I am often asked how I find the places and products that I use and blog about. Once you are looking for local options, they pop out at you. Blue car syndrome I suppose. The other part is getting out and about. A lot of small local suppliers don’t have a web presence and only sell at local markets, shops or a farm gate. You don’t find them unless you travel there.
We like to take the back streets, visit regional markets, check out local information centres and pull over at roadside stalls. I love being on the open road. Some of the best products are found taking a wrong turn or heading off with no fixed plan.
This month Small Town Chutney officially turned one. To celebrate we decided to go to the Darling Downs Zoo. The trip was a bit unplanned. I took a few screen shots of google maps on my ipad, we headed off to Gatton and took little back streets down to Picton. I don’t trust our GPS (which is nicknamed Harry). Harry has a fondness for big highways and grossly overestimates travel time on unpaved roads.
The colours in the Lockyer Valley are so pretty. The combination of green crops, blue sky and the deep brown of freshly ploughed fields is striking. Located on a flood plain, the land is fertile and rich, ideal for growing vegetables and salad crops. Disaster struck the region at the start of this year, with devastating flash flooding completely obliterating some of the smaller towns and wiping out crops and infrastructure.
It was shocking to drive through Grantham seven months later and find most of the houses were gutted and unoccupied. There was still a car stuck up in a tree and rented green shipping containers in every yard. The town is tidy and life was slowly returning but it is a long way off any normality. It made me sad and I didn’t want to take any photos. I felt like a rubber necker staring out the window at house after house, gasping at crumpled garages and buckled machinery. It was a merciless torrent of water that powered through that town. Looking around at the wide open farming land,with the ranges in the distance, it is hard to believe that all but one street in the town was destroyed in a matter of minutes.
It was comforting to see lush crops growing and farmers out in the fields. It was a tough start to the year for the farmers in the Lockyer Valley.
The rest of our STC reconnaissance trip was not very successful in finding new products. It was good to explore the region, appreciate the changes in vegetation, learn the history and visit smaller settlements. Bright yellow wattle dotted the hillside on our way to Picton.
We stopped in at the Ma Ma general store for burgers. They stock D.A.D.Z Farm homemade preserves, made by Darrin and Debbie Zichke in Townson. In hindsight I should have grabbed a big jar of the pickled beetroot.
After the zoo we headed to Glen Rock Park to camp for the night. Just near Junction View we passed this eery looking farm with massive deciduous trees. It was impressive and I couldn’t figure out what until I saw the sign for Organic Pecan Enterprises. Turns out this farm is one of three in the area. This particular farm is has over 2200 established pecan trees standing nearly 15m in height. It is certified organic and produces 70 tonne of nut each year. I didn’t even know pecan trees were decidious!
There is plenty of honesty boxes in the area but everytime I saw one, we had a car behind us or it was too hard to find a spot to turn around. That’s the problem with looking for things on the fly.
The next day I was excited to visit the New Earth GreenE markets in Marburg. I had read about them on a few online directories and sites. I had never pulled off the highway to visit Marburg before and the markets sounded alternative and fun. According to the various references I could find on the net, the markets are held every Sunday from 7.00 am to 1.00 pm at 110 Queen Street, Marburg. This is not the case. The town was sleepy, no market traffic or signs and the green shed at 110 Queen street was closed up.
We returned home from a fun weekend empty handed.