Well hello! It feels like a year since I've been around here. A year's worth of stuff has whizzed by, surely. Phonecalls, emails, planning planting weeding baking school-run laundry market after market, biscuit after biscuit and then one afternoon I answer my phone and it's the NSW Food Authority telling me they've found my whole-egg custard for sale at our local food co-op and that I'm selling it illegally without a dairy processors license. Withdraw the product from sale until licensed. Crap!
Not only did I have stock in the fridge, a lot, for the next market at Berry, but we'd been talking that week to a big potential supplier and word is going around and you know, it's really good! and selling really well and looking very likely to overtake bikkies for us at some stage in terms of sales. It's a winner. And apparently illegal.
So I did something a bit rash. On our farm page on Facebook I wrote:
"After a warning from the Food Authority, we're not able to sell our whole egg custard until we apply for a Dairy Processors License. So this weekend we'll be at Berry Markets with a new product: fortune telling. Your fortune told for $7, comes with free whole egg custard."
And that's what I did. I told fortunes, gave away custard and hung onto my hat thinking the Food Authority was going to show up at any moment, make a scene and confiscate my cooler. Or worse, fine me. But they didn't. Instead, supporters showed up. Lots of them. Friends and long-term and brand-new customers. Other farmers. That little facebook post was shared so many times that it has been seen by almost 17,000 people. 17,000! One farming friend, Kel, who makes gelato locally out of his own fabulous cows milk offered to include us under his Dairy Processors license and include the custard in his Food Safety plan, if we wanted to make it at his place.
I felt enveloped in an extended communal hug. You awesome people.
And I realised that it doesn't matter how small we are, you and me, we can do anything. We're in this together. This food, this fight, it has significance for lots of people, not just round our dinner table. Which is great, because while we might have resolved the Dairy licence, we're going to be jumping through beauracratic hoops for a while yet.
Oh yes, resolved. We're naturally rule followers rather than renegades over here, so we will be applying for a Dairy Licence. And we'll sell honey yoghurt made from Kel's milk and our honey too. Win. But in the meantime, we are allowed to sell our custard directly, just not wholesale. So that's what we'll do.
And meanwhile, our commercial kitchen in the dairy is coming together. Ovens are here, fridges found, benches and windows and doors ordered, and there's dishwashers and plantetary mixers on Adam's eBay watchlists. I've picked the flooring and we're waiting for the electrician. It's very exciting. Because not only will we be operating from here rather than lugging everything in and out of the rented commercial kitchen in town, we'll be running on-farm cooking classes and cool food-making workshops and next door in the old workshop there'll be a little farm shop. Come and visit!
For all the believers, I wish you general awesomeness. Without you we're just a tiny farm growing some stuff. But with you, with your arms around us, we're a good idea going places. Thank you.