To order for delivery, please place your online order by Thursday 15th November, 8:30pm and mention in the comments box that you’d like delivery (and your address).
Come and learn how to detox your cleaning regime with homemade alternatives to commercial products…using simple, often inexpensive ingredients.
In this workshop, which will run for approximately 1.5-2 hours, I’ll show you how to make your own laundry powder, kitchen spray, gunk/adhesive remover, scouring powder, boot polish, liquid soap, air freshener, toilet cleaner and window cleaner.
Cost: $35. Payment can be made by selecting and buying this workshop online. This will automatically book you in. Price includes a take-home kit with some ingredients to get you started!
Details: Wednesday 26th September, 10am at Birdsong Market Garden, 118 Boundary St, Cranley, 4350
PS. For those who love the idea of homemade, local, non-toxic cleaning products, but aren’t keen on making them themselves, check out Green Dandelion (online). Suanne makes and sells these products.
Update: Birdsong will be closed Thursday September 13th-Saturday September 15th.
There will be no deliveries this week. Normal pickup times (11am-6pm) are available for Monday 9th-Wednesday 12th.
As a side note, coconut sugar is available, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get back on the website!
This Weeks delivery run will be Friday 7th September, 1-2pm for orders $40+ in Toowoomba. Please place your order by 8:30pm Thursday and request delivery in the comments box.
If I’ve delivered to you before, I already know where you live. But if you’re new, please list your address in the comments box also.
$50 mixed boxes are becoming a popular choice at Birdsong, and from the farmer’s point of view, it’s a wonderful choice, because it allows us to sell what’s in season and in abundance…and to get people trying produce they might not be accustomed to purchasing. You also learn to eat seasonally.
For those of you who’ve tried our mixed boxes before, you’ll know you end up with quite a bit of food, particularly greens in winter, to create with. So how do you deal with it all with as little spoilage and waste as possible?
I know some of you already give some of your produce away when the box contains more than you can use, which is a great way to save spoilage.
When you bring your box home and start packing the goods away, one of the first things to consider is “what is going to need to be eaten within the next few days to avoid spoilage?” The answer to this can depend on your storage methods. For example, I don’t actually keep much produce in our fridge, we’re blessed to have the cold room and I take a walk out there before preparing meals and select from the storage tubs out there. So something like loose leaf greens…any greens really, last especially well when they’re kept in the cold room in our plastic storage tubs. But if I take a mesh bag of mesclun and put it in the produce drawer of my fridge, it’s only going to last about 2 days. Same with just about anything green and leafy. BUT, if I put a bunch of kale in a large beeswax wrap, or a glass storage container in that same drawer of the fridge, it will last much longer, as if it was in the cold room.
Some produce is going to have a very lengthy shelf life, like your root vegetables, so there’s no hurry to use them.
Sometimes you’ll get produce that can be preserved for later. Tomatoes can be canned, corn can be blanched and frozen, lemongrass can be frozen, cabbage can be fermented into kraut etc
Now, how do you incorporate more of this produce into your meals so nothing goes to waste…and it’s not just about waste, it’s also about maximising your vegetable intake!
Between salads, stocks, soups, one pot meals and preserving, you should have no problem creating with all your mixed box produce.
Salads: Often I start with a recipe as a base, but change it to suit what’s in season and what’s in the pantry. Maybe there’s a lovely dressing recipe you want to try and then you mix and match with your veg (and can toss in some roasted nuts, seeds…even fruit).
Stocks: Many of you make your own stock. We’re big fans of chicken stock made on organic chicken frames and home grown produce. Using vegetables in your stock along with the bones creates a synergistic effect where the nutrients from the veg and bones combine to give you a virtual liquid multi-mineral supplement. And you can use SO many different veg. Have a bunch of kale you won’t otherwise use? Put it in your stock pot. It will turn the broth a little green, but that’s not a problem.
Soups: Like with salads, I’ll often start with a base recipe and then vary it to suit what produce is available. Or, start with the broth and then start slicing and adding produce that I have surplus of. This is a great way to use surplus leafy greens, chilli and herbs. NOTE: Add herbs at the end of the cooking when making soup so they retain their flavour and nutrient density.
Soup can be frozen, and in this way you can be both preserving your produce and giving yourself a ready-made meal to have on hand when you’re strapped for time.
One pot meals: Maybe that name isn’t the best description of what I mean…but any meal where you are combining the bulk of the sustenance in one dish like- Stews, bolognase, pies, stir-fry, quiche etc.
Our family now expect that I’ll probably sneak chard into the bolognase, or shredded cabbage into the ‘zucchini’ quiche…or a bit of everything into the ‘meat’ pie. Actually, we hadn’t made meat pies in a long time, and then a month or so ago I made one using about 500g organic beef mince and a LOT of veg, drowned in homemade gravy (which is broth based and nutritious)…they LOVED it! There was leftover veg in gravy that couldn’t fit in the pie crust (made too much!) and the children sat at the bench with spoons devouring every last mouthful. I think that pie contained carrot, chard, onion, sweet potato and potato.
It’s usually a good idea to shred or finely chop vegetables that you are wanting to bulk up a one pot meal with.
Preserving: Ah, I love preserving/canning. It was so satisfying at the end of last summer to see a pantry shelf full of tomato preserves like paste, sauce, passata, crushed tomatoes, relish etc Now here we are at the 8th month of the year and this week will be the first time this year that I’ll have to buy tomato preserves again! But it’s not just tomatoes that can be preserved.
Right now it’s cabbage season and our $50 box buyers have probably had a few womboks come their way. Besides wombok salad, did you know you can preserve your wombok by making kimchi with it? One of our customers gave us some kimchi they made on wombok…it was absolutely delicious. Such a fresh flavour.
Sauerkraut is wonderful for using up surplus cabbage, and there’s plenty of classes and online tutorials around now. You can also incorporate other veg, like cauliflower, broccoli, herbs, carrot and more into kraut.
Beetroot can be made into beautiful relish, or kraut or a fermented beverage known as kvass.
Dehydrating can also play a part. Last summer we had loads of damaged capsicums, so I saved the good parts and dehydrated them, then grind them to powder and had homemade organic paprika 🙂
We’ve got certified organic avocados, celery, zucchini, dried apricots and Styrian pepitas in stock now. If you are ordering a seasonal mixed box, you can request in the comments if you specifically want to make sure you get some avocados/celery/zucchini. Otherwise it’s all listed in the web store for itemised orders.
We live and farm so close to Gowrie Junction…4kms from the school. And Highfields is just around the corner also.
So, I’m gauging interest for a Highfields and Gowrie Junction delivery run. The same rules would apply as the Toowoomba run…one set delivery slot for orders $40+ and orders would need to be placed by the day before the delivery run.
Anyone interested? If so, please email me email@example.com and I’ll figure out whether there’s enough interest to go ahead with this.
Pumpkins! They thrived this year, and we had hundreds of them.
We’ve had pumpkin in salads, roasts, desserts…and this week since we also have loads of violet cauliflower, which is gorgeous eaten raw with a decent dip, I’ve just made a pumpkin and cashew dip.
Here’s the recipe:
About half a kilo of pumpkin and sweet potato, roasted. You can use pumpkin alone, but we just happened to have them both leftover after a roast. If you are purposefully roasting the pumpkin to make the dip you’ll need to peel, seed and dice the pumpkin, then roast at 180C for about half an hour.
1/2 Cup Cashews…or another nut if you prefer
2 Tbsp Seasoning. I used YIAH Cinco Pepper Enchilada seasoning (which is completely herbs and spices). Otherwise Moroccan Seasoning is a good option.
3/4 Cup greek yoghurt. Try coconut yoghurt if you’re going dairy free
Method: Using a blender or food processor, mix all ingredients until smooth.
Simple, isn’t it?
Apples are back. We have both heritage red varieties, and Granny Smith. Plus we’re trialing selling Gran Elly Orchard organic apple juice. $8/1 L bottle. It’s delicious 🙂
This weeks delivery run will be Friday 29th June, 1-2:30pm for orders $40+ in Toowoomba. Place your order by Thursday 28th, 8:30pm if you’d like the Friday delivery. In the school holidays I’ll aim for a morning delivery slot, as this seems to suit people better.
Plastic Free July is almost upon us! Last year we aimed for reusable boxes for veg orders to reduce single use plastic. That’s been working beautifully now people are in the habit of returning boxes.
This year our focus is on using glass instead of plastic for packaging of dried fruit/nuts/seeds. As with boxes, the returning of this packaging for cleaning and future reusing means we can keep costs down for you. If I have to continually buy glass packaging, the cost has to be factored into the produce price.
During Plastic Free July, we’ll be giving a free reusable mesh produce bag with every $25 spent at Birdsong. 🙂 A great way to reduce your plastic use at home.
One product that is hard to package in an eco friendly way is shredded coconut…I’m very open to ideas! 1kg of this coconut is very space-consuming. So glass jars are not really an option. We’ve been using heavy duty plastic packaging, but an eco friendly alternative would be very welcome.
Many of you have seen it on the ABC’s War On Waste series. Or you’ve seen it with your own eyes and through your own research….modern agriculture practices, combined with stringent supermarket criteria, produce a LOT of food waste.
Woolworths made a step in the right direction, with their The Odd Bunch vegetable/fruit selections. We used to buy them before we went organic, and were pleased to see that at least some of the stranger or undersized looking produce items were making it to the shelf!
But what about in the market garden setting? What food waste do we produce, and what do we do with waste?
For starters, we create very little food waste. You can never predict exactly how many lettuce will sell, or how many people will want cauliflower next week, but you can get a rough idea and plant accordingly. Rick puts a decent effort into crop planning (his engineer traits come out in this- you should see the spread sheets!) and as a result our production is fairly well suited to customer demand.
Sometimes there will be a glut. Right now it’s cos lettuce, most likely because it’s winter and people aren’t really eating cold salads and aren’t used to using cos lettuce in any other way. What do we do with the surplus?
Generally one of three things:
-Feed the sheep. The sheep LOVE lettuce, cabbage…even pumpkin as we discovered this week. And as we’ve not had decent rain for months, our paddock is quite depleted of pasture. The surplus lettuce are saving us from buying lucerne for the sheep.
- Feed the chickens and ducks. Man can not live by bread alone, just as the fowl can’t live bye grain alone. They adore greens, and are daily the recipients of extra or damaged produce. Thanks to all these greens, our eggs have beautiful rich orange yolks, and the fowl are in good health.
- Return the crop to the soil. I used to struggle with this as it seems like waste, when you’ve been brought up not to waste food! But there’s nothing wasteful about enriching your soil. Sometimes we even grow a green manure crop, purely to mow back into the soil and boost the soil structure and nutrient levels. Presently we have a half a row of overgrown bok choi and mesclun mix. Rick actually likes it when this occurs, because we started out with heavy black clay soil. It was like trying to dig into a big block of modelling clay. Organic matter was desperately needed to remedy this soil, and 18 months later, here we are with completely different soil structure. It makes sense that if you are constantly removing produce from the soil, that you should also be often giving back to the soil.
Rick is also a big fan of doing any trimming of veg (beet greens, brassica leaves etc) at the harvest site, so all those greens go right back to the soil.
The only time food ‘waste’ leaves our property is when I offer it for sale as pet greens, or on odd occasions might sell seconds cabbage for sauerkraut.
A completely different story to mass agriculture isn’t it? And as for undersize or unusually shaped produce, we’re finding that we have less and less of that as our soil improves, but what we do have can still be used. If I have a few cabbages that are undersized, I can ask a customer if they mind having 2 smaller cabbages rather than one big one. Or I can add a few extra beets to the bunch if they’re little. It’s a small enough business that we can talk directly to the customers about their produce and work together to reduce the chance of food waste.
No doubt just about everyone has heard of bone broth, it’s a hot topic, especially in regard to it’s gut healing capabilities.
We’ve been making it for years, and actually started making it because Rick was trained as a chef back in the day, and when we got married he liked things like real gravy made on real beef stock…and making it seemed a lot more economical (and satisfying) than buying it!
Then as time went on and more and more info came out about the vast chasm of difference in quality between your standard supermarket stock/broth and homemade stock/broth, there was no way we’d go back to buying it.
Last Autumn we held a bone broth workshop, and as the chill of the season sets in again this year, it’s such a lovely time to have a pot of broth on the stove (or in your slow cooker).
We’re holding another bone broth workshop Wednesday May 30th, 1:30pm here at Birdsong (118 Boundary St).
I’ll show you examples of what to include in your broth, how to make it, how to pressure can it (to make the broth shelf stable) and how to make boullion (reduced broth jelly, EXCELLENT option if you want to freeze broth but have limited freezer space).
We can also give you a list of where to source bones, whether fish, beef or lamb.
You will go home with a little starter kit of Birdsong herbs, seasonal produce (suitable for broth), instructions and a jar of broth (likely beef) to try.
Cost: $30. You can either pay on the day (must RSVP first) or you can pay by selecting the class from the webstore and paying online.
To RSVP, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday May 27th.
Happy Mother’s Day, 2018 🙂
And with the occasion, has come our first frost for the year, it looks lovely sparkling in the morning sun.
The garden is looking vibrant, and rainbow chard has just come back on. Rick planted extra rows of chard this rotation, so there’s an excellent supply.
The reminder to pray for rain came this week when we got a call to say 3 bores in our area have just gone dry! If ours goes dry then the market garden ceases to exist until the water is replenished. So please join us in praying for rain. Each day we see water truck after water truck spraying so much water for dust control and watering the new turf for the new Toowoomba Bypass. So maybe they’ll need to be more water conscious too…
The nut order has come in, so we now have raw organic almonds and raw organic cashews back in stock.
This weeks delivery run will be Sunday 20th May, 1-2:30pm for orders $40+ in Toowoomba. Get your order in by Saturday 19th, 8:30pm and mention you’d like delivery in the comments box of your order.
Have a beautiful day!
May at Simple Living Toowoomba…
This month SLT are offering two classes in one, DIY beeswax wraps with Suanne from Green Dandelion, and cold process soap making with me.
If you haven’t heard about beeswax wraps, they’re an eco friendly alternative to glad wrap. Much better looking than glad wrap too! Suanne will even have kits available for sale on the day with the wax/resin mix so you can go home and make your own. Suanne is regularly at local farmer’s markets and the like selling not only her beautiful wraps, but also other ‘green’ solutions for you home.
And soap making, like I’ve said before, is so much easier than you think and can be made with ingredients from the supermarket. No need to order pricey unusual ingredients (unless you want to go down that path). Homemade soap is also very allergy friendly. I have yet to meet a person, no matter how bad the eczema, who reacts to basic homemade soap. I’ll have some soap available for sale on the day.
This class will take place on Saturday 26th May, 9:45am-Midday at 13-15 Blake St, Wilsonton, 4350. It’s going to be capped at about 30-35 participants.
Cost is $5 per adult (need cash as there’s no electronic payment facilities), which is amazing value. Soapmaking will be up first and we’ll start at 10am sharp, so please be on time! Suanne will then start her wraps demonstration at around 11am.
To RSVP, email Michele at email@example.com
We get both- customers who want specific produce each order, and customers who just want a box of whatever is fresh and seasonal.
One customer, upon taking home her first $50 mixed box, decided to list and weigh every item in her box and find out how the value compared to buying the same items organically at the supermarket. I was really excited by this, it’s one of those things I probably wouldn’t get around to doing at the moment, but am very interested to see the results of.
So I’ve just received the list this customer wrote, and will share it with you so you too can see how our seasonal mixed boxes compare with supermarket buying.
NOTE: Contents of seasonal mixed boxes change frequently, depending on what’s in season and how much of each item we have available.
This customer was not asked to do this, she just happens to be very thrifty and wanted to know for herself what kind of value she was getting.
It’s also worth noting when you buy a seasonal box, I ALWAYS put more than the dollar value you paid in there, ie if you buy a $50 box, I’ll put at least another $5-$10 worth of our produce in there.
Both Coles and Woolworths online were used for her comparisons, as neither supermarket stocked everything in her box from Birdsong. The comparisons are made with Organic produce (except for the eggplant and cucumber, which she could not find organically from supermarkets at the time).
Ok, here it is:
Item Supermarket Price Total
1050g Dutch Cream Potatoes $4/kg $4.20
995g Sweet Potato $10/kg $9.95
630g Salad Onion $7/kg $4.45
670g Butternut Pumpkin $4/kg $2.68
1560g Tomatoes $17.50/kg $27.30
856g Corn, Small Cobs $14/kg $11.97
425g Squash $9/kg $3.82
777g Capsicum $9/kg $6.99
420g Purple Beans $18/kg $7.56
1305g Zucchini $9/kg $11.75
954g Eggplant $8/kg (non organic) $7.63
1140g Lebanese Cucumber $5/kg (non organic) $5.95
700g Beetroot $9/kg $6.30
808g Carrots $6/kg $4.85
30g Herbs $3
12.3kg Produce (Equivalent $4.06/kg) TOTAL: $118.11
Wow, I hadn’t realised the price difference would be so huge!
Yesterday we hosted our first Birdsong Farm Tour. A great opportunity for locals to come and check out how we grow our veg and to pick Rick’s brains in regard to what to do to boost their soil health in home gardens.
Michele at Going Grey and Slightly Green has already posted a blog with loads of pics from the tour. Daughter of a photographer though I am, I’m a shocker for getting around to taking pics at classes/workshops. Too busy with the catering perhaps? Sounds like a reasonable excuse anyway!
So thank you Michele for your write up on the tour.
In other news, the apples have arrived! Some of you have already bought Gran Elly Orchard biologically organic apples before. Dennis Angelino is one of the few farmers out there who remineralises his soil, like us. So the apples are unlike what you buy from a supermarket.
We’ve got in Granny Smiths, Hi Earlys and Royal Galas. All delicious (we tested to make sure!). Actually, what has been interesting is that children tell me the apples are very filling. You don’t hear that often of apples, but then if the mineral content is there it only makes sense that you would feel more satisfied after eating these apples. They’re $5.50/kg and all first grade. If there is enough interest, we might get some juicing grade next time also, as I know we have juicers among our customers.
I’ve just uploaded these apples to the web store. If you buy some, I’d love your feedback.
Side note…corn is back! Looks like two rows are ripe at once, so there will be corn a plenty for the next week or so.