Slow Food Hunter Valley scholarship winner Tom Christie

Tom Christie is keen to meet other farmers who espouse the 'slow food' philosophy as part of his trip to Italy in September.

Tom is the Slow Food Hunter Valley winner of the inaugural Young Farmers Scholarship which will enable him to attend Slow Food’s biennial event: Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin

Slow Food is a movement started in Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini and a group of food activists to defend Italian regional foods from becoming extinct due to the spread of “fast food” culture.

The theme of this year’s event is Loving the Earth –  it means loving the people who work the Earth. 

Tom and his wife Dominique Northam, own Four Acre Farm in Marshdale, Dungog, where they grow Italian Purple garlic (a Racombole hard neck garlic) vegetables and flowers

They use organic farming methods and sell their produce directly and through the Newcastle Farmers Market.

Tom Christie

Tom Christie

Garlic is their main crop and it was selected because they saw a gap in the market for a locally grown organic product.

Four Acre Farm's  garlic

Four Acre Farm's garlic

“The majority of the garlic sold in this country comes from overseas and people was looking for a local product and buying directly from the producer,” To said.

That connection between grower and buyer is important for Tom who studied philosophy at university.

“I love the ethos of the Slow Food movement  – good, clean and fair food production that doesn’t harm the environment,” he said.

“And thanks to the Hunter Valley Slow Food scholarship I will be able to meet people at the Terra Madre conference from around the world who believe in that same farming philosophy. Exchanging ideas will be great.”

Once just a keen gardener living in Newcastle Tom has been busy for the past couple of months planting 10,000 garlic plants which will be ready for harvest in November.

Four Acre Farm's garlic crop

Four Acre Farm's garlic crop

But the joy of growing slow food keeps him very motivated during weeding.