4 May, 2023
Thai and Irish ingredients create recipe for success
In eight short months an overgrown small acreage block on Breydon Road Hodgson Vale has been transformed into a lush Thai market garden brimming with all the ingredients for authentic Thai cooking.
Nayada Hansopa (also known as Chilli Kanon) and partner James Kelleher worked from sunrise to sunset to clear the ground of metre high weeds, prepare the ground for planting and install a drip irrigation system and are now reaping the rewards of their hard work and initiative.
Kanon came from Thailand eight years ago where she ran a restaurant in Phuket and honed her skills in producing authentic Thai cooking.
“Cooking has been my passion forever and I love to grow much of the produce I cook, so I know it is
organic and with no chemicals and fresh,” Kanon said.
James came to Australia from Ireland over twenty years ago and works as an Electrical Engineer.
When James has time, he helps out in the garden or driving to markets in Brisbane with Kanon to sell the condiments she makes from her garden produce.
Chilli Kanon now supplies seven Toowoomba outlets and restaurants with her delicious hand made curry pastes, oils and jams and is a regular at the Cobb & Co Farmer’s Markets; plus her chillikanon.com website hosts a convenient online shop supplying people throughout the Darling Downs.
While their garden overflows with various types of chilli plants, turmeric, melons, cucumbers, lemon grass and a host of other exotic plants needed for Thai cooking, Kanon has had to compromise with one small corner of the garden where James, like any true Irishman, grows his beloved potatoes.
Currently the pair (who jokingly refer to themselves as ‘Thai-rish’) are getting their heads around how much product they actually need to grow to meet their current and growing demand.
The entrepreneurial spirit Kanon and James have displayed is now being rewarded and they have even bigger plans for the future when Kanon hopes to build a kitchen suitable to hold Thai cooking classes.
“We’re hoping to offer cooking classes right here at the farm where people will be able to go down to the garden to collect the vegetables and herbs they need for cooking and see just how easy it is to have your own garden, cook your own food and taste just how good it is,” she said.
The pair is constantly trying new ideas and improving gardening techniques and the purchase of a tractor has helped to reduce the physical demands of the garden.
Kanon is not afraid of hard work and can be found working in her garden every day.
“I am daily weeding, watering and training plants.
“I give the left overs or spoilt garden cuttings, fruit and vegetables to the chickens and ducks,
“I use white vinegar and chilli water to spray the plants with and keep them healthy of bugs; and I plant marigolds next to the cucumbers, melons, potato, lettuce, pumpkins and tomatoes because the bugs don’t like the smell.
“I used to water in the morning and the evening, but we found we were having problems with mould, so we’ve adjusted the water to just one hour in the morning and we’ve found we don’t have any problems with the mould anymore,” she said.
It was only a short time ago Kanon was on Jobseeker payments but her can-do attitude could not be contained and with James’ help and guidance the couple has created a growing and successful business on the edge of Toowoomba.
Kanon believes in another eight to twelve months they will have the garden to the stage where they want to be.
It is clear the couple have successfully tapped into a growing niche market and have found the recipe for success.