City slickers’ new life of toil and truffles

WHEN former Queenslanders Ina Ansmann and Timothy Noonan were looking for a lifestyle change it was a small truffle farm in Tasmania that caught their eye.

The couple were living in Brisbane when a search for rural properties in Tasmania turned up the Truffledore property at Lower Barrington.

Ms Ansmann said while they knew nothing about growing truffles, the idea of having their own land in the country was very appealing.

“We just needed a lifestyle change really,” she said.

“We’d come from Brisbane where we were living in a small unit in the city and both doing office-based jobs. We’d been talking for a while about getting out to the country and finding a piece of land and bit of space.”

Three months later, the couple moved to Tasmania and started their new life here in February 2019. Ms Ansmann said the property, which already had an established truffle farm, on-farm accommodation and cellar door-type facility was exactly what they were looking for.

Apart from eating them occasionally, the couple knew nothing about growing truffles, so Ms Ansmann said that had been a steep learning curve. “We certainly weren’t looking for a truffle farm as such, but we fell in love with the property and the truffles came with it, so that was a bonus,” she said.

After taking a few months to settle in the couple started their tourism business which includes truffle hunt experiences in June.

They also held a farm open day and invited the local community, which turned out to be a huge event.
Ms Ansmann said they had received a lot of support from locals and neighbours, which had made the move here much easier.

“We felt very welcomed, and we fell in love with the community here because people were so welcoming,” she said.

During Covid when there were restrictions on interstate travel, the couple started regular lunches at the farm on weekends and Ms Ansmann said they proved popular with locals.

Now things are back to normal, the couple have once again focused on their truffle tours and experiences and will operate them throughout the truffle season, which will get under way in the next few weeks.

The tours give visitors the experience of going out into the trufferie and watching the dogs work and collecting truffles.

This is followed by a four- course truffle-inspired lunch.

“We do love cooking for people and making nice home cooked food, but
we like to make it as an experience,” she said.

“So we do our long table lunches where you can sit down for food, but make it an experience as well.”

The truffle farm includes about 600 trees, most planted about 18 years ago.

As well as learning how to grow truffles, the couple have also had to learn how to harvest them.

This has included training their own team of truffle dogs.

They now have three dogs at the farm, four-year- old Cody, who is the most experienced truffle hunter, as well as one-year-old Kiki and the youngest is Smithfield Border collie cross Darcy.

All three have some working dog breeds in them, which Ms Ansmann said made them high energy but eager to please, which are ideal traits for a truffle dog.

“I think that the best part of it is working with the dogs,” she said.

The couple are about to start their fourth harvest and are hoping for good yields this season.

Ms Ansmann said as a young industry, there is still a lot to learn about growing truffles, much of which remains a mystery.

“The first farmed truffle was harvested here in 1999, but even in Europe farming truffles isn’t much older than that either,” she said.

“Up until then truffles were only found in the wild. So, there’s still a lot we don’t now about it and lot of it is still trial and error.”

Truffles grow in the ground over the warmer months but they need cold temperatures to ripen before they can be harvested.

Ms Ansmann said a nice long summer with lots of sunlight was ideal for growing them, followed by a cold winter with plenty of frosts to reduce the ground temperature.

“You don’t really know how is has gone until you start digging them up, so it’s quite exciting and part of the fun of it,” Ms Ansmann said.

“It’s almost like Christmas every morning when we go out because we don’t know what we’ll find.”

The couple use quite a few truffles on farm and also sell fresh truffles to locals as well as Tasmanian restaurants and some interstate.

They also produce value added products including truffle oils, salt and freeze- dried truffles which are sold throughout the year.

With the harvest season just about to get underway, Ms Ansmann said they are looking forward to having visitors come to the farm for the truffle tours.

“We really enjoy talking to people and showing them what we do here,” she said.

To find out more or to book a tour go to or The Truffledore Facebook and Instagram pages.