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Organic Dried Fruit/Nuts/Seeds/Flours

By | Farm Gate Stall | One Comment

As many of you know, we supplement out produce range with some organic dried fruit, nuts, seeds, oils and sometimes flours.

Some of these items, like coconut sugar and pepitas have been selling out fast lately! We’re looking at ordering in more organic pantry items like these soon and we’re open to suggestions. What would you like to see in our web store?

It’s been a while since we’ve had dried fruit, so I’m considering giving organic figs a go. The wholesaler we deal with has a huge variety and if there’s something you’d like to be able to buy through us (and we keep the prices as reasonable as we can), then leave a comment or contact us and let us know your suggestions.

Earth Day 2018 and a big thank you to those who are helping us reduce plastic waste!

By | Market Garden | No Comments

It’s interesting timing. I was just thinking this past week that in the approximately 18 months we’ve been operating, we haven’t had to order more plastic bags and containers. At the start Rick bought a couple of boxes of tomato punnets and various sized bags for packing produce. You’d think after all those orders we’ve processed, we’d have needed more plastic.

BUT, we happen to have a wonderful clientele that are more than happy to have their veg orders packed into cardboard boxes, which can be recycled. It’s only small items like beans, cherry tomatoes and the organic dry goods we sell that we’ve been using plastic packaging for. And I hope as time goes on we’ll find sustainable and practical solutions for those items…so we can eradicate the plastic altogether.

April 22nd is Earth Day, and I want to thank you all for helping Birdsong Market Garden reduce plastic waste by accepting your orders in cardboard boxes ๐Ÿ™‚ It must be thousands of plastic bags that are not in local landfill, because you’ve been so cooperative with sustainable packing options.

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Birdsong Farm Tour, Saturday April 28th

By | Market Garden | No Comments

Finally, we’ve got a farm tour happening!

We can thank Simple Living Toowoomba for getting us organised with that.

When: Saturday 28th April, 10am-Midday

Where: 118 Boundary St, Cranley

Cost: $5 per adult. Children are welcome, just keep an eye on them. I hope to have the lawn tamed before the day, but at the moment it’s long and we do get the occasional eastern brown snake! Cost includes light refreshments after the tour.

What: A walk around the market garden with Farmer Rick, and a chance to see how we go about Nutrition farming and ask lots of questions ๐Ÿ™‚

RSVP: Please email Michele at simplelivingtoowoomba@gmail.com to book in for the tour.

NOTE: If it rains, the tour will be cancelled, as our garden becomes a sticky black-clay mess! Also, you might like to wear enclosed shoes (unless you like to earth-out).

And yes, you can purchase produce on the day if you like.

Elderberry and Zanzibar Gem and Caramelised Onion Relish

By | Farm Gate Stall | One Comment

Surplus. It’s something we experience now and then on the farm.

A while back Rick harvested a row of tropea long red onions, which I’ve been enjoying, as for so long onions were the one veg item I still had to buy at the markets! Tropea’s don’t keep as long as traditional varieties, but they do far better in our Toowoomba climate than standard onions. So once harvested, they have a shorter shelf life and to make sure we avoided waste, I made several batches of organic Caramelised Onion Relish. There’s more than we can use ourselves, so it’s been for sale at the farm gate. I’m not going to worry about listing it on the website, but if you’re making an order and would like some, just request it in the comments box of your order. Or email me. it’s $7.50 a jar (approx 380g). The only comparable onion relish I could find that was organic was $12 for 280g!

And Elderberry plants! About 2 years ago we planted 3 elderberry plants around our house tank. Apparently they like it there, as one day I walked out to find about 12 suckers that the mother plants had sent out. So they were potted and tended for several months until they took root, and now they’re available for $10ea. Same deal, they’re available at the farm gate, or you can request one in the comments box of your order. The flowers and berries are wonderful for medicinal remedies and wines. We’ve really enjoyed the elderflower wine. Rick usually isn’t interested in home ferments, but he got stuck into that one!

Some of you may have read the post I wrote a while back about our thriving Zanzibar Gem. When my sister, a horticulturist, told us about how they propagate them at the TAFE and they’re SO slow growing, we didn’t expect to see much change in ours. They’re known for needing almost no attention and infrequent watering. We decided to water it more often, fertilise with organic fish emulsion and it was also exposed to a lot of Classic FM in our loungeroom…and it’s thrived! I’ve had to upgrade the pot twice, and recently have taken cuttings from the original which are now potted up in Rick’s compost (mineral mix) and available for sale. They’re $10ea ($40 at Bunnings) It’s a wonderful plant for indoor air filtration, and looks pretty cool too.

Has anyone else had a zanzibar gem that’s defied the rules? ๐Ÿ™‚

Easter Opening Hours

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

Oops, should have posted these hours sooner!

We had a lovely couple of days off on Friday and Saturday, and are now open today (Easter Sunday) and tomorrow (Easter Monday) from 11am-6pm.

In addition to the produce listed on the web store, we also have yellow-flesh watermelons and some butternut pumpkins. Stock is limited on these, so they won’t be listed online. Just ask us if you’d like one.

Thai Cashew Chicken

By | Recipes | No Comments

Happy Saturday! It’s our day off, and today was one of those lovely days where we had nothing planned. So there’s been time to potter around in the kitchen.

Chilies abound at the moment, so I’ve been trying a few Thai recipes, and thought I’d share this one with you…

Thai Cashew Chicken…with coconut rice

Coconut Rice: 2 C basmati rice

4C liquid (I use 1 can of organic coconut cream and make the rest of the liquid up with chicken broth)

Chicken: 500g chicken (we used organic chicken thighs), chopped to your preferred size

2-3 Tbsp plain flour

1/3 cup macadamia oil (if you don’t have macadamia, use another oil with a mild flavour)

Vegetables: 1 Tbsp garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 small tropea red onion, sliced length ways into wedges

5-6 Thai chilies, finely chopped

1 C raw cashews

1 C capsicums, julienned

1 C carrots, julienned

2 shallots, finely sliced

Sauce: 2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Dash of salt

Dash of honey

1 C chicken broth/stock

2 Tbsp cornflour

Method:

Get your rice going first. I put the rice and liquid in the saucepan and cook, absorption method, with the lid on. Just keep an eye on the rice to make sure the heat is shut off when the liquid gets low.

Mix your sauce ingredients in a jar and set aside.

Pour you oil into a wok or large frypan and heat. While that is heating, toss your chopped chicken in the flour to coat.

Fry the raw cashews until they start to brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now add your floured chicken and the chili to the hot oil in the pan and fry until golden and delicious. Remove the chicken from the oil and set aside.

To that same oil, add all your veg except the shallots and fry until the onion is translucent.

Add your sauce and while that cooks through, get your cornflour and mix with a little water and add this to the pan to thicken the sauce.

Your chicken and cashews can now get back in the pan. Stir until the sauce has coated everything and then add your shallots for just a minute or two of cooking before you serve.

I liked the heat level of this combo. It was mild enough that flavours other than heat could be enjoyed, but hot enough to have a kick to it ๐Ÿ™‚ If you love heat and don’t have children to accommodate, you might like to add more chili.

Confessions of a Farmer’s Wife

By | Nutrition | 2 Comments

He looks like I’ve been feeling…pooped! Here’s an inside look at life at Birdsong lately…hahaha.

We had a lovely 5 days away at the coast, and not the overcrowded QLD coast, but a kind of remote little coastal village in NSW. It was bliss. We swam, read books and generally recovered from the fast pace life that the market garden creates. The children think it’s wonderful, partly because of the beach, and partly because it’s the only time I’ll ever let them eat cocoa pops!

But then we had to come back to reality. I got hit with hayfever (maybe the change of seasons brought on new pollen in the air…I don’t know). Then started having very disturbed sleep, and less than a week after the holiday was not coping. Rick’s got a lot of engineering work on at the moment so I end up with more farm work. Like, all of the harvesting, packing and sales. On top of homeschooling 5 of our 6 children (but thank God I have Rick’s mum helping me with that this year), making all our meals from scratch and managing all the other needs and distractions that come up. It was really too much.

Then we had other issues, like the lawn is starting to look a bit Amazonian, but the lawn mower, ride on mower and then the 2 wheel tractor all stopped working! The 2 wheel tractor was the saddest part. I was mowing with it (since the other equipment had broke down) and accidentally mowed over a bicycle tire that had been completely submerged in grass. That didn’t go down well, and broke the clutch. I felt terrible, because this was the first time I’d ever used the 2 wheel tractor…and because I’d repeatedly told the children not to leave their rubbish around the yard!). The 2 wheel tractor is an unusual piece of equipment from Europe, so parts are costly. Rick was already pretty disillusioned and considering giving up the farm just before that happened. He started pulling the tractor apart to find what went wrong and was very blessed to have our neighbour stop by and help him. It’s almost fixed now, phew.

Then came Friday. Friday is a huge day. I get up at dawn (that’s normal) and then get out in the market garden to harvest whatever else is needed for the delivery orders. Most of the packing is done Thursday arvo, so it’s not so stressful on the Friday morning. I have a very mature 9 year old who gets her 5 and 3 year old brothers fed and ready for the big day out while I work outside. Our 12 year old came out to help harvest. Most stock is ready to go in the cold room, but things like herbs are harvested to order. And leafy greens can’t be packed until the last minute.

Eventually all the boxes are ready (and I hope I haven’t missed anthing!). This week it was 8 boxes of veg, overflowing the boot of the van onto children’s laps! Then we start delivering. We try to get out of the house at 8am and need to be finished delivering by 9:15am for my eldest to have her piano lesson. While she’s there, the rest of us go grab some groceries, then collect her from piano and head straight to homeschool gymnastics. I really didn’t feel like being there this week, but once a fortnight the under 5’s have a class…and that was this week. My 3 year old was so excited that he’d get to use the gym equipment too that I didn’t have the heart to skip it on him. Then it’s lunch in the park with a stack of other homeschool families.

Next things start to slow down a bit and I drop the children off to my sisters for the afternoon so I can do any town errands by myself!

Busy. And I can totally understand why there aren’t more small farms and market gardens. It’s hard work, but doesn’t make enough money to hire help.

By the way, this was written more in a effort to help people understand some of what’s involved in small scale farming, not to have a whinge. Overall we have a great life, and I’m so thankful for the produce (and the opportunity to farm), as I doubt I’d have the energy to maintain this schedule without it!

Jane Milburn Slow Clothing Workshop, Saturday March 3rd

By | Market Garden | 3 Comments

Many of you have seen the War on Waste series, by the ABC. If you have, you would have seen the horrendous volume of clothing Australia wastes and disposes of each year.

Jane Milburn is a Brisbane woman who is actively doing something about this issue and Australia’s attitude towards disposable fashion.

Jane is coming to Toowoomba Saturday March 3rd, 10am-Midday at 13-15 Blake St, Wilsonton. Cost is $10, payable on the day, to come and be educated and inspired as to how we can change our fashion footprint, learn to seek out sustainable clothing from natural fibers, upcycle used clothes and do simple mending to keep garments lasting longer.

BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL! email simplelivingtoowoomba@gmail.com to reserve your spot

for more info about Jane and her mission, check out http://textilebeat.com/

Simple Living Toowoomba Herb workshop

By | Nutrition | No Comments

Last days to book in for the Simple Living Toowoomba Herb Workshop. It’s this Saturday 17th, 10am-Midday at 13-15 Blake St Wilsonton.

To book your place, email simplelivingtoowoomba@gmail.com

Cost is $5, payable on the day.

Toowoomba herbologist Josh Neideck will be sharing his knowledge and experience growing and using herbs medicinally and in cooking. He plans to take us outside and demonstrate just how many common garden weeds are actually healing herbs too.

Gran Elly Orchard Tours

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A number of you already buy apples from Dennis Angelino’s biologically organic farm. But for those who don’t know, Dennis is into remineralising the soil, like us. He’s opening up his farm at Thullimbah for tours on March 3/4 (Saturday/Sunday).

Sounds like a great family excursion, and opportunity to see what goes into apple farming and processing without poisons.

Contact Gran.Elly.Orchard@gmail.com for more info

Rain at Last!

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

Hi ๐Ÿ™‚

As you may have noticed on the web store, the range of produce is dwindling! There’s lots of crops out there, but until yesterday, we’d had no rain this year. So though we irrigate and the crops are plodding along, they haven’t been able to thrive. Yesterdays storm brought 14mm. A nice start.

The lack of rain isn’t just affecting the crops, it also affects the animals. Our sheep have eaten out their cell, so I let them out into the house yard the other day, completely intending to put them back soon….but I forgot and they ate most of our upcoming lettuce crop. Oops.

And the ducks/chickens…the laying has cut right back! So many birds, so few eggs. But Cinnamon, one of our bantams who was laying, just hatched 5 little chicks, as pictured. So cute, but it’s ducks we’re wanting to breed, not more chooks! And bantams at that (Rick thinks their little eggs are a waste of time). The children are excited though, they love babies.

Rick’s had some contract work happening, so farm work is minimal. But that’s a good thing while we’re waiting on more rain. When the range picks up again, Rick is wanting to add another delivery slot to our week. He goes into town every Wednesday morning to deliver to a restaurant, and could do a few home deliveries right after that (in Toowoomba, after 9:30am Wednesdays). So keep an eye on the website, he plans to add the delivery option as an item that you add to your cart.

I also have a contact in Harristown who already runs a fruit co-op and is willing to be a pickup point for orders. So if you’re in that area and are interested, let me know.

Enjoy your week,

Racheal

 

Organic Cacao Butter On Special this Week

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

What a lovely weekend it’s been! Seven of us homeschool mums went and had a weekend at the Bunya Mountains together. And many of them are on various dietary restrictions, so the food was very healthy and wholesome! One mum looked at our menu and joked that it looked more like a health retreat ๐Ÿ™‚

I took along some chamomile and salted caramel bars…totally grain and dairy free…and delicious. One of the ingredients in the ‘caramel’ portion is cacao butter, which provides a lovely set.

I know ingredients like this are pricey, so this week organic unrefined cacao butter is on special for $25/kg (you need to buy a full kilo to access this price). It’s great for homemade chocolate and desserts that need a butter like this to form a good set. Herbal chocolate mousse cake is another good example. It’s also used in some soaps and homemade cosmetics.

Be inspired ๐Ÿ™‚

February Herb Workshop

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Herb Workshop
ย 
Date:ย 17 February
Time:ย 10-12 noon
Cost:ย $5
Where:ย Range Christian Fellowship, 15 Blake St, Wilsontonย 
What:ย  Toowoomba herbologist and trained horticulturalist, Josh, will be giving us tips and advice on how to grow herbs, what herbs grow well in our area and how to use herbs for medicinal purposes. Josh also plans to take us for a walk outside and show us the wide array of edible and medicinal plants growing in our lawns.
ย 
RSVP:ย 14 February to Margy at simplelivingtoowoomba@gmail.com
Simple Living used to have a monthly swap table for produce, crafts and the like. This year we’re trialing a gifting table. Bring along surplus produce, clothing, crafts and other items that might be a blessing to someone else. The only thing is you need to take whatever no one else wants back home with you at the end of the class!

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

By | Recipes | No Comments

A while ago I posted the recipe for the best tomato sauce we’ve found…well that recipe is a great base for making your own BBQ sauce. It does still contain sugar, if that’s an issue for you, but it’s a lot more wholesome than store bought BBQ sauce!

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

3/4 Cup Tomato sauce

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (we used organic balsamic from Wrays due to the fact that balsamic vinegar is made from grapes, which are a heavily sprayed crop unless you buy organic)

Garlic- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic is great, but you can use 1Tbsp powdered or minced garlic if that’s what you have on hand

1/2 Tsp each of salt and pepper

1Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or organic raw sugar)

A nice easy recipe…all you do is mix all those ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and simmer away for about 15 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and you have a consistency you’re happy with. Then pour into a clean bottle.

I couldn’t tell you precisely how long it lasts, because it’s consumed long before we have to get concerned with use by dates ๐Ÿ™‚ But given the high level of vinegar and sugar, you should get at least 12 months of shelf life.

A new Delivery Slot?

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

It’s been about a year we’ve been open for business now! Time flies.

Rick and I have been aiming to get to the markets, but it’s just so hard. It ends up being about 8 hours at the markets, and many more hours beforehand packing and preparing for them. So we haven’t made it back. There’s always loads of work to do here, and spending so long prepping and selling at the markets robs that time from us.

BUT, as some of you know, one morning a week I’ve been delivering to some customers, since I’m in town that day anyway…and sometimes I can get 8 deliveries done in about an hour. I can’t take any more deliveries on that day, as I’m always maxed out for time and boot space…but we have another idea.

So Rick’s thought is that a better use of our time would be to open up another delivery slot, for qualifying orders. I say qualifying orders, because the orders really need to be confined to a certain proximity of one another (ie, on my delivery morning I do orders from Rockville to Kearney Springs since I have to go from Cranley to South Toowoomba those mornings for an appointment anyway). The orders also need to be $30+.

I’d love to get some feedback from people who would be interested in having a weekly or fortnightly delivery…with the understanding we’re going to have to go with whatever area we get the most interest from. Like, we’d be happy to do a Highfields/Goombungee run, IF there was enough regular orders out there to make it worthwhile for us.

You can email me directly at racheal@birdsongmarketgarden.com.au if you’re interested. Don’t send facebook messages though, as I don’t get them. Everything I post from the website goes onto our facebook page automatically, but I don’t directly deal with facebook at all…it’s too much of a time waster! ๐Ÿ™‚