Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Hilbarners

Enjoying the spoils of their first hilbarn box are Toby and little brother Jasper. Thanks to mum Amy for sharing their sweet discovery in this family photo. "We've really enjoyed the boxes," writes Amy. "Especially our two boys who love discovering what's in them (especially when it's blueberries or apples!) After pulling everything out, Toby (he's 4) told me he was so excited that he had "real farm mud" on his hands from the potatoes!" Thanks for the great snap guys!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Golden Plums

Our juicy plums are ripening beautifully in Karoola, although not plentifully enough for boxes as yet. Our fresh produce will be sold in small quantities in the hilbarn store (see January 23rd post).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Big Reds

Another superb northern Tasmania morning spent harvesting the plentiful fruits of summer. Among the spoils for this week's hilbarn fresh produce box: while Hil picked blueberries in Lebrina, Barn helped pick these plump tomatoes with Bruce and Rowan at their family farm in Lilydale. Get ready for February - a great month for making sauce, chutney and passata.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Open By Appointment

Hilbarn, Karoola is now open.

Hilbarn sells plants and collectables including tools, retro kitchenware, fresh & potted herbs, baskets and country furniture, and fresh produce when available. By appointment only:, or call 0431 749 804

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Picking Blueberries

We picked the blueberries in this week’s hilbarn box ourselves. They’re from neighbouring Crestview orchard in Lebrina not far from Lilydale. It’s blueberry season, and after one of our wettest winters, this is one of the best: so much fruit, each branch laden down like huge eyebrows touching the ground.
Picking fruit is one of life’s pleasures. And along with a swim at Lulworth, picking blueberries at Crestview is a highlight of our north eastern summer. Crestview’s car park paddock was nearly as full as Woolworths' last Sunday afternoon. With a perfect blue sky and a soft breeze, this was something families do. It’s hard not to listen in to fellow pickers’ conversations across the blueberry hedgerows. Nothing really important is said but life is exchanged along with a love of blueberries. Some pick in one place leaning over the bushes; others sit on their haunches and pick their way up through the branches. Whichever, buckets were soon full to the brim, and children were running back for more.
The loveliest thing is when you realise you are discriminating: not every blueberry needs to be picked. You only recognise this in times of abundance. Leave the not so ripe for someone else to pluck. The truly blue, silver-coated plump berries with the bottom nearly bursting at the seam are the ones to prize. Eight kilos picked in 90 minutes; seven point five made it home…

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Chinese Spinach!

Featuring in today's hilbarn box is the leaf vegetable Chinese spinach. It was a mystery ingredient to us, too, until we started to know our Asian greens a little better. Chinese spinach has lots of cousins (including red amaranth) and can be eaten raw in salads or stir-fried (most commonly with garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and chilli pepper). It's earthy, packed with vitamins and good in curries too. Notice the way growers harvest it roots and all.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beet It!

We just love these perfect bunches of beetroot from Lebrina growers Liz and Michael. Picked fresh on Sunday morning for today's boxes, we love them as much for their leaves as their roots. Feel free to share your beetroot recipes with other hilbarners by leaving a comment here.

On The Wild Side

Barn packs wild roquette (or arugala) into bags on delivery morning after collecting yesterday from Claire and Bruce at Yorktown Organics. Claire prefers the intense peppery-ness of the wild version - and we have to agree!
Meanwhile the Asbestos Road State Reserve bushfire was not visible from their Yorktown home, although earlier this week it had reached within 30 metres of their property. We hope today's winds and temperatures are favourable to containing the fire and that Claire, Bruce, their family and neighbours stay safe.

Non-Plastic Packaging

With thanks to Karoola organic producers Lyndy and Dave we've managed to source these biodegradable punnets for packaging local berry fruits into hilbarn boxes. This not only saves us making our own by hand but also has plenty of other advantages:
* they're 100% organic
* available locally in Tasmania
* they break down in 6 to 8 weeks
* they're made from natural palm fibre (a renewable resource)
* they're organically processed with no toxins, chemicals or glues
* you can dig them into your compost or garden - great for enriching your soil.
Drop us an email if you'd like to make contact with the sole Tasmanian distributor Craig Mclaren. He told us that after turning 50 last year, and becoming a grandfather, these punnets have become "my little contribution to my grandchildren's future".
"Having spent a life time on the land," says Craig, "and admittedly doing some terrible things to the environment, this venture is our way of trying to make amends. What seems the biggest hurdle is the fact that our trays are a couple of cents dearer than the plastic equivalent and in the current economic climate most people are not prepared to go the extra mile."
We hope it won't be too long before Craig's punnets are seen in every fruit and veg outlet in the State. In the meantime, local seasonal berry fruits are available (while they last) as hilbarn optional extras and will be packaged using these 100% organic punnets. Email: (Shell, photographed, from Lulworth beach)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Apricot Season

New season apricots have arrived and feature in the first hilbarn fresh produce box of 2010, along with cherries, red silver beet, basil, watercress, new Pink Eye potatoes, cucumber, lettuce, new season garlic and carrots. We'll share our favourite recipe for apricot tart if you share what you do with your apricots...