An ode to the Land and HOFC

My internship at Gung Hoe Growers is about to come to a close. I guess I will use this blog as a moment to reflect on my last five and a half months. My heart is full of mixed emotion, and it feels difficult to put in to words the intense amount of love, gratitude and respect I have for the Land and the people of this place.  I am in awe and amazement of Leanganook, of the incredibly old and wise trees that inhabit the place and I am deeply grateful and pay my full respect to the Dja Dja Wurrung elders of this land – past, present and emerging. Such an incredibly sacred place to be working and spending time each day. I have so many questions I wish I knew the answers to. And a huge sense of loss and grief in accompaniment. I will never really look at Leanganook or its surrounding valleys the same way. What power moves from this place and beyond? What stories travel through and from?

My time on the farm so far has been life-changing. This makes me very happy. For it feels like an immense change in an extremely positive direction. The extent of what I have learnt feels large and expansive and slightly intangible. Practically speaking, I know I’ve learnt plenty. About the Earth beneath my feet and the energy it takes – both human and non – to provide delicious, highly nutritious, organic vegetables to a community of people – whilst encouraging and promoting the continuing health of the soil and its living ecology. That aint a small thing. And yet, though I am sure I have skilled up in some way or another, I still feel like a small child with so much more to learn before I could even begin to consider myself knowledgeable. But sure – it’s a start.

One thing I know for sure is what an absolute pleasure it has been working closely alongside two absolute legendary human beings. Sas and Mel are truly modern-day heroes if you ask me – along with everyone else on the farm and probably most people in this field of work. What really has stuck out for me about Gung Hoe is how absolutely dedicated they are to be working with an ethic that is truly in line with their core values and beliefs. Making organic food accessible, both monetarily and geographically, whilst also being regenerative in practise is not an easy task to achieve. But they do it with so much passion and humility that one can’t help but feel inspired to do good.

The same goes for the rest of the Co-op. Each human being on this farm is an absolute gem. I feel so blessed to be able to spend each day in the company of such passionate, real, inspiring humans. And not only humans make this place what it is – dogs, cows, geese, chickens, roos, wedgies, crows, galahs, cockies (all the other birds under the sun) and all the trillions of other living things I can and cannot see. What a joy and a blessing to be around so much life each day.

And so, feeling slightly disappointed and discouraged at how these words don’t seem to be capturing the extent of what I feel – I will finish with a splash of abstract stanza. In the hope that it may tickle that part inside that don’t express with structured sentences.

 

My heart breaks at the thoughts that stay awake,

Neither wanting nor leaving nor letting go

But hoping to stay on.

With each beating breathe, each gnawing sound,

With the vibrant elation of cacophony ground

To a halt.

Solo and singing

Butterflies winging the air

I look up but don’t seem to care.

Inside I feel

Perturbed

But don’t mean it.

Somewhere there is movement and laughter.

With the day that leavens in simple steps

They who love the Land

Will teach the songs to stand.

 

 

end of the year (that felt like 3…at least) reflection

I don’t think I ever knew the personal journey I stepped into when I realised I wanted to grow food.  Indeed if someone told me I probably would have laughed at them.  As this insane, hard, heartbreaking, truth searing year (in calendar form anyway) winds to its end there’s so many things I would love to say.  But I think short simple and somewhat sweet shall suffice.

Last week at the end of our Thursdays group vollie session we had an informal feedback time.  Sas and I wanted to know if peeps had any ideas of how to do things better, their lowlights/highlights and its always so inspiring to hear what others are grateful for so we chucked that in too.

I personally came away so touched and saw, again, in action how powerful it is to share your way in the world with others, out loud.

Sas and I have always wanted others, learning, health of body. – mind – spirit- soul, joy and beauty to be a part of Gung HOe.  I know that we have forgotten some of that and gotten lost in stress, work, work, toil and tired.  So it was with tears in our eyes that we listened and shared of the synchronicity as sas named it of how our current gang of peeps has come about and what it means to us.

 

Thursdays have helped us get a lot done.  This crew have done pretty repetitive tasks for about 5 months now and have helped us create peaches and cream with sweat, social distancing, laughter, dirt (obviously) and cake.

But its been way more than that.  Its been the conversations that we can all have around each other of a deep/sensitive/inspiring nature that feeds you like food can.

Its the support you can feel when maybe you woke up a bit sad, anxious, or worried or lonely and you can come just as you are and work alongside the team for a few hours  out side in the fresh air with your hands in some dirt.

Its the shared joy when someone goes swimming again or finds a rad bug or pats a dog with love not fear.  Its having space to be passionate or be quiet, to dance or to cry a bit or just to look up at the clouds as bunjil flys across.

The humans who have been with us this year have been involved in learning more about what it takes to grow food, on a small scale enterprise, in Harcourt – but I’m sure there’s similarities in lots of other places too :).

 

 

Working with people who want to learn (and through feedback we learnt we can do so much more of this) – is genuinely comforting; and to be around people who are keen for it and  then put it into action in their lives is like energy for Sas and I. 

To be around people motivated to make change, to learn and be active rather numb in the world also spurs us on ya’ know!  I feel like they all incapsulate this quote by Wendell Berry:

‘Eaters must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used’ – Wendell Berry

These folk have fed us with their beautiful selves and we are so grateful that they came our way for this year.  They remind me that the way I want to live on the farm (and off it!!)…it means that I can relate to others as Mel, the quirky odd human that I am, not just a tired, stressed worker who has to get shit done.

So THANK YOU!  in no particular order; Sky Will Abigail Cohen Rex Ira Michael Annie Thea Keenan and Chip for gracing us with your presence and your time wheelbarrowing compost amongst many other things and for sharing yourselves with us.  We hold it (and you) very dear.

 

 

Peace out for the year.  May the next one be a bit more gentle, a bit more kind, a bit more understanding and with more ferocious power to the people who care about others and the earth. 

 

May our small actions and lives add some force to that.  Mel

Shakin It Up

(Note-written in October)

Good Morning out there!

I sit here in the dark listening to the kettle getting to the boil as we’ve switched over into daylight savings here in Central Vic.  It’s a bit of a shock this year – the mornings have been a glorious time and it’s harder to get up and be at the farm and start work by 8 again! Not that I’m complaining, 8am is an incredibly reasonable start to the day, my alarm goes off at 5.30am so I can snooze for 30 mins (necessary) and then have my cuppa, do a few stretches, look at the changing sky, have a few Mel moments with my home space and say midday to the flowers and chooks before Wags and I set off.

There has been so much rain this September and beginning of October, it’s such a welcome to our expected dry, windy hot spring. La Nina is here – so wet and humid.  It’ll be tricky to dry our garlic without getting mouldy and the storing onions too – but plants love the magic of rain and to not be worried about water just yet is a gift.

It’s a different season, its change.  Sometimes change is a tricky thing, even if you want it you can still be resistant.  Sometimes I find it hard to accept that I can be like this, but I’m both learning and trying to observe myself as I do the garden – without harsh judgement; and more with intrigue and curiosity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last few years have really shaken Sas and I up – in the midst of it no doubt we were grumbly and not the ideal people we want to be in the world, with ourselves and to others.  So we knew that if we wanted to keep farming it had to be in a different way.  We need to treat ourselves like we do the soil and the plants.

So it’s exciting to say that our new approach does feel different, in a most excellent way.  Its more about the structure of how we are doing things that have changed rather than the the farming practices of what we actually do.

Every Monday we walk around and look at the patches and the plants and write out a weekly timetable based on them and the weather rather than our giant ‘to do’ lists.  Then before we start the day we do a few rounds of stretches  – this can involve anything from laughing yoga to soccer stretches to a dance routine.

Then we have sections of work for the day broken up with morning tea and shared lunches – so we all cook for each other.(myself, Sas and Ruby (our first intern has been with us for a month and she’s an absolute gem))

It sounds simple but having our focus and attention on a week by week timetable rather than everything has to get done NOW approach fused with fun and laughs has worked a treat.  Work feels easier and a lot more the way Sas and I want to operate.

We want to honour the living things we grow with the vibrations we put out. Sounds incredibly hippy – but basically we don’t see farming as ‘work’ we see it as what we wanna do.  No-ones forcing us to do it, we want to do it, so we want to enjoy it as much as we can.

We have an incredibly amazing bunch of people surrounding us who help with that too – every Thursday our group of vollies are safely spacious and work with us for 4 or so hours.  They bring lightness and fun – we love Thursday with Cohen, Abigail, Rex, Will, Annie, Sky and Claire. Not to mention Deb the human weed machine and Manda who picks with us every Tuesday plus the people who support us and what we do that are off site.  Ruby our intern is ace and we couldn’t ask for more.

We’re not ready to give up the ghost just yet – we’re taking our own words we use for the plants and applying it to ourselves with tender, loving, care.

Enjoy the wet and may it soak into your pores and rinse out what needs to be let go and give growth to the sunflower seeds that lie within that are just starting to sprout.

Mel x

garlic…gARlic… GARLIC!!!

We’ve just pulled up our sixth crop of organic garlic grown here on the granite skirts of Leanganook in Harcourt. It marks our time farming on this land as 5 1/2 years !
Scally the dog helping harvest garlic
Scally helping harvest garlic
They say it takes four years for garlic to acclimatise and settle in to new soil, and having saved the best garlic for our seed stock each year, that is certainly proving true! Our crop is truly divine this year, plump, purple and pungent.
Its been curing for a fortnight and this week we’re plaiting it up ready for sale.
You can order yours via our Open Food Network Shop
gung hoe garlic, so purple!
We have two size options:
15 head plait $30
30 head plait $60
Perfect to hang in your kitchen or to buy as a gift for someone else’s!

 

Local Pickups available at Farm Shop (Fridays 9am-1pm) or from the Weekly Farmers Market (Wednesday 3.30-6pm).

 

Sorry we cant post garlic (the postage is more expensive than the garlic!)

Change is what we’re looking for.

 

 

 

The whole world needs change

It’s bigger than they think

It doesn’t matter,

Though it seems to.

Nothing changes

Unless we do.

Nothing changes

Until we choose to.

 

It doesn’t matter

Who wins or loses

You will still bet your horses

You will still drive for miles

You will still live

Under the illusion of comfort.

 

Change happened

Along time ago

It has been lost

For so long now.

 

There is no going back

The is no making amends

It is only now

There was only then.

 

It’s fake

It’s phony

The kindness and smiles

The hope and the attitude

That we will last a while.

 

It’s fake and it’s phony

That we’re all kind and good

The greater the light shines

The darker the hood.

 

I’m sick of pretending

That I’m doing just fine

I want to be dark

I don’t want to be blind

 

I’m sick and I’m tired

Of living in riddles.

You can play games

I can’t play the fiddle.

 

I’ve had enough

There’s no end

Of the comings and goings

And people still cling

To the illusion of knowing.

 

How can there be

Any talk of reprimand

Our destiny lies

In the fate of our hand.

 

I’m sick and I’m tired

Of playing the game

Of backwards and forwards

Of time and its gaze.

 

It’s all a mess

It’s bigger than that

It’s strange and it’s complex

 

So why are we talking?

Why do we try?

If life is what’s given

And we’re born to die.

 

Born to live for sure

But to what scale? What sense?

It’s all talk. There’s no law.

There’s just chaos and nonsense.

 

Business as usual

Or so it would seem

What dream do they make us

Live to the extreme?

 

How much do we control

Our decisions and doings

Or else being told

What is best for our pursuings

 

It’s senseless.

And dark.

Though it’s shattered

And shamed

It’s bigger than it seems

It’s bigger than the game.

 

I’m sick of the trying

I’m tired of the talk

I want to try and listen

But I’m bored and cut short

 

My words mean as much

As a bird on a twig

Can break in an instant

Can’t fly, then it’s dead.

 

My heart is a wrench

That pushes and pulls

That screams, that questions,

That wants and lets go.

 

My thoughts are a weapon

My words are the grill

I’m big enough to let go

But hold on still.

 

I know that it’s needed

Though I suffer in shame

For asking, what is left of me?

My person? My name?

 

You’re taken for granted

N you’re sure to leave it still

I know you’ve been wasted

I’m on top of the hill

 

The Sun sets its greeting

It’s over and out

The Sky has awakened

My hunger and doubt.

 

I’m surrounded by commotion

By movement, by needs

By tetris and pettiness

By cumbersome greed.

 

My time has been broken

I’m wanted and frail

I’m lost and I’m empty

Hope can’t prevail.

 

Though end is not wanted

There’s beauty in grief

In deep love and empathy

In planting a seed.

 

We’ll watch it grow

And feed it life

And harvest up the wood

To light a fire

Warm and bright

Beneath the harlequin night

 

Where empty pockets

Fill our bones

And lips are parched and weak

No stories left.

All gone, no death.

Next to our heaving breathe.

 

Change is what’s needed

Though I’m not there yet

Change is what’s wanted

Though I’m caught in a debt.

 

It’s bigger than that

It’s bigger than claimed

You cannot know what lies

Ahead of the game.

 

Be kind

Be still

Be patient

Be bold

Be a weapon

Be a person

Be a plant and take hold.

 

It’s all lost for now

Though we’ve still got life yet

And responsibility

For all that is left.

 

To revive?

Maybe.

To survive?

Perhaps.

To ignite?

I suppose.

To divide and decide.

 

Make change.

For change is what we’re looking for.

 

-Ruby Everett