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

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.)

conversations-with-community

Best flowers to grow for you and your bees

flower 4 || cityhippyfarmgirlflower 5 || cityhippyfarmgirl

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.

flower 9 || cityhippyfarmgirl

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.)

flower 12 || cityhippyfarmgirlflower 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

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.

cosmos || cityhippyfarmgirl

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.

flower 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

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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

 

 

 

For the love of bees

Native Stingless Bees Australia || cityhippyfarmgirlNative Stingless Bees || cityhippyfarmgirl

I hadn’t seen the bees for awhile now. It being winter and actually feeling like winter, I’m like a concerned parent. Silently hoping for a day over 18 degrees, just so I can check in on them all, make sure the hive is ok. A reassuring healthy buzzing bee off on a foraging trip, that’s all I need to see.

That day comes, it’s warm, it’s crazy warm and the first thing I do after ripping my too hot woollen scarf draped around my neck is scamper up the hillside (err, slight slope in the very urban backyard but who’s paying attention to those details) to see if the bees are out. They are! My little native stingless friends are out and about and there is rather a lot of them.

In summer, first thing in the morning. I can sit outside, close my eyes, and hear a bunch of different bees and other pollinators amongst the tomato flowers. Opening my eyes I would often find a variety of different bees crowding a flower peppered plumbago. The hedge really should have been pruned back long ago but I can’t seem to do it with so many bees sourcing their daily foraging needs within the blue flower buds. It would feel a bit mean.

Ever since I did a Native Stingless Bee course, bees have been a constant source of intrigue and curiosity. Not just the native stingless ones, but the whole lot of them. European honey bees, solitary bees, they really are incredibly interesting creatures.

Gina Cranson

I adore this poster by Gina Cranson. Copies of the poster can be bought through a variety of places, but you can start with her Etsy site if you are keen, (there also now available QLD versions). One of these posters sits above my desk- learning the different types just by glancing at the pictures several times a day.

When we lived in Sydney, I had organised for our local council to fund some native stingless bee hives to set up residence within the school grounds. There were 3 when we left which opens up the possibilities for either splitting the hives and passing another on to another school or harvesting the honey. Either way it’s a wonderful lesson for school kids, and I’m hoping to do the same here at our new school.

Another option for bee lovers is to host a honey bee hive. Not technically yours for keeps, but a wonderful alternative, which gives a pollinated garden and proportion of the honey as a trade off. It’s a winning system I tell you.

insect hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

More reading and information for all the bee enthusiasts out there

Earth Garden magazine frequently writes on a variety of our wonderful bees.

Awhile back I wrote about how to create your own Insect Hotel, over on Milkwood.

Tim Heard is the Native Stingless Bee master with his book The Australian Bee Book, (he also does frequent talks and workshops up and down the East Coast of Australia several times a year.)

Urban Hum hosts hives if you are in Newcastle, NSW.

Doug Purdie from The Urban Beehive, has you covered for all things honey bee related.

 

 

Kangaroo Pie

kangaroo pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s labelled as ethical, sustainable, lean and a great substitute for other more popular red meats, but is eating kangaroo really something that Australian’s should be embracing further, (and will kangaroo pie be the thing that gets us there?)

The first few times I tried kangaroo, my taste buds were so traumatised that I didn’t touch the stuff for another 9 years. Not being a huge meat eater to begin with, it can be quite gamey and a bit of a strong taste. While great slabs of meat on my dinner plate is never going to happen, I thought I should revisit the eating of kangaroo and see if I couldn’t do it a little differently.

The results I’m happy to say, were far more satisfactory, this time round.

Now why did I bother revisiting the eating of our national icon? Well, because it ticks quite a few of the ethical and sustainable meat boxes that many others in the commercial meat industry simply don’t. While there are still issues that also surround this industry, to me (at this stage) it comes out ahead when you weigh it up against some of the other everyday meaty kinds.

A snapshot of eating kangaroo.

  • It’s a lean read meat.
  • It’s wild
  • Environmentally, kangaroos have a much smaller footprint than a cow or sheep
  • Farm free, (remember it’s wild)
  • Harvested in the wild as well, not trucked to slaughter
  • Dependent on where you buy your meat from- some companies only source the males for eating. Making sure any young joeys aren’t left motherless.

Have a look at this article here for a further well rounded look at the pros and cons of eating Skippy. It’s definitely not a simple process, but eating meat for most of us really isn’t anyway.

Unless you are rearing, hunting, or butchering your own meat, there are many questions to be asked, values to consider and choices to be made. It’s the way it should be.

Anything less than that is devaluing what goes on to our dinner time plates, and ‘blind eating’ of anything isn’t something we should be engaging in at any point of the food chain.

While this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve talked about ethical meat eating on this blog, having a kangaroo recipe is.

And the secret for me in getting a meal past my family that wasn’t going to taint my tastebuds for the next 9 years? Kangaroo mince (not chunks), great spices, and the best accompaniment for any true Australian pie, tomato sauce…you little beauty mate.

Kangaroo Pie

800g kangaroo mince

olive oil

1 tsp dried coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried vegetable stock

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 medium diced onion

1 large diced carrot

1 large diced eggplant

pastry (frozen or make your own)

In a large pot, add a couple of good slugs of olive oil, the finely diced onions and cook through until translucent. Add the kangaroo mince, brown it through and then add your spices, and vegetables. Pop the lid on until the vegetables are cooked mostly through. Put pot aside and allow to cool a little.

Oil baking tin and line with pastry. Add kangaroo mix and make your pie look pretty with remaining pastry. Bake at 200C for approximately 35 minutes or until pie is cooked golden.

kangaroo pie 04 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Further ethical eating conversations can be found here.

Food for thought- the ethics of rather a lot.

Meat, could you? Would you?

Fair Food Week

seasonal beetroot || cityhippyfarmgirl

Heads up to all the Fair Food Week people out there. Running from the 16th-25th of October, there are all kinds of events happening. Have a peek to see if there is one near you, and if not, how about organising one?

If that doesn’t sound like your kinda thing, maybe read the book?

Either way supporting a fair food culture should be something on everyone’s plate.

Fair Food Week

 

St Ives Medieval Faire…so good

St Ives Medieval Fair

Battles, jousting, traditional living, swords, birds of prey, there was quite a lot to love at the St Ives Medieval Faire. For someone who has no made no secret of a love of all things Viking and Nordic influenced, well, there was quite an excited lead up to this one.

Located on the edge of the Ku-ring-gai National Park, the festival was running for the second year, and despite a rainy start, it didn’t keep people away. Mud splattered boots and sodden velvet gowns just adding to the medieval atmosphere.

The festival had a fascinating traditional village that was made of different re-enactment or living history groups from all around Australia. Living, eating, dressing, and crafting as they once did.

Ahh, all so interesting…and so good! With the smell of soft wood smoke in our hair, leather cuffs on our wrists and happy tired smiles on faces. There were vows of returning next year for another Medieval Faire, well how could we not?

St Ives Medieval FairSt Ives Medieval FairSt Ives Medieval FairSt Ives Medieval FairSt Ives Medieval FairSt Ives Medieval FairSt Ives Medieval Fair

Sustainable House Day 2015

sustainable house day || cityhippyfarmgirl

Never underestimate the amount of inspiration you can fit into a small part of a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Never.

Sustainable House Day was on again, and in a last-minute scramble, two properties were selected in the hipster strewn suburbs of the Inner West, Sydney.

One, a tiny house originally standing as miniature weatherboard cottage, now as an incredible family home that I just wanted to make a large coffee, settle into the couch and chat all things gloriously green architecture with the owners. Having our three kids in tow however and the distinct possibility of them completely dismantling the house from the very foundations of which I was admiring, well coffee on the couch wasn’t going to happen.

We did talk though, we left totally inspired along with me wondering just how, (how!) there were these amazing people who completely thought so outside the square in which we lived. I felt like a Lego piece at that point. (Still with me?)

I’d love to show you a cascade of pictures to demonstrate all that we saw, however, besides a sneak peek at their delicious garden bathroom and growing wall it wasn’t my story to tell. If this place isn’t featured in the likes of magazines I’d be surprised.

Our next point of inspiration was a deliciously cool green bursting with goodness garden. We are coming out of winter and this garden couldn’t get more enticing looking to me. Permaculture infused, multiple homemade native bee hives, vegetables at their very door step and something that had never spoken to me before, ducks.

Ducks eh….I can totally see the point now.

Our whole family came away buzzing with ideas and excited by the sneak peek into a tiny part of someone else’s lives. I feel pretty lucky we even had the opportunity.

Thanks Sustainable House Day, we’ll definitely see you again next year.

sustainable house day || cityhippyfarmgirl

Did you visit any inspiring places last weekend?

Sustainable House Day 2015

Fair Food

Fair Food || cityhippyfarmgirl

‘Fair Food, stories from a movement changing the world’.

I close the book up and sit there, long deep thinking, and a little frown to concentrate harder as needed. There are so many mixed thoughts and emotions to grab hold of, it’s a bit of a lucky dip, grab one and run with it. Conversation starters, that’s for sure.

Over all while reading the book, I feel completely hopeful, and really excited on how wonderfully driven people are and all that they do for our current food system. Then on another page, I’m feeling the complete opposite. Slipping hope and questions of how the hell did we let it get to this??

As I’m reading, I dog ear so many corners and underline so many lines and passages, it ends up looking like a high school text book. Why? Because it’s important this stuff, I want to remember.

Fair Food is a book told through the different experiences of people within the Fair Food movement of Australia. Personal stories from backyard food forests, urban farming, activism, regenerative agriculture and something that I hold firmly to, radical homemaking.

All topics that are relevant, food and the way that we grow it, support it, buy it, eat it…this is something that effects all of us, every single one of us.

If we are lucky enough to have regular food on our tables, well then we should be educating ourselves on the food system that we buy into, understanding even a tiny corner of it makes a difference, and has a wonderful follow on effect.

While I loved all the different stories from people contributing to this book, I think it was Cat Green, the Radical Homemaker that I identified with most.

“Radical homemaking grounds my day to day life…” I loved reading from her point of view because she clarified things for me (well in my head anyway) that were there, I just needed to join the dots.

“It is a framework for social change that seamlessly entwines personal change with broader collective change.” Damn straight it is.

“My ‘work that matters’ comes from being actively involved in life, not sitting on the bleachers paying for someone else to do it.” Yes. A beautiful resounding yes.

So, while I’ve momentarily closed the book to think on it’s content, I know I’ll be opening it again soon. To read aloud, to quote parts that resonate and most importantly to pass it on to others.

Fair Food || cityhippyfarmgirl

Food for thought 

The 3 daily meals Australians eat have travelled over 10,000km before they reach our stomach.

We waste nearly 40% of all food we produce.

The world produces enough food already to feed everyone on the planet.

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Important Links

Fair Food: the book

The Peoples Food Plan: food policy document

Fair Food Week: 2015

Australian Food Sovereignity Alliance

 

Gold in the sky, Hill End

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

The clocked slowed down, I’m sure of it. Somewhere over the Blue Mountains it gained time, (or lost depending on which way you looked at it.) There’s no other explanation for it. How else could you combine climbing through an old gold mine, historical street wanders, bush walks, long hot coffees, games of cricket, museums, river explorations, meandering meal times and copious amounts of rock scrutiny? This is what happens when you spend a long weekend in Hill End, you gain time, by going back in time.

If you hadn’t heard of Hill End, you probably wouldn’t be the first. It’s a tiny old gold rush town that used to boast 10,000 people living within it’s gold encrusted hills. Not now though, now it has a whittled down community of about 120 permanent people apparently.

Along with gold, Hill End has also been a draw card for many artists. Peter Adams did an incredible photographic series (and stories) of all the long term locals that had lived in the area. (This book is absolutely divine, and I’m kicking myself for not getting it when I was there.)

Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend were also regulars going back a bit further, with the iconic Australian painting- The Cricketers (R. Drysdale) set there.

The tiny township has (and is) being preserved for its historical past as a part of National Parks and Wildlife. What this means is that, you can walk down the street, and really imagine how it all used to be. Signs and photos help bring this old gold town to life again. You can imagine the muddy streets, the noise of the mine work and the smell of the days that once were. Amazing stuff.

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

Another thing that makes this town a bit special is that I have family buried here. For someone who thinks quite a lot, my brain got quite a work out imaging the lives of some of these people while wandering through the old graveyard.

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

Orange, reds, brown and blue. There were many trees still with their autumnal colours in the tiny town. A most vivid of blue sky, and stars, so many stars.

You can easily forget just how magnificent the stars truly are when you live in a big city. Sitting out in the pub’s beer garden on one of the cold nights, all rugged up and eating our food, I quietly wondered whether the gold seekers over the years had ever looked up.

I hope so. Looking up at the sky on our last night, it looked like the night was littered with all the gold specks that the miners themselves had been so desperately seeking. It seems it was there in the sky all along.

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Hill End

A wonderful place to visit if you want a tiny snapshot of Australia’s gold rush history.