Two former police officers have donned kitchen and garden tools to bring quality organic produce to Inverloch through their farmgate cafe.
Jjaras Farmgate at Inverloch started off with a small vegetable garden and has grown to be nearly four acres where all of the produce is sold through the farmgate shop or is prepared for the cafe menu.
Joe and Susannah Aiello are behind the business with Joe’s parents Albert and Josette. Albert started the garden about 20 years ago when he and Josette first bought the property. Using his Italian gardening heritage and knowledge he quickly established the plot from bare paddock to producing an abundance of food. Initially he placed the extra food on the nature strip for locals to collect. It became so popular that they eventually moved the stall into the garage and now there is a fully fledged cafe and foodstore.
In 2009 Joe and Susannah made the sea change to Inverloch and since then the cafe has grown. Susannah and Josette cook and work in the cafe and Joe is usually found outside planting out new garden beds and picking the produce with Albert.
The four acres is devoted to many raised garden beds and the alfresco area of the cafe overlooks the rows of pinot grape vines that produce wine for the family.
“We take pride in providing the freshest possible. We pick in the morning and put it straight on the shelf.” Joe said that many of the locals have realised that you need to get to the shop early to buy the homegrown veg. Most of the produce for the shop, generally around 90 per cent, is grown on the property, otherwise the produce is sourced from other local organic suppliers.
On the day we visit the blackboard at the entry to the cafe lets us know that in the shop today there are beetroot, spring onions, spinach, lettuce and a host of other freshly picked products available. A small selection of preserves, Josette’s tomato sauce and a range of jams are also on sale.
The garden is maintained organically and naturally in the sense that they provide only what is in season. You won’t find strawberries in the middle of winter at Jjaras, and the shop stock is at the mercy of the season. Some of the typical crops grown for the shop are zucchini, snow peas, beans and other things you won’t find in the shops such as purple beans. Lettuce is grown virtually all year and Joe said that their homegrown garlic is popular as it is difficult to find Australian grown garlic at many outlets.
Alongside the vegetable beds are seven beehives with its inhabitants used to pollinate the many fruit trees and to provide honey for the shop.
Nothing goes to waste as any produce not sold that day goes straight into dishes prepared for the cafe including soups, quiches, frittatas and cakes and biscuits.
Equally out in the garden no space is wasted as Joe points out garlic growing under an apple tree.
Jjaras is open on Thursdays and Saturday 8am to 3pm, but be quick as the early bird catches the worm.
Jjaras Farmgate and Cafe
69-77 Cashin Street, Inverloch
Words Rebecca Faltyn