This week has definitely been interesting to say the least. A lot of somewhat strange things have happened and a lot of really exciting things have happened.
I started the week off by going to the house of a man who was listed on HelpX as having a permaculture property that hosted workshops and other things of that nature. I figured that this must be the real deal and I emailed him. It was going to work out well because I was going to go on a Thursday and the following Thursday he would be driving to the city to go to the EatBuyGrow event I was already planning on attending. This event will be a collection of “big names” in the world of biodynamics, ethical food growth and permaculture:
The two names I know of are David Holmgren, one of the “fathers” of permaculture, and Joel Salatin, a man who’s books I have been picking through at the farms I have been visiting. He focuses on raising chickens and has been doing it since he was a boy.
There is a massive movement going on in the Melbourne area towards focusing on community based trading of food and moving away from the chemically infested crap you are forced to buy with no real other options in the grocery store today. This is one of the things that I really love about this city. It’s not that there are constantly people holding up signs and singing songs and chants about “what do we want!” But if you feel passionate about something, you don’t have to look long or far to find a lot more people passionate about the same thing that are actually doing something about it. Like getting together for events and sharing knowledge, creating groups and co-ops where you can buy organic and ethical food ect.
Well I got off track. So I went to this man’s house on Thursday. He is a lovely man that made me feel right at home from the moment he picked me up. We made an amazing dinner, he showed me around his property, and he taught me how to play backgammon. I learned that he grows, grafts and sells trees, runs permaculture workshops and manages a farmers market for a living. What an excellent mixture of things to spend your time doing. A little bit of personal and private business as well as being largely active in the community. However, during my tour, I found that he had all but stopped the practicing of permaculture in the aspects I’m looking to learn on his property in order to structure his property for better practice, which is fine. It’s definitely something that needs to be done. It’s just something that I would have done first. I know that things don’t always work out that way so I’m not judging. The problem for me is that the work he was giving me was hard labor out in the sun. I spent an afternoon swinging an ax, taking the first layer of ground from an area we had measured out to place a chook pen and tool shed. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this. A day of hard labor is good for you, that is, when you’re not 30 weeks pregnant. So I eventually told him I really shouldn’t be doing what he was asking of me, found out he was in the process of painting his new workshop space, and did that for the next couple of days.
Luckily, there was a tree grafting event going on in Werribee that he and a couple of his friends wanted to go to. I would have gone with them and then returned with them initially but this worked out to be a perfect opportunity to just go back home. So we hopped in the car with his two friends and drove to Werribee. The event wound up not really being what we expected. It started with a bit of a market of people selling their trees and cuttings to be grafted. You could buy the bits and then go over to this tent where this man would graft them for you, but if you wanted to learn how to do the grafting it was a little hard to follow him as he zipped through the customers. It wasn’t a workshop, but a market. None the less, we made the most of it, touring the beautiful gardens, trying the different fruits you could get from different trees if you bought them and I went with the woman we came with on the edible weed tour. You wouldn’t believe all of the weeds that are just hanging out in your back yard that have serious nutritional value and that you can utilize in your garden to keep other unwanted weeds out. Such good time.
One of the weird things that happened to me, was as we were standing there at one point, this woman we came with asked how far along I was. I told her and she asked if she could feel my belly. This is the first person to ask me this so I was taken slightly off guard and just said yes. Now a quick backstory that makes this one of those moments where you feel like all these witchy readers may be on to something…whatever that something is. Aaron and I have been in a little bit of a battle with our midwives over the size of our baby. They told us our baby is very small for it’s age. We talked about if we were sure about our dates, which we were 97% sure on. The way it all worked out the only other possibility, that I had been pregnant, lost it, and then got pregnant again immediately, was low in our minds, so they requested we get a scan in order to confirm the dates and be sure that the baby was developing properly. If so, then fine, it’s a small baby. But it’s possible the baby may not be developing all round or that my placenta isn’t giving him/her enough. So we said of course. We wanted to get a scan if there was a reason to. At the scan we got news that we have a well proportioned, seemingly perfectly healthy baby. He/she is just small, in the 15th percentile. We took this report back to the midwives but they don’t seem to be satisfied. They want another scan four weeks from our first to confirm continual proper growth and are telling me that I need to essentially sit my ass down on a couch and not stop eating from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. How completely stopping all exercise, including gardening, and getting fat is going to solve any (nonexistant to me and Aaron) problems with this baby is beyond me. But we’re complying on the second scan bit. It’s hard evidence we can bring back and say “see, we told you so”. My baby is strong, communicate constantly every single day with and he/she makes my nights pleasantly uncomfortable with how strong and active s/he is.
Ok I went on about that for a while, sorry. So this woman, who up until this very moment I had no idea was a self proclaimed energy reader, lightly places her hand on my stomach in an awkward kind of stance, closes her eyes and takes on an expression of intense emotion. This goes on just long enough for me to start feeling uncomfortable, and she finally opens her eyes and smiles at me. “Your baby is a very strong individual. You are going to be told that he’s fragile and that he needs assistance, but he is very strong both mentally and physically.” I just stared at her for a moment and asked her how she came about her practice. She told me she never went to any training and never joined any cults, she was just born that way. I thought that was cool. An energy reader, that’s something I could believe. People have all kinds of crazy unexplainable gifts and that one made sense. She continued by telling me that my baby is incredibly empathic, if at all fragile, his weakness is that he will feel his own as well as everyone elses emotions intensely. Aaron and I are both empathetic people, so that’s not too far fetched in my mind. As the day went on she would tell me some more personal things about people we were standing near, like that guy has liver problems, this kid has diabetes. It got a little crazier and crazier until upon coming to a kangaroo apple tree she told me that that particular kind of tree is what brought her to her property and led her to the fairy realm. She kind of lost me at that point. I don’t doubt she feels energy but the fairy realm is beyond me so I changed the subject.
I spent the rest of the evening checking out all the beautiful gardens on the property. My favorite was a circular shaped garden with a large lattice dome covered with vines in the middle. The vines consisted of gords, green beans and grapes. I loved the raised herb gardens wrapped in metal with lattice domes overhead. So beautiful. There was this amazing compost pile that screamed permaculture principles. It had a lattice frame over it with a pumpkins growing from directly feeding from the compost and shading the compost with it’s vines across the frame. Such a beautiful and functional display.
Once I got home I spent the next few days hanging around and being a fat kid like my midwives want and coming up with a different approach to this learning adventure. I keep going to these houses that are a little misleading and I’m not getting what I’m looking for. So I began calling people from the WWOOF book who are very nearby, have small properties built on permaculture principles where I can learn how they utilize those principles as well as learn more about companion planting, gain general knowledge about different plants and learn/practice preserving methods. I came into contact with two women who I’m starting to make plans to visit a couple times per week to exchange my help for their knowledge.
Then, yesterday, I went to a meeting that I had gotten wind of from a woman that I began talking to from my babycenter app. She lives in Werribee and has the same interests as me, as far as growing her own food as well as getting what she can’t grow from a community based supplier where she knows where her food is coming from. I learned there is a group of people trying to build a bulk buying co-op and joined their Facebook page. I went to a meeting of theirs to see exactly what this is all about, and the leader, who happens to be the man that sells organic produce at the end of my road that Aaron just visited for the first time the other day, welcomed me in and explained their aim. It’s simply what I’ve been talking about. A becoming a community based supplier of organic, biodynamic and ethical food products. It is in the very beginning stages and I learned that I can be a huge part of it if I want to be, and I do. More details will come as it progresses. As of right now, I’ll be meeting with Shaun (said leader) and a couple of others at the Civic Center here in Werribee today to get all the information we need about acquiring a grant for this “business”. At the meeting, Shaun also let me on to a organic farm nearby that has a market and cafe that he knows will take on part time help in exchange for either a little pay or organic goods.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!! If I’m not mistaken here, I am at the door of an incredibly rewarding mess of daily occupations. I’m more excited than I can express.
I’ll be looking forward to telling you all more about it! But for now, this is an incredibly long post!