There’s 60ha of rolling land in Tuerong that exemplifies country life on the Mornington Peninsula. Lush fields. Wide open spaces. Views that go on from the hilltops to the sea. Tuerong Farm is indeed aesthetically awesome, but it’s what the land grows that is really interesting.
Jason Cotter and his partner Emma Hicks grow and mill heritage, ancient and modern cereal at Tuerong Farm. It is the only farm on the Peninsula to cultivate and stone-mill wheat to produce fresh, flavourful flour.
Jason explains: “Other than the modern French red and Australian white wheats, we grow over 200 old and rare varieties, mainly from the 19th and early 20th centuries. We’ve accessed these through the Australian Grains Genebank or imported them through quarantine from overseas. They have different protein profiles to modern wheat and often better flavour, nutrition and ease of digestion.
“We started five years ago because, amongst other reasons, we wanted to make a loaf of bread that grew from here,” Jason continues. “There wasn’t any local grain or flour and we thought there should be. Traditionally, mills were at the heart of the community, so it’s been heartening that Peninsula locals and restaurants have received the flour so well.”
Jason says that typical roller-milled flour doesn’t retain bran or germ. Stone-ground flour does, along with the full complement of protein, starch, lipids and micro-nutrients. It tastes better too. “We mill it fresh and you can tell the difference in the flavour. Heritage grains like rouge de Bordeaux (France 1880) are coveted because they are flavourful and easy to digest. Ancient grains like emmer are too. It helps that our crops are grown without fungicide, insecticide or in-crop herbicide,” says Jason, who talks of his grain like a winemaker talks of ‘terroir’. “It is grown, milled and eaten locally. We see our flour as a real expression of place.”
Jason’s family has been involved in agriculture on the Peninsula for decades. His father grew up in Tuerong on Hunts and Tubbarubba roads while his mum grew up in Frankston and he in Langwarrin. This history and connection to the region informs what his land generates and how it is produced.
“We are committed to the local produce movement on the Peninsula. Beside the history of civilisation is the history of grain, and there is nothing more beautiful than a field of ripening wheat.”
From earth, stone-ground to you.