Know Your Honey

Beekeeper and owner of Farmgate Honey, Murray Arkadieff, may well have pollen in his blood.

Following in the footsteps of his parents, Murray was the proud owner of his own smoker and hive tool at the tender age of ten and many years and thousands of stings later he’s still holding on.

Murray says roughly one-third to two thirds of the food we eat is required to be pollinated by bees, a fascinating fact that drives his interest in the field.

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Appearing on our shelves and menu at Plenty come November, Farmgate Honey’s range of all natural products definitely stray beyond the usual fare.

Perhaps the most inviting offering is their fresh-from-the-hive comb honey.

“We produce a lot of comb honey and sell it still in the frames, It has a lovely taste and a delicious chewy texture,” he said.

“We export it to Guam, Egypt, Italy, Japan; it goes all over the place.”

Murray and his team run over 1200 hives within an 800-kilometre radius of Brisbane, travelling thousands of kilometres every year in pursuit of honey flow.

“A lot of people see beekeeping as just an old man in his backyard working a couple of hives but for us we’ve got three workers, big trucks and we are out in the bush for days at a time camped in swags,” he said.

“Different varieties of trees yield nectar and flower at different times of year depending heavily on the weather so you’ve got to really chase the honey every year to find out where it is.”

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These variables make for a complex and flavoursome honey that can change from season to season while maintaining a consistent quality.

Producing roughly 100 tonne of purely natural honey a year, Murray and his team are expert beekeepers and expert honey wranglers.

“The honey comes from the bush, it’s all Australian and we work hard to get it,” he said.

Plenty West End, Know Your Farmer. November 2013.

Know Your Olives

Great food starts with great ingredients and getting the staples right makes all the difference.

Quality olive oil is essential to any diverse kitchen and Plenty’s choice is Coolmunda Organic Olives extra virgin.

Owner Gesine Owen says the secret to a great olive oil lies in the process.

Coolmunda Organic Olive Grove

Coolmunda Organic Olive Grove

“We pick in the morning so our olives come straight out of the paddock, straight into processing and we can get a tonne done an hour,” she said.

“It’s all about maintaining a fresh 100% organic product from start to finish.”

The 72-year-old grandmother can safely call herself an old hand, spending the past 15 years growing olives on the banks of the Coolmunda Dam, an area perhaps better known for livestock.

“Growing cattle just wasn’t for us and I’m european so we thought we’d grow olives,” she said.

“With our products we’ve grown slowly so we could maintain the process from paddock to our factory and straight to sale and you certainly get a better taste for it.”

Far from the traditional Mediterranean climate known for olive production, Gesine has tweaked and adjusted to create an award winning range of table olives.

“Our kalamata actually took out the blue ribbon at last year’s Sydney show,” she said.

After declaring Coolmunda the winner the judge remarked the kalamata was exactly what a good olive should taste like.

The tricky business of determining the exact timing and the arduous task of handpicking the olives without the use of any treatment is all worth it in the end according to Gesine.

“(Because of the lack of chemicals and solutions) they can look slightly inconsistent but the taste is always consistent and always amazing,” she said.

On our shelves and in our kitchen, Coolmunda Organic Olives will be plenty.

Know Your Greens

Know your farmer. A simple model for sourcing produce. A simple model for quality control. A simple model for an exciting new venue.

This is the first in a series of stories exploring the locally grown food and produce that will stock our fridges and pantry at Plenty and the farmers we are getting to know in the process.

Robertson's Hydroponics, Toowoomba

Robertson’s Hydroponics, Toowoomba

Kurt Robertson, owner of Robertson’s Hydroponics, knows his greens.

For the past 17 years Kurt has honed his craft in Toowoomba on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, focusing on a small range of quality produce.

“We basically grow four baby leaf productions, that’s mesclun, spinach, rocket, watercress and we also do grow specialty herbs, all hydroponically grown,” he said.

“we grow in our own specially created potting mix and all undercover.”

At age 17 Kurt had saved enough money from working on a farm to build seven of his own tables (an area for growing crop) and slowly saw his business grow.

“I worked seven days a week and put back into the business and now we are running 150 tables and growing,” he said.

A recent expansion has seen Robertson’s begin to supply their produce directly to venues, something Kurt sees real benefit in.

“When we were selling direct to wholesalers you don’t get a lot of feedback, they’re more about the dollar value,” he said.

“Selling directly to cafes and restaurants has provided real feedback that has helped us provide consistent quality produce.”

Sharing an ethos of sustainability and wholesome offerings, Robertson’s Hydroponics are just one of many local producers helping Plenty to forge links between our city community and our regional farmers.

“I love doing it, it’s not a job to me it’s my garden and it’s a lifestyle,” he said.

Plenty, West End. Know Your Farmer.