A plot in common

aplotincommon02aplotincommon03aplotincommon04aplotincommon05aplotincommon08aplotincommon09Not long ago we had the wonderful opportunity to visit a nearby farm with a difference – A Plot in Common. Owners Ben and Tash, admit when they first moved to the property they had little farming experience, but in just 18  months have transformed their 10 acres to run truly free-ranging pigs, egg laying chickens, honey bees and cows, with plans to raise meat birds too. They have carved out a beautiful space for their young family to grow and thrive in amongst old chestnut trees, brick barn, a newly planted fruit orchard and profusely flowering lavender – but they are committed to sharing the joy of life on the land with others.

They have established a garden of raised beds – some for their own production and six (so far) for other plotters who can come in on their spare time to grow flowers and vegetables. In between the plots sits a long table for communal eating and sharing of ideas. It was inspiring to walk about the thriving beds and imagine people working alongside each other – growing healthy food side by side – sharing life in the truest sense!

Visit their instagram for more delightful scenes.

a jocund company

DaffodilFest2014-7DaffodilFest2014-52DaffodilFest2014-59DaffodilFest2014-22DaffodilFest2014-67DaffodilFest2014-106DaffodilFest2014-72Last Sunday we experienced our first Daffodil Parade – which is part of our local town’s annual festival dedicated to that golden Springtime bloom. The theme for the parade was “the bulb and the beautiful” and our float featured a giant handmade fibreglass bulb with blooming daffodil, fabric daffodil hats and ponchos and tiny chocolates moulded as bulbs (wrapped with scriptures relating to beauty or boldness) to be given out to onlookers in the crowd. Along with the church float there were others from the local schools, playgroup, associations, bagpipe enthusiasts, brass bands and even a secret drumming society. After the parade there was a big celebration of live music, Chinese dragon dancers, and a host of rides, games, events and food stalls. Our church put on free face painting, daffodil-themed craft, woodworking, balloon sculpting and group games like tug-of-war and water-balloon volleyball. It was tremendous fun – I painted more flowers, hearts, tigers and moustaches of young faces than I can remember and Reu fell asleep at one point from overwhelm (I think) at all bagpipes, colour and crowds.

There was something so meaningful about being part of a community event like this. Neither of us grew up in neighbourhoods where people of all ages and walks of life came together to celebrate and make merry. I suspect that’s normal for city suburbs in the western world and yet I wish it were different. I’ve come to realise that I prefer this small town life not only because of its close proximity to land and sweeping bush, or it’s farmer’s markets and quaint shops. I prefer the sense of close-knit community it offers us – the challenge of investing in other people’s lives (and they in yours) then accepting a life of living crowded in with other people but never knowing anything about them. It makes me think of that wonderful quote by Wendell Berry: “community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each others’s lives… it is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves…” Yes – true community is sharing a place and letting it pattern your existence – inform your goals – enrich your experiences… And maybe from time to time it’s dressing up as flower and marching along the main street with your head up and your face smiling…

Yours truly,
the daffodil familyScreen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.27.47 am

Cityscapes: Chippendale

chippendale01chippendale05 chippendale06 chippendale07chippendale08 chippendale10 chippendale13chippendale14The inner-Sydney suburb of Chippendale is a hidden gem. One doesn’t have to wander far from Redfern station to find streets overflowing with leafy trees and verge gardens (gardens by the roadside) that range from planter boxes filled with vegetables and herb bushes, flowering natives, citrus and paupya trees, compost bins, and even a public book library!

I recently read Michael Mobb’s book “sustainable food” which documents the green transformation in his suburb of Chippendale – he also shares various sustainable water, energy and waste systems for the urban australian landscape. It is so very inspiring to see photos of the suburb before the gardens were established and then to wander around them today with my toddler delighting in the spying of birds and nasturtium flowers! To think, what small communitites are capable of when they work together with a shared vision for healthier, happier streets!