Grow Your Own, Make Your Own

a journey of discovery


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Life seems to move like the ocean, with ebb and flow. Things come in waves and sometimes you feel like you might drown as it all comes tumbling in around you. But then the water recedes, you pick yourself up and get yourself ready for the next wave, saying “this time I’ll jump up before the wave breaks over me! Or I’ll catch it and ride it into shore!”.

Does anyone else ever feel this way?

I haven’t written on here for a while. I’m still tumbling about in the wave, trying to work out which way is up. But I can feel the water starting to recede.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still happy and hopeful! I’m just learning to recognise the rhythms of life so that I can start to catch the waves rather than drown in them! So while I try to catch my breath, my little blog will have to wait a moment.

See you soon!

PS. Here’s a picture of my foster elephant Barsalinga, just because. He is being fostered through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. He’s two weeks older than my son (they both just turned 2!). Cute isn’t he? 🙂

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Inspired

Inspired. There are many people in my life who make me feel that way. It is something that they do unconsciously. I’m sure if I told them they would laugh and question the truth of it. I’ve already told you about the inspiration my parents have given me. I’m sure they have no idea. Perhaps I should tell them more often.

 

They have also inspired my sister I’m sure. She too has a similar dream to mine and to theirs. In turn, she inspires me! She and her husband are further along in their journey than I am so here is another source of wisdom from whom I can seek advice. Lou Lu is a vegan and, among other things, has recently started fermenting foods. I tried some of her homemade tempeh not long ago. I tell you what – don’t judge tempeh until you’ve tried homemade! It was absolutely delicious! She lightly pan fried it in spices and I could not get enough. Unfortunately, she also lives 5 ½ hours away by car so, naturally, making tempeh will have to go on my list of things to try and make myself.

 

image courtesy of photography by BJWOK/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of photography by BJWOK/freedigitalphotos.net

Another inspirational woman who follows the “grow your own, make your own” philosophy is Aunty S. She is also a long way into her journey of growing and making her own food. She tells me that she didn’t know how to grow vegetables when she first started. It’s hard to believe her as she tells me this and I look over her shoulder to see the flourishing melon, pumpkin and zucchini vines creeping out of their garden beds and across the back lawn. Aunty S has started making her own cheese. We are yet to try any, there have been a few lessons learnt along the way with batches that didn’t work, but I’m keen! Very keen! Aunty S also does a lot of preserving and drying of excess produce that she grows. I’m sure she will be another source of valuable information and advice over the coming months.

 

I have a friend from work who inspires me to do what you can with what you have. You don’t need a 7 acre block to start growing and making your own. This beautiful young lady lives in a unit in town. She grows herbs and a few vegies in a tiny patch of garden and in pots, and she outsources for large volumes of produce with which she makes chutneys, jams and pestos. She also makes her own pasta, and always shares the surplus of her wares with friends and workmates. She does it without fanfare, just simply pops around to people’s desks and offers it. Growing and making your own is not about serving just yourself and your family. It’s about building community, being connected with the food we eat and being generous to those around us, and my friend does this simply and beautifully.

 

There are many others in my life who inspire me in different ways. These ladies and my parents specifically have inspired me to start this journey to grow my own and make my own, and to extend that to others.

 

Who inspires you, and how?


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Grow Your Own, Make Your Own: A journey of discovery

 I am pretty sure my dream came from the dream my parents had for themselves – to live a simple life, to grow my own food, to be connected to the land and provide experiences for my family, without costing the earth.

 There could be lots of different ways that one could live a dream like that. I guess my ideal comes from where my Mum & Dad were before they had to give it all up. We had a 2 acre hobby farm with oranges, mandarins, apples, plums, apricots and pears. Asparagus grew between the citrus trees, we had a pecan tree near the chook pen, lambs in the side paddock, Petunia the pig, a goat named Cash, Sam the sheep, a turkey named Tom, and numerous other domestic pets – cats, dogs, guinea pigs and budgies (all with their own special names but too many to mention here!). We had a small irrigation channel out the back that was used to water the farm and for swimming in. There was a little side channel that fed into our neighbour’s farm, which we would pretend was a creek. We would play in the mud and pretend that we were orphans who had to fend for ourselves in the forest of fruit trees. We would search for tadpoles and collect eggs from the chooks (what we call chickens in Australia). We would climb our neighbour’s Mulberry tree and not come down until our lips and fingers were stained bright purple.

 We lived on the farm for nearly 10 years until my parents had to sell it. By that stage I was in year 12 at school and all I wanted was to live closer to my friends in town. I didn’t really appreciate living on the farm at that time. It had just become a lot of work for my Dad, and too far away from the activities of our daily lives. But I miss that farm now. My appreciation of the upbringing I had has become stronger and stronger over the years.

I suppose when you become a parent yourself, you often think about the experiences you had as a child. I think back on my childhood and I remember happiness, creativity, love, friendship, togetherness, music, laughter and learning. Of course there are times that I remember that are not all fun and laughter. I do remember the household chores, the death of pets, the family feuds, the not so great stuff, but the majority of memories that echo in my mind from that time are of happiness and love.

 Of course, I want my own children to have an upbringing like that! And one of the elements of that upbringing that I want to bring to my children is the DREAM! But I could be waiting forever for the right property, the right home, the right time. So I have decided to start now, where I am at with what I have.

 My current situation is this: I have one child – a gorgeous little boy (the Munchkin) who will be 2 years old in April. Together with my husband (GH), we live on a small suburban block that backs onto a nature reserve. The view out my kitchen window is a little snapshot of the Australian bush. We have two dogs who love to dig so I decided to set up the vegetable garden away from them out the front. We have several large bushes in our front garden, which provide a bit of privacy and protection from the street, so the garden is sort of tucked away. I am not terribly good at growing vegetables. I love to cook but I tend to never be able to follow recipes and go off on experimental tangents. I don’t know how to sew more than a straight line (I used to make some killer “scrunchies” when I was a kid!). I love to create; I love colour and natural materials. I really enjoy craft – card making, painting, candle making, beading. I love the idea of permaculture, I want to only ever buy organic food, and I try to support small, local businesses where I can.

 It is from this starting point that I begin this journey for myself and my family. This journey is not just about growing our own food, but also being less reliant on buying “stuff” and beginning to make our own, repair instead of throw away, upcycle, create and break out of the “cookie cutter” mould that we sometimes allow ourselves to get cut by. Would you like to join me?

image courtesy of simon howden / freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of simon howden / freedigitalphotos.net

PS. My parents are still living their dream on a much smaller scale. They inspire me! They live on half a block in the middle of town (it’s very small!) but they have 3 chooks who provide them with a steady supply of eggs, they have a rich compost system, they grow asparagus, lettuce, artichokes, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, rocket, spinach, parsley, basil, lemongrass, chillis, and potatoes – the list goes on! Mum makes her own soft furnishings, she has restored old cupboards and side tables, she makes her own ice-cream, and Dad preserves lemons and olives. I’m sure I’ll be knocking on their door a lot during this journey for some valuable advice.

 Step one on the journey? Making our own sauce – Italian style!