You may remember from Issue Four we featured an article about the Steffen family in Gatton who are growing gem squash:
Thanks to another enterprising and ever resourceful South African, we here in Oz are about to start enjoying having gem-squash as part of our staple diet again!
Gatton farmer Brett Steffens looked into importing gemsquash seeds from South Africa, not only to provide an alternate source of income, but also to fill what is quite clearly a gap in the market.
Brett is a third generation farmer, who was prepared to take a gamble on importing seeds! Fortunately, the gem squash is an easy grower, and took to the land like a duck to water! “It took a lot of research and tonnes of paper-work” especially thanks to bureaucratic red tape. Brett persevered and did everything by the book. Now he has the rights to import a hybrid seed which he has exclusive rights to for the next three years.
As a result of this article, Brett received calls from many ex-pats placing their orders for their beloved gems, but understandable most only ordered a box or two every now and again. As well as sporadic sales through a few South African grocery stores, the Steffens have relied mostly on word of mouth to sell their gems. Unfortunately the demand has not been sufficient and Brett had to throw out more than 75% of his last crop. He has approached Woolies in Sydney and like most large stores they are happy to stock new products, but only if the demand is there.
So next time you visit your local Coles, Woolies or Fresh Food Market, why not ask if they stock gem squash (We know they don't), but this is one way we can start to help build some demand for Brett's crop. And if you approach a small independent grocery and they are interested, please take their details and pass them on to Brett Steffens.
His details are:
Mobile: 0419 021 421
You can also contact Paul Seymour on 0423 618 331 for contacts on where to buy the Gem Squash.
The next crop of gems goes in at the end of August, so get your orders in and lets see how much demand we can create for this truly African vegetable. Lets make gem squash an Aussie household favourite.
Thanks to Jenny Liebenberg for sending her message to Sabona's Inbox. Great to see the Southern African spirit of community and looking out for each other, continues in our adopted country: I phoned Brett and he said he had to dump about 75% of the crop last season due to lack of support. Let's make an effort to support him so we don't lose our Gems. He said none of the supermarkets would suppport him. Lets push our local supermarkets or green grocers to buy some gem squash. Jenny