Project 1. The produce van.
The Produce Van, was where it all began. Well, nearly. We were already growing a huge variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers, foraging all manner of wild edibles and supplying some of Melbourne's top restaurants with it all. We loved growing and gathering and we loved sharing it with people. But we realised the story was getting clouded between the farm and the customers actually consuming what we grew at the restaurants.
So, we began the Produce van, where we'd pull up our van each week in the streets of Melbourne to sell our home grown and made goods and talk to people about sustainable farming and the joys of natural foods. It was a great success and for more than 3 years we travelled down from the farm every weekend with a van-load (or two sometimes) of freshly picked and packed vegetable boxes, fresh seasonal fruits, freshly baked sourdough, raw yoghurt, butter, milk and quark from our cows and a host of pickles and preserves from our seasonal abundances. It was a truly wonderful time for us and we thank all those that supported it! You all made our week, every week!
Unfortunately, finding the time to continue the Produce van became impossible as our workshops and book project loads increased. Something had to give, and we decided to hang up our boots and begin to scale down the farm. But we'll never forget where it all began.
Project 2. The flower exchange.
What is the real value of flowers? It seems impossible to equate the amount of time, effort, art and love involved in growing them. And why should we? Flowers are about beauty and joy and colour and emotion. Money can't buy that.
We wanted to create community, share abundance and make conversation instead. So, inspired by The Pixel Trade, The Bread Exchange and One Red Paper Clip we decided that for one year, from around May 2014- May 2015, we would only trade our flowers for things other than money.
Ideally, we wanted to trade for things that would help us remove the need to use money day to day. But really we just wanted to start conversations, meet new people and see where the adventure would take us. This was all pretty new to people, so we offered them some ideas to bring to the trade:
- Something you have in abundance.
- Something you have made – jams, preserves, home-brewed beer, jewellery, weavings or anything you’ve been passionately tinkering away at.
- Something you love that you think we might love – a favourite book, record, cup, or products by a beloved local maker.
- Things we could use that we would normally have to purchase – think essential household items like eco-friendly dishwashing liquid or cleaning cloths, or things that make the extended list lighter like camera film or indoor plants.
- Something that’s simply nice – what niceties would you gift a neighbour if dropping by for a cup of tea, or to say thank you to a friend for hosting a dinner party.
- Do you have a certain skill that might be useful to us – e.g. illustration, photography, furniture making, sewing, film, ACCOUNTING! – or have you simply created a piece of work you could trade.
- Something that we don’t currently make or grow ourselves – tea, coffee, chocolate, olive oil. But if you’re going to buy or source something like this to trade, consider what our thought process might be when making purchasing choices, qualities we would consider (e.g. is it organic, local, sustainable, seasonal etc), and where the purchasing is taking place (small local shop or market over a large commercial chain).
- But seriously, whatever.
People came from far and wide. Some for just a posie at our weekly veggie box delivery, some for something much more in exchange for something much bigger. It was an incredible, incredible experience that changed our lives forever and since then we have chosen to trade anything and everything we can, whenever we can! We find we need less money, meet more legends and have more fun new experiences than ever before. We haven't sold a single flower since. If you can - and you can - trade!
As a a little side note to the project we documented some of the larger trades. Not necessarily to document what got traded for what. More to document the people themselves, these strangers we could now call friends. Smiley faces. Here they are:
Project 3. Book 1.
Grown & Gathered - Traditional living made modern has been officially released through Plum Publishing.
You can read all about it here.