collaboration, everyday, explore growing, homegrown, observe

Why we do what we do….

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Thanks you so much beautiful Kelly for your patience !

….I’ve been struggling to write a decent business plan of late, so whilst watering this morning, I came up with a brain dump of why all this important to me….

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO……

Short answer – because I’m curious.

I want to see how seeds grow, what happens in the light, I love the play of water on the garden.

I don’t want to create more waste to be a problem and I like to know how (at least part) of my meal is grown.

I want to be outdoors and not too far from home.

I love seeing how soil comes to life when you feed it properly, when you get the layers of mulching right and the garden helps do your job. When opening a bed, there are so many worms partying and their little bodies glisten metallic shades in the sunlight.

I love it when it’s quiet enough to actually hear the bees and the winged life early in the morning.

I love being able to harvest something I’ve helped to grow, sharing with people in our local area & knowing that local businesses love supporting our adventure.

Having food in your lunch box knowing that it’s come from only meters away is pretty cool.

I’m in awe of all the amazing people I been fortunate enough to meet, being so generous with their time and skills and experiences helping me on the journey to growing food.

I love the passion these people have, it’s not just an occupation, it’s a way of being.

I love that I don’t have to dress up to go to work, it’s more about being sun smart and protecting yourself from the elements.

(Sometimes I start work in my pajamas and that’s ok)

It’s really cute hosting morning tea, feeding those volunteering with us, being able to reciprocate a little nourishment.

My respect for the humble salad has grown exponentially – what goes into a mix isn’t just leaves; it’s a whole kaleidoscope of energy and resources and people power. None of this matters if you don’t feed the soil and look after the lifeforce which make this possible.

It’s really awesome when work is pretty much equal parts play and productivity. How awesome when you can encourage people to play with their food, play outside and there’s a little incidental learning along the way.

 

 

 

everyday, reusable packaging, salad days

Prepare, pack and play

Packaging it’s a biggie. I have been known to be lured in by the packaging before finding out what the product was. I’ll flip through the design books on packaging and remember from my study days a beautiful book titled ‘How to Package 5 Eggs’ – a Japanese book all about using traditional organic materials woven to create the most beautiful and functional way to carry goods. People are paid big bikkies to lure customers in. My sister very nearly gifted me a box of beautiful Japanese wrapping papers for my birthday, so the packaging would be the gift – that’s how much I admire the art of presentation.

The down side with so much of the outer wrapper today, is that it is designed for single use. Plastics last for far too long in the environment, so we have to find alternatives or do without. Bit hard to deliver salad without packaging of some description.

Furoshiki  was the inspiration behind how I now package bulk salad orders. Take a big fat square, wave your magic wand over it, a couple of strategic knots or folds and turn something from regular to gorgeous. Bonus is that cotton cloth is totally washable an reusable. Customers of the bulk salad mix have loved this step forward, not wanting to be the recipients of more materials to manage.IMG_9908.jpgCustomers hold onto these wraps to return the following week.

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…not furoshiki wrapping in the garden, but a totally reusable and washable way of getting produce to the house.IMG_9284.jpg

Orders wrapped with name tags and waiting for pick up. They even feaature their own carry handle.

A little planning and preparation will take you a long way to play !

(NB- This technique also worked really well for a long car trip with the kids recently – magazines from the library, snacks and drinks wrapped like this – undo and hey presto – wrap to protect the kid and car seat already on their lap before play.)

Find ways to bring reusable beauty and gifting into the day.

biodiversity in the garden, explore growing, homegrown

The Way of The Watermelon

 

AAhhh the taste of summer. The vine seems to grow for months and then finally you notice the tiniest glimmer of a fruit. Check back in a week or two and it seems as if someone has got the bike pump out and inflated the sucker !! The thunk of a super ripe and ready to eat fruit when you slice into it. Sitting on the back deck spitting seeds at each other.

Prepare the bed-  plant- water set forget. That’s how it happened over the far side in our backyard. Plenty of sun too. Several months later (around 4), peel away the vines and ta da!!! Gifts from the garden. Of course, none of this is possible without your friendly neighbourhood pollinators. Keep your backyard chemical free so you’re not poisoning their food supply. Without our pollinators, around 80 % of the foods we like to eat would disappear.IMG_0825.JPG

 

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The whole anticipation trip is so worth it. I planted maybe a little late, so our watermelons haven’t been ready until the end of summer.

And to think, by planting these in a marginal area (further away from the house and letting them go – watermelons can easily take up a good few square metres per plant, of the fossil fuel saved. No trucking them in from interstate for less than a dollar per kilo retail. I guess what you’e really trucking is sweet water. Maybe encourage a local school or a community garden to get them in nice and early. Find somewhere for the watermelon to roam.

A fresh slab of this cheery fruit on a really warm day is reward enough. Beats an icy pole hands down.

 

community, everyday, package free

Reuse reuse remember

So we’ve all heard how we need to actually look after our environment if we’d like to have one to live in. Just think of all that aquatic life whose world is being degraded through no fault of their own, Here in the western world, there’s always someone creating a new product to solve a problem we didn’t know existed.

Here in our little patch on the planet, we put so much energy into growing the best produce we can, so the last thing we want to so is wrap it in plastic.

We aim to minimise the resources used here on  site, always hunting around for something we can keep in the system. Styrofoam boxes only live for so long, light weight, not very durable and can readily break up and blow away. These eskies may have been honorary family members once upon a time. Taken on outings, picnics, bringing home the shopping. There’s history in these containers and they still perform well in their primary role. Keeping stuff chilled.

Which is really great for perishables, working people and not using electricity. It also invests customers more in their shopping. Reuse and return. One of our retro numbers even made a cameo at a customers fancy dress party ! You don’t hear of that happening with your standard supermarket packaging.

What do you still use, for it’s primary purpose or other ? Kept it out of landfill and are content to use, even if it’s not this season’s colour ?

Enjoy and give a little more thought to how you can reduce your packaging  – even if it does take a few minutes longer on your shopping expedition.

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autumn, explore growing

Looking forward

You also need to look back, see where you’ve come from to make sense of the forward journey. So on my way back from the market garden,heading south  this is what I check out…..

Feels a little like structured chaos.IMG_0795.jpg

As of a few days ago, when I pause for a cuppa, looking north is a whole new adventure…..

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That ply sheeting (which thankfully was sealed before the rain came) is the base layer for a whole new ecosystem. A roof to grow which if the engineering and the headspace required are anything to go by, is going to be absolutely incredible. Amongst the treasures going up, 50 m2 of no dig garden beds. An increase of 10% on the market garden ON THE ROOF.

Right now it feels like a helicopter will land any moment.

As I look up the hill and see little no dig beds, seedlings, figs trees huddling together, I have to think of far the garden has grown instead of how much work there still lies ahead. Such a humble start –  a dozen pots hugging a northern wall 6 years ago and enough grass slashed to make a human sized nest for the whole family.

At least the roof top is clear and tidy.

collaboration

Brace yourself

Any reasonable sized project requires a little plotting and scheming – especially if you’re working with reclaimed materials and even more so if you’re trying out techniques you’re unfamiliar with. Like earthen floors and a turf roof.

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So this little studio was the test pilot for her big sister. Start small and learn.

Soil on a roof top weighs a lot, then add water, Thermal mass is super important as our neck of the woods really heat up over summer. The original concept was as an inside outside house. Dwelling in the cosy heart, nap, quiet read, (no wifi reception was an accidental bonus) storage around the periphery so it’s possible to access from the garden.

It’s a happy space. Loads has been learnt. The earth floor only took two attempts. Drainage around the site was a major piece of the puzzle, sitting at the bottom of a hill as it does. The studio has beautiful and unplanned carving over the door, thanks to one of our lovely passionate volunteers. He saw the space and asked permission to fill it.The only first thing you see in the morning is greenery and chickens.

Many hands helped to craft this building. Many materials were gifted, but this didn’t make them any lighter to carry.  Neighbours were called in last minute to help maneuver experimental wall panels destined for landfill into place. Sometimes I like to think I have very mild superpowers, but reality set in and I’ve come to realise weightlifting isn’t one of them.

I was asked for input on the bracing (so it looked more ornamental than purely vertical), this idea was sketched. Kinda like pick up sticks, dropped. To get the beautiful finish (and shortcut to the roof for the kids). Timber was de- nailed. Planed. Measured into place. Edges were chamferred. Cut. Hidden nails. Bio oiled. Now a work of art. Can’t even remember how long just that element took, but when you’e crafting living buildings it’s all about an energy exchange.

collaboration, community

The next step

Building is one of those biggies. We may want to extend family space, create additional space, make our backyard more multi functional or all of the above.

But what a lot of us non builders don’t realise is, when you say ‘let’s build an independent turf roof covered studio’ it’s not NEARLY that easy. If only.

Once you’ve committed to a big fat hole in the ground (100t of soil excavated), then the questions really start. What are the most environmentally sensitive materials we can use that fit our location, need, budget, accessibitly, council standards,  minimal impact. So – not easy and far far far away from simple.

You may be in a flood prone area. Or bushfire prone region. Or both at the same time. Maybe there are privacy issues for your neighbours. Maybe to make your structure meet regulations, your shopping list may be limited.

 

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BUT – there is a world of wonder and connectivity. You may end up meeting some of the more remarkable people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. When you’re genuine and treat people like extended family, they give back. A volunteer does 6 hours of working with hardwood above head height, does the dishes and then another 2 hours because they can see how much of a passion project it is. And they’re still smiling.

The food is good at our house, but not that good! All the professionals we’ve had round have been are absolute treasures. incredible stories being woven into the fabric of this building snugged into a north facing hill.

So captured here is the independent stairs, edged in wax wood (rather than any other toxic compound) back filled with gravel for drainage. That massive concrete wall to the right – a water tank doing double time a retaining wall, being on the southern side of the build will stay lovely and cool. Sandstone retaining wall, predominantly from our backyard. Labour of love is an understatement.

Putting the icing on this cake are our glorious neighbours, because without their blessing and driveway, there is no chance of realising this dream. I think we’ll have to create a tribute wall to every single peep involved with the process, as it just goes to show what collaboration can do.