Based in the Yarramalong Valley on the Central Coast lies Hidden Valley Harvest, a sustainable specialist grower of edible flowers that use organic growing techniques.
Aliye German, commenced her journey with NEIS in 2017 producing edible flowers, but has expanded her business to host workshops, and is involved with sustainability programs on the Coast.
The NEIS program has been delivered by APM Employment Services since February 2020. It was previously delivered by Konekt Employment.
From 1 July 2022, Self-Employment Assistance replaced the NEIS program.
Aliye works closely with the Central Coast Council to promote sustainability and land management and plans to promote farm tours and cooking demonstrations in the near future.
She has built a regular clientele of restaurants, organic co ops, cafes and retail customers throughout the Central Coast.
Flowers have been used for culinary purposes throughout the ages and have experienced a renaissance in recent times says Aliye.
Edible flowers are a beautiful way to elevate any dish and contribute so much more than just a pretty garnish. They are a delightful way to add colour, texture, aroma and flavour to our food.
Our love affair with flowers is evident throughout history. In Victorian times, flowers had a secret language of their own and were used to communicate thoughts and feelings that people were otherwise unable to express openly.
Edible flowers are used in many foods and beverages. Some of the more common ones being stuffed zucchini blossoms, rose flavoured Turkish delight, saffron rice (derived from the crocus flower). Drinks flavoured with botanicals are gin, Pimms and beer.
Hidden Valley Harvest flowers are grown without chemical treatment so are ready for human consumption.
Aliye cautions that not all flowers, or parts of flowers are edible and some are actually toxic, so be sure to identify species correctly.
For example vegetable pea and bean flowers are edible but the ornamental sweet pea is not.
Some fantastic ways to use edible flowers include as a garnish, ice cubes or scented ice-creams, cake decoration, floral butter, soups and broths, teas, vinegars, cocktails, jams and jellies to name but a few.