Liz reflects on the exchanging…

DSCF0253It’s a funny thing giving.  I never thought a few salad greens could give complete strangers so much joy.

November’s Produce Exchange has proved the point that even passers-by, unaware of our little town’s great diversity, can be made to feel welcome and take home some fresh garden produce.  This month’s gathering of gardeners, food producers, (poultry managers!) brought together some of the best spring produce to share with other like minded foodies – as at heart, that’s what we really are, right?  Into food.  Growing food.  Preserving it, sharing it, learning about it!

The passers by couldn’t believe that we do this monthly and it’s free. 

I don’t find it surprising, but rather comforting.  Comforting to know that there are so many out there who care about what food they put in their mouth.  So many who are learning to grow seedlings, compost, keep chickens, milk cows even!  The holy grail of being able to grow much of your own produce from first seed planted to last seed collected for next year’s crop is seemingly not so far away for some of Newstead’s own. 

 Of course there are some in the community who would remember the growing of your own food as not a “special” interest, but rather a necessity.

My mother tells stories of her time growing up on the farm in the years following the Second World War.  Rationing was still in force and some items like sugar, butter, eggs (and petrol) still hard to come by.  As a girl, Mum was in a comfortable position on the farm when it came to finding these items.  Ration cards became like swap cards.  The farm produced eggs for the Egg Board, and milked cows.  These rationed items were easily swapped for other much needed things.  The cards were either left unused in the drawer (Mum still has a few) or swapped for cards allowing the purchase of material, coffee or sugar.  Primary producers were given a larger petrol ration – so a trip to town, although still a special occasion, was nevertheless a more common occurrence than for others.  Rather than a huge supermarket with endless choice and serve yourself hustle, the local department store or grocer filled your order for you – and amazing as it sounds, actually put them in your car for you!

Makes you think past all the hype about low food miles and realise that, for most of our forefathers in the country, growing your own food was simply a way of life.  A life where choice was not that of the unheard of supermarket shelf – any fruit or veg at any time.  It was more about how desperate the family was for a broad range of produce.  As Mum famously puts it, “Anything but quinces, plums and rabbits!”

Keep at it fellow foodies.  As for the rest of you…..save a couple of old tyres from landfill or the playground mat people and stack up a spud patch!  New’taties’ for The New Year – now there’s a resolution easy to keep!

See you at the next exchange, 5th December under The Red Store veranda.  Starts at 10:30am – so get in early to get the pick of the produce!

Liz Bell, 54 762380

See the pics in the photo gallery…..

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