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.

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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biodiversity in the garden, everyday

Wonder bowl

Ever wonder where your food comes from ? Thought about how much energy it takes ? Know the person who grew it ? Maybe the region it came from ?

Every now & again I do. It’s pretty cool to actually know a few answers to questions now & again.

So this photo was lunch today. Stir fried in 10 min and enjoyed with our new HelpX volunteer.

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Left overs and backyard offerings. A tiny beetroot, corn, shallots, baby eggplant, pumpkin, radish and cucamelon within walking distance. Rice grown by Randalls – an Australian organic family farm, Chinese cabbage from our truly amazing and recently renovated Flametree Co-op (I also buy our tamari and olive oil in bulk here.)

So apart from lunch looking a little lumpy, it’s also got loads of colour, texture and energy. Eat a rainbow. try to give yourself enough time to enjoy it.

Super cool thing about hunting around locally, (see if you’ve got a local Food Is Free Table people drop and swap at in your area) is you get the flavour of independence. Sometimes things that aren’t mainstream. And most certainly foods that are in season for your region.

Try to make a little time and indulge yourself.

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everyday, seasonal eating

Real food is happy food

There’s a fair amount of talk around what type of food to eat, how to eat it, when best to eat. Fresh is best, especially when it’s seasonal and if you can access relatively locally produced food – fantastic.

But like many kids ask – WHY ? My definition of real food is produce grown by people with care of the soil as their number one priority. This extends into care for their environment, care for people working with them and doing what’s right, not wasting resources but looking at the whole picture, not merely one tiny detail. It’s about nurturing and putting hard earned knowledge and skill into growing really fabulous tasty produce. Soil that is loved is nutrient dense and alive. You’ll find biodiversity above and below your feet. You can see it. You’ll tap into a life force rather than entering into commodity trading. (Which I reckon a lot of big box retailers do – they have different goals to your independent grower.)IMG_0642.jpg

I actually did this the other day – purchased a ‘commodity’ from a big box retailer for our dinner – my brain had stopped working after a particularly big day and the cogs had jammed. The packaging looked pretty and I knew the family would eat it. I  snazzed it up with home made sauce to make up for the nutrient deficit. There were clean plate rangers – but I could taste what was missing – life force. Not the end of the world I know – but I missed what I take for granted when I do put the energy in.

Food grown in season gives us what we need for that season. Who’d want to gorge themselves on watermelon in winter ? Or feel the desire to sit down to a big roast dinner when the evening temperature is 27 C?

Remember we’re living beings, not just machines requiring fuel. We need good energy, diversity, light and good water to stay vital – so does our food.

biodiversity in the garden, everyday, observe

Gardening for the Soul

Coolest thing about growing and edible garden, is you get to eat your experiments.

It’s not like doing the dishes where you have the instant gratification of clean dishes but in no time flat, hey ho! they’re dirty.

Gardening is great for the soul. Wander through an edible patch an smell the herbs as you brush by. Even just sitting on the ground outside can be considered ‘gardening’ if you’re half observing what’s going on around you. What can you hear ? What can you feel ? Noticed your breath slow a tiny bit ? Seen any pollinators ? Anyone/thing else like to eat the plants?

Not everyone has their own path of dirt (or wants one), so make the most of the local reserve/ park/ community garden. Share stories.

How else are you going to know what a baby radish tastes like unless you pluck one from the soil? Walk on the mint growing a little crazy, being the brightest of green like it’s invincible.

There are so many elements – literally – from the ground up. I confess, I’m not a scientist & never will be. But you don’t have to undertake a full analysis to appreciate what’s going on around you. The more you look, the more you see – if something is struggling, if it looks a little neglected or when your backyard wonderland is in balance.

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Hectic day ? Take your shoes off and lie down outside. Breath deeply. Check out the shadow play of late afternoon light.

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Instigate a no dig garden build with your neighbour. Small spaces stay manageable and easy to keep an eye on. Build a garden lasagne without breaking yourself. No heavy lifting, no heavy digging. Watch nature play right before your eyes, building soil and growing something we like to eat.

I’ve found through gardening no more mistakes, just constant learning – always a way to improve practice next time round. And patience. So much patience ! Gardens don’t happen overnight like sea monkeys or those crazy crystal postcard trees out of a packet.

But they are so worth the wait.

everyday

Look after your Love

I’ve been doing a fair bit of learning lately. Learning mostly that it’s not a good idea to try to do everything all the time and sometimes there are people and events that are bigger than you.

There I was thinking that building my own business revolving around growing nutritious food and sharing this developing knowledge was huge and really important above other stuff.

Then my Dad had a stroke. The quicker the response for a stroke victim, the better the outcome. Ideally, seeking treatment within 4 hours is ideal. Dad has a significant event and didn’t receive help until 12 hours later. No one really knew what to expect. At first we thought he may not walk again and didn’t know how damaged he may have been. So I did a fair bit of long distance driving, there were many phone calls to attempt to stay in the loop and supporting family physically closer to Dad.

For further information about strokes (these suckers impact on 1 in 6 Australians – which is more than breast cancer and more than prostate cancer), How to respond and where to look for help check out the  Stroke Foundation . Needless to say the planting and workshop schedules went out the window.

Then my husbands dad went through a major medical drama too.

Throughout all of this, my husbands workload seemed to keep expanding before my eyes and then pop the icing on the cake with an unpaid second job of being an owner builder in his remaining waking hours (and some of the ones meant for sleeping too).

Then school holidays kick in. I love holidays, but I think my work productivity drops by at least 50%. You get up a few hours earlier to harvest and deliver to take your daughter to the city for the day, as public transport was facing ‘significant delays’. Not too bad in the scheme of things – just a constant juggle to see how stretchy those hours are and how much you can cram in.IMG_0534.jpgBut you know what ? Days are long, weeks tend not to be, kids aren’t kids for too long and parents aren’t going to be around forever.

So a few balls were dropped (try – disbanded) as I realigned my priorities to make more space for love.

School went back today and I was actually disappointed to see the end of our unstructured days and super loose weeks. I guess without work, you don’t appreciate the holidays, the gifts people give you by rocking up week after week to help you build your dream business. The curious and super supportive peeps who want to see your school volunteering ideas flourish. So at bottom of the day, make sure you look after yourself, appreciate those around you and give energy where you can.

…..3 months after my Dad’s stroke, he’s now a lot stronger and there’s a few steps being taken here and there. If he hadn’t been looking after himself with good food, exercise and good company (not to mention brilliant neighbours), his story may have had a far less positive outcome.

Enjoy what you’ve got, where you’re at and drink plenty of water in the crazy heat – just like the plants do 🙂