It’s the first year the Forrests have had a go at growing Brussels sprouts. ‘We’re coming into the season of abundance’, Sue tells me at their stall, where there’s every sign of it: great bunches of green onions and fat fennel, beets and sweet potatoes and radishes, plump parsnips and baby carrots and sleek leeks – and of course the brassicas. Of which Brussels sprouts are a member, the miniature tightly furled cabbages beloved by the British but not until recently making their presence felt on fashionable restaurant menus. At Trouble San in Brunswick Heads they come tempura-ed and piled high with kimchi and spicy mayo, the burst of sprout juiciness as you bite into the crisp batter a gorgeous contrast to the spicy sour tang of the fermented cabbage. The Eltham pub offers them in a creamy miso dressing with the nutty umami crunch of the Japanese seasoning furikake, another blast of fabulous flavourings to elevate the Brussel sprout to gourmet heights.
Sue and Dave Forrest have been at the forefront of organic production in the region for decades, Dave himself an educator and mentor for later generations of farmers and growers. I ask him for tips on preparing soil for planting at this time of year. He says the important thing is to add organic matter – ‘preferably well-finished compost’, before sharing his recipe: 200 grams of lime (which neutralises soil acidity and raises soil pH), 50 grams of rock phosphate per square meter, and 3 litres of compost. He recommends putting in green manure such as lupin as well, a carbon crop to improve the soil. Dave’s enthusiasm for growing things is almost palpable, his grin wide and his skin gleaming. ‘Enjoying the garden’, says this shining example, ‘is the path to good health!’
Forrest Organics are at New Brighton every Tuesday from 8 – 11am and Mullumbimby every Friday from 7 – 11am