this blog or email us at

See ya.

29 January 2011


I've been thinking lately that the dictionary definition for the word optimistic should include the word farmer and more specifically a farmer planting a crop.

When a farmer plants a crop she/he hopes for the perfect weather conditions to enable that crop to germinate, to grow and to thrive. It cannot be too hot, too wet, too cold or too humid. The farmer hopes that the irrigation pipes don't block or burst, that pests leave the crop alone, that there are no diseases, not too many weeds and enough water to irrigate it. He/she hopes that there is no flood or fire or wind storm. The farmer hopes that Mother Nature is kind and enables a delicious crop to be picked at the end of the growing season.

After a month of 'will we or wont we's', the last few days at Daylesford Organics were spent ploughing, laying irrigation lines and planting out a couple of gardens of carrots and beetroots.

Where other years we plant many, many different varieties of vegetables and lots of successions of each, this year we are most grateful to get anything in at all.

We are optimistic.

25 January 2011


We're still in clean up mode after the flood. We're chainsawing and pulling down and mulching and mowing. We're exploring and hunting for parts of our property that have washed away.

Yesterday Farmer Bren was walking around and found a fish. Just lying there in what used to be the market garden.

Maybe all those jokes about certified organic trout weren't so silly after all.

Have a great day.

23 January 2011


At this time of the year my blog should be bursting at the seams with photos of gorgeous rainbows of fruit and vegetables. Hundreds of varieties in all different shapes and colours. This week last year I was blogging about beetroots and peas and rocket and radishes. This year you get the puppies.

This ain't no ordinary season. This certainly ain't no ordinary January.

Actually, the truth is so far in our ten years of organic farming we have learnt that there is no such thing as an ordinary year. Some years there's too much wind, some are too hot, some bring fires and other other crazy weather patterns. As farmers we have learnt to listen and watch and to adapt.

But until this year the one constant has been the respect and love we have to have for water. Water is good.

When we moved here we became self sufficient in our water supply for the first time. We have had to be mindful in washing and drinking and laundering and bathing even in the middle of winter, to ensure we have enough for the coming summer. Our house water comes from the rain that lands on our roof and is precious.

Farm water has always been a constant topic for discussion too. We have bores that fill dams, we have dams that fill irrigation systems and we have irrigation systems that are always being planned and fixed and tested and diagrammed and updated.

On a farm water is life giving, water is precious, water is the topic of so many discussions.

Most years the running joke around here is that Bren has another girlfriend called Tap who he is always rushing off to meet and spend time with.

But then this year something happened to turn our whole theory of water on its head.

We learnt that water can also be destructive. Water can ruin your plans, stop you from planting a crop, turn your crop to seed or to mush, it can take years of carefully maintained top soil and send it off down the creek. Water can be scary. Water is a contradiction.

And everywhere we go there are more crazy water stories. The lettuce grower who had to plow in ten acres of flooded lettuces, our neighbours at yesterday's farmers' market who had to sell so much of their strawberry crop as seconds, our friends Andrew and Jill who lost their entire crop and left a gap where their stall usually stands opposite us...I could go on and on, I'm sure you could too.

So now we are living through the rest of this crazy season. We are grateful for our chookens who continue to lay, that we don't have enormous machinery and input costs and that we never put a crop in so we didn't lose one. Our hearts go out to those less fortunate.

Please buy local where you can, buy direct from the farmer where possible and look out for those that are producing the food that you eat.

14 January 2011

After the rains.

After more than 200mm of rain and crazy winds, we left the safety of our home on the hill this morning to survey the scene.

The girls were just happy to be outside after days and days inside the house.

We found a smashed up poly tunnel,

an underwater car park,

lakes and more lakes where once were paddocks ready for the full moon planting out.

Artichokes ready to be picked but impossible to get to.

Rows of ripe berries and currants again impossible to get to to pick.


Another reason why we wont be opening our farm gate stall this year.

Farmer Bren in his fancy pants.

That corner is the furthermost corner of the market garden. Gone. Washed down the creek. All that precious top soil, gone.

Seems ridiculous to find a sprinkler in the midst of it all.

And bush land that had a bush fire rip through it two years ago, now is full of heavy, wet, soggy and fallen trees. This is the part that really terrifies me living in the middle of the bush.

Despite the loss of income, the loss of years worth of carefully maintained top soil, the loss of the chance to express our true passion and plant an heirloom vegie crop and so much devastation, the truth is we know we are the lucky ones. In a few days the waters will subside and we will clean up and move on. We have a dry house to return to and chooks that were moved to higher country and still seem happy enough to lay eggs despite the wet.

Our thoughts go out to all those less fortunate.

Stay safe.