Somewhere Far Away – a beguiling place where everything is available all the time

Have you ever heard of this place?

That “Somewhere Far Away” place. You know, the place where tomatoes and cucumbers come from in the middle of winter. The place where pineapples and exotic off-season fruits come from all year round.

That beguiling place, that place where everything is available, all the time.

I first came across the term “Somewhere Far Away” to describe this magical place when I was reading about Hell’s Backbone Grill and Farm, situated in Boulder, Utah, population of 225 people.

What a great story is the story of Hell’s Backbone Grill and Farm. In fact, their story strongly resonates with the story of River Valley. Like us, they strive to be light on the earth, to use local and organic as much as possible, and to grow as much as they can themselves.

While we do have a great vegetable garden at River Valley Lodge, the reality is, much as we don’t like to, we have to on occasion order goods that come from “Somewhere Far Away”.

So a few thoughts about produce and place as it relates to River Valley Lodge.

Direct From the Garden

First of all, taste. Vegetables that come directly from our gardens, oh, the fresh taste. The explosion of freshness and goodness in the mouth. Food from the gardens, unlike food from “Somewhere Far Away”, is not road-weary. It has not experienced the shock of travelling from “Somewhere Far Away” to an adventure lodge at the end of the road at Pukeokahu, Taihape, on the central North Island of New Zealand. Vegetables that come from our gardens are the product of this place, our place.

More than that, we know the story of what we grow. We know it has not been sprayed with chemicals that are injurious to the earth. That it has not been force grown with artificial fertilisers; however, do not be lulled into thinking that growing this food is easy or that we save a lot of money.

river valley vegetable garden - lettuce
river valley vegetable garden - tomatoes
river valley vegetable garden - seedlings
river valley vegetable garden - vegetables

Show Me The Money

Does the growing of our vegetables save us money?

While we talk about keeping better records to be able to answer this question, (we only talk), the reality is no matter what the answer, we will keep growing as much as we can, because it is the right thing to do. My gut feeling is that it is unlikely we save any money, and it may even cost us more.

Mistakes and The Vagaries of Climate

The process of deciding what grows well in our climate is ongoing. Lots of trial and error is involved. Some varieties are abject failures, while others unexpected successes. And then when you think you are getting it sorted, along comes a weather event that undoes a great deal of hard work. An example of this happened just recently. We had several rows of cauliflowers that were near to harvest.

But we will never get to harvest them. The reason for this is we experienced a series of very heavy frosts, unusually heavy frosts for our area. These frosts were so heavy they burnt all the heads. The crop is a right off. We probably could have saved them, if we were better prepared — hopefully next time.

We have made many mistakes, and no doubt will make many more.

The learning curve never stops.

The River Valley Story

An increasingly important part of our River Valley story is we believe the food we offer should be local, should be seasonal, should be organic, and that sort of food is better for us. We know it does not involve the cost to the earth of produce from “Somewhere Far Away”.

We are committed that over time more of the ingredients in our meals will be from here, and less will be from “Somewhere Far Away”.

Easy – no. The right thing – yes.

Brian Megaw

cooking beetroots
rivre valley lodge - cooking
chilli jam

We believe the food we offer should be local,  seasonal, organic, and that sort of food is better for us.  The food at the lodge is all home cooked, using fresh produce from our gardens as much as possible.

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