Thursday, 6 June 2013

"Milk it, Pick it, Cook it, Eat it" - Eye and leaf farm experience

I recently visited the Eye and Leaf farm in Gippsland, a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Tamsin who owns and runs the farm and kitchen garden organises a monthly event called "Milk  pick cook eat ".

Eye and Leaf is set on a pretty 113 acre working farm. An abundance of food is produced on the farm including eggs, dairy, poultry, beef, pork, fruit, berries and vegetables making Eye and Leaf almost completely self sufficient. The focus is on producing delicious food using ethical and sustainable practices and the results are inspiring for anyone interested in more sustainable use of resources or growing their own.

As soon as we arrive we were greeted by Tasmin and her 3 dogs. She had prepared tea, coffee and her homemade brownies, which were delicious! After she took us out and around the farm. We met her pigs, piglets, chooks, ducks, turkeys and cattle. First job though was to milk the cow, which we would use later to make ricotta cheese!
As a interior designer i couldn't stop looking around every corner and collecting inspiration. Its a beautiful set up, everything is in harmony and so comfortable. Tasmin is a calm, gentle and down to earth person. I felt so comfortable around her as soon as we met. 

After we collected the milk from the cow we headed back to the kitchen. Tamsin had organise a menu and wrote us a shopping list for veggies. We went to the garden and collected chard for the fresh ravioli we were going to make and rockets & other herbs for the salad. It was such a wonderful feeling picking up the ingredients from the ground and to see where they come from. I love the beautiful green, red & yellow colours of the vegetables. I don't get that much experience as I live in an apartment in the city.

In the kitchen, my husband Sean and I are in charged of making the ravioli. I make my own Gyoza dumplings so I thought it would easy for me. Tamsin encouraged us to use our creativity rather than following her recipe.

After all the fun cooking, we sit down in a beautiful rustic timber table under the yellow leafy tree. Luckily the weather was so warm and pleasant. We started sharing our first meal, for starter chard ricotta cheese (made from the milk we collect from the cow) ravioli with butter garlic sauce, young rooster coq au vin for the main, and finished with pumpkin pie, yogurt and preserve apricot. We made everything from scratch and I enjoyed every minute of doing so. The meal itself was so delicious! I met new friends and shared our experiences for the day.

English cook, writer and campaigner, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has been a great inspiration of' 'back to basic'. Knowing and respecting what we are eating wasn't important to me not long ago, but now it has become very important. The old say 'you become what you eat'. Nowadays not only are we responsible to ourselves, but also to our society and our environment. Therefore, eating ethical food is very important to supporting our environment. I go to the farmer's market, talk to them, understand what we are eating and support this ethical producer. I make my own free range & organic dumplings.

Tamsin bought the dairy farm 10 years ago and set up her home and farm. Working on the farm is 24 hours and there are always unexpected thing happening on the farm. It looks beautiful, but it is hard hard work maintaining it. I am so amazed that someone who used to be a city girl moved and set up her life on the farm. I have many excuses that I can't have my garden. Need determination and action! What I have to do is to get my Bokashi composting bin in my little apartment ( I found it recently ) and find my vegie patch somewhere soon. I really admire what Tamsin is doing and can't wait to go back again!