What began as a retirement hobby has turned into the hottest new Tassie product on the artisan shelves.
Kimberley sisters-in-law, Debbie and Helena Woodcock, were walking one day and chatting about finding something to do to keep themselves busy.
“We thought, well garlic doesn’t sound too hard, so we thought we’d try that,” Debbie said.
That was four years ago, and they started with 800 plants each at their properties, about one-kilometre down the road from each other. For the first three years, they sold the fresh garlic bulbs to fruit and vegetable shops, but that third year, they had some extra plants leftover.
“They grew really big and broke open so you couldn’t sell them like that, so we thought, why don’t we slice it and sell it as an alternative when there’s no Australian garlic available.”
It was around that time that the entrepreneurial in-laws discovered the incredible flavour of the Tasmanian pepper berry, which was growing at the farm next door.
“So we mixed it and put in some salt and played with the percentages – a lot of trial and error.”
It involved many hours of curing, slicing and dehydrating. From there, they created four other flavours, besides the “original” of garlic, pepper berry and salt. They included rosemary, lemon myrtle, fennel and orange, and chilli.
“And we thought, well, that’s five - it’s a nice number, let’s keep it at that,” Debbie said.
Most of their ingredients are local. Besides their home-grown garlic, they also grow some of the chilli they use. They harvest the wild fennel from around a local dam, the pepper berries come from the farmer next door, the rosemary comes from a neighbour’s garden, and the lemons come from locals who have lemon trees.
Petuna Seafoods was the first business to stock Pure and Purple Garlic products, closely followed by Ashgrove and Hill Street.
Now, it is stocked at a number of Tasmanian shops and mainland locations.
“We’re increasing the crop every year,” Helena said.
“We started with the 800 plants each, and now we’re up to 17,000 between us.”
The best part of the Woodcocks’ adventure has been the excitement within the local community.
“Everyone wants to be a part of it,” Debbie said. “All our neighbours want to help. They help with putting stickers on bottles, pulling – everyone’s so supportive.”
"I try to harvest mine of a weekend to call in the family so that they can all come in and help,” Helena said.
Everyone wants to be a part of it. All our neighbours want to help.Debbie Woodcock
“It makes it that much easier, and they love coming to help. They ask, ‘when are you going to pull it, we’ll come and help’.”
Due to increasing demand, they will increase their crops again next April.