Thursday, 16 March 2017

Independence Days Challenge: Week Twenty One

You need to visit Matt and Lentil at Grown and Gathered and read their About page. Everything they have articulated there is how I have been feeling for a very long time, but they are way better at saying it!!
I borrowed their wonderful book from the library and have been devouring it - can't get enough. Take a sneak peek inside the book here. The book is divided into sections - Observe, Grow, Gather, Nurture, Trade, Seek and Eat. This quote explains why.

'This book is full of the things that we grow, gather, nurture, trade, seek and eat where we are. And that's how it worked traditionally. You grew what you could where you were, and then you ate what you had, sourced a few special things from far away, and that is what made up regional diets and led to the development of specific cuisines.'
Grown and Gathered by Matt and Lentil pg 21

Exactly what I have been trying to explain to hubby for 25 years!
So simple, yet it is so necessary for us all to start living like this - now, before we have no options.
After spending way too much money on pretty average produce at the supermarket yesterday, then coming home to read some more of this book, I am on fire to achieve this on our block - all alone, if necessary!

1. Plant something
As those shelling peas germinated so well, I have planted some more direct in the garden. And hundreds and hundreds of daffodil bulbs! My back is sore, but the mass display in spring will be worth it! Hopefully something like this:

2. Harvest something
The zucchinis are finishing up now and there is always at least one that gets away from me! They seem to grow overnight as I don't know where this one came from. I have been checking the plants every day.

And eggs, of course!

3. Preserve something
I made some yummy Apple Maple Jam last season from a recipe in the Ball Preserving Book but it didn't set properly. But you know what, I am happy it didn't set as I have found a way better use for it than as jam. In fact, I am planning on making it again this season and making sure it doesn't set!
Pancakes are a much loved breakfast dish here, and it is the custom to drown your pancakes in maple syrup. That uses a lot of maple syrup! Here in Australia, I have not been able to find bulk maple syrup - I am very jealous when I see those big tins that you can get in the US and Canada!
So this recipe is the perfect way to get that pancake maple syrup to go much further. Warning - it is VERY sweet; a little goes a long way!
Apple maple pancakes, anyone?!

4. Minimise waste
In reading Grown and Gathered, I was very impressed to read that their farm operates as a closed loop, something that is definitely in my long term goals. But in doing this, I am finding I do not have ENOUGH waste. I'll clarify that, enough of the right type of waste. All my food scraps go to the chooks and they can never seem to get enough. So I have not got much to compost, other than egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds. I think I need to source some organic waste material from somewhere.
Do you source compostable material from an outside source? What type? I'd love to hear!

This is what I need!

5. Want Not
It is time to dig the garden paths over into the garden beds and top up with sawdust. Luckily, hubby has sourced a massive amount of free sawdust - yay!
The garden paths are teeming with worms and will be so fantastic for adding to the garden beds, especially the rhubarb and asparagus beds.
Someone else's trash is definitely my treasure!

6. Cook something new
Not really new, but after being terrible in the school holidays and letting everything die, I am restarting my sourdough starter, kefir grains and ginger beer plant. I always seem to forget that someone will need to 'feed' them if we go away, as well as the animals!

Image from Grown and Gathered book

I have also been pretty slack with grinding my own grain. I haven't attempted to grow grain yet - I'd love to hear if you have!

7. Manage your reserves
Hmmm, cleaned out a whole shed on the weekend. So I may soon be able to start stocking up again! The possums had actually chewed through the walls in places, so hubby boarded up all the holes and has put wire mesh over the gap in the eaves which was their means of entry. Hopefully that will solve the problem and keep them out. I am only putting non-food items in there for the moment, until I know the possums are definitely gone!

8. Work on local food systems
I love how there is a whole chapter on Trade in Grown and Gathered as I really feel this will be how we will conduct a major part of our 'business' in the future.
And I just love this quote on trade from the book:

'When you trade, genuine human interaction is unavoidable, because a trade is only possible with conversation. You must discuss what a fair trade is. You must discuss the exchange of goods. Whereas with money, you can just hand over the money and get a product in return, no conversation required. Sure you end up with the same product, but with a remarkably different experience. And this is what we want to highlight here: the experience, that human connection, is the most important thing. When we have more human interactions - talk to strangers, have great conversations - we believe that society is at its strongest. When we realise that we are all more similar than we are different, when we begin to understand each other more, see each other's points of view, share skills and have empathy, we all become happier, and we all become stronger human beings.'
Grown and Gathered by Matt and Lentil pg 111

So true! How many times do you feel, after doing all your errands in town, that you haven't actually spoken to anyone in any meaningful way? I think trade will be vital and plan on making it a major part of my system.
My problem will be that I always tend to undervalue my work and will feel very strange about attempting to calculate trades. It will be a bit of a steep learning curve for me!

Have you introduced regular trading/swapping? Is it working for you; what items are you trading?

I would love to hear any comments as I am always looking for new ideas or methods.

I'm off to the garden as today is a lovely cool day, the only one before it heats up again for a week. Have a wonderful week!


  1. I love your independence days posts, they are inspiring. At our allotments any food or flowers grown that you do not want are left by the gate for any one to take, I tend to share our excess with an elderly neighbour and the families I mind for, so not really a trade except seeing their enjoyment. The Grown and Gathered book looks great, will be another to add to my reading list.

    1. Thank you - such kind words! It is always lovely to share. At the moment, I give away any excess, as I really don't have much. I am hoping, some day in the future, to have a real amount of excess so that I can actually have an amount worth trading or selling even.

  2. The only thing I have in excess at the moment are cucumbers. I give them on friends and plan to make some pickles this week. None of my friends garden. I wish hey did then we could swap our excess produce. I only have a small garden and am limited to what I can grow. It would e lovely if someone who had a sprawling plant like zucchini or pumpkin would trade for something I had they didn't intend garden. I did like the idea of a produce swap event I saw on one of the series of cottage garden Australia. I looked at Matt and Lentils site and enjoyed it so much. I plan to get the book soon. Sounds like a good hint for a mother's Day present from my girls☺

    1. That would be the perfect Mothers Day present! I hope you can find some garden minded people in your area soon. We have a produce swap once a month here - I just haven't gone along yet. Soon I will have something worth swapping, I hope.

  3. I encourage you to go even with limited produce. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. What about excess eggs (you could even do half dozen boxes). You could also pick herbs and make up some bunches of bouquet garni. Even simple handicrafts such as napkins or dish cloths may be welcome.