Upon reflection, as a ‘city girl’, I guess I never thought much about where my food came from. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I knew apples grew on trees, and a pumpkin had to be way too heavy for that, so most likely grew on a vine … and I even had a mini (albeit fairly unsuccessful) veggie patch in my inner-city Melbourne share house. In fact, to be completely honest, friends of mine back home would probably testify that I investigate the origin of my food more than most, having chosen long ago the life of a ‘pescetarian’ (seafood eating vegetarian) for ethical reasons. However, my knowledge, until now, has been intellectual rather than experience based.
Living, working and exercising in the town of Huayang has allowed me to watch my dinner grow before my very eyes. I have seen the full process, from seed to harvest of some of my favourite vegetables and grains – including eggplants, corn, pumpkin, beans, carrots, rice and wheat to name just a few. It has had a profound affect upon me, and while saying it is a spiritual experience may be taking it too far, at times it has certainly felt like it. In the cities of the ‘wealthy west’ so often we fill our days and lives with the pursuit of meaningless things … and to watch farmers at work and vegetables slowly growing through the seasons is a nice reminder of our life sustaining needs and the hard work and reliance upon the elements that is required to obtain these necessities.
With the dawn of autumn a number of weeks ago, this hard work increased –harvest time had arrived. I watched intently each new phase of the process as I ran past, smiling and saying my ‘ni hao’s’ to those I knew. However, my curiosity was not being satisfied with only a fleeting glace and so one day decided to take a long walk. It was so beautiful to watch, and more than merely hard work, was clearly an art that had been finely tuned over many years. Everyone was involved and knew their role … from the very youngest to the oldest or most cripple. It also appeared that talking and laughing was an important part of the process!
As per usual, everyone made me feel welcome: allowed me to sit and watch, take photos and happily chatted to me – even though I understood little more than the basics of the conversation. Choosing some photos for this blog was very difficult, and you may need to excuse me for going overboard, but this is my ode to the farmers of Huayang who provide me with my daily food.