Far out - Yarra Valley farm stages brussels sprouts fest

Carolyn Webb
Three generations of the Adams family at their brussels sprout farm in Coldstream. Daniel (left), Ray, (centre) and ...
Three generations of the Adams family at their brussels sprout farm in Coldstream. Daniel (left), Ray, (centre) and Bruce (right). Photo: Penny Stephens

The Yarra Valley is famous for its wineries, beautiful views and Healesville Sanctuary. If Bruce Adams has its way, it will become famous for its brussels sprouts.

Mr Adams, whose family has farmed here since 1960, won't deny that the leafy green ball isn't the most popular food, even of vegetables. Even TV tough guy Bear Grylls said he would rather eat a scorpion.

The fault is in the cooking, Mr Adams says. Too often, they're boiled until they're bitter and mushy. He prefers to stir fry them with bacon and onion or eat them in a quiche.

Last year, in a bid to boost their public image, Mr Adams mimicked the wineries near his 194-hectare farm on Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, and opened a weekday "cellar door", inviting passersby to taste them and purchase at $4 a kilo.

Then, touring northern Victoria, he saw a Big Strawberry on a berry farm near Cobram, and a light bulb went off.

On April 12, he will host Sprout Fest, almost certainly the valley's first brussels sprout festival.

The highlight will be the unveiling of a Big Sprout.

The fibreglass structure, currently being assembled in a secret location, won't be that big, on account of council regulations. But it will be visible from the highway.


At the Fest, from 10am to 3pm there will be tastings, a farmers' market of local produce, tours of the farm and processing shed (where 1200 tonnes of sprouts annually are hand-picked, graded and packed), and cooking demonstrations.

Bruce's daughter, Jodie Smith, 32, says growing up on the farm, her mother, Bruce's wife, Ellen, disliked brussels sprouts, and so served them very rarely.  

As an adult, in the same way kids acquire a footy team, Ms Smith chose her father's religion and now eats brussels sprouts three times a week, citing their rich vitamin and mineral content.

She says the key is to be inventive.

 "One of the favourites is frying up some bacon with some garlic, onion, brussels sprouts and you serve it with some toasted, slivered almonds.

"You can roast them, with some oil, mixed herbs and spices, nutmeg, served with lemon zest and roasted slivered almonds or pine nuts."

Ms Smith treasures her nanna Adams's soup recipe with Brussels sprouts, onion, potato, chicken stock and cream.

She makes a coleslaw with brussels sprouts, carrots, capsicum and oranges and mayonnaise.

She says if you must boil them, use salted water, cross the sprout tops with a knife and cook for only a few minutes so they retain their crunch.