Voluntary Simplicity: In the Garden

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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.)

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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

 

 

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Top 10 Collaborative Consumption sites

collaborative consumption || cityhippyfarmgirl

In January I attended a talk on collaborative consumption as part of the Sydney Festival. It had been one of those days that had been long and hard, and more than a few times I thought I might ditch the evening in the city in favour of a cup of tea and an early night. I didn’t though and damn, I’m glad I didn’t.

My brain grew a little that night. One of those moments where you can almost hear the audible pops, as ideas and thoughts run unhindered when you are by yourself and really, really are able to listen. Needless to say I loved it, but what on earth is Collaborative Consumption?

The sharing economy (sometimes also referred to as the share economy, shared economy, mesh, collaborative economy, collaborative consumption) is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical assets. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. These systems take a variety of forms, often leveraging information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services.  [Wikipedia]

In a nutshell it’s a shared economy, and that’s a good thing.

Now there are oodles of different shared economy sites to use these days, it’s just a matter of finding one that suits you and getting started. After that, it’s a kind of landslide effect and the doors keep opening.

collaborative consumption || cityhippyfarmgirl

Here’s an easy ten to get you started.

1/ Airbnb accommodation in 34,000 cities and 192 different countries. Options from one night in a tent in someones backyard to a castle for a month- with everything else in between.

2/ Landshare “Connecting growers to people with land to share.” The concept of Landshare began in the UK and was launched by super-duper popular River Cottage.

3/ Eat with Me “Connect with interesting people by planning or attending event’s to share food and eat together”

4/ The Clothing Exchange Swapping clothing either online or at one of their regular exchange meet ups.

5/ Garage Sale Trail “Bargains are had, treasure is discovered, friends are made, money raised and fun is had by all. The cupboards, garages and sheds of Australians are decluttered, re-used and waste minimisation is put into practice en masse.”

6/ Skillstay “Exchange your skills. Make new friends. Stay for free.”

7/ Hive Studio Desk or office space, coworking spaces are offered with a community atmosphere.

8/ Car Next Door Neighbour to neighbour car sharing

9/ MamaBake– “Group, big batch baking for mothers.” A group (say 4) comes together, cooks one big batch dinner each and then swaps- dinner for the next 4 nights.

10/ Jayride An easy way to hook up a ride with someone going in the direction you need to. Rides could be free, or for just a couple of dollars.

…and the big mama of them all Collaborative Consumption. My top ten is fairly Australian based but if you click on this link it will take you to which ever country you are from, showing sites that will be more local and possibly relevant to you.

What are some of your favourite Collaborative Consumption sites?

loving…the simple in summer

yellow || cityhippyfarmgirl vegan mango icecream || cityhippyfarmgirl cityhippyfarmgirl avocado || cityhippyfarmgirlloving long summer afternoon beach trips that take us far, far away

watching them love easy coconut milk mango ice cream

loving watching him be so mesmerised by the sea

loving the simplicity of tasty food in its own bowl

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I wasn’t sure whether to continue my loving posts this year. However, a chaotic week came and went and all I had wanted to think about was the simple things I had been loving lately. A grounding, a connection and a reminder that not all parts of our life at the moment is a whirl wind of clocks, places to be and at times seeming chaos. There are simple moments entwined within the chaotic ones and they are the ones I want to most remember.

What have you been loving lately?

[“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]

 Coconut Mango Ice Cream

In a blender, add two big bananas, one can of coconut milk, 1/3 cup of sugar and whizz it up. Pour it out into a dish and blend some fresh mango. Swirl that in too. Freeze it and either run a fork through every half an hour or so until you are ready to eat it or bring it out about 20 minutes before you want to eat it, running a fork through it, (the banana content should stop it freezing completely solid.)

Top 10 eco friendly ways to say I love you

10 eco friendly ways to say I love you || cityhippyfarmgirl

I was sent an email a little while ago, asking whether I would like to spruik some Valentines Day products. Although I generally feel lucky to even be asked, I did feel they hadn’t thoroughly researched their target market particularly well.

Stuffed small toys, toting love hearts, smiling bear faces and large ‘made in China’ tags, has never been my thing. Ever. It seems unlikely that’s going to change any time soon. In my eyes it also seemed unlikely that a space with the name cityhippyfarmgirl would be likely to encourage the purchase of said items, but it’s true, you don’t know unless you ask.

I did however say a polite no, and instead thought about some alternative ways to say I love you, for the most heart filled day of the year.

thinking green on valentines day || cityhippyfarmgirl

Top 10 eco friendly ways to say I love you

1/ A big beautiful bunch of kale, rosemary or any other seasonal greenery you might have in season. A bunch of red roses it isn’t- it’s better, way better!

2/ Rediscover the lost art of whispered sweet nothings.

3/ Bread. If you thought the heady combination of flour, water and salt wasn’t romantic, you haven’t thought about it in the right fashion. Soft and pillowy, rounded shaping and hot, HOT oven. (See, your loved one will be lusting after your rolls in no time.)

4/ Lingerie- If impressive underwear is your thing, take the time to research it and make it ethically made.

5/ Switch that bunch of flowers for a pot plant. Indoor, outdoor it doesn’t matter. Even if your green thumb is frequently the colour of squid ink black, a potted plant will last far longer than a bunch of flowers ever would.

succulent valentines day gift || cityhippyfarmgirl

6/ Poetry. No texting, no spell check, just a pen and some paper.

7/ Heirloom vegetable seeds, now stay with me. This is long time love. The kind where together you get to sprout those little seeds to become seedlings, and then watch them cared for, nurtured and loved as they grow, and grow. Ready to be plucked and eaten, preferably over an intimate candle lit dinner for two.

8/ A lovely bottle of organic or biodynamic local wine.

9/ A picnic. You don’t have to be a young couple to enjoy a late afternoon picnic on a grassy hill top. While couples with young kids, don’t quite get to do the gaze into each others eyes so much, kids do generally run off and leave you alone for 2.5 minutes longer than they would if you were eating dinner at home. That’s two and half minutes you could be gazing lovingly into each others eyes, or perhaps a quick pash before the kids run back and trample sand through the sandwiches again.

10/ And finally. Nothing says I love you quite like butter and sugar does, (well in this household anyway.) I have posted these biscuits before, but here is the slightly tweaked simple recipe again.)

coconut strawberry heart || cityhippyfarmgirl

Coconut Strawberry Hearts

250g softened butter

1 cup (220g) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

3 1/2 cups (525g) plain flour

strawberry jam

Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer until pale. Add vanilla and egg, then mix through rest of ingredients. Lightly knead biscuit dough – if mixture looks slightly too dry, knead with dampened hands. Roll biscuit dough between two sheets of baking paper to about 5mm –  Pop into the fridge for an hour or so until firm, and cut out into shapes. If the dough comes back to room temperature while you are still cutting, being tricky to handle, just pop it back into the fridge for a bit.

Bake at 170C for approximately 15-20 mins, until a very light golden colour. Allow to cool and then add half a teaspoon of strawberry jam in between the two biscuits.