Kitchen Garden Guides

Saturday, February 23, 2013

3 years on….

It has been 3 years since I bought my house in Cygnet, southern Tasmania. You can read about the beginnings here. In those early days I was so happy to be going to live somewhere with so many of the features I had often dreamed of in a home and garden.

After 3 years I can honestly say I still marvel at the luck that brought me here. I sit by my lounge room window, smiling out at my herb garden, my geese strolling past, mowing the paths, tiny birds feeding in the shrubbery right under my window and the sea breeze freshening up  what threatens to be a hottish summer’s afternoon….. although ‘hot’ is very relative and humidity has a role to play in what feels hot here.

I know an awful lot of people and have made some truly wonderful friends. I write the garden page for the local paper and have a micro-business called The Garden Shed and Pantry. I run gardening and cooking workshops, help out at the Cygnet Community Garden, run a seedsavers group called SeedSaveUs, cook meals for a local family, rent out a room on Airbnb and have a huge organic, Australian wholefoods etc stall at the Cygnet Market, twice a month.

In between all this I spend as much time in my acre of garden as possible, which is never often enough because I source almost everything I sell direct from individual farmers and makers and that takes FOREVER! My desire is to become a hermit and spend most of my time in my garden, growing food and making my acre into the paradise it has the potential to be. The rest of the time I’d like to be paddling the waterways of Tasmania with friends, starting with the estuary at the end of my street which flows out past the beautiful sailing club of Port Cygnet and beyond to Bruny Island…. all I need is the right craft!

Cygnet claims to have a population of 800 but, even if this is out of date, it is probably no more than 1,000. And yet, I rarely leave it. Astonishing as it may seem, almost everything I need is here….. and I am VERY fussy! Having a small shop in my home and a market stall etc means I meet a lot of people. I put out feelers about something and eventually I come across exactly the person I need. It is amazing how diverse the population is and how specialized. You can get everything from exquisite, world class blown glass from an amazingly talented couple to ancient Indian chapatti boards from a nifty shop called Near and Far, where I also buy Tasmanian wool socks.

I have a customer who raised a couple of pigs so I got some pork. Another has a few goats, yet another has sheep. A neighbour grows potatoes to sell and another grew a few eggplants this summer, for the local fruit and veg shop, The Cygnet Garden Larder. One of a kind, this tiny shop is filled to overflowing with local produce and hard to get other foods, like organic bananas and even the odd mango (all Australian, at least). A stallholder yesterday at the market gave me some leftover, fresh onions and last week I bought a large blueberry bush from her.

The local IGA supermarket will get anything you ask for! I asked for Maggie Beer’s Vino Cotto, which, once you have had it, you can’t live without. This wonderful family business puts most other rural supermarkets to shame. Run by a Lebanese family with an eye for the unexpected, even fussy shoppers like me enjoy going there.

Surrounded by waterways, small-scale farms, even a new, organic, cider works (in a 4th generation apple orchard), a swimming spot deliriously situated below rugged mountain scenery and with picturesque views at every turn, who could ask for more?

Must go….. the winners of the Huon Crier Quiz night are off sailing today and somehow I was on that team!


Sofia said...


I came across your blog searching for people who live in Cygnet. My family are hoping to move to Cygnet at then end of this year. We have been looking at property for about 2 years now and are hoping to find a home on about 5 acres with a view to establishing veggie gardens, berry patches, orchards, a chicken run and hopefully a house cow. That is the dream. You sound like it has been a great move to this area of the world. he fully we can meet when we do eventually get there. Love your blog. I too am an avid gardener.

Kate said...

Good luck with your plans, Sofia and I look forward to meeting you and your family.

africanaussie said...

I remember when you first found that house! Sure was a great move! I think you have changed the whole place for the better too!

AlexF said...

I'm so happy for you mum!

Pattie Baker said...

Oh,Kate, this made me so happy to read. I am so happy to hear how it has worked out for you there. I'll be kayaking across the Pacific to see you before you know it!