provenance in the tamar valley

provenance in the tamar valley

March 18, 2011  |  environment, knowledge, main blog, motivation

Imagine receiving a box of fruit and vegies once a week, packed full of fresh seasonal produce with a story about where they were grown. Carrots and spuds with soil on them, new seasons apples, tomatoes that taste like the ones you grow in the back yard, rhubarb and fresh lettuce, as well as mushrooms and onions (and whatever else is in season at a point in time) – all for $25, on your doorstep!

Across Australia, there is a groundswell of sourcing fresh locally grown produce from farmers markets. My friends Hilary and Barney near Lilydale in the Tamar Valley of Tasmania, have taken this one step further. They have developed a network of local providers who provide fruit and vegetables in season for Hilbarn. The producer is packed with a team of local people every Sunday night ready for despatch the next morning. An emerging distribution network has the Hilbarn box delivered to more than 100 loyal customers in Launceston, Scottsdale and even Hobart, every Monday.

We were lucky to see this in action recently and even helped with the packing. The idea is brilliant! It embraces the concept of provenance, or understanding origin. The regional and local sourcing has obvious carbon, energy and employment benefits, but also engenders a sense of community and belonging that adds another dimension and level of appreciation and understanding.

The contents of the Hilbarn box are a talking point. There is an element of surprise and even education. Hilary related the story of children realising for the first time that peas come in pods rather than packets. The sense of discovery and infectious involvement is exciting. People have even described themselves as “Hilbarners” (a marketer’s dream).

Hi and Barney do this because they love it. Although they are establishing a potentially powerful brand and concept, they would never sell out to the big retailers whose philosophies just don’t align. This is grass roots, local and powerful. It was a privilege to see it in action and I salute these two visionary people who are bringing growers and consumers together in a very satisfying and meaningful way.


  1. Thank you, Ken, for your generous acknowledgement and appreciation. We enjoyed sharing what we do with you and your family.

  2. Great story & photos. We love receiving the Hilbarn delivery, and enjoy being able to share some of the produce with our neighbours. It’s like Christmas when the box arrives, and it makes us think more about dinner preparations using the fresh ingredients – rather than the same boring things we normally churn out!!
    Cheers, Tania

  3. A beautiful and much deserved accolade to Hilbarn. We love being greeted each MOnday by our Hilbarn box … my daughter cannot wait to find out what has arrived that week and is quick to steal an apple or carrot or munch on some broccoli before I can even get it to the fridge…we are sold!

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