It’s funny how it takes most of us half our life to realise that life’s simple pleasures actually make us the most happy. And when you stumble across this realisation and start enjoying the simplicity of it, it’s at that moment you want to shout out loud and share it with the world.
A couple of years ago we visited a little garden not too far from our home. So much had been achieved in that small urban space that barely a corner was spared. It was inspiring to say the least with its abundant fruit trees and vines, vegetables and frog ponds, wood piles and herb gardens, archways and water tanks and the garden was still very young having only been built 18 months before. Visiting that garden sparked a change for us, a serendipitous moment that we’d been waiting for without even knowing it. We raced home and started planning our very own Permaculture garden.
Growing, preparing and cooking fresh simple healthy food is something I’ve always been passionate about having grown up in a family who did just that. My dad loved to garden and looked after bees and chooks, my mum loved to cook so somewhere along the way, a little bit of each of them rubbed off in my direction.
I’ve always cooked from scratch and tried my hand at growing a few things over the years especially when my own kids were young. It was a time I felt compelled to introduce them to the concept of growing veggies to ensure they understood that food came from the ground but beyond that our busy lives simply got in the way.
Not long after our visit to that garden, we hired some help after finding someone who was prepared to work with us, someone who was sympathetic to our dreams and style and understood our need to design where we could using Permaculture principles. Our hired help happened to be my brother Robert, who we fondly call ‘Uncle Robot’ and stone by stone we worked together laying down the foundations of our Permaculture garden.
We soon planted food, learning as we went and changing things where needed. We started a blog and kept records of our progress and slowly over a few years built a productive chemical free food garden.
We learnt about annuals and perennials, how to grow seedlings and how to save seed. We taught ourselves to make compost by recycling every kitchen scrap into energy for our soil. We learnt how to house and care for bees, worms and chooks and have been lovingly rewarded.
Along the way we added other skills and learnt how to take advantage of local seasonal fruit and veggies through preserving, drying and pickling. We learnt how to bake bread, make cheese, yoghurt and beverages and make our own versions of commercial cleaning products, creams and medicines. We got more serious about our use of natural resources and adapted our living space and garden where we could.
We connected with new friends with similar interests to share information, surplus produce and continue to provide support to one another. We’ve been inspired by so many others we’ve met personally and through everyday blogging have connected with others who share a common goal to create healthier lives, a better world and influence change through sustainable action.
For us, the escalating ethical issues around the production and supply of food have always been a niggling worry. Global transportation of food and the selling of some of our most valuable agricultural land for housing and industry; agricultural corruption, genetically modified food and use of synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and steroids; chemical contamination through pesticide use and it’s connection with the near loss of our most prolific pollinators, the European honey bee; the growing overuse of plastic wrapping and packaging that’s become the norm; our excess need for meat products and overfishing of our oceans; the depletion of our natural food resources and medicines through deforestation and soil degradation; the over-processing of food and concoction of God-only-knows-what sold off as food for kids; the dumbing down on our ability to look after ourselves through pre-prepared packaged meals; the bottling of tap water, marketed as a health drink and sold to consumers in plastic for 1,500 times the price of a litre and the huge problem of food waste. These are just some of the worrying issues around food security and a driving factor in our personal need for change.
Looking back it feels great to no longer be dreaming about it and through our actions we’ve moved from being thinkers to doers and changing the way we were living has been life changing. The simplicity of a slow, healthy life is strangely rewarding.
No matter what your reason for wanting to grow some of your own food, get a start as soon as you can. Even the smallest of steps might trigger that life changing event you’ve been long searching for.