A Meaningful Garden - Strayed from the Table

Today's Meaningful Gardener is someone I am sure you have seen around the blogosphere, particularly if you are a gardener. Lizzie Moult blogs at Strayed From The Table about real food and practical living...although she's just shared some exciting news about expecting her second bub, and is taking a much deserved break from blogging - Congratulations Lizzie and Roy! While she might not be around her blog for the next little while, you can still catch her over on Instagram, @strayedtable

Lizzie is the founder of The Garden Share Collective, which is a monthly group of posts from bloggers and home gardeners across the world who share what has been happening in their gardens, tips and support as well as beautiful photos for inspiration. I contacted Lizzie right back before I even started to blog to request to join, and have been sharing ever since.

Lizzie knows her stuff - as you will read, she is a long time food grower and has a real passion for knowing where food comes from, which shines through in her delicious recipes from seasonal, real food. She was also a small producer until recently, selling to her local community and truly walking her talk when it comes to fresh produce with integrity. 

Thanks so very much for sharing with us today Lizzie, and all the best for the next exciting chapter!

I was a fourth generation farmer up until four months ago, when we moved from our farm in the Sunshine Coast in QLD to Mullumbimby in the Northern Rivers of NSW.  We moved for work so we could spend more time as a family, as Roy (my hubby) used to work in Papua New Guinea. Luckily the move to our new rental place came with existing garden beds and veggies ready for picking.

Growing up in the country I understood that everyone had chooks for eggs, a veggie patch brimming with produce and plenty of fruit trees to provide seasonal treats. Turns out not everyone did this and it was not at all normal.  When I first left home and got settled into my new life as a student in the city, I quickly realized what I missed - having fresh food and loads of herbs at my doorstep. I quickly went to work to get some herbs going along with a few tomatoes, zucchini’s and a couple of strawberries. I was 18 and my flatmates thought it was strange that I wanted to grow food when I could easily buy it from the shop.

The cycle continued for six years as I moved through share houses and lived abroad until I found the share house of my dreams. I had convinced my flatmates to let me keep chickens after they let me at the existing veggie patch which was grass when I arrived. There is something about dirt that is grounding, as if it pulls your closer to the natural world.  Over the next couple of years the garden flourished, I was growing all sorts of veggies and my chooks were happy, all in the inner-city of Brisbane.

I have never been without a plot of soil to dig and scratch in to grow food for as long as I can remember. I was born into a farming family and I love eating fresh food. I guess this is why I keep doing it, the taste of a freshly picked tomato is far superior to shop bought and herbs, well, why pay $3 a bunch when you can buy a plant once for that and it lives forever.

Now my garden is full of food and soon it will be overflowing with the weather warming up. My current garden style is a little more haphazard than it was at the farm where things were planted neatly into rows with extreme mulching, organic manure and strict water restrictions (while waiting for rain). Here I am on town water which is a nice break from watching the weather hoping and hoping that the next rain cloud will dump some much needed rain on my veggies.

The farm had a ¾ acre market garden which provided us with all the veggies we needed and we operated a small CSA program to our local community providing 10 families with food each week. It was a lot of hard work, don’t get me wrong, but I loved it. Being able to share the love of fresh clean food with people is so rewarding especially when they keep coming back with praise of how good their veggies are.

The farm was going to be our ‘forever’ place but life has taken us on another path for the moment and we have had to put it up for sale. This means we might get to buy somewhere down here where the rainfall is far higher than where we were.  For now I am settling with a small patch of 4 sqm2 packed full of leafy greens, tomatoes, zucchini, okra, corn and of course plenty of parsley, basil, spring onions, oregano, mint and thyme.

With a little one as my shadow, we play, water and sow seeds in the garden. She picks kale and eats it raw, she picks ripened tomatoes to put into the basket all at the tender age of 18 months. I want to give my daughter the education that I received as a kid. She is already a farm girl, though we are currently townies for the moment. She misses our chooks - we had 50 at the farm.  Putting them away night was her favourite part of the day, just after we had raided the garden. We would sit with the basket under a big gum tree eating freshly picked beans or peas and then would usher the chooks to their roost for the night. Such fun!

I garden because it is something that I learnt as I kid. I still embrace it as a valuable lesson in living with meaning. Knowing where your food comes from is so important and to taste something fresh from the garden –there is no better reward to the end of your day.

I don’t think I could ever live without the connection to the soil which grows my food. 

I am a country girl and I grew up surrounded by farming pioneers who taught me the basics of practical living and self-sufficiency. My grandmother taught me to cook traditional cakes and how to preserve. Real food has always been a part of my life; eggs came from the chooks in the backyard, milk from the dairy cow, meat from pigs, chickens and cow. Grains were grown to feed the animals and ourselves along with a veggie garden to produce amazing harvests.

Eating well is something I am passionate about. I love having freshly picked produce to add to meals. All my recipes are seasonal and are quick and easy to prepare, making more time to spend with my family. I have recently created a 30 MIN MEAL Cookbook with plenty of our staples to help you organise your meals throughout the week.

Connect with Lizzie on Strayed from the Table and Instagram