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.
Sun is getting up a little earlier these days, as am I. Easing myself into the upcoming summer routine when the juiciest, most productive part of the day is early morning before the heat gets into things. At the rate our environment is changing, warming up will be commonplace – but I digress.
A little planning goes a long way. Start slow and steady, it will become second nature rather than the sprint to play catch up and get seedlings into the ground. Looking for the changes rather than relying on a calendar and you’ll see spring is barely around the corner. Feed you fruit trees. Feed the garden. Build soil. Get your compost system ticking along happily to generate more of that fabulous nutrient dense soul food for your plants which will in turn make for happy bellies without needing a trip to the local big box for supplies..
Worms are waking up, as are their appetites, feed them up and they’ll pay you in kind. Worm casting are amazing in a home made seed raising mix. Way better to make you own rather than rely on something with hidden ingredients. The one I’m trialing is over here Coir for holding moisture, but not too much, compost – because that’s the good stuff, worm castings for super fine rich and happy nutrient pack and sand for drainage, just in case.
Time to get out there, start some seeds and anticipate playing with your food.
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.
So we’re in the shadow of holiday time. For us this winter it’s a road trip up the east coast mixing it up with family, camping, national parks, town visits and naturally for half the family – surfing. (The other half love reading and drawing, so it works well.)
It’s also plastic free July . Normally this isn’t an issue for us, but being on the road may throw the occasional curveball.
Usually meal planning and a little time in the kitchen gets me over the line. We’ll have our little camp kitchen, but space will be a priority in our van & there’s no refrigeration beyond the ice blocks. So it’ll be basic, but leaves more time for play – everyone wins!
Snacking in the garden is one of the bonuses of my market garden gig, unfortunately the garden just isn’t going to fit. I’ll be checking in with Fair Food Forager to find local wholefood / co ops/ local fresh food stores when supplies run low & I kinda geek out a bit looking for the super fresh options in a new town. Finding where the happy food is & how locals eat is a way I get my bearings in a new town.
How you you find your way in an unfamiliar area or is a wander around with accidental finds more your speed?
We’re a few days away from the shortest day of the year – Winter Solstice and I’m trying really hard to slow down, preserving this time and preserving the orbs of sunshine* (aka – lemons and limes) currently in abundance.
It really should be sleep season to totally recharge the batteries and dream about things to come. I’m trying to be a grown up and also take this time to review what’s worked over the previous growing season, accept feedback and grow from there.
Putting something away for later makes absolute sense. It could be dehydrating some of the citrus haul for when you’d love it’s zingy freshness mid summer. It could be going all out on pumpkin recipes, since they went crazy earlier in the year. How about dusting off an indoor skill (handwork like embroidery/ drawing/ baking) ? They may sound a little out dated, but you know what ? It’s such a treat slowing down enough to enjoy the process, being totally in the moment rather than watching the minutes disappear and racing around trying to fit everything in.
Try it out sometime, it is so worth enjoying those pockets of light.
*HOW TO DEHYDRATE LIMES
Preheat the oven to 95oC. Slice limes into 5mm rounds. Space them out on a cooling rack over a baking tray. Pop in oven and rotate/ check on them hourly. Should be done in 2 -3 hours. Let cool completely on tray before storing in a jar out of direct sunlight.
Can be used in soups and stews, drink garnishes, decorations.
Don’t forget by dehydrating, you’re concentrating the flavour of the lime – so it may be a bit of a shock to start chewing on one. Other citrus can also be preserved in this way, the times may vary.
Another awesome adventure in abundance !!!
Knowing where to go for your seasonal best is imperative for good health. Better still is learning what on earth to do with it once you’ve got it.
Citrus are care of our backyard – just in time for the vitamin C boost as the seasons shift, cabbage are from a friend who had the patience to watch them grow long enough (think he said 15 weeks) – soon to be turned in to sauerkraut and workshopped, mushroom grow bags are from a recent workshop at a community centre and apples are care of a local farm growing the most incredible fruit (and making cider on site!). – these are just eaten straight, added to porridge & I’ll soon attempt to make vinegar from the apple scraps. Sweet potato were bandicooted from under the fig tree.
So this incredible produce is abundant only at certain times. If you pick 12 kg of limes, it’s a good idea to know how to use them !! In juice, store in the fridge, juice & freeze, freeze the whole fruit, preserve them in salt & trade a few 😉 Time invested in growing throughout the year pays dividends,
So lunch yesterday – sprouted broccoli in the pan with steamed pumpkin (basically the pumpkin turned itself to soup), fried egg from a friends place, pesto made with parsley, rocket, basil, preserved lime, olive oil & almond meal. I’d never buy that stuff – but learning to make do with what you’ve got certainly expands your culinary horizons. It’s a bit of being curious, a little brave a fair amount of rational and a whole lot of resourcefulness.
Likewise, letting growers play to their strengths has obvious rewards, the subtleties and knowledge to produce consistently is so under rated. Once you start on your own growing adventure – your appreciation of everything considered vaguely edible grows exponentially.
There always seems to be a push for bigger, brighter, shinier, faster – but only if you tune in to the white noise.
Carving your own path or wandering into the rough can be a little daunting sometimes, but only of you let it. It’s a matter of tuning back in to yourself and who you’d like to be when you grow up. I recently reread this one…
The Art of Frugal Hedonism – such a joyous read. Made me smile regularly. Not a work about how to chop a whole load of stuff out of your life in order to save, rather refreshingly, it’s more how to make the most of what you’ve got & why the other stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much. The blurry tin was my husband’s nana’s sewing kit, not used by her so often I think – but remarkably has the correct coloured cotton any time I need a tricky to match colour.
Which brings me to why it’s out of the cupboard – learn new old stuff.
Since joining in for a Wild Rumpus visible mending afternoon soiree at a local old school scout hall – everything with even the merest hint of damage is fair game. Wonky stitching is celebrated and becomes a highlight. Try it out in the late afternoon sunshine breathing life back into stuff destined for the back of the wardrobe. When the light has faded from the garden and you still want to be productive at home, it’s rather relaxing, drawing you into the moment. Thought of skills you’ve always wanted to explore ? Pickling is another great self reliance skill to reduce food waste. (Sometimes they even taste better this way – cabbages keep for an eon as sauerkraut and I’ve known fiery radishes to mellow in pickling juice.
Growing self reliance, I’ve even made new friends at work….
Go for a walk, a bike ride, a read, a sit down, a stare into space instead of packing out every moment of the day…..
Instead of trying to fathom what you need to make systems more efficient, try embracing what’s already there. Did you know if you give your place a decent clean, it actually feels different & you don’t need to actually replace/ bring in stuff ? – came as a revelation to me too.
Lie on the grass look up and around and appreciate just how awesome being where we are really is.
Check out your local neighbourhood – you might just find a repair cafe/ tool library/ workshop to tinker….
Every now and again my head feels a little like this…..
A little all over the shop. It seems to make sense if I can lay it all out – systems mapping at it’s finest. Get comfy, spread it all out, no electronic interruptions and gently sift through the layers.
I actually really like this time of year, (and this workspace) because it allows me to look up and look out.
Trying to plant a market garden for family, wholesale customers and households in the community can be a little of a challenge when you’re new to the game.
Kinda like weaving a tapestry in 4 dimensions.
Luckily for me, I’ve got a beautiful network of super supportive people, so even if something goes a little pear shaped there’s leeway for the novice and the impetus to give it another red hot go.
I’m really thankful for autumn it’s pretty much here now- the light melts away from 3/4 of the market garden, so the seasons dictate how I work and when it’s time to come up for air.
It’s just about time to review what’s worked well and where there’s potential to change. Also a bit of plotting & scheming for when the light comes back.
And time for planning that winter road trip up the coast with the family – awesome.
The opportunity to learn should be a right, but quite often I like to think of it as a gift. What a treat to meet someone that spark’s curiosity (or to be the one inspiring others) so much they want to find out more, give you their time and energy to grow.
This is exactly what happened to me last week, but time moving as it does, it went by in a blur. We had a gorgeous group of permaculture students through, seeing how we’ve implemented and overlaid permaculture design principles to our home. Could have happily chatted all day long, as it was – we only had 1 1/2 hours to engage, inspire and faciliate the site visit. I heard we got a tick in the inspiration department, so yay.
I LOVE questions. Sometimes it’s tricky to hear everything when we’re all spread out (hot tip 47 – bring people in closer for an outdoor discussion), maybe not everyone heard (hot tip 48 – repeat question so whole group benefits), slowing down to really embrace the minutes together (hot tip 1 – have a plan of the way you’d like to share).
So why the mulch ??
We had a question about managing our grass. (Not galahs) Grass fields are great for games, not so good in the market garden. Our answer – manage by mulching – sheet mulch the area.
For this you need a few things – newspaper (our neighbour drops hers over the fence once read – her contribution to our garden), mulch (free woodchip from a local arbourist), moisture (if you’re lucky) and time. Start at the highest point you wish to eradicate grass from with a pad of around 10 sheets of damp newspaper. Lay the next batch of 10 sheets down, overlapping the 1st set by a good 10 cm. And on you go – ’tiling’ the grass underneath. Cover all with a good 10 cm layer of woodchip and you’re done. The main aim is to deprive the grass of light, making it extraordinarily difficult to grow. Tile from the top so the water can still penetrate to the soil, but keeping the light off the grass. Beware of trying to do this job on a breezy day.
Over time, these layers eventually return to their original material – soil.
Job done – no grass and more soil and a few more people inspired to try stuff out.
Big shout out to Milkwood Permaculture for the really fabulous work they do.
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.