Business: Crave Natural, Mudgee

Crave Natural has a strong focus on providing artisan food products based on natural availability.

The Mudgee-based business started in 2002 as a jam and chutney seller, evolving to include fermented food, extra virgin olive oil, permaculture design and education. The location was chosen as it is close to family, central to other regional towns and has ever-increasing tourism.

Mudgee, Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange and other Central West towns are very supportive of the business and owner Christine Corner is passionate about our regional rural community. She  loves to catch up with locals at regular market days in the region along with having a Sydney presence.

Fruits and vegetables used in the business are either grown by Christine on a 13 acre permaculture property or purchased directly from local farmers with an emphasis on products which are local and hand-made.

Many are living fermented foods, which improve your gut microbiome, and provide the key to good physical and mental health. Products available include sauerkraut, kombucha and water kefir which are sold in tourist outlets, health food stores, cafes and providores. Living cultures including kombucha scoby, water kefir grains and milk kefir grains which are shipped Australia-wide.

Crave Natural also makes delicious ploughman’s pickle and beetroot relish using locally- grown, chemical free vegetables and a stunning apricot conserve, all handmade in small batches.

The company also produces olive oil using hand-picked fruit that is processed at a local press.

This project was inspired by the War on Waste and utilises the olives that were not previously being harvested. It is volunteer-driven, with the helpers given training and olive oil for their efforts and the grove receiving 10 per cent of the finished product.

Another aspect of the business has been the establishment of a permaculture property and market garden.

Christine’s passion lies in teaching people how to create permaculture gardens and many small acreage landholders have used the permaculture consulting and design service to create their own productive, beautiful and resilient paradise. Christine also loves to make and share her knowledge of healthy living fermented foods. She runs workshops across the region and after 10 years of teaching, has taught more than 500 people how to master the art of fermentation.  

Workshop clients come from all walks of life; they are people wanting to improve their gut health and heal their bodies from the inside.

Christine runs the business almost single-handedly and as the founder, undertakes most of the work. She hires local workers one day a week to help with production and garden maintenance and there is also a  large volunteer base who assist with olive harvesting and the market garden.

Christine enjoys working at a local and regional level by nourishing communities with living fermented foods and chemical free vegetables and educating on health and how to grow food using permaculture principles.

She has provided a space where people can connect through growing food and volunteering in the market garden. Christine also gives her time to speak at expos, and regularly connects with others through her website and social media. She also sends living cultures to assist clients across Australia.

As such, Crave Natural has received widespread exposure through the ABC, The Land, The Living Room and Escape from the City along with local media outlets.

Christine has also been a presenter at Sustainable Living Expos in Dubbo and Mudgee, Green Day in Mudgee and Taste Sydney. Her strengths lie in dedication to fermenting and permaculture, and the business is more of a passion than work.

Trying to do everything herself, Christine has previously sought the services of others who are also experts in their chosen field. Climate can also be a contributing factor, but fortunately permaculture and regenerative farming methods are more resilient to extreme weather events.

Future opportunities include creating a wonderful educational permaculture farm using a section of her parents’ certified organic property near Mudgee which will include a larger manufacturing facility and education centre and small cafe, enabling the business to grow, employ more staff and attract visitors from all over the world. She also hopes to expand the fermenting business into other regions in order to make the most of this growing trend which is expanding in popularity.  

Receiving recognition as an expert in fermenting and permaculture is a future goal, along with providing a safe space for people to learn and engage with others, especially those with learning difficulties. Above all, Christine wants to continue connecting people from the city to the land, their food systems and seasonality through courses, fruit and vegetables and natural living.