We cleaned up at the Comboyne Show yesterday. First prizes for my Kangaroo Valley apple mint, chutney, dozen eggs; Ged’s honey and supreme exhibit as well as First Prize for Ben’s painting in the under 8’s division. Second prize for my lemon marmalade.
Quite a swathe of approbation for our year’s faming endeavours. But what would have been the story if the competition had been more robust? Because the sad fact is that the Comboyne and other little farming community, shows are becoming an anachronism in our fast paced, iphone, ipad, internet, super and hypermarket world. We have lost touch with rural life, we have forgotten how to bottle and preserve, how to make jam and marmalade, how to grow our own, feed ourselves, make gifts of the gluts and salt and sugar away excesses to feed the winter mouths and months.
We buy what we want, when we want without a care or conscience for the food miles it has travelled – strawberries from South Africa, asparagus from Thailand, tomatoes from Italy. We are like children in our carelessness – grabbit and run and to hell with the climate or the genetically modified sprayed with every chemical crop.
But home grown, home bottled food is goodness in a jar. You can taste the sunshine and the love (sometimes if you get a little crunch you can taste the dirt as well!) And what can be more satisfying a sight than a pantry stuffed to the gills with goodies from the garden – chutney, jam, marmalade, honey, limoncello, mead, candles, soaps etc., Made by Mum with love. And mostly given away in true farm generosity.
There is an up side to the global financial crisis. And that is that we will halt or stop or maybe only question our rampant consumerism and learn some good old fashioned arts and skills and values – self sufficiency, being neighbourly, growing our own, celebrating the harvest, seed saving and plant sharing. Eating more veg and a whole lot less meat. Make and mend, making do, going without and even making our own.
These are dying arts. My Grandmother was the Queen of all this and more – recycling, reusing, storing, saving, baking, sewing, knitting etc. I used to mock her and she never approved of me and my wild ways and raucous laugh – now I wish she were here to help me, teach me, guide me. Because what she knew then we need to learn now. And our humble hearts will reap abundant harvests as we learn to sow our seeds and wait patiently while they grow.
I shall be actively encouraging more competition for next year’s show and a revival in the art of living rurally.