Snowy River Black Garlic | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2020
A passion for single origin food grown using sustainable farming techniques is what drives Mark Johnstone and Shelly Carroll. Mark believed that local conditions in Australia’s Snowy country — including 50 feet of rich topsoil — would better serve by feeding the community than it would by running cattle. He and Shelley set out to identify a high-value crop that could be produced with minimal environmental impact and settled on garlic.
With a background in naturopathic medicine, Shelley has a keen interest in foods that offer therapeutic benefit. When the couple discovered black garlic while travelling through New Zealand, it sparked interest and they returned home to begin experimenting with their own crop. Twenty-two different varieties later they identified the strain they use today.
Black garlic is created through an ageing process that utilises the Maillard reaction — the chemical interaction responsible for the blackening. The product offers all the traditional benefits of white garlic without the odour. It is additionally rich in amino acids and contains around double the antioxidants of its white counterpart, as well as being more easily tolerated by the digestive system.
What initially began as a product for themselves, friends and family, soon became their major commercial focus as word spread and interest grew.
For Snowy River Black Garlic, collaboration has been the game changer. Working with other local companies — including Noweyung, a provider of disability support services in the Gippsland area — has allowed SRBG find new uses for product that doesn’t meet sale specifications, while providing indirect employment and the ongoing positive social outcomes that generates.
Mark says the days of mono-culture crops are over, but there is a bright future for regional and rural parts of Australia, where like-minded people can come together to create high-value product and build valuable community connection. He sees associations like FFG as integral to that process, providing a mechanism for specialist advice, information flow and connection.