Say Hi to Fifi!

We’ve had a new addition to the Gung Hoe team in the last few weeks. Fifi, the 1960 Massey Ferguson tractor, lovingly revamped by Kenny (Sas’ dad). Fifi has lived a life in quiet retirement in Kenny’s backyard for many years, occasionally getting fired up to go out and grade the dirt road where they live after a big rain or to move something large around the backyard, or sometimes just so Kenny could hear the deep guttural hum of her engine and rattle of her rusty exhaust pipe and know that she still had it in her!

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Kenny has given Fifi a complete retune and even a paint job and new seat and she is looking and sounding mighty fine. Last week Kenny and Jules bought Fifi up on the back of a trailer to become a part of the Gung Hoe family. I got a lesson on how to drive her and look after the engine and Kenny is coming back in March to show us how to use the different implements, such as a scoop which will come in very handy when we’re moving loads of organic cow poo around!

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We don’t use machinery in the market garden proper. This is so that we don’t compact the soil or disturb the delicate soil life more than we need to. Fifi has come in mighty handy already though around the patch. Last week she lugged 80kg+ of tomatoes up to the packing shed in one go, rather than us lugging them up in eight sweaty trips by foot! She bought a load of 12 trays of seedlings down to the patch that would have taken me four trips back and forth by foot. I’ve still got a lot to learn about how to drive her gently…not accelerating over bumps and loosing afore-mentioned seedlings off the back of the ‘carry all’ would be helpful! But all in all we love FiFi and her red hot exterior! Doing things by hand is wonderful but it is also a great thing to be able to use appropriate technology thoughtfully to smooth some of our efficiency bumps. Thanks Kenny for passing Fifi down the line and saving our backs!

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In other news, the tomatoes are seriously staring to crank and the okra and eggplants are not far behind! We’ve started sowing all our autumn seedlings en masse and have started our very small scale foray into weekly veggie boxes. We’ve also got our rainbow cherry tomato mix for sale in biodegradable punnets at Green Goes the Grocer in Castlemaine, and the feedback so far is that they rock. Enjoy the sun folks…

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Sas and Mel

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Gung Hoe Growers
69 Danns Rd Harcourt

A summer’s journey…with garlic

Well hello there!

I wonder how this finds you, at this time of year, in this upside down turn around season which feels like spring/summer/autumn all mixed into one unknown bag…

I hope it finds you breathing calmly and walking steadily. Or if steadily is too much, just walking is ok too.

Its taken me almost 10 months to be ok with the fact that the world has felt a bit much to handle and that it’s ok to just breathe. Breathe and take stock and not fall into the rush and craziness and sometimes very fast pace of this place and time in which we live.

Of course, as I’ve realised this, things at the patch have amped up which require the theory to be put to the test! Summer is taking its time to warm up here, but that just makes it seem that our turnover period is also dragging out like no end! This is a bit exhausting—I just want summer things to be in and growing! But they are growing! The lettuce is booming the eggplants are beefing up, the okra is still standing, and wee baby tomatoes that will be red I’m sure before xmas (here in central Vic that’s a total win!).

But that’s what happens isn’t it? Life rolls on and we can choose to sit and watch it, or move along at our own pace with its ebbs and flows. I am trying to keep my own pace so I don’t feel so overwhelmed that I burst and then slowly pool into a mess of a puddle, or pretend that I can keep up and all together and fizzle out, either with a large bang or a wee whimper, into an atmosphere of dust. Sounds dramatic but it’s really got to be a conscious decision—that and noticing the everpresent sweet things in life (cliche but true) such as Scallywag being a rocket dog keeping cool, and this nasturtium about to bloom amongst the tomatoes that looks like petrie from the Land Before Time.

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And so, as you read a few weeks ago, we harvested the garlic and now we’re selling the purple beauties along with our leftover chuffed teatowels!

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We had a huge amount of help for the garlic prep (Braz, Jessie, and Felix) and also to print the cloth (Jem & Betty!) and they all look beautiful!!!

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We’re currently selling the garlic and towels via an online pop-up shop here for a very limited amount of time! –

https://gung-hoe-growers.myshopify.com/

Oh! and if you’re interested in keeping in touch with our pop-up stalls, veggie boxes over summer, pictures, chuffed updates, etc, please sign up to our mail subscription here!
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We do hope that whatever your journey has been this year that it’s built you in a way that you could never realise until it happened. I’ve never thought of life as such a mystery until this year, and even with its inbuilt struggles and beauty, I’m grateful for it always revealing itself to me.

Make a little garden in your pocket.
Plant your cuffs with radishes and rocket.
Let a passion fruit crawl up your thigh.
Grow some oregano in your fly.

Make a steamy compost of your own fears.
Trickle irrigate your life with tears.
Let your troubled mind become a trellis.
Turn your heart into a summer palace.
-leunig

Stay breathing out there, and walking your walk.
We’ll see you in 2017

…Mel

Amping up the energy…

Well g’day out there, I’m wearing shorts finally and the sun is a shining! Sas and I have been busy planting (not just weeding) the summer goods – it feels so great to be turning the garden into a new chapter. As you know, we have been looking forward to this oncoming change – both in our lives and out at the patch.

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It’s been a busy few weeks. We’ve had lots of visitors and conversations and as the season amps up it seems that the energy is too (thank goodness). We did an interview with Katie Johnson through Melbourne Uni for “Wild Farmers”, a new podcast coming out soon, and shared bits of our story and learnings thus far. Then the next day we did a bit of filming for an upcoming venture in Castlemaine, and then we had about 30 permaculture design students from Very Edible Gardens visit us too!  This week we had a local food group meeting and had a local backyard grower come visit and shared her vision with us – bubble bubble toil and trouble, things are brewing.

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Sas and I were both pretty tired after showing people around and telling them about us (we don’t do that so much, see!) and it can be a bit of an exposure (as if you’ve written a book, or created an art piece, or a song) because we created it and we’re still figuring it out. Figuring out what works for us, how we work together, how we work with and respect the land, how to best look after ourselves whilst doing it all…we’re learning!  So being transparent about that can be a bit scary sometimes, but pretty bloody brilliant too. I ain’t never gonna proclaim to know it all…

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Sharing our space and having conversations with people who are excited and passionate reminds us we are not alone, and that we have done a lot more than we realise sometimes, sharing is good, we can learn from others and vice versa…we both want more of that!

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I’m feeling good about this season coming – we’re a bit more prepared and thanks to Chuffed we can get big amounts of organic inputs to feed our soil, to feed the plants, to grow them healthy and nutrient full, to sell them to our local peeps. It’s as simple and as tough as that. John delivered us some organic straw so we can mulch paths and preserve precious water.

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My body is getting stronger, my mind is healing from this year and also strengthening and we’re pulling out the garlic next week as the moon is right…these are all markers. As I picked borage flowers this week I thought, ‘I love my job,’ then as i picked over 12 kg of broad beans amongst the forest they are, I thought ‘how can we do this so it isn’t so bloody painful next year’.  To me, both of those sentiments are real, true and good.

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Hope you are keeping grounded and remembering that what we walk on every day supports us more than we know.

Yours,

Mel & Sas x