A tour of Margaret Paton’s permaculture inspired garden

An invitation to Margaret Paton’s garden in Blayney, in the Central West of NSW, is to witness what can be achieved with a bit of work, a touch of vision and a love of organic gardening. It is also a chance to wander through a cornucopia of produce and a perfect example of how even small yards can go a long way to providing the chemical-free veggies of a small family.

A freelance writer and teacher, Margaret took us on a tour of her front and back yard which was still producing fruit and veggies, even as the cold frosts of autumn began.

As we walked through the head high Jerusalem artichokes — in true permaculture tradition Margaret uses this in a number of ways — as a food, shelter and display crop, she gave some idea of which authors and thinkers first inspired her to get into permaculture and organic gardening. Continue reading “A tour of Margaret Paton’s permaculture inspired garden”

We are what we absorb

Intestine lining. Image: Shutterstock

One of the key concepts that EMUWellness founder Mel Blundell outlined in her informative interview with The Real Food Chain’s Jon Moore in episode three of our podcast was that “we are more than we eat, we are what we absorb”.

In other words, it’s as much our body’s ability to absorb nutrients as it is about the food we consume. So how did Melinda spell this out to our listeners? In particular, what is the cause and symptoms of leaky gut syndrome? Continue reading “We are what we absorb”

Episode 2 The Real Food Chain Podcast!

Listen to the show here: PODCAST LINK

Hello and welcome to episode two of the Real Food Chain podcast! I’m Jon and we’ll hear from my co-host Rich later in the show.

This month’s focus is urban farming here in sunny Australia. Rich will be talking with Margaret Paton about her experiences growing food in her Blayney backyard using permaculture principles.

Before that let’s have a deeper look at urban farming.

Continue reading “Episode 2 The Real Food Chain Podcast!”

Will the “Organic and Regenerative Farming Investment Co-operative” be good for the sector? What about consumers?

Recent changes to funding options for organic producers look likely to shake up the industry.  The Organic and Regenerative Farming Investment Co-operative, a Victorian based funding concern is but one example of the possibly seismic shifts rippling through the Organic Sector.

To quote Sue Neales in the Australian:

A new model for funding organic farming is set to expand the boom sector, as wealthy local investors and superannuation funds move to grab a stake in the organic food industry and its meaty profits.

What are the implications? For producers, access to capital funds represents a chance to grow their business, to expand their marketing and to implement their plans.

How about the effect of all this growth on the organic ethos? To this observer, the point of the organic movement is its local-ness. Feeding people nearby, reducing food kilometres and removing transport costs, both dollars and carbon from the food chain. The Organic Sector is in danger of becoming the beast it set out to disrupt. A $10 million enterprise is not going to sustain its own weight by selling through local farmer’s markets. Certainly not into a city of 40,000 persons or less. The only answer is to join the global food system. Now that’s fine if that’s your business model.

Maintaining “Organic-ness” through long supply chains is difficult. World Organic News reported back in 2015 that in the North American context, organic grains contained almost as much glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) as conventional grains. The problem appears to be the ubiquity of glyphosate in the environment. The longer the supply chain, the greater the possibility of contamination.

The nature of the transport system is that the same truck can be moving chemically laden grains one day and organic the next. The standards of cleaning required are not too well explained by organic certifiers. Similarly in a flour mill. Unless there is a dedicated organic production line then cross contamination is not just likely but inevitable. Indeed, unless the whole mill is organic there is the possibility of chemical transfer throughout the building.

I have been unable to find any studies on the “stickiness” of glyphosate on metal surfaces or any other surface for that matter. So we don’t know if the chemical reacts with materials and then contaminates whatever else passes over that surface. If we don’t test, we can’t know. To ensure organic “purity”dedicated harvesting implements, trucks, mills, processing facilities and probably other things too are required. That’s if the organic producer is going to join the industrial food system. There is a reason organic producers are often smallholders.

Continue reading “Will the “Organic and Regenerative Farming Investment Co-operative” be good for the sector? What about consumers?”

Podcast one step closer!

One of the big things we set out to achieve when we launched the RFC website was to produce a high standard podcast on a single topic each fortnight. (We may vary this depending on what you — the listener — suggest!). Based on chat and interviews with guests, the podcast will consist of a range of subjects and questions of interest to you, the consumer (or potential consumer) of organic food. Continue reading “Podcast one step closer!”