Matt and Lentil are an idyllic young couple who left their mainstream jobs to pursue the simple life . Although this 'simple life' consists of hard work, challenging labour & long days, they have managed to document their working lives, shaping the way many of us look at the concept of 'slow living', at their humble small farm in Tabilk, Victoria. The pair have found a positive balance between traditional living, without going off-grid. G&G celebrates our modern tech-driven age to share traditional knowledge with hopes to inspire more people to live & eat more mindfully.
Tell us about Grown and Gathered and how it began?
Tell us about Grown and Gathered and how it began?
Grown & Gathered started out as a backyard project, then became a small farm, that became a Melbourne vege box mini-institution, that became an education facility. We absolutely love what we do and have ridden the roller-coasted of the last few years with great joy (and a lot of sweat). We are so glad to be where we are now, educating people on how to live a more sustainable life, grow their own food and eat in a truly, nourishing way, like it used to be. It's been, and continues to be a lot of hard work, but we are passionate about what we are out to achieve and that gives us a lot of energy to cope with that!
What are some of the challenges you have faced throughout growing your business?
Running your own business is always going to be hard work. But it does get easier. For the last few years we've had very few breaks holidays that haven't involved work. We've had to work tirelessly both in the garden and in the office making it all happen. We've grown too big at times, and we've felt what it is to not be big enough too. But over time we have hit our sweet spot and now the challenge is keeping it that work/life balance in place (although right this second we feel we've never been busier ha!). Guess it comes back to that 'loving it' thing!
Describe what living sustainably means to you?
Living sustainably to us is living like it used to be. Before chemicals, and synthetic fertilisers, and plastics, and the whole concept of waste existed. That said, we don't eschew technology, nor feel that you can't live sustainably with technology. But it certainly makes things a lot more complicated. We used to say we'd happily just go and be hippies in the bush. But we've decided that the world needs to remember the skills we have to share and so stay very connected with modern life. If you want to live sustainably, simplify. That always seems to be a good first step.
We have read that your lifestyle incorporates a commitment to creating zero waste. What advice can you give to those living in an urban environment regarding waste management?
Compost your food-waste! If you don't have the space, find someone that does. We are working on council-wide systems that will deal with this down the track but for now food-waste is one of the biggest problems in the waste system. Other than that, try to stop buying things in packages, especially food. Buy in bulk and cook from scratch using the most unrefined ingredients you can find. And remove single use plastic from your life. That stuff's just dumb.
Tell us about your farm? What does an average week entail for you?
At the moment, we have shrunk the vege/flower patch to a far more human size of about 1000 square metres and that's going awesome! It's given us a whole lot of time to work on our off-farm education. That said we still have to feed and water the 50 chickens and chicks, 7 sheep everyday, 2 dogs and 2 cows everyday, weed what needs weeding, mulch what needs mulching, pick what needs picking, and fix what needs fixing. The summer garden is just about to pop in all it's abundant glory so in about 3 weeks we'll be harvesting and delivering some 200kg of tomatoes every week and buckets and buckets of flowers! That should keep our weeks busy.
We’re hugely inspired by the work you do on your farm. What would you say to those wanting to take steps toward growing their own food and living more sustainably?
Begin! We want everyone to feel empowered to live this way! We don't own the land we currently live on. Don't let owning land be a barrier. We have only just bought land of our own now after many years and many gardens in multiple locations and we would have had it any other way. It's great to improve the land wherever you are for the people that come next and we will be happy to leave this property in the next year and begin our new block. So just get out there in the country, lease some land and start your little farm. It's amazing what can be achieved on just a few acres and the best way to learn is to begin. We'll be here to help with any questions :)
Tell us about your workshops and the educational aspect of Grown and Gathered? How can people get involved with what you do?
We've just put our 2016 workshops and other events like dinners on the website www.grownandgathered.com.au/events. We are also taking a few more consultations for the year so if you have a backyard/farm that you'd like our help with then shoot us an email (more info atwww.grownandgathered.com.au/learn). Finally, we also do private talks and workshops. So if you are interested in anything you've heard us talk about before, drop us a line and let's work out a plan!
Not only do you have a strong face-to-face connection with your community, you also maintain an equal presence on social media. How do you approach this given that Grown and Gathered is based upon age-old traditions of farming and trade?
As we said above, that's just the world we live in and that's just fine. We really would be happy just isolating ourselves on our land (and maybe we will one day ha!) but for now we feel a calling to educate and stay in touch. That's what feels right right now. We always try to be honest on social media. You get the farm ups, and the farm failures.