Words: Elissa Friday Pictures: Lousia Jones
“Gardening and cooking have always been my passions from the time I left home aged 17,” says Craig Rossington.
“When I was a kid we always had a small vegie patch at home and grew the basics, like tomatoes, cucumbers and things like that.”
Now Craig has a patch of his own but with a specialty focus.
Instant Herbs Instant Flavour produces 80 herb varieties on a one-hectare site at Lara, selling to restaurants and individuals.
“I’m a chef by trade and that’s why I got into herbs,” Craig explains.
“Their flavour is absolutely underestimated when people buy pre-ground or just dry herbs for their cooking.
“You get a much better flavour using fresh herbs.”
The 48-year-old took the business from concept in 2014 to functioning reality the same year.
“It was my brother, Shaun, who suggested I bring gardening and cooking, my two loves, together and try to do something commercially.”
Instant Herbs’ stock list includes basic items like parsley, chives, thyme, sage and rosemary through to Asian flavours including coriander, Vietnamese mint, Thai basil and lemon grass.
“I am always on the look-out and sourcing new herbs – there are 3000 varieties of herbs worldwide,” Craig says.
“On this property I reckon I could get close to about 100,000,000 plants in the ground to be cultivated to generate and satisfy the demand.”
Craig grows all his herbs organically, finding natural protections for his crops.
“For example, I’ve got a plant that I call the ant plant. Ants hate it, so I use it to keep ants off my herbs.
“Also, certain types of lavender plants are a deterrent for bugs, mosquitos, butterflies and moths, too.”
Craig also uses natural processes to stimulate pollination, such as placing a rose near a tomato plant to attract bees.
On Craig’s agenda next year is expansion into vegies including, cucumbers, capsicums, onions, carrots and lettuce.
Also in the pipeline is a maxi-tub idea for customers interested in growing their own plants.
“Restaurants will be able to choose and harvest their own plants in a 900 tub that will hold 14 varieties of herbs.
“The maxi-tub will also come with a 12-month service where I’ll check on the plants a couple of times a week and replace them if they’re not doing so well.
Craig’s also planning children’s packs with a a small tub, soil, mulch and rocks for kids to grow and maintain herbs and strawberries.
“They’ll get a choice of four herbs to grow in the tub,” he explains.
“It’s all about getting kids into gardening and getting them to use what they grow.”
Children need to know that “not everything comes from out of a packet,” Craig believes.
But he has other growing plans of his own, with a five-year business goal that involves moving to a “much bigger property” where he can build his own packing plant to supply supermarkets.
In 10 years Craig hopes to have branched out into supplying the medical, health and wellbeing sectors.
In the meantime, Instant Herbs Instant Flavour is busy enough with its same-day deliveries to the customers’ doors.
“As the old saying goes, fresh is best,” Craig says.