Off the Top of my Head:By Paul Murray
One of the main objectives of the LivinginPeace Project is to provide all our people and our guests with meals made from freshly harvested, locally grown, organic, healthy, nutritious and delicious food grown on our permaculture farm.
We currently offer the Heaphy Conqueror’s Feast at Rongo, which is very popular with trampers or mountain bikers finishing the Heaphy Track, many of who have been eating dehydrated, desiccated, just-add-water “meals” for several days and are hungry for wholesome, fresh, green vegetables, succulent meats and luxurious desserts…so we provide a banquet of such food…the best feed in town for only $25 per person!
By growing the food to feed our guests, we make a significant reduction in the amount of energy required to provide meals to people visiting Karamea…we reduce the food transport miles, improve the freshness and taste of the meals, reduce the production cost of the food and vastly improve the quality of the repast as the food is fresher, organic, enzymatically charged, nutrient rich and healthy.
We are able to offer such top quality meals for such a low price as we grow the food ourselves, which dramatically reduces the cost of putting meals on the table in front of hungry people. The primary producer also gets paid as he can deliver his produce straight to the market, without wholesalers and retail merchants clipping the ticket on the way from farm to consumer, who in turn, pays less for quality produce.
The return to the growers is also much better without middle-men adding to the cost of the end product…and we are able to value-add the farm produce by turning it into meals instead of selling it to a wholesale market. Take, for example, a pumpkin. If we sell the pumpkin to the wholesaler, you might get $5. However, if we take that pumpkin and turn it into 10 bowls of pumpkin soup and sell it for $5 per bowl, the return on the pumpkin is $50 instead of $5 and we can provide an excellent meal for a reasonable price and a good service to pour guests in the process…wins all round.
For the chef, it is also a win as the food is fresher and of top quality…any chef will tell you, if you start with top quality food, their job is easier. The challenge for our chefs is to take the food we have available and turn it into top-quality meals. The LivinginPeace Project aims to produce meals with a no-waste model, so we prepare enough meals to provide for the number of guests we have staying with us. We know how many people we are going to feed on any given day, we know how much food to harvest and any food scraps, or leftover food is immediately composted and eventually goes back into the gardens to improve the soil fertility and produce more vegetables, fruit, fresh herbs, eggs and meat.
Karamea has a superb climate for growing a wide range of fruit and vegetables outdoors all year-round. The region is blessed with plentiful sunshine, plenty of rain and rich, deep fertile alluvial soil. The climate is mild, we rarely get as frost and can grow bananas, fejoas, tamarillos and here as well as cooler climate fruits like blueberries and apples.
Pot-Luck dinners are slightly different in that we ask everyone staying with us as guests to make their signature dish…we always crank up the competition among the different nationalities of guests by saying things like, “Well, I really love Italian food, but think Greek food is even better.” Or, “Japanese food is amazing, but I love Korean food much more.” Such statements ensure the best quality dishes from around the world as everyone is quite proud of their national cuisine…except English people, who are culturally conditioned to eat over-cooked, nutritionally bereft, grey dishes made from boiling the Christ out of anything.
Rongo Pot-Luck Dinners are started in the morning by putting the sign out by the kitchen…and starting the agitation about who has the best international cuisine.
At Rongo, we have a pot-luch dinner at least once a week…Rongo is world famous for such dinners and they are VERY popular with the wwoofers and guest alike.
Karamea is also very fortunate to have an excellent butcher in Karamea. Karaka SmallGoods produce a fantastic array of gourmet sausages, salamis, bacon, hamburgers and all cuts of meat. We purchase locally made produce from Karaka and use it to make meals for our customers. We also purchase locally grown organic food from other Karamea farmers, which helps the local economy.