Summer Harvest

I really try and make the most of summer…it is the most productive time of the year on our property. A time to restock the larder and discover new foraging opportunities.

During summer I think about water a lot. Every time I harvest, every time I water my trees, I think about life without much water.

Water has always being precious to me, but now more than ever I see it with the most appreciative of feelings. I reflect on the fact that it is water that makes everything, absolutely everything possible.

There is not a single activity in the world that can be done without water. Not one.

I am aware that water is scarce and always has been in Australia, but now this awareness has reached an all time high.

I am planting lots of trees. And if I had to identify one part of this property that I value the most it is the trees we have planted. I dig into the soil, I remove the seedlings from their tubes or pots, I water, I mulch, I check on them and water again and again according to the weather. This summer has been so dry, and last winter too, and I am thinking what if it will become impossible for me to grow trees? What if rainfall levels drop to the point where the water table becomes so low that my trees will never reach it? What if I do manage to get them to grow for say a decade or so only to see them dying one by one due to a further decrease in rainfall as a result of human induced climate?

And what if rainfall becomes so low that I will one day, in my lifetime not be able to grow food on this property?

I have always been sensitive to environmental issues. And those of us who are more sensitive to the impacts humans have on the environment have often been seen as people out to cause a bit of trouble, or people who don’t understand how hard it is to make a living, or how hard life was prior to industrialisation and civilisation. The word environmentalist came to represent for some, a group of people spoilt and obstructive, self righteous and spiteful.

To some extent it is privilege that has made room for this sensitivity, perhaps extreme poverty or hardship might not have afforded us the opportunity to critique overdevelopment. And education too perhaps is to blame for giving some people the ability to criticise the actions of industries and business whose operations have caused species extinctions, water and air pollution. And yet what would be the point of creating a better, more comfortable, more educated community if it is not so that education and comfort can provide a platform for self analysis?

Regardless of what blame or insults are hurled at those in our community who have tried to conserve and protect forests, wildlife, water and air quality, the fact is that we have all needed their work so very, very much.

And we have needed more than just them. We have needed all of humanity to engage in the level of connectedness and sensitivity required to have prevented human induced climate change.

Our deep disconnection with the ecosystem services that sustain us has led us to believe that we don’t need trees that much and that we don’t need wilderness that much and that habitat loss only really effects wild life and that loss of wildlife does not directly affect us, and yet… it absolutely does.

More than anything I want to grow trees on my property, I want to create a dynamic, diverse landscape that welcomes a broad range of plants, animals and fungi to our small patch of earth. I want to hear birds and insects, frogs and the slithering of snakes. I want to be comforted by the shade of tall majestic trees and cooled by the microclimate they create. I want so much to be surrounded by the melody of a humming orchestral habitat and the sound of falling… rain.

Eggplants have been a summer staple this year and I love them. One of my favourtite vegetables.

With a broad variety of heirlooms.

And magnificent colour and size.

Baskets full have been preserved.

In salt, vinegar and herbs.

 

Their form and colour a pleasure to photograph.

 

With the help of visiting travellers I have been able to keep up with the harvest.

 

Our first artichokes.

 

Our first poppies.

 

Our first crop of edible corn flowers.

 

An abundance of kale.

 

More visiting travellers help with the harvest: shelling peas.

 

Time for cake and decorations to celebrate the contribution made by our global visitors.

 

A short trip to the sea to harvest seaweed for making soup stock and fertiliser for our kitchen garden.

 

Finally the tomatoes begin to ripen.

The small ones ripen first. The large ones have barely made it and the rabbits are feasting on them.

 

Some are dryed but most are made into passata.

 

Cucumbers and our first carrots.

 

Our first really good harvest of raspberries.

 

Naomi thank you! You make sure the raspberries are harvested every three days.

 

And our first crop of strawberries.

 

A regular trip to Yandoit to forage for mulberries.

 

Bread baking in between foraging and preserving.

 

Elderberry syrup is delicious!

 

Elderberry seeds drying for winter tea.

 

Foraged apples ready for drying.

 

Our first cabbage rolls made from our own cabbages.

 

Me and one of the many eggplant harvests.

 

Fermenting workshop with our farm stay guests.

 

Sorting lavender in the sun for distilling into oil.

 

Lavender harvest with the beautiful Rosa.

 

Garlic sorting with the beautiful Natalia.

 

Plums dryed then salted to be made into umeboshi plums.

 

Basil drying in baskets then placed in jars for winter use.

 

Onion leaves mixed with garden beets and tomatoes.