Today we embarked upon an adventure that is little known to moderns. That of locating and harvesting our own foods. Sure, people these days locate a supermarket and go in to retrieve the fruits within. However, how many people cut through bush and cross raging torrents in order to collect their produce from spiny, prickly branches?
Lately we have been endevouring to eat locally. This was originally all inspired by British “real food” chef and tv personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. After spending evenings early in our marriage watching his program River Cottage, we were inspired to try to do the same as him – growing, sourcing, harvesting and cooking our own food from scratch. The lifestyle I guess is that of a “locavore” – someone who eats things locally from around them.
So first we started our garden. The first year we grew silverbeet, mesclun, beetroot, purple carrots and rainbow radishes as well as great quantities of green tomatoes (that never ripened) and pumpkins, finally being put off green tomato sauce and pumpkin soup for a number of years. Those who visited us will know that our first house had a small backyard and we were forced to utilise small spaces that had been weedmatted and barked by our landlord. This didn’t stop the pumpkins from snaking across the lawn. The second year (in flat number 2) we had very limited success. Finally in year three we have had our best harvest yet, quite confidently living mostly off our own grown fruit and veges, with the odd top up from the supermarket when we are desperate.
The only issue (both an advantage and disadvantage) with living off our own produce is eating seasonally. We can only eat what we can grow well at the time. So for summer we have a particularly massive glut of raspberries, beans, corn, tomatoes and courgettes. Until we don’t want to see another courgette for a long time. Now autumn has hit we have still more beans, blackboy peaches, pears, yet more courgettes (now marrows), squash and pumpkins. We eat and preserve what we can and then don’t eat another say courgette until next summer when after a few weeks we are sick of the sight of them.
Our great source for all things locavore is the locavore website. Where people who are also trying to eat locally can find each other to swap or purchase produce.
Our locavoring adventures have included getting fruit from an elderly couple with a deaf and blind guard dog, swapping pears for kale seedlings at a student flat to get us through winter, and exchanging our blackboy peaches for venison and lamb.
And then there is the foraging…
Urban foraging is quite fun. Today we searched forests and climbed over a creek to find blackberries. Often a rather complex task, avoiding the thorns and prickles to pick the dark, ripened berries, while juggling a toddler on hip who is reaching to fill her mouth. Hands stained we emerge triumphant with full bags of blackberries, to take home to add to our home produce for our dinner, pudding and treats.So as I write this we sit, eating crackers, cheese and homemade quince paste, made from quinces foraged from the suburb of Casebrook. And I’m soon off to make Blackberry and Yoghurt muffins (with homemade yoghurt). Nothing like sitting enjoying the fruits of our labour at the end of a long hard day.