From SAGE member Trevor Moore
No market gardener can expect to ply his or her trade without the use of analytical equipment. I was not, therefore, surprised to find Leanne slaving over what Charles Babbage would have called an analytical engine. For some reason, as you can see in the picture above, the computer (as we now call these machines) was in the company of a single potato. I cannot say why this should have been and Leanne provided no explanation.
Regular readers of this record of Leanne’s internship will know that her time as the SAGE Market Gardener Intern is drawing to a close and her mind is turning to what happens next. That, like pretty much everything else today, involves the use of a computer. It’s easy to think that market gardening is about… well, market gardening, growing and harvesting plants, tilling the soil, looking after the environment; but it is also about planning. Making an income from the land does not just happen; it requires forethought, risk assessment … all those things that any other business requires. Getting to grips with the business side of growing is as important as learning about the horticultural side.
Leanne’s activities at SAGE’s weekly farmers market are going very well. I can attest to this myself as I have now found myself, for each of the last two weeks, standing in a queue to buy produce from the stall that she runs with Georgie (who was the SAGE intern before Leanne). She said, somewhat modestly I thought, that the queues were because she was the only stall holder with beans. That may be so, but I doubt that’s the only reason for the queue. I think the eggplant may have had something to do with it. She concedes that success as a stall holder at the market comes as people get to know you.
She’s also getting to grips with the challenge of pricing. Setting the right price is not always about being cheap. It’s about comparing your prices with other stall holders and recognising the quality of what you have. Engaging with customers is important so that you get direct feedback about what’s good, what’s working and what the customer’s looking for. This is all plain good business sense but it’s not clear that every business knows it. It’s good to know that Leanne and Georgie know it and I hope that the SAGE program is in some way responsible for that.
The final planting is now done. There are lettuce, beetroot and kale. If you have been reading these musings about Leanne’s work, then you will know that I have been following the progress of her cauliflowers. A few weeks ago she was worried about the cabbage moths that were feasting on the leaves of the young cauliflowers. Then she had to deal with a period of very hot weather. They seem to have survived and they’re looking pretty good. I am looking forward to them.
A couple of years ago The G and I went to India on a gastronomic tour. During this tour, we went to a cookery class and I came away with a recipe for Aloo Gobi. Aloo is the Hindi for potato and gobi Hindi for cauliflower. This is one of the dishes that I shall make with Leanne’s cauliflowers.
Feeds many people so vary the proportions if necessary
- 5 good sized potatoes
- A cauliflower (about the same volume as the potatoes)
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 5cm cube of ginger, grated
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
- A dried chilli or two, finely chopped up
- A knob of butter (or some ghee)
- Ground black pepper
- Fresh, chopped coriander to garnish
Heat the oven to about 180°C
Part 1: Prepare the vegetables
- Chop up the potatoes into 2.5 cm cubes
- Cut the cauliflower into florets that are about the same size as the potato cubes
- Find a plastic bag and chuck in the spuds and cauli. Pour in 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon or so of cumin seeds. Shake the bag about to coat the vegetables in the oil and cumin seeds
- Pour the vegetables into a baking tray and put them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are just softening up
Part 2: While the vegetables are busy baking
- Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the ground cumin, ground coriander, black mustard seeds, the chillis, some ground black pepper, and a good pinch of salt.
- Stir this around for about 2 – 3 minutes and then add the chopped onion, garlic and grated ginger
- Add a good knob of butter (or ghee) and then cook the mixture gently on a low heat in a pan with a lid: you want the onion to be soft.
Part 3: Mix it all up
- Once you are happy with the onions and spices chuck the vegetables into the mix and stir it all about. Add about ½ a cup of water and simmer for about 10 minutes or until you’re happy that the vegetables are cooked
- Add salt to taste.
Part 4: Eat it
- Serve in a big dish garnished with fresh coriander.
- It tastes even better if you cook it the day before and then re-heat it gently in the oven or microwave.