The Secret Garden lives up to its name – a true secret oasis of scent and colour, established to provide Auckland’s top restaurants with beautiful edible flowers and produce. This month our Farro ‘True Local’ Artisan Producer is Tamsin of The Secret Garden.
Tamsin Wilson, chief grower and picker, is the special ingredient behind The Secret Garden. A self- confessed ‘foodie’, her passion for good, honest food, love of nature and fascination for growing the unusual and interesting is what The Secret Garden is all about.
Based in Patumahoe, in rural Southern Auckland, with husband Pete and two children, Tamsin is realising her dream. Their four-acre lifestyle block, complete with dairy goats, ducks, chickens, pigs and sheep, is also home to The Secret Garden. It’s here that Tamsin and her dedicated team lovingly grow and personally hand-pick the finest fresh produce and picture-perfect edible flowers for your enjoyment.
Tamsin’s focus is on providing exciting, inspiring produce, with the aim of getting everyone to try something new. She works with The Produce Co, who distribute to us at Farro and to many great restaurants. She provides well known ingredients as well as new and exciting tastes to head chefs and relishes the opportunity to grow something more specialised for them such as Chinese artichokes, alpine strawberries or lovage.
Edibles have come a very long way from mint leaves and sprigs of rosemary. Tamsin grows a vast array of exciting plants such as lamb’s lettuce, ice lettuce, red and green amaranth, mekhong red amaranth, red and gold salad purslane, deep purple mustard leaf, blood veined sorrel, red veined beetroot leaves and edible chrysanthemum and more exotic herbs like pineapple sage, shiso leaf, nigella leaves and anise hyssop.
Tamsin’s philosophy for her Secret Garden is simple
- Health: Healthy soil grows healthy plants. They keep their soil healthy using compost, coffee grinds, compost tea, pea-straw and green manure. If it says ‘poison’ on the bottle, they don’t spray it. Instead she favours natural seaweed extract spray, fish extract and neem tree oil to keep their plants healthy, plus pest and disease free.
- Beauty: Tamsin loves fresh seasonal food – growing it…cooking it…. eating it (especially eating it!). It gives her huge satisfaction to grow the raw ingredients of a gourmet meal, and when she spots her products on a TV programme, in a magazine, cookbook or on a restaurant website, she gets very excited and has a real sense of pride.
- Rarity: She enjoys the thrill of hunting down rare or unusual edible plants and thrives on the challenge of growing the more demanding varieties.
- Flawlessness: Only the best will do for her customers! Tamsin and her team strive to provide flawless, fresh products every time.