Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Pay Your Mortgage with Jam

I met a man on the weekend who pays 6 weeks of his mortgage by selling jam from one tree in his garden. Impressive!

I met Jerry Coleby-Williams, ABC Gardening Australia presenter, on Sunday. He makes 900 jars of jam from one Tahitian lime tree in his suburban edible garden (Bellis) which pays for 6 weeks of his mortgage. He also sells seeds, plants and more, plus hosts open days. 

Jerry's Tahitian Lime jam. As well as selling it, he also makes enough to give away as gifts of thanks. I will enjoy this  on some lovely sourdough soon.
I love community gardens. They are great places to be inspired - to learn how to garden and live simply and sustainably.

I was delighted to be invited to be the MC for the 2016 Open Day at Yandina Community Gardens Hundreds of people came to find interesting new ideas, to learn, to see, to taste, to smell, to share, to meet new and old friends. Parliamentary Speaker and local Independent Member of Parliament, Peter Wellington, officially opened the event.

Jerry Coleby-Williams, ABC Gardening Australia presenter, was the main speaker for the day. He talked about many things, but there were a couple of things in particular that impressed me. His jam-making prowess for one (which he attributes to his Nan's instruction - she had a Dig for Victory garden in London). Jerry's garden in Wynnum Brisbane, is somewhat like an old-style mixed market garden from which he creates many products for home use and for sale.

Secondly , I loved Jerry's deep connection with his garden (a diverse edible oasis in suburban Brisbane) and how closely he observes and documents what happens in it.  He set it up to be a demonstration of sustainability - but it has also become a site of scientific interest.  In his garden he has found many new species of insects and he suggests that if we take time to look, we probably have some too.

Exploring the Yandina Community Gardens with Jerry Coleby-Williams - and searching for new bugs.
How great - being discoverers of new species in your own little garden.  Jerry suggests if you don't know what a bug is, take pictures and send it to BowerBird for identification from leading experts associated with Museum Victoria - you never know! The kids are keen to do this as a homeschooling project.

I presented too about my adventures in getting out of the consumer-waste trap and I enjoyed listening to the other speakers including:

  • Anne Gibson who shared a simple way to easily create nutrient-dense food using micro-greens.
  • Elizabeth Fekonia who shared how to properly prepare legumes so they don't cause stomach upsets (and gas!). I'll write up the lessons I learnt soon.
Anne Gibson demonstrating how to make microgreens in a reused strawberry tub. I'll write more about these soon.

Elizabeth Fekonia demonstrated ways to use legumes grown in a permaculture garden. This year is the International Year of   Pulses (legumes).

The kids had a great time too. Maia and I found a couple of extra plants for our garden including sweet leaf. They loved the bicycle-powered smoothie maker organised by Living Smart program of the local Council. They also entered into the photographic competition judged by Leonie Shanahan of Edible School Gardens.

There's a great permaculture nursery at the Yandina Community Gardens. We were delighted to find some extra plants to add to our diverse garden.
Maia and Hugh with Living Smart's, Sharon Stott and Council's bike-powered smoothie-maker. I'd love one of these at Crystal Waters!
Maia's 2 photographic entries above - a bee landing on Salvia in our garden, and the emerging flower of Yacon indicating the swelling of the edible roots below. Both Maia and Hugh were proud to enter pictures of their garden in the exhibition.

Congratulations to Michelle, Cristina and to all the amazing volunteers for the beautiful Yandina Community Gardens and making your second open day such a fabulous event! Amazing effort - thank you!!


  1. 900 jars!! Wow ��
    Where does he source his jars from.....do you know?

  2. Yes money does grow on trees one just has to have the nous to be able to see that as Jerry does :) I am really impressed that he was able to pay off six weeks of his mortgage payments through selling home made jam. From your post the Yandina Community Garden Open Day looks to be a truly wonderful event full of people passing on skills and useful information.

  3. Hi Morag,
    I too am a huge fan of Jerry, he is such a wise man with lots of good old fashioned advice, the only TV show I watch is Gardening Australia, I just love it. I will have to make it along to his open garden one day. Have a great day.

  4. Money for jam ... what a wonderful thing ... and lime jam at that. I bet it's delicious!

  5. Manageable mortgage + sellable produce is such a winning combination for a sustainable lifestyle :)

  6. The abundance of nature, one tree is a heap of produce. Lovely event to read about from a rainy UK

  7. What are the australian rules for selling transformed produce? Here in italy they make it illegal without a certified worklab, as they call it, "to ensure hygene"..(metal walls and basins, ecc.). The fines are crippling.

  8. Why pay mortgage at all? The land belongs to all or no-one. To build a cob dwelling from natural materials should cost you no more than a years labour, yet you pay off a debt for it for the rest of your life... Usury is base injustice inherent in our so-called civilisation but so rarely recognised as something that needs to be changed. Without that it is all of the good things are built upon sand.

    1. I have made it a point to not have a mortgage - it has meant I have been able make different choices - to volunteer at lot, to homeschool, to work from home part time. We built over a few years with affordable materials - I wrote a little overview here... http://our-permaculture-life.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/our-affordable-mortgage-free-eco-house.html