Monday, August 29, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture

community supported agriculture (CSA) is something i've been contemplating and reading a fair bit about of late.   simply put, it's the way of bringing our food chain back to being more local and very personal.  cutting out the super markets with their huge mark-ups ... and also providing different ways for folks in the community to "own" their relationship with their food, and engage with the process.

if you want a really good layman's perspective on CSA, go and have a look at the Purple Pear Organics web site for a great concise read on what it is.  and you also have to check out their blog ....  kate does a great job of sharing their personal journey in sharing their own knowledge of sustainable living.

i have been so impressed with what i am seeing going on, and just how it can positively affect lives, that i wanted to share some of what i've seen going on lately.  the beauty being that CSA can occur on both the large and small scale.  both have their place and both are great examples of engaging in community and bringing the food chain back to being a local thing.

locally ......

Bron, Dave and their son Jack
yesterday i went over to my friend's Dave and Bron's house.  i knew they were into sustainability and doing heaps in their back yard.  so i had a box of seedlings and plants to give them.  what i wasn't prepared for was to learn about how they have engaged with five other families and have basically turned over a piece of their backyard to a community garden.   that is generosity and a community mindset at it's best!  they've done a great job of setting it up so that folks can easily come in through a side gate without disturbing family activities if need be.  

another great local example is Jo and Jo of Funky Front Yard Farmer's.  i only wish i'd gotten to know these guys sooner!  they have two great initiatives.  the first is the blog, Funky Front Yard Farmer's Friends.  they are using social networking to challenge folks to feed their families for a meal, a day or a week on produce that they have grown in their own yard.  we are part of this .... and will continue to be as we move to all points north.

the second thing they are doing is setting up the local Crop and Swap.  folks bring in food that they've grown and trade it with others who are there to do the same.  how wonderful is that!  it is launching on the 12th of November at the community hall in Faulconbridge.  i encourage all my blue mountains food growing buddies to come along and join in!

on a more regional scale .... 

here are a few things that i know are going on in other area's.  all you need to do is look in your local rags you'll find some great stuff going on as well!  half the fun of finding out what is going on is just getting to know the folks that are like-minded!

Purple Pear Organics. these guys are in the Hunter Valley.  they do CSA as well as lots of teaching and educating.  they run courses that you can attend where you can learn about sustainability and their chosen way of doing permaculture via the Mandalah Garden method (a great concept and worth looking at!).  and they also open up their farm to bring in classes from schools and adults to talk about what goes on with the farm and get them excited about what they could do themselves.

Allsun Farm.  these guys are down towards Canberra, in Gundarro.  they run what could be said is an amazing CSA initiative.  with 2 acres under intensive cultivation, they manage to feed numerous families for a good portion of the year.  and of course this doesn't include the improved pasture that they run chooks on or the goats!  they really are australian leaders in the area of market gardening and providing food on a local level.

mid-september i am going out to my favourite place .... Milkwood Farm, for a three day intensive workshop in how to create a Market Garden from scratch.  what is really exciting about this is that the Milkwood gang are bringing in their own mentors, the guys from Allsun Farm!  attending this course basically 1.5 weeks out from our move will keep me inspired i am sure!  the guys at Milkwood are great .... but, i am so excited to spend time with Joyce and Michael from Allsun.  they are older (ahem, like me!) and doing this work .... just the inspiration i need!  <g>

how this will all affect our move is yet to be seen.  it is going to be interesting to rent and live "in" casino for a while.  getting to know folks and share in their community and see what niche we can fill or be a part of.  i would love to start a market garden and a full on CSA when we move .... but we need to see what the needs of the community are first and how we can fit into that.  i am confident though, that whether it's on 15 or 50 acres, we will be engaging in community and relationships where we inspire each other to think about eating locally and enjoying the bounty of the land from folks they know and respect.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Giving with a Smile

Countdown .... 33 days until we no longer call the Blue Mountains home ....

apart from a family embroiled in fighting off a plague called Bronchitis (yes, we all have it) .... what are we doing?

giving things away.  gluttonous generosity.

and guess what?  it feels really good!

i have mourned with great saddness at the work that's gone into making our backyard a small reflection of sustainability.  thinking it was all lost.  but i think i'm seeing things a bit differently today.

... the artichokes from the front yard that will get a new life with the family from the neighborhood.
... the tray of beetroot seedlings that have gone to someone i know loves their daily dose of freshly squeezed beets
... the mixture of plants ready to be put in the ground given to a young girl who is just turning on to a love of growing veg
... giving away the home made bbq to a family that loves to engage in their outdoor world with their kids
... chooks going to homes where fresh eggs are treasured
... and more to come as folks visit and hang out and get sent home with little boxes of things that will make them happy.

huh ..... bit of a legacy that makes me happy.

yup .... smiling a bit today.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

... of boots 'n berries

so i have a need.
working boots.
going rural demands it, right?
i've managed just fine without them in our little organic backyard ....
but when you go rural, you just gotta get boots!

and hey!  support the local economy and buy when we get up there, yes?  of course!

only, the other day i was thinking and reviewing the info on this Market Garden Course that we're going to in mid September @ Milkwood Farm.... a vital part of our thinking and goals as we move to bush.  and guess what?  they tell you to bring good work boots!  hurrah!  my excuse to get boots now!

and how lucky i am that i was walking down the main drag of Springwood the other day and saw the local work gear shop had a sale on .... and in my size too!

so here they are .... my new boots.  wearing them heaps to get them worn in before going to the farm and moving up north!  yeah!  don't 'ya love the check pattern?  just a little bit o' funk ... but you wouldn't expect any less from me!  <g>

oh, and have a look at this after all the work we've done, our strawberries are starting to fruit .. everywhere! hope we get to enjoy some before we move!  at least we know our new tenants kids LOVE strawberries!

Friday, August 19, 2011

.... getting to know you .....

.... starting to sort stuff ..... check
.... starting to pack and tape up boxes ..... check
.... backyard being modified for rental .... check
.... seedlings and plants being given away ... check
.... arrangements coming together on the other end .... check
.... tenant for this house ..... check

so it's all a bit of "slow mo "right now .... i could bore you with what i'm packing in boxes ..... but honestly .... that is SO a waste of your time!  i might perhaps write a blog post on some of the memories i'm unearthing as i declutter .... but not now .... not today.

but rather .... i thot it might be interesting for you to see my "alter-ego", checking out the life i live when i'm not engaging with sustainable agriculture / creation care and dreaming about farming.  what is it that occupies my life?

my children.
my three gorgeous adopted Filipino kids .... the light of our lives.  

so take a sneak peak into my alter life .... go on .... it won't hurt, promise!  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phase One: the physical declutter!

for those of you who read this blog as an adventure in sustainable gardening .... you will have to forgive me for what may seem a tangent at this moment in time.

it's easy to think about all the healthy stuff that you are growing and how good it is going to be for your family.  but right now, because our lives are in this in between space with the big move bush ... it is giving me the time to see that our desire to be simple is far beyond just what we eat ... because our lives are much more than that .... it is a conscious shift away from the technified, over- processed, chemical filled, media managed chaos that fills so much of our world.  it is a mindset to not over engineer .... but to do life as simply as we can.  and for us, right now ... that is about decluttering.

and  oh boy!  are we in the middle of that.  with this move one of the first things we have to do is DECLUTTER and get rid of stuff.  no small feet for two pack rat parents and three small children!  but it has started.  a good friend gave me a loving kick up the backside.  i need to walk the walk ... i can't talk about living a more fruitful simple life if my family has too much junk. so we are:

  1. putting heaps of stuff out for the council pick-up this week.  if it is broken, has no potential use .... in the pile it goes.
  2. not sure if it's of any use but think someone might find a use for it?  it goes in the pile for vinnies
  3. haven't used it in 6 months?  still in good nick?  goes in the pile for our garage sale.
  4. anything left over from the garage sale will go out in freecycle
.... and hopefully what is left over is the essentials .... those things that hold precious memories and fulfill immediate needs now.  because everything else just doesn't matter.

this move is giving us the perfect opportunity to simplify and declutter.  physically, spiritually and emotionally.  phase one is the physical ...  so that the living out of our lives reflects that which we are so wed to in our hearts.

reflecting the beauty and simplicity with which this world was created
that honours the way our Father Creator ordained things
that puts people and not things at the centre
that loves ... simply

some practical decluttering resources:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

happy sigh

the mindset is starting to shift.  not so grumpy anymore and starting to think about the possibilities (more on that later) and being ever so grateful for what we have learned here.  

lots of bloggers do "wordless" days .... where they let a picture speak a thousand words.  i love those.  simple on words, heavy on content ... and of course, GREAT photography.  now, i'm not the worlds greatest photographer.  but just wanted to share a few things that i smile and reflect on and how happy i am with where they have come, and what i have learned from the process.

do you remember my mammoth snow pea experiment ... ala "river cottage" with the pea tree?  well, here is the tree when it went in.  the idea and the concept seemed great.  i was really happy.  but would it work?

and here is what they look like today.

and they are gonna give me some great snow pea's to munch on!   we'll be able to harvest heaps of these before we move.

and of course, the front bed has lovely crimson broad beans coming up too.

between this batch and those coming up in the back yard, i am hopeful that we will be harvesting at least some before we move.

and my artichokes.  oh how i love artichokes!  and here i have moved the babies i grew from seeds to the front yard, after a massive trim to ensure work went into the root system to get them settled.  i have to say ... i was concerned i had "over" trimmed them .....

but, i should not have worried.  they have come back a treat.  and while i won't be the beneficiary of the fruits of my labour (gonna get dug up yet again and given to a friend) .... i can say with great certainty that yes!  i can grow artichokes!  (and yes, that is spinach growing in front of the artichoke plants .... yummo!)

all-in-all we have been pretty happy with what we've learned from our planting in the front yard.  oh, and i forgot to mention the pea's .... greenfeast and golden rod ..... both coming up gloriously!

so it's time to be thankful for what we've learned and get excited about what the next step of our lives holds.  thank you for your patience and putting up with my grumpy doldrums.  plants are being given away to folks who will lovingly care for and grow them .... i am even giving some just sprouting plants to a young girl who wants to learn more about gardening .... <g>  see, even i can inspire the next generation.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

why we are doing this ...

i have been doing a heap of grumbling this week .... sorry to admit it .... but that is where it is.  i even found myself walking around the garden telling the seedlings that i planted before the decision to move that i wasn't gonna water them and hoped that they would die (thank you Father Creator for sending the rain to reinforce that You are in control and not me!).

but i'd be lying if i didn't say it's been really hard.  we've toiled at making our backyard something sustainable and regenerative.  we certainly weren't "there" ... but were well on our way to it.  i had spring dreams of giant sunflowers and corn with beans growing up them.  a ground cover of asparagus and strawberries with heaps of over canopy beans.

but it's all stopped.  because we are moving.  hubby has even been pulling down the old chicken coop, where we were gonna keep the poultry / eating chickens, but in order to make this a reasonable and manageable rental, we have to pull that down.  <sigh>  i've been gradually giving away my seedlings that haven't been planted, and even pulled up a lemon tree today and gave it to a dear friend.

grumble, grumble.... and then i get pulled up by that inner voice that reminds me of everything that we do have.  of everything that we are promised, and the possibilities and the opportunities that lay ahead of us.

and even more importantly ... why we are doing this.  to create a place where our kids can live a sustainable life long after we are gone .... long after the peak oil skeptics finally cave.

we are doing this for our children.  there is no better reason or purpose ... 
thank you Father God for that reminder.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

thots on relationships

... it has begun.

boxes being collected
items sorted
garage sale stuff stashed
precious memories being boxed
broken trinkets trashed

i am having a hard time quantifying my life into such black and white area's -- with rigidity and rules.  i know that this type of spring cleaning can be good for the soul ... but i am yet to experience that refreshment of heart.  

i believe it will happen ... am absolutely confident of that.  but just at this particular moment ... the reflection on the relationships and people who have become so dear to us here are the focus of my hearts eye.  and perhaps that is the key.  "things" don't make memories ... people do.

one of those beautiful things about a simple life.  memories don't clutter ... memories clarify.  memories are a part of the tapestry of our lives and loves.  a representation of the people that have meant so much to us.  a representation of the relationships that are yet a promise that is held in tomorrow.