Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Flower Shells

years ago when I was a somewhat bored teenager sitting in some sort of class, I remember coming across one of the now iconic images of street artist Banksy. It was of a guerilla hurling what should have been a grenade, but he was instead now throwing a boquet  of flowers. I love it still. This image flashed before my eyes the other day as I read about the Swedish company Studio Total  and their product, Flower Shells. 
Per Cromwell, the (I think) genius behind the idea, has created a delightful product that takes an instrument generally designed for some type of destruction and turned it into an instrument for life and new beginnings. Yep, thats right, flower shells are gun shells that have been emptied of their lead and instead filled with seeds of a variety of different flower seeds, such as poppies, sunflowers, sweet peas, lupins and a host of other meadowy type species. Each shell is hand made, with the lead being lovingly removed and replaced by the seeds, which are protected from the heat of the blast with fabric and paper. Talk about guerilla gardening  at its very finest!! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Under the Sea

As we drifted over the reef towards our next idyllic location, ooing and ahhing at the colourful fish and azure waters, the coral gave way to sand and I suddenly realised we were drifting over what appeared to be grids of fences and paddocks, set amongst the shallow waters of the bay. With fencing just visible in the far distance jutting out above the full tide, it was obvious something was being grown and harvested in a big way beneath the glittering turquoise waters. As it turns out, with 85% of the land here (Nusa Lembongan) being incredibly hard to farm, the main source of income for the island is seaweed cultivation. (although I'd hazard a guess tourism might be winning that race these days). Traditionally, most families own 3-5 acres of seaweed beds which can produce 150-200kg of dried seaweed each harvest. Predominately being the species Eucheuma cottonii, the young algae sprouts are tied onto lines of rope (or the fencing) and left to grow until harvest which is generally only a one month growing period/cycle. The harvested seaweed is then left to sundry for around three days, packed off to the mainland and then exported to various places for use in the cosmetics industry.
A double edged sword, there have been concerns raised that seaweed farming has a negative impact on its surrounds, with areas of mangrove forests sometimes being cleared to make way for more farming areas. However, mangroves help purify the waters to make the seaweed healthier and more robust and in turn, the seaweed provides diversity and habitat to the nearby reef which I'm sure these algaculturalists would be well aware of after many years spent in the ocean tending to their crops. To my touristy naked eye, I'd suggest there are definitely more pressing environmental issues to be dealt with- disposal of non perishables as the number one. 
anyway, thats another thought for another day. More from island life soon....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Absolutely Fabulous.

Forever in my memory is the image of the chain smoking, champagne swilling, entirely vacuous, totally fabulous and hilarious Patsy. Even though in the back of my mind I know Joanna Lumley is most definitely not this character in reality (however much i might want her to be), its still hard to dispel the above image when news crops up about Lumley's latest ventures. Most notably for my little ears in recent times, The London Garden Bridge. 

A concept that was born from Lumley's childhood memories of misty Malaysian gardens, the bridge is intended to cross the Thames and connect Southbank to Temple station with a floating, garden paradise for pedestrians. Designed by Heatherwick Studios (most notably known for designing the London Olympics cauldron), the proposal is set to become a reality after the government finally decided to come around and pledge thirty million pounds to the already privately donated and funded project. Transport for London has also donated four million pounds to the 150 million pound project that could now be under construction as soon as next year.

In terms of the design, the bridge will incorporate much of the rich horticultural heritage of the Thames and the English countryside with woodland trees, spring meadow flowers and grasses and provide an inner city haven and habitat for many birds bugs and bees of the city. 

The major question that needs to be asked now is, how soon can we have one in Melbourne!? 
watch this space. 

images above courtesy of Heatherwick Studios. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Waste Deep

of course, we're already well aware that waste is a major issue we as a global society with an ever growing population will have to face and change. 'Waste Deep', a documentary by Sustainable Table offers us an insight into while we're aware of waste management and recycling, not enough is being done at this current time to help alleviate the issue. As this documentary puts it, majority of our society see the yellow recycling bin as the end of the road; bit done for the environment, pat on the back and repeat again the week after. of course, this is really only the FINAL SOLUTION to the issue. a brilliant 20 minute documentary that doesn't beat you over the head about being un-ecologically friendly but instead gives you the current facts and figures in waste management and focuses on the day to day things you can do to help. Waste, particularly of non perishables needs to be cut down, and fast, in order to help protect the planet. As consumers, we have been brought up in a 'culture of convenience" that encourages us to look for the most perfect looking fruits and vegetables and as such we "have lost connection to the provenance of our food." Step in, farmers markets, helpful shopping/cooking tips and encouraging stories on the benefits of shopping 'slow' and local, and of  "shopping with intent", rather than going into the supermarket on a whim and shopping towards marketing hype. dealing with perishable waste is of course a lot easier to manage; its really when the issue boils down to plastics and metals that we as consumers can do a lot more by actually only doing very little and changing our habits, that it all adds up for the better. with people like Sarah Wilson, Tim Silverwood (Take 3 Home) and Costa Georgiadis giving their strategies towards a waste free (or greatly diminished waste) world, its an inspiring and really accessible watch. so boil the kettle and ignore the post for now; watch this instead HERE http://vimeo.com/87989774

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spade & Barrow

Spade & Barrow are...
THE FUTURE!!! Serious. they're one of those companies/initiatives that have just got it going on and have got the right attitude towards food sovereignty and food provenance. Spade and Barrow comes from the same magical team that set up Secondbite (if you don't know Secondbite combats the ridiculous amounts of fresh produce surplus by rescuing and redistributing it to those in need. have a look here http://secondbite.org/FoodMate to find out more).  This time around, Spade & Barrow focuses on THE FARMERS. As CEO Katy discusses, in the process of developing Secondbite, the plight of farmers trying to cope with the mass production demands of major supermarket chains and retailers was more often than not undoing farming livelihoods with an average of 300/month (farmers that is), walking away from the land, unable to sustain themselves and their families. thankfully, Spade & Barrow recognised this and have stepped in creating themselves as a new distributor for fresh farm produce, bought directly from farmers at a fair farm price and brought straight to your door. Renaming this produce as 'Natures Grade', Spade & Barrow embrace and applaud the imperfections in fruit and vegetable produce that major retailers deem unworthy. As such, this produce is saved from going to waste, and of course too, by purchasing this produce direct from the farmer, ensures these farming families can stay on the land and keep growing us delicious, local produce. So if you live in Geelong or Melbourne regions, I strongly suggest jumping on the website, having a look around and signing up... its really too easy and ever so deliciously good. http://spadeandbarrow.com.au

photo courtesy of Spade and Barrow. CEO Katy Barfield. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ben Morieson: Fieldwork

completely unintentionally, it would appear that this months theme (not that there has ever actually been a monthly theme on Harvest), is the relationship between art and the agrarian world. 
Situated on a private block in Kensington, Melbourne, 'Fieldwork' by Ben Morieson, is an installation that is intended to make the viewer aware of the importance of the agrarian world and its part played in our everyday lives. Rather than another grey vacant block of land, artist Ben Morieson has planted the 1.8 hectare block with Ausigold 26 (a variety of Sunflowers developed and donated by Nuseed), with the aim to reconnect city dwellers with the provenance of their food and the cyclical, seasonal nature of the agricultural world, and too, to create a vibrant colour block within the grey scale of the city.
Morieson has intentions to harvest and distribute the seeds to nearby communities, but various toxins that were detected on the site by Melbourne University's Burnley Campus may thwart the ambition, depending on the percentage of these toxins that have been absorbed into the plants during their growing cycle. 
Morieson intends to create the installation again, and perhaps in numerous locations using all sorts of different mass plantings in order to create multiple colour blocks throughout the city. If you live in Melbourne, the installation is found at 59 Alfred Street Kensington and will be there until the end of March.

photos courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald & The Art Almanac. 

Monday, March 17, 2014


again, i'm about to harp on about the love of the marriage that's continually developing between the art/design world with the agrarian. yes, you're right,  the natural world has always been an inspiration to artists and designers from day dot, but when a company comes along that is specifically created to drum up beautiful designs and concepts for agrarian businesses in mind, now that's a whole different story.

Farmrun is the brainchild of Adam Plotsky, a natural development of creative drive and passion for the agricultural world that developed during experiences of travel and farm work across the States. Meeting these farmers and co raised an awareness that often small agrarian businesses can have a hard time cracking the market and becoming 'known' as a brand or entity- especially when the media is awash with the huge corporations and their stranglehold across the marketing sphere. Farmrun offers beautiful bespoke and I think utterly charming designs for such businesses across a whole spectrum of mixed media and mediums. They celebrate the grassroots nature of the agrarian world while being totally contemporary and dare I say it, not the usual type of branding that's  often pretty synonymous with the farming/organic/slow world (think, rainbows, rising suns, babies in cabbage leaves, scarecrows- NOT that there's anything wrong with these, it's just refreshing to see new agrarian branding coming into play). anyway, enough; here are some of my favourite designs done for the likes of Wanted Weeds, Milkwood Permaculture, Washington Young Farmers Coalition, Stitchdown Farm and The Greenhorns to name but a few. to read more and watch some of the great clips on the website, head to http://farmrun.com


Wanted Weeds:

Stitchdown Farm:

Washington Young Farmers Coalition/Greenhorns:

Hogstones Wood Oven: