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Thursday, 06 November 2008 17:14

Sufficiency through giving and receiving

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Self sufficiency maybe not, but sufficiency through giving and receiving – definitely

Produce provided by Mother Nature

This year petrol prices have made the headlines and hit our wallets hard and the impact of it has had me thinking about something infinitely more valuable to us. Have you ever considered that our food supply could be impacted in the same way?  For example, is it not possible that freight costs will impact on food prices in the future? That a new disease could compromise crops?  Or seed banks may be destroyed through war or a natural disaster?  None of the above scenarios are so far fetched.  Petrol is but one commodity that we never envisaged would become so expensive.  As a result we have relied on it so heavily that rising prices have impacted on us severely.  Food sourced anywhere but our own back garden I thought to be the same, but an experiment in self sufficiency over the past few months has taken me down memory lane.  I have learnt that maybe our past can teach us more than our future promises to.

My social experiment has been this - to see if we could live on what we produce.  An inventory of our 5 acre property at the time, revealed mandarins, oranges and lemons were abundant, my vegetable garden was in the throws of being rebuilt so was empty and we had a cow that was due to be slaughtered.  The prospect of living on citrus and beef seemed harsh, but doable until nostalgia gave me a better answer to the quagmire.  My Mum was an avid bottler and a badminton extraordinaire.  Each week she would take her wares to her mixed doubles game and swap them for what she did not have.  On reflection, I realized she was a winner in more ways than one - in giving she also received. 

So I tried it at my weekly meditation class.  My lemons and mandarins became someone else’s eggs, silverbeet and rhubarb.  Then we got clever and started incorporating our skill sets too.  As citrus was abundant we started adding value to what was plentiful.  Someone was an expert at jam and marmalade making, someone else had a magic juicer.  Henry Ford had it right I surmised by specializing our labour (what we did well) and our core competencies (what we each grew well) we could have it all.   As our trading table grew so did my ideas.  I bought some lambs, a pig and a few chooks and at $4 a kilo on average for homekill meat we were saving money too.  Our food was without pesticides, tasted better, was killed humanely and was cheaper! 

So this is my challenge to you this month.  Everyone has a daily, weekly or fortnightly activity they participate in, whether it be work, yoga, Rotary or a parenting group.  Why not introduce a trading table to it? Trading may be a forgotten art but it goes to show that sometimes mother really did know best! Happy gardening and happy trading.

Plant
 

Asparagus, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celeriac, celery, chilli, climbing beans, collards, cucumber, eggplant, globe artichokes, gourds, lettuce, marrow, mustard greens, NZ spinach, okra, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, radish, rockmelon, silverbeet, shallots, squash, swiss chard, sweetcorn, kumara, tomato, turnip, watermelon, zuchhini

Harvest

Apples, beetoroot, cabbage, collards, cucumber, dwarf beans, globe artichokes, kohl rabi, lettuce, loquats, mustard greens, pears, radish, silverbeet, swiss chard, turnip, tomato, zucchini