Long time no see, right. I'm sorry to say that's it's been more than four months since I've posted something on this blog. Those of you who saw my post from four months ago are probably now assuming that the cause of such a long hiatus was that I was hunkered down in my study cranking out a book. Sadly, I gave up on the book idea months ago.
Book writing is a tough gig, and seriously risky. There's no guarantee that you'll get a publishing deal at the end, and though self publishing is a feasible option these days, I needed something more concrete than pages on a computer screen to keep my little family afloat.
Some of you also know that last year, we had to end our market garden business just as it was starting to really get a kick along. This decision hit us hard. The drop in income has been a serious challenge, and even though we decided to stop because of our lack of water and land (a decision that has been justified given the serious drought we're in currently), there's all the associated feelings of failure, humiliation etc that go with the close of a business.
To be really honest, I needed a few clear months to think through our options. We entertained the idea of selling up and moving to Tasmania ( as much as I love your island, don't get too excited, Tassie friends!), but have instead come to the conclusion that we need to stay and complete what we've started here at Hampton. We do love the place, and though it's becoming a challenge weather wise, our district still has loads of potential.
The result of three months worth of navel gazing is a new grand plan to change the world. Well, maybe not the world, but we'd be happy to change a small corner of it. In the last eight years we've explored various side ventures in addition to my work in the gardening media (which is still ongoing). These have included a landscape design consultancy, a heritage fruit tree nursery, gardening workshops, and most recently, the market garden.
We wound all these up for various reasons (the most common being bad luck with droughts and floods), but never lost sight of each project's potential to help people grow their own food and live a better life. That, after all, is what we're on about. Our purpose is to get every household growing food, and we're determined to keep plugging away until it happens!
So here's what I came up with on my little sabbatical. It's a new project that encompasses everything we've done to date, all under a unified banner. We've named it The Edible Gardener Co., and our tagline is "plants, advice and inspiration to help you grow your own food". Let me break down the three main elements:
Plants - We'll be setting up a boutique on-site nursery here at Thistlebrook selling only edible plants, plus a carefully selected range of tools, accessories and organic inputs. This is still in the development stage, but we expect to be open to customers within a month or so.
Advice - Over the years I've consulted with dozens of people about their gardens, both over the phone/email, and more preferably, at their homes and businesses. I haven't offered this service while our kids were little, but now they're older, I have more time for travel and would love to visit you on-site to help with your food growing efforts. I'm taking bookings now for Tuesdays and Wednesday each week, and can provide things like reports and plant lists as part of the service.
Inspiration - You'll still find my writing and photos in Organic Gardener Magazine and website, and for those who are members, in the Ross family's Garden Clinic Journal. I'm also launching a new Edible Gardener blog over at our spankin' new website, and will be sharing ideas, photos, tips, tricks and wisdom in whatever ways I can. Look for us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Finally, we're reopening Thistlebrook, our home garden to tour groups. If you're a member of a garden club or any other group and are looking for an interesting and inspiring place to visit, give us a try.
We're building The Edible Gardener Co. on our 16+ years (or 32 collective years) of experience growing food for our family and friends. We don't know it all. rest assured, we still make the occasional mistake and struggle with forces beyond our control. But you can learn a heck of a lot in 16 years and we have lots of hard earned wisdom to offer.
Here's what I encourage you to do. Head over to our new website The Edible Gardener Co. and have a good look around. At the bottom of the page you'll find a link that says "Subscribe to our mailing list". Click on this, fill in your details (it's free) and you'll start getting news, blogs and other updates direct from my desk to yours. If you've got a gardening friend who you think might be interested in The Edible Gardener Co., we'd appreciate it if you share the love by forwarding this blog post to them as well.
The main thing we need is your support. We desperately want to keep spreading the word about the joys and benefits of growing your own food but we can't do it without the love and support of our family, friends, and customers. Whether it's in kind or financial, we appreciate any and all goodness that comes our way.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this letter finds you well, and growing happily, wherever you are.
Bye for now,
PS: I'm a fan of a Victorian bloke called Rohan Anderson and his blog Whole Larder Love. Rohan and his partner Kate Berry (who has a blog called Lunch Lady) have just launched a crowd funding campaign for a new food education venture called The Nursery Project - I'd encourage you all to check it out. It's likely to be a smashing success, and has the potential to be a game changer. Keep an eye on www.thenurseryproject.com.au.