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By Elizabeth Gracie, Social Media & Content Editor ISSUE #034 A TRIBUTE TO THE UNION OF FOOD AND SPIRITS | Community

Meet the dynamic duo behind our Lemon-Scented Gum Gin Harvest 2021

Our limited-edition Lemon Scented Gum Gin Harvest 2021 is more than just the sum of its parts. It represents, in the bottle, how anything harvested with care and consideration, whether it be grain or botanical, can and should be celebrated.

Joining the ranks of other gins in our Harvest series such as Poormans Orange, this product started its life in Wodonga’s Bunyip Hollow, grown from the efforts of co-owners Cyan Von Gija and Martin Page to experiment with gourmet agriculture.

An iconically Australian eucalyptus with an enthralling flavour, we felt that Lemon Scented Gum captured the bounty of the Australian harvest perfectly!

In this interview, we spoke to Cyan about the ethos behind much of what he and Martin do at Bunyip Hollow, their ongoing epicuriosity to experiment with and grow different types of native species, and of course the process behind growing the ingredient we just can’t get enough of.

How did your journey at Bunyip Hollow begin?

I was celebrating my birthday one year in the neighbouring town of Beechworth and was looking at properties for fun! After seeing the posting for the Bunyip Hollow property we both fell in love.

Myself and Martin lived in Paddington near the Sydney CBD for 10 years where I attempted to grow unique and interesting food myself but it was a very small space and I was restricted in what I could actually do, so it is wonderful to have the space to experiment here.

Generally, if I find something interesting I go and try to grow it myself, that’s really at the heart of how this all came out about. There was no plan, just passion!

Why grow Lemon Scented Gum?

Lemon Scented Gum is one of the over 200 species of Native Produce (Bush Tucker) that we grow at Bunyip Hollow. It’s a gum tree that has a thick lemony scent and has been traditionally used as a culinary herb. I also don’t actually know of anyone else who grows it like we do here.

When it comes to flavouring there really is nothing quite like Lemon Scented Gum!

Tell us, what’s special about Bunyip Hollow when it comes to quality native products?

We have one of, if not the, largest collection of native produce in the country which we grow 100% organically. We like to grow things that other people don't grow commercially, things that are hard to find and species that are exotic. We feel that this sets us apart from other native and organic growers.

Bunyip Hollow places a lot of importance on ethically growing food, by working with nature and following organic principles. Why is this so important to your operation?

We know from personal experience that organic produce tastes better. The idea of eating or drinking something that not only tastes good but also is better for us is important. To us, it's a no-brainer. The reason we grow produce organically is that we know organic produce tastes better. We wouldn’t be doing things this way if we didn’t believe that.

By using chemicals and pesticides growers abuse and eventually destroy the land. We want to keep our soil healthy and to do so avoid any artificial input such as pesticides and fertilisers. By avoiding these chemicals, we end up with a much stronger and healthier result in our fully grown produce.

Talk us through ‘experimental gourmet agriculture’.

We are constantly experimenting with growing unusual produce. Much of what we grow very few, if anyone, grows in Australia. There are so many exciting, different tasty things that are hard to find, not because they are good, but simply because we tend to stick to a very limited palate of flavours. We aren't interested in just subsistence farming. We like to grow a lot of what we eat, but we are also gourmands who want really great food.

90% of our food production comes down to eight species of plants and yet there are an estimated 3000 native plants in Australia that are edible. These are all species that are more adaptive to changes in climate and the environment and are full of nutrition and interesting flavours. A good example of this is native parsley and celery which are very easy to swap into your pantry.

On the experimental side, there also isn’t a lot of information out there on certain products and how to grow them, but that’s where most of the fun lies, experimenting and just waiting to see what will happen!

What do you think about the Lemon Scented Gum Gin Harvest 2021 now that you have tasted the final product?

When Archie Rose reached out wanting to purchase some of our Lemon Scented Gum for a spirit we really didn’t think it would work as an ingredient but after tasting the finished product I rather like it and think it was a great success!

Shop Lemon Scented Gum Gin Harvest 2021 here.

We think lemon scented gum makes a great addition to our gin but did you know it also works great in any type of citrus dish? Dry out the leaves and ground them into powder and you have an excellent seasoning to add some extra crunch to your favourite meal! Roasted veggies anyone? Or perhaps you would like to add them to a lemon cheesecake - delicious!