Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A new home, a new adventure

new home

Our first plot of land to make our own. Paws paws and figs, olives, pears, water melons dripping with juice, ripe tomatoes, stands of corn that reach over our heads, apricots, bananas, fresh picked basil, a sea of sweet potatoe vines and purple kale... this is just a little of what we hope to fill our backyard with in the coming year. Chokos? Our neighbour has kindly given us a share of her vine. All this is just for wetting the appetite, my wish list of scrumptious delights that we hope to have popping out of the ground come summer is a very long list. So how much can one fit into a suburban block of 650m sq? I feel (much to my partner's dismay over how many holes he'll be digging) that it's our job to find out. That's certainly a gut feeling.

Self sufficient is a term that we hear bandied around often, but how many people actually live that lifestyle? Protein, greens, starch, fibre (wool, cotton, hemp), dye, medicine, energy (fuel, timber, sun), water... are just some of the essentials we require to live comfortably. Whilst most honourable, I'd like to say it is our aim. But on a rung of reality, and given our land size and time, as close to self sufficient as possible, whilst less romantic, is a far more honest appraisal of our goal.  

So why put in all the effort to grow our own? With the choice of an excellent local organic store who deliver locally grown produce, the Newcastle farmers market, an organic co-op, and even woolys has an organic food line, we seem to be swimming in options to make ethically and environmentally sound food choices. 

When I get up in the morning and take a wander in my gumboots, preferably still wearing pjs, and I see how much the potatoes have grown overnight, or watch our hen calling to our new chick to come and eat breaky, or pick the caterpillars off the half eaten cabbage, or simply pause to listen to the echo of the bellbirds, unpacking produce out of a styrofoam delivery box just doesn't do it for me. The joy of putting my hand into the earth and knowing that it is that soil which I have fed, nurtured and cared for, that is going to feed me, is a humble beauty. The opportunity to be connected to that which sustains one is easily underestimated. It is a precious thing. To have that connection allows us to know it. That familiarity breeds respect and a deep sense of responsibility to see that no harm comes to that earth. The same applies to our relationship with the wider environment. 
And, if ever I need another reason to grow my own it is, as I tell my partner Cameron when he laments that the peas never make it to the kitchen, that they always taste better when eaten in the garden!

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