Sunday, April 9, 2017

Nelson's Ratabank Farms + Farmers Market

Remember the Brunimat? That's the raw milk dispenser at Ratabank Farms in The Glen, just outside Nelson, where we stayed for a few days.  Yesterday, our supply of the rich raw milk drained, we made a quick stop on the way out of town to replenish supplies. I did a little research on the farm and was surprised to read the stats below in a sad story about how the Brunimat had been robbed and the fair way these farmers handled it.

The boutique dairy farm in Glenduan is nestled in the hills about 15 minutes from Nelson. It sells about 150 litres of milk a day at $2 a litre, and sees around 60 vehicles drop in daily for the fresh drop.

This time we met kinetic Luke, who runs the dairy with his father and has big plans for expansion. He's built a companion structure behind the milking area, much of it from wood reclaimed from an old Nelson farmhouse, and is in the process of constructing a kitchen, cafe, and art gallery. There's a large outdoor pizza oven too. Plus there will be homebrew, music, baby animals for the kids, and orchards.

We liked Luke immediately and could see his concept coming together beautifully.

Here's the cob oven for firing up pizzas.

The kitchen's in place too. (A large flat white, please?)

Luke's also got a killer smoking technique and generously slices us some samples of a small pig he'd smoked over maunka wood, the tree widely knows for its medicinal honey. Click here for more on this multi-talented resource, also used by the Maori for waka (canoe) paddles, tool handles, and spears.

You can see Luke's dream coming together here and we wish him every good thing. On a sad note, he explained his effort is in large part an attempt to provide some healthy diversion for the significant number of Nelson families decimated by crystal meth. We can easily imagine kids from these families having a fun day out with music and games and animals .

A short 15 minutes later we're jostling about in the midst of Nelson's Saturday Market, a thriving event if these crowds are any indication. Clothes, jewelry, jams, cheese, vegetables. One stop shopping.

Lots of choices at The Smokehouse stall. We pick up some smoked mackerel and a fish pate.

Cheese samples I'm in!

Impossible to resist, but I kept it to two varieties.

Art is magnetically drawn to the old tools, and don't they have a beautiful energy? You can't find these at Home Depot. 

We did most of our shopping here. The weather in Nelson is so moderate the growing season is greatly extended. 

We will never regret our tattoos 
(And you know she doesn't)


Loaded down, we walk back to the car and I spy this engaging kiwi atop a Nelson building. We'll be staying right in town in the days over Easter and will have a chance to walk more of the city.

But now we're heading for our current rental, and airbnb up in the hills just outside town. A far view of Tasman Bay and the Mount Arthur Ranges and sunny afternoons on the porch. It's very tidy and quiet but for birdsong. Oh, and a few local sheep who cruise the house for handouts (more on that another time).

Dinner is all kinds of organic greens and veggies with the manuka-smoked mackerel.

Cool evening air and a cuppa...

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