Reflection, inspiration and excitement

My little home on the Internet has been pretty quiet over summer, you may or may not have noticed. Life has been busy, I mean who isn’t busy at any time of year, but summer always seems to be particularly busy.

I’ve spent my summer reflecting, and shifting my focus towards food.

When I was younger, I studied outdoor education at university, before that I worked at an outdoor and environmental camp (Wollangarra, which is currently under great danger by the fires in eastern Victoria). I worked with people who were years older than me and with so much valuable life experience, I soaked it up like a wide-eyed sponge.

Throughout this time of focusing on the environment and so much personal learning, I learnt to think a lot about where my food was coming from.

At Wollangarra, we had a veggie garden the size of a small house block, we ate the lamb that had, only days before been frolicking on the river flat in front of us and all eggs that we ate came from the chook pen, that I gingerly tended to every day. Everything that we couldn’t grow, our staples, were lugged across our flying fox, in bulk, and of those staples anything that we could get freerange and organic, we did.

Somewhere over the last 6 years, this passion for home grown, local and sustainable seems to have slipped to the way side.

Only recently, have I reawakened this desire to meet the farmers, grow what I can and eat what we have.

As you would have seen, at the end of last year we got chickens, our three beautiful girls have grown into healthy full chooks that spend their days wondering around our garden and happily out themselves to bed at night.  They are not laying, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that they begin producing by the end of February.

backyard chickens

Beside our chook pen, we have a small but established veggie garden, which I hope will become more developed over the next year. Currently we have an abundance of  rainbow cherry tomatoes, potatoes and an array of chives and spring onions.

veggie garden

Buying locally has also become a big focus of mine.  We’ve found a “Buy Bellarine” market, where everything is from local producers, our fruit and vegetables have never been so fresh and in season.  I’m now refusing to buy things that don’t grow at this time of year.

buy bellarine

My meat consumption has been reduced to local and free-range meats.  I’d love them to also be organic, but my concern is that the animals get to walk around over the chemicals they’re consuming. We are so fortunate to have finally (after living here for 12 months) discovered that the local butcher has mostly local organic meats, most of their deli meats are smoked on site and they also sell organic and free range eggs, for in the interim while we are waiting for our chickens to lay.


There’s a big empty space in our backyard, it’s going to become a veggie garden, or at least a produce area.  I’m excited to grow things that we will use, I don’t want to grown veggies just because.

We are currently researching about bee keeping.  I’d be so excited to have a little hive in the backyard, and then even be able to sell or trade our honey for other goods/services.

Make my own cleaning products and detergents.  This way we can start piping the water from our washing machine out on to the veggie garden.

Do you grow any herbs or veggies? Do you know of a local farmers market near you?


29 thoughts on “Reflection, inspiration and excitement

  1. We have our own small veggie garden, which is wonderful. This summer we’ve had radishes, cucumbers, lettuces, tomatoes and some strawberries (when the birds don’t get them!). We love it! It’s great to eat your own home grown produce 🙂

    As for farmers markets, we do have one near us. We usually get fruit and eggs from them, as some other things can be quite pricey! But yay for supporting local people 🙂

  2. I wish I had chickens! Something I should look into. Sounds like you’re developing an exceptionally healthy lifestyle. Growing as much of your own food as you can is really rewarding, and the flavor tends to be so good. Fun post – thanks.

    1. Thanks John Our chickens are the cutest! It’s really fun developing this lifestyle, but I do wonder if we’ll keep it up when I’m back to full time work in the next few weeks.

  3. I’m so jealous of your garden! I have no space for one and not an ounce of a green thumb. I kill every and any plant I own. maybe someday!

    1. It’s always good to just start growing some herbs in pots Mint is unkillable, you should try it. have some great ideas every now and again.

    1. I would love any and all advice you can give me Lizzie! Thanks for the offer! I’m trying to figure out what needs to get planted now.

      1. As you are down south. I would recommend start thinking about winter crops, beetroot, kale, silverbeet, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. I am not sure when frosts start to kick in down there, I can get another season of summer vegetables in before the temperatures plummet.

      2. Thanks Lizzie, I’ve been doing a lot of research in the last couple of days, and as you say, it’s time for our winter crops. I just need to create a new gardening space, as our summer crops are still thriving.

  4. I’m pretty insanely jealous of this! I really hope you’ll keep posting about it, as I’d really love to hear more, particularly if you take the step into bee keeping.

    We live in a tiny little flat at the moment, but our balcony is crowded with an ever-expanding herb garden. I’m hoping we can get a lemon tree on it too (we’re getting rid of the bbq to make space), and maybe a few tomatoes, but perhaps I’m being a little ambitious…

    I think perhaps I’m lucky, as Western Australia is very keen on local food – I assume it’s due to the price of importing. There’s a lovely little grocers shop nearby which does not only local food, but the “funny shaped” fruit and veg that can’t really be sold in bigger stores. There are also some great farmers markets which I love visiting!

    1. I plan to keep posting about our adventures. I absolutely can’t wait to start bee keeping. I think it’s a little expensive to start out, is my main concern. I love that even in your tiny space you are still managing to grow herbs. WA is very keen on local and that was definitely where I found my inspiration. I love that there is a shop selling the funny shaped fruit and veg.

  5. We have 4 raised garden beds at home and a massive vege garden on the family farm alongside an orchard. Just recently we had our first cow slaughtered and butchered. It’s really satisfying to eat your own meat and knowing exactly where it has come from.

  6. I tried to grow my own veggies, but I didn’t know when to use them, so they all kind of died…. but ever since we started buying our veggies at the local corner store, omg taste! So nice to have farm fresh food that’s good quality. I’d love to have chickens or a bigger veggie patch, but I think my dog would disagree.

    1. What we’ve done, is only plant things that we use. Tomatoes, chives, potatoes and beetroot at the moment and pumpkin and eggplant are growing for winter. Everything that we only eat little bits and pieces of we buy from the market.

  7. Clare it seems we’re headed the same way this year. I now only buy free-range meat from as locally as I can find (organic if I can get it), free-range and mostly organic eggs, organic fruit and vege and I’ve really cut back on any sort of processed food we buy.
    I’m getting better at growing things too. I have quite a few herbs, some chilis and baby capsicum but I’d love to grow more. What I really can’t wait for is to have a house so I can have chickens! You girls are so big now and looking so healthy and happy!

    1. It sounds like we’re on the same page. I’ve loved reading about where all your delicious produce is coming from! I really want to find a good dairy supplier.

  8. It sounds like you are headed in the right direction towards partial self-sufficiency. Congratulations. I was brought up on a farm with massive vege gardens and fruit orchards and we slaughtered our own meat off the farm. I also can’t believe how far I have come from that great beginning. I don’t even have a vege garden in this house and can’t find a farmer’s market anywhere near here. We buy veges every day to have them as fresh as possible and that wouldn’t be possible if we bought once a week from a distant farmer’s market. It is a dilemma. My son has been growing tobacco in the garden for cigars and I just wish it was vegetables, especially since I have to water them every time he goes away for a few days, which is often. Keep us informed of your progress.

    1. It’s so funny how everything you know can be forgotten so easily. I love that your son is growing his own tobacco though, and that you’re buying things so fresh!

  9. Clare, what a great place to live. I love your approach to food. When it is hard come by, you really appreciate the effort that went into producing it and think much more carefully about that production. Hope those chooks start laying soon.

    1. I really hope they start laying too! Food has been such a focus this week, learning, experimenting, and enjoying fresh produce.

  10. You have a really cool space there. I am looking at getting into a bigger apartment but would love just a little bit of space to grow some herbs. It doesn’t seem possible when living on the coast though. The sea air kills everything!

    1. The space is lovely, I just need to figure out how to plant more veggies without getting into trouble from our landlord.

  11. I don’t grow my own food, or go to the farmers market, because it’s from 8 am to 10 am near where I live and I can never seem to get out there early enough. But I do make an effort to buy as many things as possible from the organic section of my supermarket, but not because I’m worried about it being organic or non-GM, but because I prefer to purchase things that are Fair Trade. I’m a bit obsessed with it, and if offered the option for something to be Fair Trade I will purchase that every time, even if it’s more expensive.

    Fashion and Happy Things

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