Nick Ray: 2015 – Part 1. Rise and shine… apples & pears

8th April, 2015 —   

Our Local Harvest Challenge week began with us in Buxton, staying with my in-laws, over the Easter break. We have decided to go relatively easy this year just focussing on one food challenge thing each day. Being up in the country is a good chance to remember the source of our food and be refreshed –  though Sunday saw me a tad tired having woken up early for a dawn worship service at Kepple Lookout. (Quite a bit early for me due to day-light-savings change). A beautiful moment when birds sounds break the stillness and welcome the new day.

First up we harvested our amazing espaliered pears and apples from the fruit trees we put in about 5 years ago. It’s a small orchard here. We’re pretty pleased with these large fruits (see pear-pickin action). Like our babes come of age. We’re facing a mixture of emotions though as the property may be sold later in the year. Can’t hold too tightly to things. All things change.

We’ve also got our beehives on this property now. I had hoped to get honey from the top boxes of all 4 hives but only 1 had any significant supply. Still it’s given us a good 10kgs. Janet’s latest experiment is making a cure-all tincture/tonic from the propolyse which is like natural liquid-nails that the bees use to seal gaps.

Our evening meal was largely from my father-in-law Max’s greenhouse produce (see Greenhouse tour). And some salmon from the local Buxton trout farm.  The  trout farm suffered during the 2009 bushfires. The farm itself and the house was saved by Mitch, the owner. But 40 tons of fish, fencing, and the hatchery and brood stock was lost. Read more about the farm here.

In the arvo went camping with my 6 year old son Charlie. I must say food was NOT strictly local and not at all healthy but was somewhat DIY. We ate damper (flour and salt), and Tomato soup (Heinz, New Zealand). There’s been some talk about Country of Origin labelling after the wake of hepatitis cases linked to imported frozen berries. Politicians are now jumping on board with promises of effective change.  Check out the Choice labelling campaign here, and of course, choose Australian produce and manufacture where possible. Reading the label is good start. (I also I noticed that Coles online do have the info on their website (example) … but not on their app).

Back at home (Footscray, Melbourne’s west), we’re reminded that ‘compost is food’. Have just put in our Autumn planting of veg in front garden at home. Brocolli, cauli, spring onions, lettuce, carrot… but the real win has been a ute load of horse poo – free from a property out at Park Orchards. This will be the basis for our compost and future soil. Here’s me unloading while Charlie practices his lasso technique – inspired by a a recent viewing of ‘Back to the Future III’. (Those who have seen it may recall the Biff-manure connection).

Lunch…  Good too!

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Name: Nick Ray
Suburb: Footscray
State: VIC
Team: Westies
Size: Feast-sized

Nick Ray's Challenges

  • Source local meat & cheeses
  • Shop at a local food coop, buy in bulk, take your own containers
  • Shop at a local food coop, buy in bulk, take your own containers
  • Shop at a local food coop, buy in bulk, take your own containers
  • Buy cruelty free eggs (laid by happy chooks!)
  • Go foraging! - eat edible weeds
  • Harvest and eat food from your own garden
  • Cook with seasonal produce
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Start a worm farm
  • Visit a local commuity garden
  • Join a food coop
  • Join a CSA farm
  • Speak with your school canteen about local sourcing