Canberra is abuzz with excitement as the highly anticipated truffle season kicks off, and at Market, we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on this month’s Producer in Focus: Terra Preta Truffles. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Terra Preta to delve into the captivating world of truffles.
What truffles do you sell and how do you grow them?
Terra Preta Truffles sells fresh Black Truffles (Tuber melanosporum). Sometimes also called French Black truffles. We concentrate on as fresh as possible truffles and don’t grow other produce. We grow them on our family farm near Braidwood where they have a symbiotic relationship with their host trees – oaks and hazelnuts. Caring for the truffle patch is a year-long job, however truffles ripen in winter so our harvesting season is between June and late August.
Who is involved?
Terra Preta Truffles is a whole family affair, and everyone has an important role to play. There are currently three generations hard at work including Kate Marshall and Peter Marshall who started the truffle farm 11 years ago. Peter is a forester and mycologist and is the science brains and caretaker behind all of our truffle trees. The youngest generation Mae (4) and Kit (2) also love to get down and dirty in the truffle patch. But, most important of all are our dogs including Aldo (sausage dog x labrador) who is a truffle hunting missile!
What do you love about truffle farming?
Truffle farming is an intense and very physical job, but we love being outside on a crisp winter’s day with the dogs, especially a sunny day after a frost. Knowing that truffles are a foodstuff that evolved to be eaten as its strategy to reproduce, makes it gratifying to dig them up guilt-free. Plus, they are so delicious and versatile that we all love to eat them. There is generally some of what we call “family truffle” in our kitchen to enjoy. But probably best of all is the excuse to have a bunch of dogs as part of our family. They only work three to four months of the year, but we have the pleasure of their company all year long.
Why do you attend Capital Region Farmers Market and what do like about the Market?
We have proudly been attending the Capital Region Farmers Market for over 10 years now, and the thing we love most of all is our amazing customers. Some of our customers visit us at the Market almost every week of the season and it’s so heart-warming for us to see how much joy they get out of our truffles.
What is your favourite way to eat truffles?
After a day working hard of the farm nothing beats a truffle cheese toasty.
Is there anything you would like people to know about truffles or truffle farming that isn’t commonly known?
There are hundreds of species of native truffles in Australia, and they are an extremely important food source for many of our small native marsupials such as potoroos, bandicoots and bettongs. When digging for truffles, these tiny marsupials can till about six tonnes of soil per year! This is extremely important for forest health as it aerates and adds organic matter to the soil, as well as spreading more beneficial fungi spores around. Although the Black Truffle that we grow originates in Europe, it is apparently just as delectable to these little critters! Last year we lost a very large portion of our crop to bandicoots. But we couldn’t be happier! It’s such a privilege to be able to support our local ecosystem.
You can catch Terra Preta Truffles at the Market every Saturday to try their delicious truffle products.
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