In November 2012, Sophie, Asher and I finalised our acquisition of just under 50 acres near Second Valley, on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. This comes after a number of years looking for land, weighing the merits of buying and dreaming of a regenerative, permaculture-based small farm. It’s an exciting adventure, and the process of our developing relationship with this patch of ground is now being documented at the blog Trees, Bees and Cheese. We invite you to check it out.
Greenhorns: 50 dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement
Edited by Zoë Ida Bradbury, Severine von Tscharner Fleming and Paula Manalo
Published by Storey Publishing
A few years ago, a young graduate and aspiring farmer with the spectacular name of Severine von Tscharner Fleming began profiling new American farmers. What began as a documentary film project has, in the ensuing years, grown into a thriving network with the mission of recruiting, promoting and supporting a new generation of agrarians. Drawing on the diversity of their members, the Greenhorns network utilises “avant-garde programming, video, audio, web content, publications, events, and art projects that increase the odds for success and enhance the profile and social lives of America’s young farmers.”
North America, like Australia, has an aging farming population. As a majority of farmers drift into their late 50s and early 60s, the absence of a new generation of aspiring farmers taking on the responsibility of food production has furrowed brows in farmers’ organisations for some years. The recruitment of “millions of rough and ready protagonists of place to care for our ecosystems and serve our country healthy food”, a “critical meeting of minds, bodies, and land”, forms the foundation for the Greenhorns work, it is not just a new crop of farmers they seek. Rather, it is the transformation of the food system into one that nourishes communities through a model of farming that is ecologically sound, locally-focussed and small(er)-scale.
Newly planted seedlings in the salvaged vegie bed.
Living in a rented house, we’ve been slowly, subtly expanding the reach of our potted garden over the under-utilised spaces of the strata. Sophie recently spotted a broken produce crate in hard rubbish, and we thought it was time to set-up a herb and leafies bed in a sunny corner.
In the inner southern suburbs of Adelaide, a small group of permaculturalists have been gathering to experiment with artisanal food skills. From cheese-making to sourdough, they’ve been exploring and sharing the skills that make good food. To herald the end of summer, we sourced 180kg of tomatoes from local farmer’s markets and had a go at making passata. A 15-hour food preservation epic, our kitchens are now lined with long-necks filled with crushed tomatoes. This film is a little something I shot amid the spraying tomatoes and bubbling barrels.
I’m a long-time admirer of pallets and am regularly delighted by the possibilities they offer for reuse and transformation into other useful objects once their life as a pallet is ended. Likewise, I’m often surprised by the quality of the timber used. I’ve used a red cedar pallet to make a light-weight bike crate, and a couple of years ago used another pallets to bang out an extremely rustic stool. I’ve been pondering some other pallet-based carpentry projects, and have gathered together some inspiration below. It’s especially exciting to see some craftspeople using rough-hewn materials with such elegance. The examples of intelligent reuse are seemingly inexhaustible, so I’ll update this post whenever I have the time and energy!
Filed under art, crafting, diy, wood
This is an edited version of a presentation Joel gave at the City of Unley’s Sustainable Garden Design seminar in late 2010.
New and creative approaches to growing food are germinating in communities all over the world. These approaches demonstrate that the benefits of sustainable food growing can reach far beyond the act of gardening. Some build community or aim to improve health, while others address issues of food security or offer strategies for building sustainable local economies, and some are a combination of all of these. In many cities, grassroots food projects are strengthened by the support of visionary local governments.
Many important community food initiatives, like food co-ops, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture and school and community gardens are now familiar and are established as important components of the movement for local, community-based food. However in backyards and street-corners other, sometimes less visible, strategies are also contributing to the transformation of our cities.
Grasshoppers kick back on the warrigal, Glandore Community Garden
The air around our legs clattered with the tumbling bodies of locusts, their gleaming translucent wings bursting outwards as they hop through the grass. While at our urban community garden plot grasshopper populations have been noticeably high, in the browning stubble of paddocks on the eastern side of the Adelaide Hills the numbers still indicate the population spike that comes from good rains and plenty to eat. Indeed, with the recent plague, there’s been a surge in discussion about the possibilities of eating those that feast on our farms. Walking through these farms on a Sunday afternoon, I was reminded of the description of John the Baptist, as a gentleman who “wore clothing of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6).
While that introduction alone is enough to get John invited to headline a permaculture skillshare, the Judeo-Christian tradition has further references to hopping cuisine. Articulating the ancient Hebrew holy laws regarding food, the Old Testament book of Leviticus reminds the faithful that there are “some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat, those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest” (Leviticus 11:21-23).