The Agrarian Experience

Published on: 2012-08-18

Over the winter I was very lucky to be invited to Lachlan to see just what the Agrarian Experience is all about. There have been many articles in newspapers and various ‘foodie’ magazines however none of them really prepared me for such an outstanding day. The lovely old School House has been restored by Severine and Rodney which sounds all sweet and romantic however from some of the stories Severine told me it was a cold, hard slog and a huge undertaking, however the results speak for themselves, a warm, beautiful and welcoming home. As all the guests arrive we gather round the lovely dining table with the roaring fire behind us to enjoy a country morning tea prepared by Severine. We are all strangers however Rodney and Severine soon have everyone relaxed and feeling as if we had known each other forever.
Purple Bok Choy

More veggies
However we are here to cook and learn so it’s into the kitchen to prepare our bread for taking home. Lots of laughs as we measure and weigh then we leave our dough to rest, gather our baskets and it’s out to the ‘garden’ to forage and gather. There really isn’t any way to describe the experience as we are introduced to an amazing array of vegetables, fruit, herbs, ducks, chickens and pigs. We pick, taste and dig for about an hour and really I could have stayed out there all day! Then it’s back into the kitchen for a quick cuppa and into preparation for our lunch.
Rodney showing how it\'s done

Bread dough
We are given a booklet with all the recipes and Rodney splits us into small teams to produce a course each. However at different stages of each course we are given a job for that course. I was in charge of making the Gnocchi and amid much laughter everyone had a turn at rolling and shaping them. Ours were all different shapes and sizes but when it came time to serve and eat there was absolutely no doubt which ones Rodney had done as a demonstration; perfectly shaped and all the same size! Then came time to ‘knead’ our bread dough and again the kitchen resounded with much laughter as we were encouraged to ‘whack’ the dough onto the stainless steel work benches. With flour and dough flying all over the kitchen (and us) we tried to outdo each other on who could make the loudest ‘whack’; again it was obviously Rodney! The amazing smells in the kitchen were making my tummy rumble so fortunately it was time to eat and what a feast we had. As we gathered around the table and tasted each other’s food it was if a ‘mini’ family had been created.
Ready to Eat!
As I drove home I reflected on the day and wondered why I felt as if I had been on holidays for a week, so now I know what the Agrarian Experience is really about, a complete break from the everyday world. Yes it’s a cooking school and yes you learn about small scale farming but it is so much more than that. Rodney and Severine are living the dream, the dream that many of us envy however when I really looked at the day it was with the realisation that the dream is not easy, it comes with an awful lot of hard work. It’s a testament to Rodney and Severine’s hard work that they give people a day to remember, as if the guests of the day are the only people who have experienced their unique hospitality.
Feeding the Pigs