Laura & Ed Verner - Pasture | Founders & owners at Pasture
Parnell, Auckland City | November 2016
“The fermented and pickled vegetables, fruits and their sauces, inspires and elevates what we're able to do with fresh produce.”"... more text below images
It’s really important when people come to Pasture, that we’re telling stories about the food. A lot of what is presented on the menu, we can tell you about how we found it, or how we harvested it. Some ingredients are foraged and we use all kinds of plants that others might consider weeds.
We tell the stories of seasons past. We are busy during the late summer and autumn when there is a glut of produce. Our provisions allow us to produce food and flavours at all times. We encapsulate the period, and the taste, of abundance, and use it throughout the year.
For instance a dessert made from Shiso vinegear that I grew in our home garden in semi-rural Auckland. This dish included purple heritage carrots, passionfruit and this aromatic vinegar.
The fermented and pickled (vegetables and their sauces) give us a library of flavours, that inspires and elevates what we’re able to do with fresh produce.
A lot of what we do is an experiment and often it doesn’t work. Sometimes you get this amazing surprise. The fruit that you’re trying to preserve might be ‘ok’, but the liquid juice you preserve from it might be amazing.
At Pasture, it’s an open plan kitchen, you pretty much see everything. We seek to be really transparent and open about the ingredients, and to demystify the restaurant experience.
Who inspires you as a gardener?
My Mum is an amazing gardener. Growing up I was always surrounded by her garden. She had a beautiful little orchard in Johannesburg. I loved it - Tomatoes, aubergines …. My family bought a vineyard in South Africa, they went through a massive exercise regenerating the land. The invasive species have been taken out, over the last 15 years there’s been this beautiful regeneration of the tiny plant kingdom native just to this region, which is known as Fynbos.
My mother, brother and his growing family still live on the vineyard, and their commitment to the environment is deepening - it is now under transition to being bio-dynamic. Home is a beautiful haven. Beehives and so on. It’s in my blood. I can’t remember a time in my life that I haven’t been surrounded by great influences.
How did you become a gardener?
I’ve always grown something. My mom likes telling the story of how I made moss gardens in the rocker where I grew up in Johannesburg. However, when I moved to New Zealand it was a little different as I was flatting and studying.
I became involved with a wonderful community garden in Wellington. It was set up for women from migrant communities to be able to connect to one another. Using your hands and connecting with a side of yourself and culture. The first time I started seeing gardening as cultural.
When I moved to Auckland I studied in organic horticulture. I worked on Project Twin Stream, based in the Waitakeres, the aim is to regenerate the riparian eco-system. It was awesome. I’ve also volunteered at Kelmarna Gardens. Even if you don’t have your own garden there’s still amazing opportunities to get connected with the earth and other people.
How did you and Ed come to create Pasture?
I picked a bouquet for a gathering. It was full of edible flowers and herbs. Ed noticed it and said, “I’d love to come and see your garden”. I’d really transformed a tiny area, 30 fruit trees and medicinal herbs. I really loved it. It was really interesting to me to see Ed’s eyes open up.
The produce we do has to be bulk – be on the menu for several weeks – producing things en masse.
We would love to grow our own produce. I’m also looking for a site in Parnell where I can set up kitchen gardens and get the chefs out into the garden. It’s such a gruelling hard job. Getting the chefs hands in the soil will be meditative and a very good counter to standing cooking. That’s my project for 2017.
To find out more, or to make a booking go to Pasture website
POD thanks photographer Lottie Hedley.