After the Hoe Down…

Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty
and frightened.

Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.

Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and
kiss the ground.

~ Rumi

This is one of my (Sas) most favorite poems by the Sufi poet, Rumi.  If I were the tattooing type I’d have it on my forehead. Instead I’ve made do with inflicting my poetic impulses on pumpkins instead. Just a good reminder, as you rustle through the pumpkin patch to stop, breathe and appreciate the beauty in that moment.

Being a market gardener isn’t easy. If you’ve read any of our blogs over the last 3 years, you’ll get the gist of that. You certainly don’t do it for money, you do it because it’s your practice of letting ‘the beauty you love be what you do’. Its our way of kneeling and kissing the ground.

Last Saturday was our inaugural ‘Hoe Down’, bush dance and feast. Another chance to let the beauty we love be what we do.  It was a chance to pause and celebrate the crazy summer harvest season that has been, to get sweaty, dusty and giggly with our community, and to share the abundance of what we are growing here (actually and metaphorically!).

Whenever we open up and do something that welcomes people into our Gung Hoe world, we are overwhelmed with the support and positivity that flows in from the beautiful humans around us. The Hoe Down was no exception. So much generous volunteering of time, energy and resources to transform our raw ingredients, grassy paddock and filthy packing shed into a spectacular, thumping Hoe Down arena!

It was such a heartwarming thing to see people of all ages and sizes dancing together in the paddock and kicking up dust to the romping tunes of the Centenary Bushband. So much laughter and joy!

Andy and Alex played some soulful tunes as we watched the sun dip beyond the horizon, the moon rise over Leanganook, and the evening colours spread out across the sky. Then even more beautiful music from The Rattlers (Cara and Marty- also playing at the Tap Room from 5 pm this Sunday 6 May – check them out) as we hoed into Pavlovas for dessert! Bliss!


Feeding people with our produce is a very special thing. Growing it is one thing, but then, under the guidance of culinary geniuses Deb Taylor and Nikki Valentini, to transform it into a feast for soul and stomach is something beyond words.

We kneel, kiss the ground and give thanks for the beautiful humans who surround us and continue to nourish and support us through all the seasons. As the garlic pops its head up through the mulch to see what all the noise and carry-on was on the weekend, we give thanks too, for the opportunity we have, every day to ‘let the beauty we love, be what we do.’

Grow well

Sas (and Mel)

The Dirty Gung Hoes

Let’s fight the fly

After a long fruit-growing history, Harcourt has come up against a new foe. Queensland Fruit Fly is on our doorstep and threatens to abruptly end our fruit production heritage by decimating home gardens and commercial crops alike.

On Thursday 5 April Megan Hill, the project officer for the Fruit Fly Action Plan, and Ali Brookes of Maldon Cherry Farm organised a series of information sessions in the local area to educate the community. A small crowd of farmers and gardeners gathered at the Harcourt Anglican hall for the final 1 hour session of the day.

We discussed the history of the Queensland Fruit Fly and its march south over the eastern states, the life cycle of the insect, the diverse range of fruit it will affect, what to do with infected produce and of course, a range of potential defense mechanisms.

Netting, baiting, trapping and hygiene were all discussed at length but the prominent message from the day was that it will take a unified effort from the entire community to safeguard our veggie gardens and our orchards. Every backyard fruit tree and garden must be managed properly or removed. That means installing traps to monitor the population, netting plants or bagging fruit, using baiting sprays if necessary (there are organic and nonorganic options available), and even having some chooks or ducks to reduce fly numbers. If any fruit is found to be infected it must be collected immediately and solarised (placed in a garbage bag and left in the sun for a few days) or frozen. Infected fruit can NOT be composted as this is the perfect environment for the larvae to pupate and hatch.

As a new fruit grower in the area, I was keen to attend the session so that I could improve my knowledge of the fly and better understand all the options available to defend my new orchard. It is daunting to be starting a farming enterprise in the face of this insidious pest but I have faith that we can collectively protect ourselves. Also, my current farming mentors, Hugh and Katie of Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens, hold a wealth of experience and knowledge that I can glean and add to my pest control tool belt.

I am passionate about farming, love growing food for my local community, and feel proud to be the next generation of custodian for Harcourt’s fruit production history. These are the things that motivate me to ‘fight the fly’. Spread the word, educate your friends, properly manage or remove your fruiting trees/plants and help us farmers stay fruit fly free.


A Gung Hoe autumn

Well, the weather is cooling down that’s for sure – make sure you water this weekend though as it set to be in the 30s again and next week mid-30s!! It’s funny how we relax as humans a bit more in the cool, however out here in Gung Hoe land that isn’t the case!! Our relax months are in the depths of winter – in June and July.  We are planting as much as we can through Jan – April so it gets good growth in the warm soil from summer. Of course here in central goldfields that is slightly intense as Jan-April is very hot. We love our shade cloth and are always aware that without our connection to water this whole venture isn’t even possible. It’s also the time for preserving all of the produce we haven’t been able to sell as it’s not hot enough for the toms to ripen now so we have been squirreling away in the Lot 19 commercial kitchen into the night making green tomato things – delicious!!
We’ve also been amazed at just how generous people are with their time, we have a few solid volunteers who enjoy coming out and working with us. We always appreciate their energy and good humour and, of course, many hands make lighter, quicker work.  This week in their school holidays we had Cohen and Gussie for a whole day. I don’t think I was interested in such rad things when I was 17; I was more sneaking into jazz bars and trawling through secondhand record stores. Cohen cycles out to Harcourt enjoying 2 sunrises each week and then rides back to school – I’m so impressed! We also had Marty, Lydia, Brendan, and Amanda – wow!!
So finally, this is short as I’m late planting my home garden of bulbs and must do that today, but we are so excited about our Gung Hoe Down happening on Sat 28th April. Jane Thompson and her incredible band is leading us through a bush dance! You are welcome and will enjoy the day, whether you’ve been to no bushdances or many before. The band will skillfully call and explain all the dances. Then if you’d like to join us for a sit down, seasonal feast that is on offer too, for after all our jumping around!  Sas and I really work hard, but we also believe in stepping along with the world in a light-hearted way. Sometimes we forget to do this and get bowed down with feeling stressed/tired/working long hours. So we wanted to celebrate, and dance and have fun. We welcome you to join us, knowing that all extra funds raised after paying the band and a few key ingredients to stretch out the feast will go towards our funding of building a weather- and mouse-proof storage for our produce. Cant wait. All tix available through the link
Hope this finds you well and feeling nourished going into the cooler season.  It’s time to cure the pumpkins, dig up the potatoes, finish off your garlic (or freeze it so you have Aussie garlic through winter), eat your onions and plant beetroots.
Grow and dance and live lightheartedly
Mel (and Sas and Ziggy and Scallywag)