Locally grown food is typically more flavoursome and has more nutrients, because it’s fresher and in-season. It’s fresher, of course, because it hasn’t travelled from interstate or overseas - or been refrigerated for who knows how long whilst en route. Hence, it’s also better for the environment, because it hasn’t clocked up air, boat or truck (or all three) mileage and pollution to get to your dinner plate.
Like those reasons aren’t tasty enough, there’s also the economic benefits. Typically locally grown or produced foods are less expensive because they don’t have to travel far – so you aren’t paying for the associated transporting costs, or all the ‘middle men’ like supermarkets who take a bit of the profits.
As an added bonus, buying direct from farmers helps keep the local farmers employed! And we all want that – otherwise we could very well end up having to import all our fresh produce from overseas because, well, the farmers just couldn’t make a living out of farming.
The problem with imported foods, apart from the added financial costs, is that many markets are unregulated. Chemicals, pesticides and other pollutants can easily slip into the Australian food chain courtesy of imported asparagus, mangoes, potatoes, corn, you name it… But with locally bought produce regulations are more stringent and you can ask the farmer direct how it was grown!
Now, what tasty local foods are ripe for picking on the great Aussie menu? Plenty! In fact, our country, climate, landscapes and other agricultural factors vary wildly throughout our sunburnt land. So here, we’re focusing on just one region. The Hawkesbury Foodie and Experience Trail, where the river is just the beginning! The river is just the beginning
Are you ready to take a stroll through this tasty region? Here’s 8 reasons to eat local, drink local and be merry locally!
1. Harvets Food Trail
The Harvets Food Trail is a great place to start. You can visit markets, try and buy local produce, chat to the producers and artisans, learn about the region and discover wonderful things on the Harvets Food Trail! You can ‘pick your own’ apples, oranges and other local produce, sample fresh seasonal produce, indulge in gourmet goat cheese, discover Australian native foods, visit historical sites, wine and dine at local wineries and restaurants and at the end of a brilliant day, rest and relax in unique accommodation.
2. Hillbilly Cider
Fall in love with locally grown apple and pear cider, produced from the first new species of apple discovered in the Blue Mountains region since the Granny Smith apple 100 years ago! At Hillbilly Cider, the award winning alcoholic and non-alcoholic ciders are grown at the orchard and the 100 per cent crushed fruits are then fermented with no added sugar, pasteurisation or artificial flavours. Glass at the ready, because your cider is served up to you straight from the barrel!
3. Bilpin Cider
When it comes to growing apples, Bilpin is ripe for the picking! The fertile grounds, mountain elevation and mild climate make it perfect fruit-growing environment. It’s equally majestic for the visitors. Pull up a picnic blanket and enjoy freshly picked Bilpin apples, apple juice or apple or pear cider while enjoying the scenery. Located on the historic Bells Line of Road in the Blue Mountains, Bilpin is surrounded not only by the mountains, but picture-perfect rivers and six national parks.
4. Tizzana Winery
You’ll feel like you’ve transported back in time to medieval Tuscany at Tizzana Winery! The incredible Heritage listed sandstone building originated in 1887 and is truly magnificent. Set amongst acres of grape vines and olive groves, and you can sample and buy the fresh produce, drink cellar door red, white and fortified wines and stay in the bed and breakfast accommodation at the end of an amazing day.
5. The Cooks Co-op
A one-stop-shop, or should we say traditional rustic shed, that showcases some of the Hawkesbury region’s most talented farmers, food producers and local produce! The Cooks Co-op was founded by renowned executive chef Martin Boetz and, as well as highlighting local food stars, is set to become a paddock to plate restaurant. Visit The Cooks Co-op for information on the unique dining events they hold, set in the rural grounds and overlooking the Hawkesbury River.
6. Canoelands Orchard
Make a beeline for Canoelands Orchard, where you can have a picnic or do a hive tour and indulge in the orchard’s raw honey stores! You can also do farm walks, pick your own peaches and nectarines, take a technical farm tour and as well as buying honey, seasonal stone fruit, handmade jewellery, beeswax candles, jams, chutney, coffee and more. Take a picnic and stay for the day! Visit Canoelands Orchard to find out their seasonal and daily opening times.
7. Pine Crest Orchard
Have a family picnic, pick your own fruit or wonder through the orchards and adjoining bushland with family and friends at Pine Crest Orchard, Bilpin. Set in the majestic Blue Mountains, Pine Crest Orchard grows a variety of apples, peaches and other stone fruit, berries and more. There’s no entrance fee and you can pick and buy your fruit by the kilo!
Visit Pine Crest Orchard for seasonal and daily opening hours.
8. Ironbark Distillery
The Hawkesbury region may be best known for its ciders, but it also boasts award winning Gin and Moonshine producers, Ironbark distillery! A must visit for any gin lover, the boutique Ironbark Distillery offers cellar door tastings and you can buy by the bottle! Visit Ironbark Distillery for opening hours and info.