I was at a market with Hugh; I bought some vegetables and some olive oil from a bloke and we exchanged a few remarks.... he was busy but I told him I was taking the oil back to Tasmania.... I gave his wife my business card and then we moved on..... Next day, an email invited us to visit Patlin Gardens and a friendship was begun.
Pat and Lina grow vegetables organically, but uncertified, between rows of olive trees at Angle Vale. Pat understands health, of himself and of his soil and plants. He said he used to use chemicals when he lived somewhere else and they made him sick so for many years now he has kept away from them and vitality oozes from his skin. There is passion in his voice. He has a lovely smile and a quick wit.
We spend hours wandering his 20 acres, chatting, understanding each other and I learn so, so much from him.... I learn a lot about olives.... varieties, growing them, eating some of them fresh from the tree.... and about the olive oil making process. I learn about zucchinis, of all things, and which to grow for the flowers and which to grow for the flesh....I learn about growing garlic for year round flavour.... I learn about sowing for a continuous supply. I learn an awful lot about growing for a weekly market, where it is no good having vegetables ripen mid-week and I grow to admire this man and his strength to do all this because he wants people to be healthy.
He cuts open a yellow beetroot and tells us about the way he talks to people at the market to try to get them to try new things and get them to feel the goodness in his vegetables and to understand about eating good food. I ask millions of questions but every time he shows me an unusual vegetable he looks at me quizzically..... and every time I know what the vegetable is, even if it is in its infancy, and I think he is surprised and we share some mutual admiration.
In the front yard are other fruit trees, all with understories of herbs and salad greens. This is how we should all be growing our food; maximising space, using herbs as pest control, as well as planting as diversely as possible.
They let the oregano flower then pick it and dry it, tying into bunches for the market. There are boxes of the bunches in the shed, along with boxes of their first garlic harvest, and the smell is intoxicating.
Inside the house, Lina has been preparing orders for her chilli sauce and olive tapenade. We are invited to sit down and share some olives and beer and it is a wonderful thing.... anyone who can get me to like beer must have magic in their veins!
I cannot explain well enough how privileged Hugh and I felt at the generosity these market gardeners offered to complete strangers. I am bringing back 20 litres of Pat's olive oil and plan on dealing with Pat and Lina from now on, with The Garden Shed and Pantry olive oil supplies and, hopefully, their pickled olives too, if Tasmanian quarantine allows. They hope to visit Tasmania and I have asked them to stay anytime.
If you are at the Showgrounds Farmers' Market, do say hello to Pat and Lina at their Patlin Gardens stall and do mention you are a friend of mine. You can safely eat everything they grow and know it is grown with a passion for health, between rows of olive trees, just to the north of Adelaide. Their business card says.... there are seasons for a reason.... and on the back, there are reasons for the seasons....you won't find out of season produce or food grown using plastic at this market stall.