Trish from Sanctuary@Waratah

A sea-change and a pivot brought Trish from Sanctuary@Waratah to the Collective. First as a customer, then as a much-needed volunteer during Lockdown 1.0, and then as a producer.

Previously a management consultant, specialising in health care, and novel therapies in Melbourne, Trish established her BnB, Sanctuary@Waratah in 2013, making the sea-change to Gippsland. “The food side of my life was calling me – this is the journey”, relayed Trish. “Food is how I express affection for people, and it is a happy accident that led me to be a Collective producer”. Chicken pate, mayonnaise, chocolate fudge sauce, stock pastes, are all made to order from her BnB kitchen, and we don’t know what we did without Trish before she came onboard.

A force in the South Gippsland community, Trish is the President of the South Gippsland Hospital Auxiliary and her smile is a mainstay at Collective packing days. Indeed, Trish has also been the Collective’s caterer since weekly deliveries commenced in March 2020, providing the packing team with a plate of amazing sweet and savoury deliciousness to bolster body and spirit through the early Sunday morning duties of packing boxes to deliver to Collective customers. Additionally, Trish cooks to provide a packed lunch for each of the Collective Sunday drivers. There’s not a Sunday since we started providing lunches that I haven’t chatted to drivers on the road about the contents of their lunch packs…pasties are alllllways the favourite.

Your story is one of the unique ones Trish, one of my favourites; when a customer becomes a producer. Tell me about how that came about.

Well, I was a customer of the Collective from the very beginning in 2017. I found out from Amelia at the Foster Farmer’s Market about it and I’ve been a fan from the beginning. When covid-19 hit, I thought, maybe the Collective needed a volunteer. So I became a box packer. I volunteered for a few weeks, looked at the products going out the door and saw how I could slot myself into the gaps. Pate was first.; I ordered some livers from Ilan at Mirboo Pastured Poultry and started testing recipes. Then mayonnaise…then I kept adding in products. It was completely accidental, I never set out to be a producer.

When was your a-ha moment, for wanting to come on board?

Looking at the packages of Mirboo Pastured Poultry chicken at the Collective packing sessions and thinking, “I can do something with this”. And then it so easily just happened; there was zero barrier to entry. But I don’t want to expand to other retailers, I only want to supply the Collective. The Collective’s values and philosophy are aligned with my own and I value that enormously. I’m doing it because I love it and this Collective model feeds that love.

What makes your product different, from say, a supermarket product?

Every jar is handmade, to order. What the customer is receiving is what they would do for themselves in their kitchen, but without the work.

Producer influences? Who’s your Producer hero?

Maggie Beer – she doesn’t strive for perfection; it doesn’t matter whether it is a bit rough and ready. Annabel Langbein – she’s my hero, she epitomises “grow your own, cook your own” with produce in its most unadorned state. Really simple recipes. She’s now cooking with her daughter and uses granny’s teacups to measure flour, so it is intergenerational. Grow it, cook it, eat it. She nails it.

For people wanting to get into selling their produce, what’s your key advice?

My response would be “research”. Plan, research, plan, Before you do anything, put effort into understanding what it is that you’re offering, who wants it and why and plan, plan, plan. Start slow and develop a solid base. The market will tell you if you’ve got it right.

If you could impart one piece of knowledge to your customer base, about cooking with your product, what would it be?

Pair it intelligently with other things. For instance, you wouldn’t eat the pate on its own; match it  with good crackers, good sourdough. Match it with things that also attain the same level of quality. Enhance it, do it justice.

What’s one thing that we might not know about you, outside of being a producer?

I’ve always wanted to learn to fly. So I did.

Favourite Cookbook?

Belinda Jeffery’s Mix and Bake.

Favourite non-cookbook book?

Rogets’ Thesaurus.