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A curious person exploring all topics and ideas with challenging, uplifting and inspiring people. The Bush Goddess is passionate about Nature and how we must be able to un-learn and re-learn about what has sustained centuries of knowledge and perpetuity.
Learning through the tips of our fingers, the soles of our feet and the seat of the pants + experiential learning at its best.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Visitors springing to Springview Eco-Farm

The body-clock is re-winding as the minutes of daylight increase ever so imperceptibly. 
After a long wet period over winter during which all dams overflowed - frequently - and the ephemeral creek is now flowing continuously, ecological changes advise the transition of one season into the next.

Already, tiny yellow-rumped thorn bills (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) are twittering in their nest entwined amongst the tendrils of jasmin. A pair nested in the same location last year however I don't recall the hatching being quite so early - after all, it is still wintry August.

The almonds have already blossomed and the earlier variety has leaves pushing through. The peaches, nectarines and apricots are ready to burst but the grape buds are still snuggled in their sheaths.  The Tahitian lime and Eureka and Meyer lemons are bursting with blossoms and the fragrances will soon be wafting through the air.  The mulberry tree's fruits are lengthening every day and I remember last year, October was the prime time for harvesting the luscious fruit, leaving a sticky trail of purple juice down our chins.

The sky patterns are changing, too, and there is more colour in the evening and morning skies now. 

 The magpies and fairy wrens compete for first song honours of the day and it's almost impossible to keep snoozing with a divine cacophony outside the bedroom window. Adding to this symphony is Rufus, the grey shrike thrush (Colluricincla harmonica) who has literally been in our household for almost 12 months. Hatched in an old swallow's nest above the premier farrowing suite, this little hatchling wasn't much of a flier which wouldn't have been a problem except Queen Mama was due to have her babes any day.  She has cravings and we were concerned small birds may have been her top culinary priority so, this little nondescript grey bird came to the house and started dining on insects and crawling critters found in the garden.  Yes, it would have been amusing to observe a woman on her hands and knees, resplendent with tweezers, carefully capturing slaters, mealy worms, and earwigs...sometimes even a small centipede as a very special treat; all in the name of caring for another life.

Springview Eco-Farm is the most amazing place I have ever lived; the flora, fauna and fungi here are diverse, abundant and forever fascinating.  Through using Instagram (L O V E this app) and posting pics from here, the list of followers is amazing, including Sri Lankan Travel, Tourism Australia, Destination NSW, Riverina Regional Tourism and Wagga Tourism. As a result, we've been receiving enquiries from people wanting to visit and isn't this the perfect time of year to do so! Ahhhh - Spring is in the air - and ground - and trees - and water - and rocks - it is everywhere!

Tort and Tara: first Piggie Gig next week
Next week students studying agriculture from The Riverina Anglican College are coming for a farm tour to especially see paddock piggies, and learn about my Paddock$-to-Pocket$ business model for farmers.  The next day, our two little poddie princess piggies, Tort and Tara have their first Piggie Gig at a child care centre in Wagga and, on Friday, a group of keen foodies from Albury are coming for lunch and learning about native foods (in their lunch) and having a guided tour over the farm.

In September, the Wagga Permaculture Group are lunching here one Sunday and later in that week, 27 children aged between five and twelve are here for a day during the school holidays. They will meet the piggies (of course!), build cubbies, run through the long grass and help cook their own lunch with camp ovens and fires; this is experiential learning at its finest!

During October, the month-long Taste Riverina Festival, we have five workshops and Open Days here, every Sunday.  They are -

Growing and Using Native Produce on the 2nd October 

Springview Eco-Farm Open Day on the 9th and 30th October

Brewing Beer - hops 'n all on the 16th October and

Growing and Making Cider and Wine at home on the 23rd October

All events include feasts created from Bush Goddess Paddock Pork products and locally sourced seasonal, chemical and gmo-free foods to showcase the amazing range of products available in our mighty Riverina.  It is so easy to feast locally and please join us for one, some, or all of the events at Springview Eco-Farm during October.

If you would like to bring a group, hold a workshop, have a picnic in the bush, enjoy a guided walk to see the wildflowers, or host a poet's retreat, please call and we can make these gigs come to life, just as you imagine them.

Every group is exclusive so you receive our full attention and you will be filled with awe and wonder at the abundance of Nature in the four eco-systems on this 65ha property.

Please direct enquiries to pennie on 0427 44 11 07 or email bushgoddess(at)bigpond.com


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bravo to Stacey Allen: Farmers and Foodies Market in Canberra - launched 22 April 2016

Oh, it is a brave and generous hearted person who takes up the challenge of envisioning then organising a weekly farmers market. If done by a committee, this structure has benefits and disadvantages as work-load is shared but making decisions in a timely manner is ponderous. 

Yes, I speak from experience after establishing EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market Wagga in February 2014 and reflect with great pride on the achievements of maintaining this weekly event for more than two years, now.

Diverting almost $2million from supermarkets into the pockets of Growers and Makers of chemical and gmo-free produce and product from the Riverina and northern Victoria stands as the greatest source of pride. This is the potential and outcome of focusing on creating a local food economy.

Stacey Allen is the new brave champion behind the creation of the Farmers and Foodies market at The Old Bus Depot in Canberra each Friday afternoon from 3.00pm until 7.00pm and what a great event this is.

Traders at farmers markets are just a microcosm of society with its diversity of personalities, backgrounds, ethics and emotional intelligence.  Although the vast majority of Traders are self-employed and are seriously passionate about creating and growing seriously good food, their differing views of how a market should be run are often very passive aggressive, and can vary from bullying to outright threatening, as I have experienced.

Directing from the sidelines is a common Australian characteristic where 'commentators' provide uncalled for 'advice' on how things should be done.  Sadly, there seems to be a core group of Traders who believe all their views and ideas should be implemented immediately and they spend time at markets muttering to other Traders when they ought to be focusing on meeting and greeting their customers.  

These destabilisers are like apples with brown rot - all smiles and cheeriness on the outside but rotten and festering on the inside. They poison satisfied Traders with little snippets of dissatisfaction, accompanied by snide looks and behind-their-hands mutterings.  Oh yes, they are quick to tell each other of their cleverness that this, that and the other MUST be done to 'save the market' but are gutless about coming to the organiser and holding a respectful conversation.

As in society, there are people we prefer to keep company with and those we don't.  I have learned through creating and operating EAT LOCAL THURSDAY that appraising the products to ensure they fit with the chemical and gmo-free criteria is only half of what needs to be assessed.  Cultural fit is equally important and advice to any actual and potential organisers of farmers markets - have an extensive application form, interview in person, ask how each applicant deals with a challenge then vet very hard.

It is a pleasure to be a Trader at Farmers and Foodies Market each week, and not the organiser.  Stacey has created a thunderously good market in a great space yet, though we are now up to Week Six, she has received 'mutterings' from some Traders about how they want something else / better / more. 

Too many Traders believe all they need to do is bring their products to the market space then wait for them to sell.  WRONG.  If you are a Trader, you have to genuinely want to engage with your customers, be prepared to give things away, exhibit your spirit of abundance and spark off the dynamic energy in the overall market space.  Don't just sit behind your stall, reading your smartphone, and wishing you were somewhere else. Don't bother coming if this is the case.

Bush Goddess Paddock Pork is receiving gratifying complements from our growing band of customers with repeat business each week.  It is an honour for us to be part of the Farmers and Foodies Market and sincerely thank and congratulate Stacey on her vision and now, organising realities.

We are right behind you Stacey - you are a champion!

 Today, at Farmers and Foodies, we are bringing -
  • Nitrate and nitrite-free bacon, ham and speck
  • Iron bark smoked lamb / pork sausages (the healthy alternative to preservative-    ridden cabanossi and kabana creations) 
  • Roasting joints
  • Snags for the BBQ and making delicious pasta sauce :-)
  • Wiseman's Organic chickpeas and lentils
  • Bush Goddess desert dukkah
  • Paleo AmazeBalls (made this morning)
  • Happy Wombat freshly cracked Hazelnuts from Batlow 
  • A deep sense of gratitude and abundance :-)
Bring your friends and shopping bags from 3.00 until 7.00 this afternoon / evening at The Old Bus Depot on the Kingston foreshore in Canberra and join the merriment!



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ruminations on moisture......

Yesterday evening the clouds formed one of the most unusual patterns we'd ever seen and the air also felt different - a slight chill and still.

Years ago, last century in fact, in March, 1984, we had endured years of dryness. During the preceding winter, the frosts had been brutal and, coupled with the  lack of atmospheric moisture, even the toughest of paddock trees were looking sickly.
However, one afternoon, the air felt different - heavy, fecund, expectant and all the other words associated with pregnancy and imminent birth. Perhaps this wasn't a coincidence as I was heavily pregnant with third child and gravity was pulling me down down down towards the ground. Heavy grey clouds had appeared on the horizons many times in the previous years but had yielded little, their mother lodes destined for other locations.

This time, though, the slaty grey, somnolent clouds had a different energy about them - almost indescribable but certainly perceptible. 

We were just north of the small country town, Deniliquin, on our small irrigation farm where we raised weaner Poll Shorthorn cattle and a few pigs. I recall standing at the veggie garden which was nourished by the rich piggie-poo when I noticed the clouds. Perhaps it was their rolling movement which attracted my attention......perhaps the barometric pressure had dropped so noticeably it caused a reaction. Perhaps the baby kicked which caused me to lean backwards so the cloud formation became obvious. Perhaps there was strong intuition that tonight, the rain would arrive and stay for days replenishing the dry soils, fill the small creeks, rehydrate the crackling dry air and refill the rain water tanks which had been dry for months.

I looked more closely at the plants in the veggie garden which had been watered with the town water supply for months now to note if they were behaving any differently. It was the sweet corn which provided the most obvious clue; all the plants were leaning towards the west, to the direction where the clouds were now piling on top of each other in a frenzy to deposit their watery contents first.

The potatoes were standing higher than that morning, the tomatoes were straining against their stakes and the bean tendrils were writhing. The pumpkin leaves were facing towards the west in anticipation of moisture rinsing the light coat of dust on their leaves.
Yes, this was going to be the night the drought would break......and, it was.

Last night, the 7th May 2016, when this unusual cloud pattern formed, again, the air was different.  During 2016, the rain has been little however, the plants have been giving signals this is not to be a dry season.  For the past 18 months, the Eucalypts in this area have continually been growing new tip foliage, very obvious by the ruby red colour. The Mugga Iron bark, red stringy-bark, white and grey box all have flowered regularly, a sure indication there is moisture coming.

Apiarists probably know more than anyone else what seasons are coming as they are out in country and with plants all the time as they move their bees across the landscapes, seeking flowering species.

Yes - we awoke at 0200 to one of the most beautiful noises - rain on the tin roof.  The sound continues and the water is gently running in small rivulets, through the native grasses and onwards into the creeks and eventually, the dams.

Over the past months, we have deliberately been giving the piggies their hay over a wide area of the paddocks so seeds from the clover flower heads will germinate and establish there. After a small shower of rain last weekend, the verdant green carpet of germinating plants is extensive. 

This rain will now provide further impetus for more of the seed bank within the soil to swell then send out that first little shoot proving that seeds will germinate strongly on the surface and don't need a 'fine tilth' in which to establish.

Time to put on another (dry) raincoat and head out to plant more veggie seedlings and broadcast wheat and oat seeds across the garden..........

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Competition or Abundance?

Let's start with a philosophical standpoint and this may challenge some ingrained beliefs!

What is it? This depends on YOUR belief.
There is only a certain amount 'to go 'round'.......of water, love, compassion, money, clean air, space, gifts, fuels, food.....the list can be endless.  
On the other hand, I believe we need to question and critically analyse the belief behind this 'scarcity' model.  If people think there is scarcity, their belief that this is so influences their behaviour so they want to have their share. Money (one form of currency) is the tool of entitlement and, if you've got plenty of it, you believe you have the right to use it to acquire whatever you want.  This is the platform of the (free) market economy which continues to be perpetuated through government legislations ("Free" Trade Agreements) advertising (television incomes rely on this) and sponsorship (sport is 'sponsored' by corporates to extend their commercial reach), just to name a few.

In short, competition is seen to provide the most efficient and cheapest outcomes for a range of issues, and this is based on Darwin's ill-quoted 'survival of the fittest'; either get big or get out.
Dominating market share is the end-goal and, as an example, Monsanto's incredible vision to control the world's seed supplies is breathtaking in its audacity and implementation.

The EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market in Wagga is resuming on the 7th April.  Since our last farmers market on the 17th December, 2015, the Riverina Producers Market has commenced, with many of the EAT LOCAL THURSDAY Traders joining it.
Last week I was asked if having two markets on the same day, at around the same time, would be too competitive, and, to many, this might seem to be the case.  This is where the philosophical perspective can be applied :-)

On one hand, it may appear both markets are competing for the same customers, with the belief there is a limited number of people, in and around Wagga, who choose to buy their foods directly from the Growers and Makers. This is the scarcity mentality.

Based on the past two years of EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market Wagga trading, the number of people in that Facebook page community (now 2,957) and more than 900 sign-ups for the weekly newsletter and the people shopping with their feet, and, even if all these people lived in Wagga and surrounding districts, this number totals about six per cent of this city's population. (Please note that within a 100 kilometre radius, the population is estimated to be around 200,000 people

So, in reality, only a minuscule proportion of the population is actually engaging with our local farmers markets. For me, this represents a huge opportunity to raise the awareness of these weekly events plus provide the ultimate customer service by having a choice as to where they can buy directly from the Makers and Growers. 

In preparing for the resumption of EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market, we have met new Growers and Makers who are excited to join this movement. Growing their chemical and gmo-free produce for customers who want to buy it directly from them is now a reality as we combine our respective energies to produce a diverse abundance of nourishing foods for fair financial rewards. This is the model which keeps farmers growing (more) food, thus resulting in local food security and sovereignty.

While EAT LOCAL THURSDAY has been 'resting' the most important outcome has been a weekly trading opportunity for Traders, namely at the Riverina Producers Market.  As far as I am aware, this market will continue into the future.

Neither the Riverina Producers Market of the EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market are competing for Traders; what is happening is that MORE Growers and Makers now have the opportunity to have direct contact with discerning and food-literate customers. There always is a choice in every situation and this is another.

We operate in the Abundance mentality and believe we can raise the awareness of buying directly from Growers and Makers so that, by the middle of this year, we have ten per cent of people participating in our local food economy.

By the end of 2015, more than $2 million had been traded through EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market. This money went back to 16 smaller towns across the Riverina and northern Victoria and was spent in these local economies, thus keeping their viability alive.However, $2 million is a tiny percentage of the estimated $250+ million traded through 12 supermarkets in Wagga with the stark reality of only around 15% of that turnover actually staying in town.

My vision is to have ten per cent of that huge turnover staying in this town / region. Now, how would an extra $25 million look for our farmers and secondary processing sector?  

Local food security is not the responsibility of government; in the event of shit hitting the fan and there are large power outages, the supply of fuel is disrupted, electronic banking breaks down or floods prevent the movement of people and goods to and from the area, WHERE will YOU get your food?

Get to know the people who grow your food and keep them close; you never know when you may need them!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bush Goddess Paddock Pork with Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture is a membership model that helps farmers share the risk with their customers when there are unexpected increases or decreases in supply, and to manage our herd with known demand. It also helps connect eaters to our farm and expands knowledge of food production from ground level.
Bush Goddess Paddock Pork now offers you a guaranteed monthly amount of our sunshine enriched paddock pork via this system.

The range of cuts and products in the monthly order can include -
roasting cuts
pork mince
braising joints
Nitrate / nitrite-free ham

nitrate / nitrite-free bacon
nitrate / nitrite-free ham
smoked pork sausages
pork chops

rustic pork terrine

All cuts are cryovacced, weighed and labelled.

Kg / month
$ / month
$ / bi-annually
$ / annually
¾ pig share
$85 = $28.50’kg
$490 = $27.20’kg
$910 = $25.30’kg
1.5 pig share
$140 = $28’kg
$799 = $26.60’kg
$1,510 = $25.20’kg
2.5 pigs share
$210 = $26.25’kg
$1,150 = $23.95’kg
$2,200 = $22.90’kg
 3 pig share
$245 - $24.50'kg
 $1,350 = $22.50'kg
$2,450 = $20.50'kg

Once you’ve calculated how much meat your household consumes each month, you can order the amount of Bush Goddess Paddock Pork desired to suit your needs in either three, five, eight or ten kilogram boxes;

This amount is guaranteed and will consist of the usual variety of cuts cryovacced, labeled and ready for the freezer; roasts; mince; chops; joints for braising; sausages; and nitrite / nitrate-free bacon and ham, rustic pork terrine and smoked pork sausages. You can nominate specific products, noting that the terrine and smoked sausages are higher in price due to the extra time and love devoted to create them;

The price includes delivery to Canberra on the first Monday of each month, and Wagga Wagga on the third Monday of each month. Pick-up locations will be advised;

The options are all offered on a six- or 12-month subscription, payable monthly, bi-annually or annually in advance, with discounts for the bi-annual or annual payments.

Six months is the minimum commitment we require for our planning purposes.
Should you be away for an extended time, there is the option to suspend your share until your return – a month’s notice is required.

Please email pennie at bushgoddess@bigpond.com for an order form and we look forward to becoming part of your delicious and ethical life :-)

Spectacular skyscapes at Springview Eco-Farm
An open invitation is extended to all our subscriber members to come and stay at Springview Eco-Farm to meet our happy paddock piggies and become more connected with our planet, and ethically grown and lovingly hand-reared pork.

We hold an specific event each season to honour and celebrate this wondrous place in which we are privileged to live and hope you can join us.

Thank you for making a choice for the wellbeing of pigs, and the care of our planet Earth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 Summer Concerts at the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Oh how I love a balmy summer evening and Canberra does have its fair share of them.
What better way to enjoy them than relaxing in the beautiful Australian National Botanic Gardens, in Canberra, surrounded by tempting tucker and the lilting tones of fabulous singers and entertainers.
This is the combination for the 16th and 17th January and Bush Goddess Foods is proud to be offering our ethical and delicious foods for the adoring public :-) 
As usual the menu is based on what local Riverina ingredients are available to make a feast and here's what's we're bringing......
 It is such a delight to use our delicious pork meat in the menu knowing that I have been responsible from birth to (almost) death of each of our precious and beautiful piggies.  Yes, it is incredibly emotional when taking the kids to the abattoir and saying goodbye to them. However, our piggies have had wonderfully stress-free lives, have roamed the paddocks, been fed delicious foods and have lived in secure family and social groups.  All these elements are noticeable in the final product - their meat.
The Riverina is a treasure trove of beautiful foods so it is easy to combine outstanding chemical and gmo-free ingredients and create nourishing and delicious foods - foods which sustain and aid wellbeing :-)  No guilt required here!
We are looking forward to seeing many friends at the Summer Concerts this weekend, and meeting many more people who care about the origins of their food.
The gigs commence at 1730 and finish at 1930 and the weather forecast is for delightfully balmy weather ========BLISS.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Not less, but more factory farming of pigs in NSW!

There is a conundrum at play and it's around bacon.
Delicious, tasty, moreish, always-gotta-have bacon.
And, bacon comes from pigs.
Only pigs.

And, bacon is cheap - so cheap.
And we think this is fabulous so we always can have it.
But there is a hidden underbelly to producing bacon and it. is. very. ugly.
If you knew ALL the facts, would you continue to turn a blind eye to the misery pigs suffer for your cheap bacon?

A development application has been submitted to the Harden Shire Council to build a $12million intensive piggery; the plans indicate a shed to house 7,400 breeders and 18,000 in its growing section. As the opponents say to this development, not only are there significant environmental concerns about odours, pollution and effluent run-off, there is the frequently ignored animal welfare concerns. Watching this video from Blantyre Farms own website on their capture of methane to generate electricity, you can see the density of housing of the pigs in sheds.  There seems to be more pride about using out of date dairy products in the pigs rations than the amount of room each animal has for safety and wellbeing.

Typical density of 'grower' pens in an intensive piggery; no sunshine.
 Most of the intensive piggeries in Australia have been covertly filmed and the footage is sickening.  The peak body, Australia Pork Limited presents a clean and happy persona with comments claiming the 'highest standards of welfare provided to all the pigs'.  

This is nonsense.

The primary objective of all intensive pig farms is to convert grain to flesh as quickly as possible and pigs are very efficient at achieving this.  The practices deemed acceptable industry standards ignore the highly evolved social and intellectual capacities of pigs to generate a profit margin of about 10c per kilogram.   YES, a mere 10c per kg so the focus is on pushing those pigs through the system as quickly as possible.

The sows are merely mechanisms for producing piglets with spurious arguments that sow / farrowing crates are necessary to A: stop pregnant sows from fighting each other then B: confining the sows prevents piglets being squashed once born.  

When we take a few steps back to try and work out WHY this may be the case, behavioural problems are most frequent when overcrowding exists; this is the same for people as well as any non-human animal.  Living in close proximity creates ideal conditions for diseases to emerge (again preventable) so widespread use of antibiotics is routine - not for therapeutic purposes but prophylactic reasons.  The dangerous downside of this is antibiotic resistance and the rise of the 'superbugs', those bacteria quickly mutating so the known families of antibiotics have not effect on controlling the incidences and spread.

Here, at Springview Eco-Farm where we've been raising pigs for the past two years, 99 per cent of the beliefs I'd held regarding how to achieve this, have been ditched - proven wrong - and completely preventable. We do not drench or vaccinate and haven't had one incidence of unwellness in any of our pigs, from birth to adulthood.  The health and happiness of our pigs are intrinsically connected and this is a critical element in preventing illness. 

The density of growers at Springview Eco-Farm; plenty of sunshine.
In intensive piggeries, vaccinations (to prevent illnesses) and drenching are de rigour as the belief is illnesses and parasites are inevitable and -YES - when pigs are kept in these squalid and unhealthy conditions, they are.

Pigs have an intelligence similar to that of a 3-4 year old child.  Imagine it being accepted industry standard to keep child care children in similar conditions; it wouldn't happen so why is it allowable for pigs? 

Malicious cruelty to animals is now a punishable crime but why isn't negligent cruelty regarded similarly?  Is it because the peak industry has such influence in the state Departments of Agriculture?    Is it because there is enormous influence from 'animal health' pharmaceutical companies within these departments?

Why don't more people know about what is considered 'normal' practice in intensive piggeries?

The application by Blantyre Farms for this gigantic pig-farm of misery should not be approved.  However, too often, the lure of dollars into a council's coffers will override considerations of animal welfare and environmental degradation.  Even the proposed employment of 20 people demonstrates that the proper level of observation and subsequent care cannot be given to adequately prevent, and care for, the proposed 25,000 animals.

Bacon - yes, we all love bacon.

But, can you eat it knowing that it comes from breathing, living, thinking, clever, affectionate (when given the opportunity) animals which are in sheds from birth to death, have synthetic Vitamin D added to their rations instead of being out in (free) sunshine and living in horrific confinement.

You can't care for something if you don't know about it so this is an invitation to gather information and CARE.

Our delayed gratification is far tastier than  having the misery of others on our palate.