In four years Hart’s café, The Seasonal Garden Cafe, has outgrown two previous locations along Hahndorf’s Main Street, and at the current purpose-built property there are reports of people queuing for her seasonal and organic food.
She says there is steady demand for her fresh produce boxes of SA-grown fruit and vegetables hand-picked from Adelaide Farmers’ Markets stallholders, and she has already sunk the gardening fork into the large patch of dirt at the back of café which she plans to turn into a community garden.
When she’s not in the kitchen or in the garden, she’s spruiking the virtues of growing, cooking and eating fresh food at cooking demonstrations, public events and online as her avatar “The Lunch Box Lady”, giving her followers tips for packing healthy and hearty lunch boxes for children. It’s a workload she juggles with her own four children.
Before opening Seasonal Garden, Hart sold her business “The Honey Lady”, a concept she says was inspired by a previous partner’s encouragement to do something with the seven beehives she kept on her shed roof and a once-unwell friend she calls “Turmeric Pete”.
“I spent three years on a permaculture property in Flaxley and got to know ‘Turmeric Pete’ at the Willunga Farmers’ Market,” she explains.
“His commitment to using food as medicine inspired me to create honeys combined with healing ingredients such as cinnamon, green tea and turmeric.”
Hart recalls a childhood growing up on a 6ha property at Basket Range in the Adelaide Hills.
“We grew everything ourselves and I don’t remember not knowing which wild mushrooms were edible and which ones weren’t, or what medicinal plants grew in the garden.
“I didn’t realise that was ‘foody’ until a friend said, ‘you can cook’.
Hart says her knowledge and passion was rewarded with regular requests for cooking demonstrations at the Adelaide Farmers’ Market, an ambassadorial role to promote South Australia’s premium food and wine – and even an invitation to Balmoral, Prince Charles’ Scotland estate, after the recent royal visit to South Australia.
“I’m a manifestor (a person who makes their ideas into reality),” she says. “I was listening to a radio show about a lady talking about graceful endings (the idea of navigating the journey of loss and grief) and doing what you love and I made the decision to sell The Honey Lady.
“I posted it on Facebook and one of my customers bought it; it was meant to be.
“Then I literally opened The Seasonal Garden Café with nothing but basic council approval, camp ovens to cook on and WWOOFERS (volunteers from the World Wide Oppotunities on Organic Farms organisation) to help.”
The Seasonal Garden Café is open seven days (8am to 5pm) and the menu includes dishes such as eggs and greens, fancy toasted sandwiches, local produce platters, porridge, smoothies, raw-food cakes, dips, kombucha (fermented green tea) and pickles (see some Seasonal Garden dishes below).
The vibe is relaxed country-style, with an eclectic mix of recycled furniture including long farm tables big enough to spread newspapers and colouring books on, squashy sofas and colourful artworks on the walls indoors, and outdoor seating under the trees overlooking the orchard, the creek and the expanse of land that awaits transformation.
Now Hart has settled into this much bigger and better space, her energy for creating and manifesting ideas hasn’t slowed, but rather has expanded to include a broader sense of community.
She has engaged local businesses and schools to help build and grow an educational garden or “outdoor classroom” on the block at the back of the café.
“It is surprising how many people don’t know how to garden and as a result how vulnerable we are as a species that we don’t know how to survive,” she says.
The Seasonal Garden community garden will offer two hands-on educational gardening sessions to community groups, such as school students and the elderly.
“I believe in entrepreneurial altruism, living a life that feeds your passion, makes you money and contributes to society.”
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