Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fresh from the quarry to your garden.

While the quarry at Sydney Peak is about as 'green' a quarry you can imagine (in California this is very important), it occurred to me that it is also very much a growing operation - growing not just in size and output, but in the way they access the stone material too. It's as if they are growing the stone. On my visit to the quarry this week I was taken by how similar some of the extracting and preparation operations were to farming and processing food, and how some aspects even looked the same.

As we walked into one section of the quarry, there were a dozen or so workers bent over picking the product the way you might see fruit or vegetables being picked in a field. It was being gathered and sorted and after being put onto metal crates it was then carried off by machinery in the same way you might see a large farm operation run.

The stones that the labourers were picking were literally popping out of the ground because the land had first been 'plowed' by one of these heavy pieces of equipment.

The huge cat goes back and forth over the same couple of acre quarry plots with the big prongs at the rear ripping up whole new layers of chunky bedrock for extracting. After all the stones are picked, the plow goes over it again.

Next, in the same way food is 'processed' so too, after being picked, a lot of the the quarried stone goes though a process too .

The stone processing plant

Specially cut stone packed in wooden crates and ready for market.

Here in the Sydney Peek plant the material can be cut and trimmed, sanded and/or polished and made into more refined products and specialty items. In some quarries the cut stone is flamed to give the sawn edges a rough natural look. After it is graded, it's carefully packaged and often, as with food, it's even shrink wrapped.
A piece of highly polished 'archalyte'
from a shrink wrapped crate of processed stone

The final product is shipped to market where consumers like you and I come to choose from a selection of the 'fresh cut' produce (or maybe some processed stone, but never the synthetic, artificial stuff ) and then we take it home and cook up some wonderful things with it.

Tomorrow let's look at what we might consider filling our 'pallets' with, and see what special stone dishes (served on stoneware perhaps?) a stone lover might come up with.