Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pretendy farmers for a day..

We've not been long in our tiny strawbale. And while the render remains incomplete and the pergola is still unfinished and our duck dam needs a bit of serious regenerative work and the list of 'to dos' is ever infinite, we can proudly say that in a few short months we have created a very abundant and very tasty zone one garden. It's true, we are blessed with soil of 'black gold' and a pretty perfect northerly perspective, so yep, growing stuff, is not so hard. When Spring came, we planted as diverse a garden as we could, not really knowing what would thrive and what would struggle in this new place. In short, not much struggled and we have found ourselves picking and eating and saucing and frittering and pickling up the proverbial storm as we try and make use of everything. Despite this, it felt as though the leafy greens were starting to get the better of us. We were giving them away to anyone we could, sending bunches home to friends in Sydney, feeding them to the chickens and ducks but still, they grew and still, we could not eat them all. 

just a little sample of the leafy green abundance
Then one day last week, Annie was in our local wholefoods co-op talking to Linda (yes Linda of the food swap) and offering her more leafy greens, anytime she wanted, as they had lost many of theirs in a recent mega-hailstorm. It turned out to be a most serendipitus conversation as one of the Co-op members overheard and expressed an interest in us selling greens to the co-op. What a thrill! Of course we would love to! And so our foray into actually selling some produce began. In the scheme of things, it wasn't much - some ruby chard, some silverbeet, some Caldedonian Kale, some Cavalo Nero, some rosemary and some basil. But we felt so happy. 

It felt so good to be providing some form of nourishment to our broader community. As we've discovered, since we moved down here, our initial plans for a self-sufficient life have changed a little. We now know we want to create something beyond our own needs. We want to contribute something more. What form this will take, we are still ruminating on and it probably won't be a market garden. However this little entree of growing and selling our own produce felt so very good. 

Oscy, taking care of the aphid covered leaves for the chickens

Yes, this was my measuring technique. These bunches look kind of the same don't they?
There is something inherently joyful in sharing produce that has been such a labour of love. Moving through the garden, picking and checking each leaf last Monday morning was such bliss. Observing where each plant was at, finding snails for the ducks, watching the bees work their awesome magic and stumbling upon unexpectedly large zucchini, all the while creating beautiful and bountiful bunches of edibles was a perfect start to this week. 

And yes it was a joy. However it also gave me a resurgent respect for those people who are actually aiming to make a living from the produce they grow. Our co-op pays local growers for their produce really well, however when one looks at the hourly rate, it totally sucks. For us, this doesn't matter right now. But as the years go by we will start to care about this more and more. And I have to say that there is something inordinately wrong about people (ie. the food buying public) who earn $30 or $40 or $50 or $60 plus an hour expecting potatoes to be $1.99 a kilo. Sorry to get all ranty rant-like but if we don't properly support those that grow our food, how can we expect them to continue? What do we think we will be eating in the future? I know, not everyone, has the opportunity to buy direct from the grower/producer or the resources to pay the real cost of the food they eat. However many of us do, yet still choose cheap supermarket convenience over a paradigm that is far more about community building and environmental and economical sustainability. 

As I wandered and picked and rinsed and bundled I mused on what a luxurious position I was in, given our income is derived "off-farm" for now. But for someone trying to make a living from feeding their community, those hours I luxuriated away would no doubt feel very different. 


  1. That's a really important point you make about the real cost of food.

  2. Yes it is Robyn - it's one of those things that people don't necessarily think about, because we're not encouraged to think about it. Even though we think about food a LOT - where it comes from, the ethics, who grows it, how it's grown, how it tastes, how nutritious it is etc etc - it was still remarkable for us how that process of picking and selling such a small amount really reinforced that for us: food has a cost - personal, environmental, political - that goes beyond the amount the consumer pays...

  3. Yah! So exciting for you guys;) x