Luke and Kate Basic took up a plot in the Dapto Community Farm two years ago, to grow food for their family.
“We believe strongly in the importance of eating well, and that children should know where their food comes from,” says Kate.
Starting with just a 16 metre plot, the family set about learning how to grow things, mentored by other community growers.
They could have been forgiven for giving up this extra work when they opened their restaurant, Silica, in March last year, but instead they have expanded.
“We’ve got four 16 metre plots now, and I’m down here with the kids every day watering and doing maintenance,” says Kate.
“I just love it, and so do they.”
As a chef with a strong commitment to seasonal produce, Luke enjoys adding their home grown produce to the restaurant menu.
“Most of our side dishes, garnishes and leaves come from our plots.
“We also buy things like bok choy and ginger from other community garden growers.
“I love the challenge of finding ways to include what they have got.
“Everything is grown here using organic principles, and there is a real camaraderie amongst the growers.
“We have learnt so much through their willingness to share their experience.”
At the moment, despite the dry and winter, the plots are bursting with vigour.
Kolrabi, kale, brocollini (a favourite of the Basic children), leeks, fennel, cabbage and radishes are just some of the vegetables competing to be included on the Silica menu.
The Dapto Community Farm has been operating for over twenty years.
While some of the beds are operated by commercial operators, most are the work of people individuals.
“We’d love to have a restaurant on a farm, but this is the next best thing,” says Luke. “We are proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Their tips for people starting out on their veggie gardening journey?
“Don’t stint on the quality of your seedlings,” says Kate. “And have patience. There is a lot to learn.”