It was a cold and wet wintery day when we visited Emita on the western side of Flinders Island. Our main purpose for the visit was to take a walk along the coast to the impressive Castle Rock. We set-off along the beach but then the heavens opened forcing us into a quick retreat. The second purpose of the trip was a story for Think Tasmania. I had chosen not to dress like an ABC rural reporter but more like a refined gentleman that you would expect to see in the society segment of Tasmanian Life.

Garlic - Flinders Island Fields
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Fields of organic garlic growing at Brymworth Farm, Flinders Island Tasmania

In Search of Organic Tasmanian Garlic

by Roger Findlay

Brymworth Farm. How do we find that? After a brief phone call to Sophie, we had directions from our current location. I’m always amazed when on a long road with houses few and far between, the numbers are so high. Number 87654321 we’re looking for in a ‘burb called Lughrata. Oh how a New Yorker would smile!


 

Whenever a dog chooses to greet us on arrival, I send the wife out of the car to knock on the door. This was no exception. Sophie heard the barking and met us half-way. She was dressed like a typical garlic grower and you could smell the fragrant aroma of the Rojo that had stained her fingers during the chopping process.

Sophie Pitchford: Kids and Brymworth Farm

Having never met Sophie before, I made her feel at home in her own home. In no time, she had the kettle boiling for a cup of tea from a real tea pot. Jeanette couldn’t stop admiring Sophie’s kitchen in the true farm-house style brought into the 21st century with all the mod-cons that only Harvey Norman has.

Garlic - Sophie, Brymworth Farm
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Sophie Pitchford loves her life on Brymworth Farm, working alongside husband Mark

It was clear to see that Sophie was a loving mother to three children that didn’t mind getting dirty out in the garden with muck striping their rosy cheeks. These were healthy kids that had developed natural immunity to most things by getting a bit mucky and maybe eating food after they’d touched worms, like we did!

Garlic - Harry, Thomas and Poppy Pitchford
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Sophie and Mark Pitchford have three adorable children: Harry, Thomas & Poppy

Mark Pitchford: Growing Garlic on Flinders Island

There wasn’t much to see on the garlic front. The paddocks had been worked up for planting and husband, Mark, was out cutting wood to keep his young family warm throughout the cool winter.

Garlic - Mark Pitchford
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Mark Pitchford hails from Flinders Island and grows organic garlic on Brymworth Farm

Mark was lucky to find Sophie. He’s an Islander whereas Sophie’s a Melbourne girl who has been educated in the finest institutions where you have to wear a posh braided blazer and dark seamless stockings. (When you next visit Melbourne, you’ll see what I mean). I’m not sure how they met originally, but Mark now has a lovely and strikingly good looking blonde as his wife.

Garlic - Sophie Pitchford
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Sophie Pitchford moved from Melbourne to marry Mark, a local from Flinders Island

Today, the first day of December, the garlic’s nearly picked with just a few rows to go. The only distraction from this labour intensive activity has been some rewarding fishing for flathead and the sighting of a spectacular performance by humpback whales in Marshall Bay.

Garlic - Whale Watching, Flinders Island
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Another bonus of living on Flinders Island… whale watching!

Superior Garlic: Flinders Island Purple and Spanish Rojo

Flinders Island Purple is the first to mature. It’s white with purple stripes and originated in the Soviet Union. The large cloves have a strong flavour and it’s a good keeper. The second variety of garlic matures a bit later. It’s called Spanish Rojo and is white with a nutty flavour and good storage properties.

Garlic - Bulbs
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Sophie and Mark Pitchford grow a superior quality of garlic in Tasmania

Both of these varieties are far superior to the cheap Chinese rubbish that you find in the supermarkets. That’s tasteless, has poor keeping qualities and has had its skin bleached by methyl bromide fumigation prior to entry into Australia. Some people claim that it’s been fertilised using effluent of the human kind!

Garlic - Fresh Tasmanian Produce
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Brymworth Farm has a growing reputation for supplying first class garlic to the Tasmanian market

Eating garlic is an accepted practice in this multi-cultural society. Not so many years ago you would be sitting alone if you had a hint of garlic on your lunch. We grow a bit of garlic here in Gerogery West and use it in most dishes. We need more and that’s why we’re placing an order with Sophie. The samples she gave us were the best and kept much longer than any we’ve had before.


 

Keep an eye out on the Brymworth Farm Garlic website for the latest release and the mail-order service. There’s even a de-hydrated product in jars for the occasional user or for out of season use. You can also follow Brymworth Farm Garlic on Facebook.

Garlic - Cloves
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Cloves of fresh, organic garlic can be sourced online via Brymworth Farm’s website

From Brymworth Farm to Castle Rock

It was late afternoon when we left Sophie. She had three grubby children to bath and the one dressed like an angel was being far from that!

Garlic - Poppy, Harry and Thomas Pitchford
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Three little cherubs, growing up on a garlic farm on Flinders Island, Tasmania

With much protest and anxiety from my co-driver, I headed down a narrow track to Castle Rock. To keep the car balanced on a precariously slippery giant slab of granite my daring partner continued to read the Examiner while I took the short walk to the rock. I was gone a while but I couldn’t miss this opportunity in giving NikCon a run.

Garlic - Castle Rock
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Castle Rock, near Emita on the western side of Flinders Island, Tasmania

Jeanette was so close to seeing one of Flinders Island’s treasures but nothing would distract her from the recipe for Persian style slow braised wallaby shanks with copious amounts of garlic!

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the
experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of
research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.

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Map: Brymworth Farm Garlic, Flinders Island…