Sunday, October 21, 2012

Farmers as the NEW 21st Century Rockstars

I have just spent a week touring through rural QLD with Rabobank, speaking with women, celebrating International Rural Women's Day.

It has been a pleasure and a wonderful learning experience.

During my travels I realised a few things:

1. As consumers of food, most of us are totally controlled (though we don't recognise it) by major corporations...what we eat, when we eat, how we eat...we are now blindly accepting what we are marketed, believing what we read/see/hear about food and are being forced into purchasing patterns, which are not necessarily in our best interests.

2. The producers in Australia are also being forced into a supply chain that is not in their - or our - best interests and this alone contributes to MASSIVE and UNNECESSARY food wastage on farm, that is sickening.

3. There are few reconised mainstream Australian voices, loud ones anyway, in the Food Security conversation globally...we have the Food Inc, Food Matters, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Furnleigh Wittingstalls doing incredible work raising awareness, but we don't have the same in Australia - and our issues are just the same...but somehow it is easy to say, oh it is happening overseas, not here...well, I am afraid to say, it IS happening here!

4. Issues that can be food related; like skin conditions, stomach pain, reflux, thyroid and lethargy are RIFE, scarily, scarily RIFE and people just put up with feeling like crap!

5. Farmers and Producers should be 21st Century ROCK STARS!!!

6. Women are AWESOME!!!

What this opportunity has provided me is further consolidation of my goals and mission and has refocused my Food Activism and inspired me to continue speaking out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

I am also more determined to raise the profile of FOOD as the cause and cure for many, many issues people face.

What a wonderful, whirlwind journey!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mother Earth

The rewards of good soil: Incredible produce in your backyard!
When we teach vegetable gardening in our How to be an Urban Hippy and Traditional Wisdom Rebellion Programs, the first thing we start with (after planning your patch) is the soil.

Our soil is more important than many people realise; it provides the opportunity for growth, the nourishment for survival and is the basis upon which our entire existence rests.

The saying Mother Earth; is no lie and she is no measly contributor!

In each of the different farming systems there are different perspectives on the soil; each allocating a different reverence to the stuff the food is grown in!

Biodynamic and organic farmers believe the soil is crucial and add organic matter, including manures and composts, to improve the quality and nutritive value of the soil.

In Biodynamic systems they also add fermented preparations to the soil.

These methods of farming exclude the use of artificial chemicals and rely entirely on unique farming systems, crop rotation and care of the soil.

There have been shifts in the conventional farming methods in the last 20 years also, to a minimum till approach, which minimises the negative impacts of farming on the soil (breaking up and destruction of microbes and hummus) and a greater recognition of the value of the soil.

There has also been an improvement in understanding the importance of crop rotation and the value livestock plays in adding nutrition to the soil through their manure.

The point of all this is to let you know, that when you decide to start your veggie patch at home, no matter how small it is (even if it is a tub on your verandah with a couple of herbs in it), pay particular attention to the soil.

 If you are going to scrimp on anything…don’t make it the soil. Start with the best quality you can buy or find, beg or borrow and make sure you tend to it during the growing season by feeding it and keeping it moist and protected.

Your plants will thank you for it and in turn you will be rewarded with delicious and nutritious food.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Opal October

I have to start this month with an insight into the incredible stone that my husband has spent most of his life searching for and bringing to the surface to provide pleasure to those who eventually come to wear it. It also happens to be the birthstone for October AND is drawn from Mother Earth, which is what our months theme is!

Opal has a story that is 100 million years in the making. This illusive and incredible gemstone has captured the imaginations, fascinations and lives of miners, jewellers and lovers of colour for more than 100 years and has sustained communities across three states in Australia, consistently, for the same length of time.

I have to be honest and say that before I moved to Lightning Ridge, I had little interest and no knowledge of the stone, other than the memories of a hot and stinky trip to the place I now call home when I was a child…and the reminder of a wait in the car outside the Opal Cave whilst Mum and Dad chose the perfect remembrance of the trip. My Mum still has that stone.

And now I am in love with it, opal that is.

I could tell you yarns about all kinds of things…namely that the stone has magical healing properties or that, if worn close to the skin it can cure all ills – I am sure that there are people who believe these things – those and the superstition that Opal is bad luck (which the industry believes was a myth created way back in the day by the diamond industry…). Whatever your beliefs, or mine, what I do know for sure about this stone is that it is magical and that it dances in the sunlight and plays with your eyes. Its colour and vibrancy will bring a smile to your face and the whimsical patterns created within the stone reminiscent of days lying on your back looking up at the sky and making pictures in the clouds.

It is also addictive, for the miner. Much like a gambler or a shopaholic, it is the next big find that lures them and keeps them…and curiously, it is never about the money, only about the stone.

If opal were personified, I would liken her to the mythical Sirens who woos men to the sea with their incredible song, only to find that what awaits is a watery grave. But what a blissful journey it is!

I encourage you to seek out and find good opal and come to understand it.

It is our national gemstone and is also one of the most incredible things you will ever see.

We are building a national keeping house for this treasure…a place where the stories, imagery and proof of beauty will be held and preserved for all future generations. Why not join us on this mystery and allow yourself to be wooed…..