I dropped up to my nearest neighbour for a cuppa, which was about 1km up the road. I was greeted with a cup of ginger tea; sliced fresh from their homegrown ginger and let steep in hot water. It was such an amazing zingy flavour compared to the ginger tea bag. I smelt its gingery aroma wafting down the stairs before I saw it.
Insecticide Free Fruit
When I visited them, they bundled me home with a bag full of organic and insecticide-free fruits. I held the bucket, while my neighbour picked the deliciously fresh fruit straight off the tree branches. I was so excited about these plump, juicy fruits that I used them as an example, for my class, of the type of fresh food supplies that may have been taken on board The First Fleet ships in 1787. Just like my students, The First Fleeters had never seen some of the exotic fruits, they were in awe at the variety of fresh fruits picked from someone’s backyard.
My Fruit Haul
My fruit haul goes like this: hass avocados,tangelos, limes, lemons, passionfruit, rhubarb,turmeric, ginger, chilli, brazil grape – Jabuticaba. The tumeric was always known as an anti-flammatory, and an awesome way to ingest it was grating it into my morning juices with pulp. The deliciously sweet juicy tangelos which I have been cutting up and sucking on – are a hybrid of the tangerine and grapefruit (or origin early 20th cent.: blend of tangerine and pomelo).
Mini Orchard – Busy Bees
I am very fortunate to have neighbours who have a mini orchard of seasonal produce on their 1 acre block. They boast some 60 shrubs, 7 fruit bearing trees and a veggie garden. The bees and insects love it too. The pollination within their flowering shrubs, especially between the red salvia, and their fruit orchard can be likened to being a hive of activity.
‘It saves a lot when you grow your own food. We make chutney, relishes, jams, lemon butter with the leftover fruit. Nothing goes to waste.’
Live longer – Eat Fresh
They tell me that longevity is a good excuse to eat fresh. My neighbour recalled her mum growing a lot of veggies in the garden; and they lived well into their 90s. For that matter, my mum and dad always had gardens and flavoursome fruits: oranges, mandarines and pawpaws and they are still kicking along just fine – 75 and 85 respectively.
‘Everything we ate was grown naturally and picked fresh, ready to eat. You knew exactly where it came from, because it came straight off our tree.’
When Seasonal Fruit Was Seasonal
I remember a time when good/real tasting seasonal fruit like; peaches, pears, apricots etc., were available only at certain times of the year. I used to hang out, looking forward to Christmas because that was the only time of year you could eat those particular stone fruits in Queensland.
It just doesn’t make sense that some things like apples are on the shelves all year round. I recall during the much, much cooler months, when I was in Italy, walking around the apple orchards. Here in summer, we’ve been eating apples for over 10-20years all year round.
My Seasonal Efforts
My efforts included my first pineapple which was the best, sweetest pineapple I have ever tasted. And I have another three baby pineapples rearing their head in my garden – but it will be nearly 2 years before they’re ready to eat. Also my collection of parley, rosemary, thyme and mint is blazing along virtually all year round.
Farm to Plate – Bypass Cold Storage
Picking fresh fruit and vegetables, directly from the farm, was always known as being at its most nutritional. But, how do today’s ‘on the shelf’ fruit and vegetables compare. A lot of fruit and vegetables in shops have been in cold storage or gassed. Many are picked before they are ripe; instead of being ripened naturally. You would have to consider how much of its nutritional value is still intact.
‘You can tell when farm fruit is not sprayed because they’ve got marks on them, but they’re perfectly alright to eat. Perfect fruit has nearly always been sprayed with something.’
The local Atherton Tablelands Markets are very popular because many locals do their weekly fresh fruit and veggie shopping; because they’re buying fresh food direct from the farmer. Some travel 2-4hrs just to visit various markets. People generally make a weekend of it, which boosts the local economy. During the tourist season – March to September, you’ll see thousands of visitors flocking to our markets each weekend – especially for locally grown food.