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Produce Report- Week 8 (17')

Fruit The fruit highlight at the moment for me are the Clarks pineapples. The staff shared one at morning tea last week and were blown away by the sweetness and juiciness. Pineapples are often picked too early resulting in hard flavourless flesh with no sweetness. This is done to allow for long transport chains but the Clarks are picking ours on Sunday and delivering Monday. They colour pick which involves walking a patch and picking the fruit that have enough yellow to indicate ripeness. It can be tricky and the best way to test ripeness is of course to eat them! Pineapples come on strong with warm weather and although they can get sunburnt in really hot periods there should be plenty around for the next month or two. Also getting sunburnt in the last week were apples. They get a blush of colour on the sunburnt side like a sunbather who has fallen asleep on the beach. Although they are fine to eat fresh from the tree they will turn black when stored for any period of time at low temperatures. We shouldn t have any problems this week with the summerdel and gala apples from Mario and Dennis. There are more glenn mangoes this week from Richard and just a few KP s from Paul Flower who is having his first decent harvest year. Paul is also starting with his limes. You may see some limes with a yellow blush - this is not suburn but just the natural colour that limes get when ripening. Actually the more yellow they get they more juice they contain and the thinner the skin. Veggies I can t believe there are any vegetables left alive after the past week. The veg farmers I speak to had to water almost 24 hours a day to keep things alive. Steve and Julie Stead are not sure if the Red Oak and Lingua di Canarino lettuce will hold up this weekend with another hot spell expected but the mini cos should be okay. As with the pineapples tomatoes are coming on strong - the Steads have plenty of romas rounds and the superb heirloom cherry tomatoes we have come to love. Just up the road Jon Dukamp is harvesting a lovely mix of veges including purple and green beans zucchinis wombok cabbage and broccoli. That s right broccoli in summer! The micro-climate of the Granite Belt allows for growing of broccoli and cauliflower over summer with the right variety and conditions. Jon has a trial patch happening which he will harvest over the next couple of weeks. We will have a couple of week s break in corn until the next patch at both Mary Duke s and James Branson s places are ready. We also have a week s break on lebanese cucumbers from Quentin out in the Lockyer. We do have sweet potato to look forward to in the next week or two however. Keep an eye out this week for some stripy eggplant from Ian and Bev McKinnon as well as long white ones. Both are heritage varieties that Ian has lost the packet for! Coming Soon Persimmons are coming in early March from the farm formally owned by Heinz Gugger but now being nurtured by Mick and Kylie Carr using the same Bio-Dynamic methods. Luke Procurement Guy
February 17, 2017
Posted by: Joel Y

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February 10, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 7

Fruit The long-awaited moment of summer is here. The Black Muscat grapes from Tom Dunn are ready to be picked. Tom reports they re very sweet and good-sized and the skin is slightly paler due to extreme heat. He s expecting good yields thanks to netting covering most of his rows. Not a berry left for Tom and family where there s no net but the birds are flying really fast in the neighbourhood! Enjoy the local stone fruit season while you can Shane Halloran still has some peaches and nectarines. We hope you enjoy the fragrance and sweetness of the Glenn mangoes from Richard Patton they should ripen just perfectly on your bench in a few days. This is the last week for them but Paul Flower has promised a little return of the KPs for us in the coming weeks. The super-local Dragon fruit from Mrs Do at Taringa is tasting amazing this year with slightly more citrusy tang than usual so make sure to add some to your extras order. We might have a few spare for the set boxes as well. The Clarks of Woombye are worried about water for their veggies but the Pineapples are obviously loving the warmth. They re good size and Darren is picking them rather green to avoid pest issues. As the season progresses they ll get smaller and riper on arrival to the homestead which will leave us warehouse crew to make sure we take care of sorting storing and fruit flies. Just as you might do at home we set up a few apple cider vinegar traps in our 18 degree room and let them choose the juice they like. A reminder - pines suffer from chilling injury if stored below 15 degrees or even 20C depending on which guide you read and so here s a challenge for you - store them in a cool place but not in your fridge. Once cut wrap it and refrigerate but eat soon after removing it from the fridge. David Cox has dropped off his Williams pears to us last week and we let them ripen up for you a little. This week he s bringing freshly picked Red Sensations. You will see some of each in the boxes and we will give you a mix of varieties as Extras. Dennis Angelino is putting a lot of effort into picking new season Gala apples which he has to time just right. To our luck he s an expert with decades of experience with dry apple farming up his sleeve. We might even see a sprinkling of Ginger Golds here and there which are a rarity and Luke would say to me don t even mention them because they re gone before they arrive not to mention there s very few to start with. Veggies It s hard not to talk about hot weather here when all the farmers mention it in some way or another. Darren Clark is running out of water the Steads are picking at 3am and throwing away hundreds of little Christmas tree lettuces in the field Danny at LettuceBee struggles with the water in his aquaponic bays getting too warm...and the story goes on. On the bright side we still have grown locally greens that get to your fridge within 48 hours or less - in the middle of summer. Let s hope for a bit of rain and some cooler nights. Another nice surprise from the Dunns is the Rattlesnake Bean. Similar to a French bean and you can eat it as such but with little purple blotches on the skin. Bob Raabe s Ruby Lous we ve been enjoying lately are finished but he has dug some Melody spuds for us for the boxes this week. They re a disease-resistent all-rounder rather firm-cooking with a smooth skin. Mal Smith s Sebagoes complete the mix for the time-being. Groceries Michelle from Ugly Duck preserves has whipped up a bigger jar of Tomato Relish which has proven popular. Now coming in a 250ml jar you can relish the whole family with it resting assured you're serving concentrated local ecological goodness made with love and care. Jakub The very temporary Procurement Guy
February 10, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 6

Fruit We are blessed in SE Queensland and Northern NSW with a variety of climate zones. Although there seems to be a heatwave almost everywhere at the moment the more southern zone of Northern NSW seems to have come up trumps in mango set this year. After small harvests from the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane regions we are looking at plenty of mangoes from Richard Patton and Paul Flower over the next couple of weeks. Richard has a succession of varieties - Glenns KPs then R2E2 while Paul has KPs. This is Paul s first decent harvest year on his relatively young trees which is just as well because his limes have virtually no summer fruit. Don t forget mangoes are one of those fruit that will ripen after leaving the tree - they are still a living breathing thing. So if they are still little green leave them at room temperature till that perfect ripeness arrives. The exotic fruit continue with dragon fruit from Mrs Do at Taringa as well as the pineapple season starting from Ray and Merilyn Clark. Actually Darren Clark their son is the head farmer now but we still see Ray and Merilyn each week when they deliver to the warehouse. The pineapples look great so far even despite the heat which can cause sunburn. Over their two year growing period pines which are actually a giant collection of flowers that ripen into a collection of berries face many challenges like insects soil borne disease birds and of course weeds. Even though we have grown used to pineapples being a cheap run of the mill fruit in light of their growing period and space requirements I think they deserve to be thought of as a real treasure. We are into the start of apple and pear season so a succession of varieties of pears and apples will make their way into the boxes. This week there are nashi pears from Mario Giacosa and a few royal gala apples from Dennis Angelino. Before long red relicious apples will start from David Cox as well as red sensation and beurre bosc pears. Veg I can t believe we have any leafy veg at the moment - the Steads are almost ready to stop growing lettuce in what is the longest hot spell they can remember. Some of the lettuce especially the fancy types are trying to go to seed much earlier than usual and of course the basils are showing excessive flowering. The saving grace is the cooler nights which are still down to around 17C. Jon Dukamp and his family are not far from the Steads and experiencing the same heat. They are not growing as much leafy veg apart from the wombok cabbage. Look out for their snow peas and sugar snap peas this week as well as the wonderful variety of heirloom zucchinis. In coming weeks Jon is expecting a test harvest of broccoli - what a year to try! We have plenty of yellow sweet corn this week from Mary Duke and some white corn from James Branson. Corn is another everyday wonder when you consider that each kernel is connected to one strand of silk all of which need to be fertilized by wind-driven pollen in order to get a cob without missing kernels. Groceries Randall and Juanita at Echo Valley are really struggling to keep the chickens happy in the current heat wave. Chickens have a goldlilocks zone where they lay best - too hot like now or too cold like in the dead of winter and they go off the lay . Their latest batch of young chickens are also not laying as per schedule so we are expecting very few 600g eggs. We will do our best to get eggs to you from other local organic farmers so you don t go without! Luke Sbeghen Procurement Guy
February 3, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 5

Produce Report- Week 5 Fruit The very first apples of the 2017 season are summerdels from Mario Giacosa. Mario reckons he could have picked them last week for regular quality taste but he waited an extra week for the brix sugar level to get up over 14 for a great tasting apple. Early apples tend to be a bit starchier but I for one like the Summerdels for their clean floral taste. In a few weeks time galas will come on to really spoil the apple lovers. Most varieties are arriving late this year and the harvest is not likely to be massive like last year but we will have plenty of apples to go around. After a great week of mangoes andlychees last week lychees are still going strong from Ian Burow but we have a week s break till the next mangoes from Richard Patton of Red Dragon fame . Lychees seem to get hit by everything under the sun like bats birds moths fruit spotting bugs. Luckily they are not affected by fruit fly! Veg The Granite Belt is the source for many of our vegetables and fruit at the moment with it s cooler night temperatures and occasionally cool days enabling even broccoli to be grown over summer. It s still a week to week proposition when heat waves and hail storms can come along. Jon Dukamp is one our newest farmers who is growing the common black zucchini as well as the wonderful heirloom types that have been in the gourmet boxes. Whenever we support farmers to grow heirloom varieties it contributes to those seeds being continued by breeders along with their genetic diversity and unique flavours. Jon also has some snow peas and purple beans for us plus wombok cabbage. This is Jon s first season so some of these are trial crops. Keep up the great work Jon! Groceries If you love your honey chances are you are a fan of honey on the comb. We now have honeycomb available from Ray at The Urban Bee Yard. It s drawn from the same urban locations as his regular honey but has a further complexity and depth of flavour as it is completely unaltered. Luke Sbeghen Procurement Guy
January 27, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 4

Fruit This week in fruit it s all about Mangoes Plums and Lychees. The KP mangoes from Ursula are impressing everyone with their full and rich flavour - this is probably the last week to enjoy them. Murray Weier from Dakabin teacher and gardener dropped in with some amazing mini mangoes called Pearls. These seem to be a great fit for the Mini boxes - their flavour profile is just as good but different to the KP s and they have a surprisingly narrow seed meaning there is more flesh than you think! Lastly if we are lucky Steve Bartolo will have enough R2E2 mangoes to spare for the fruit boxes. Dennis Angelino has plenty more Mariposa Queen Plums for us to come. To enjoy the incredibly rich red flesh make sure you leave them out to ripen as you would an avocado or banana. Lychees can be so hit and miss they are like gold when they do arrive. Ian Burow is looking at a good harvest this year. Some found their way into the Gourmet Boxes when we ran out of oyster mushrooms but this week we will have plenty for extras and the boxes. Ian aims to produce the best flavoured Lychees while maintaining a small seed. We can t believe how good they are and of course they are produced by Ian with abundant nutrition in the soil and no industrial chemicals involved. Ok so it s all about Melons as well. James Branson has some super refreshing Honeydew melons for us this week. We may not have enough for all the fruit boxes but will make sure you get seedless watermelon from James instead. Veg Big rain in the Lockyer last week has meant it s proving difficult to dig carrots at Lockyer Valley Organics. We are hoping to get some carrots for extras and some boxes but no promises! There will be plenty of tomatoes though including some cherry tomatoes from the folks at Mt Tamborine if all goes well. Danny at Lettuce Bee has managed to produce some Pak Choy for us despite the heat and rain squals causing some havoc. I know it feels too hot for stir fries or soups but I m over the moon that we have a new green available over summer We have left onions out of all the boxes this week after hearing feedback that your pantries are overflowing with them. The small onions we have at the moment are the last till Spring. Summer is the time for chillies and capsicums. We have some Bishops Crown chillies from Murray this week plus a few other types that you will see in the Large Veg and Gourmet Boxes. Bishops Crown are shaped like a bell and are also known as Peri Peri - they are quite mild so don t be afraid! There will also be some sweet bullhorn peppers from Ray and Merilyn Clark that will be available as extras. Groceries Red Dragon have been busy over the last few months developing their latest creation - Lemon Lime and Bitters. Like their Ginger Beer and Living Elixir it is naturally fermented and alive. Starting with a base of local organic limes and lemons Red Dragon have added a specially blended bitters which uses Australian wildflowers and herbs. They have even added Lemon Myrtle for antioxidant and antiseptic properties plus it s unique flavour. If you are a fan of Zeta s coffee you will notice some changes afoot with their packaging. The roastery and packaging is now looked after by Richard who comes with a wealth of coffee and barista experience while leaving the business of growing and harvesting to Zeta. This year much as for mangoes the coffee harvest was poor so Richard has sourced beans from the Byron Bay region also sustainably farmed as his Single Origin and named it Emu Paddock. He has used his roasting skills to ensure you get the same flavour you have always loved in the Single Origin. The Espresso Blend will also use the Byron Bay beans. Here s hoping that next year a forest of white flowers will lead to a good harvest at Zetas! Luke Sbeghen Procurement Guy
January 20, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 3

After the rough and tumble elations of Christmas and New Years and some heavy duty feasting it's comforting to return to fresh fruit and veg each week. All the staff have been pleasantly shocked at how much we missed our weekly FC fix. I for one can't wait to pick up my basic box this week and put together a decent salad! Many of you will have found your way to some mangoes over the last few weeks. I did and I regret it - they were tasteless and a betrayal of the taste I remember from my youth. We have mangoes this week from Ursula Salisbury new to FC but with 30 years of organic mangoes under her belt. Ursula is sure her KP mangoes will be a time machine to all your best mango memories. This could be a fleeting experience as mangoes are enjoying their "off" year - like bunya nuts and many fruits they have a two year or thee year cycle. Hopefully this means next year is full on! Lychees always accompany mango season - Ian Burow expects a good crop over the next couple of weeks. Like Ursula he always aims for depth of taste and nutrition. We will have just small amounts this week but have your lychee recipes ready for Week 4. There is still time left to make plenty of summer salads- just as well the Stead's have your lettuce needs covered! There are plenty of herbs and their heirloom tomatoes are not far off. Tomatoes this week are from Anthony Bauer as are the carrots. Luckily stone fruit are running late this year so plums are still on the menu. Dennis Angelino resisting retirement in his 70s is still braving the ladder to pick Mariposa queen plums for us this week. Dennis lathers all his love and anxiety on these plums. He will argue with you all day that there are no other plums their equal to be found. You can be the judge over the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for new flavours of Buchi Kombucha not to mention lemon lime and bitters from Red Dragon Organics made with a locally produced bitter mix and lemon myrtle.
January 13, 2017
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 51

Fruit and veg Apricots are a very special treat at Food Connect. Some years they can be the unicorn of fruit always out of reach aloof fragile but so beautiful. Shane Halloran has managed to free some solar fire apricots up for us this week just in time for Christmas. You can buy them on extras and they will be in some boxes. There are also plenty of the other three I ve got a big stony pit - diamond nectarines from Dennis wilson plums and rich lady peaches from Mario. It s a time to revel in the finer things in life and perhaps over-indulge just a little! You will notice a few items in the OUTs list. Ian Burow is having problems with mould in the sprouts so it seems the perfect time to clean out the system before starting again in the new year. Ian is not holding out much hope for mangoes nor are our other regular mango farmers. If you know of any local ecological farmers with plenty of mangoes let us know! On the other hand Ian is raving about the lychee season to come in mid-late January. You will notice some more white and bi-colour corn in the boxes this week. Usually I would say it s from Bruce Raabe s farm however Bruce has sold the farm to James Branson and moved back to NZ. James is keen to stay organic or better and will be continuing with the corn and cucumbers as well as the rockmelons which we are hoping will hold on till after the Christmas break. Don t forget that all the produce from Food Connect comes from a small dedicated bunch of local farmers all committed to growing sustainable and nutritious food. They love growing and are always open to suggestions. If you have any special requests let us know. Who knows that purple zucchini you spotted while on holiday in Turkey might become the next big thing! Merry Christmas to all. Luke Sbeghen Procurement Guy
December 16, 2016
Posted by: emma.rose

Produce Report- Week 50

Fruit and veg Hard on the heels of peaches plums and apricots are nectarines. Maybe it s just because I work at Food Connect but it s the taste of these stone fruit which really makes me feel like Christmas is upon us. Not the decorations on sale in September or the piles of catalogues in the mailbox. The Nectarines this week are from Mario and go by the name Rose Diamond. I like to pass on the variety names of our fruit and veg because as Mario mentioned you don t usually see them advertised as such. Who now really knows what the early season varieties are called which ones were developed locally or what their favourite Plum variety is There are a few varieties of peach and nectarines that include diamond in the name. Hopefully next week we will have some early diamond nectarines from Dennis Angelino and there is another one called diamond bright. They are all slightly different for reasons important mostly to growers - perhaps a better fruit set or less susceptibility to black spot or the ability to be planted closer together in modern orchards. Ultimately we are hoping they are all bred for taste and nutrition! The Steads are trying out silverbeet for us this year - if the rutherglenn bugs and other insects have left the leaf alone we should see lovely green bunches in the boxes this week. Their lettuce is really starting to come along and tomatoes should arrive after Christmas in many varieties. Our lettuce is a little more expensive over summer due to the extra set of problems that warm wet weather brings. Julie Stead reminded me about this today There is no comparison between what we grow and the chemical laden produce of the supermarket...but the cost risk and extra work that goes in to produce it is also no comparison. We have just lost so much of our kale because we don't spray bugs with chemicals and that kale is all planted in ground which we have invested lots of time and money into preparing nutritionally. We could have sprayed with a natural spray and knocked out the bad bugs but it would have knocked out the good bugs too and then we would have had a recovery period while our crops ecosystems struggle to find the balance again we only do it when it is really necessary. Much like our human bodies we can blitz them and end up having one drug lead to another or we can build our health up from the very cells that give us life. But the process takes time and effort and some investment commitment and responsibility on a personal level. As you can see the Steads are passionate farmers who go an extra mile to produce ecological food. It s a bit quieter at Tom Dunns where the flying foxes have taken over the fruit harvesting unfortunately - they are present in plague proportions around Stanthorpe at the moment. Will and Darryn have plenty of oyster mushrooms at the moment - they should be a great addition to BBQs or summer stir fries. They should go well with the thai basil that Danny of Lettuce Bee has ready for us this week. Will has found some efficiencies with new growing methods so you will notice we can now offer the mushrooms at a lower price. The flavour is better too as they are grown on a mix with more wood than straw. Groceries The goat s cheese has proven very popular this week - Peter is very happy that the cheese is being appreciated! We will include a smaller goat cheese in the cheese clubs for a while as well. Also proving even more popular than last year are the garlic braids. Don t forget you can also purchase smoked garlic for a special touch. Speaking of smoked garlic Josh and Wei er will be out of the smoked garlic kraut for till after Christmas however we do have an small amount of exclusive pomelo and radish kimchi available so get in quick. And last but not least we now have a plain strawberry jam available from Michelle at Ugly Duck especially make for Food Connect. There is limited amounts but if it proves popular we can always get Michelle to get the copper pots out again! Happy Ethical Eating Luke Sbeghen Procurement Guy
December 9, 2016
Posted by: emma.rose
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