Making and Sharing at Christmas

Giving and sharing are such basic foundations of good community and great relationships. So easily however we slip into the consumer economy for even some basic things - especially around Christmas season. If we were to simply share our own abundance, and asked for support and assistance, it is so surprisingly easy to catalyse a gift economy.

I am running a series of free permaculture workshops at the local neighbourhood centre. Tomorrow morning is the final of the series - focussing on how to use all the wonderful produce we grow. I will be exlploring ferments, herb oils, herb vinegars, solar cooking, herb drying, the use of unusual perennial edibles. 

Last night while I was planning this session, I realised that I am very short on small jars to run this session, so I put out a midnight email to my community. Before breakfast I already had an offer of about 100 jars. Through the day more people responded too.

In the middle of the day I headed off to collect the jars. First stop was at the home of one the the elders of the community - someone I love to see, but had not caught up with for ages.  His knees are giving him some trouble so we don't meet on our morning walks. We had a great chat and caught up on each other’s news.  He was so happy that I came to collect these jars.  It doesn't feel right to him to throw them away and he was delighted to get my email and have a chance to unclutter his shed a little.

Next stop was another lovely neighbour up the same road. I wandered through her food forest to their owner-built strawbale house of another neighbour. She had the jars ready, washed and packed at her door. Again we chatted and caught up and as a bonus we organised some spanish conversational lessons for my daughter - she is teacher and translator. 

Finally we headed to the other side of the ecovillage. Not only did this couple share with me a box of pristine bottles, but a couple of plant seedlings - a tamarind and a chilli bush. I had been wanting to catch up with them for a while to learn more about their method of making effective microorganisms (EM) from citrus and molasses - an alternative to Bokashi. I was given the full run through of the process and the promise of a bottle of EM when it is drained off next week. He is Thai and has spent a long time researching EM methods from Thailand and is going to translate it and share it. I'll start some myself soon.

Chilli and Tamarind seedlings - in Thailand the new growing tips of tamarind trees are eaten as a fresh green
I finally came home with way more jars than I had ever expected, and a huge smile from all the connections and sharings made today. Tomorrow I will pass on the gift at the neighbourhood centre with an abundance of produce and jars of herb oils for the participants to gift at Christmas.

Preparing herb oils, salad dressings and salves at the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre.

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