Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A day out with "The Veggie Lady"

Wendy and I celebrated the end of our very productive year doing jane COOKS Cooking Classes with a day out together, a visit to “The Veggie Lady”.
Toni Salter is “The Veggie Lady” , we met Toni when she was exhibiting at The Organic Expo back in August 2010. She runs a business teaching others how to establish a vegetable garden, chooks, fruit trees, compost etc. etc.

"Toni Salter is The Veggie Lady. She has a passion to see organic principles adopted by everyone, encouraging people everywhere to grow organic produce in their own backyard.
As a qualified horticulturist, Toni has been teaching community education classes both privately, at her home, as well as through various community colleges and local councils around Sydney since 2003. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture (MAIH).
She has also featured as a talk-back guest on ABC Radio helping gardeners solve their gardening problems organically. To help as many people as she can, The Veggie Lady has developed on-line information, resources and iphone apps to help the general public to grow their own at www.theveggieclub.com
She is a regular contributor to Miranda Kerr’s blog – http://www.koraorganics.com/blog/author/theveggielady/
Toni also spends her time running horticultural therapy programs, developing sensory gardens through a number of organisations including AFFORD (Australian Foundation For Disability).

It was so nice to meet Toni at the expo, it seemed we had a lot in common!
She runs a business using her profession, talents and passion for gardening.
She is passionate about organics and growing your own food. She has a good friend Suzanne, who assists her in her classes. She has a supportive husband who takes care of the techno side of things with her. She is a mum and she loves to help people and teach others!
I was keen to take a drive out to Currans Hill, just near Camden, an hour and a half's drive from the Northern Beaches, to attend one of Toni's “Backyard Veggies” Classes.
Wendy and I really enjoyed the class and came away very inspired, as Toni had shown us hands on in her own garden, how it CAN be done.

Now it is important for you to realise, Toni does not live on five acres in a fertile farming area, but rather on an average suburban block, in a local suburb, with clay soil and limited space!

The photos tell the story and hopefully will inspire you, to attend one of “The Veggie Lady” Classes and have a go at growing something organic of your own.
The class ran from 10am until 3pm, we enjoyed a lovely morning tea on arrival.
"Scones with Banana & Rhubarb Jam"

Classes are for approx twelve guests, everyone receives an info pack of notes on the days teaching.

The classes are very interactive and Toni is very accommodating of questions and allowing the guests / fellow gardeners to share their stories.

After some great information on why you should grow your own, common mistakes we make, the where, how and what to plant, crop rotation, garden & soil maintenance, watering & feeding, we then went for a wander around Toni’s amazing garden with her, to see for ourselves.

We then sat down to enjoy a lovely lunch, much of the food sourced from Toni’s garden.

Some lovely organic Bread from Common Ground Bakery and we were spoilt with some of Toni’s homemade herb feta spread!
"Lakelands flavoured crush olive oils (Biodynamic)
Woodfired sourdough bread and herbed feta spread"

Followed by
"Cheese & Spinach triangles
Pan fried Chorizo sausage
Moroccan Burghul Salad
Beetroot & Yoghurt dip
And my favourite the Garden Salad"

and then to finish
"Individual Blueberry & Lemon Myrtle Cheesecakes"

Now as I tried to continue to focus, with a full belly and the warmth of the afternoon sun on my back, Toni continued with more information about sowing seed,

before we made our second visit into the garden, to meet the chooks and chat about chickens and eggs and growing fruit trees.

Toni currently has five chickens, all different breeds, lovingly named:
Milly - the black one, (who is an “Australorp”)

Molly - the dark brown one, (who is a “Rhode Island Red”)

Mandy (aka Flighty Whitey) – the white one (who is a “White Leghorn”)

Charlie – the mottled brown & white one, (who is an “Isa Brown”)
"Ranga" – the strawberry blonde one - (who is a “White Leghorn x New Hampshire”)

They range freely in a fenced off area of the yard, amongst the pear & apple trees.

Two more treats remained for us at Toni's class, a taste of Toni's home grown white strawberries, which were unlike the red strawberries in flavour and texture, actually tasted very creamy!

and we all got to take home our own new seedling plant from Peppercorn Creek Farm, producers of a wide variety of fine herbs and a broad range of gourmet heirloom vegetables.

Inspired, motivated and a little overwhelmed at all that is possible in my own garden, I'll enjoy my Christmas break and then get stuck into it....and I'll keep you updated on my progress!

The Veggie Lady
ph: (02)4648 2174 m: 0411 579 778

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