We must get up and take that in,
that wind that lets us live.
Breathe before it’s gone.
Frosty mornings, sparkling glittering landscapes that transform into blue sky and sun ray filled days are the flavour of winter thus far. Cool crisp nights and short days full of warm sun to thaw the delicates and encourage small amounts of growth. Occasional greys and rains and then back to the glorious sun…
Well you never do know what life s going to throw up and seems like this year
is the year for all sorts of surprises…on the one side challenging and on the flip side, lots of opportunity for growth, creativity and re-imagining. Things are moving slowly for us now. Not out of lack of endless ‘to do’ lists and exciting projects but because of what life has thrown us. May saw us celebrate the end of the intensity of the Summer/Autumn harvest, Mel and I both celebrated our May birthdays with a week off each. Since then, the reality of the long, hectic and physically intense season has taken its toll on us in different ways. For me (Sas), horizontal has become the perspective from which I’m viewing the world the past three weeks. I’m back to basics, learning how to breathe again and care for my most important tool, me. Injuring my back has been an unescapable reminder that what we strive to create and live outwardly we also have to nurture within ourselves.
Gung Hoe is able to keep functioning because we are a collaboration between friends, not just a ‘business partnership’. In the hard times we pull together to support each other in the ways we most need, with love, care and respect. If this was a solo operation, everything would have ground to a halt right now. But Mel is keeping the farm humming and finding her own rhythm that also gives her space to regenerate.
Its times like these when we also really feel the strength and generosity of the community of spectacular humans that have come together around us and what we do. Take for example Deb…she’s a total nut bag and we love her to the ends of the universe and back. Just about every morning for the past 4 months, she has been coming and weeding for us. She does an hour or two of power weeding, whatever the weather, sometimes in the dark with a head torch before dawn, and then she’s off. She is a continual source of both inspiration, encouragement and just bloody practical help. I think she gets volunteer of the millennia award!
We’ve got a few exciting projects on the brew over winter including construction of a modest 6 x 6.6m poly tunnel in Peaches and Cream. This will help us stagger our ripening successions of summer fruiting crops like tomatoes and capsicums and extend their harvesting period. It will also enable us to increase the winter production of some of the more cold sensitive crops.
Our amazing and enthusiastic worker Ruby who helped us pack veg boxes all summer has accepted our offer to do a 4-6 month internship with us starting in August, now we just have figure out how to fund it. Growing the growers has been part of our vision right from the beginning of Gung Hoe, so finding a young woman like Ruby who is keen and who we already have a good working relationship with to be our first intern is such a gift. We believe that the program/opportunity we’ll be offering Ruby is extremely ‘fundable’ as skilling up the next generation of food growers in this country is so important. We just have to find an organisation willing to fund it. So all you people out there in the know how with grants, please let us know if you see a grant that we could apply for!
Another extremely exciting project we’re working on in collaboration with Murnong Mamas is the transition of one of our growing plots from annual introduced vegetables to perennial native food plants. Access to enough bush tucker crops to feed the growing demand for their catering services and value added products is a challenge and so together with another wonderful and knowledgable young woman from Murnong Mamas, Clare, we will be designing, preparing and planting out the bush tucker plot in Spring. Its a whole new world for us to grow bush tucker on this scale and we’re really excited and honoured to learn from and be guided by Aunty Julie McHale who has an amazing depth of knowledge and wisdom about growing and using bush tucker plants in this area (not to mention all the other things she has immense knowledge, skill and wisdom in!)
Finally, perhaps the most important project we’ll be working on over the coming months, is a re-thinking of how we do things at Gung Hoe. Its clear the way we have been working although great for the soil, the planet and the community, has not been so great for us. We are dreaming up creative ways to keep doing what we’re doing and what we love in our bones, but in a way that helps us to grow stronger and healthier at the same time.
Grow well and rest well this winter folks…
Sas (and Mel)