Monday, February 21, 2011

Coming back down to earth

Playdough al fresco! Snailosaurus rex.
Yup, I know, I've had my head in the clouds lately. The title of this post gives it away. Today I'm going to try and get back down to earth. 

Last week I was lucky enough to chat with Elaine Reeves from the Mercury. We had a wonderful wander around the garden, nibbling, enjoying the view of the mountain and the sunshine. But after she left I thought over what we had talked about and realised I spoke perhaps a little too much about the wonderful chefs I'm so excited to be working with,  and not as much about the root of our business, which is trying to contribute to a healthy and happy planet. So here's part of how I imagine it could work:

  • I want a healthy family, and to help other people have the same. One of my kids eats reluctantly from a plate, but will gorge herself in the garden. So I'm trying to give her a good garden to feast from. She'll grow up with this as a normal way of living. With respect and value for food and how it is produced and also what it can do for her health. She already makes her own herbal tea blend from the garden when she has a sniffle. Yesterday our biggest Garden fairy was dressed as a superhero, undies on the outside, knee high, stripey socks, a cape, and a fantastic mask made from an egg carton. Our apple tree was being raided by the wildlife and superhero 'Apple Girl' was on a mission to save our apples. We filled the washing basket, Apple Girl and I, then processed and filled lots of Fowler's jars with apple puree and chunks. We grabbed spotty apples and ones that had been nibbled by pademelons. We trimmed blemishes and salvaged loads of delicious fruit that would normally be wasted. We cooked the apples for the puree with skin, cores and all, and passed them through a mouli marvelling at how little was wasted, and the pretty pink hue of our pulp from the colour of the skin. Now the rejected parts are simmering on the stove for the chooks. And the littlest garden fairy learnt how to ladle. So, much was learnt, food was salvaged, fun was had and delicious apple was stored, mmm crumble...! That's what it's all about!
  • Packets of herbs, greens and other well travelled and over-packaged food items depress me. We grow a good variety of herbs here, with minimal work, and it is unimaginable to me to pay $4 for a tiny, shrivelled bunch of something bundled up in plastic and stickers. So I like to think that every little plant I sell means someone can walk to their garden or pot, cut only what they need and save some money, get herbs that are healthier for them and healthier for the planet. Without all that plastic, travel time and associated chemical use and carbon emissions. And for those who can't grow their own a few of us at the market bring along some fresh each week naked but for an elastic band or piece of string, harvested the night before and not travelled any further than you can travel to market. 
Treats from the last market
    • Some of the plants sold in Tassie are also well travelled. Somehow the perverse economics of the world make it cheaper, in some cases, for retailers to bring plants across the water. To do this, those plants need to be treated with chemicals to reduce the risk of plant pests and diseases hitching a ride to our fair island. At Provenance we grow our plants in a home made potting mix made from composted Tasmanian pine bark, Tasmanian dolomite, blood-and-bone, sand, kelp meal and crusher dust, and two certified organic fertiliser blends. We use second hand pots (so please bring yours back!). We are setting up a mini wetland to clean the water that runs off of our growing area, and we use no chemical insecticides, fungicides or herbicides, only natural methods of pest control (lots of aphid-eating frogs) or preferably none at all! 
    Alpine strawberry 'Alexandria'. Yum.

      Satisfaction for me comes from selling an alpine strawberry plant to a little boy at the market, knowing he'll plant it with his parents, reap his gloriously sweet harvest, and maybe acquire a taste for gardening and the delights of REAL food. I couldn't think of a more satisfying job!
        So, I'll pull my head out of the clouds, kneel in the mud, rub the earth off of some lovely potatoes and be thankful for being able to make a living from my home, with my family and feeling as though we're a small part of keeping the world the wonderful place it is.

        Look out for my chat with Elaine Reeves in the Mercury tomorrow, Tuesday the 22nd of February, and come and give us a hoy at the Tas Farm Gate market this Sunday, and the 2nd 4th and 5th Sunday of each month. We're now on Facebook and Twitter. Check these out for updates of when we'll be at market and what's coming down, or even to request something you fancy for you garden or kitchen.
        Baby Barnervelder, no longer this cute, now a gangly teenager, but I love this photo!


        1. Lovely post Paulette! Look forward to seeing you at the market this week.

        2. Thanks Michelle, I'm looking forward to tasting your wares too!

        3. I know what you mean, Paulette.... I sometimes get carried away with a new idea too until something happens that makes me see that what I treasure most is the circle of life happening right before my eyes,without any input from me.... self-sown food. I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of mizuna, red Russian kale, chervil and chicory coming up where the seeds have fallen from the last crops.

        4. I've been enjoying some self sown chervil too Kate, nothing like it! Mother nature does know best when to sow seed doesn't she. And kale, ooh, I do love the brassica season.