Time to look for earthly treasures

NEW focus on farm tourism is giving visitors to one Tasmanian truffle farm a unique insight into just how the sought-after fungi are produced.

The Terry family have recently built a new on-farm store on their property near Red Hills and will be running tours throughout the winter harvest period.

They have just wound up their summer truffle harvest and Anna Terry said they started harvesting the winter black truffles this week.

After a very wet autumn and winter last year, Miss Terry said they were hoping for better yields this season.

“Yields were down a bit last year because of the weather,” she said. “It’s always a bit hard to know exactly how things will go with truffles it’s not like other crops where you can look out and see how much is there.

“We know they’re there at the moment, but we won’t really know how many are there until we get further into the harvest.”

The closure of restaurants and cafes last year due to COVID did impact on some of the farm’s customers, particularly in markets like Sydney and Melbourne, but Miss Terry said an increase in demand from locals as well as home cooks had helped.

“We were lucky because we had some really good support from locals and we had a lot of little orders that kept things going,” she said.

Miss Terry said people cooking at home during COVID lockdowns and a change in perceptions about truffles were also key factors.

“I think some of that stigma about truffles that they are only available in expensive restaurants has definitely gone,” she said “People are becoming more adventurous, willing to give them a go and thinking why not have truffles with mashed potatoes and steak on a Friday night.”

The family grew Australia’s first ever black truffle in 1999. Their products are sold under the Tasmanian Truffle label. Harvesting of summer truffles runs from December to May and the winter season kicks off in June and runs until September.

Miss Terry said farm tourism, including farm tours, was also becoming an important part of the business. Their new on farm shop is situated among a stand of gum trees not far from the trufferie and features a unique design and native timber.

“We wanted somewhere that people could call into if they haven’t booked a tour and still learn about truffles and maybe buy some products if they want to,” Miss Terry said.

The shop is open by appointment at the moment, but opening hours will be extended

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