Over the past 12 years, Tim and Deri-Anne Wyatt have slowly grown their small organic vegetable business, Angelica Organic Farm, building a reputation for their high-quality and sustainable produce. Their vegetables, grown outside Daylesford in north-western Victoria, are used in restaurants and wine bars across Melbourne, including Jerry Mai's Annam, Bellota (the bar attached to Prince Wine Store) and Pinotta in Fitzroy North.
But a combination of heavy frosts, irrigation equipment breakdowns and significant crop losses over the last 18 months have created a perfect storm that's left Angelica's future hanging in the balance.
Now Mai and several other chefs have banded together to plan a fundraiser for the farm, supplementing the Wyatts' own crowd-funding campaign that's raising money for the likes of finance payments on tractors and machinery, outstanding bills for seedlings and irrigation and the rent that's needed on their land to continue operations.
"As a chef, my suppliers are key to everything I cook for my guests and knowing how hard the team at Angelica work, their struggle is heartbreaking," Mai says. "We couldn't just sit back."
The chefs will host a five-course lunch at Annam on Sunday 19 August, cooking with produce from Angelica Farm's neighbours, Warialda Belted Galloway beef, Berkshire pork from Bundarra farm and kingfish from Spencer Gulf, all of which will be donated. In addition, all kitchen and floor staff will volunteer their time to ensure every dollar from ticket sales goes straight back to the Wyatts' business. On the pans are Mai, Nicky Reimer (Bellota) and Sascha Rust (Messer, Copper Pot), among others.
If you're interested in finding out more about Angelica Organic Farm and how to support the Wyatts, visit their crowdfunding page.
Angelica Organic Farm fundraising lunch, 12.30pm, 19 August 2018, Annam, 56 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, Vic. $65 for five courses. Bookings via (03) 9654 6627 or annam.com.au.