Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The bloke with the thongs...

If you are not Australian you may know thongs as flip-flops....

I keep thinking of this bloke at the Cygnet expo thingy and how like him we could all be if we let ourselves.

I was setting up my stall right next to the info desk in Carmel Hall on Saturday afternoon. The hall was almost completely empty and waiting for all the stall holders to arrive and fill it with their stuff to bring it to life.

A bloke walked in with a few bits and pieces. Mr. Thongs greeted him and directed him to his site.

"Where's my trestle, mate?" Asked the stall holder.

"You didn't order one, according to my list." answered Mr. Thongs

"Bugger.... last year I had one.... "

"It was on the form, mate"

"Oh, my partner organised it this year"..... both men sniggered. "Have you got one spare?"

(At this point I looked around the empty hall and it was very obvious there was not a single spare anything in this hall......)

Mr. Thongs looked at his info desk, which was 2 card tables, side by side..... "Here," he said shuffling his papers along onto one table..."You can have this one.... will this do?"

"Gee, thanks a lot mate." and off he went, happy.

A few moments passed and a young woman came in laden down with a huge banner....

"Where can I put this up, Mr. Thongs?" she asked.

"Let me see.... do you have something to attach it with or to?" asked Mr. Thongs.

"Oh..... no I don't.... gosh... I didn't think of that. But its so beautiful...." she replied.

He did not sigh or scream or refuse to know about her problem..... he said "Give me a few moments" and he left the hall.

About 10 minutes later he was back.... with hammer, nails, twine and a big smile "OK, now let's put it up here, above my desk"..... the only bit of wall without windows or exit signs or someone else's stall.

And so it went on the whole time I was there.... about 2 hours on and off. When I had finished I told him how wonderful he was but I forgot to ask his name! He was a volunteer from the Huon Environment Centre. Maybe someone will pass on this story to him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cygnet Herb and Organic Fair

Actually it had a longer name but this is what I called it!

image Held in 3 venues in Cygnet, this Sunday event attracted a steady flow of lovely people from the moment it opened at 9am until closing time at 4pm. I had a stall in Carmel Hall and barely drew breath for 7 hours, except to eat morsels from the wonderful David who brought me spring rolls from his friends at the Vietnamese stall, every couple of hours! Luckily I had thought to buy a Farmers' Union Iced Coffee before the fair started.

image From 1pm until 3pm there was a forum of outstanding speakers and the hall filled with people, who sat on the seats provided, filling most of the hall. Speakers included the gorgeous, eloquent, knowledgeable and entertaining Tino Carnevale, from Gardening Australia who talked mostly about integrated pest management. Equally engaging was Prof. Jamie Kirkpatrick who spoke about how to resolve the conflict between nature and conservation.... something that is close to my heart and is why I sell Helen Cushing's book "Beyond Organics" (which I sold out of today!). I was really interested in Dr. John Todd who spoke about air quality in your home and the benefits of having a warm home, and Belinda Robson from Gould's Naturopathica who spoke about herbs and I could have listened to her all day. Celia did a great job of introducing permaculture and taking it from something you do to your land, to a way of living your life.

Sadly I did not get to look at even one other stall and consequently have no photos of anything but my stall and the forum.

image image






I would like to congratulate the organisers from the Huon Environment Centre and especially Jenny and the bloke with the thongs, who was so kind and helpful to everyone who came to him with questions.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Organic Sharecroppers Collectives

At last something positive to write about, to get excited about, to feel passionate about, in this crazy world of disasters and media madness.

All who read this blog probably know or know of people who would love to get out there in the fields and grow food, organically and ethically, but they do not have the land / money / time to be without an income etc. Moreover, we all know how backward is the thinking of many of our so called leaders, when it comes to promoting the reduction of chemicals in agriculture and in our daily lives. It seems that the effort required to do good in a community is being constantly multiplied by red tape, by stupidity and by a lack of foresight in our "leaders".

Every now and then a shining star rises from the depths of the leadership scrum and uses their power for good. Edouard Chaulet is one such man..... a mayor in southern France, who, 2 years ago, introduced organic food into the canteens of local schools, as documented in the film "Our children will accuse us". He firmly believes that it is the rise of chemicals in our lives and especially in our food, that is causing the horrendous rise in childhood cancers as well as destroying the earth we depend on for life on this planet.

His latest effort is very creative and inspiring. I read about it on La Vie Verte, which is a blog in English about green things that are happening and not happening in France.

Using an innovative social financing scheme pioneered with association Terre de Liens, he has made available a 120-hectare plot of land for organic farmers to rent and farm collectively. The aim: to increase land surface area in the Gard region of France farmed organically to help close the gap between demand and supply.

Terre de Liens, created in 2006 in partnership with bank La Nef, collects savings from citizens and companies to buy farms and then rent them out exclusively to organic farmers.

“The Common Agricultural Policy (of the EU) forces our farmers relentlessly towards large monoculture farms. These big intensive farms destroy the countryside, make the soil sterile and the water undrinkable. We need a diverse and local agriculture, not thousands of tons of cereals!” said Sjoerd Wartena, president of Terre de Liens.

You need to read how the finances are raised and what the deal is, on the Terre de Liens site, but I can see the possibility of this becoming the basis for a very successful model that could be used all over the world. All kinds of thoughts are stimulated in my head by reading about good, creative ideas that someone has succeeded in implementing.

I'd like to set the scene of how food production works in this small community at the bottom of the world..... go and get a coffee, I have a lot to say and I'd love you to stay around and read it! Ok, I have decided to post this first, my head is too full of organising my first ever stall, which I am having at tomorrow's Cygnet Herb and Organic Health Expo (oh gosh, is that what its called? I am not sure but you get the gist!).

Come back soon....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pickle goes to Africa....almost.

image Pickle has been enjoying watching TV lately; in particular the BBC's "Last Chance to See" series, about endangered animals.
image Later, he stared out the window, gloomily, thinking how exciting it would be to be a whale or a gorilla or a rhinoceros.... life would be much more exciting in the wild than in his garden...
 image .... so he attacked the last remains of his cane basket....making out he was wrestling a lion or fighting off sharks...
 image .... until he had another idea.... better than all the others....
image This idea required some serious gardening in a newly watered vegetable bed
image image
But no matter how hard he dug, no matter how much he tried, he could not quite cover himself in enough mud to feel like a real hippopotamus.... but he'd had a lot of fun trying! image

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Backyard Poultry classifieds

Just found this site!

Backyard Poultry

Anyone in Australia wanting any kind of chooks, ducks, other poultry should check this out.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Postcard from 43 degrees south, 147 degrees east....

That is approximately where Cygnet, Tasmania is.

I love to read Barbara's Postcard from Paris, where, for some years, she has been writing about her own garden, sweet scenes of the French countryside and rustic musings. Here is a video I just found there .

I have such a diverse range of beautiful plants in my garden this would be a lovely way of preserving them as well as finding people to identify them for me, even after they have finished flowering.

I like his idea of, for example, preserving all the plants on a particular farm or geographic area.



It has been raining solidly since the middle of the night so I lit the fire this morning to keep Pickle and I warm while we laze through Sunday. For breakfast, on the firebox I heated the apple pie I cooked last night, and made my espresso coffee. Cloud has obscured all of my view.... it makes me feel like I am living in the wilds of some remote island.... well, from most places in the world, I guess I am!

Pickle is bored. What is a dog to do on a rainy day but stand on the verandah and dream of digging up bones and chasing rabbits?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crikey dot Ken

A little snippet from Ken of Woodbridge, who writes about local things near and far, in his newsletter called Crikey dot Ken..... great name, Ken! Here he is commenting on something he has read in the Channel Living bulletin. I just love the way he describes the simple way the Burbury's went about rejuvenating tired land.....


Interesting lot of items in the bulletin.  Especially for me to see that Yeomans Keyline is still on the go.

Years ago I classed the wool, a couple of times, for (old) John Burbury and wife at York Plains.  They were early farmer conservationists and so unusual in that period you would have to open a lot to gates to find a farmer that way inclined.

They followed to some extent the Yeomans way of Keyline.  I had never heard of it until then.  With two books provided I read up on Keyline.

I got some appreciation of water and land in conjunction with each other.  I don't profess about knowing a lot about it however I remember to make the soil so that much of the water remains IN the soil and not runs off.   What runs off has to be slow so it can increase the value of the soil by depositing nutriments and not erode the ground.

The first time I worked for these gentle folk was when they had purchased an adjoining paddock that was run down; clapped out so much that It wouldn't feed a bandicoot.

Burbury's paddock, next to the run down block, had a feed crop on which they put a mob of sheep.  Each evening they would go move the sheep into the clapped out paddock and move them back into to feed paddock in the morning.  The mob of sheep emptied out on the poor ground each evening and soon built the ground up enough to plant a crop of oats which they had eaten down (by the sheep -:) then ploughed in and sowed back with rye and clover to create a reasonable bit of useful land. Minimum cost for maximum return.

There is more of interest about the Burbury clan but that can wait.

Thanks for reading this.  I can't send this to just anyone.  You either get or you don't get it.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Days have begun at 5.30am with coffee in bed before covering my pj's with a kitchen-friendly garment and starting cooking at 6am. At 9.30am I have been loading the car with morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea for 13 people and driving off on a ridiculous 50km round trip  with it all.... to a nice room which has no cooking facilities. I serve the food, leaving them to help themselves to afternoon tea and I arrive back home at 2.30pm or so, unpack and wash all the dishes, then start cooking for the next day, ending usually by 7pm.....

Why would I do such a thing? For some crazy reason I offered to cook for 2 weeks for a permaculture design course 25kms from my home! I am being paid but not enough and I will not be doing it again unless it is in Cygnet or, better still, in my Garden Shed.

Actually I have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot about remote catering, people, time-tables and working with some interesting organisational skills! The best bit has been the cooking though. For once, I can cook and cook all day, all the things I love, and have enough people to serve it to so that I can cook different stuff tomorrow and never run out of customers.

They all have asked for my recipes and this has kept me going through some challenges. One man has told me he has not felt so good for many years, all because of my lovely, healthy food and others have said its the best food they have had in Tasmania....

Before I started I sent out an email to all the Tasmanian people I have contact details for, offering them to come and cook with me; to learn about seasonal, local, organic food, and cooking from the garden and pantry, even in what is sometimes known as the hungry time of the year..... mid to late spring. In return I would get an extra pair of hands in the kitchen and some nice company while we cook together.

I was pretty surprised to get almost no takers.... and then my email was sent further on, it seems, and in the net I caught 3 wonderful women.... Cynthia, Carole and Marion. Three people so different from one another but such a pleasure it has been to get to know each of them although they have not met each other. It is so interesting the way life takes us on these pathways.

It was my intention to document all the cooking so I would have notes and photos for the blog and for any future cooking I might take on. However I have not done it; not one word or photo has been set down..... sadly. It has been hard enough to just remember to wash some clothes and feed poor Pickle, never mind getting some nice photos or writing anything down!

Well, its back to the kitchen for the last 3 days.

Bon appetit!

ps I wrote something for the KGI newsletter which you may like to read here