After a short drive from the Monforte Dairy, we were greeted with a lovely house, garden, barn, and fertile soil spanning 80 acres. This was Soiled Reputation Farm, owned and operated by Antony John, formerly of Food Network’s “The Manic Organic”, along with his wife Tina. The farm (along with its greenhouses) are certified organic, although only half of the 40 acres are actually certified at the moment (they are working towards making the rest of the 40 acres certified organic). Here at Soiled Reputation, you can find gourmet greens and heirloom vegetables, picked at the peak of their ripeness and shipped off to restaurants, markets and homes.
As we stepped out of our cars, we were all instantly drawn to Antony and Tina’s free-range chickens, who were out and about, basking in the early summer sun. Tina was nice enough to bring us inside the barn to see the adorable chicks as well. Eggs from “the girls” are sold on the farm, and are some of the most beautiful eggs I’ve ever seen and tasted (more on that later this week!).
But this trip to Stratford wasn’t just a day of eating good food. This was an education on where our food comes from. So many of us are so disillusioned with where and how our food arrive to our table that we don’t appreciate the time, effort and consideration that is put into our food by these farmers and producers.
Soiled Reputation’s soil is made up of a mix of clay and sand, and as Antony tells us, “Different soils will grow different things. It’s just like wine….If this were a wine region, it would be Bordeaux.” The mix of clay and sand is a great combination for growing vegetation—the sand allows the water to seep down to the roots while the clay retains the water to keep the soil moist, making this great soil on which to grow vegetation. As Antony explained to us, Soiled Reputation feeds about 150,000 people per year (from merely 20 acres of food!), “so the myth that there’s not enough land on earth to feed people organically is a big fat lie.”
As Antony took us around his farm, we found out that he is also an avid bird-watcher. One can find over a hundred different species that stop by the farm throughout the year. “You’re using resources also used by other organisms, and for me, to have as many different bird species as we can is a sign of the integrity and health of that system,” he explains.
We stopped briefly to forage some parsley for lunch. Vibrant green and warmed from the sun, this is parsley unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Super clean and grassy with sweet floral notes, it leaves a wonderful lingering aftertaste in your mouth. We then went to check on our lunch, wild boar roasting over an open-pit fire, as well as the resident donkey, Jesus (pronounced “hay-zus”).
Soiled Reputation grows a variety of vegetables, from salad mixes to herbs to onions, peppers, pea shoots, radishes, and much more. Locals can have a basket of fresh-picked goodies delivered to their tours. While we’re not so lucky, visitors can always pop by their stocked, self-serve fridge, which is apparently open 24 hours. Take what you need and leave the cash behind.
As we headed back to our cars, Danielle brought as a tray of freshly baked Rundles croissants, straight from the farmer’s market. We were told that these croissants always sell out very early, so we were in for a treat. Soft, flaky and buttery, it was the perfect mid-morning snack before we headed off to visit some pigs!
Tomorrow’s post: This little piggy went to the market. This little piggy stayed home. And this little piggy went all the way to Stratford…to see more piggies! Our visit with Farmer Fred de Martines at Perth Pork Products.
4129 Road 130