Building community helps farmers. Direct marketing enables the farm to increase diversity and build a fairer income. Flavia Assuncao of GrowingRootsPermaculture talks about her personal experience in farming and direct marketing.
“Some plants are very important for diversity but people don’t know how to cook” the harvests that Flavia and Bunya grow. But now, they have a whole community of supporters. Flavia says the close contact with customers encourages them to keeping farming. Customers take food to share with their whole family. I guess the main issue is like – sometimes I even cry because they say ‘this food is lifting my soul – or like, when I eat this food I have to the energy to concentrate. it is all an important part of their culture.’
Growing Support for Healthy Farming Practices
Flavia says “for me is what’s keeping me going”. Everytime when Flavia feels like – ‘argh! its too hard’ – she gets a message that someone coming! “Really the Islanders spirit (vibe) is, you know for them – life is beautiful and everything is okay and if they have it fully they are ahead and normally the bunch is when we sell you know commercial bunch is gonna be little. But I always make sure that I make it for them, Islander style.
I always say to them so they come they get so happy because normally for them food is to share. so you know i always make sure of that and they bring drink and food for us too. When we always get food from them when they come, they bring trays of pumpkin, taro and sweetcorn. “
“We learned so much well. We had some guys coming from Fiji /Sydney (750kms), do you know? So we were harvesting cassava and they were telling us: ‘Look, you can plant it like this…’ and so we get the perspective from so many different cultures as well and we learn. and it is so good and this is something that really brings me life, because I am not from Australia as well, and once I had cassava and all these bananas to eat, I could see that I was really grounded here. Because it really is part of who I am. “
Mixed farming in Food Forest
Customers also show Flavia how to grow a mix of forest and have the animals together in the shade.
“They come here and tell me: ‘This is like Bali!’ (their home)! Where they grow forest, they grow food, and they have the animals together. They cook under the shade, together with the trees, there’s no separation. They are part (of the Ecosystem), they live in spaces like this on their islands, so it’s so good to see how much inspired (encouragement) they get when they come in here, and they feel home, this place feels like home for them. it is very familiar landscape with bananas, and they use the leaves from papaya, the leaves from cassava, because on their island theirs resources are a bit short, so they use so many different parts of plants, bananas flowers, parts of the banana, they use everything to cook,
So we are learning so much of having all these cultures around us and this connection is actually really inspiring and rewarding, because they allow us to grow with diversity. and having different plants we have different “tastes” for everyone, and they cannot find this food on the supermarket, like pumpkin tips (shoots) , chokos tips (shoots) they cannot go to the supermarket to find that.. When they get here , they say: “Do you have taroooo!!! Betel leaf!!! I had a lady that bought a whole box with betel leaf and while her daughter was talking to me, she started to eat in the car everything that had in their box. Because this food is part of who they are, and they miss they food.
Having all this culture around us that this meeting is actually really inspiring and rewarding.
I started selling only chillies, but now we have more them 20 produces in our list to sell every week, . It was a very slowly process, but what we are building with the community is so strong, that keep us growing (going for longer) as well.
The Value of Feeling Supported
Farming can be lonely but Flavia says “For us, this work is not about make a lot of money, in short time, It is more about building community, and empower people to grow their food., outside of our garden as well. We also sell plant propagation and we teach people and empower them to grow food in their backyard, for example when we sell the Aibika, we always tell them to plant the sticks in their home garden. Our garden keep growing outside of “The farm “.
Flavia smiles “it’s working so well”