Whole Larder Love » Grow. Gather. Hunt. Cook.

Small and sweet. Short blonde hair, cut to a bob. Lime green eyes, innocent and pure. A consistently grubby face, dirty and grimy. Thats my little girl. My youngest. This morning we walked her to her first day of school. It all begins from here. For years to come she will learn what society deems as important and necessary. At the home front, I will continue to teach her things that maybe overlooked by the education system. Some values, ethics and the skills of practiculture. Living and working with natures wonders.

Learning is something that we should never stop doing. An obvious thing to state? Well for while there I guess I stopped learning. I found myself in quite a holding pattern. I’d go to work, earn money and entertain myself with passive activities. As my life moved towards living a more practiculture existence, I had to reconsider my approach to learning. Most everything I know about this lifestyle has come about from trial and error, in fact more error than trial. But I like it that way. The first chorizo I made, I put in too much salt. The first time I grew garlic I didn’t dry it properly before storing and most of it rotted. Crops have failed, structures have crumbled and ducks have eluded my shot. All in all though, I have come out a learned individual. I’m no expert in any one thing, and I do not profess to have all the answers nor do I know everything, but I do know what works for me. If there is something I become interested in, I’ll endeavour to learn the process, understand its purpose.

Passing on what we learn is vitally important. If you consider where us humans are today compared with say 100 years ago, our way of living has vastly changed. I’m not saying it’s better, it’s just thats its significantly changed. In fact much of what I do is derived from an age passed. I cure meat, store food for the winter, I grow and harvest, hunt and fish. In a few weeks time I’ll be talking on these topics, my approach to practiculture and why I do what I do. I’d love to share with you Sydneysiders what I’ve learnt. I’ll even go as far as showing you how to skin, gut and butcher a wild shot rabbit (of which I’ll be bringing on flight from home!)

Wildwon, are co-presenting an event with Sydney Living Museums, ‘Stories from the Cellar’. The event I’ll be talking a is the Elizabeth Bay House, down in the cellars, where I’ll talk and demonstrate along with other people sharing their knowledge on food preservation, preparation and creation. There will be cheese makers, meat curer’s, fish smokers and chefs. All sharing their valuable knowledge.

 

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  • January 31, 2014 - 2:30 am

    Andrew Bounos - Practiculture.Now there’s a term that makes you want to have a go!
    Must get out in the garden and have another scratch around :) ReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    Lisa Chiodo - Now this sounds fantastic, sadly I’m a long way from Australia. Learning is such an amazing process, I’m just learning to keep the fires lit so we can cook, how much to feed the chickens, making salami including butchering the pig, and our two young children are leaning things I never thought they’d need in our old suburban life in Brisbane.

    Hope your little girl has a wonderful time at school and gets all those life gems at home. I’ve been inspired and reassured reading your stories and sharing your life, thank you ciao lisa (over in the mountains of Italy)ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 12:41 am

    Warwick Berry - I loik smuked moit.ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 11:55 pm

    sarah - all the reasons for living with the land..society,,everything,,i farm, i live, i breathe..and i homeschool…its a hard life and exhuasting at times..but keeping the kids home was the best decision ive made..that and the skills and courage to raise and slaughter my own meat..cheers!ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2014 - 3:02 am

    Jo - Hey Rohan,

    Love catching up on your posts. I could not agree with you more and totally related to garlic disaster! We moved from a large city to the country 5 years ago now and have not looked back! We have 2 boys who are growing and learning about food, the real life cycle, disappointments, and the thrill of the first whole meal of the summer season we have totally grown ourselves. Nothing could make us happier, our city friends admire from a distance, and question why we ‘work’ so hard! But we smile to ourselves and feel quite chuffed that we have made it. Keep on digging
    JoReplyCancel

  • February 9, 2014 - 3:28 am

    Ruth - It’s so important to understand where the things we consume come from – and how better to understand than by doing! The “Stories from the Cellar” event sounds amazing – I’m sending my boyfriend along to take lots of notes for me :) ReplyCancel

As beautiful as it is living here in the rolling green paddocks, tucked away on the side of our hill, it’s also rather nice to have a change of scenery. The first few weeks of January are well suited to spend some time on the coast. The breeze off the ocean is often cool, and if the weather turns extremely hot, it’s the place you want to reside. We didn’t plan to be away during one of the hottest weeks in recent years, it just happened that way. But I’m glad we where housed right on the beach in our little caravan when the hot weather arrived.

The north wind blew hot. The sun belted down with ultraviolet fury and punished the beach sand, turning it hot like a bed of coals, so hot that bare feet was not an option. It only took me one experience of burning feet to forever remember to wear my shoes when heading beachside. Everyday our fellow holiday makers hit the waves, boogie boards, surf boards, board shorts and bikinis. Zinc covered faces, sunscreen greased bodies and bright beach tents rattled in the wind. Joyous screaming kids running from waves, dogs barking at balls and the smell of BBQ. It’s the Aussie beach experience. Its lovely.

The beach break for me means seafood. All types of sea food. I fish and I forage. This trip I was very lucky to be in possession of Dad’s bamboo surf rod he build the year I was born, 1976. The rod is a perfect example of Dad’s meticulous attention to detail. The people who know my Dad would agree, he’s no Rex Hunt when it comes to fishing. I reckon he had more fun making the rod than fishing with it. It’s a beautifully crafted rod. Strong and very functional. Each loop perfectly set and glued, the handle lovingly made with marine rope, tightly wound and glued. It’s a rod that gets people talking, and sure enough garnished some attention amongst other campers. Dad told me that the rod has never caught him a fish. Instead he’d stored it in garages over the years, ensuring its immaculate condition. Why he lent it to me I’ll never know. I’m a user of good tools. I like to set these tools into action, use them for their original intention.

My first afternoon on the beach was one of fine weather. I waded out to the breaking waves, the water initially cold and fresh, hell for my nether regions. I’d rigged up with an large anchor sinker and two wire leaders, baited with blue bait. Swinging that rod back for the first time was exciting. I know, silly to be excited about a some old fishing rod. But this was the one my Dad made. It was family. Back the bamboo bent, my arms reached forward with all my might stopping to allow the sinker and line to fly, and out she did. What distance the line went! Better feeling than any new rod could offer. Maybe I was just being sentimental, but this thing just flew. My Dad had made a superb fishing rod. Purpose made.

I fished for hours, on that beach, the odd man out. Most other people surfed and swam. I fished the waters on the edge of the break, away from where waves were worth catching. The fishing wasn’t amazing, but I did manage a few mullet and one lovely Australian Salmon. With the poor fishing, my darling Kate organised a few hours spell on a charter boat. She said it was a gift, but also dropped a comment with her serious voice… “bring me home some fish… I want fish”. With the detail clear, I fished hard and returned triumphant. A haul of sweet tasting flathead, a few dog sharks, mackerel and my fist ever snapper. We ate the fish very simply. Cooked with butter and olive oil, sometimes with a coat of flour, always with butter, lemon, salt and pepper. The whole family enjoyed the fresh taste of each difference species. Ooohing and aaaahhhing over the beautiful tastes. It’s great to see my kids eating food like this. Fingers grabbing meat straight off the bone. Food so fresh and natural. It makes sense. Sense in a shambolic world is what keeps me going.

After a few more sessions on Dad’s fishing rod, I decided the remainder of the week would be well spent on other duties. The kids and I, along with some visiting friends hit the rocks in search of a feed of mussels. The tide was well and truly out, but still too dangerous for kids to forage past the intertidel zone. So I picked some myself and returned to the van to cook them with garlic, butter and white wine. For extra zing I added some American flare, a seasoning mix called Old Bay which I picked up on my travels last year. Jack and I found it difficult to stop devouring the pot of mussels. The kids gave up trying them so it was really our duty to eat them. The juices at the bottom of the pot where soaked up with bread. The taste of ocean.

The unavoidable end to the break finally came, we packed up the old van and headed north. On the drive home, along the winding Great Ocean Road my mind drifted. I though about Dad’s beautiful hand made fishing rod. That rod represented a time past. Was it a time where men did things of real value. Where men preferred real adventure to virtual adventure. Man is different now. Facets of the old Australian male have changed. Is he redundant? Has a new man taken his place? Does he still desire to make things of purpose? Or does he prefers to buy things already made. Are certain skills being lost? Sure some are being revived, but most will fade. The spirit of adventure may fade for some, replaced by responsibility of paying back loans for stuff. Is that now what we must accept as the norm?

When you spend some time in a van you’re forced to live with less. Its a great experience. You can re-evaluate what is actually important. What you can survive with, and without. Its been a nice start to the year. Its been a nice living reminder to keep up the lifestyle I committed to. I life of living with less, using less, impacting less and living off the crumbs of society.

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  • January 23, 2014 - 11:02 am

    Jane @ Shady Baker - Love your words and your photos as always Rohan. That fishing rod sounds pretty special. I hope the Australian male that you speak of hasn’t completely disappeared.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 11:10 am

    Tricia - Beautiful words Rohan. I think most men still desire to make things of purpose – they just don’t reaslise it. Creating, foraging and growing bring me more joy than I ever could have imagined. Here’s to more people taking the time to create something as beautiful as your Dad’s fishing rod.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 12:31 pm

    Margaret Hogan - Nice post Rohan. You talk about your dad’s fishing rod like I talk about my dad’s snooker cue. He died in 2009. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that it’s spent time in their hands. I have the same feeling every time I use one of the wooden bowls or platters he made in later life. I was washing one up tonight and just got thinking about him. Somehow it makes you feel closer. Totally get the whole time out living simply thing. Camping has the same effect for our family. It’s a salve. And I’m so glad it’s inbuilt in the kids now. I know it will serve them well in years to come when they need their own time out. Thanks for a lovely post.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    Carl Schuerman - “Living off the crumbs of society.”ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    Brad - Great post. I’m a new reader and I find myself immediately jumping over to your blog when a new post shows up in my reader! And now? Now I want to go to the beach and cast out a line myself. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 4:38 pm

    June - I completely agree, Rohan – when you live in a van it completely changes your view on what’s essential and what’s not. We spent three months in our van last summer and I got used to living with only what we had. There’s way too much unnecessary “stuff” in the world. Those fish look delish – I can almost taste them from here!ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 6:42 pm

    Thad - Old Bay is not just an American thing, it is a East Coast thing. Old Bay is great on anything and everything … fish, chicken, potatoes! Always enjoy your writings and love that a touchstone of my culinary world (I carried Old Bay to the UK when I lived there) has made to your shores.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2014 - 9:41 pm

    lemmiwinks - “make things of purpose.”

    Nail.
    Head.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2014 - 8:32 pm

    maamej - Thanks for sharing this lovely story. I think being sentimental about the rod is totally justified, but what’s most important is that you are actually using it, it’s not just sitting in a garage gathering dust as so many keepsakes do.

    Reminds me of my own dad, who never made a rod but fed our family from his fishing all through my teenage years on the south coast of NSW.ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2014 - 1:12 am

    The Rambling Expat - Very nice images, well done.ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2014 - 2:15 am

    KEON - THANK YOU.ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2014 - 10:42 am

    Airstream Family - You write brilliantly Rohan. I often wonder too about just how much is being lost. And if that life of old has become redundant, does that make life in general redundant? Seriously, a life of slavery to debt and virtual adventure. What kind of life is that?ReplyCancel

  • January 27, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    Jim - Not everyone has stopped making things with their hands but some days it feels like it. Make sure that you teach your kids how to use their hands to make some of the things they use too. It feels good.ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 2:12 am

    Kristie - What a great post! This is the transition we’ve been making over the last couple of years…simple, meaningful, on purpose living. I never understood why my husband would want to make something himself or do it “the hard way”…I’m so happy to say that I really get it now…he is currently building our house…from start to finish with his Dad…it makes me so proud and we will have amazing memories of this time and of course when we are living in it!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 5:02 am

    Emma - Beeeeeeeautiful post. Made me smile.
    I’m glad that you are writing about this stuff, and hopefully inspiring men and women to get out there and make stuff of purpose.

    I know when my city boy built our chicken coop with his Dad last year he loved it and it made him feel so good.

    Glad you enjoyed your tripReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    ambradambra - Great post, I can almost taste that fish. Speaking of mussels and hand-made implements, I recently posted about foraging for mussels in Sydney in the ’60s using an ingenious contraption made by my father. You might enjoy it: http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/working-out-for-our-mussels/ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 6:18 am

    Fisherman - I hope those fish are of legal size. They certainly don’t look it.ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 8:57 am

      rohan - Yes they are. Do you think I’m dumb enough to

      1. write about sustainable living/fishing then post photos of undersized fish
      2. post photos of undersized fish from a fishing charter and have the charter operators loose their license?

      These fish where caught on a charter. They are all legal size.

      Do you not have nothing better to do than ask stupid questions? ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 11:36 am

    Fisherman - 1. Despite what you might think, asking about undersize fish is not a stupid question.
    I’m sure you’re aware that fisheries are under enough pressure without idiots taking juvenile fish and I feel quite strongly about fishing sustainably. So when I see a sustainability blog with a photo of what appears to be several 20cm long flathead, a snapper that’s not much bigger and a photo of fillets of said fish that aren’t much larger than the lemon wedge you served them with… then yeah, damn right I have time to ask if they were legal.
    3. I might be mistaken. After all, all I said was I hoped they were of legal size. A simple reassurance or a yes would have sufficed.
    4. I don’t know you so I don’t know how dumb you are. But I think I’m getting a fair idea.
    Good day.ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 8:41 pm

      rohan - I get quite a few stupid comments here and a large amount of criticism so rightly defensive. The owner of this charter was questioned by me about how he manages size regulations and he was clear it’s either follow it or loose his livelihood.

      I once was told I was a monster for hunting NATIVE Australian rabbits and was going to be reported to the DSE. That the kinds of bullshit I have to contend with so yes I was defensive.ReplyCancel

Elsewhere in Australia its been a stinking hot start to the summer. However, here deep in the rolling hills of the Central Highlands, its been a slow start to summer. The vegetables have struggled to get motivated, but finally they’re growing as each warm day passes. Putting my talk/ideas/belief about sustainable food into action, we’ll once again be delivering fresh organic vegetables down to Melbourne for those people looking to tick their ‘good food’ boxes. This produce is grown just over an hour out of the city, its certified organic and its picked fresh based on your order. Its delicious too!

For those not aware of the system, let me explain.

We sell two boxes of real food.
A box of assorted organic vegetables (and some fruit) ($55 – approx. 10-15kg)
A box of Free Range Pork and meat (sourced from the Farmers Larder) ($57 – approx. 2-2.5kg)

What do you need to do?
Place your order via the shop website (click here)
The veg will then get picked in the following two days
We then deliver your box one of the four locations in Melbourne (click here)
You cook and enjoy the veg!

Simple enough system?

Some things you may not be used to if you’ve just been eating supermarket veg and meat.

1. Its organic veg – zero chemicals
2. Its picked fresh the day before you collect it thus ensuring major culinary delight
3. The veg will vary in size shape and show all signs of nature
4. The veg isn’t washed until you wash it in your kitchen saving being washed multiple times
5. The veg will change each week as the season progresses. i.e. you’re eating seasonally
6. The veg hasn’t travelled interstate or overseas
7. The veg doesn’t come wrapped in plastic, we re-use styrofoam boxes week in week out
8. The meat is all free range, free of preservatives and hormones and tastes like meat should

We have some simple rules. Please arrive at one of the four locations. If you fail to pick up your box we donate it to a family that needs it. We don’t deliver to your door. We will provide a veg box hotline so you can call to advise if you’re running late.
Please bring back your empty veg box as we’ll re-use it and fill it up the next time you order from us.

THE MEAT PACK!!!!!
For $57, you’ll get a pack of 2-2.5kg of tasty free range, local pork direct from us, small farmers producing artisan meat 10 mins north of Daylesford.
An examples of the type of cuts you can expect to find in the pack include a mix of preservative free sausages made with fresh herbs and spices, pork belly, chops, steaks, cutlets, mince, hock and/or ribs.
Please let us know if you’re gluten free (as our sausages are made the traditional British way – with bread crumbs)
Delivered in refrigerated van – we suggest you bring an esky bag or box to transport home.

If you’re keen and as excited as we are then place your order here.

We make the first delivery on the 25th January, then every Saturday until the growing season comes to a close around June.

Remember guys. This system only works if we get support. Unfortunately we no longer offer the Daylesford Organic Eggs as that family decided to close shop after a decade of trying to make a simple living from providing organic eggs to the city. Small holders will only survive with your support. So please tell your family, your friends and even your co-workers about the system. Lets make it work!

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  • January 8, 2014 - 5:09 am

    Ali - I love this idea and would love to subscribe, but lunch time on a Saturday is going to be difficult for me in the West.ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2014 - 9:42 am

    melbournegirls - Hi
    Is there any chance you would consider doing a smaller box of fruit / veg? I found your box last year way too much for one person to get through in a week.
    Great product though …. Regards AnneReplyCancel

    • January 9, 2014 - 12:32 am

      rohan - We’re keeping it as one pack sorry. Maybe share it with a few folk? Sorry!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    Melissa - Will there be a ballarat pick up available for the meat pack?ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2014 - 2:22 am

    Rose Black - What is the cut off date for ordering?
    CheersReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 1:35 am

    Carl Schuerman - Awesome! I’m from the U.S. of A. and find myself often daydreaming of running an operation such as this. Really cool to know that someone is actually out there doing it! Really hope all works out well this season for y’all.

    One gripe, styrofoam? Yuck. HahaReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 10:00 am

    Genevieve - Hey Rohan, this is great. I’m gonna share it with my Melbourne based friends and acquaintances… I hope it works out really well this time around. It’s bloody hard trying to make a go of being a small scale farmer/producer type person so I hope the good folk of Melbourne support you and your farming/butchering mates. All the best xReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 6:54 am

    theveggiemama - stooooooked! Can’t wait for the 25th. See you then!ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2014 - 10:20 pm
  • January 25, 2014 - 2:38 am

    alexis - So, I picked up my box of veg from Brunny today, and got home to open it, whereupon BASIL! The smell of it filled the room and permanently moved into my nostrils and it was good. So good. I was really really excited by all the broccoli, so fresh that the stalks were positively sweet, so I cooked up a mega broccoli-potato-pinenut palooza, with olive oil and pepper on top, and ate and ate and, amazingly, my pants still fit. I love the red earth clinging to all the root veg (am going to scrub it off and donate it to my garden). I love that the beetroot and turnips and carrots come with their leaves still on, fresh and springy (there are chooks round here who will be extremely excited about the offcuts). Thanks so much for bringing this good veg to town.ReplyCancel