Nick Diamantopoulos envisioned twenty years ago that Australians would never again have to buy imported garlic.
The chief executive of Australian Garlic Producers, fed up with the poor quality of Chinese garlic in particular, started a project to supply Australian supermarket shelves with home-grown bulbs.
“The only problem was the Australian garlic season started around Christmas and finished later in summer,” says Diamantopoulos. Come autumn, suppliers had to source their garlic from Argentina, Mexico, Spain and China.
The garlic lover wanted to put the start of the season forwards for an all-Australian supply and drive the end of the harvest back.
“I had to find garlic varieties that could grow around the different climates of Australia, from the tropics in the north to the cold climate of the south,” he says.
Diamantopoulos’ dream was realised today. In September, a farm near Robinvale on the Murray River harvested the first Australian-grown garlic of the season.
“In Peru I found varieties that had not changed in the 500 years since they were introduced by Spanish conquistadors,” he says. Over the past two decades, Diamantopoulos has accumulated 292 different varieties of garlic, importing many through quarantine and breeding others locally.