Hello! I’m Jess and I’m a newcomer. I am as yet, uninitiated into Croydon Food Swap (CFS) meetings and I’m also in my first year of gardening school (I’m currently attending the Croydon South Gardening School of Life: it’s very salubrious, very tongue in cheek and consists of me, my backyard, my library card, the internet, oh and my grandfathers old shovel and rake.) I haven’t really gardened before, let alone organically or sustainably and honestly, I’m worried that I’ll never be able to really grow anything! So I could use some mentoring and I’m pretty hopeful that I’ve come to the right place.
Firstly though, what am I doing here, how did I get through to this little space amongst all of the words flying around in cyber land to your computer screen? Well, I am a teacher by trade and after having my first daughter I was all set to return to work just after her 1st birthday. Alas, not long after I VERY surprisingly discovered I was pregnant (again) and this time it was TWINS! So work has been placed on the back burner for now and hopefully, that explains why I haven’t managed to make it down to a meeting yet! We live in a rental property in Croydon South. The house belongs to my (very kind) brother, so cutting things down and putting things up and taking this out and putting that in, is not so much of an issue for us as it is for other renters. We are on a tight budget though, and slowly I realized that we had to change the way we were doing things to pay the bills, keep our teenager in school and food on the table. As a result, I have discovered the very exciting world of sustainable living and permaculture.
For a number of years now I have been an avid reader of Rhonda Hertzel’s blog ‘Down To Earth’ (see http://down—to—earth.blogspot.com.au/ ) Now if you haven’t encountered Rhonda before, she is a fantastic blogger and an amazing source of knowledge for all things simple living. She recently received the Green Lifestyle Magazine’s 2014 Green Hero Award – and she has taught me many things about the value of working in and around my home. Thanks to Rhonda I now try to eliminate chemicals, make most things from scratch like: most meals, bread, cordial, ginger beer, yoghurt, laundry liquid, soap, I am a more prolific knitter and seamstress, have cut my rubbish output, budget enthusiastically, take pride in my life here at home and she also lead me to see that I could save good money and improve our health if I utilized the land available on my property to produce a bigger percentage of my family’s fruit and veggie requirements.
So with all Rhonda’s inspiring words about seed saving, composting and planting in my mind I turned over the soil and dug up all the weeds, made a thrifty compost area from salvaged pallets, put in a few tomatoes, some strawberries and a Vietnamese mint. As I surveyed all that I had done, (and considering that I was 5 months pregnant with twins and had a toddler in tow) I must say I was pretty chuffed with myself. However, after all that digging and weed pulling, the 6 tomatoes produced a grand total of about 3 fruit…it wasn’t a good start. The strawberries did ok and are still alive today and the Vietnamese mint (which I nearly killed) is now much happier under the semi-shaded canopy of the lemon tree and being watered more regularly. After the 2013/14 great tomato disaster though, I began to realize the importance for me to learn more about organic fruit and veggie growing.
This need for knowledge that sprung from my ignorance, has in actual fact been a whole life revelation for me. I have embraced every video, website, forum, book, blog and person I could find to learn more about gardening and permaculture. My enthusiasm only grows with each new gem of knowledge and each new connection I make. It has opened my eyes and developed my understanding about the existence of people, practices and ideologies that I have been searching for my whole life and this in turn, led me to follow with great interest the activities and meetings of the Croydon Food Swappers…hooray!
So here I am, hopeful and enthusiastic, but still a newcomer. I look forward to really starting to implement many of the fantastic things I am learning about into my life and sharing that journey with this community. What am I up to? Well a bit of everything really (‘Enthusiasm’ is my middle name) and I hope that you will help me along the way and feel free to share your thoughts with me about what I am doing and how and what you do also. I would love to hear from you.
I’ve often struggled with how to contribute to making the world a better place when so many of the problems that we face as a generation of people seem so futile. What can I do about war and hatred? What can I do about famine and poverty and climate change? What can I really change about the lurking feeling of dread I get whenever I see a huge pit in the earth to mine fossil fuels? I guess that’s why I became a teacher, to in some small way, try to affect change. I now realize that I don’t just have to sit back and talk about the state of the world and all that is going on – but that I can actually be the change that I want to see in the world. Through permaculture and sustainable living practices, my family and I can do things here and now that have real effect, value, meaning and purpose and amazingly, it encourages me to share all that I do and all that I can create with the community…so here I am ready, set, go!
Question for Today: What change do you want to see?