The food-forest of independence

As our bare, windswept paddock transforms into a food-forest a trickle of food has begun to entertain us.  And along with some fruit and veges, herbs, eggs and milk has come a sneaky new realisation.I am used to beginning my dinner time deliberations with the question: what do I want for dinner?  That’s a useful question if you are heading out to a restaurant or you have a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer at home but if you are relying on your garden to provide for you a less frustrating starting point is: what can I find for dinner?

It is a tiny tweak but it has a big impact.  For a long time I would rummage through the fridge and cook up some wilted veges I had bought from the supermarket days ago, grumbling that our so-called permaculture food-forest had nothing to eat in it.

Then one day I was outside with the kids foraging for beans amongst the rambling kiwano.  We moved over to the sorrel and snapped off a big taro leaf on the way.  The kids nibbled sorrel while we picked leaves off the mushroom plant and then discovered a thousand tiny ripe red tomatoes on a self-sown bush.  My son ran in to get a big bowl and we all ate and picked until there were only green tomatoes left.  Then we went for the basil, and along the way we nipped off some luscious Ceylon spinach leaves and the tops of a whole lot of broad bean seedlings.

By the time I reached the kitchen I saw that the nagging question of what to have for dinner had already been answered for me.  All I had to do was stir fry the taro and Ceylon spinach leaves with some coconut, salt, lemon and chilli, cut up some feta and mix in some basil and other leaves and tomatoes with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and dinner was just about done.  And you have never seen children enjoy salad as much as those three little foragers.

But it didn’t much matter what I served in the end, because we had already eaten more raw, fresh organic produce that afternoon than any of us had in the past week.  My duty as a mother nourishing her children done before the plates hit the table.

It made me think how dependent I had become on the supermarket system.  Everything there, all the time, always the same.  It seems like endless choice yet my children have never eaten as well, and I have never cooked as creatively, as when I stopped going to the shop regularly and started letting the pantry, fridge and freezer run out of things.

We are a million miles away from self-sufficiency and it isn’t something I aspire to – my dream is a model of community sufficiency – but I had no idea how much of that dependence was in my head.  My garden was ready to go long before I was.

Everywhere I look I see the philosophies we started EveryVoiceCounts to live and work by:

To change the status-quo you must start with reality (as it is, not as I would like it to be).

For that change to be lasting you have to deal with both the internal and external barriers to change.

For the change to be positive it must be tailored for and driven, at least partly, by the person or people experiencing a problem with the status-quo.

So if you’re stuck with a problem, big or small, know that you must be at least part of the solution.  Get some help, if necessary, seeing the issue without any ego muddying the waters and then figure out what’s stopping you making a change?  There are probably a few things but one or two will stand out – the others will be excuses.  Those one or two things might need a whole team of people dedicated to changing them or they might only require you to change the way you look at things.

And if you need a whole team of people, there has never been a better time to rally the troops – no matter what you might have read about the online world, nothing changes things more effectively than real people talking to real people.

If you’re really stuck, creating change teams to trade problems for their solutions is what we do best!  You can get in touch through the connect page.