One of the things I've discovered about starting your own business is that there's no finish line. No one to give you a seal of approval for a job well done; no gold star for effort; no map to success.
My small trial crop, grown by dear friends in Penola, looks wonderful. Under the vigilant eye of their King Charles Spaniel, the birds have been kept at bay. The pure water from the aquifer has helped the plants to flourish through a spate of hot, dry weather, and the plants have formed beautiful tassels and now small ears of corn.
My commercial crop in Kalangadoo is a different story. First, cockatoos attacked the plants at the edge of the pivot site. When food becomes scarce, they mass around the fertile land to sustain themselves. While a scare gun forms an effective deterrent, it was too late to repair the loss. Second, in our Mediterranean climate, plants need a great deal of water to grow through the heat of summer. We have learned to our detriment that these conditions are also ideal for the Fat Hen weed, which has formed a choke-hold around the plants despite our best efforts at mowing to keep it at bay. The competition for nutrients and water was too great.
These failures are inevitable when trying to pursue holistic farming principles. I recognise that even mainstream growers contend with substantial crop losses each year, and I am fortunate to be supported by expert growers who will continue to support my dream to produce nutritionally dense foods over the years ahead.
On a brighter note, my seaweed has dried in the sun, and when pulverised has retained its glorious colour and distinctive, fresh ocean scent. A powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, I will continue to explore ways to create delicious products with this incredible ingredient sourced from our 'doorstep'.
I am not disheartened by my experiences this year. On the contrary, as much as I would have loved to process and distribute a beautiful, nourishing crop in the autumn, failure hones my desire and focuses my ambition to develop something exciting and worthwhile.
The Persian poet Rumi expresses these experiences so beautifully in his poem, Search the Darkness.
Life’s waters flow from darkness. Search the darkness, don’t run from it.
Night travelers are full of light, and you are too: don’t leave this companionship…
The moon appears for night travellers, be watchful when the moon is full.