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Food Businesses Thriving Through Collaboration

Charmaine’s Success Story in Nowra NSW.

Can you see the benefit of food businesses collaborating? We believe that this not only helps businesses grow, It also benefits customers.

We have seen this many times, and this is one example. Last month, Charmaine, the owner of “Touch of Charm”, who also has an online shop selling her flowers and homegrown veg on the Food Markies local online market, had her products for sale on our Nowra Fresh Food Market stall. As I looked over her display of fresh flowers and eggs and veg, I noticed her range had grown and quite surprisingly, she had another brand of eggs next to hers. As the afternoon progressed, I saw that she put equal effort into promoting both brands of eggs, her homegrown grown flowers and her online shop to the market customers. Charmaine then shared her inspiring story about how her business grew beyond her backyard to some land at Nowra Hill, working with another business rather than against them.  

We also learned that the business Charmaine was collaborating with also had a stall that day, and they had Charmaine’s eggs on their market stall. This meant an added benefit to customers: if they missed out on buying from Charmaine, they could still purchase her eggs at the other end of the market. 

This method of business collaboration reminds us of how the Igbo tribe in Nigeria work together as a network to grow small retail businesses into large, successful enterprises that become major distributors, exporters, or importers of products they specialise in. 

Charmaine’s story is truly inspiring, and Australian small businesses can adopt this strategy to become more resilient. Here is Charmaine’s story in her own words.

Charmaine’s Story

Hi! My name is Charmaine, and I am a small business owner who grows and sells flowers, eggs and vegetables in my backyard. But when I found myself running out of space, I turned to Facebook and asked if anyone had an acre or so of land locally that I could rent. I was shocked and pleased that many people were willing to help me out! The Shoalhaven really is a very supportive community.

Netty responded to my request and offered me a place in Nowra Hill. Since then, Netty and I have been collaborating on a new venture called Ohana Meadows, where we are growing more flowers, vegetables and chickens. We’ve also invested in sheep and pigs together.

What I love about this venture is that we were both on the same page straight away! It can be hard starting things yourself, but working together is amazing. Each of us has different strengths which enhance the work together.

Our ultimate goal is to have a garden stall, hold market days to allow other growers and makers to share their amazing products and one day host beautiful weddings.
Our dream is for Ohana Meadows to be self-sustainable while creating a place where people can buy local homegrown produce that’s good for both them and the environment.

Times are tough at the moment, between financial issues and the lack of rain- and Netty and I still have a long way to go, but if people work together, we will survive this hard time and grow something more beautiful than we imagined.

Charmaime’s fresh, free-range eggs

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Business resources Business startup Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

30 Essential Tools A Chef Can’t Live Without

A good chef can’t do without good tools in the kitchen. Whether you’re making fancy dishes or simple ones, having the right things helps. In this guide, we’ll show you 30 important tools every chef should have. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to cooking or a pro; these tools are great for your kitchen! Let’s check out the list, starting with the most important ones.

  1. Chef’s Knife
  2. Cutting Board
  3. Measuring Cups and Spoons
  4. Honing Steel
  5. Spatulas
  6. Chef’s Bag
  7. Tongs
  8. Kitchen Shears (scissors)
  9. Mixing Bowls
  10. Whisk
  1. Paring Knife
  2. Strainer/Sieve
  3. Thermometers
  4. Mixing Spoons
  5. Peeler
  6. Garlic Press
  7. Chef’s Uniform and Apron
  8. Oven Mitts or Pot Holders
  9. Colander
  10. Blender/Food Process
  1. Rolling Pin
  2. Mandoline
  3. Pepper Mill and Salt Grinder
  4. Microplane
  5. Pastry Brush
  6. Salad Spinner
  7. Can Opener
  8. Markers
  9. Kitchen Scale
  10. Utility Knife

1. Chef’s Knife

This one goes without saying: a chef’s knife is the cornerstone of any kitchen. Its versatility in chopping, slicing, and dicing makes it an absolute must-have for every chef. A high-quality chef’s knife is your trusted companion, from precision cuts to swift mincing. Chef knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you’re interested in finding the perfect one for you, check out our comprehensive chef knife guide

2. Cutting Board

Pair your chef’s knife with a durable cutting board. Wooden or plastic, choose one that suits your preferences, ensuring a clean and hygienic surface for food preparation. It’s also worth exploring Bamboo cutting boards, which are very environmentally friendly and more stain/liquid resistant than traditional wooden cutting boards!

3. Measuring Cups and Spoons

Precision is paramount in cooking and baking. With exact measurements, you can perfectly recreate your fabulous creations and follow a good recipe. 

4. Honing Steel

Keep your knives sharp and long-lasting with your own honing steel! Although it may seem counter-intuitive, a sharp knife is much safer than a dull or blunt one! Making sure to periodically hone your knives will also ensure they last longer, saving money in the long run!

5. Spatulas

Both solid and slotted spatulas are your partners for flawless flipping, stirring, and serving. Whether for making deserts of savoury sauces, a solid spatula ensures no wastage! 

6. Chef’s Bag

Keep your essential tools organised and ready, ensuring you’re always cooking with confidence, whether in your kitchen or on a culinary adventure.

7. Tongs

A versatile and reliable tool for flipping, tossing, and serving. Perfect for cooking steaks, meats and much more!

8. Kitchen Shears (scissors)

From snipping herbs to tackling packaging, versatile kitchen shears are your culinary multitool.

9. Mixing Bowls

Mixing bowls these days are often multifunctional and can be used for mixing, marinating, and preparing a host of delectable dishes. You’ll often find all types of mixing bowls in my fridge, prepping for tonight’s dinner! 

10. Whisk

Whether you’re making chef basics like an omelette or something more delectable.

11. Paring Knife:

The paring knife is a smaller, more refined version of the chef knife, perfect for delicate tasks like peeling, trimming, and creating intricate garnishes.

12. Strainer/Sieve

Drain liquids and sift dry ingredients with precision. Make sure to add this to your kitchen! 

13. Thermometers

Cook with confidence using instant-read and probe thermometers, ensuring your dishes are cooked to perfection and reduce the chances of foodborne illnesses. 

14. Mixing Spoons

Wooden or silicone, these utensils are essential for stirring, mixing, and scraping. Perfectly paired with mixing bowls! 

15. Peeler

Can’t get your head around a paring knife? Easily peel fruits and vegetables for effortless prep with a peeler! 

16. Garlic Press

Not a fan of stinky garlic fingers? Avoid cutting and smashing garlic with a garlic press! Effortlessly mince garlic cloves for robust flavour in your dishes. 

17. Chef’s Uniform and Apron

Dress the part and protect your attire with a comfortable chef’s uniform and apron.

18. Oven Mitts or Pot Holders

There’s nothing worse than burning your hands in the kitchen. Protect your hands from hot surfaces while handling pots and pans with oven mitts and pot holders.

19. Colander

Drain pasta, wash vegetables, and more with this kitchen workhorse.

20. Blender/Food Processor

Blend, puree, and process ingredients for sauces and soups more easily with your blender/food processor. 

21. Rolling Pin

An iconic kitchen tool, a rolling pin is a must-have for creating perfectly rolled dough for pastries and baked goods.

22. Mandoline

Kitchen mandoline can quickly slice ingredients, achieving uniform slices of fruits and vegetables for stunning presentations.

23. Pepper Mill and Salt Grinder

Elevate your dishes with freshly ground pepper and salt, the two most important ingredients in savour cooking.

24. Microplane

Grate spices, zest citrus, and add texture to your creations. Leave behind the bitter pith of citrus fruits.

25. Pastry Brush

Apply sauces, butter, and egg washes for that perfect finishing touch. A must-have for any kitchen! 

26. Salad Spinner

Don’t dilute your greens with excessive water. Use a salad spinner to rinse and dry greens and vegetables effortlessly. Perfect for making crispy, delicious salads! 

27. Can Opener

Not all cans are created equal. Some need a can opener! Open canned goods with ease for quick and convenient prep.

28. Markers

Labelling and marking ingredients and sauces is an important part of any chef’s day as they keep your kitchen organised and safe! 

29. Kitchen Scale

Kitchen scales are a super handy utensil for any chef, ensuring precise measurements for baking and cooking success. Reduce cleanup by mixing in a single bowl! 

30. Utility Knife

Designed to be lightweight and easy to use, a utility knife is a versatile mid-sized knife for a variety of cutting tasks.

Conclusion:

Start with these 30 important tools, and you’ll be ready to tackle any cooking job. These tools, like a good knife and a chef’s bag, help you become a great cook. So, whether you’re making fancy dishes or family favourites, you’ve got the right tools for the job.

Do you think we missed any tools? Let us know in the comments!

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Shoalhaven’s First Waste-Free ‘Milk On Tap’


Hear the gush of your fresh milk flowing effortlessly from a clean tap. You don’t have to imagine it; milk on tap is already here in the Shoalhaven region!

We’ve got some fantastic news that will change how you think about buying your family’s milk. Nowra has stepped up to the plate and become an early pioneer in New South Wales to offer Milk On Tap. 

Imagine strolling into your favourite local organic food store in Nowra and discovering a whole new way to enjoy your daily milk. Thanks to a remarkable innovation by The Udder Way, a Tasmanian company, you can now experience Tilba Dairy Jersey Milk on tap right here in Nowra! But what makes this even more important is that It’s clean and green.

This means that every drop of that creamy, delicious Jersey milk goodness is delivered to you without a hint of waste. Not a single bit of waste! It is a win-win for both consumers of milk and the environment.

Have you ever thought about the plastic waste that comes from milk? It’s been a tricky issue because fresh milk has strict regulations, and finding alternatives was no easy feat. But guess what? The Udder Way and Bomo Bulk have tackled this head-on. Charlie Tindall, the sales representative from The Udder Way in Tasmania, shared, “With the option of bottle reuse, you’re now only having to pay for the milk.” That’s right – the extra costs tied to glass bottling have been eliminated, making it a more affordable and eco-friendly choice.

When they did the maths, they found that by making this switch, more than 72 individual plastic bottles were not wasted in the first few weeks of implementation, and more plastic will be reduced as more people switch over. With the potential of 432 bottles saved per week, it is estimated that would save approximately 22,464 plastic bottles from landfill each year. Isn’t that incredible?

The amazing person behind this latest innovation is none other than a local businesswoman, Jessica from Bomo Bulk, who we are so fortunate to have as one of the vendors on Food Markies’ local online market. Bomo Bulk has been your go-to destination in Nowra for all things organic food for the past two years. So, it was only natural for them to take the lead in offering a waste-free milk refilling station. Now, you can grab a glass milk bottle and fill it up over and over again with Tilba Dairy’s delicious creamy Jersey milk. No more dealing with plastic milk bottles that pile up in our rubbish bins.

Jessica shared that having fresh milk on tap had been part of her vision since opening her store. However, she had been unable to implement it until she found a business that could collaborate with her to make her vision a reality. Once she learned of the Udder Way’s innovative patent system,  talks began, and with the Tilba Dairy on board, fresh milk on tap became a reality.

We congratulate Jessica and Bomo Bulk for their incredible impact by being the first milk on tap in Shoalhaven and reducing our waste. 

Let us know what you think about the fresh milk on the milk tap concept. Leave a comment below.

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Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

The Story Behind Vasa’s Epicurean Food Legacy

Vasa grew up as a farmer in a small village in Northern Macedonia, where she grew tobacco and many fruits and vegetables, including chillies, leeks, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, and cucumbers, which she would take to the market each week with her family. It also supplied their family with fresh and nutritious food.

When Vasa moved to Australia with her husband Vojo in 1969, she continued the food-growing traditions they had learnt while growing up by planting a large range of vegetables in their Sydney backyard. 

She loved great-tasting food and would source many heirlooms and heritage varieties of each type to ensure she could match the flavours she had as a kid. She would share that love with others and give bags of homegrown food to family and friends when they visited. 

Her love for eating fresh, homegrown food didn’t stop there! In 2001, Vasa and Vojo bought a small farm in Wandandian, where they expanded their food growing by planting over a quarter acre of vegetables in their garden, including over 150 fruit and nut trees….as a hobby, all dug and picked by hand.

Vasa’s influence rubbed off onto her son Vele, who was always helping with their garden and property infrastructure needs, and he too found that eating homegrown was far better for physical and mental health, especially when all things were done using manual methods, digging and planting by hand.

As garlic was a family dinner table favourite, in 2018, her son Vele began his first test crop of garlic on the Wandandian property. What he discovered was that Vasa and Vojo had had no success growing garlic due to the wrong seed having been sourced. Vele’s trial was a success, leading him to expand his garlic farm over the last few seasons and sell it through online food markets like Food Markies. Ensuring that Vasa’s legacy would continue throughout the community.

In 2022, Vasa sold her Wandandian property and moved closer to her son’s farm near Cooma, where together, they continued growing garlic. Vele launched the new business “Garlic Kingdom Australia“, which grows and distributes for several local growers and anticipates that 1.5 tonnes will be grown in the 2023 season.

Vasa’s passion and love for great food have influenced Vele and her family, friends and the local community. Vele would like to thank those who are in the Garlic Kingdom‘s grower network and all the customers who have bought their products throughout the years. He is so grateful for your support of his family and the garlic he grows.

Would you like to read inspiring stories about individuals in the Shoalhaven region who are making a difference in our local food scene? Or Is there someone you know whose story deserves to be told? Please leave a comment below.

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Food & Well being

From Seeds to Friendships: The Power of Community Gardens In Nowra

It’s so great to share the amazing concept of community gardens with you. Have you ever heard of them or been part of one? They are an awesome way to connect with nature and your community. Imagine cultivating the earth, exchanging gardening tips, growing plants, and connecting with your neighbours. I think it’s such a wonderful way to connect with nature and the people in your area.

So, why are community gardens so amazing? Well, for starters, they’re like green havens in the midst of urban areas. They’re perfect for people who don’t have their own yards to get their hands dirty, learn about gardening, and experience the joy of growing their food. They’re also a great way to meet new people and share stories while strengthening the bonds that make a community special. For example, I was at the North Nowra community garden sometime last year to help get rid of stinky bugs from the citrus trees. To be honest,  I didn’t know what they were or how to get rid of the Stinky bugs when I volunteered on the group chat. Thanks to some of the amazing group members who gave me some clues but guess what? Information and experience are two different ball games entirely. 

Some Stinky bugs we got rid of.

When I got to the garden, I put on my gloves and protective eyeglasses and got to work. It took forever as I was being careful not to get sprayed by the bugs. Luckily, a lovely lady- Christine, joined me. Oh my gosh! Christine was super experienced with Stinky bugs and got them off the trees like a pro. And me? I learnt from the pro! We talked, worked and laughed together. In no time, we were done! Luckily, I didn’t get sprayed. We connected so well and became friends. Later, we discovered we had much in common, including the local church we both attended and our love for supporting Multicultural communities in the Shoalhaven region. Small world. Isn’t it?  

There is so much you can learn to do through community gardens. If you are new and wondering how to make friends or meet people in your new area, Community gardens are great for connecting with everyday people to learn and understand your new community’s norms, values and culture. They promote sustainable food practices, like composting and reducing waste, which makes them great for the environment. And let’s not forget about the beauty they add to the neighbourhood!

If you’re in Nowra, NSW and interested in joining a community garden, there are a few options you might want to explore. 

These are great places to learn, grow and connect with fellow gardeners. You can also call 1300 293 111 to check with the Shoalhaven City Council for information on community gardens.  

Do you happen to know of any other community gardens around Nowra area that I haven’t mentioned? Or, are there other benefits of community gardens you think I omitted? Please add the missing pieces or share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below. Sharing is caring!

If you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend who could benefit. And, if you have any topics you’d like me to cover on my food blog, please leave a comment. Thank you for reading!