Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Future Food Security - will we still have ours?

Sometimes I just stop and wonder what is really going to happen to this world in the next 30-50 years.

 Will I still be able to do this?

I stumbled upon some articles about a New Zealand Food Bill, which "will essentially transfer primary control of food from individuals to corporations under the guise of food security"..."it will also make it illegal to distribute any type of foods based on the bill's language...includes seeds, nutrients, natural medicines, minerals and even water, without expressed government permission".

The article claims that if this bill is passed, it will strip individuals of their right to grow food and preserve the bounty, save seeds and even share produce with friends and family members. The fight is being taken up by the group New Zealand Food Security and you can read more about it here. These are the main two links I have found about this issue, but if what they report is true, could you imagine that happening here in Australia? Not being able to grow a bit of lettuce or some potatoes or herbs to feed your family, or worse, growing them and having them confiscated by 'officials'. But when you stand back, you can see the real reason why they are attempting to introduce this bill - they cannot collect taxes or make money out of people growing their own food and saving seeds to reuse again the following year - can they? Where is the profit in that? But if people are forced to do so with 'government permission'  - read regulations, licences and therefore $$$$ -  then that is ok because the government and corporations who produce seed, will still be able to make a profit. And really, thats what life is all about isn't it - making a profit - not nutritious whole foods to ensure the survival of humanity.

This has linked into a book that I am reading at the moment, 'The Great Disruption' by Paul Gilding, where he talks about the end of economic growth and climate change combining to form the great disruption to society and life as we know it. He talks about how we cannot continue to think in terms of continued growth at the expense of depleting the scarcity of earth's resources. I am about halfway through the book, but I am having a lot of 'light bulb' and 'a-ha' moments as I work my way through. Seeing this story panning out in New Zeland reaffirms for me some of the topics in the book.

I have never in the past been part of an active protest before, but by golly I would be involved if any legislation were ever to be introduced here.

We would probably have to dis-band the Urban Homesteaders Club - imagine that!

Anyway - thats my rant for today! Read the links have a think about the future, I know I am.

(as an aside, I previously blogged about wanting a fireplace to keep warm. Its funny how the universe works sometimes, but the day after I posted that blog, some things happened for us and we are now able to put our fireplace in! I'm very excited! Just awaiting council approval now)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Winter seedlings

Our winter seedlings the kids helped me plant a couple of weeks ago, are coming along beautifully. Front left going clockwise we have cauliflower, spring onions, beetroot, rocket, mignonette and cos lettuce (probably for the greenhouse), Wong bok, Grosse Lisse and Roma tomatoes (for the greenhouse), broccoli, celery (which hasn't done anything yet), cabbage and more cauliflower on the side. I am also planning on planting some peas, onions (red and brown) and garlic this winter as well, and maybe some potatoes in bags in the greenhouse.

I am hoping to grow most of our food in the garden and greenhouse this winter, as well as using up some veggies I have already frozen. Hopefully I will go close!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lovely Loofahs!

Look at these beauties!

This is my second attempt at growing loofahs in our cool climate. The growing season here is very short (summer basically) before the vines die off with the first frost of the season. Last year they only got to about 10cm in length before the frost got them as I planted them way too late. This year I started growing them early in the greenhouse and had eight plants but killed six and so am left with two. But these two seem to be growing great guns, especially seeing there is *hopefully* another month of growing before the first frost - I might actually get loofahs this year!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Hubby's Summer Project

One of the projects we wanted to achieve over the summer holiday period was to finally fit out the laundry so it had some functionality and a bit of purpose. Previously we had the washing machine with the dryer sitting on top and a flat pack cupboard we put together when we first moved in to store random stuff.

But look at it now!

Our laundry is only small (1.65m x 2.7m), so by putting the bench in, it has created much more space, and also an area to do some jobs (apparently it will be transformed from an area that handles simple dirty clothes to honey processing plant extraordinaire in spring/summer!).  Hubby also built the under cupboard bench, drilled some fancy little holes to pull the power cables through, attached the dryer to the wall and finally put up our retractable inside clothes airer. The airer is awesome! I never thought I would get so excited to actually do washing that I can hang on there but I do!

Lately I have caught myself deliberately leaving the door open, just so I can walk past and go 'ahhhhh' (similar to that guy on the colorbond roof ad where he just stops and stares at his roof with serenading music in the background!).

Monday, 13 February 2012

Weekend Preserving

What a weekend!

On Saturday, we hosted the February get together of the Urban Homesteaders Club. It is great to catch up with like minded people who don't think you are weird when you talk all things fruit and veggie growing. Thankfully, the weather was good to us and the kids were all able to play outside whilst the adults could talk.

Saturday night I was off to Book Club where our latest book was ' Bel Canto' by Anne Patchett. I thought the book was well written and was an OK read, but I had his weird sense of deja vu in the beginning that I had read it before.

Sunday, we started off the day with some beautiful fresh scrambled eggs (yum!) and then got stuck into making my first ever batch of jam. As the peach tree (formerly know as the nectarine tree) was being attacked daily by our local flock of fruit tree wrecking bandits (aka cockatoos - grrrr!), EVEN with netting, I decided the fruit must be perfectly ripe and picked a lovely basket full.

The jam process began well, and was simmering nicely. I have read enough about jam making to know that I needed a 'gelling point', and luckily around that time, my mum and dad walked in the door and mum saved the day! I was on the right track but probably would have over cooked it. I ended up getting four jars worth and was pretty pleased with my effort! Although I have never had peach jam myself, it tasted beautiful and sweet and will go well with some scones I think.

We have had a very very mild summer here and hence the majority of our tomatoes have yet to ripen. My parents on the other hand have been getting tomatoes by the truckload and very generously dropped off a couple of bags for us. Last year, we had SO MANY tomatoes that we made a year's supply of tomato sauce. The supply only ran out last week so we very happily made another batch with the tomatoes. Five jars should last the kids another couple of months :) We made a new recipe this time (the tomato sauce recipe from Sally Wise's 'A Year in a Bottle'), which was heaps easier (just throw everything in the pot and cook) and it smelt amazing, so I guess the proof will be in the tasting shortly. When cooking the sauce last summer, we put everything through a strainer as that is all we had, but last year I purchased this mouli for a third of the normal retail price when it was out of season and it made sauce making this year a breeze!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

We are very excited to announce the safe arrival of...

...Thousands of Bees!!

(Here they are in their little 'travel hive')

Hubby finished the jointly presented CIT and Beekeepers Assoc of the ACT, 'Backyard Beekeeping' course a couple of weekends ago and has been busy preparing for their arrival.

He has been putting together their hive and frames.

We received four frames of bees and honey, although we won't be able to harvest any honey until next summer as this will be the bees food for the winter.

After we positioned their hive it was time to transfer them into their new home.

And here they are, all snug and happy in their new home! We have positioned them behind the new native 'hill', firstly so it is out of the way and the kids won't go near it, and secondly so they will have access to the autumn/wintering flowering shrubs we have planted in that garden.

I am so looking forward to our first harvest of honey next summer!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Novice Breadmaker takes her first small step

Earlier in the year I blogged about a few new years resolutions that I would like to tackle this year, one of which was to actually bake a loaf of bread from scratch.

The most lovely Maria from the Urban Homesteaders Club (UHC) very generously decided to host a bread making workshop on the weekend for any UHCers who were looking for some knowledge and experience on how to get started. Maria has been baking her family's bread for the last 15 years, and therefore is a guru in my eyes!

We made two recipes, the first being Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall's 'Magic Bread' recipe, and the other being Maria's Family Loaf recipe.

With Hugh's Magic Bread dough, you can turn it into a lot of things!

We made some pita bread (note Maria's fantastic tomato haul in he background!)

And a focaccia!

The recipe can also be used to make pizza bases and bread rolls.

And with Maria's excellent tutelage, I managed to create this...

Foccacia with sea salt, rosemary and garlic!!

I made two of these, and the first one was absolutely demolished by the family in next to no time so it must have been OK! It would have gone smashingly well with some spicy roasted capsicum dip, the kind I used to buy at the Queen Vic markets in Melbourne. If anyone has a link to a recipe for it, it would be much appreciated!

I have yet to bake Maria's Family Bread  recipe as I need to get a few ingredients as well as a bread pan (I know I could do it on a flat tray but I want to try and make it like bread :)), and I am psyching myself to attempt it this week.

Once again, BIG BIG thank you to Maria for putting on the workshop!