The old rhubarb patch 2.2011 When we first arrived here at Near River, I was very keen to get some of the perennial vegetables planted as they can keep producing for many years. One of the best pieces of advice that we've been given is that for this enterprise to work you really need to grow what you love. Excellent – asparagus and rhubarb are two of my favourites, and while they can take some time to start producing, once they are settled, with the right care they'll keep giving for years. You can read about our asparagus escapades here and here, and see an earlier rhubarb story here.

We have a small range of preserves that we sell at markets, through a few key retailers in the Hastings and in Sydney, and at our online farmgate stall. Initially the idea was that we'd use excess production to provide the material for the preserve range, and that has more or less been the situation, until one of the preserves starts to sell quicker than you can grow it.

Such is the case of our delicious Rhubarb Lime + Ginger Compote.

Back in 2008, having created the first growing bed and planting a border row of lemongrass for protection, we planted our first rhubarb plants. Grown from seed in our polyhouse, it was pretty exciting nine months later to start 'pinching' some stems and using them in the kitchen for breakfasts and desserts. Not long after this, our good friend John Shelley from Red Hill at Telegraph Point offered us some excellent deep red rhubarb crowns – wild horses couldn't have kept me back. From memory, John gave us about 60 crowns, and for the last couple of years they've been providing us and our CSA customers with wonderful red rhubarb.

In the spring of 2010, we launched our Rhubarb Lime + Ginger Compote, which has gone extremely well, quickly gaining popularity here in the Hastings Valley, and farther afield thanks to our extensive network of agents (read family) and the joys of online marketing.

New rhubarb bed - row 3 + 4 planted 2.2011 And then a happy dilemma – we need more plants, but we can't damage the production of our existing crop. Rhubarb is a plant that can be propogated very easily by division, indeed it's perfect for this form of reproduction as you end with identical 'offspring' from the parent plant, also ideal in our case of highly sort after red stem rhubarb. So to minimise the impact we chose to move and divide the existing crop in two sections.

The first 25 plants have been moved to the new, improved bed, giving us 125 plants – don't you like that math – and the remaining 50 plants were harvested last week, and will be moved over the coming few weeks. All up we should finish up with over 300 plants in the new bed, and that will keep us in rhubarb for a few years to come.

Rhubarb trimmed 3.3.11
So with the red stems trimmed and washed, I headed into town and our chefs, Eric Robinson and Geoff at The Other Chef Fine Foods who produce all our preserves, and witnessed our fresh rhubarb, just harvested that morning, being processed, cooked and bottled. The following images say it all. Later this year, when the citrus trees reach the right age, we'll be using our limes and ginger too.

Rhubarb prep + cook 3 Rhubarb prep + cook 4
Rhubarb prep + cook 2 Rhubarb comp. Prod pg image 220px

Add the rhubarb to the pot …mix well …simmer at 90 deg for 10 mins …and presto!

Keen to try some of this for yourself? A couple of local cafes have it on their menu – Bent on Food in Wingham and Beetroot'd in Kendall – and the following stores have it on their shelves – in Port Macquarie head to Essential Ingredients, About Food, or The Visitor Info Centre at The Glasshouse, and in Coffs Harbour Essential Ingredients have it there too. Otherwise order it online at the Near River Farm Gate or come and see us this Saturday and every second Saturday of the month at the Port Macquarie Farmers Markets in WestPort; every fourth Saturday at the Wauchope Farmers Markets at the Showground; and each third Sunday at the Laurieton Riverside Walk Markets.

Stuck for how to use it? I love it with museli or stirred through yoghurt for breakfast, dolloped on banana bread with cream, or chocolate cake with mascapone, or best of all, simply partnered with ice cream. We've heard of customers using it with pork and duck dishes too!

  1. Hey Laura.
    Glad you like the post and thanks for the links.
    And you are so right about the labelling laws. On the small scale , I’m so glad the we are in a position to grow food ourselves and share it with other like-minded people.

  2. You’ve got to get the labeling laws in place. And if you let them get off by not labeling ingredients like they do in the US you will NEVER know what you are buying! They keep it off our labels because they know Americans won’t buy FrankenFoods. Keep up the good work! I’m putting links to you all over my site.
    I mentioned Prince Charles on my garden blog too. I got a comment from a GM shill telling me how jealous Australian farmers are of the US. Such lies they tell!

  3. Hmmm… thanks Darren for commenting.
    Given that Princes and other heads of state are usually masters of diplomacy, for me his comments went as far as he could go without actually naming Monsanto – “Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of “gigantic corporations” taking over the mass production of food.”
    Maybe we need to send him a copy of the just released DVD “The World According To Monsanto” which will lift the profile of the impact GM foods have in the US. Bring it on, I say.

  4. The point Charles missed is that GM is for Monsanto to take ownership of everything.

    • The claim should be easy egounh to confirm as either or both companies should need to disclose all ownership interests in any and all filings with the SEC, among other governmental agencies. Personally, I’ve been creeped out by the vampiric energy of Whole Foods since the original sale from the original founders and have definitely stopped shopping at Whole Foods after they bought Wild Oats and the debacle that reflected the degraded ethics of Whole Foods in that shift. But, Whole Foods serve a market for those who are not quite yet as sensitive to the wholistic connection of money, food, energy every place has its place in the transition to a higher vibration. Whole Foods is not my choice for me, but it definitely helps many people find their way to a different way of thinking about food and their bodies.

Near River Produce - Real food direct from our farm located on the NSW Mid North Coast