Big Ideas in a Little Van

nina from host

Produce and food to Nina Armstrong of Höst Big Little Drinks is all about remembering and then taking a chance on a little van that is today giving shape to big ideas.

The Höst in the name is Danish for harvest and evokes fresh produce. In Swedish Höst means autumn, which says Nina represents where she is in her life story.

Nina’s story began in Western Australia where she grew up with an Italian stepmother, in a hotel and behind a coffee shop. Food and hospitality is integral to her but most importantly the family grew much of their own produce. “I grew up in a family that grew its own food and I always knew exactly where it came from.”

This ethos, of remembering where food comes from today informs Nina’s food philosophy and has shaped the marvellous big little drinks that she brings each week to the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market. Nina believes that whatever she does has to be about remembering where food comes from. Her Little van is a new opportunity to practise ethical and sustainable value adding to amazing local produce. “I do not need a big space, I just need to be smarter.”

The Big is her passion and commitment to making drinks with big ideas that are fun to taste and even better to drink. What she loves about Harvest is the opportunity to bring those big ideas to fruition, it is a breeding ground about where next. Nina’s nut and oat milks are the embodiment of her food beliefs. Using local hazelnuts and local oats and many hours of experimenting, tasting and trying again, Nina has created milks that have a sensational mouthfeel, great taste and are an incredibly healthy drink.

If gorgeous smoothies redolent with the tastes of peanut butter and jelly or bowls of fresh berries are not enough, think radiant green, bursting with seasonal ingredients from fellow stallholders such as Seven Springs, Old School Farm, Tas Honey Co and Elgaar Farm.

Nina’s mornings at the market always start with a forage among fellow stallholders as she collects the fresh and vibrant produce to add to her milks and then there are the teas …

Locally grown green tea, rosehips and berries are brewed and blended to create extraordinary drinks that should always be sipped or beware, if too eager to quench your thirst, they do leave the tell-tale sign of pink lips.

The search for a cooler climate first brought Nina and her family to Tasmania, but differences in schooling systems meant that they returned to Western Australia until her sons had finished school. But Tasmania summonsed her again and she returned to Launceston and took over local eatery Fresh. Nina and her family lived above the restaurant and her daughter Lola describes her mother as always busy, “I missed you so much, you were always working so hard but I was still very happy” she says looking up at Nina.

Nina laughs remembering long hours and hard work before having to shut up shop when she could not find another venue for Fresh. But the hard work she notes was worth it if it inspires her daughters to think about possibilities and what can be achieved.

Nina’s childhood was about growing food and today Nina believes that whatever she does today in the autumn of her life has to be about remembering where the harvest comes from. Her little van is a new opportunity about practising ethical and sustainable value adding to amazing local produce from oats and nuts to extraordinary teas that are all different but are all full of flavour. Take a sip and pause when next at the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market to enjoy the fruits of Nina’s journey so far.