Sometimes, the perks of creating Just the Sizzle are just – overwhelming. A superb blue sky day just outside Hobart, soaking up the green and blue of a blueberry orchard, was magical for me. Carl spends every day there. He knows he’s a lucky man.
What is Just the Sizzle really about? People – always the people. You might have said, “Well, it’s about food.” And you’d be right, but first, it’s about people. The sheer joy that Carl shared with us was contagious, and I sailed home after visiting his orchard at least 3 inches taller. At least I felt 3 inches taller, and a few pounds lighter in spirit.
Carl arrived from New Zealand 13 years ago, and from a background in market gardening. But, as he says, market gardening is a far different game than this – a full-fledged orchard. And Carl doesn’t look like the sort of guy who’d get all spiritual about having found his calling, but as so often happens, looks are deceiving. Very deceiving.
Bringing with him an open heart and a piercing intelligence, Carl said he put his hand on the fence of this place in Dromana, those 13 years ago, and knew he’d found home. The place originally had been grazing land, for sheep, but had been well cared for and had thick, lush grass cover.
“It’s easy!” said Carl, on the discovery that the secret to a healthy crop and business was to allow nature to, “just do its job, with as little interference as possible.” He laughs when he says that nature creates miracles every day, and for him? Well, he just taps into that. With the greatest respect.
In the video, you can see him poke his finger into the dense root system that the grass has created – a perfect womb to gestate the bushes that grow so happily in this pure, pristine environment. The grass keeps the moisture and nutrients in the soil, and thus we have a healthy root system for the bushes, and the miracle of what are considered normally tart varieties growing sweeter every year. He’s on to something, that’s for sure.
Weeds? A thing of the past. The grass cover ensures that. Chemicals? The devil! Just sun, rain, and good pasture is all that’s needed. And netting that covers the bushes from pesky birds who might fancy a bite or ten. Wallabies and possums help themselves to the berries that fall, and in Carl’s world, they’re welcome. They go for the grass first anyway, and keep it down. Along with a little prudent whipper snipping occasionally.
Carl also talks about chi – the Chinese word for life-force, and how he feels it every day, just walking into his orchard. He states categorically that one can’t, just can’t, remain angry amongst this bounty of nature. All negativity is dissipated as the happy plants flourish and give back to the man who loves and respects them.
And what now? Well, Carl is a man on a mission. He’s created a tea from the blueberries and their leaves, which he is testing relentlessly to prove what he knows in his heart: that the secret to healing many ailments lies in these plants and their science.
But that is for another post. It’s big, and deep, and he has a lot to say. So enjoy the pictorials and the video of a passionate, knowledgeable and most importantly, happy man. Carl opens up the orchard to the public who can pick their own, a few times a year only. So if you’re keen, keep an eye out, and he’ll let you know.
Sometimes he’s at the Salamanca market spruiking his wares, and his daughter, Georgie, is on to developing her own range of herbal teas blended with other fruits and herbs. And I will cover all that next time.
The joy of visiting Carl on his blueberry farm stayed with me for some time. Have you been out there yet, to pick your own, or sample his tea?