Fraser Bayley gives a little background to the Farm Dinner of 2012.
A while back when we had too many of one thing or another we often thought that we should have a farm dinner as a celebration of the season’s harvest. The Italians would call it a sagre and it’s just about enjoying the season and what comes from it and your labour. It seems everyone is doing it these days but we thought that ours could be one of the few that could do all the produce from the farm and eat it right in the paddock where it grew. I would have been happy to wait a year or 2 but after a boozy dinner one Friday night, Kirsti and our intern James decided for me that we should just do it.
I wasn’t too concerned about growing the food although timing it just right to be able to harvest a meal for 90 people and still being able to harvest for our regular market was in the back of my mind. What was in the front of my mind was that we didn’t have a flat area for a table, a kitchen to prepare and serve the food from, no shelter from the weather, no lighting, no crockery, cutlery, napkins or cups and no tables. The garden is a garden. There’s holes to trip in, things to fall over and vegetables to trample. And there’s bloody great compost pile right at the edge of
Kirsti said I work better under pressure and set a date. So first things first. We needed ducks and chooks, a chef or 2 and a menu. Friends of ours Tim and Tobie said they’d swap their cooking services for a few days preparing ground and planting garlic at their new block. After some hits and misses we got the birds sorted and then we built the menu. We didn’t grow the oysters, they’re from across the road. The bread was from Mat at Dojo . I’d love it if that bloke moved down here. The spuds were from Michael Hulse up the river a bit. Pepitas, flour, olive oil, salt and stuff we got from Rustic Pantry in town. So not entirely from the paddock but it’s a start. I’d like to work towards a 100% farm meal one day. Just to see.
And time rolled around and we almost got all our jobs done and the day dawned clear and everyone had a good time. I hope we made a small contribution to enriching our local food culture and showed what can be done on a small scale. I hope that people took away that food grown locally is good because it’s fresh and there is some passion for producing food locally that is reflected in the produce. Those oysters were bloody good because Glen who grew them cares about his product. It’s the same everywhere. Seek out the people who are interested in what they do. If they make things it’ll be quality, if they provide services you’ll be assured a good job and if they grow food you’ll eat well.