“Where can I get a mushroom foraging knife? Can you recommend a recipe or cookbook? Who made the jam we ate?”

These were some of the questions Southern Highlands-based Amanda Fry was being asked when hosting events through Experience Nature Group, such as Wildfest – a mushroom-foraging day-trip, or a relaxed Highland Harvest Feast.

“The idea [for an online store] started [almost one year ago] because people were emailing me all these questions and I thought, ‘There’s a real opportunity here for us to showcase some fantastic small-batch producers, not only in our region but all over the country,” she tells Broadsheet.

Ethically Made is an online store selling pantry staples, skincare, artisan homewares and tools for a zero-waste lifestyle.

There are products from the Southern Highlands, in NSW, such as rhubarb, fig and blackcurrant jams from Cutaway Creek, soy candles from Mojo Candles and creamed honey from Bulwarra Bees, among others.

And there are items from all over Australia, including Kangaroo Valley olives, truffle honey from Ganymede Truffles in the Southern Tablelands and South Coast Kimchi Co’s traditionally fermented Korean side dish.

“You can go on Olsson’s Sea Salt’s website to buy their salt, but here you can also get that with some beautiful balsamic vinegar and maybe a really nice Equilibrium [Natural Collection] foundation. Our site allows you to do that and buy things across multiple brands that all share the same ethos we do,” Fry says.

The company has an interest in the environment, conservation and sustainability – and because of her existing relationships with local farmers, Fry also cares about transparency in the supply chain.

“I think there’s a growing desire and justifiable need to know where your food comes from and to know that it’s real honey or it’s the real deal. To know that you’re getting the right product is incredibly important and the way to do that is to know where it comes from,” she says.

It also supports Indigenous communities by selling native teas and ingredients from Kakadu Plum Co. There are homewares from Alperstein Designs, which prints licensed art by Aboriginal artists onto tea towels, tablecloths and porcelain bowls, with royalties directly benefiting the artists and their communities.

Seeing how rough 2020 was for producers and consumers alike, Fry hopes Ethically Made can be used as a way to support one another and the local community.

“I think we’ve seen, through the paddock-to-plate movement, and with the drought and bushfires, how much Australians want to help other Australians. I think we’re all craving community – lockdown taught us how valuable that is,” she says.