25/06/2008 - 22:00

Biodynamic food in demand

25/06/2008 - 22:00

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Food critics the world over know that the quality and the source of the products on the plate of a fine dining restaurant are just as important as the skills of the person who cooked it, or the environment in which it is served.

Biodynamic food in demand
Photo: Grant Currall

Food critics the world over know that the quality and the source of the products on the plate of a fine dining restaurant are just as important as the skills of the person who cooked it, or the environment in which it is served.

It's a lesson obviously not lost on Muchea producer Wayne Brock, who is one of the few organic farmers in Western Australia to have provided products of a Michelin-star standard to the state's best chefs.

A former bank manager who converted to biodynamic farming, Mr Brock has supplied products to Fraser's Chris Taylor and other top chefs for decades.

"If organic growing was kindergarten, bio dynamic would be post-graduate studies," Mr Brock told Gusto.

Biodynamic farming is 100 per cent chemical free, and the growing process also takes seasonal and lunar cycles into account to increase the quality and quantity of the produce.

Mr Brock's farm produces vegetables, fruits, meat, and eggs, all certified by the biodynamic research institute, Demeter, since 1989.

"Demeter is the hardest certification to get but it is recognised worldwide. Once you get Demeter-certified, the doors open up because all the executive chefs here have an Italian, French, German, or Austrian background and they all know exactly what the Demeter symbol means," he told Gusto.

However, the recognition comes at a cost, as biodynamic farming is highly labour intensive and Mr Brock and his wife, Margaret, are about to start recruiting staff.

"Everything we do we do it by hand. We plant up by hand, we weed by hand, we pick it by hand, we wash it by hand, pack it by hand; it's a real hands on job, and there's only my wife and myself at the moment, and we're not getting any younger," Mr Brock says.

Although Mr Brock retired from banking only six years ago, he and Margaret have been supplying restaurants for decades.

There has been strong demand for produce from their farm since day one, Mr Brock says.

"When Observation City started up, their executive chef at that time was Chris Taylor...he ordered some produce from us and he was absolutely wrapped, everything sort of grew from there," he says.

"When he left Observation City to start his own restaurant, Fraser's in Kings Park, he introduced me to the new executive chef."

Mr Brock has worked with The Vines, the Hyatt, the Sheraton, and the Parmelia Hilton. Star Anise executive chef David Coomer is also a customer.

The Brocks' wide variety of produce is mostly sold to organic shops and markets, with regular customers able to make specific requests for special plantings.

Mr Brock says he likes to know his customers and for them to know how he runs his farm, encouraging many to come and visit the property.

"If they are too busy to come up here, I am too busy to grow produce for them," he says.

Changing agricultural practices and how this relates to the food on supermarket shelves is of concern to Mr Brock.

"People should be eating fresh produce," he says.

"You shouldn't keep produce in the fridge more than a week."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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