Today's A Meaningful Garden guest is someone who I have followed and connected with online for a looong time. I found The Life Of Clare way back before I started a blog, and have loved it ever since. I love it when you find a blog and read it over a number of years, then look back and think about how that persons life has changed and evolved, and marvel at how it's possible for the time to have gone that quickly! Clare is a gal after my own heart, especially so with her dedication to knowing where her food comes from and doing her best to support local food producers. And, if you are after some delicious food recipes (and beautiful styling) you won't be disappointed. Clare recently dropped a few not-so-subtle hints that she is in the early stages of working on an e-course around simplifying your life too, so if that's your jam, watch her space!
Over to the post - if you are at the beginning stages of establishing your own garden, you'll get plenty of inspiration.
It was never our intention to live a simpler life. It seems we fell into it, like Alice down the Rabbit Hole. And we haven’t looked back since.
At the end of 2011, my husband and I were both working casually in education, we were moving across the state, heading off on a (pre-booked) holiday in Tasmania and planning our impending wedding. We were broke, there was maybe a couple of hundred dollars in our bank accounts, and while our month long trip to Tassie would earn us a few dollars, we knew there’d be no other work coming up.
We spent a very adventurous, fun and frugal month in Tasmania, and boarded the Spirit of Tasmania to return home with some dread. We knew that it was going to be a tough few months finding our feet in our new town, finding work and re-establishing our finances.
It all started with a veggie garden, right down the back of the ¼ acre house block that we were renting, behind the shed. We planted seedlings, tomato, eggplant, capsicum and spinach. It had been a long time since I’d had a veggie garden, and Jay had never had one.
The satisfaction although not immediate, was immeasurable. We were out there day in, day out; weeding, watering, and caring for our veggies. Finally, we were able to pick some tomatoes here and a capsicum there. The satisfaction of putting vegetables that we had grown into our meals was addictive and slowly the veggie garden started to infiltrate our other beds.
I had been inspired by a friend who has 54 fruit trees on her small town block, amongst these trees, she would only plant things that are edible or smell nice. Slowly, we started to replace the established plants (J was not so subtly pulling everything out) with pockets of veggies in all garden beds around our back yard. There were onions between roses and sage, there was broccoli underneath native trees and there was herbs growing amongst geraniums.
The next step was chickens. I bought three darling, 3 day old chicks from the local pet store. Built a coop next to that original veggie plot and raised these beautiful girls up, calling my grandma or consulting Dr. Google when we weren’t sure of the next step.
We found out that we were to welcome another member to our growing family, and as my belly grew, so too did my passion to source locally grown, pesticide free foods. I was becoming fanatical about knowing where our food came from.
Right before our baby was born, we of course decided to buy a block. I was 39 weeks pregnant and signing paper work on an empty block, which we were planning to owner-build on. Our beautiful baby boy was born and week late and perfect. Looking at him made me realise that we needed to protect this world as much as we could, we needed to teach him about food, and we needed to keep life simple so that we could enjoy it with him.
It took 6 months for plans, permits and planning for the house to go through. Then the building started with a bang. The new block was right next door to our rental house, so when the baby was napping I would be out supervising trades, hammering nails, cleaning the site and doing anything else that needed to be done.
We built our home in 4 months. It was the craziest 4 months of my life, but so worth it. Now we are able to garden the way we want. The chickens are out the back, there’s veggies right near the front door and there are grand plans for fruit trees and vines to fill up any other spaces. We’ve got a lot of work still to do, big empty patches for trees and vines to grow.
Our ‘why’ has evolved. Thankfully, we have moved past the money worries, but the lifestyle has stuck. Moving from a need to a desire, our philosophy has moved from 'penny pinching' to 'locavore' and we pride ourselves on knowing where 70% of our food comes from (we're working on the other 30%). Each week, we bake bread, visit the local farmers market to top up our produce, and go to the local butcher. It's been a paradigm shift. The locality of the food, growing our own, knowing the growers and providers has taken precedence over saving money, although we do find that life for us is cheaper this way, which is nice.