Kangaroo Island’s Shane Leahy has set himself the goal to ensure South Australians have a better chance of consuming locally grown garlic. His firm, Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic, is the island’s first commercial garlic farm. According to Shane, this year’s harvest is his first successful yield after three years spent perfecting his growing techniques.
He is a strong advocate against imported garlic, saying the flavour of the local produce compared to imported is second to none. He is also passionate about the health and environmental benefits of choosing Australian grown garlic. “It stunned me when I first started growing and learning about garlic about what they do to imported garlic. By the time it gets here to Australia and it’s put on our plate, you may as well eat a cardboard box.”
According to the Australian Garlic Producers Group, Australia imports about 95% of its garlic from China, where the garlic is treated with a growth retardant to prevent it from sprouting and is also sprayed with chemicals to extend its shelf life.
Brandsanews.com.au describes how Australia also imports garlic from Spain, Argentina, Mexico and the US, with all imported garlic treated with methyl bromide upon arrival to ensure it meets stringent quarantine import conditions.
Australia’s garlic crops are generally planted in autumn, ready for harvest by late spring, depending on the conditions and growing region. To combat the seasonality of locally grown garlic, Shane has launched a range of value-added products so consumers can enjoy locally grown garlic all year round. He invested in peeling and dehydration equipment to make garlic granules, garlic powder and garlic salt, made with no additives or preservatives.