Monday, December 19, 2011

Herb Bouquet

The veranda was made aromatic with baskets of our garden bay leaves, rosemary and sage this weekend as we tied little bundles of bouquet garni for hilbarn boxes. Toss it into soups or meat dishes this Christmas for added flavour.

Strawberries & Sunsets

Thank you to neighbouring organic farmers Dave and Lyndy for providing punnets of pert and tasty strawberries (variety: Cambridge Rival) for today's hilbarn boxes. They picked yesterday - just in time before the rain blew in. The Pinners new B&B at their certified organic farm in Karoola is just about open for business. Keep it in mind if you fancy a slice of real farm life, or if you have friends visiting who might love a taste of the rolling Tasmanian countryside, and a local sauvignon blanc on the veranda at sunset.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're Wrapped!

As regular hilbarners would know, we are suckers for old fashioned packaging: as little plastic as possible, rustic string or silky, re-usable ribbon, and paper that's taped or tied by loving hands. Which is why we loved collecting our package of beautifully fired clay labels from the naturally gifted Ness at Marley & Lockyer in Beaconsfield this morning. It was a joy to untie the ribbon and sweetly wrapped brown paper and doily to pull out 100 tags ready for us to stamp and label. This year, we'll be labelling all of our Christmas berry boxes with these special, hand-made keepsakes. There are only 5 boxes remaining (priced at $50). If you'd like one, packed with local fresh berries and delivered the day before Christmas Eve, drop us a note at as soon as you can.

Monday, December 12, 2011

hilbarn In Pictures

When Women in Agriculture (Tasmania branch) asked us to introduce hilbarn to their Statewide meeting held in Launceston not so long ago, we had some fun putting together a not-quite video on You Tube. Thanks to everyone who works with us, to all our growers who keep our Mondays and Tuesdays fresh with produce, and all our customers who seem to find our hilbarn boxes in invisible and precious ways. We couldn't do it without you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blue Sky, White Paddock

Some days are just pearlers... we took this photo on the weekend, when a rusty barn, a paddock of pyrethrum daisies, and a typical Tasmanian sky captured our lens and reminded us of a Patrick Grieve painting (his exhibition "Smeared With Toil" opens at the Bett Gallery in Hobart this Saturday, December 10th).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Capsicum Kings

Thanks to Rob, Ann, and their son William from Kindred who grew the capsicum and chillis in this week's hilbarn boxes. The season has just started for Rob and his family who have been farming hydroponically for 15 years. Have you noticed how long capsicum last when you buy them around the time of picking? That's why we love what we do - to find the shortest time from farmer to you so your produce stays as fresh as possible. When we collected freshly picked yellow and red caps, and green and red chillis from Rob last Saturday, he told us he could guarantee their freshness for two weeks. Now that's service for you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

On the Road Again

Barn and Hil are about to set off to deliver this week's hilbarn boxes, so look out for our red van, Versace, who rather fancies himself as an extra in Top Gear. Polished up well, thanks Joe! This weekend Versace travelled country roads from Kindred to Scottsdale, collecting fresh local produce for this week's boxes: basil and snow peas from Graeme, capsicum and chillis from Rob and Ann, potatoes from Chris, bok choy and kale from Song, roses from Stephen and Maryann, wild roquette from Bruce and Claire, and strawberries from Craig and Wendy. Thanks guys! PS. This snap might look magazine-snazzy, but Hil actually took it accidentally on her Iphone when she was hopping back into Versace. "I couldn't have lined it up better if I'd tried!" she says. Just a perfect angle taken by the moment...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Gift of Christmas

This time last year we received an email from Randall, one of our hilbarn box customers. Did we know anyone locally who made Christmas wreaths? We decided to put him in touch with Lee and Chris at Killiecrankie Farm in Glengarry who we knew as passionate growers of Christmas trees. It was a bit too late for orders last year, but, this year, Lee was ready to supply with her gorgeous apple tree wood wreaths. Hopefully Randall's front door now looks as welcoming as Hil's (photographed top left), who, of course, had to have one of Lee's wreaths too. By the way, Killiekrankie's Christmas trees star as the cover story in the latest issue of Australian Country Style magazine. And - if you look closely at the feature inside - you'll spot a wreath.

Happy December 1st

We went to re-stack the woodshed this morning. And while the sound of firewood knocking together echoed through the shed, we turned to see the gentlest of sights: three pairs of beady eyes bigger than their beaks, poking out from the brim of a teacup nest spun from cobwebs and dust, and hanging perilously from a branch above our heads. Summer is here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Herb bath

We loved coming across Nigel's backyard herb & veggie garden at the weekend! Never ceases to amaze us how inventive people can be...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Days of Sun & Rhubarb

The day started yesterday picking up freshly harvested broad beans and snow peas from Spreyton; then, rhubarb from grower Tim in Latrobe, snapped here with his vintage seed and fertilizer drill that he still uses for the purpose. Couldn't help but notice the name in inverted commas on the side in raised type: "Sun". Bit different to the corporate slogans preferred today... And the day ended at Libby's on the slopes of Mount Arthur, drinking her rhubarb cordial spritzers at sunset, along with a 1994 magnum of Clover Hill she'd saved especially for a moment like this...

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Art of Spice

Dukkah (zaatar and chip spices) from Tanya and Jamahl of Bodhi Farm Organics, Geeveston, features in this week's hibarn fresh produce boxes. The Middle Eastern dipping spice is made from ingredients grown organically on farm or sourced from local organic producers. Enjoy it with crusty bread and olive oil, or sprinkled over cooked chips, meat or fish, or roasted/deep fried cocktail kipfler potatoes from Scottsdale, also a feature in this week's hilbarn box. Love to hear what you think.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Strawberry Fields Now & Forever

For some reason we can't quite work out, when you follow the seasons, the years seem to fly by. This has its pros and cons. It's not such a welcome quality when it comes to ageing, although we're trying hard not to act our age. It's wonderful, though, when the seasons flick by and you realise it's strawberry time again. Hilbarners are lucky this week - they'll have strawberries in their box before the Berry Patch in Turners Beach even opens on Thursday. We met Craig today, in the midst of re-vamping their shed with a sexy new lick of paint, front counter, and pebbled front step. "The first pick is never the best," said Craig, who, after three seasons, we know to be the master of understatement. We hope you'll agree they still taste as good as ever. So good to be able to get Craig and Wendy's berries to you again: we hope you love the fruits of their labour as much as we do.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Season

This weekend, Barn travelled east to Jetsonville to meet Adam who was in the process of harvesting sturdy fresh sticks of rhubarb for this week's hilbarn boxes ("picked" - not cut - by twisting each stem off the plant, one by one). Meanwhile, Hil journeyed west to Penguin for new potatoes (hooray - the first of the season!), Thirlstane for spring lettuce, and Northdown for basil. It might be slightly chilly, but we're loving the journeys we're making to find the best of new season produce for you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In this week's box...

...Scottsdale Dutch cream potatoes, brown & red onions from Jetsonville, organic mizuna & wild roquette from York Town, East Tamar pears, Turners Beach cherry tomatoes, Forth pumpkin, carrots, & in doubles (photographed, above, in the making): North Lilydale lemons plus a splendid splash of waratah from Pipers River.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Waratah Haven

Grand Final Day is when NSW waratah grown in Tasmania are at their peak, says Kate, who harvested these stupendous 'Shady Lady' stems for us this morning ready to pack into hilbarn double boxes this evening. When the morning sun hit these grand bushes in her Pipers River native garden you couldn't help but be cheerful. We're celebrating light today, in all its forms: Day Light Saving is here at last!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tasmanian macadamians

Rose's macadamias from her orchard in Hillwood are the hardest nut to crack and that's a fact. But well worth the effort, roasted, roughly chopped and mixed with Cheryl's leatherwood honey from Pipers River Aviaries into Hil's honey and macadamia nut Anzacs. Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it:

1 cup whole macadamia nuts

1 cup plain flour

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 cup coconut

2 tbs boiling water

1 tbs leatherwood honey

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

130g melted butter

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Spread macadamia nuts over 1 tray and cook in preheated oven for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool slightly then chop coarsely. Sift flour into large bowl. Add macadamia nuts, rolled oats, sugar and coconut, stir to combine. Combine boiling water, honey and bicarbonate of soda in small jug, then stir in the butter. Add cooled butter mixture to flour mixture and use wooden spoon to combine. Place 2 heaped teaspoons of mixture onto lined tray and use back of spoon to flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining mixture, leaving about 3cm between each. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes, transfer to wire racks to cool.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

House of hilbarn

We really appreciate it whenever hilbarners return their hilbarn boxes so we can use them again, but we didn't mind at all when we received this photo from Claire who teaches at Mt Stuart Primary. This sustainable house was made by her grade 1 class out of recycled hilbarn boxes. "Sorry again that I didn't return them," Claire told us, "but my class have gained much pleasure from them and they are so proud of it!"
Thank you Mt Stuart Primary Grade 1. We're chuffed too!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Day of Spring

The swallows are back, the bulbs are out, the sun was brilliant... so after ordering for hilbarn boxes this morning, we headed for Lulworth beach to celebrate the first day of Spring. Nothing to do with produce, or digging, or planting. Just Spring. Now, for the garden back home... Hope you're enjoying yours.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Let's Yam

In hilbarn boxes this week: freshly dug New Zealand yams from Lefroy market gardener Pottsy (aka Dave), who dropped them into the hilbarn shed during packing tonight on his way to performing at the Junction Arts Festival tent in Launceston. If you don't know what to do with your NZ yams, Dave advises to cook them in the same way as potatoes, but says roasting is best.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Somewhere it's written, or been said, or we've heard... that twelve daisies in a group means Spring has arrived. Almost there then!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Truffle Hunting

Yesterday we were invited by Stillwater restaurant to join their truffle hunt in the Tamar Valley. These aromatic black nuggets were freshly harvested yesterday, watched by our robust group who braved the first rain the region has seen for some time. Marcus Jessup (centre) from Tamar Valley Truffles hosted the afternoon on his family's 1600 ha property, just ten minutes from the centre of Launceston. While the truffle lovers returned to Stillwater to enjoy a truffle menu from chef Craig Will, we hot-footed it to the hilbarn packing shed to put together today's fresh produce boxes. We'd love to feature truffle in our box, but we may not be able to put anything else in it: the price is as exotic as their aroma! Look out for Hil's story on Marcus in Country Style magazine coming up soon. And thank you to Kim and Rod for an inspirational day. Truffle with egg, with sausage, with pinot noir...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Helping Hands #2

Helping on packing nights last week and tonight are Jackson (left, with a double box) from Karoola, and Tommy, (right, with parsnips shaped like a pair of legs), from Bangor. Along with Rhonda and Vikky, we really appreciate their help in putting hilbarn fresh produce boxes together. It's a huge jigsaw puzzle that comes together each week, starting with an empty box which gradually turns into a showcase of Tasmania's freshest produce. Thanks to our farmers and growers, too, for providing us with the best fruits of the earth.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Helping Hands

Thanks to Mason from Lilydale who helped pack hilbarn boxes with us on Sunday. Like us, he loved the size of the perfect baby cabbages from Roy in Penna Valley. And he promised to take home a Forth cauliflower to make soup for his mum. When we gave Mason a Scottsdale carrot to taste he said, "Wow, this is the best carrot I've ever had!" Thanks Mason, we hope you can join us again to help us pack. Now, how did you go with that soup?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tendril is the Night

New in this week's hilbarn boxes are these freshly harvested, organically grown pea tendrils from Mt Nelson, a suburb of Hobart. They're grown in special nutrient-based soils, using a particular pea seed, by Lynda, who used to be a social worker, and Mark, a geo-physicist, who started their business, Naked Carrot, three years ago. We loved the crunch, colour and taste of these tendrils when we first discovered them. So this week, hilbarners get to try them for themselves. Might we suggest: in an egg and pea tendril sandwich, in stir-fries, on top of a salad, or just plain raw. Any which way, they're good for you!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Midlands Snowdrift

On the way home from picking up produce in Campania today we travelled through ghostly snowdrifts near Kempton and a full-on blizzard on top of Spring Hill near Oatlands. The wind was as sharp as an axe. Hard to believe how anything would grow in these conditions, but when we got home with our bounty of winter produce from Song and Dee, the sight of a red hot poker blooming in the driveway at home warmed our hearts. You just have to shake your head at Nature's contrasting wonders.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Backyard Kiwis

Juicy kiwifruit feature in hilbarn boxes this week, picked on Saturday morning from Joanne's Launceston garden. She's lucky enough to have two vines as old as the house and a bountiful crop. The trick is to pick them before the birds! We had to shoo off a couple of tiny native silver eyes who were lining up breakfast just as we started. Four boxes later, and there's still enough to pick again another day. Thanks to Joanne for letting us pick her wonderful fruit, and also to Kim who picked lemons from his garden for our boxes today.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Packing in the Winter Sun

This winter, our box packing times have slipped earlier and earlier on Sundays; now, you'll find the team lifting, weighing, bagging and packing as early as 3.30. Lately we've been accompanied by gale force winds and drifts of rain which means the barn doors are shut firmly against the elements. Yesterday, we were blessed with afternoon light although the temperatures were still crisp enough for layers and - as you can see from the shadows - the sun was almost low enough in the sky to slice everything in its path. We opened the doors and stopped for a few minutes to appreciate the colour it brought into the packing shed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Parsley with a View

You can understand why this curly parsley grows like it does, with thick bushy heads enjoying views of the Central Plateau and roots firmly entrenched in the rich red soils of the Central Coast. Tim says he took these photos at the height of the growing period before the weeds set in. Generous bunches of his fresh cut parsley feature in hilbarn boxes this week, along with Lower Barrington cauliflowers, Northdown watercress, Nicola potatoes, Brussel sprouts and red onions from Kindred, North East shallots, Hillwood apples, Forth carrots and broccoli, and bean sprouts from Shearwater.