Little Town

You can be a very little town and yet very rich in experiences.

This month in Daylesford I took part in a cheese making workshop, a slow meat symposium and in our monthly community garden working bee.

At the cheese making event three wonderful women from our community shared their experiences of making cheese. The session was run in a very relaxed, community building kind of way, offering everyone an opportunity to ask questions, to learn and to taste.

And at the slow meat symposium many small acreage, non intensive farmers, cooks and slow food advocates, came together to discuss how best to move forward with ethically grown meat. How best to care for chickens and pigs in particular, the most ill-treated farm animals on the planet, when the existing administrative and bureaucratic frameworks offer no support to do so.

Then a week later I attended the monthly community garden working bee. I very much love going to this event, it gives me the opportunity to cultivate and nurture existing relationships and to welcome new arrivals as I was welcomed when I first arrived. I love, love, love, community gardens. They are so important, so crucial. They are free, soothing, relaxing and dynamic community hubs. At this latest gathering of gardeners, we received a surprise visit from a group of students from Geelong. They had come to Daylesford to train for a hiking trip. Their supervisor saw our garden on arrival, asked if her students could join in and voila` a spontaneous gardening exchange was achieved.

These community gatherings bring soooooooooooo much joy into my life. They are essential to community well-being. They directly help support both physical and mental health by fostering relationships and nurturing partnerships. I never, ever take them for granted.

Now the next part of this post is about something similar but altogether different: media, science and history and parental care.

I’ll start with parental care. I have been very fortunate to have experienced a very present, very loving mother. I have never felt judged by her and have always been supported. My father too, while less present than my mother and a bit self-absorbed, was loving and supportive. Both have been strong advocates for social justice in their community and have always challenged racists beliefs. This parental care has shaped who I am and has greatly influenced the way I behave towards others.

So when I come across someone with a racist or homophobic approach I always, always speak up. I always try to find the most direct and respectful way to do so. I always say confronting things to try and clarify the subject discussed. I push and push the conversation while being careful to avoid a loss of engagement with the person offering the alternative view. I ask questions when big generalised statements are made to get to the very heart of what is being discussed. What I have found deeply confronting in some of these situations however is the amount of fake news that supports people’s views. Fake history, fake science, fake media. And the Fake Wars, my fake is real and your facts are not. It has possibly become harder and harder for people to source reliable, well researched and accountable journalism. And when you mix poorly educated and disempowered individuals with social medias fake journalism and fake historical accounts you fuel extensive conflict and social divides.

It appears to me that it has also become harder to argue points using science and facts because there is currently very little support for science and no support for facts. While science is not perfect and can and has made mistakes, it is a far more objective and rigorous tool than the politically driven policies that currently undermine it.

 

The very talented and wonderfully skilled Kirsten Bradley from Milkwood Permaculture sharing her cheese making experience at the Hepburn Relocalisation Workshop.

 

Heating and adding rennett to produce curds. Kirsten made a delicious fetta cheese.

 

Ingredients for Labne.

 

Milk the essential primary ingredient.

 

Cutting herbs finely for coating Labne. Labne is made by separating the whey from yogurt.

 

Labne cheese balls.

 

Labne coated hands.

 

Community.

 

Finely cut herbs.

 

Rosie shows us how to make Picodon.

 

Cheese making forms.

 

Picodon beautifully wrapped in chestnut leaves for storage.

 

Community Garden working bee.

 

Identifying plants in the garden.

 

Weeding.

 

Talking and weeding.

 

Calendulas and mallow.

 

A sanctuary for all ages.

 

Working on how to build together.

 

Zero is a really wonderful intelligent dog who is brilliantly trained to support all community building activities.

 

Brothers catch up in the garden.

 

Lindy who can be found at every community gathering, from soccer to pottery classes, to gardening and celebrations.