It’s not often you hear “lentil” and “amazing” in a sentence together. But Matt and Lentil of Grown and Gathered are an amazing example of how to make sustainable cooking and farming positively glam. Their blog (and now, their book!) doesn’t just tell, it shows – in a beautiful light. It’s not all recipes featuring homegrown ingredients though – the pair are also keen to make sure readers have the fundamental food growing and kitchen skills you need, and the kitchen staples to make it easy to throw real food together. They’re also wonderful advocates for closed-loop farming, preserving, bartering, and sustainable living more broadly.

We wanted to get their perspective as young farmers doing things a little differently, so we hit up Matt for quick natter.

What’s your spirit vegetable?

Lentil would have to be a basil plant: smells amazing, makes everything she touches taste delicious, hates the cold and loves tomatoes.
I would have to be a turnip: Ugly and a little odd smelling, but with a heart of gold.

Often there’s a bit of black-and-white “big ag” vs “small producers” rhetoric going on – but what’s something you find you CAN agree on with other farmers?

It’s bloody hard work. But so worth it.

What do you think is the simplest way eaters can better support farmers?

Support them as directly as possible. Get out to farmers markets or any other direct-to-farmer endeavour like farm gate sales or farmer run produce boxes. And talk to them. Ask them questions. Farming can be an isolating pursuit – it’s always so nice when customers actually care and want to know how it’s all going and how best they can support you.

Matt Lentil Grown and Gathered

What food marketing BS would you like to call out as a farmer?

Certified organic produce. It can be so great. But it can just be really quite misleading too, grown with inputs that are yes organic, but also shipped halfway across the globe to get to the farm. Many certified organic growers are certified legends doing all the best things, it just sucks that many aren’t, and don’t care to, and it’s all about marketing and higher market value for them. The answer is always the same: get to know your farmers, start a relationship with them, take the time to truly ‘know’ where your food comes from. Oh, and free-range meat is a mine field – if you want to eat pork and chicken, definitely take the time to find out where it’s really coming from.

Often farmers are super passionate about what they grow – do you see other foods in a similar light to the food you grow?

Absolutely! We care no more or less for the stuff we actually grow to everything else we eat. We love food! Maybe it’s my Italian and Lentil’s Maltese heritage – but food is central to life for us and we LOVE seeking out the very best produce to cook with. Growing it or foraging it ourselves is for sure usually the most fun :) But knowing that it’s come from an amazing farmer or an amazing neighbour is sometimes even better – and a lot less work ha! We’d love to see everyone growing a little something even if it’s just a basil plant on their window sill – growing food is in us all and life is just so much more rewarding when we do it! And eating food is so much better when the ingredients we start with are the best and freshest they can’t be :) Happy growing everyone.

Hungry for more? Check out their book here! Plus see more about the unexpected aspects to organic farming you should know about

Image credit: Lentil Purbrick and Shantanu Starick

Zo Zhou

Zo Zhou

Zo is the National Communications Manager and will basically never shut up about vegetables.