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Food and beverage stories

Farm food adventures

Edition 204_MushroomTunnel

Do you fancy picking mushrooms in an old railway tunnel? Or perhaps taking part in a truffle hunt? Well now you can, thanks to a new ‘on-farm’ food experience.

These are just some of the tasty offerings put together by Off the Table which gives people a behind-the-scenes look at Tasmania’s extraordinary produce.

The brains behind the operation, Anna Yip, has curated a list of on-farm experiences which takes Tasmania’s growing agri-tourism sector to a whole new level.

Put simply, Off the Table brings consumers and producers together.

“We are designed for people who are curious about their food,” Yip explains.

“It allows people to travel around the State and enjoy intimate on-farm food experiences. They go behind the scenes to explore where our food comes from and to build their food literacy.

“And, for producers, we are giving them the chance to use agri-tourism to boost awareness of their product, as well as add an extra revenue stream.”

Since it began in February, the list of Off the Table offerings has grown rapidly, spurred on by healthy ticket sales from its online platform.

Off the Table already includes five visitor experiences.

There is the chance to take part in a truffle hunt and follow the dogs as they dig up this black gold at Tasmania’s oldest truffle farm near Deloraine. A long table lunch completes the adventure.

You can also pick oyster mushrooms growing in a railway tunnel that dates back to 1891 and has been used over the years to store ammunition, even gold bullion.

Mushroom farmer Dean Smith has now found the perfect use for this cool, damp, 164-metre tunnel near Hobart.

“The thing about the tunnel is that the temperature is pretty consistent all year round. Being built from stone it’s actually a fairly stable and consistent environment,” Smith explains.

“All I need to do is increase the humidity inside to make it perfect for the fungus to thrive.

“I love talking to people, and showing them around the tunnel, and a lot of them are really interested in both my mushrooms and the tunnel.

“It’s pretty unique.”

Other unique Off the Table experiences include a visit to a farm which grows 130 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, or a tour of an olive grove where you learn the difference between black and green fruit.

There is the chance to go behind the scenes at Pure Foods, which is Tasmania’s largest free-range egg farm, and see how 47 million eggs are produced every year.

And, from next month, the opportunity exists to watch as Tasmania’s pure sea salt is harvested from our clear east coast waters.

“No other platform is offering these kinds of experiences. Agri-tourism is a very fractured market-place,” Yip says.

“If you are a foodie and want to scratch below the surface and explore all the incredible produce Tasmania has to offer, well up until now there were very few ways to do that. You have to know local people and make lots of inquiries.

“However, we are making it easy by being a marketplace of experiences around Tasmania where you can go behind the scenes for an intimate experience of where your food comes from.

“It is very rare you can go onto someone’s tomato farm and do a tasting experience – but we are making that happen.”

Image courtesy of Off the Table and Andrew Wilson Photography

23 April 2019, Edition 204

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