In 2016 Tom Christie won the Slow Food Hunter Valley Inaugural Young Farmer Terra Madre Scholarship. The scholarship involved a trip to Slow Food’s biennial event Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy (September 2016). At Terra Madre Tom represented Slow Food Hunter Valley in what can only be described as a full immersion experience relating to “all things food and farming”.
As a small-scale garlic farmer from Marshdale (near Dungog, NSW) Tom was keen meet other farmers who espoused the ‘slow food’ philosophy. After several years of co-operative farming, Tom (and his wife) produced their first crop on their own land in 2016.
Tom and his wife Dominique Northam – who are passionate about food production – use organic farming methods. They sell directly through farmer’s markets in both Newcastle and Dungog. Tom said he savours “the interaction with other producers in Dungog” when the farmer’s markets are on and “is always adding to his knowledge bank” with every interaction. Tom also thinks the connection between grower and buyer is an important one and sits well with the concepts he studied in his Philosophy degree.
Tom has been part of a food co-op, studied permaculture, and completed courses with Curtis Stone and Jean-Martin Foractier in Sydney. “I love the ethos of the Slow Food movement – good, clean and fair food production that doesn’t harm the environment,” he said. “And thanks to the Hunter Valley Slow Food scholarship I will be able to meet people at the Terra Madre conference from around the world who believe in that same farming philosophy. Exchanging ideas will be great.”
Tom has gone from a keen gardener living in Newcastle to planting our some 10,000 garlic plants at Four Acre Farm but the joy of growing slow food keeps him very motivated during weeding. His