Cobargo Farm

Cobargo Farm is a pleasure garden and working farm located on the Bermagui Road, just outside the historic town of Cobargo on the Far South Coast, about 10 minutes drive from Feast Farm. Three generations of the Holloway and Doolin families help run this farm and last Saturday October 5th was the third time they have held an open day to showcase the amazing job they do.

Cobargo Farm sells at the gate 7 days from dawn 'till dusk.

Cobargo Farm sales always welcome.

Janet heads up the hard working team at the farm where they produce an enormous variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables, raise pigs, chooks and cattle, and keep bees, ducks and sheep. All of this bounty is beautifully laid out around the homestead, shady established trees, a spring fed creek and dams, and flower gardens, including a large collection of roses.

Cobargo Farm

Cobargo Farm

The Open Day was as much about showcasing the local community as it was about getting to stroll around and enjoy the Farm itself. There were dozens of stalls laid out on the lawns, each showcasing the talents and productivity of this vibrant region.

CWA Hospitality

CWA Hospitality

Along with sheep shearing, bee keeping, and spinning, the Galba Forge was one of the demonstrations you could watch, and the unique form of blacksmithing practiced by Hans Schippi was mesmerising to watch. How you can take a piece of metal and wrought it into beautiful, natural looking pieces that are not only artistic, but beautifully functional, is inspiring. Of course, mostly the Open Day was about food- although a great band played on the deck overlooking the rose garden and their cruisy music pervaded the entire garden, along with the smell of the Lions Club sausage sizzle. Alfred and Jane’s Cobargo home made ice cream was a stand out for us too!

Cobargo Farm

Cobargo Farm

We haven’t lived here for very long at all, but I have to say it feels different to anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I guess this is the ‘real’ country here, as opposed to the peri-urban fringe farming areas which are commutable from a capital city. It has a very different feel. A strong sense of community, I suppose because people genuinely rely on each other so much more from day-to-day. Lots of things you take for granted in, or near a big city may not be available (especially services), have to be ordered in advance, then take longer to arrive and possibly cost more.

Perfect hat for this gorgeous day in the garden!

Perfect hat for this gorgeous day in the garden!

But, as Janet and her family would no doubt agree, those problems become insignificant compared to the benefits. You don’t just visit here, you choose to escape, and immerse yourself in a different way of life.

Sydney Markets

Morning has always been my best time of day, but I have really loved Friday mornings for this past 10 months or so, going up to the Sydney markets to source fresh produce from other regional growers.

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Up before the sun.

When I finally convinced my daughter to join me one morning, she agreed to be awoken in the dark, “…only if we can visit the flower market too?!”

Pretty start to the day.

Pretty start to the day.

Reluctantly, I agreed, and have incorporated the flower market stop into the Friday morning ritual ever since. Whether the sun is up or not, it’s a buzz that looks and smells exhilarating.

Floral brassicas

Beautiful brassicas.

Unlike the food growers section, which is just plain scary sometimes, among the bustle of florists and this week-end’s brides, there are smiles everywhere. With beauty all around, you can’t help but smile.

Monks

Monks

I don’t know much about the flower-growing world, and sadly I’m sure many of the flowers are imported from far away, and probably not raised with particularly sustainable methods, but there is no denying that the giving of a flower, is an age old way to share joy.

Zzzzzzzzzz

Zzzzzzzzzz

It’s not enough to keep everyone awake though, and my daughter is more than happy to let me choose her flowers for her. Once was enough!

The Yellow House

My lovely friend Charmaine, has been asking me to come and meet her neighbour for about 6 months now. I finally made the time this morning, and boy am I glad I did.  Over 3 years, Mim and Neville of Yellow House Heritage Perennials in Nowra, have converted a concrete carpark into a stunning heritage garden.

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My beautiful niece Sophie, enjoying the flowers.

Walking through the side picket gate, is to partake in a feast of colour, texture and scents. Lovingly tended and nurtured, hundreds of rare and interesting herbs, flowers and vegetables are everywhere you look, and Mim who is a practicing naturopath, can tell you all about the medicinal and culinary uses of every single one.

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Part of the Yellow House perennials nursery.

Like all passionate gardeners, she can tell you stories about how the seed of this was collected, or from where that cutting was ‘pinched’. Inspired by travels to famous gardens all around the world, the Yellow House – though only on a suburban block – feels like a little world all of its own.

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Neville and Jim enjoying the shade.

I’ve been looking for a source of French Tarragon for some time, and of course it’s here. Mim and Neville (a retired Heritage architect) will shortly be launching their online mail order business so that we can all access their extensive collection of perennials, herbs and sustainable plants.

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The Yellow House garden path…

I look foward to Feast Farms cultivating lots of these yummy edibles for inclusion in our beautiful salad mix, and to sell in bunches at our growers market every Saturday morning in Jamberoo. Between the Yellow House collection, and the unique vegies Tass Schmidt is cultivating at Jamberoo Valley Farm, we are rich for choice.

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Mim’s trike


Sadly though, I can’t plant anything more at the moment until either it rains like crazy for a few weeks, or we sink a bore at Warwick Park. The dam is getting seriously low. Need a new rain dance coach…

Spring is sprung

Travelling through Exeter in the Southern Highlands on the weekend, the signs are very clear that nature just wants to get growing.

Daffodils herald spring by a gatepost in Exeter

Longer, warmer days mean it’s time to stop dreaming, planning and talking, and get to work. Whilst the established gardens look amazing out the front at Warwick Park in Foxground, the land to the back where my pigs have been busy preparing soil all winter, is a blank canvas waiting for the brush (or the seedlings and tines in this instance!)

The beautiful spring garden at Warwick Park in Foxground

The pigs can’t take all the credit for this fabulous preparation though. My wonderfully clever Andrew has been having fun with a little walk-behind tiller for which he designed and built a bed-forming attachment.

Ready, set, go….planting time!


I also have to confess to meeting Nicko. For months Kerry has talked about Nicko…”Nicko will fix that pipe/fence/bridge.” Then one day two weeks ago I met the amazing Nicko. “How would you like me to go over this with my tractor and tiller?” he said. Now, the pigs have been great, but they are s-l-o-w. So Nicko worked his magic with his mechanical horse, and the cost? “A couple of cauliflowers when they’re ready will do”. Wow. I just love living ’round here.

How to ruin a paddock.

I have been watching this paddock over the last year or so, as I pass by a couple of days a week. It looked to me like a fairly normal sort of pasture, complete with a few grazing horses. But then one day the horses were gone, and it was all black. It had been burnt completely, releasing all that stored carbon into the atmosphere, and destroying all those grass roots so effectively stabilising the soil.

Fireweed is a highly invasive and opportunistic weed native to south eastern Africa. It quickly colonises overgrazed pastures and disturbed areas.

It was then left for months and months, so that rain after rain could remove any topsoil, and leave 10-20 cm deep erosion channels in the sand, running the length of the paddock. The natural progression for this distressed ground was of course for the fireweed to move in. Declared a noxious Weed of National Significance, fireweed has now taken over, flowering beautifully to ensure it continues to spread and flourish all over the South Coast. I presume a herbicide will be sprayed next? This will ensure the soil becomes more acidic, and hostile to the microbes trying to heal it. Sigh.

Can anyone explain why this poor management of the land is allowed to occur? Next week…my neighbour who has Astro Turfed his “nature strip”. Again…sigh.

Michael’s dragon fruit

Michael Stathos’ mission at Smadimi Estate in Terara is to grow everything. If someone tells him, “You can’t grow that here!” – he will. He has one or two examples of almost every edible plant you can think of, enough grapes to make wine (don’t ask to taste it though!), and enough veggies to feed the biggest family, and still sell leftovers to Green Box.

Michael and sweet potatoes

New plantings in Michael's veggie patch

When visiting the other day, he picked a dragon fruit and sliced it up to give us a taste.  The colour knocks you out first, but the flavour is subtle – slightly sweet and a little bit floury – think watermelon?

Fresh picked dragon fruit

A slice...

Michael is one of my favourite characters. He always has some advice – not only on growing luscious white figs and crunchy beans, but practical business advice. Sensible stuff, like making sure you keep the other half happy!

Tea anyone?

 I think it’s so wonderful that we can brew a real cuppa with organically grown tea, picked just up the road in Foxground.  Yesterday I visited Kirsten McHugh’s tea plantation as a priveleged member of the Foodscape Tours rent-a-crowd for the filming of an episode of Sydney Weekender.

Mike Whitney with Kirsten in her tea garden

Mike performing for the camera

Lush, damp (and with a few leeches…much to the TV Producer’s horror!), the immaculate rows of tea (camellia sinensis) are edged with comphrey and the new flower buds signal the end of the leaf growth phase.

Camellia sinensis

Delicate toadstool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kirsten’s way too modest about her tea making skills – the tasting that followed was of superb fresh, almost minty green tea, delicious black tea, and one of her many blends – this one green tea with lavender and mandarin rind…yum!

The taste test

Autumn in Foxground

A beautiful day weeding after another rainy few days. A few remaining beans, cherry tomatoes and asparagus spears, but otherwise the way is clear for new plantings with my Green Harvest seed order due any day.

Hiding Hen

Robin's rose - Foxground

New growth on the photinia fence

The Passion Flower

It wouldn’t surprise me to know that people just grew passionfruit for their remarkable flowers. I LOVE the fruit with an even greater passion though! The crop about to ripen on the vines on our side fence should satiate Tom, Hattie and I for a little while at least…

The exquisite passion flower - baffling how nature turns this into one of my favourite fruits

The history of the name of the fruit and it’s flower is fascinating too…

Roman Catholic priests of the lat 1500’s named it for the Passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. They believed that several parts of the plant, including the petals, rays, and sepals, symbolized features of the Passion. The flower’s five petals and five petallike sepals represented the 10 apostles who remained faithful to Jesus throughout the Passion. The circle of hairlike rays above the petals suggested the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the day of His death.

Never alone in a garden

Forecast rain didn’t eventuate this morning which meant 3 hours of weeding, and a coffee with Peter. Even when nobody is around though, you are never alone in a garden…

Spider hole

Mr & Mrs Spider

Go together like... bees & borage.

Pity the Wondering Dew enjoys the Seven Cedars vege patch as much as I do though! (sorry to the purists – just can’t call it ‘jew’, and ‘dew’ seems so appropriate for something so succulent).

Wondering Dew

Half eaten fig

…and something is enjoying the figs before I get to them!