community, explore food

The art of manifestation

IMG_2092.jpgSo lately I’ve been refocusing what our vision is for Popes Produce. What we came up with was –‘crafting locally grown abundance’ and what we’re encouraging with our education program is ‘inspiring home grown food adventures’. We want to have fun, empower people, get them curious about their food and playing outside.

So what bliss – planting out the last seedlings before lunch and a lovely friend surprised me with the offer of a trade – hand caught (by him) lobster for Veggie Wraps. Hmmmm…..edible awesomeness hand caught for hand grown in our backyard….paired with a home made garlic aioli (garlic generously gifted by a beautiful local grower) for dinner – hard to go past.

And the icing on the happy garden cake – a drop in (we’re talking under 5 minutes) by a dear friend who visits only very sporadically with a big pile of horse manure to keep our fruit trees happy.

So our systems are well fed and our heart is filled by random acts of kindness.

Spread it around – random gifts of generosity fill the soul and keep our communities knitted together.

everyday, explore food, harvesting the yield, homegrown, observe, pickle it

Slowing down to grow

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The fennel time forgot next to a 39 sized shoe

It happens so often – run run run to chase a idea of who you should be, where you should be and what you should be. Sometimes slowing down can have remarkable results.

it’s important to remember to be a little kind now & again – slowing down long enough to nibble on mulberries, watch the ladybugs on the flowering parsley and check out how quickly snails can shimmy up the side of a bucket when they know they’re under threat. Making time to get on your bike.

Take this fennel for example – the last seedling left in the tray, tucked into a little pocket and quietly left to it’s own devices. Wanting space back, the beast was harvested and promptly turned into Agrodulce Pickles – half a dozen jars to be put away for Christmas family feasting. Going slow can have some pretty spectacular yields.

Moral of the story – be kind, go slow and remember the best things take a little time. A little planning and mapping goes a long way. Make it as visual as you like. Step back and check that plan now and again to make sure you’re where you thought you would be on the map. And if you’re not – adjust the plan to accommodate where you’re at.

For a dose of inspiration – check out the great story of Ruth Stout – a lady who found her ultimate garden groove well down the track of life. Enjoy the ride!

biodiversity in the garden, everyday, explore food, greens

Eat your greens

How many times did you hear this as a kid? Tedious – I know. Boiled to within moments of turning into an unrecognizable form. Ever found something lurking up the back of the fridge you just weren’t sure what it was?

When you have greens only metres from your door or picked within hours of reaching you – you know on some deep level these greens deserve respect. You need to enjoy their vibrancy – happy food.

'eat your greens'

There are a number of  places to find the nutritional composition of why – but my eyes glaze over as I try to understand the composition breakdown of greens – I’m not scientifically minded and I like my food being food – not only because of what it can give me – but because of what it represents, it connects me back to place. Back to my backyard, to the sunshine and the watering and the incredible party trick of actually making the meal happen. These greens are seasonal, abundant, a whole food unto themselves and don’t need anything fancy.

Time and energy has been invested in making sure these greens reach their verdant potential. The average lettuce can take around 8 weeks to grow – carrots several months, shallots just are and beetroot – go top and tail into the meal. When you know the energy invested into their growth, you certainly don’t want to waste anything.

Carrot tops are totally edible – they can go into a sauce, stir fried as a veg, chopped into a salad. Beetroot tops can be used as a spinach substitute. Flash in the pan with a little olive oil, pinch of salt and lemon juice. Stalks of rainbow chard – just chop finely and throw into the stirfry. Respect your veg and munch away!

 

explore food, pickle it, produce

Small and slow solutions

.(..being content with the small wins and getting through the day.)

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Pretty much most days seem like their potential is limitless. There’s a never ending parade of incredible people doing amazing things and getting out there saving the world.

I walk down the hill and wonder how I can save a few lemons.

This tree you understand – is just in it’s happy place, doing it’s thing – growing quite remarkable lemons. No matter how many you harvest, there always seems to be a few more. Lemons just don’t grow overnight, one day I might tie a string to a blossom and see exactly how long it take s to grow these orbs of zingy sunshine, but until then – let’s just say a while.

So I juiced, I preserved, I made cordial and I made curd. All relatively simple, not too much time or space. (On the bench or in my head)

Great thing about preserved lemons, once you’ve got them, you’ll always find a use. And they look pretty.

Here’s how to – PRESERVE LEMONS.

Get yourself a clean jar with properly fitting lid. You could even sterilize it if you like. (Say 2 x 300ml tomato paste jars scrubbed clean.)

4-6 good sized lemons

A juicer

Pure salt – I had Himalayan rock salt on hand.

A sharp knife and chopping board.

Sprinkle a little (1 tsps worth) of salt in the bottom of the jar. Cut a lemon into thick slices/ quarters/ eighths and lightly sprinkle salt on the cut sides. Wedge them into the jar and repeat until you’ve got approximately a 2cm gap at the top. Now start juicing another lemon and pour in over all those chopped up pieces. the aim is to totally submerge all the chopped lemon. Any bits left protruding could go moldy as they will be exposed to air. If any bits still stick up, either wedge them in or take them out. This preservation technique works because it’s an anaerobic environment (and there’s all that salt and citric acid.)

Screw the lid on and label. Best if left for a minimum of a month.

Minimum fuss, no waste and you’ve put away some food for later. Bottled sunshine.

collaboration, community, explore food, salad days

Making friends with salad

So the other day I ran an incursion at an early childhood centre based on the concept of ‘Seed to Salad Bowl’. The youngest ones rolled seeds around planted a few and nimble fingers plucked dill seed from the picnic rug. The next group up planted out their very own salad bowl in a salad spinner. For our final trick with the older kids in the centre,

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I chopped up tomatoes and cucumbers to show the seeds, passed around slices to try, slid the remaining slices into the bowl and stirred through leaves from the garden – stored in glass to keep them fresh. Asking around why they thought the salad leaves were in a glass jar & the winning answer ‘so people won’t steal them’.

To make our little salad extra snazzy, I dressed it with a little juice from a jar of home preserved lemons. Now this aroma and flavour is not for the feint hearted  – kind of slams into you. Well well – time to eat the salad and I’m so glad I wasn’t standing in between these kids and the salad. Arms lunging into the mix and salad was snorfled. The staff and I looked on with amazement, as these kids just couldn’t get enough.

Dressing on the salad of this morning – one of the younger ones hung back, not to have a chat, nor to play with the seeds, but to help me pack everything back into the bag of tricks – gold.

Salad made with friends.

community, everyday, explore food, explore growing

What is healthy food anyway?

As a lovely girlfriend posted the other day..

Reading can seriously damage your ignorance’

So I try to do as much as possible and across a reasonably broad range, (as long as it has something to do with food.) If I could absorb them just by holding to book – woohoo!!!

The question posed of late – what is healthy food? Does anyone consider the health of the food system when making their purchase/ trade? If it’s healthy for us, is it seasonal or has it come from the other side of the planet? Did that meal need it’s passport stamped? What’s the embodied energy of watermelon in winter?

Price matters hugely to the customer, but what’s the actual cost? Is the farmer treated fairly? I know how much effort goes into growing food, and it takes time and resources. How about all those involved with the supply chain ? Start by growing something in your community, craft a little social change, Disrupt the routine. a household compost system can fill up pretty quickly just from fruit skins – imagine this on an industrial scale.

 

There are some really incredible organizations doing really fabulous work. Check out foodwise for some easily digestible infographics. Ozharvest is loaded with information about the real costs involved, how you can start at home and how you can help them help others.

Play with your food and see how far you go.

explore food, homegrown, package free, winter

A little piece of home

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So winter school holiday times are fun for us. The garden grows so slowly as the sun is a low rider across our southern skies. Perfect time to choose our own adventure. Follow the coast and the sunshine.

In our attempt to be diligent travelers, participate in plastic free July and keep the scurvy at bay (joking!) we made sure to include a massive bag of these harvested right before take off. Luckily we grow for the seasons. Citrus right now is just the best. Super juicy and who knew – grow into their own biodegradable packaging !

I packaged our own shopping bags, knowing we’d be hopping from town to town, but trying to use zen instincts to find something nutritional and familiar was a little trickier. Sometimes we scored big time, other times it’s a matter of going with the flow, choosing the least bad and being thankful for choices.

A break away from the usual gig, a chance to freeze around a campfire spotting satellites and shooting stars comes highly recommended.