It’s been a year since Matthew expanded his business and bought the new farm, and it’s been a steep learning curve for both him and Sadie. Their passion to have visitors at Fat Pig Farm to share and experience their lifestyle and taste products made from the farm has led them to set a date for their very first open day and feast.
Matthew, Nick and Ross go on a sailing adventure to Maria Island on Tasmania’s east coast. The boys learn how to sail, meet some keen fishermen, are visited by dolphins and whales, and explore Maria Island hiking and snorkelling at the marine national park. With wondrous views and scenery, they cook up fresh fish, abalone and local produce.
Fifty acres of pasture is a lot of grass to manage, and the local NRM (National Resource Management) – the mob who consult on how to improve and maintain a healthy farm – have told Matthew he desperately needs to get animals to graze his grass… to regenerate it and add fertility to the soil.
Nick has bought himself a wine fermenter and is hoping to enlist both Matthew and Ross to make a barrel of their own vintage. The three boys go on a Cellar Door road trip around the Tamar Valley, researching wine varieties and winemaking… with a not-so-hidden agenda to secure enough grapes for a barrel.
Matthew is keen to use all parts of the pig to ensure he’s adding as much value as possible to his future porkers. He has a plan for a ‘Breaking Down’ day, where one pig is broken down into its constituent parts, ready for cooking and preserving.
Matthew and Nick’s new shop venture, A Common Ground, provides many challenges: meeting demand with a varied supply of seasonal local produce; and maintaining commitment to ethically grown and prepared food whilst managing the bottom line. The shop isn't in the ideal location and a couple of new ideas are needed to increase sales.
Inspired by last year's trip to France, Matthew decides to add a couple of geese to his menagerie, and while picking them up off a local farmer, he is distracted by a home-built cold smoker. One of Matthew’s visions for the new farm is to experiment with various food processes, and, inspired by the cold smoker, he wants to test new cured products and smoke them.
Matthew has been planning to build a commercial kitchen but the cost is prohibitive. Ross tells him about a caravan fitted out with a commercial kitchen that's for sale on Bruny Island. The mobile kitchen would also be great for Matthew’s other venture – making and selling foods in markets and festivals around Tasmania.
It’s a year of experimentation and Matthew has kept chooks for eggs, but now he’d like to get heritage chickens at Puggle Farm to free range for their meat. He has also been interested in the differences between heritage chickens and free-range chickens we purchase from the supermarket… their size, colour and especially taste.
Matthew’s Puggle Farm is under shade and too wet for most of the year, which has hindered his farming aspirations. The experience has confirmed that he does want to pursue this farming life more seriously. Now Matthew wants to upscale.