‘You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit’ [Joel Salatin]
Jase and I, along with another 20 green entreprenuers, are pioneering Australia’s first Organic Farm Share and I can’t express how exciting it is to be part of this project. It’s been the dream of our colleagues and peers Alf and Marina Orpen for the past 20 years. ‘The Most Beautiful Enterprise in the World’ Alf says of his vision for Organic Farm Share. Alf and Marina have carried the dream of creating a truly localised, organic food system – waiting for the right people, ideas and resources to come to them. And now they have it. Organic Farm Share is here.
What is an Organic Farm Share?
Put simply, owning a share in Organic Farm Share means people not only own the business, but secure the land in which their food is grown.
The land is owned outright by Organic Farm Share members. No encumbrance, no landlord. By buying a share of Organic Farm Share we are securing our local agricultural land for our use – to make sure it’s farmed the way we want to farm it – to protect and regenerate our soil, our waterways, our wildlife and our bodies in a way we have never been able to before.
Organic Farm Share takes a whole new look at how we grow food. Rather than adopting the farming practice of planting row upon row of the same crop (monoculture) which over time depletes soil nutrition, Organic Farm Share adopts polyculture, meaning mixing plant species together on the same plot to maximise soil harmony. For instance, nitrogen drawn from the soil to grow juicy corn, is replaced by the neighbouring row of green beans.
The farm will also provide either fresh produce or food products prepared by our local artisanal co-producers. It will be distributed in recycled containers, reducing packaging and waste. And of course, each member of Organic Farm Share also benefits from the profits of the organic farm.
Why are we part of the Organic Farm Share?
For us it feels like the next step in our lives….
When I wrote my book ‘Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World’ a few years ago, I was emerging from a fairly tumultuous place after giving birth to my first daughter Adiva. The sense that I experienced (and still often do) was that from now on my life would be defined by overwhelming love – and therefore and overwhelming fear – for another. Also knowing that our babies are born pre-polluted with a host of chemicals didn’t help. Becoming a mother made me feel exposed, vulnerable, scared, out of control (and still often does).
At that time I was also surrounded by concrete, metal and high-rise buildings. I lived in the very heart-beat of Melbourne, which was once such an exciting place to live with Jason – eating linguine and gelati from Lygon St; browsing the catalogues at the State Library; and on the weekends dancing like crazy in dodgy warehouses filled with strobe lights and booming beats. But when Adiva came into this world, I began to long for the lush fruit and nut trees, paddocks, hills, and vege patches that I grew up with. I wanted to go home to where I was a child, running through paddocks, eating food straight from the trees, wading through dams. There was space, less pollution, less consumerism. A place that made me feel less exposed, vulnerable, out of control. A place where my children would be less exposed, vulnerable, out of control.
But this was not really possible. My writing and research (also a large component of my heart) is intimately connected to cities – usually universities in cities. So over the years, as I have eased into motherhood, and amongst (and inbetween) these places of concrete, metal and high-rise buildings, I have been able to find some peace and tranquility and connectedness to the land again.
It started firstly with planting a Mandevilla (Brazilian Jasmine) climbing flower plant, which grew up the side of our one bedroom apartment. Then a little herb garden on our balcony, a row of orange Jessamine down the side of our house. Then came Miessence and promoting (and using) the most pure, potent, fresh certified organic products in the world, sourced from certified organic farmers.
We then moved to Brisbane, established a Children’s Garden at Northy St Organic City Farm and still tend to its needs with the children from our playgroup. Then came worm farms, composting, homebirthing, placenta planting, cloth nappies, health blogging, raw fooding….
And I write this I sit in our leafy suburb, under a canopy of trees in our secret garden sipping chai tea that Jase makes me with raw organic ingredients – chunks of ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, mint from our herb garden – which he gently serves to me in wide brim black mugs. I watch the girls eat rocket and basil from our small vege patch and the lorikeets munch on the winter azalea blossoms, the petals which fall on our heads. I am grateful for the box of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to our door every week.
I have begun to feel hope that we can make a difference in this world, first by living differently and showing others the way (or not). Change starts at home!
So the Organic Farm Share feels like a natural progression for us:
- connecting us (and our children) to the land in which our food grows (learning from the farmers themselves, staying at times on our own organic farm);
- pioneering a more sustainable, responsible way to grow our own organic food;
- minimising the mileage our food travels from farm to plate (max 200km);
- consuming the real nutrition of food – not frozen or warehoused;
- sharing in profits (financial returns) as a shareholder, made though the sale of excess produce each year.
My friend and Organic Farm Share colleague Fillippa sums up the rest of my reasons for being a part of this project. She says:
‘I want to know the people who produce my food and the animals that participate in the food system. Most importantly, I want to leave this planet in a better condition than I found it and I believe that every small action we take makes a difference’.
Like Filippa, I want to do everything I possibly can to pass on a planet that is regenerating itself, a planet that will support my children and my children’s children in abundance and vitality. And I will raise my children to be true and responsible custodians of this beautiful earth.
Which leads us, of course, to YOU!. You are who will create Organic Farm Share with us. You and your family, your friends, your community. You and us. We. We, together, are taking back our land, our food, our health, our sovereignty to care for it and regenerate it for generations.
To find out more about Organic Farm Share and become involved, attend a presentation – we hold them regularly here in our home in Brisbane, others can attend presentations in the Gold Coast and in northern NSW. More details here.