James Lord

Keeping tradition alive

by Huon Valley

When the Cradoc Hill abattoir was facing closure in 2011, there was a real cause for concern amongst the local community. With the current owners retiring, the imminent closure would force local farmers to send their livestock north for processing, making it impractical and often uneconomical.

That was until James Lord of Longford, spotted the sale advertisement in the local paper and decided it was worth a look. Within a week, James had a handshake agreement to purchase the business.

“I’d heard the Cradoc Hill Abattoir was closing, and I didn’t want the smallholders in the community to lose a valuable service. Growing your own animals to feed your family is a longstanding Huon Valley tradition, and I wanted it to continue.”

Quality over quantity

After completing his Bachelor of Science and at the age of 25, James was living in Melbourne working on large infrastructure projects. It was around this time that he identified an increasing appetite for top quality produce, where provenance was preferred over budget cuts and the cheapest prices.

Growing up on the family farm in Longford, this was an ethos that was shared.

“My time interstate gave me the perspective to believe in the future of Tasmania as a producer of high-quality produce. We can’t compete on price. We’re too small. So we must be the very best.”

Huon Valley Meat Co

Taking over the abattoir with little experience was always going to be a challenge – learning the trade, meeting your customers, building new markets, and managing staff.

It’s with great ambition and the support of the community that the Huon Valley Meat Co. now supplies products direct to customers at their Hobart butchery and on the plates of top restaurants across Australia.

“I believe in producing quality product using traditional skills and craft passed from generation to generation, tempered with a bit of contemporary innovation.”

I believe in producing quality product using traditional skills and craft passed from generation to generation, tempered with a bit of contemporary innovation.

- James Lord

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Matthew Evans

The gourmet farmer

by The Huon Valley

Once one of the most feared food critics in Sydney, Matthew Evans earned the respect of his readers with his honest, and sometimes scathing restaurant reviews. He often noted that the produce served, was not of a quality that could be found at local farmers markets. In 2008, Matthew embarked on one of Australia’s most high profile tree changes, beginning a new chapter on his own small farm in the Huon Valley.

“I came to the Huon because, in the first instance, I was attracted by the beauty of the place, the fact it gets more rain than some places near Hobart, and ultimately because I love the mix of people that really make the place.”

The Gourmet Farmer

Transitioning from big city living to becoming a bona fide farmer, with virtually no experience, would be a daunting task for anyone. Having a camera crew follow your progress certainly adds another layer to the story.

Matthew’s determination to succeed at his new life has been documented in the hit tv series, Gourmet Farmer. Beamed into households across the country, the show has followed Matthew’s progress over a number of years and inspired many to think about where their food really comes from.

“I believe it’s good to eat seasonally, to source food locally, and to care about what you put in your mouth and the mouths of your loved ones. This builds vibrant families, vibrant communities, and mutual respect amongst all the people who make the Huon what it is.”

The People Make the Place

“My best trade secret is to love thy neighbour (or at least like them enough to look to them for support). What your neighbour knows about this land, how much they can help you achieve what you want in life, and how you can get the most out of the season, the soil, the seas around, is more than you can learn in any book.”

When you live in a community, where the your neighbours share your ethos, it truly feels like home.

“It’s a like minded community, where milking a house cow isn’t unusual, turning a pig into your own sausages is quite a normal thing to do, and having access to farm fresh produce is the norm.”

The Fat Pig Farm on Facebook
The Fat Pig Farm on Instagram

I don’t think I would have done as many amazing things if I wasn’t so inspired by the beautiful surroundings and magnificent produce of the Huon.

- Matthew Evans

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Howard Hansen

We are in the health food business

by Huon Valley

Growing up in the orchard, surrounded by delicious fruit that his family has been growing for generations, Howard is now the driving force behind one of Tasmania’s largest growers of apples and cherries.

“I am the without doubt a product of the Huon Valley. (I was) Born here, spent 41 of my 43 years on this earth living here..”

Hansen Orchards

The fruit growing industry in Tasmania has experienced times of extreme growth and equally extreme decline. It’s only those orchards that continually innovate and move with the times, that are still supplying premium fruit to both local and international markets. Growing delicious apples and cherries is an art that the Hansen family has perfected over the generations.

Howard has a firm belief on what makes the Hansen Orchards fruit so special.

“The cool climate and long growing season of the Huon Valley is the perfect environment for growing crunchy red apples with a long shelf life. It also allows us to have the latest maturing cherries in the southern hemisphere. Our cherries are bigger, sweeter and firmer than those from warmer growing regions around the world”

What make a successful orchard?

“I believe… the harder you work the luckier you get. We are in the health food business, producing outstanding quality fruit from sunlight and water”

My great grandfather planted his first orchards at Nubeena on the Tasman Peninsula in 1887. He had 6 sons who were all apple growers in the same area. My Grandfather Rupert purchased an existing orchard and moved his young family to the Huon Valley in 1944 and we have farmed here continuously ever since.

- Howard Hansen

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Masaaki Koyama

If you blink you might just miss it

by Huon Valley

Driving into Geeveston, you get the feeling you are entering somewhere special. The small forestry township is surrounded by stunning mountains and the main street is full of quirky hand-carved timber sculptures of famous locals. The gateway to the South West has a rich history that is waiting to be explored.

The last thing you might expect to find is a world class Japanese chef, operating a small restaurant that if you blink – you might just miss it.

Growing up in a small rural village, Masaaki enjoyed a modest and fulfilling upbringing. Helping his father and neighbours farm the local rice paddies, spending time playing with friends in the local rivers, catching fish and exploring the forest. Worlds apart from Geeveston, there are also many similarities.

The big tree change

“I grew up in a really small village in Japan. Probably about the size of Geeveston. They both have a history of forestry and are looking at tourism as a way forward. The prefecture of Wakayama has World Heritage areas related to the forest and the temples nearby.
Both Wakayama and Tasmania have kind people, the same kind of local characters, both places have delicious food, good fresh produce, clean water, not many people. They’re really pretty similar actually!”

Leaving his village at the age of 18, Masaaki would move to Osaka to fulfill his passion of becoming a sushi chef.

“I lived in a dormitory with other apprentice sushi chefs. It was pretty hard. I lived and worked in a restaurant in Osaka for about five years. I worked so hard for very little pay but I learned a lot from my seniors and enjoyed the busy environment.

After years of perfecting his craft in Japan, Masaaki met his partner Lucy who was a Taswegian traveling in Japan. After Lucy described the Huon region, it’s premium seafood, fresh air, clean water and friendly people – It was inevitable that they would relocate.

Masaaki’s Sushi

Located in Central Geeveston, Masaaki’s is not the easiest place to find, but well worth the effort. Making use of the traditional techniques and unique local ingredients, it’s recommended that you book ahead to guarantee a seat in the small and inviting cafe environment.

Do yourself a favour and check out the following channels:
Masaaki’s Sushi on FaceBook

It is all about having a good balance: of flavours, colours, and new and old styles. If you enjoy what you do, that is going to reflect in the food you make and how people enjoy it, too. And if you enjoy what you do you will keep doing it, and keep getting better at it.

- Masaaki Koyama

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Kelly Bennett

The valley was calling me

by Huon Valley

Kelly grew up with her family’s 4th generation property in the Huon Valley. Like many children growing up in the area, Kelly and her two brothers learnt to make their own fun while taking advantage of the beautiful surrounds.

It wasn’t until completing her nursing degree in later years, traveling the world gaining valuable experience, that Kelly felt a calling. A calling to return home to her grass roots in the Huon Valley.

Home Hill

The Huon Valley sits on the same degree of latitude as Bordeaux in France (albeit forty-three degrees south of the equator rather than north). These regions share a similar climate, with winters featuring fog, frost and snow, and an abundance of spring rain. This allows for the slow ripening of fruit during warm months and the perfect conditions for cool climate wine to be produced.

In 1992, Kelly’s parents Rosemary and Terry identified a perfect vineyard site on the lower reaches of their family property. With careful planning, what was once a small hobby farm, is now an award winning vineyard known for producing some of Australia’s top quality Pinot Noir.

Returning in 2001 to help with marketing of the Home Hill, Kelly would also take up the role of managing the new restaurant and cellar door being built on site. The design brief was that simplicity is important – Allow the buildings to blend into the surrounding rolling hills, while taking in the views of the Sleeping Beauty and Mount Wellington mountain ranges.

The Jimmy Watson

As any winemaker or vineyard owner will attest, winning awards for your wine is a good feeling. Not just because of the nice shiny bottle sticker, because it helps recognise everyone involved throughout the winemaking process. From managing the vines, turning the fruit into wine and those presenting the wine for your customers to enjoy.

Winning the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy, awarded annually to Australia’s best red wine, must give you a real buzz! This is exactly what happened in 2015 when Home Hill won the award with the “2014 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir”, named after Kelly.

Kelly’s Trade Secret?

“My trade secret…. Having a loving family and a community that lends support when required.”

Do yourself a favour and check out the following channels:
Home Hill Wines on Instagram
Home Hill Winery on Facebook

I enjoyed the lifestyle on the property & loved the clean fresh air, freedom of being outside and working on the property, feeding the cows, riding motor bikes and billy carts.

- Kelly Bennett

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A Taste of the Huon

13/3/2016 and 14/3/2016

by Huon Valley

One of the most enduring and popular festivals in Tasmania, A Taste of the Huon has been running for 24 years, with no sign of slowing down.

Held over two days at Ranelagh (just a 30 minute drive from Hobart), the festival is a celebration of the fine food, wine, art and culture of the Huon region. Some of the locally farmed delicacies on offer include cherries, berries, apples, mushrooms, salmon and truffles, along with many premium wines from the valley’s vineyards.

Live entertainment and a huge array of attractions are spread across the whole festival, ensuring that there’s something on offer for the whole family.

Taste of the Huon

Taste the difference!

Date: 13/3/2016 and 14/3/2016

Time: 10am to 5:30pm (Sunday)
10am to 4pm (Monday)

URL: http://www.tasteofthehuon.com

Place: Ranelagh

Entry: $9.00 per Adult, children under 12 free. No concession.

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Andrew Smith

Organic apple grower

by Huon Valley

Not all 4th generation farmers are willing to make the big decisions, that to some people may seem like a risk. This is not the case with Andrew Smith.

“The industry when I started was in demise and production was under threat from emerging economies. (I’ve) Simply been moving and changing to stay in the game.”

Over the last 26 years, Andrew has continually innovated the family business, which now lays claim to being the largest organic apple grower in the country. It also turns out with a bit of know how, lots of passion and some of that trademark determination, you can make an amazing cider.

Willie Smith’s

Keeping a very keen eye on a category that is experiencing a major resurgence, Andrew and his business partner Sam Reid set out to create Australia’s first certified organic cider. With Andrew’s foresight, he had already converted the same orchard that his great grandfather had established in 1888 to organic practices. To be organic, Willie Smiths grows and processes its apples without the use of any synthetic chemicals or GMOs.

Willie Smiths cider is made from fruit grown on the family farm – which is also where the crushing, fermenting, ageing and bottling takes place.

At the Cider Australia Awards 2015, the Willie Smith’s ‘18 Varieties Cider’ took out the 3 top awards – Best in Show, Best Cider & Best Australian Cider or Perry.

The Apple Shed

The best place to taste Willie Smith’s Cider? That would be The Apple Shed – the cider-maker’s cellar door and apple museum located on the main highway as you enter the Huon Valley.

Originally built in 1942, the building was restored by Willie Smith’s and remade into a place where you can enjoy some of Tasmania’s best food and drink, then take in the Huon Valley’s incredible apple history.

The Apple Shed also plays host to the Huon Valley Mid Winter Festival in July each year. With event partners including MONA, The Apple Shed and surrounding property is transformed into a weekend of feasting, entertainment and wassailing – that is traditionally to ensure a bumper apple crop for the season ahead.

Do yourself a favour and check out the following channels:
The Apple Shed on Facebook
Willie Smith’s Organic Cider on Facebook
Willie Smith’s Organic Cider on Instagram

I believe… Farmers have a responsibility to feed the world, food must be as good as it can be but ultimately safe.

- Andrew Smith

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Michelle Crawford

A flavoursome life

by Huon Valley

Michelle and her family left the bright lights of inner Sydney in 2007, in search of a new place to call home. There were some strict prerequisites – access to amazing food, beautiful surroundings and a great place to raise children. The Huon Valley was a perfect fit.

“I moved to Tasmania to pursue a career in food, the Huon has allowed that dream to flourish with its outstanding produce and the passionate people who produce it.”

Now working freelance within the food industry, there is always an interesting project that Michelle is working on. It could be food styling for a magazine photoshoot, organising a pickling day with Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans at Fat Pig Farm or helping out her friend Asher Gilding’s new venture, The Port Cygnet diner.

If variety is the spice of life, then Michelle’s life is flavoursome.

A Table in The Orchard

Soon after settling into their beautiful old weatherboard farmhouse, Michelle started an online blog to help document her transition to the Huon Valley. Stories of gardening, cooking, foraging and exploring with her family.

“I loved the creative outlet it provided and gave me the opportunity to hone my photography and writing skills.”

After many years of documenting her life in the Huon, an amazing opportunity came right out of the blue that helped bring Michelle’s journey to life.

“The head of publishing from Random House called one day and said they loved my blog and would like to turn it into a book, 2 years later “A Table in the Orchard” was born! A memoir with recipes and photos from our life in the Huon Valley. It’s been an incredible experience.”

What attracted you to the Huon?

“The potatoes! Well, actually it was the apple sheds nestled right alongside the winding roads of the valley. I’d never seen such gorgeous rustic buildings, so honest and simple in their design, but built to last. I think these historic treasures are unique to the Huon”

Can you share with us a trade secret?

“I believe the secret to the perfect apple crumble is to be generous with the butter and cook the topping on a baking tray first, till it’s all crunchy and delicious, then generously pile onto cooked fruit.”

Do yourself a favour and check out Michelle on Instagram.

I don’t think I would have done as many amazing things if I wasn’t so inspired by the beautiful surroundings and magnificent produce.

- Michelle Crawford

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