I’ve just arrived home from our monthly farmers’ market. It’s a lot of fun, although I always buy much more than one human being could possibly eat. There’s so many yummy fresh vegetables and fruit, home-made jams and pickles, organic meat, seedlings and much more all begging me to take them home and grow them. Chooks and ducks, rabbits… once I was offered a belted Galway calf (oh, the temptation!). For a person who yearns for the large, productive, rambling and beautiful garden, for the paddock with an alpaca or two, a donkey or two, maybe a pretty cow, a dovecote, chooks, ducks, a dam, a creek with a stony bed and maybe platypuses, deciduous trees, an orchard every aromatic herb ever…it’s an endless source of temptation! You get the picture?
(The reality is a yard that is too small for even one alpaca or donkey or cow; there is no dam or creek; the garden is still in the planning stages; maybe there will be chooks; maybe we’ll get a paddock.)
But there’s still the monthly market. I’ve been living here just over a year and so I’m familiar with most of the stallholders. There are the wonderful women from landcare who run the community stall- when I have an excess of produce I will sell it there. I go into the local Landcare office with all my questions and they provide advice with endless patience.
Then there’s John from Chichester- probably three hours away. He’s a large genial man, dressed in King Gee overalls with a broad grin. He gives me practical advice on saving seeds, on how to grow everything. He’s a country man of several generations so his advice is grounded in what has worked. His produce, like all the others, is picked that morning and will last for weeks. Goes without saying that everything is delicious.
This week I meet a young couple who are pickling the vegetables they grow. They also have some ketchup, some harissa paste, some fermenting- all from their own garden and all organic. They ooze their dedication and love of what they’re doing. I make a note to remember the ketchup for Christmas presents. They also have Jerusalem artichokes and guavas. I have to buy them because my grandmother grew them. As I eat them it will be a chance to remember her.
I don’t need fresh macadamia butter or oil from the couple with the macadamia business. The macadamia butter is probably addictive it’s so delicious. And, it’s good for you!
I buy some pecan nuts and make a note to myself: visit Uncle (about an hour away), to gather some pecans for myself. He has so many they fall to the ground, ungathered. Maybe I’ll meet my niece there to talk about bees and bee-keeping. My uncle lives on my grandparents’ farm and my grandfather kept bees. My niece who is experimenting with dried honey products, wants to see her great-grandfather’s bee hives and talk about bees.
I’m glad to see the family with the local, organic oranges is back. It’s orange season and these are sweet and juicy. Almost as good as the ones were on my father’s orange trees.
I meet my neighbours and we have a coffee. I’ve talked to everyone and had a wonderful time. Once again I relish the sense of well-being from that comes from the simplicity of life in the country. And I’m grateful.