Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Land of Milk and Honey

We live on this mountain, 1800ft above sea level. When you drive down the mountain you're pretty much in the sea. You can smell it at least. We share the mountain, or the mountain allows us to share her with about 7000 other residents.

The majority of the residents here are artists - in the traditional sense - but also in the DIY-creative-self-sufficient sense. People who have built their amazing homes, or amazing homes for their chickens and ducks, their alpacas, goats, their one pretty bedroom-eyed Jersey cow, their immaculately groomed pooch, mini replica's of the real thing for their kids, spoiled as they are just to be living in a place like this.

There is a large established community garden with shade houses, open plots, chicken shed, tools, machines, and marketplace out front on the weekends from which to procure fresh produce plucked from the fertile volcanic soil.

The entire of the mountain area feels a bit like one colossal community garden, There are fruiting trees dotting the area. Mulberries, wild raspberries, strawberries growing in the grass on the roadside, citrus galore (my favourite are the blood oranges), figs, passion fruit, of course the omnipotent avocado, which is the very roots of the agricultural economy up here.Stone fruits are starting to push out furry little buds that will one day in the coming months hang heavy with fruit, at the perfect level for small hands to gather and devour.

Most people are proud of their gardens up here. It makes for a magnificent Sunday drive, anytime of the year as there's always something going on, usually relating to the natural attractions of the area. Springtime on the Mountain just happened which is an open gardens trail. Magnolia, Peonies, Roses, Jacaranda, among literally hundreds of other flowering trees, shrubs, vines. All in show for you and I to gasp and fawn over.

If you don't have a prize winning rose garden, and possibly even if you do, you probably have a wonderfully producing life sustaining veggie patch. Chards of every colour, cabbages and kale, roots like radish, beets, turnip, parsnip, potato, yacon, corn, peas of many variety, gourmet lettuces from all over the globe, ginger and garlic and onion and herbs, oh the scented herb gardens, as you brush past on a cool morning walk and the air around you rises up in a glorious fresh aroma, sparking your imagination and your appetite.

We have a darling little herb garden out the front, under our huge magnolia tree, where you're directly transported to Scarborough Fair when you allow your bare feet to touch the yielding loamy mulch.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Pennyroyal, Marjoram, Peppermint, Dill, Lemon Balm, and an Eggplant. Soon I'll transplant some pumpkin from the back yard that's going crazy. And down the back we also have the makings of a salsa garden where we intend on putting a handful of different tomatoes and capsicum (bell peppers for you yanks), coriander (cilantro), chili peppers and maybe some amazing garlic. Have you tried fresh garlic, right out of the ground? It is juicy and sweet and bursting of bold garlic flavor. Amazing. Makes you cringe when you have to buy those bags of dried up shriveled old imported garlic at the grocery store. Yuck.

We co-maintain another very large garden plot on my parent's land. We're currently extending it to be double the size it currently is. So far we have a variety of herbs, Bay tree, Galangal, Turmeric, Giant Rosemary bush. Rainbow chard, silverbeet (Swiss chard), lettuce a-plenty, corn, kale, broccoli, snow peas, Brussels sprouts, lemon grass, chives, mint, capsicum, cabbage, pumpkin, whatever I have forgotten which is bound to be one or four things. Elsewhere on the property there are lime, ginger, kaffir lime, mandarin, lemon, a couple dozen avocado trees, and a row of coffee trees.

We harvested the coffee trees a few weeks back. I'll post about that with accompanying pictures next time!

A vast portion of our vegetable intake comes from the food we plant from seed, grow and harvest out of the same virile red dirt our children dig in every day.

The rest, on good weeks, comes from the people living around and among us, doing the same thing. Striving for the same end goal.

This place is a foodie mecca. Every Sunday you can visit "The Green Shed" which is the local producers market, open from 7-noon. If you grow your own gorgeous local organic fruit and veg, or make preserves, fermented dairy products, specialty baked goods, you can become a member and sell your products to other residents here for very little, and bring home quite a nice profit.  Or you can just visit, shop, chat to locals, make friends, get good growing tips on anything you could imagine.

The mountain boasts a world-class cheese factory, brewery, too many to count award winning wineries, a distillery that takes you into another time and place (one of my favourite spots on Tamborine), coffee plantation, restaurants, cafes and delis oh my!

 I invite you to come to our mountain and see for yourself. This Saturday November 5th would be the perfect day, but really any day of the year you will find yourself right in the center of delicious.


  1. hi there, what a wonderful write up about our magic mountain...makes me all warm and fuzzy...just like every time I drive along main western road to the south end of the mountain, with the view in the valley on one side, and the road framed with majestic is turly magic...and so are the people up here...and their gardens...I'm so pround to be part of this place!