Meet an ugly vegetable or find out why an ear of corn from Elphin Grove Farm is the perfect addition to the family dinner.
A rough, knobbly leathery skin, a mass of roots, a root vegetable gone wrong is a description of a surprisingly, given its outer appearance, delicious and nutritious vegetable, celeriac. Celeriac is a root vegetable a child once called “wart food” but hidden beneath its skin is the creamy white flesh that tastes of parsley and celery. Above ground it has a top of green, celery-like growth radiating from the central knob, pull this top up and what you unearth looks like a turnip gone wrong is how Matt and Ruth Young of Elphin Grove Farm describe the celeriacs they bring to the market in Autumn.
Elphin Grove Farm is a family run business, operating on 220 HA in East Sassafras near Latrobe. Ian and Lesley moved to the property from Bruny Island in 1980 and since then their son Matthew and his wife Ruth have become involved in the business and it has grown to where it is now.
With the reduction in the availability of processing contracts 8 years ago, the Young’s started looking at other areas of growth for their business. A local vegetable wholesaler gave them an “ugly turnip looking thing” and told them to try growing it. After a bit of research, a trial patch of celeriac was started. “This meant we had to get seedlings grown and then work out how we were going to plant them. We started with 1500 plants, they required regular irrigation and fertilisation. As it was a small patch we weeded it by hand.” Today the trial has grown to 50000 plants and their celeriac is now sold locally and interstate.
Apart from celeriac the Young’s have returned to growing corn, which they stopped producing when food-processing contracts were cancelled and moved offshore. After talking to some local grocers they recognised a gap in the market for local sweetcorn, as the majority of what was available locally was from the mainland and up to five days old before reaching shop shelves. “We decided to give it go again.” This time without the pressure of other crops working against them, their corn was a success.
Apart from celeriac and corn, Elphin Grove farms peas for Simplot, poppies for Tasmanian Alkaloids, prime lamb and beef for the local butcher markets. The farm adheres to the Freshcare quality insurance program with a focus on sustainability and profitability.
Contact: Elphin Grove Farm
Tel: 0418 121 990