When the heart speaks the stars shine

Lucinda Giblett is our latest guest blogger in our endeavour to showcase an emerging and exciting passionate group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career.

As you will see Lucinda is clearly a deep thinker with a strong social conscience ……

I grew up on the family farm in Manjimup, Western Australia. Think endless pallets of fruit packing trays for cubbies, packing boxes and apple bins for playpens. Study at boarding school, uni, and many years of exotic adventure followed. I guess I had to break free!

In 2008, Dad announced he was converting one of our orchards to organic farming practices. It was a worthy carrot, and a few months later, I was back on sweet home soil and ready to stay.

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I’ve since spent my time learning as much as I can about the complex and challenging business of growing food. Our family business supplies supermarkets, producing 5000 tonnes of apples a year – that’s about an apple a day, all year for every person in our 10,000 strong Shire. I’ve also learnt a lot simply by having a go at growing veggies in my backyard. Along the way, I’ve found a true passion for agriculture and ecology, or if you like, land stewardship.

And many of us already know that generally, humans aren’t taking enough care of the earth right now. Once you dig in, you find the issues are deeply more serious than most care to realise.

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Left: Display of apple biodiversity of Italy’s Piedmonte region, at Turin’s 2010 international Slow Food convention, Terra Madre, which numbered 500 at the beginning of the 20th century. I attended along 5000 other farmers, scholars, students and chefs from over 160 countries.

I was introduced to food security and related issues via my involvement with the international non-profit organisation, Slow Food, as well as industry campaigns against lax biosecurity protocols proposed for apple imports.

Below: Display of 5 dominant apple varieties worldwide today.

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You can’t really begin to understand food security without taking stock of the global picture first. People in countries like Australia have an insatiable appetite to consume, and there are powerful systems in place to perpetuate this paradigm. The emerging middle class in China, India and south-east Asia are keen to follow suit.

We have an apparent ignorance of finite resources (particularly oil and phosphorus), an escalating world populous, increasing climatic variation, vast cities claiming more arable land, less water, declining investment worldwide in agricultural science research, and a host of associated sub plots all of which tell me, and leading commentators I admire such as Julian Cribb, that we are propelling down a very dangerous path.

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A depressing scenario, some might choose to think, but I think we need to look for possibility and opportunity. Rather than being blocked by the enormity of the problem, I think we need to ask, what could we do in our local communities? What small steps could we take to ensure our children have a world worth living in?

My answer is creating a local charity called Stellar Violets, and with my proposal I received runner-up in the 2012 RIRDC WA Rural Women’s Awards. Quite a coup really, considering I only entered after someone overheard me talking about the charity idea, and suggested I give it a go!

Named for my grandmothers, in its conception Stellar Violets honours all the oft unacknowledged matriarchs and raft of skilled women that came before us. I’m acknowledging how relevant their wisdom, tenacity and resilience is for us today, and will be for tomorrow.

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With Stellar Violets, we’ll create opportunities to learn skills in self-reliance, living simply, food production, master and traditional artisan crafts, with a particular focus on environmental stewardship and applying the wisdom of our elders.

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Suiting up to learn BeeKeeping with local master, Curly Aitken, who for years has kept bees on our orchards with his wife Jean.

Our vision is to create the Stellar Violets Experimental Farm to demonstrate self-reliant living and small scale, diversified food production systems based on regenerative agricultural techniques. We’ll invite people from all walks to visit, experience, learn, and contribute.

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I don’t think we can overestimate how valuable being part of a strong, resilient, skilled community is going to be in the coming times. If you think self-reliance, and a holistic, ethical approach to nurturing our communities and country makes good old-fashioned sense, get in touch to share in the Stellar Violets vision.

Note: I’m already on the lookout for skilled volunteers and am also be seeking sponsors for projects. Email me lucinda@stellarviolets.com to find out more, join us on Facebook, or follow our blog, www.stellarviolets.org that’ll become a website later in the year.

2 thoughts on “When the heart speaks the stars shine

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