July 20, 2014

Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show

Oh my... what an excellent day at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show! I think I spent about 5 minutes admiring the very pretty sheep and 5 hours ogling the rainbow of yarns, knitwear and haberdashery.

One of the best things about attending any sort of crafty event is all the friendly, super nice people. People who are happy to share their expertise, let me to fondle their knitwear, search Ravelry for the pattern I can't quite remember the name of and even offer to drive 3 hours to north east Victoria to share their skills. Such wonderful people!

This beautiful little woven basket? I was given it! I think the lovely ladies from the Basketmakers of Victoria could tell I was just a little enthusiastic about the idea of joining up with their local north east group!

And here's my little stash of woolly goodness from the show... rather restrained wouldn't you agree? ;)

July 14, 2014

Connections + strings of sausages

Yesterday was one of my favourite sort of days. A drive in the country, to a stunning property in the hills, to spend the day with inspiring people and learn new skills.

A day of nurturing connections between people - and between people and the land that provides our food.

Just the day before heading to Boonderoo Farm, I read this article by Dan Barber, who talks about how a bucket of flour led him on a path of realisation that everything on our planet in interconnected and that we really need to give more thought to the foods that we choose to eat.

In his words, "We think we've done enough by choosing the coveted items if they're local, if they're organic, and if we can shake the hand of the farmers that grew them - but that's not enough".

Dan points out that the way we eat in rich countries with a relatively short history of agriculture, such as America and Australia, has no connection with ecological reality. Most of the population eat a very small range of foods, often out of season, that does not reflect the variety of agricultural produce that comes from a sustainable farming system.

A farmer cannot simply grow endless crops of the one coveted item of produce. It simply doesn't work that way. To maintain a healthy agricultural system - to avoid soil depletion and outbreaks of pests and pathogens - the farmer must nurture a complex network of relationships. There needs to be an understanding of the ecology of the underlying natural system.

"The techniques used in our industrial food system can be characterized by disconnection, a systematic unhitching. Everything is relegated to its own silo: vegetables over here, and animals there, and grain somewhere else. All the component parts are kept apart. And because they’re unhitched from each other, unsurprisingly, they're unhitched from any kind of food culture."

Australians and Americans have never not yet been forced to develop a cuisine that supports sustainable food production systems. 

This is what I'm passionate about. Reversing that disconnection from ecological reality. I want people to really understand that humans are just another species of the earth's biodiversity.

We need to nurture connections.
To learn from each other.
To appreciate where the food on our plate came from, what was required to grow it and how it ended up in our shopping basket.
To know who made the clothes on our back, how the fibre was grown and the fabric manufactured.
To always, always consider the complex ecology of the natural world that provides us with clean air, water and food.

And that is why I headed to Boonderoo Farm...

I met a bunch of great people and together we learned how to make sausages. Beautiful, gourmet, preservative-free sausages with goat meat from an animal raised right here on the farm and venison from a deer shot on the next-door neighbour's property.

A lot of work and passion went into these sausages. It feels good to eat food like this. It's the same reason I make my own bread, grow my own veggies, am perfectly happy to eat no tomatoes and lots of kale in winter, preserve the summer abundance, don't eat meat every day, and buy whole animal carcasses not just the prime cuts.

50kg of beautiful sausages.

Thank-you Thomas, Gabi and Felix for an excellent day. Looking forward to attending the next workshop...

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