Meet Our Makers.

Our workshops support and recognise a handful of Makers, but there are so many more amazing people doing amazing things in our local area. So, each week I will introduce you to one Maker and hope that this little introduction will be the beginning of new connections and relationships. 

The Makers I will be introducing to you live within the Central Highlands and are creating handmade, ethical, bespoke, conscious produce and pieces. 

Meet our Makers.

Tash xx

 

Tania Verdez - Imagine Lovely

>>>> Tell us a little about yourself and where you call home…..

 

I'm originally from New Zealand, far North Island, a little teeny tiny beach in the middle of nowhere but now I live with my fabulous husband and three hilarious children in a teeny little hamlet called Coomoora on the edge of beautiful Daylesford and very far from the sea. I miss new Zealand, but I do love it here. We live in a strawbale house that we designed and built. It's the first real home I've ever had. I love gardening. I love having a vista. I love the community here. Its quite magical really. Picturesque and rather idyllic.



>>>> What do you make and how did you first become a maker?  

 

I make ceramics (mostly). 

 

Sounds a tad cliche but I guess I've always been creative. I've certainly always been a bit 'weird'. I had a very 'challenging' childhood and I think to survive it, I developed and relied upon my creativity. Not sure what would have happened to me if I wasn't creative! The art room music room and the darkroom especially were my happy places at school. I was a bit of a misfit. I've had many, many jobs over the years. I trained as chef and worked as a bartender, a caterer, a waitress or cook all over the world. I studied photography and worked in advertising, I spent many years as a vintage furniture dealer. I found a creative space in all of those jobs, but I truly became a maker when I started training and working as a silversmith in my 20's. I had a wee shop in Melbourne and sold the jewellery that I made. Chunky statement peices with lots of crystals. When I had my first baby I had to change my medium to suit the early years of child rearing (I cant not make something) and so I started making softies & dolls and blogging about craft, I was 'Cheeky Little Monsters' in those days. When we moved to Daylesford I met an amazing group of women, and one amazing man, who were all potters and ran a not-for-profit group called Clayspace. I started taking lessons and was so totally hooked! So hooked. I've been learning and making and exploring ever since. I love making things with clay, its so tactile and earthy and and you can do anything with it. There are endless possibilities.

 

 

>>>> What do you love most about the things you make and what is the most important thing you would like to share with others?

 

I adore the process of creating with clay. It's a slow process. And a long process. I'm naturally a somewhat manic person, often chaotic, always busy, always thinking, always doing- working with clay has taught me to slow down, to wait patiently and to let go- things often don't turn out how you planned! I like things that are very obviously handmade. Things that are a bit wonky, that have imperfections and have the imprint of the maker. I make mostly one off pieces, I'm not great at replication or perfection. I treat each piece like its own individual artwork and tend to just make without a plan most of the time, just seeing what comes and allowing it to evolve.

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>>>> What is the hardest thing about what you do?

 

There are a lot of hard things actually. The field of ceramics is massive. Massive. There is so much to learn. making, decorating, the chemistry of making glazes, firing and the chemistry of firing. There's a lot of science and maths involved! There is so much trial and error and research and learning which can sometimes be overwhelming and feel too hard, alternatively though its what makes it all so exciting, I will never stop learning, there will always be new things to try and new techniques to learn!


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>>>> Is there something particularly unique about what you make or how you make it?

 

 I'm not a production potter who can make lots of items all perfectly the same- I'm much more random, everything I make is perfectly imperfect, so each is unique in its own way! I do think that every potter seals their own unique gestures within their work, sometimes its subtle and sometimes obvious, but its always there. It's not something you necessarily try to do, but it happens naturally as you work.You'll see it if you look very closely. I like a bit of whimsy, a bit of magic. So I try to make every day objects with a twist.

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>>>> What is one other thing that you would love to learn to do or make in your life?

 

Just one? There are SO many things. I've always wanted to develop my painting skills and do more sculpture which I absolutely love. I'd love to learn to weld, and I'd like to learn some more building skills and try my hand at building a tiny house or two on our property.

Tania x

(You can connect with Tania on Instagram @imaginelovely and/or see her pieces at
imaginelovely.bigcartel.com or meet her personally and see some of her pieces this Sunday the 4th of September at http://castlemaineartistsmarket.com.au )

Lachy Evans - Moto Bean

 

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Tell us a little about yourself and where you call home.....

My name is Lachy and I am a 28 year old Jazz musician turned coffee roaster. I live in Malmsbury with my amazing wife Laura and my Jack Russell Beanie. I have lived in Malmsbury for nearly 4 years now and am in love with the entire region; Victoria’s best motorcycle roads are at my doorstep, the beautiful bush tracks that run through the hills, the amazing wineries, the collection of makers and the general happy vibe of the people make it such an amazing place to live. I think I will always call Melbourne my home, having grown up, working and even going to high school in Melbourne city really gives me a strong connection.

 

What do you make and how did you first become a maker?

Since finishing high-school I have been working and studying as a professional musician, undergoing a bachelor of music (improvisation) at the VCA (which is now a part of Melbourne University). I guess that as a musician, even more so an ‘improvisor’ I have been ‘making’ and creating from a quite young age. There really is very little difference between what I have been doing for 15+ years (music) and coffee roasting, it triggers the same part of the brain that get excited when you try something new or when things don’t go as planned (in a good way). I guess I would consider myself an ‘accomplishment junkie’, someone who loves to look back at something that have created and enjoy it, along with being self-critical of how it could potentially be better next time too. 

 

What do you love most about the things you make and what is the most important thing you would like to share with others?

The thing I love most about what I do are the relationships that I continue to form with others. Coffee is such a powerful medium; it is a socially acceptable drug (caffeine), it is extremely interesting to learn more about and it has an amazing way of bringing people together; whether that be the coffee farmers we were able to host form brazil earlier this year, to the regular customers I meet on the daily.

 

What is the hardest thing about what you do?

I guess our location makes what we do very difficult. It definitely has its positives, but there is nothing more frustrating than when we are looked down upon by other professionals in the industry because we aren’t in a back alley in Collingwood. Even though we have won all the same awards and buy just as good a beans as these guys, there seems to be a snobbery associated with not being in inner melbourne...

 

Is there something particularly unique about what you make or how you make it?

I feel that there are 2 aspects to this; 

I feel that we have a very well-grounded scientific approach and reasons as to why we do anything with the coffee roasters, whether that be a small change in time, temperature, bean development or even bean storage. I can only attribute this to my great uncle, who has a food science background and was one of my coffee roasting mentors; along with his business partner owns and runs one of Australia’s largest coffee roasting businesses.

The most unique part of how we produce such an amazing product is through the great relationships I have formed with green bean buyers and other coffee professionals. These relationships like any others all involve trust, but there are people in the industry that I can trust implicitly, to the point where if I get a call from one of our green buyers and they tell me there is 10 Grand of the best coffee they have ever had, ill buy the whole lot. 

 

What is one other thing that you would love to learn to do or make in your life?

The next thing I would love to learn is how to brew craft beer, it is another topic that has always fascinated me, much for the same reasons as coffee does.

Lachlan Evans
Moto Bean - Malmsbury

Head Roaster & Wholesale Operations
0417 554 190


motobean.com.au/coffee

 

MISH AND DI - GRAZING PADDOCKS

 

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHERE YOU CALL HOME...

We like to call ourselves two beginning farmers with a passion to make a difference.  Both Di and I are both accountants and we made the plunge to move to country Victoria in January 2015 to establish our own farm, become self-sufficient and be part of the fair food movement.  We own a 54 acre farm in Spring Hill, Victoria.  Many people haven’t heard of Spring Hill, we hadn’t until we drove through on our way to Glenlyon one day and thought, wow what a beautiful spot.  The location can best be described as the centre of the triangle marked by Woodend, Kyneton and Daylesford.

Our philosophy is for our farm and artisanal pastured produce to be hand crafted, free from GM, free from chemical fertilisers and free from pesticides.  We aim to improve our landscape as naturally as possible, reducing the need and reliance on outside inputs.  We believe strongly in supporting fair food, our local communities and for alternate methods over pesticides and antibiotics. We are also strongly and passionately focused on supporting and saving our heritage breeds.

We have hand reared heritage breed chickens that produce beautiful multi-coloured eggs that are now available for sale and we run 14 head of Dexter cattle.  We are also establishing a small vegetable garden and heritage orchard.  We plan to utilise soil biology alongside our cattle and chickens to regenerate our soils and pastures and practice cell grazing when there is sufficient grasses.  We then plan to continue running the chickens behind the cattle to break up their manure. We regularly walk our paddocks and remove weeds by hand instead of spraying.  

WHAT DO YOU MAKE AND HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME A MAKER?

Our journey into farming was a progressive one.  For at least 15 years we had been discussing, thinking, visioning a lifestyle change and a move to the country, so once we moved to the farm, things happened pretty quickly.  Within nine months, I had kicked off a chicken incubation program and our Dexter cattle arrived and within 12 months, I gave up full time work to be on farm.

We currently have 28 heritage breed chickens as our laying flock producing a vast array of colourful eggs.  Our hens are all raised on pasture, free to roam and are protected from predation by electric poultry nets powered by solar panels and back up marine batteries.  They live in custom built chicken tractors based on the Harvey Ussery design. Our breeds include Sussex, Wyandotte, Australorp, Silver Grey Dorking, Speckled Brahma, Araucana, Maran and Barnevelder.  In Spring 2016, we will be incubating Scots Grey and Andelusian along with some more of our farm favourites.    

Our chickens are fed supplementary certified organic feed and we maintain a steady regime of apple and garlic cider vinegar in their water and yoghurt for gut health.  This keeps them looking their best and helps prevent illnesses and parasites.  I only put out enough feed each day to ensure it is not damaged by the weather.  

We are also growing out Dexter steers and have commenced a breeding program with our heifers.  We plan to have grass fed Dexter beef available in very limited quantities in the near future.  Dexters are not a traditional choice of breed for farmers due to their slower growing nature, but they are naturally small, compact and are a great dual purpose breed (meat and milk).  Their meat is lean, of excellent quality and flavour with good marbling.  They are also gentler on the landscape due to their smaller size.

In the future, we plan on breeding and selling small numbers of heritage breed chickens and once our orchard and gardens are producing we’ll offer artisanal products sourced directly from them.  We will also explore whether to sell Dexter steers and heifers to people on small holdings as we will have our cows in calf each year. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE THINGS YOU MAKE AND WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS? 

There are so many things I could write about what we love the most about what we make!

Being small scale and artisanal, our hands on approach is something we really love.  It may not be the quickest or most efficient, but it means we are directly connected to the animals and our land.  We spend a lot of time with all of our chickens and cattle on a daily basis and understand each of their personalities.  We talk to them and have been known to sing to them.  I know which egg comes from which hen.  We love that our eggs are all unique, heritage breed, multi-coloured, mixed sizes and the hens organically fed – we cannot think of another producer in Australia doing that (please say hi if you’re out there!).  Each of our chickens we have raised ourselves through incubation and we have nurtured them from day 1 through to laying.  

We have learnt so many lessons in the last year and a half and unfortunately can’t distil down to just one thing.  So we’ll share some of our higher ranked items in no particular order. 

  1. If you have animals, spend time with them, observe and understand them.  This will help you become more quickly aware when things aren’t quite right and you can act on it promptly.
  2. Strangely enough, farming isn’t all like pages of the Country Style Magazine.  You will be stretched to limits you didn’t know about or think that was possible, but, it can provide you with a sense of satisfaction and reward like no other. We’re still waiting to have time to sit under that tree with a book on a Sunday afternoon!
  3. Be informed and if possible, have a mentor.
  4. Don’t be afraid to share your highs and your lows.  Sometimes when you are in the depths of a low you can think you’re the only one it has happened to.  It’s highly likely you’re not and by sharing it can really help you become stronger.
  5. Be involved in your community.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? 

Farming has definitely provided us with daily challenges that we could never have dreamed of.  But on the flip side, it has been so tremendously rewarding and enjoyable.  We both feel a sense of aliveness that we never really felt living in the city.

Incubating and hand raising our heritage chickens does have a downside that others wouldn’t necessarily experience by purchasing pullets or sexed chicks.  And that is, what to do with the roosters.  Atleast 50% of the hatch can be male, sometimes greater.  As we were originally interested in heritage chickens for meat, we grow out all of our roosters and dispatch when they are about 7-9 months old.  The dispatching (slaughtering) is by far the hardest thing I have to do on farm.  Nothing else makes me feel sad for so many days afterwards and Di feels sad that I am sad.  And even though we know the rooster has had a great life right up until that last day, it is still difficult to try and disassociate when we are cooking considering we gave the rooster life and we ultimately took his life.

IS THERE SOMETHING PARTICULARLY UNIQUE ABOUT WHAT YOU MAKE OR HOW YOU MAKE IT?

I believe our focus on heritage breeds is what makes us unique. Our chickens and cattle are heritage breeds, our trees in our orchard are heritage varieties and we grow heirloom vegetables.  

Whilst this provides a unique experience for our customers it also presents us with new challenges since the output may not be as high as hybrids.  For example, some of our hens lay an egg once every two days (hybrids can be daily), our cattle need to be atleast 24-30 months before slaughtering whereas an Angus can be slaughtered at 18 months.  Our chickens can also go broody and stop laying.  But dealing with these differences also provides us with positive learning outcomes.

WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO LEARN TO DO OR MAKE IN LIFE?

Every day on farm provides a new learning experience however we would both love to learn about beekeeping and host several hives on our farm.  Bees are so important in the environment but unfortunately so undervalued by the general population.

We’re also really excited later in the year to be learning more about soil biology and the impacts this can have on our pastures.  We’ll be commencing a program applying biology to approximately 30 acres and will study pasture growth rates, compaction and nutrient levels.

Thanks so much for reading a little bit more about us.

You can connect with Mish & Di on Instagram Grazing_Paddocks and their website www.grazingpaddocks.com.au


 

ALEX - HAND TO GROUND

 

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHERE YOU CALL HOME...

Emily and myself and our two young boys are raising a regenerative farm nestled in the rolling hills of Baynton, just North of Kyneton and Lancefield. We currently run two pastured chicken flocks for eggs. We also raise pastured chickens for meat in the Spring and Autumn and manage several bee hives for improved pollinating and raw honey production. I am passionate about producing wholesome and nutritious food, that serves and enriches our local community and environment, while upholding holistic, ethical and regenerative principles. 

WHAT DO YOU MAKE AND HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME A MAKER?

I manage just over 500 laying hens split over two flocks that range over 30 acres throughout the year in their mobile chicken coups, gaining all the benefits of free ranging outdoors on fresh pasture while improving the soil and the grasslands as they go. The result is a delicious, nourishing and well structured egg. 
In addition, we grow 100-1200 chickens for meat in the Spring and Autumn in mobile enclosures, that insure they receive adequate space, fresh air and sunlight, and fresh green forage from the pasture they are raised on. We have received very favourable feedback from the quality of meat that is produced by growing chicken in this way, and the pasture springs back greener than ever with each season. 
We construct and manage our own Warre' style bee hives that produce natural, raw honey with a bold, unique flavour gathered from the local flora. The honey is processed cold. We add nothing to the honey and take nothing from it to retain it's genuine flavour and health benefits. 
We were previously working in media and production before we made the switch to regenerative farming. It was through the influence of people like Joel Salatin and Alan Savory that we first became inspired to live a life closer to the land. Through the generous help of friends, family and farmers in our community we slowly gained experience working the land with animals and eventually found a place to start our own small chicken farm. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE THINGS YOU MAKE AND WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS? 

I love that I am connected directly with the land I farm. It's a real joy to consume the food I produce and to see the land improve with each year as we strive to harness the benefits and abundance of working with nature to bring forth wholesome products. I love seeing people connecting as a community over the common passion we share of good quality food, locally produced and locally consumed. 
If I could share one message with others it would be that a lot of the answers to the world's problems concern the way we steward our planet. The answers are simple, accessible and profound. Though they will take a lot of courage in our time to enact and live out, it will be well worth the sacrifice. I can think of no better way to start this journey than to live simple, connect locally and love that land that sustains you. 

WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? 

Farming is a challenge for the best of people but we have never felt more fulfilled. Early mornings every day make my body ache, but the sunrises are amazing; manual labour out in the elements is tiring, but builds strength and resilience; learning to farm by starting a farm has many frustrations but I've never made more progress and learned more lessons than any other time in my life. 

IS THERE SOMETHING PARTICULARLY UNIQUE ABOUT WHAT YOU MAKE OR HOW YOU MAKE IT?

What sets our produce apart from the commonly available alternatives is the added benefits of giving each chicken and bee as natural a life as possible. We find the less we add and the more we let the natural proclivities of each animal take it's course, the more unique and bold the flavour and quality of each product is. 

WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO LEARN TO DO OR MAKE IN LIFE?

My dream is to expand the farming enterprises to include cattle and pigs. To see more animals on the same land, working together to increase the lands productivity and abundance is something I'm really looking forward to. 

Alex 

You can connect with Alex and Emily on Instagram @hand_to_ground_alex and @hand_to_ground_emily or go to their website www.handtoground.com.au

Powlett St Ices - Susan, Graham and Oscar

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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHERE YOU CALL HOME...

Graham is Melbourne born and bred, an engineering tradesperson, who has always had an interest in the crafted, the properly made or assembled item, and in doing things for himself and for those around him. I am from the Blue Mountains out of Sydney, formerly a photographer and a Librarian. I have a keen interest in the best for my family and for myself. We met when I was holidaying in Melbourne and staying with mutual friends - six weeks later I'd relocated to Melbourne. Along with our young son Oscar we made the move from Melbourne to Kyneton some three years ago and haven't looked back.
We were looking for some more space, out of the city, the Macedon Ranges felt right, and we love it here. There's a lovely community of like minded souls here - it's really inspiring, this community of 'doers'. 
The move and the space we have here has enabled life to slow down a bit and allowed us to focus more on the things that are important like food and family. More time is spent in the workshop and the veggie patch now and we have just made our own salami and prosciutto with friends for the second year in a row, this time from our own pigs. 

WHAT DO YOU MAKE AND HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME A MAKER? 

We make small batch, handcrafted ice cream and sorbet.
We began making these for ourselves as while breastfeeding my body shouted that I needed more dairy, calcium, more ready energy, and I found ice cream was pleasing, and an excellent way to get these things. 
After a while we became increasingly concerned with the length of ingredient lists of many readily available 'mass market' ice creams. It really didn't seem right eating these confections that contained so many ingredients that seemed to us to be in place to extend, or stables the product, to ease it's transportability, and increase it's yield rather than to improve it. This was wrong - a luxury item, and a beautiful thing, being cheapened. 
We wanted to make a simple traditional ice cream that tasted really good, that had nothing 'extra' in it, to make ice cream and sorbet as well as we could make them, perhaps as well as they could be made. We bought our first churn and started experimenting with both ice cream and sorbet. It was after an ice cream trade with a friend who went nuts for our gin and tonic sorbet that received the push that helped us to decide to take it further. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE THINGS YOU MAKE AND WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?

I love the process, the seasonality of the produce that we use, and the fact that we get to use our hands quite a bit. In refusing to cut corners we are able to search out lovely, high quality ingredients to work with. Eggs are cracked, and yolks split from whites, milk and cream is poured and stirred (not with my hands but a spoon) and pasteurised. Fruit is picked, peeled, roasted, or pureed. Flavours are extracted from raw and whole ingredients, not necessarily by the most efficient way, but by what we consider to be the best way - the best for the flavour, and for the end product, not the bottom line. 
We change a few simple ingredients into something really quite special and beautiful, and something that I think remains true to the raw ingredients it is made from. 
I find that it's really grounding and it's good connection to have with what you have made. I love that I know exactly where the eggs in our ice cream come from (thanks Alex and Em) and that the chickens that lay them are happy. I also love that fresh ingredients we use are sourced locally when ever possibly, including mint from our own and other local backyards, and fruit from local producers and orchardists. I guess I'd like to share with others the importance of local community and local produce. Our area has a lot of offer and the more we support each other the better off we'll be.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

I think it's really hard to grow a big idea into a viable small business. 
It can be quite the balancing act at times - our son has started school this year, Graham is still working a day job, we're always developing flavours, keeping up with existing demand, I've been able to get back into a school library this year, and we're also constantly on the lookout for new customers, and new outlets, and new ways we can help this little thing that we're building grow, all the while maintaining our independence, and the quality of our product. 
As we make such small batches it can be difficult when we are making larger quantities. It is definitely a lot of work but it's completely worthwhile. We make ice cream this way because we can, and because it's how we think it should be made. 
We are both spread pretty thinly, and it is sometimes - particularly during winter - difficult to maintain momentum. 

IS THERE SOMETHING PARTICULARLY UNIQUE ABOUT WHAT YOU MAKE AND HOW YOU MAKE IT?

I'm not sure if it is particularly unique but it's certainly different to the way that mass market sorbets and especially ice creams are made. 
Everything is made from scratch with just a handful of fresh and natural ingredients. Our ice cream is made from a traditional custard base using only whole milk, pure cream, raw sugar and egg yolk from eggs sourced from local mature raised chickens. We use no stabilisers, no gums, no additives, and definitely no artificial flavours - in fact all our flavours come from the addition of fresh ingredients or are extracted by us from raw or dry ingredients. This means many of our flavours are not available all year round but flavours are at their best when they are. 

WHAT IS ONE OTHER THING THAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO LEARN TO DO OR MAKE IN YOUR LIFE?

SUSAN: There are so many things but immediately, I'd love to be able to chop wood better that I can. (I can barely do it at all). It's really quite cold here at the moment and there are a lot of big blocks of wood out there on our pile that could do with being half the size. 

GRAHAM: One? So many things. I'd love to learn the knack of communicating my ideas without coming across like I feel that the only valid ideas are my own. I want to help make my community a better one. I'd love to have a go at pattern welding, and make my own pocket knife from scratch. I want to help make my son happy, well adjusted person - that's enough, everything else is surplus. 

Susan and Graham x

You can contact Susan and Graham on Instagram @powlettst.ices or go to their website www.powlettstices.com