Sunday, February 17, 2013

Keep Monsanto out of your garden.

I came across this today and of course had to share it here as it's of particular interest for gardeners, particularly those who grow their own produce...

For those of you who are not familiar with Monsanto then you should probably educate yourselves as they are a power to be reckoned with... and not for the side of good, as far as I'm concerned and I know I'm not alone there.

Despite masquerading as 'A Sustainable Agricultural Company' and trying to align themselves with farmers, in trying to help them meet the needs of a growing population... Monsanto are nothing more than profit hunters doing whatever it takes to take over agriculture with Genetically Modified Crops... and now they are targeting home gardeners...

'What most of these home gardeners don’t realize is that corporate behemoth and GMO titan Monsanto has been gobbling up the seed market faster than a caterpillar can munch a tomato plant! With one fell swoop in 2005, Monsanto grabbed approximately 40% of the US vegetable seed market with its acquisition of Seminis.

This means that a home gardener could unknowingly be supporting the development and proliferation of genetically modified crops if the seeds used are from Seminis.  In addition, Monsanto now apparently owns many of the names of the seed varieties themselves!'

While I am not sure if Australia imports the seed brands now under the Monsanto umbrella it is well worth being aware of and keeping an eye on. Educating ourselves is our best defense if we care what we inadvertently support when we shop, if we care what we bring into our homes and our gardens!

It's like the whole hemp conspiracy theory all over again... and what a coincidence that DuPont are Monsanto's biggest competitor... like minded and power hungry they want full control just like they did back in 1937 as some of the big money people stricking out to protect their interests...

'Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst led the crusade to ban hemp. Hearst owned millions of acres of prime timber land and a machine that simplified the process of making paper from hemp had just been invented. Hearst used his power as a publisher to create public panic about the evils of hemp and marijuana. Another big money player Pierre DuPont held patent rights to the sulfuric acid wood pulp paper process. In 1937 DuPont patented nylon rope made from synthetic petrochemicals. The big money people prevailed and near the end of 1937 Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. By placing a prohibitively high tax on hemp production it destroyed the industry. This was done to protect these big money interests of the timber, petrochemical, and cotton industries.' (quoted from here).

Food really is BIG business now (think Food Inc.) and organisations like Monsanto and DuPont sell their services to the American government, American farmers and the American people by way of striking fear into their hearts that there will be a food shortage if we don't start genetically modifying our crops and so many people have fallen victim to this belief and given them carte blanche to take over. It's a horrifying thought for those of us who don't want to go down this path, whether we are a farmer or a consumer.

There is so much more I could say on this subject as it feeds into a really big picture... but instead I will leave you with a more feel-good story*, though it starts out somewhat depressing... and a note on this: the beginning is the reality of what business has done to farming and although she refers mostly to the impending energy crisis... it could just as easily be what chemicals have done and what GMO's will inevitably do. For me the most poignant moment is when she refers to some old video footage of one of their fields from the 1980's, where the life in the soil was a feast for the birds (at ploughing time) yet 20 years later there are no birds... because the soil is dead... but really, it's worth watching the whole thing because she discovers some very positive and innovative people that are healing this earth.

* Can't link to original on BBC website but this is a legitimate version on youtube

If you care about what you eat or what you grow or what your shopping dollar supports then there are some great organisations out there finding out the dirt so we can avoid what we don't want and support what we do... here are just a few: Truefood Network; The Ethical Consumer Guide; Local Harvest, The Sustainable Table... the list goes on but these will keep you going for a while and will no doubt lead you on your own journey of discovery and education.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

A winding laneway...

Last Sunday I detoured from my usual daily walk and, with camera in hand, I opted to venture down a little track that I had previously thought too isolated:

The track is actually to the left of a track that I explored last year (here). It's funny, how the mind conjures up images of what might be... for some reason I thought the track would look like this all the way along and follow the water's edge... but to my surprise, this part of the track only lasted about a couple of minutes walking time... and opened up to this:

A delightful little laneway that gently winds its way down to the water's edge but with houses tucked away all along it... so this post also fits in with my Local Houses and Gardens series, but just with glimpses really as most, if not all, houses sit below street level. Come with me on my walk and see what I saw:

Above and below - lovely iridescent moss growing on a rock face

For some reason this wall made me feel like I was in Italy

Is this not the prettiest carport you've ever seen! Not necessarily my style of architecture but it is so well considered and works with the lay of the land. I like how it sits atop a big double garage... what comfort for a sloping lot. The hedges give it that extra elegance... I would never hedge like this but must admit it does look appealing in the right context.

Stolen vistas down stairways and through buildings to the bay beyond...

At the end of it a lovely little reserve, with more homes around the corner, all nestled at the water's edge.

... and on my way back I noticed this sign... needless to say I was tempted to follow the arrow, perhaps take in a debate??? but I couldn't determine if the steps leading down seemed too private to be public... i.e. leading to someone's home and not a public point so I opted to keep walking back home.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Audley - Royal National Park, NSW

Can you call Audley a suburb? It lies within the Royal National Park and there are no residences as such (only for Park staff), there is an historic boat shed as well as an historic dance hall and a cafe but none of the other stuff that makes up a typical suburb... It has a postcode so for the purpose of this post I shall call it a suburb.

Audley has to be one of my most favourite spots on this planet... and that's saying alot because I've seen a few and many are very dear to me but there is something about Audley...

I feel ashamed to say that just shy of one year since being back in Sydney and living only 10 minutes or so away, Wednesday of last week was my first visit in a long time. Growing up in the Shire, Audley was part of my stomping ground with both family and friends. Our extended family would often go there for picnics when we were young, we'd hire out the row boats and have such incredible fun... this carried on into my adolescent years when I would still visit with family but also started going there with friends... and it continued into adulthood and now I've picked up where I left off.

Having lived away from the Shire for about 12 years, having experienced, and fallen in love with, a slower pace of life and having become more aligned with natural environments over cityscapes, I was very glad indeed to immerse myself in the silence and solitude that is Audley.

I rowed and drifted along the river, with the ducks to keep me company and could literally feel the serenity penetrate to my core. I practically had the whole place to myself and it was magic.

Even the busloads of Japanese tourists that arrived mid-morning, after I had returned my dinky little row boat, only sent happy ripples along the river as they laughed and rowed... even the people visiting the Weir Cafe were serene... but I will now let the pictures tell the story:

... and I also snapped some images of the Weir Cafe but as I was on my own I didn't stay to eat but will return one day with friends to try it out:

 Above: Showing some of the indoor area of the cafe, it shares its space with the Visitor Centre & Giftshop

 Above: Showing some of the outdoor area of the cafe overlooking the idyllic Hacking river.

Above: The building as a whole, to the left on the ground level is the Weir Cafe / Visitor Centre & Giftshop; upstairs is the old dance hall that has been refurbished and now goes by the name of The Audley Room, serving high tea and catering to weddings and on the right is the character-filled Commonwealth Pavillion (close up: below).

You can read more about the Royal National Park here but I highly recommend this spot to anyone who likes picnicking, taking out a row boat, canoe or paddle boat, hiking / bushwalking, birdwatching, photography, painting en plein air... or just simply taking in the solitude and silence.

I've purchased my annual pass and will be returning often, not just to row but to walk and study nature, getting endless inspiration for my designs.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Street appeal

This majestic pink Crepe Myrtle is the feature of the front garden of this week's 'local houses and gardens'. Sitting right on the boundary, just by the front gate it spills out onto the street as well and makes a stunning impact.

It looks to me like they don't cut it back harshly like some people do... we used to have one in our front garden when I was living in North Balgowlah but it never got to look like this because it had always been pruned back really hard and personally I believe that is a no-no when it comes to trees.

I'm not sure I would ever purposely plant one of these... pink is not necessarily the colour scheme I would choose for my garden... and I tend to go more towards native gardens and more earthy colours but nonetheless I still think this is simply gorgeous!