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A taste of summer - morning at the Berry Farm

It's berry and cherry season at last!

I called in at a berry farm the other day.  True, you can probably buy raspberries for the same or less in the supermarket, but there were several reasons for getting them at the source.
For a start, you can be sure of getting fresh fruit – you can see people picking it, and it’s nice to know where it came from.  There were also some of the more unusual berries such as gooseberries, red currants and Kentish Cherries which you don’t often see in the shops. The gooseberry fool* I made  afterwards reminded me of  summers past when most families had a backyard, a Hill’s hoist and a berry patch with at least one or two prickly gooseberry bushes. * see instructions at the end of this post, also about the origin of the word.

Looking South East
Wolfe's Berry Farm lies in a lush valley beneath Mount Wellington and has been operated by the same family for over a hundred years. That may not mean much by European or Mediterranean standards, but in Australia and in these times of rapid change, the quick buck and globalisation, when our food often comes from the far corners of the globe, it is somehow reassuring. Local produce means fewer fuel miles too.

Some of the traditional architecture on this historic farm

I loved the buildings almost as much as the berries. You can see the passage of time in these buildings – humble beginnings, good times and bad, and how traditionally farmers will never let a good building go to waste. Former dwellings become pickers’ huts, machinery sheds or storage for hay or for produce or all those things that might come in handy one day, when the power’s out, the chainsaw breaks down or you can’t get a plumber for love or money. These buildings hark back to days of self -sufficiency, practicality and frugality, with just a slight nod to beautification. The landscape is beautiful enough, at least on this sunny day and adds to the sweetness of the berries. I also enjoyed chatting to the owner about the season and the history of the place. I know some people prefer the anonymity of the supermarket and probably the quick self -checkout, but I‘m not one of those.  

You can't have too many sheds
Family farmhouse from yesteryear
Possibly the one before

...and even the one before that. At least they have character as my son would say, although there are several modern buildings on the premises too.

 Wolfe’s hardly advertises. It’s closer to Kingston and can be reached more easily via Lesley Vale Road, but there are many other places around the state where you can taste Tasmanian lusciousness. No guarantees here. I have been to both Kate’s Berry Farm and Hillwood and found them closed, despite signs on the road, so it may be best to check the website first. Some, like Kates or Turner’s Beach Berry Patch have caf├ęs attached. Others, such as Coal River Farm allow you to pick your own and many pride themselves on being organic.  Here are some of the more established ones, though you may well find others along the road. That's half the fun. Enjoy!

Near Hobart

Wolfe’s Berry Farm
           - Neika, off Leslie Vale Road, near Kingston 
-just before Mt. Field – one of the largest, all kinds of berries
            -East of Hobart, also has peaches and apples
-near Richmond, mostly strawberries
             -Cambridge, near Richmond, also sells chocolate, cheeses, other produce and has a cafe

East Coast



            -East Tamar, also has blueberries
            -Underwood near Lilydale– Mostly cherries,
Cherry Top Accommodation - Cherry Top & Eagle Park
             -Near Lilydale, mostly blueberries, some other produce and a host farm

North Central 
            -near Ulverstone, has both picked and uPick, also a restaurant

                  -(Formerly Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm), near Elizabeth Town. Has a cafe
      This is a big fruit growing region, so no doubt there are plenty of others around Sheffield, Wynyard and Spreyton too, but I haven't been up that way for a while, at least not in berry season

            -at Lonnavale

For more, directions, recipes and the like click here 

*A fool can be made with any tart fruit layered with cream, custard etc. Tougher fruit such as gooseberries should be softened in a saucepan over medium heat with a little hot water first.  Read more...
As to the origin of the name "Fool"  Elizabeth Rahe's explanation  that "fouler" is the French word for crush, seems plausible. Read more...