Meet Sue Heward of Singing Magpie Produce – another passionate local food producer who really does give a fig about sharing the seasonal bounty.
I know I’ve been a bit remote over the last few weeks, and that’s because I’ve been a bit, well, remote. I’ve just finished a big, annual research and writing project that has also involved travel into some food-producing regions – not that I’m complaining. There’s nothing I love more than meeting with the amazing regional producers that abound in South Australia, and one of those was Sue Heward of the beautifully named and branded Singing Magpie Produce.
Over the last year, Sue and I had struck up an acquaintance via our Instagram profiles, largely based upon the fact that I was drooling over her images of the amazing produce from her Riverland block, so I was very happy to have the chance to actually meet her.
The Hewards have been producing premium fruit on the Monash block since the 1920’s and are one of the few remaining original families that were part of the post-war soldier settlement scheme. The Riverland is a great place to grow up but, with itchy feet, Sue eventually took off for the bright lights of Melbourne, where she married, had a successful science-based public health career and a family. However, memories of extended family connections and the carefree river childhood she enjoyed became too strong to resist and last year she headed home, keen to create similar memories for her own daughter.
The Riverland region of South Australia is incredibly fertile – according to the locals, “you can grow anything here” – and from this rich soil the Hewards have produced high quality white Smyrna and black Genoa figs, pecans, grapes and quinces, selling their fruit to the likes of Maggie Beer and Beerenberg for years.
Sue is a dynamic ball of energy if I’ve ever seen one. Knowing the true value of premium, local, seasonal produce, she’s passionate about giving more consumers the chance to experience it. Also keen to up the ante on the family fruit block, looking to value-add and minimise crop waste, she’s created Singing Magpie Produce, kicking off with a range of plump, succulent semi-dried figs.
Fresh figs are a gourmet’s delight, but have a short season and are difficult to transport. Knowing she could do a whole lot better than the sad, imported dried figs Australian consumers are used to, Sue produced her wickedly luscious, sticky semi-dried figs. Subsequently adding to the range, she now offers pecans, dried quinces and a selection of other local produce.
With all the passion of a genuine food lover and tirelessly working to spread the Riverland sunshine and love, Sue supplies wholesale orders, catering requirements and retail customers from her growing online store. She currently has a selection of more than 10 products for sale, including those gorgeous, sweet figs – now also enrobed in Belgian chocolate and gift boxed.
However, I seriously don’t expect her to stop there. There’s a lot more fruit up in the Riverland, so watch the Singing Magpie space – I’m very sure there’s plenty to come.