Byron Spice Palace

Byron Spice Palace owners Duska Jefed and Rob Cullinan in their garden at The Pocket with new baby daughter, Ginger. Photo: Kate O'Neill

Byron Spice Palace owners Duska Jefed and Rob Cullinan in their garden at The Pocket with new baby daughter, Ginger. Photo: Kate O’Neill

Duska Jefed and Rob Cullinan have always been keen to keep their food miles low.

Since they started their farmers market stall Byron Spice Palace nine years ago, the ingredients for their fresh seasonal dips and sauces have always been sourced direct from local farmers at the markets they attend.

“I’ve always liked the idea that we could meet the farmers at the market and there was no food miles. They were going to the market and we were going to the market, and we could just pick and choose straight from them. Rather than it coming from Brisbane or wherever, we could see what was good at the market, what’s fresh, and we could buy that to make our dips accordingly,” said Rob.

Eighteen months ago, Rob and Duska decided to take the low food miles concept a step further, by moving from their hilly Ocean Shores block to a flat half acre at The Pocket, where they have set up their own organic gardens to supply their business.

There they grow basil for their pesto; chillies for their harissa pastes; beetroot for their beetroot, mint and almond dip; ginger for their satay sauce; coriander for their coriander pesto; and pumpkin for their roast pumpkin dip. They’ve planted lemon trees to supply fresh juice for their dips and to make preserved lemons.

“We always wanted to have a garden, to be able to pick the basil and take it to the kitchen and make the pesto… have it all happening on site, “ said Duska.

“Now it’s 30 metres from our vegie patch to our kitchen, so it’s fresh, it’s low food miles, we know we’re growing a beautiful organic product and we feel good about that. “

‘Fresh, local and made from scratch’ sums up the philosophy of Byron Spice Palace. “A lot of dip makers cut corners with garlic and lemon juice,” said Rob. “With our dips (which are all gluten free and vegan), the lemon juice is from real lemons, not a container, and we peel and crush the garlic ourselves.  I think our customers know that and they appreciate the fact  we don’t cut corners.”

Rob and Duska still supplement with produce from the markets; and ingredients like macadamias for their dukkah blends and home-made baklava will continue to come from other local farmers, but they’re working toward being self- sufficient, and plan to expand their gardens over time.

Meanwhile, they’ve recently expanded their family, welcoming baby Ginger – a sister for their older children, Polly, 8, and Sunny, 10, – and they are celebrating where their family and business is right now.

“It took us nine years, so that’s why it’s so exciting to be here,” said Rob

“This is the culmination of the dream.”

• Find Byron Spice Palace at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday.

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