How to Build a Community

November 5, 2017

The sun's rays were strong on our backs today.  The children and I tore open the little yellow envelopes that contain our treasured seeds from the Genebank, revealing coloured gems: red, blue, cream and gold.  We're hoping for genial spring weather, and the soil was warm and soft as we planted row after row of our trial crops.




The paddock we have chosen is close to our farmhouse.  Sheltered by sheds and giant trees,  I'm hoping my plants will be kept safe from frosts and marauding predators.  I know I'll have to keep a close watch, though: our clever, beautiful rosellas and hungry kangaroos can destroy a crop in an instant if they choose.  



It wasn't just the corn seeds we planted today.  Like people, plants flourish when they are surrounded by a diverse and supportive community.  I have learned from the ancient traditions of the Native Americans, who grew their corn telling the story of the Three Sisters: Sister Bean, who makes nitrogen available to the plants; Sister Corn, who acts as the trellis for the bean vine; and Sister Squash, whose rampant growth provides ground cover and protects the delicate surface of the soil.  A fourth sister is now added to this story: Sister Sunflower, who attracts the birds away from the precious crops with her bright flowers and seeds, while at the same time attracting beneficial insects. 




Inspired by local friends who are developing a native Australian seed mix, I have also interplanted the rows with brightly coloured flowers and grasses.  These promise to act as deterrents to pests, and host to butterflies and beneficial bugs, aiding pollination and creating a thriving community within the soil.  A floral revolution!




At the end of the day, there is a sense of joy in starting a new season of growth, and a moment to  cherish the beautiful view from my "office".







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