Category Archives: Workshop

Bundy Special mangoes best tasting

Have We Forgotten The Taste Of Real Mangoes?

Ever wondered why the “yellow” mangoes on display at the supermarket have no aroma?Supermarket mangoes have been so processed that they have lost their true identity. Buy them long enough and it is easy to forget what real mangoes taste like. I did. I used to pick mangoes from the tree as a child and when I grew up, I bought mangoes from supermarkets and forgot what it was like to hold and smell a mango, freshly picked from the tree…that is until I acquired my own Bundy Special mangoes best tasting orchard.

Bundy Special mangoes
Our Bundy Special mangoes

Standing in the midst of a few hundred trees, their branches laden with Bundy Special mangoes best tasting, I basked in the aroma of the ripe, freshly picked mangoes in my basket.

One more Bundy Special mango for the basket
Real mangoes have blemishes. When a mango is too perfect that is when you start worrying

Jade, a young lady from China who lived with us during harvest season,  helped me pick mangoes off our tree and one day while picking together, she said to me, “Your mangoes are bad for me.”

Startled, I responded, “Why do you say that, Jade?”

Bundy Special mangoes best tasting
Jade likes to bury her face in the mango while eating

“Once I go back I will never be able to eat mangoes again because I have tasted the best and everything else will not match up,” she continued.

I laughed. Our mango picking routine involved taking breaks by eating plump, fleshy mangoes. These sort of breaks are unheard of at a typical commercial farm.

Fortunately for us, we can appreciate the precious gift that each and every mango is to us and while we do sell them, they are not treated as commodities but an important source of sustenance and a privilege to eat, when it is chemical-free and fresh.

Bundy Special Mangoes Best Tasting
Bundy Special Mangoes Best Tasting

I still recall juice pouring down our wrists and arms as Jade and I devoured our mangoes. Then we looked at each other and laughed because we had yellow pulp all over our cheeks and nose. Jade had this habit of burying her face in a ripe mango and slurping.

It is a feat to get to the mangoes because they are on top of the mountain. However, the breath-taking sight at the top makes it well worth the steep climb.

Once you’ve drunk in the view, turn around and you will see majestic mango trees amongst the forest backdrop.

It’s quite a sight to behold. Why? Because you won’t be looking at a monoculture crop [rows and rows of the same cultivar in one spot] but a crop that is grown amongst the natural forest. To the untrained eye, our farm might look wild and unkempt but therein lies its rich biomass which contributes towards a rich soil, leading to the most nutritious and delicious mangoes you will ever taste.

The Bundy Special mangoes best tasting, form a purple tinge as it ripens, and when the sun hits, they get a pink blush, which is so attractive.

Bundy Special mangoes best tasting
At the market

While selling mangoes at the market, a lady visited our mango stall and asked for a taste. We had slices laid out on a plate to sample.

“I am a mango farmer and I have ten thousand trees,” she told us. “We export our mangoes and the Japanese always pay top dollar for the mangoes with the pink blush.”

I asked if she sprays her mangoes and she said, “Of course. You have to spray if you want them to be commercially viable.”

Commercially viable! We’ve heard so much advice on how to make our mangoes commercially viable and we’re glad we rejected all of them, especially the need to spray chemicals. Now that we’ve had experience with our own mangoes, let me bust a few myths:

Myth 1 –  It’s impossible to get a good harvest of mangoes if you don’t spray your trees.

There are chemicals to induce flower production, chemicals to deter pests and the chemical applications don’t end when the mangoes are picked. After picking they are subjected to a chemical wash to prevent sap burn and even submerged in hot water to kill fruit fly larvae and prevent anthracnose disease [blackening of the skin of the mango]. All these destroy the quality of the mango, not to mention dangerous to eat because it has been exposed to chemicals.

While our mangoes were still green on the tree we did our housekeeping such as picking up all the mangoes that had fallen pre-maturely and protecting trees with fruit fly baits instead of spraying with chemicals. If the trees are healthy they are less susceptible to disease.

They stay healthy the same way we humans stay healthy – by eating right. Their nutrition comes from the rich, red soil on our property and what we feed the soil.

At harvest time, we had thousands of great mangoes – so good that retail shops were ordering from us. So this myth that you have to spray is just a short-cut to circumvent hard work.

“Be prepared to lose 60% of your crop,” a manager of a farm that sprays chemicals warned me. “This is why organic produce costs more – more work involved and they need to recover their losses.”

Isn’t that part of nature, though? To share with the wildlife and they, in turn, propagate, pollinate, distribute and enrich the soil with their waste and distribute good bacteria with their saliva. When did we lose our sense of living in harmony with nature? I believe it’s when we made “profit” our number one goal and forgot our responsibility of being good stewards of the environment.

Genuine farmers care for their livestock, the land and care about the health of people consuming their produce. But most of the people who grow the food you eat are not farmers. They are large corporations that do not have an intimate connection with the land and the fruit it produces

Myth 2 – Organic produce enrich organic farmers

Retail shops want our mangoes at dirt cheap prices and at one time it looked like it simply was not worth the effort picking the mangoes to sell. However, if we sold them at the market ourselves, then it was worth it.

However, even at the market, the genuine farmers get a raw deal. Our spot was right at the back and the busy/popular section of the market was filled with distributors instead of farmers. These distributors simply buy the produce/fruit from Brisbane and bring them over to the markets to sell. These fruits and vegetables are not fresh. And they have been treated with all sorts of chemicals to keep them artificially fresh.

It is sad that consumers don’t know how to tell the difference or don’t care to know. Just because they buy from the market does not mean every stallholder is the farmer who grew that produce.

I would advise consumers to buy directly from organic farmers to ensure their bodies are receiving the highest quality food and farmers can concentrate on looking after their crops instead of competing with distributors at market stalls or forced to sell to retail shops at dirt cheap prices.

Myth 3 – Fruit and vegetables at every farmer’s market is fresh

It is fresh only if you buy the fruits and vegetables from the farmer who grew them. We picked our mangoes every few days which meant when we showed up at the markets they were as fresh as can be. We did the same for the shops. This also means that we allow the fruits to ripen on the tree. This results in much tastier fruits with a sweet aroma.

No crop matures at the same time, but commercial farms do not appreciate or take pride in growing/farming and do not care about the health of the consumers. They will harvest within a short period and gas their fruits

“All our mangoes have to be off the trees by harvest time. It simply isn’t cost effective for us to keep bringing workers back to the farm for harvest,” said a chemical-spraying farmer.

Myth 4 – You need to wash your mangoes in a chemical wash after picking to prevent sap burn.

A white sap gushes out when you break the stem of the mango. This sap can burn the skin of the mango and leave an ugly mark. So commercial farmers pick the mangoes with the stem attached and then wash them with chemicals before breaking the stem. This chemical leaves a wax on the mangoes and prevents the sap from sticking onto the skin of the mango and burning it.

We got around this by simply washing the mangoes in water mixed with organic detergent. Then we broke the stems and propped them up in an egg-shell like container, bottom down – only this container has the bottom cut out so that the mango can “bleed” it’s sap out. In this way we didn’t have to use chemical wash.

Personally, I prefer to skip even this procedure as the sap doesn’t bother me. Neither does the discolouration. Sap burn is not the only reason the mango gets discoloured. When a mango ripens at room temperature, it is normal for black spots to appear. It is just the normal process of ripening. Often these blemished fruits are the sweetest and tastiest.

Too much emphasis is placed on the appearance of fruits and not on the quality. Fortunately, those who bought from us understand that “real” fruits come in different sizes and do not have this uniform look. Neither do they look perfect but they taste perfect with their wholesome goodness intact and not destroyed by unnecessary processing.

In the name of uniformity of appearance hundreds of thousands of perfectly good fruit are discarded and not allowed to reach the supermarket aisles simply because they are smaller or larger or have some blemishes. So much wastage!


Myth 5 – Commercial mangoes have to be submerged in hot water to kill fruit fly larvae and prevent anthracnose disease [blackening of the skin]


Make your own mango chilli sauce

All these destroy the quality of the mango and when mangoes are treated to a hot water bath, to me, they are no longer raw but cooked mangoes. In the last decade, irradiation has replaced the hot water bath. Irradiation is subjecting the fruit to radiation. Not only is it dangerous to eat, but it changes the DNA of the fruit and kills the nutrition. This is also done to increase the shelf life of the fruit as it kills all pathogen, but it also kills the good bacteria and we’re basically eating “dead” food when we consume it.

I turned some of these mangoes into condiments like mango chilli sauce, mango ice cream and mango smoothies topped with home-made granola. It is so much more rewarding and healthy to make your own sauces. Join our upcoming “Condiments” workshop to learn more about making essential sauces that will go complement many different meals.

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Jackfruit Mackerel Curry

Jackfruit is popular in Malaysia. The fruit grows close to the trunk of the tree. A mature jackfruit tree can produce between 100 – 200 fruits in a year. The seeds inside are bountiful too. Cut it open and you will find many seeds covered with yellow or orange pulp. The riper the pulp, the sweeter it is.

Having grown up in, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I recall that most people in the city consumed the pulp while the flesh was discarded. You also cannot find Jackfruit Mackerel Curry on the menu of most restaurants whether in Malaysia or Australia.  In the villages, however, they do still cook the jackfruit flesh – something my own great-grandmother used to do.

Chef Shelly with me and another participant at the Jackfruit Mackerel Curry Workshop
Chef Shelly with me and another participant at the Jackfruit Mackerel Curry Workshop

So I was excited to participate in this workshop to cook Jackfruit Mackerel Curry, at Fresh Asian Cuisine restaurant in Noosaville, Queensland. Chef Shelly, who has owned and cooked at no less than 30 restaurants, conducted the workshop. Although the jackfruit flesh came out of a can, I found it pleasing, that Fresh Asian Cuisine restaurant at Noosaville have Jackfruit Mackerel Curry on their menu as the restaurant takes pride in serving up authentic Asian dishes.

“I’d love to see fresh jackfruit again,” said Chef Shelly Phanich who is originally from Thailand, “But it is tedious to peel and take out the pulp. You need to oil your knife so that the latex juice doesn’t stick to it.” I laughed as she reminded me of the days when I encountered the same problem, cutting jackfruit in Malaysia.

Today, it is interesting to find jackfruit flesh popular among vegans. In vegan burgers, for example, the jackfruit flesh is used to make burger patties. The texture of the jackfruit flesh is said to taste like shredded pork and so they are very popular.

Decorate with carrot florets when serving
Decorate with carrot florets when serving

While lemongrass is popular with Thai dishes, it was interesting that Shelly added bay, curry and kafir lime leaves too. The flavours simply exploded with these additional herbs. The sweet potato was another unique touch that gave it a sweet, spicy flavour without the need for sugar.


Shelly did not add salt to this dish either because the fish sauce she used is salty enough. Way to go, Shelly! Many of us forget that things like tomato, barbecue or chilli sauce that are usual condiments to fried potato chips already have salt in them and yet they season their fries with additional salt, going overboard on their salt intake.

Another interesting feature is that Shelly used a mortar and pestle to grind the onions, lemongrass, fresh tumeric and galangal ginger instead of using the blender as most of us do. She believes grinding and blending are two different things.


“You can control the texture with a mortar and pestle,” she said as she sharpened her chef’s knife on the stone surface of her mortar. “And you can use it to sharpen your knife too.”

Garlic fish sauce condiment
Garlic fish sauce condiment













I laughed, remembering another snippet from my childhood, watching my grandmother sharpen knife on the mortar the way Shelly was doing.

Many lovely cooking tips were shared at the workshop such as how to cut carrots to look like florets and slices with shapely patterns. Shelly also pounded the coriander roots to make the curry paste instead of discarding them the way most people do.

 Feasting on Jackfruit Mackerel Curry with rice and garlic chilli fish sauce condiment

Feasting on Jackfruit Mackerel Curry with rice and garlic chilli fish sauce condiment


Jackfruit Mackerel Curry


Jackfruit flesh

mackerel fish

2 tbsp fresh tumeric

2 tbsp galangal ginger

6 tbsp fish sauce

chilli powder


Sweet potato

1 can coconut milk

Roots of the coriander

3 stalks Lemongrass (bruised)

Bay leaves

Curry leaves

Kafir lime leaves




Pound tumeric and ginger. Then add onion and slowly pound. Finally, add the coriander root and keep pounding. Most people throw the roots away but don’t. you can use this. Leave ground mixture in the mortar and pestle. Add oil and coconut milk and cook for awhile then add the pounded ingredients and stir-fry. Keep adding water if it gets too dry.

Add fish and jackfruit and sweet potato. Stir. Add bay, curry and kafir lime leaves.


Additional Tips:

  1. Pound red capsicum with the tumeric, ginger and onion if you want a brighter red colour.
  2. To make garlic chilli fish sauce condiment, chop three cloves garlic, some chilli, fish sauce and onions and place all together in some fish sauce to serve.






Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead

Susan, the artist and Gary, the Greenhand (after the hobbit in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings) live in a restored heritage homestead, first constructed in 1896. What could be more picturesque than than? Susan Curran works with clay to create pots and sculptures and holds eco-dying workshops while her husband, Gary Brill, grows organic fruits and vegetables.

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Susan’s sculptures at The Bunyas

When the couple moved into their 3-acre property, in 2000, they enjoyed restoring the 1896 Burrill Lake Schoolmasters’ residence as their abode, christening the property, The Bunyas as it is surrounded by five huge Bunya pines.  They are both experts in heritage restoration and so the house still retains much of its ancient charm. They operated an antique shop, Bunyas Organics and Antiques, out of Milton New South Wales, for nearly 30 years and retired from it only in August this year.

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Many fruit trees around the homestead



Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Traditional Salter Weighing Scale used by Gary when people come directly to the homestead to purchase organic fruits and vegetables














Gary and Susan have separate workshops at the Bunyas and to go from one to another you will pass many varieties of fruit trees and vegetables. The main vegetable patches are right at the back where Gary utilises permaculture methods to produce the most nutritious vegetables.

However right at the front is a stone wall encircling a watermelon and pumpkin patch that lay empty during my winter visit, but it has produced some winners. At the 2015 and 2016 Milton Show, Gary took the first prize for the biggest and heaviest watermelon grown in this very patch at the front of his house.





While Gary is the one with the green thumb Susan is the one with the “clay” thumb. Wandering into her workshop is a voyage of discovery as you find finished and unfinished pots and sculptures everywhere. I made the mistake of shaking her hand in greeting and found my hand all white from clay. We both looked at our hands, then looked up at each other and laughed.

I was actually there to speak to Susan about her other artistic passion – eco dyeing. Eco dyeing uses plants to create print on fabric. Susan uses no chemicals to obtain the colours on her fabric but relies solely on the colours extracted from plants through natural methods. Susan holds regular workshops to teach eco-dyeing.

She showed me a nuno-felted silk dress that had been dyed with onion skin and gum leaves.

“I like to take the students in my workshop for a walk around my property to familiarise themselves with the many different plants. We would pick up fallen leaves and talk about flowers and what colours we can expect to extract from them. Many of them didn’t know that even the lichen on the rocks can give out good colour,” said Susan.

“At the workshop just gone by I used persimmon leaves that were bright orange in colour. If you boil these leaves you will get a dye that turns out either yellow or olive green, depending on how many times you boil it. If you boil it for half-an-hour it is yellow. Boil it again and it turns green.”

The persimmon tree that contributed the leaves for her workshop is over a hundred years old as it was planted when the house was first built.

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Susan displaying onion skin print billowy top

Susan discussed how she used onion skins to create patterns and give colour to her designs. “This takes time because you have to save all the skins from the onions as you use them in the kitchen. I have a paper bag full of onion skins that I have collected to use in eco-dyeing. I would arrange the skins on half the fabric and then place a stick at one end and roll the fabric up really tight around the stick and bind it with string or linen so it does not open up. Then I boil this stick.”

model wearing an onion skin print eco-dye design
model wearing an onion skin print eco-dye design

The fun part of eco-dyeing is not knowing what to expect when you unravel your cloth. To a degree you can control it but there is also an element of surprise as there always is when you work with nature. Other colour schemes used by Susan would be indigo which she obtains from indigo crystals  that are made from indigo plants. Interestingly, argyle apple leaves produce a bright red orange.

Model wearing an outfit printed with onion skin eco dye






A beautiful eco-dye blue design on a garment weaved by Susan
A beautiful eco-dye blue design on a garment weaved by Susan

“I like to use my hands and use what is around me for tools such as a stick, shell or stone. I rarely buy tools for my crafts.”

The great part about Susan’s workshops is that she is also an expert in felting and weaving and so she not only makes designs on fabric but has in-depth knowledge of them. “Although I love being a potter I have actually made a living out of textiles for 15 years and so when I hold eco-dyeing workshops, students are oftentimes dyeing on fabric I have created. As such I have the unique skill of being able to teach all three skills from weaving, felting and dying which are all related.”

Anyone can participate in all three workshops for weaving, felting and dyeing which are taught separately in each respective workshop. No prior experience is needed. It costs $100 for a 6-hour workshop that is held from 9:30 – 3:30 pm. All materials for the workshop are supplied as are morning tea and organic lunch too. Contact to find out more and sign-up for the next workshop









Homemade Wine

Homemade Wine

Crates and crates of Mouvedre grapes fresh from Berri South Australia were emptied into a crushing machine as participants of Healthy Country Life’s free workshop, ‘Make Wine The Natural Way’ gathered around for a closer look. The workshop was held at Contadino Farm, Falls Creek, NSW on Saturday, 9th April.

homemade wine



Amanda Peek, 45, from Worrigee cheekily asked if they were going to crush grapes with their feet, the traditional way, and got a stern, “No!” from Bruno Morabito, 62, owner of Contadino Farm, who has been making wine for the consumption of his own family and friends for 38 years.



homemade wine
Bunches of grapes being crushed 

Bruno  demonstrated how the machine discards the stems and crushes the grapes. As the crates passed, Bruno and his assistants grabbed a few bunches of grapes and passed them around sparking off the workshop’s glorious tasting sessions that began with grapes and moved on to free flow of wines, cheese, salami, olives, olive oil and bread.



“We simply had to see for ourselves how wine was made the natural way,” said Chris Armstrong, 35, owner of Nowra Steakhouse at Nowra, NSW who was there with his partner Nikki Edwards, 29.

Homemade Wine
Bunches of mouvedre grapes being passed around for tasting

The ‘natural way’ had caused the workshop to be postponed from the date first announced because the grapes were not ready. For wine-makers who emphasize purity without using any additives or preservatives, the date of picking the grapes is crucial because the sugar level has to be perfect.

Homemade wine
Bruno stirring the crushed grapes in the drum

“It is easy to make commercial wine because they add sulphur and potassium metabisulphite and other additives into the grape juice to regulate acidity and taste. They even have a chemist on site!

“We have to work with nature and that is why the grapes dictate when we have the workshop. So even if we have to disappoint people we can’t work on their timetable. We can only work on nature’s timetable,” said Luke Morabito, 54, who drove all night with his precious cargo of grapes from South Australia to Falls Creek just for the workshop so everyone would have fresh grapes to see, touch and taste.


Homemade wine
crushing machine also destems
Homemade wine
crushed grapes in the drum















“The grapes need to be crushed and left for three to five days before they are pressed and the skins removed. We have done all this using our machines so all the workshop participants need to do is just purchase the grape juice and take them home to ferment themselves to make wine,” added Bruno.

Homemade wine
filling up participants fermenting vessels with juice of pressed grapes so they could take the vessels home and start the fermentation process to make wine

Dennis O Reilly 69 from Vincentia had been bottling cheap wine he has been buying in bulk since the 70s and was eager to try his hand at making quality wine on his own for the first time at this workshop.

Homemade wine
pressing machine from which we also got to taste the grape juice that has been fermenting several days. The pressing process also removes the skins

Summah O’Donnell, 29, from Ulladulla, is allergic to commercial wine and was amazed when there was no adverse reaction when she drank of the free flowing wine at the workshop, both red and white made without any preservatives. The white are made from Muscat grapes also grown by Bruno.

Shelly, 31 who came with Summah expressed how she saw great benefits in eating whole, fresh foods. Not only does she see the health of her children improving but their behaviour has improved too.

Homemade wine
gathering around the pressing machine



Homemade wine
pressing machine from which we also got to taste the grape juice that has been fermenting several days. The pressing process also removes the skins













Homemade wine
tasting the juice fresh out of the Press























Orieta Garcia and her husband Raphael in their late 40s from Vincentia are originally from Chilli, South America.Home wine-making is also in their culture and they were so excited to attend the workshop.

Homemade wine
free flow of natural wine cheese olives olive oil bread salami

“I have only recently started to have health issues and I realize I need to eat well to stay healthy. We grow our own vegetables such as kale, tomatoes, carrots, onions and we don’t use any pesticides. I’m very interested in natural nutrition and was excited to hear about a workshop that taught us how to make wine the natural way,” said Orieta.

Homemade wine
Participants get to taste the different stages of fermentation as Bruno explains the process














Ninette Prospero was quite the star of the workshop when she arrived in her Harley Davidson and everyone was curious how she would take her container of grape juice away on her sleek motorbike. She adeptly secured it to the back and rode off without much ado, waved on by the impressed crowd.

Homemade wine
Ninette Prospero who rode her Harley Davidson to the workshop geared up to ride off with her container of grape juice to ferment into wine at home

The juice the participants have bought will be fermented in the convenience of their own homes and in 40 – 50 days it should turn into wine.

Homemade wine
Ninette Prospero who rode her Harley Davidson to the workshop geared up to ride off with her container of grape juice to ferment into wine at home