It's harvest time for our local garlic growers. Australian garlic is seasonal and is only available for a few months, from around November through to May. Outside of those months, most shops only stock imported. Now is the ideal time to support our local garlic growers and buy a year’s supply of garlic.
The Australian garlic industry was devastated in the mid 1990s when cheap Chinese garlic flooded the Australian market. Very few growers persisted. For more than a decade most stores only stocked imported garlic.
Thankfully, the Australian garlic industry is starting to recover. There are small-scale growers popping up everywhere.
Dom Northam and Tom Christie from Four Acre Farm near Dungog are two such boutique garlic growers. They grow around 8000 bulbs each year.
Both Dom and Tom work off the farm and chose garlic as one of their main crops because it doesn't require too much of their time once it's in the ground. Another bonus, Dom tells me, is that “given that it stores so well, we don't have rush to sell it all at once”.
They lost around 1000 plants in the devastating April storms when two of their rows of plants simply washed away.
Thankfully they still have plenty to sell and you'll find them each Saturday at the Newcastle City Farmers Markets until they sell out. Which is likely to be soon. They held their first stall for the season on Sunday and suspect they will sell out only after only one or two more markets.
To make sure your precious stash of local garlic lasts until next season you will need to store it carefully. Store your garlic somewhere dry, dark and well ventilated. Dom and Tom store theirs in paper bags. I store mine in an old bamboo steamer.
Stored garlic will typically start to sprout in early Autumn. To help your stash last a few more months you can freeze it. To freeze, separate the cloves and place in a container in the freezer. I think a bulb or two of local garlic would make a perfect Christmas gift.
Hunter region garlic growers
These local growers sell online and/or at various Hunter region markets. Visit their websites for more information on where to buy.
- Four Acre Farm. Dom and Tom's beautiful garlic is available for a short time only from their stall at the Newcastle City Farmers market. newcastlecityfarmersmarket.com.au.
- Barrington River Organic Farm. barringtonriverorganicfarm.com.au
- Macquariedale Organic Wines. Macquariedale.com.au/our-garlic
Tricia shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints.com, Instagram (TriciaEco).