One of the great things that I love about the Sustainable Living Festival, which is held each year in February, is its ability to embrace all levels of the Sustainability tree. As with anything that requires people to rethink and change their mindset and lifestyles – it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to be thrown into the environmental deep end of renewable energy, coal seam gas controversies and energy targets and converse in a knowledgable way. Sure ,there are all of these things happening over the weekend via stalls, wandering petition hawkers and talks going on in various locations, all on the bigger picture. There is so much information available that your head could just explode by the end of it all. What I find great, is that besides the big picture events, is the plethora of little things that absolutely anyone can do, and understand and for much of it, are simple little changes that can lead people along towards the bigger picture. For those just starting their conscious journey into environmental sustainability, the lightheartedness and sometimes frivolity of it all, is the instant feel good factor that leaves you walking away thinking – “yes, I can make a difference by making a few little changes at a time
After our ride from Balwyn to Fed Square with a flat tyre just on the outskirts ( I took the opportunity for myself to have a little nana rest), it was perfect timing to then land in front of the pedal powered keg on wheels that is the Good Brew Company and indulge in a Magic Tea. Divine! A yummy mix of green tea, yerba mate, honey, water and lots of bubbles. What a fantastic pick-me-up. Cam and I shared one with every intention of then having another at the other end of the marketplace at their stand. I think possibly I gulped faster than he did and got the lion’s share of the bevvy.
Keen to pick up some more tips on more effective gardening – having recently made over 30 jars of jam and chutney from our way out west Mitre property’s, peach and nectarine crop – I have acquired the bug, and the joy that comes from feeding yourself from your own garden. Whilst certainly not in full stage permaculture mindset as yet, I am taking baby steps and hung around the VEG display area picking up some handy hints and things I can realistically implement in my own garden at present. I do so want some chooks but these will have to wait a little longer. I shall have to continue to get my chook fix at my next door neighbours. A highlight of my green garden experience though, would definitely be the Edible Weeds presentation. I have done a little research previously on this subject – having a huge array of weeds, especially on the house up at Mitre. Stinging nettles are well known for their edible and medicinal properties – I could probably supply half the Wimmera with tea from the amount that pops up there in the Springtime but I wanted to know what else is about. Doris Pozzi from Hello Little Weed gave an informative and very entertaining talk on easy to find weeds and even had samples to taste afterwards. Ok, so on my list of to-do’s – Melokeya and Egyptian dish-using mallow leaves, Dandelion pesto and I need to hunt down some Purslane – seriously yummy to just munch on. It’s a weed – but one that I don’t seem to have on my place. Not only does it taste great it contains one of the highly sought after Omega 3 Fatty Acids. I hear there is a great recipe for Cucumber/Purslane yoghurt salad. Looks like I’ll be joining the foragers hunting down all the goodies that are out there. Can you believe it? Over 20,000 edible plant species out there and we use only 20% of these to make up 90% of what we eat.
This is all about getting our heads out of the sand when it comes to what we are told we can eat. I’m sure they don’t all taste brilliant but with that kind of quantity available to us, I’m sure you can find something you like. And it’s free. And abundant. Wait till I tell my boys about the weed salad we’re having tonight! Whilst on the subject of food – after we had filled our stomachs to the brim with potato rosti, chutney and beetroot relish, we handed our plates over to the team of volunteers of Wash Against Waste What a brilliant initiative.
Wandering through the bike and treadlie market put together by BikeFest was a great opportunity to see the huge range of all things wheeled out there and to see those that are totally emeshed in their wheeled way of life and how it works on so many levels. Why, you can even have a smoothie whilst pedalling through the BikenBlend crew. I really wanted one but that huge potato rosti wasn’t allowing any more room.
Time was getting on and with a long ride back to Balwyn. Cam and I started our way back up to where we had parked the bikes. Not a quick trip – along the way we stopped to talk to various stallholders, chats with the Quit Coal campaign collective about the planned Bacchus Marsh open cut coal mine, a few more signatures and then planted our bums at the Tasmanian Land Conservancy where we acquired a living room sized piece of paradise for $3.00. Getting donations is not an easy thing to do when there are so many worthy projects to donate to, but I thought the
TLC had come up with an interesting and interactive way of gathering donations to help pay back the no interest loans they received from philanthropist organizations to purchase Tasmanian land to be protected forever. I chose a sofa with a view on the edge of Lake Ina. Cam obviously liked a view and (being near me) as he chose an adjoining sofa and living room. Very clever and very fun, we had a nice chat with the two volunteers manning the stalls and thought it a perfect way to round off our Sustainable Living Adventure.
If you have never been to the festival, mark it down in your diary for next year. A great festival, a wealth of information and to be oh so cliché about it – you do come away with a warm and fuzzy feeling. About the world. And about the people in it who care. I have another job at The Environmental Jobs Network where I share space with the guys and gals from the Sustainable Living Foundation and the hard work and passion that I see throughout the year is evident in the resulting festival.Go on. Make the effort – you know you want to!