Ted and Barbara Smith first planted the oak trees of their Robertson Truffiere in 2007, as a hobby to keep them busy in retirement. They harvested their first truffle in 2011 and since then, Yelverton truffles have become a seasonal staple for many Southern Highlands chefs. With productivity increasing yearly, Ted (80) and Barbara (76) have now turned their hobby into a flourishing enterprise. “We grew Australia’s largest truffle at 1.72kg and it really put us on the map. It went international,” Ted explains.
Not surprisingly, Yelverton Truffles are now revered for their consistently large size and strong aroma – both important qualities to truffle production. Ted attributes this to the rich Robertson soil on which the oak grove sits. “It’s prime country here; we’ve got magnificent red soil, high productivity and large truffles,” he says. Dealing directly with restaurants in the area, an emphasis on freshness is also important to Ted and Barbara. “We deliver the same day as they’re picked, so when they arrive you can smell the aroma coming out of the box,” says Barbara.
During the short winter season, Ted and Barbara host public truffle hunts where people can learn more about this unique and valuable Southern Highlands product. As Barbara explains, “the hunts have a very happy atmosphere. There’s a big roaring fire, people talking; we do a presentation to educate people and then we go across to the Truffiere for a demonstration with the dogs. We do a tasting, then people can buy a truffle at the end. People go away happy and that’s what it’s all about.”