Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pohnpei Sponge Farmers

I really like the New Internationalist magazine and website, for its articles of behind the scenes issues but also for its attempt to provide an online shopping site for those of us who do try to buy goods, clothes and presents that do least harm to the earth and actually provide a sustainable living to some group of people less fortunate than ourselves.

It may be crazy to ship sponges across the world but its better than many other options, like buying plastic toys made in China. Read a little about this and see what you think.....

Pohnpei Sponge Farmers - Micronesia  (Click to enlarge then move cursor to right of image to see if there are more images.)

In the sheltered lagoons of Pohnpei, Micronesia, the Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP) has set up a sponge farming operation as a means of generating a sustainable livelihood for local community members, many of which have no access to running water or electricity, and little means of earning money.....

Read more....

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bruny Island

image A half hour drive then a 10 minute ferry ride from Kettering landed us on Bruny Island for a 4 day holiday away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life....Funny how even living in Cygnet, rural Tasmania, feels busy now!

Pure white, squeaky sand beaches, crystal clear water, rugged cliffs, amazing views, unspoiled bush, wildlife everywhere, the incredible Bligh Museum, day after day of berry pancakes and coffee from the Berry Farm, and sleeping in a beach house by the sea....

Cook, Bligh, d'Entrecasteaux and many other explorers of the 1700's visited and mapped this part of the world. There is Two Tree point where fresh water could be found and it is not hard to imagine a square rigger sitting out in Adventure Bay while sailors and explorers gathered oysters, wood, water and botanical specimens, planting fruit trees, offering gifts to the Aborigines and naming peaks and bays.

image image Two Tree Point where the same 2 trees are still alive, as evident from a painting in the museum.
image Begun in 1836, the same year Adelaide was proclaimed a city, it took 2 years to build on this rugged, isolated spot. image
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The lighthouse at Cape Bruny is made of rocks hewn by convicts in the 1830's and is the second oldest in Australia, only accessible by sea for a hundred years.

We saw a Southern Right whale, rafts of mutton birds feeding at sea on their return from Russia and the Arctic, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, seals, echidnas and so many birds I have lost track of them all.... and between times we sat in the sun at the tables of The Berry Farm which must be situated in the most idyllic position of all of Bruny Island, and ate from Kathryn's delicious menu on this, the opening weekend for the season.

image Other food stops on Bruny should take a leaf out of Kathryn's book; they all lack what it takes to lure me back again, whereas I will relish another visit to the Berry Farm as soon as the berries are back in season when I am sure the menu will be exploding with creative dishes, and friendly smiles will make me feel welcome again..... and I will sit by the pond, a stone's throw from Two Tree Point, listening to the lap of the sea and imagining the creak of old wooden ships at anchor in the bay.

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We walked on beaches where the tiny footprints of penguins, oyster catchers and a myriad of other small creatures had left their marks overnight, where driftwood and fallen trees formed sculptures up and down the beach, where the Southern Ocean lapped the shores in lines of rolling, aqua waves.

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We went on the Bruny Island cruise, from Adventure Bay right down the rugged coast, where seals and dolphins play and we saw the Southern Right Whale not far from the boat. The 3 hour trip was excellent, informative and entertaining.

There is a simple little sign on the side of the Alonnah road announcing plants for sale so we headed up the driveway and were greeted by Ruth, in a breathtaking treasure of a garden which should be on everyone's list of places to go on Bruny Island. Ruth is in her 70's and her enthusiasm for her garden is infectious. The plants for sale are not only natives, but there are also hundreds of exotics she has grown from cuttings and seeds from her own garden. She walked us around her verandah from where her entire garden spreads out before your eyes. Sadly I have no photos but by the time we left we felt like old friends and now I have several plants in my garden as memories.

I look forward to another trip to Bruny Island and a swim in that beautiful but very cold water!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How close to a train track can you set up a vegetable market?

 

This close....

....and to think what some people complain about!!

(Thanks to the friend who sent me this link.)

A Subversive Plot

Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International recently gave this inspiring, entertaining and important TED talk. Roger, you have excelled in this production!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Australia and the world... listen to this man, watch this video...

20th Richard Jones Memorial Lecture, by John D. Liu

Tuesday 8th November

"How We Got Here... and the Path to Sustainability"

Be inspired by John D. Liu's vision of a new era in human evolution in which all forests, wetlands, grasslands, coastal regions and oceans are restored to near pristine conditions!
7:45pm for 8:00pm start
Free public lecture

For full details: http://www.rjml.org.au/

"Hope in a Changing Climate" demonstrates that it is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, to restore ecosystem functions in areas where they have been lost, to fundamentally improve the lives of people who have been trapped in poverty for generations and to sequester carbon naturally. This approach has been dramatically proven on the Loess Plateau in China, the highland area spanning some 640,000 square km in north central China. It is the birthplace of the Han Chinese, headwaters of The Yellow River and home to a new environmental and economic paradigm: A degraded ecosystem of more than 35,000 square km of land now teems with life and supports the sustainable economic, social and agricultural activities of its people.
"Hope in a Changing Climate" is the latest documentary produced by the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP), an organization dedicated to placing ecosystem restoration at the center of the global discussions on climate change, poverty and sustainable agriculture.

 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plants coming out of my ears allll weekend!

 Saturday am.....The forecast was for a cold change to bring rain and thunder but Erica and I were meeting at the Hobart Botanic Gardens Spring Fair at 10.30, rain, hail or shine.... and shine it did.

image In Pete's Vegie Patch, Tino Carnevale from Gardening Australia spread his enthusiasm and smile over an attentive audience.... talking about this and that (crop rotation, compost, seasons etc etc) and tying it all together as only Tino can. He is a delightful man and I hope he stays with Gardening Australia for a long time. I'd love to meet his Italian father, who he speaks of often.

It is a treat to live in a state where vegetable gardening is such a popular thing. I love listening to Peter Cundall on gardening talkback, Saturdays from 9am (AM 936 and online from anywhere in the world) and seeing Tino in the Botanic Garden whenever there's a festival on. Peter is on holidays at the moment and Tino has taken his place on the radio.

Next stop, the Frog Hollow Nursery stall, selling heritage and unusual edible plants, propagated entirely by Zoe and Dave. It was heaven for me as I found some of my old favourites from Adelaide that I had not seen here before. Chinese sea shells, which I wrote about first back in 2007, caused me to gasp with delight and made the other customers at the stall laugh. Next was a strawberry called Cambridge Rival which I deem to be the best tasting strawberry in the universe, and so on it went until I had filled my basket and spent far too much money.

Wildseed Tasmania only sells its seedlings to the public at this fair (it is a wholesale nursery) and I was very excited to see them here again this year. Most but not all of the plants are Tasmanian and I collected many riparian delights for the edge of my pond. I am going to stock Wildseed Tasmania's seed collections very soon in my Garden Shed.

Next to Pete's Vegie Patch, The Friends of the Bot. Gardens were selling plants raised from seeds and cuttings sourced from the gardens and again I made quite a collection which they kindly stored for later pick-up.

Back at Erica's and the promised rain bucketed down. Never mind, we just had another coffee until a break in the clouds let us get out and plant Erica's very much smaller collection of plants.

Sunday am Cold, wet and windy was the forecast but again I managed to grab the sunshine in my shirtsleeves as I wandered the Farmgate Market in Melville Street. Two of my favourite bloggers have stalls there and I was keen to catch up with them and see what goodies they were selling. Chris has Hobart Kitchen Gardens blog and a fabulous stall of vegetable seedlings raised by him and sold singly for 50c to $1..... amazing value and you know they are local, hardened off and perfect for the current season. Paulette has Provenance Growers, and a stall to drool over, where you will find interesting, edible native and non-native plants all grown by herself..... this is where I bought my wasabi.

So, laden to the gunnels with mostly food plants, I headed home..... and at Oyster Cove, nearly home, while picking up a few bananas and oranges from Ye Olde Store, the temperature dropped to 7 degrees and the rain and hail let loose. At home I lit the fire and marvelled at how lucky I was with the weather all weekend.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A London supermarket growing food on its roof!

Watch this video...

Food from the Sky

(If anyone knows how to put a vimeo clip like this one, on the blog please tell me!)

I found this video on Ooooby.... Out of Our Own Back Yards

Workshops in my Kitchen

I am a passionate food gardener with an equal passion for producing food for passionate eaters. So, I have started running workshops to impart some skills I have developed over the years. I am a pretty rough and ready cook who goes out into the veg garden to get inspiration and the basics for dinner. Then I come inside, pick up a couple of cookbooks, or maybe go straight to my collection of printed-out recipes, sit at my kitchen table and see what happens in my head and taste buds.

My collection of cookery books fairly much covers the globe but I am much the best at Mediterranean flavours..... encompassing all the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. My favourite flavours are Moroccan, Lebanese and Greek. I adore lemon, cumin, olives, cinnamon,yoghurt, fish, chicken and lamb and of course all the vegetables grown in these climates, such as fennel, artichokes, beans, capsicums and eggplant.

I was lucky enough to come across someone who taught me how to make sourdough bread, soon after I arrived here last year. It is a simple method and good for the home cook who does not want to spend too much time on the details. Although it does not resemble any of the breads made in the countries whose food I most love, the flavour and texture are wonderful and I love it with soup or for breakfast with Karl's honey or a particular berry jam given to me by a friend here.... or with lashing of butter and vegemite.

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So, my first workshops have been about sourdough. They are remarkably successful and set people off on the road to baking for themselves some of the breads they have come to enjoy from the various bakers around southern Tasmania, who, I must say, are truly excellent and I do not claim to know anywhere near what they do. Many bakeries here use organic flour, often not grown in Australia, but in my workshops we use Four Leaf organic, Australian flours, from South Australia. These I also sell in bulk, along with all the Four Leaf organic, Australian grains, in The Garden Shed and Pantry.

image The first of the next two workshops is going to be 'Pastry Making'. For some reason I seem to be good at pastry and sooooo enjoy making it. Never the less, I am impatient and have developed simple ways of making several excellent pastries. We are going to make 3, in the workshop, each suitable for certain things. When I buy tarts or fruit pies at a cafe or bakery, rarely is the pastry as good as mine, except in France where they exceed anything I make!

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'Cooking from the Garden with Me' is next. It is for people who want to experience making quick, simple, healthy, imaginative meals straight from the garden. We will gather what is available on the day, from my garden - vegetables, herbs and fruit - and add a few basics from my cupboards. We will think through a few ideas and get straight into cooking. Finally we will sit and enjoy the best, freshest, tastiest dinners in Cygnet.

I want to do this monthly, throughout the year so we follow the seasons. This is my forte and my passion and will take some time to impart to people used to shopping in a supermarket. 

To enquire further about dates, costs and details, please send me an email.