Bee B&B Hotels in School

Weleda Bee B&B Hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

While there are many benefits to encouraging native bees within the home, and the surrounding area. Setting up a hive or an insect hotel in a public space and school is in many ways even better. Why? Because you are encouraging that conversation to continue, the education to spread and that beautiful enthusiasm to snow ball, running further than just your immediate household.

And who better to do that than our pint-sized enthusiastic future generations. Welcome to keeping and encouraging native bees at school.

Whether it’s an inner city funky-vibe school or a relaxed red-dirt outback playground, you are pretty much guaranteed to find room for a bee hotel.

 

bee hotel- best for your solitary native bees

bee hive- for your social native and honey bees 

 

While you can easily set up a bee hotel yourself within your school (or home.) The organic skin care company Weleda has recently started an initiative to get primary schools set up with a ‘bee B&B hotel’.

The project is aimed at teaching our primary school kids, the super important stuff like biodiversity, the role of pollinators, and with a starring role…our native solitary bees.  Doing this by building their own Bee B&B Hotel.

One dollar (A$1) from every product sold goes towards funding the project (until June), and with 70 schools involved already, they are looking at expanding that to further schools over the next few months, (this initiative is free.)

The company offered to send me one to make up with my kiddo’s, and help spread the word. While I’ve made an insect hotel before and also have a native bee hive, I’ve also got a soft spot for our native pollinators, and love nothing better than trying to encourage that amongst others…especially school kids!

 

Weled infographic 2016_V7

“Primary schools across the country are building a nationwide network of bee hotels to help conserve our native bees, improve education about the importance of biodiversity and ultimately, increase Australia’s food security.

The Weleda Bee B&B Hotel initiative has now launched with more than 70 schools on board, and registrations are now open for more schools to get involved.

The project gives schools an opportunity to turn their kitchen garden into a place for native solitary bees to take shelter and rear their young. The ‘bed’ is the bee hotel and the ‘breakfast’ is the school garden.”

bee hotel 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlbee hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

If you would like to build you own, give it a go, and get creative. There are oodles of designs out there to play with. I whole heartedly believe that every school should have one or several of these. It’s incredibly multi-faceted in terms of education, while providing a practical use as well.

If you have a school that you would like to be involved…have a click here Bee Hotel Weleda

If you would like to read a bit further on native bees in general, jump back here.

Bee B&B Hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lessons in Pumpkins- 10 top tips on growing and storing

pumpkin-10-brydie-piaf

Pumpkin growing lessons arrived thick a fast, starting from the multitude of pumpkin seedlings that shot out from anywhere I plonked compost. To the cutting into that first perfectly formed all rounded pumpkin body. Everything in between was all part of the ‘Pumpkin Education’.

Lesson #1 Pumpkins are EVERYWHERE

These little ladies popped up well and truly everywhere. Anywhere I put compost. There was pumpkin seedlings ready to go. Far too many for the various garden beds so I was selective and only kept the most robust looking ones to continue growing. They are heavy feeders, so keep them going in a good amount of that compost, they’ll love you for it.

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Lesson #2 Pumpkins need SPACE

While their root system isn’t particularly extensive their runners are. They will keep reaching out, and will gently root where ever they’re running along the ground. That’s all good. Just let them do their thing.

 

Lesson #3 Male or Female FLOWERS?

It’s pretty easy to tell a male and female flower. One clearly has a small pumpkin forming beneath the flower, the other is just an elongated flower. The flowers are open for 4-6 hours generally early in the morning. With our garden beds there was ratio of 1:10 girl, boy flowers.

pumpkins-cityhippyfarmgirl

Lesson #4 Female flowers are DROPPING OFF

For a variety of reasons this can happen. Too hot, not getting pollinated, not enough water? I despaired watching every single one of the small baby female pumpkins drop off. What to do? I couldn’t control the weather, I did the best that I could with keeping water up to them, and having a multitude of bees obviously circulating the garden they should have been doing the job of pollinating. But where they?

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Lesson #5 How to HAND POLLINATE

Oddly, it looks like they weren’t being pollinated. As since I started hand pollinating, I had 100% success rate with pumpkins continuing to grow past flowering stage. How to hand pollinate is easy. Take a stick, gently scrape the stamen of the male flower and rub the pollen against the female. (Or simply pluck off a male flower.)

pumpkin-01-cityhippyfarmgirl

Lesson #6 Watch them GROW

With consecutive days being ridiculously hot over the December and January, I’m sure if I squinted a little, I could see them grow. As I didn’t know what variety I was growing initially, due to having come out of the compost, we had to hazard a guess. They looked like Kent (otherwise known as Jap) pumpkins though, which meant that approximately 100 days needed to pass until harvest time.

Lesson #7 Time to HARVEST

The pumpkin vine will start to visibly die off. The stalk around the pumpkin will harden, the colour of the pumpkin skin might change a little and if you tap the pumpkin it will sound more hollow than solid.

pumpkins-cityhippyfarmgirl

Lesson #8 How to CURE and STORE

Make sure there is at about 5-10cm or so of stalk, when you cut it from the rest of the plant. You now need to cure it, which means leaving it out in a well ventaliated spot, where the skin will harden and be a natural protective layer. Gently rotating the pumpkin round a bit every few days for thorough air flow. I did pick one a little early in my eagerness to

Lesson #9 Favourite Pumpkin RECIPES

Surely the pumpkin recipe possibilities is pretty much endless? (Say that quickly 10 times!) The old favourites Pumpkin and Fetta Sausage Rolls are still, well favourites. Pumpkin dhal an easy frugal dinner, pumpkin scones and winter staple, pumpkin soup. All recipes that are simply far too hot to even contemplate at the moment (still hot, damn hot.) But the good thing is the store beautifully.

pumpkin-seed-cityhippyfarmgirl

Lesson #10 How to SAVE and STORE SEEDS

Scoop out the seeds, rinse out the gloopy bits and let them air dry really well over a couple of weeks. How you dry and store them is really important, as you don’t want any mould on them. More info on all the how’s on storing, is in a post I wrote over at Milkwood last year.

 

 

 

Voluntary Simplicity: In the Garden

voluntary-simplicity-cityhippyfarmgirlvoluntary-simplicity-1-cityhippyfarmgirl

Simple living, or voluntary simplicity isn’t a new concept in this household, but it is one that gets constantly edited, it evolves and gets reassessed as needed. It’s also something that while my children have always grown up with it, as this stage of their lives I’m finding I’m explaining more of why we make certain conscious decisions, and the longer term effects of those decisions. The why we do things and not just because.

Sometimes I can feel like I’m all over it and other times it feels like I’m floating in mini version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The good thing about that though, is despite occasional overwhelming feelings there’s always something that shifts and then counter balanced by a complete sense of fully bodied satisfaction, (and that is always a good thing.)

Just over 12 months ago we swapped small apartment inner city living for a house in a smaller city, and surrounding suburban area. It’s close to shops, schools, transport and health caregivers when needed.

Another important choice for us was to be able to grow things. So now with the multiple neighbours that I know by name, there came a fairly blank canvas space of a backyard.

Making that move meant initially we didn’t have a lot of things that we would need (like) to embark on growing a lot of our own vegetables. Wheelbarrows, spades, pitch forks etc weren’t items that I had needed to access with a previously small shared concrete city courtyard.

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To get started with our growing, somethings we bought straight up, (I knew there would be an initial outlay of items as our number one aim was to get things growing. We wanted to eat from our back door step!) Somethings were given to us, somethings passed on to us as were no longer needed by the original owners. Somethings we bought second hand, and some the things we simply borrowed.

Ultimate Goal? To be growing as much as possible utilising the space we have, keeping costs down and equipment to a bare minimum.

How did we set about it and how do we continue to manage it? (As I mentioned it’s a constantly evolving process.)

Gumtree- either bought second hand or freebies, also been great for selling things we no longer needed to keep clutter to a minimum and redirect $ to something else more useful.

Borrow- lawn mowers we borrowed two before buying our own push mower. I still get a smug sense of satisfaction of hearing virtually nothing when mowing the lawn. As more grass gets turned over for edible growing space, I’m hoping the lawn mowers use will gradually decrease.

Trade- Somethings I refused outright to get, and a whipper snipper was one of them. Borrow one sure, but I didn’t want to buy one. (Actually we never did end up borrowing one either.) Living in an area where people pride themselves on their grass care. I asked a neighbour if he would trade the occasional edging out the front for baked goods. He could sleep easier knowing our edges were looking less scruffy and my conscience was clear knowing we didn’t have a garage full of implements that might be used once in a blue moon.

Hire- And if we do change our mind on using that whipper snipper, or anything else for that matter. Well I can hire one from a household a couple of km’s away at an hourly rate from Open Shed. (Another awesome example of the share economy.)

voluntary-simplicity-4-cityhippyfarmgirl

There will always be a juggle between keeping/finding/sourcing things that might be useful in the future, (but have no immediate use) and keeping our gardening gear to a minimum, (that’s our reality and the way we’ve chosen to do things in this period. While tools are a fairly easy decision. I’m finding more and more discarded wood finding its way in as it has the potential to be made into something else entirely. I’m ok with that, as mentioned in the beginning, it’s an evolving process. Choices are made, as opportunities present themselves.

Conscious decisions over unthinkingly just taking… this is our version of voluntary simplicity, in the garden.

Helpful links

Gumtree

Open Shed

 

 

Conversations with Community: Tricia Eco (Treading Lightly)

Tricia Hogbin

Today it’s continuing on from a new series I started at the end of last year, Conversations with Community. A series focussed on some of the amazing women within our community doing some truly inspiring things. These are people quietly changing things up, following untraveled paths, creative living, and connecting in different ways too often ignored in our culture of time racing.

Today though, someone who often shares ways in which we can all slow down a little and make time for the important stuff is Tricia Hogbin. Otherwise known as @TriciaEco on her popular instagram handle, or where I first was drawn to her words and way of living, her blog Little Eco Foot Prints.

Grab a cool drink, put your feet up, and I hope you enjoy Part II of Conversations with Community.

Most important question first up… tea coffee and favourite thing to eat for afternoon tea? (Cake, biscuits, savoury, sweet? What shall I bring?)

Tea. Super strong with a good dash of milk thanks.

My response would likely be different at any other time of day. Pausing for a cuppa is something I treasure and I even have a cuppa routine. First thing in the morning it’s tea, then one strong coffee, then too many teas to count. If it’s just me i’ll simply toss loose leaf tea into a cup and drink bushman style – leaving the tea leaves to sink the bottom. If I’m sharing, I’ll be more civilised and use a teapot. Late afternoon I switch to herbal teas. Mostly home grown. Current favourites include lemon balm, nettle or camomile.

Biscuits would be lovely thanks. Preferably hard and sweet, like biscotti or gingernut (perfect for dunking in tea). I’m obsessed with baking Swedish biscuits at the moment so I reckon I can rustle up something to fit the bill.

Tricia Hogbin

You recently ran a workshop through Newcastle’s Fair Share Festival. Sharing with participants some of your story on simplifying life and changes you had made, (both as an individual and as a family) while also helping others in how they might be able to learn to live better with less. It’s a topic that seems constant as more and more people are wanting to step off what they’ve often unknowingly signed up for. While actions like this can often seem unachievable to people, words and stories like yours become more and more important. As it gives hope, encourages change, and while offering an opportunity for resilience within our communities. All things that many of us hold importance to. What are some of those things in life that are a priority for you?

Health and resilience – mine, my family’s and that of our environment are my greatest priorities. It’s a simple statement – but it captures all that is most important to me. Its brevity doesn’t reflect the time I’ve put into considering and defining my priorities.

A clear vision of what is most important has helped to ensure that I spend my time on my priorities. I’m now less distracted by other people’s priorities. It’s easier to say ‘no thank you’, even to great opportunities.

Knowing what is most important also gives me the confidence to make decisions that others may not understand. Many people won’t understand why we’ve chosen to live in a tiny home – and before that a shed and even a tent when the shed was too hot. But I’m not concerned with what other people think – because my family’s priorities guided these decisions. Patience and compromise enables us to live on a rural property without being burdened by debt. We’ve made choices so that we aren’t forced into being a dual income family. The life we want to live can’t happen if both my husband and I are away from home most days.

Making time for what matters is something I know is close to both our hearts. While I seem to regularly need to remind myself of that, do you think it’s something that comes easy to you?

Making time for what matters has been a challenge. I’d shuffle my actions to more accurately reflect my priorities – and feel that everything was under control. Then I’d slowly start saying yes to more opportunities. Because how could I not – ‘it’s a great opportunity!’, or ‘it’s for a worthwhile cause’. Then I’d find myself back where I’d started – sick, or overwhelmed and making decisions that didn’t always match my ideals – because I didn’t have time to do otherwise.

I see-sawed like this between overwhelm and calm for many years – until two years ago. I injured my back and was forced to step away from paid work for a few months. A few days after my injury, Plain Buddhist Monk Bhante Jason Chan, who I had met only briefly a year earlier, turned up on our doorstep and asked if he could stay for his rains retreat – a time when wandering Buddhist monks traditionally stay put for a while.

For three months I fell into a slow daily routine. Each morning in my kitchen, while I prepared wholesome nourishing food, I’d ask Bhante a question or two about simple living. Then I’d listen to him chant before his meal, and then I’d spend the afternoon contemplating what I wanted to achieve with my life. It was a luxury I’m extremely grateful for.

Pausing and giving serious thought to what I wanted to achieve with my ‘one wild and precious life’ (to quote Mary Oliver) gave me the confidence to say ‘no thank you’ to my dream job. Just days before my back injury I’d finished one job so that I could accept another. It was a position I couldn’t resist – working in science, communication and conservation for an organisation I respected. But the position would have turned our family life upside down. It meant regular trips to Sydney, juggling before and after school care, and left little time for me to garden or simply wander through the forest. In that three months, I realised that despite it being my dream job – saying ‘no thank you’ was the right decision for me and my family.

Since that one hard decision – all other no thank you’s have been easier. Prioritising what’s most important becomes easier the more you practise it.

Tricia Hogbin

You have a big following on instagram, with people looking forward to your posts in both words and pictures, drawing their own strength from within that. How do you think it fits with today’s fast media culture, and living a consciously slower lifestyle? Where do you draw your strength from? (doesn’t have to be social media based!)

I love that social media is an easy way to inspire and be inspired. I love the enthusiasm the Instagram community has for (hashtag) slow living, foraging, growing your own food, zero waste, minimalism, and tiny houses. These ‘trends’ each have the potential to contribute to people living a more sustainable life that is kinder on our planet.

But note I say only ‘potential’ – to truly change the way you live you need to be grateful for what you have – rather than continually yearn for more. Social media can feed that yearning for more.

Social media can also be a mindless distraction from being present. Spending too much time looking outwards also leaves little time for looking within.

I don’t feel comfortable contributing to the mass of online noise – so I am very careful with how I use social media. I consciously use it in a way that points people away from the internet (to their garden, to their family, to their kitchen, to their neighbourhood), rather than deeper within.

I also set boundaries for my own social media use. I use only one channel – Instagram. I could easily auto forward my Instagram posts to Facebook and Twitter – but doing so would feel like barging into a crowded room, shouting out a few words, and walking out again. Instead, I set aside time purely for Instagram (at the moment it’s one or two brief moments throughout the day). I share a snippet from my life, respond to comments, and visit and comment on other people’s feeds. I try to avoid mindlessly consuming (liking) without creating (posting). I value my Instagram community and treat my time in that space with the same respect I would a real-life conversation.

I also take regular breaks from social media when I feel like it’s interfering with my ability to be present. In the past I’ve declared weekends screen-free or enjoyed screen-free months. Now I simply set a timer and log off once a set period of time has passed.

I’m inspired by people I follow on Instagram – but my greatest inspiration and strength comes from real-life interactions. I gain strength from conversations with friends and family and even brief chats with other people in my neighbourhood.

I’m also inspired by memoirs – particularly those where authors share their every day in a meaningful way. Reading a memoir gives me the same sense of taking a peek into the lives of others that I get from social media – but at a slower and more meaningful pace.

tricia-03-brydie-piafIs living in a sustainable manner something that you grew up with?

I was fortunate to be greatly influenced by my grandparents. My Gran and Grandad lived a simple life – sustainable out of necessity. They lived in the house that my grandfather and great grandfather built and lived in the garage for a few years while they built the house. They ate from their garden, they mended, they made, they lived without much but yearned for little.

My Grandad kept bees and my Gran was the one who taught me to sew and garden. They gave me my first chooks. They even built me my first shade house when I was ten so I had a space to propagate my own plants. My love of nature, and particularly plants, was inherited from my Gran.

Although sustainable living wasn’t something my parents consciously thought about – they gave me a childhood with ample time to explore nature. Weekday afternoons were spent roaming local bushland, weekends were spent at the beach and we went camping a couple of times each year. I believe it is this time in nature that sparked my passion for nature conservation and in turn sustainable living.

You live in a small home (14.5 sqm or 29 if you include the verandah) with your partner and 9 year old daughter. Surrounded by vegetable growing, micro greens, chooks, dogs, horses and a rugged mountain backdrop for your morning garden wanders. Where did you imagine yourself to be 10 years ago? Was the imagery anything like the reality you now live in?

Ten years ago I was working full time, and we were renovating a small inner-city cottage as our ‘forever home’. Childhood dreams to live in the country had been abandoned (because work was in the city). I couldn’t envisage any other life at that stage. Urban sustainable living was a passion – because that’s all I thought was on offer for me. I couldn’t (or wouldn’t dare let myself) have imagined a life like the one I’m now enjoying.

I’m grateful that we noticed an opportunity for change, fell in love with a piece of land, and were willing to take risks.

Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?

Ten years from now I hope to be travelling Australia in a camper van with Mike. Liv would have finished high school the year earlier – so our attention will shift from home to exploring and adventure.

In the meantime we hope to plant an orchard and build a larger, but still small, home. I’d be happy in a tiny home indefinitely, but Mike wouldn’t be. And I’m guessing Liv will grow tired of sharing a room with her parents one day. I hope the next ten years also includes a flock of ducks and a herd of milking goats.

Tricia || Brydie Piaf

What do you get asked the most when people find out you live in a tiny home?

How do you cope?’ is probably the most common question.

Having a clear vision of what we are working towards (a resilient and debt-free future) helps us cope with the challenges of small space living.

It also helps that we choose to laugh rather than cry. There’s been lots of laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation.

Having other spaces to go when we need quiet also helps. Mike has the shed to retreat to. Liv has an old caravan set up as a playroom (a space I am especially grateful for when she has friends over). And if I need my own space I plead with Mike and Liv to “please go away for a while” – always said with a laugh and a cheeky grin. It’s impossible to hold grudges or drag on disagreements in such a small space.

“Learning to live better with less” and “Trying to tread lightly. Growing, foraging, simplifying and tiny home living.” Are both tag lines that you go by, if you wrote a book, what would the title be? 

I change my mind often about what I want to the title of my first book (a memoir about our ‘tree change’) to be.

A current favourite is ‘Not a shed, or a tent, or a caravan, or a shipping container – but a real house’. They’re my daughters words. Her teacher was laughing as she relayed them to me. The class was asked what they wanted to remind their adult selves. Common responses included “to not drink” or “to not smoke”. Liv confidently responded with “To live in a house. A real house. Not a shed, or a tent, or a caravan, or a shipping container – but a real house”. She’s lived in all these places over the past few years. Its an experience that even she acknowledges has been worthwhile. I love that she knows happiness is possible no matter where you live. And I especially love she’s learnt to be patient and to be grateful for what she has – rather than always wanting more. I know she is a far more resilient person than she would have been without this adventure.

What are some of your favourite things in life in 10 words or less?

Shared cuppas, homegrown & foraged meals, laughing with Mike & Liv.

A perfect ending to a wonderful chat. Thank you Tricia, for always inspiring.

conversations-with-community

Conversations with Community– a new series focussed on some of the amazing women within our community doing truly inspiring things. These are some of the people quietly changing things up, following untravelled paths, creative living, and connecting in different ways too often ignored in our culture of time racing.

Go on, take a few extra minutes to meet these inspiring wonderful women here.

 

The Garden that Grows

garden || cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s 5.30am and there is a grey stillness to the morning. Although light the sun won’t properly rise for another 15 minutes or so. The quiet hour, the garden hour. It’s summer holiday period round these parts and a different rhythm that doesn’t get found often. Mornings have been spent in two ways of late. Either by the waters edge or here, in the garden.

After a year now of creating beds, building soil profiles, planting, transplanting, weeding, growing, harvesting and eating. This small city garden has just now gone through 4 seasons.

We’ve tracked shadows during the colder months, picked 10’s of kilos of tomatoes during the warm, and frowned over countless unseen critters and their impact on our growings.

This is something that has been a long time in the making. Where small potted plants gave way for a variety of raised garden beds. There are still lessons to be learnt, corners to build up, and plants to try out, but it’s a start, and a wonderful one at that. A tiny corner to take refuge from the noise of the day, a place to grow vegetables and ideas. A pocket of edible greens in an otherwise landscape of lawns.

It’s not perfect, and there are still a multitude of lumps to work through, but it’s got sun, soil, water, and enthusiasm. With that goes a multitude of possibilities.

This is the garden that grows.

strawberries-cityhippyfarmgirl

More garden posts…

…and then the slugs moved in.

Best flowers to grow for you and your bees

Compost, sharing the love

Conversations with Community: Pure Pod (Slow Fashion)

Today, I’m posting a little differently, and it’s something I’m pretty excited about. A new series ready to be kickstarted. One that involves, coffee, cake and some lovely long chats, with some amazing different women, who are doing all kinds of incredible things.

There’s always a first though, and today that’s Kelli Donovan from Pure Pod. An ethical clothing company that I’ve held in high esteem after discovering them on instagram a few years ago. For me it’s clothing that I feel ‘me’ in, and I’m tickled pink to have been able to sit down (ok, yes online) and be able to have a lovely long chat about what slow fashion really means, how social media connects consumers and what Kelli’s favourite kind of cake to go with that tea is?

Please take a few extra minutes to meet Kelli Donovan through this new series… Conversations with Community.

So first up Kelli, we’ll get the serious stuff out of the way first. What sort of tea are you drinking and favourite cake to go with it?

I like old fashioned tea with milk, even though I have milk allergies!! Or herbal teas, vanilla is very yummy or any kind of mint is my favourite. My favourite cake is carrot cake!

Great, now we have that sorted. I’d love to know more about your company. You run an Australian based ethical fashion label called Pure Pod, can you tell me how Pure Pod got started?

We had moved up from Melbourne to the Byron Shire for a tree change in 2005. We needed a break from the fast paced fashion industry and Sean’s commercial photographic industry. I had fallen in love with yoga and it just seemed like the perfect fit for our lives to move from the city to the beach and complete the training as a yoga teacher for almost 7months full time.

We started in the Byron Bay hinterland in 2007 on an organic macadamia farm we were living at that time. I had just finished my yoga and pilates teacher training. I was teaching yoga and working as a tea lady at the Lismore Hospital. I had always wanted to do my own organic or natural fibre label and I was inspired by what I saw living in this area and how seeing such ill people in the hospital effected me. I felt lucky to have my health and youth on my side. I felt I should give my dream a crack! Sean was with me all the way and encouraged me to do it. He has been through it all with me in the 10 years of our business – the highs and the lows!

I bought our first fabric at the end of 2006, with the last of my savings and when I got it I knew I was on the right path! I opened the doors to our farm house and let the smells of spring come wafting through the house. Put some music on and began pattern making! It was one of the scariest things I have done but so exhilarating! We sold our first whole sale collection into stores in mid 2007.

As a consumer it’s not always easy to find everyday clothing items that are both from local companies and from locally made fibres. How hard is it to source those locally made fibres/fabric? Does Australia produce anything in large amounts for the garment trade?

It is very hard to find good Australian makers and even harder to find Australian made quality organic fabrics. Our industry is now going through a huge shift as the highly skilled people retire and there is not a new wave of skilled people coming through behind them. There is hardly any textile mills open now in Australia and hardly any textiles grown here. We have always used an Australian organic cotton fabric which is from Fair Trade organic cotton fibre from India and the fabric was made in Melbourne. Most of our other textiles are not made in Australia as there is no textile mills to make them here. Many fabrics come from Asia and India. We have some organic denim from Turkey.

Many textile and fashion industry places have closed down in the last 10 -15 years as more and more imports are coming in to Australia. Up to this date we have only used Australian based makers, cutters, pattern makers and printers but this has been harder and harder to compete with offshore products.  We have had to change our direction with our new collection which will be fully Certified Fair Trade and Gots Certified organics and made in India. The quality of the textiles and clothing is beautiful. (This collection was  launched on the 1st October at Fashfest and launched on line at the end of October.) It will be in stores November. We are very excited about this new product and to be showing our customers soon. We will still make some high end designer unusual pieces in Australia but as we now have only two makers left out of about 10 we have used in the past, we had to look at a different direction to be commercially viable. All of our other makers have retired.

It’s been about 3 and half years now since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, do you think the industry has changed much since then?

There has been a lot of underground movement from this which I think has made it’s way up the fashion ranks to bigger companies and more developed designers. Before the Rana Plaza disaster ethical fashion wasn’t talked about as much as it is now in the media and with makers. Now more and more designers and brands want to change their ways and become more organic and ethical in their production. We still have a huge mountain to climb with fast fashion companies. These companies cause the biggest problems and pollution but slowly over time they are being forced to look at their supply chains and change their ways. Hopefully one day ethics and open clean supply chains will just be the norm in our industry.

Pure Pod did a big art installation this year with CIT and Salvo’s for the FASHREV Day. We borrowed from the Salvo’s, white garments in the same the number of people who died in the Rana Plaza disaster. These white garments were folded and installed in my installation with the help of the CIT fashion teachers and students. We showed the True Cost movie and the money raised went to a small group in Cambodia to buy them machinery for their industry school.

We often hear about Slow Food and the follow on effect with the Slow Movement, so how does Slow Fashion tie in and what does it mean to you?

Many of our customers are sick of fast living – fast food –  fast fashion, a fast pace of life which makes us all feel empty and tired. They are looking for something with ethics, meaning and that feels good. Slow and organic food feels good in your body and the way it is grown. So of course the slow fashion movement would inspire people in this way also.

Organic and sustainable natural textiles feel amazing on your skin. If they are made with care and ethics it gives the wearer meaning and story behind their purchase. We are all sick of buying  cheap clothes that don’t fit well and don’t last a season. They might be cheap but if we add up all the cheap purchases in our wardrobes and mark down how many times we wear them, it would cost much more than a beautifully designed and well made ethical garment that will last years of wear.

If you were describing Slow Fashion to someone who had never heard of the term before, what would you say?

Beautiful hand made creations which are made with ethics, love, passion and quality.

Do you have any other recommendations of industry leaders within the Slow Fashion movement? (Either in Australia or Internationally.)

Sass Brown –

There are many inspiring people and business around the globe on this UK site, Ethical Fashion Forum

I mostly love meeting other small makers, designers, artists and anyone trying make a better world for our future generations and for our planet.

Our new collection is called ‘Awaken’. It is a collection inspired by nature, organics and our botanical artist/florist friend, Lauren Anderson from Field & Coppice. She designed a beautiful art installation at Brow Lab in Braddon and photographed it. We have turned the images into textile prints which are the main statement of our new commercial collection.

Pure Pod will have it’s 10th birthday next year and with that thought close to our hearts and minds we are relaunching our brand to the public and into retail stores online and wholesale throughout Australia.

We launched our stunning new collection at Fashfest that is fully FAIR TRADE certified, FLO & GOTS Certified. This means that the people and planet involved are in our best interests and the lowest impact on our environment is a key ethic to this collection. Being Fair Trade certified shows our loyalty to those involved with making our clothing are looked after in their health, safety and incomes.

The clothing is an organic lifestyle collection for women. Weekend and some informal work wear all made in beautiful organics and designed to be layered with each other. Some products will launch on our new web site late Oct/Nov and others for next winter in late Feb/March 2017. Pre-orders are welcome from our studio for the public and retailers interested in stocking our brand. (Our new web site will be launched in late October, keep a look out!)

We also collaborated at Fashfest with another inspiring Eco artist from the Sunshine Coast, Katie Johnston from EcoBling.

EcoBling up cycles waste and turns it into gorgeous eco jewellery. They plant a tree for each piece sold and work with marginalised communities in developing countries to empower people to create an eco-friendly enterprise. They also respond directly to social issues, environmental concerns and natural disasters through creating meaningful and beautiful products. EcoBling is the planet friendly accessory label.

Field & Coppice is a Canberra based floral design studio created by Lauren Andersen. With a design aesthetic underpinned by a love of Australian native flora, Field & Coppice is all about variety in texture, shape, colour & pattern, and a style which retains that sense of wildness and unpredictability found in nature. Field & Coppice also do floral styling for weddings, events, corporate spaces and private orders.)

I first heard of Pure Pod via Instagram (I couldn’t for the life of me remember who it was, but I am super duper thankful!) Someone was singing your praises and I went off to investigate. How do you think social media plays a part in creating awareness and spreading a fashion message that still feels far too small? 

Well it’s FAR BIGGER than when we started 9 years ago. There wasn’t such a thing really as social media then. I remember thinking, when we were making our first retail web site, who’s going to buy clothes online? HA well I didn’t even know about social media then!

Social media is fantastic because little designers like us can have our own voice and not be waiting for magazines and stores to speak for us. It’s free and we can control our own information and what we want to send out. I connect with lots of like-minded sustainable designers all over the world and people interested in social change, so I think there’s a huge movement out there and I’m really proud to be a part of it. I’d prefer to be part of the solution than part of the problem and just sit back and wait for other people to change things or not care at all. I couldn’t live with myself!

In my younger days I would rather fork myself in the eye than spend a day window shopping and buying mass-produced clothing. With the growth of social media, the opportunities for lessons in how to make your own clothing, and buying from people who are more aligned to your values seems easier, and easier. I love being able to chat in a tiny way to the people behind some of my wardrobe, just as I like being able to chat to the people who provide me with the bulk of my food. Those connections are really important to me. How important are those connections to you? Is it possible to pin point where all the items from within your company actually come from?

I love talking to all of our customers as we are small. I get to know many of them and they tell me stories of where their Pure Pod clothing goes and is worn. I love it!

Maybe as we grow bigger I might not have to time get to know all of our customers but I will make sure our staff treat each one personally and with a huge respect for making a conscious change in their buying habits!

Our new Fair Trade Collection called AWAKEN – We can definitely pin point the process and hopefully one day we can go over to India and meet all the people who made it happen for us. Most of our other Australian made collections you can almost pin point the supply chain but it’s a bit harder when the fabric comes from everywhere around the globe. There’s hardly any textiles made here now and sadly many of our beloved makers are retiring. Great for them to have this time but hard for us as we have got to know them all so well and we have to grow with the changes. I’ve always been a die hard Australian made so we have jobs for our industry but it has just become so hard now. The older generation with all the skills are retiring and there’s really not many new people coming through with the same skills and opening making businesses. We will still make some higher end more bespoke pieces here and special items, but our commercial pieces will be made at this amazing place overseas now. I know we are helping the organic cotton farmers and workers in the local region where the fabric and clothes are made so we are elated!

Hypothetically (ahem) if you had in general more enthusiasm than sewing skills, but wanted to sew a little something that was wearable. What would you recommend as a starter project?

I think I do have more enthusiasm than sewing skills!!! My makers are the ones who make our product look amazing! It would take me forever to make the clothes. The makers have been doing this for many years and are highly skilled.

But if you wanted to do something simple try a simple elastic waisted skirt, pants or a square sleeved top. Or if that’s all too scary try a pillow case! Or just come and see me!

I will be running workshops next year about sustainable fashion and how to start your own brand!

Not that I want to start my own fashion brand, but that sounds good and err, might focus my (non) sewing skills just a little.

Thank you so much for stopping by and having a chat Kelli, another slice of carrot cake before you go?

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This conversation with Kelli of Pure Pod is the first in a series, Conversations with Community. Whether it’s online or face to face. There will be some wonderful conversations coming up with amazing women, doing incredibly inspiring things within our community.

I’m really excited to be able to share some of their stories with you.

(*Any Pure Pod clothing I own has been bought by me, no special concessions, kickbacks etc. Jusssst in case you were wondering.)

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Loving…eating, cosmos and ridiculous carrots

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Loving…

Knowing how to ferment food that’s good for my gut bacteria, good for my taste buds and good for my over all health.

Loving…

The cosmos flowers that have popped up all over my backyard. Patches of colour that brighten up, well, pretty much everything.

Loving…

Ridiculous looking purple carrots that remind you…to keep it real.

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What are you loving at the moment?

[“Often life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them… Make a point of noticing everyday something that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart… Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savoured, and then shared, it is magnified…” ROBIN GRILLE]

 

Stuff That Matters

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Watching how the backyard garden has grown overnight takes on a mindfulness that isn’t often present for the rest of the day. Tracking bees on their pollen paths, and seeing how the calendula has unfurled overnight. Solitude is fleeting, even at 6am. I’ll grab it in handfuls wherever I can, it’s really important to me. I need it.

Passionfruit kombucha experiments. I thought it was delicious, and two out of three kids thought it was good one. The other one?…I might have to keep working on that palate of his. Keeping them healthy is a huge priority to me.

(And when not so healthy) there’s Master Tonic or Fire Cider, it’s damn good stuff and this time of year it’s almost a necessity. With half the city echoing with their coughs of the stricken down, my kids adding to the list of the afflicted, it was all a little ill timed that I ran out of my batch of the stuff. (I did a how-to over on Milkwood last year if you are keen to make your own.) Lucky for me, and thanks to a lovely instagram connection some of Hilbilby’s good stuff landed on my doorstep just at the right time. Health isn’t something that I take for granted, ever, and with the smallest coming down with an associated ear infection. I’m pretty damn thankful that I have access to really great medical advice and care when I need it.

This week I finally got to meet the lovely Fran. Fran is 100 kinds of awesome. Some of this I know from her instagram account that I’ve been following for awhile, some of this I know from her blog and some of this I know from the hour we spent together after she drove 5 hours to my place to deliver a table and not eat lunch (too busy talking you see.) I feel super lucky to have people like that jump into my life.

While this week has also had its fair share of arguments, tears, crossed wires, and crappy news (real life always exists behind the sunshine filled walls of a blog.) I’m still thankful for them. I could wish that they had never happened, (but they did) or they are happening and wishing away won’t change anything.

What I can do is, learn from them, grow from them, possibly define my own ideas and thoughts a little better because of them. At the very least I can hug my kids a bit tighter at the end of the day and I can say to dear friends, hey thanks for spending time with me today, that was bloody awesome and I loved every minute of it.

The connections, the tiny moments, the community ties, the freshly cut bread, the hugs, the long conversations…

This is the good stuff of life.

This is the stuff that matters.

 

…and then the slugs moved in

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It wasn’t the first time I’d had run ins with slugs, but it was the first time I had ever grown anything in this much abundance. Not a nominal amount that had been the case when it was a potted garden in the big smoke with 1-2 hours of sunlight. No here, I had much more sunlight and things (after a few trial and errors) were actually growing.

I proudly showed several heads of lettuces off on instagram, and really it had all be pretty darn exciting watching things grow and then following that up by eating them. We even toyed with the idea of there nearly being enough to cancel our vegetable box delivery. Options like that were suddenly no longer sounding completely unachievable.

And then the slugs moved in.

One evening, dusk was snaking it’s way in and I had ventured out to the compost. Suddenly I’m stopped in my tracks by a multitude of glistening bodies, slimebagging their way along my prize winning* vegetables. Cue stampede music and old school horror music piano pieces. Those little bastards? They were everywhere.

I start picking them off. I keep picking them off. I get a container, and still keep picking them off.

Everywhere.

They are bloody everywhere. At this rate I won’t have a vegetable in sight by the end of the week. I traipse inside, slip my shoes off as they have become a little slidey from all the slug guts and declare war on the slime bags. Vowing words of action the very next day.

Except I didn’t.

I actually forgot the next day.

So when I hear a concerned voice coming in from the back door, (after a visit to the compost again) saying “…there’s a lot of slugs out there tonight!”. I write a post-it-note with a big black marker and stick it on my forehead for first thing tomorrow. Must sort that slug issue out.

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So what are your options when you have a plague of slugs stampeding across your carefully tendered urban permaculture patch?

Eggshells… you are supposed to keep them dry and the sheer amount I would need to try to make this work didn’t seem workable.

Beer traps…I have done this, but it’s simply not enough. I’d have to have a beer filled moat for this to be effective and with a wandering whippet (whom I suspect would be a bit of a light weight drinker) it’s not really a long term option either.

Ducks… I like the idea, actually I love the idea! But…I’m not there yet, and again, not sure about the whippet.

Grow extra’s… I actually do have enough lettuce to share (regrettably) with my slimebag friends, however they’ve taken more than their share and are simply not playing fair.

Slug and snail bait… nah, not going to happen.

Copper…I’d read that I could strip wires and use the copper parts as a barrier method to stop them. I didn’t have any wires, and didn’t have the time before my vegetables are reduced to stubs to go seek some to strip. A quick trip to the hardware store get’s me back home with 8 metres of copper tape. I thought about taping the beds up Mission Impossible laser style scene, but decided that’s probably overkill at this stage considering I don’t even know if these things will work. I go with the disco look instead and line the edges. Not enough of the edges but if it works**, I’ll get more and disco everywhere the slimebags lurk.

So did it work?

First night, I can’t see any slugs in the garden that had been previously looking like Bondi Beach in the middle of summer. I had wrapped the tape around all the edges. The garden beds where I had only done a portion of the tape, the bodies once again glistened in the light. So at a quick look, I’d say yes, yes it did work where I had placed the tape all the way round.

The following day was all day slug weather, the slimebags didn’t even have to wait until dusk had set, as it was so wet and bleak out there they could just munch on down, breakfast, lunch and dinner. My problem was I hadn’t finished the taping and couldn’t do it again until the garden bed edges were dry so it would adhere properly.

Once again, I go inside mumbling war cries and take off slippery shoes from slug guts.

Will the copper tape keep the suckers at bay? Not sure, to be continued folks…

In the mean time What are some of your tried and true methods for slug control? Or something you’ve tried and it didn’t work?

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*Yes, I know I haven’t actually won any awards.

 

Best flowers to grow for you and your bees

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Looking around my garden, while it certainly wasn’t a total sea of blooms and wildflowers, for a garden that was 7 months young it had a decent selection of flowers both for us and our local bees. I was actually pretty happy with how it was all shaping up. Some flowers had come and gone, some flowers were still to be planted when spring officially raised her head again, and somethings had been there since we began.

When we had first started ripping up agapanthus and gardenias (which is what this garden had solely had before us; alongside grass and crap soil) I had vehemently said, we shall not grow anything that doesn’t serve an eating purpose and is useful! While I still stand by that statement, I have added a little bit more flexibility to it. Kangaroo Paw and and Daisies have earned their positions in the sun and while we don’t eat them, they look gorgeous and are a great addition for our bees to choose from.

For the bees and other local beneficial pollinators my wild plans of having a year round selection of changing seasonal foraging options… well it’s actually shaping up quite well.

Here’s a list of some bee friendly (whether they are native stingless, solitary or honey bee) plants that have made their way into the garden or will be in the next month or so.

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Alyssum– sweet scented, great for a ground cover.

Borage– you can also eat the slightly spiky leaves, just finely chop them first. Edible flowers, great for decorating and salads.

Blueberries– Hopefully they’ll turn into blueberries at some stage, they do seem to have a long flower stage, (this is their first year out of pots.)

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Calendula– Not on the excellent end of the colour chart for bees but it has many other uses so I’d be mad not to include it.

Clover– Tiny soft scented flowers, loved by bees and adored by small hands.

Comfrey– It’s been lying fairly dormant in a corner of the yard, biding time for warmer weather ((I hope!) A good soil conditioner, great for compost and a medicinal plant.

Cornflower– Not yet planted but the seeds are ready to go, come warmer weather. Plant too early and the seeds won’t germinate in the cold wet soil.

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Cosmos– these were such a joy over the warmer months, with so many flowers coming from a single plant. They also gave great shade to some of the more delicate vegetables.

Daisy– and oldy but a goody, and I can pretty much completely ignore them in terms of maintenance.

Dandelion– They grant wishes, don’t really make you wet the bed and are a super simple flower addition to your bee flowers.

Kangaroo Paw– a gorgeous Australian native that doesn’t require much attention at all.

Lavender– They happily sit in my “Mediterranean Corner”, sounds far more exotic than the dry corner where it cops the most sun.

Lupins– great green manure crop, where I was supposed to cut them down before they got to flower stage…nah, just couldn’t do it. I loved seeing bees on the flowers.

Marigold– again not at the good end of flower colour chart but still a favourite and easy to generate more seedlings, so they are here to stay.

Nasturtium– Good ground cover, will climb if you train it up and flowers look lovely for food decorating.

Rocket– My first rocket crop was a failure due to rubbish soil, I’ve learnt from it, can now grow great rocket and have let the rubbish crop go to flower so still creates a garden benefit.

Sunflowers– I haven’t planted these beauties yet as still a bit cool, but the seeds are good to go and I’m just a little bit excited about have 2.5 metre flowers within my garden.

Thai Basil and Holy Basil– I’ve got patches of both, and while not quite at the large bush stage, they are looking promising.

Yarrow– this beauty is doing wonderfully well, conditioning my soil, providing seasonal flowers and is a great medicinal garden addition.

Zinnia– currently not flowering due to winter but summer gave a wonderful crop which helped with shading some of my more vulnerable vegetables during the middle of the day heat. They were also remarkably easy to generate more seedlings with the dried flower heads.

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If you are creating your own bee flower garden, do keep in mind, they can see the purple/blue coloured flowers the best, with red flowers being at the end of their scale. I’d say skip the red roses this year and head for the borage!

What plants do grow for the benefit of both you and your bees?

For more reading on bees and their colour preferences see here