A few months ago we officially moved back to Daylesford. We were happy in Fairfield but it wasn't big enough - we were sharing a space and whilst I personally loved the female company that popped in and out now and then (Paleo Pure/Bod chickie babes), it wasn't OUR space.
Rog and I drove the hour and a bit to Daylesford to talk to a guy about a machine. We were looking for different ideas to pound our kraut with - and he ended up driving us to an old abattoir - an abandoned one - with everyone's bricks and tiles and shit surrounding it. The tour inside was by phone torch which pushed my usual natural optimism to it's brink. It was full. Old massage tables/floatation tanks/cinema chairs/tiles/bricks/cars/augers/silos... steel to melt and sell when the price is right? That kind of full. Eddy hadn't used the glorious insides of the ab. for 'meat processing' for a good 15 years or more. Inside the guts of it - if he'd wanted to he could have bopped us on the head and no-one would have ever, ever found us ...
But Eddy is a big cuddly bear. Everyone in Daylesford like him. And within a week of our first hand shake deal he'd redone the driveway and we were moving in.
Still now, months after moving in - from the outside you would never guess that we are in there. Enter through our fridge (agh! ) and through the dark and out into the sudden smells of kimchi and sounds of loud music, you'll see that we are all set up. Old abattoirs are easy that way. Fairfield was an old abattoir. They are good for fermenters because they keep the temperature pretty constant.
The real pull wasn't only the space. It was that "The Aby" sits on 100 acres (I see cabbages...) and has a looong old piggery (I see green house). There is enough room for 10 Fermentary's and we saw 'Food Hub'. We saw a future.
And we are pretty much joined to Mt Franklin Spring water (happy water kefir). And we need beautiful water. We've tried other water before - potable spring water, (not bad, but unpredictable) rain water (best but the food authorities aren't too keen on it....we could filter it...maybe one day). This is amazing water. It's the very kind that gets bottled to be shipped and served on airlines as ancient, country fresh, breath of fresh air water.
There are no windows which I hate. None of those saw tooth ceilings with the lovely windows that many other Melbourne factories have. No wooden beams. It's all refrigerator panels and that's actually what we need. Windows will have to come later- we don't have a budget for pretty. Handsome is there though - if you're into fermenting vessels and jars and large spoons and sieves and the blokes that run the place ;) .
SO. We've put in a beehive (the first of 9 - I want 9) and we've hammered in an old fermenting vat as a letter box - (which Australia Post continue to ignore even though we have our number and name plain to see..)WE plan to stay.
One day the surrounding 100 acres will hopefully be covered in cabbages of all styles and the old piggery full of ginger.... but we are up to our elbows filling orders for now. If you are farmers who'd like to rent land with a customer right there guaranteed to buy your produce - get in touch. x
The inside is perfect though and we've held quite a few workshops and hosted a couple of TV crews in there - Andy and Ben Eat Australia (airing in March on SBS Food Channel), and soon 'Intolerant Cooks', channel 10. Of course we shot quite a bit of the book there, and now we have regular school groups, most recenlty BA of Gastronomy students from William Angliss, Wesley's Clunes campus kids, various groups of chefs on their day off and a few 'stages'. Get in touch if you'd like to have a tour/have something you'd like to learn/work for free for us for a while ;) xx
There is life in The Abby and it's good. x