In 2010 I ate a red capsicum that changed my life.
Throughout my twenties, on and off, I’ve had symptoms of what doctors politely called ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome.’ But there is nothing polite about those symptoms when they’re happening to you. Quite the contrary.
By early 2010 I’d developed a very painful, leaky gut. Giardia and other parasites had burrowed into my intestines, causing terrible swelling and making me sensitive to many foods that ordinarily I could have eaten, no problem. It had also given me an inbuilt chemical receptor: meaning conventionally grown (chemically grown) produce gave me the sh**s ~ to put it politely.
Enter the red capsicum. Conventionally grown, these little guys can be particularly loaded with chemicals to keep pests away from their alluring red flesh. Mistakenly, I ate it. After a long night nursing my swollen abdomen I had a terrifying thought,
“If I'm ever going to feel safe eating anything again, I'm going to have to grow my own food. Organically.”
But where to begin? HOW ON EARTH was I going to do that? I didn’t even know how to put edging around a garden bed to keep all the soil from spilling out.
A few weeks later, my eye caught an email about a free information session on Permaculture at the library. I booked in. And I was hooked. The elegant design of herb spirals, the logical progression of bananas around a circle, the truth behind the abundance of systems living on the edge – I had to know more.
So I joined my local community garden, Veggie Village in Peregian Beach. The garden boasted Permaculture members on the committee and had been designed using smart, logical and practical systems, which were also beautiful and tranquil. I was astounded and encouraged when my kale seedlings took off and I found I could grow things successfully, without hours and hours of effort.
With growing confidence (pun intended) I decided it was time to buy my own place so I could grow more food than I could in the pots at our rental property. My partner Chris and I moved to my one and a half acre property in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in July 2010.
In September we took the PDC with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton and since then I’ve come to understand what a swale is, how to find that elusive thing called ‘contour’, more about the mating rituals of frogs than I ever dreamed I’d need to know, and how to grow enough organic food to satisfy my now mostly healed digestive system.
I invite you to follow me on this journey and learn from my ups and downs. I’m sure there will be plenty more laughs along the way!!!
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Read my articles here ---> http://permaculture.org.au/author/Nicola%20Chatham
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