Pandemic pushes us back to basics

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After five weeks of lockdown under COVID-19 Alert Level 4, it’s fair to say we’re all gaining a new appreciation for our primary sectors and the farming industry in particular.

Access to fresh, healthy food has been at the forefront of many people’s minds recently and I reckon it’s made many of us think about more about self-sustainability. Just look at how seed companies have struggled to keep up with demand and the reports of garden centres running out of seedlings just before lockdown took effect.

 We’ve all had to re-think the way we live in our communities and, for those of us with a bit of extra time on our hands, there’s been a trend in back-to-basics living. I know farmers themselves have really stepped-up their game in terms of supporting their essential workers through the lockdown; they know the community is relying on them for milk, meat and fresh produce and they have continued to deliver. I love the fact that many of them have included farm hands in their bubbles, inviting them to join family meals and keeping their spirits up on the farm.

Equally, there’s been a real, growing appreciation of the work farmers do for our country and the importance of primary industries. We don’t really know how the pandemic will affect them long-term, but with the annual Gypsy Day around the corner – where farmers traditionally negotiate new working contracts and shift stock for the seasons – it’s bound to be significant.

As well as a fresh appreciation of our farmers, it seems many people are keen on the idea of getting back to basics. This has got to be good for us all and there are a few things you can do – no matter where you live – to become a little more self-sufficient.


Backyard producers

Anyone with a backyard can grab a shovel and create a vege garden without much fuss. All the better if you have a couple of bits of timber hanging around to build a frame – but really all you need is a patch of dirt. Seeds are easy to grow from scratch and if you’ve got an old potato, leave it to sprout then pop it in the ground and you’re on your way. It’s easy and it truly feeds your mind and soul – as well as helping to feed the family.


On the lifestyle block

Those who are lucky enough to have a little more space have been truly grateful these last few weeks. As well as using the time to extend vegetable and fruit patches, they can take self-sustainability to the next level by running some animals and producing their own meat. This is a fantastic way to supplement your income and, with a little effort, a small piece of land can become incredibly productive.


Looking to the future

We don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s fair to say that with the closure of borders there will be a gap in the employment market for farm staff previously filled by migrant workers. We’ve all seen the economic forecasts and we know unemployment will rise – it could well be that farm work becomes an option for people who might not previously have considered it. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s hugely fulfilling. You’re outdoors all day, working with animals and creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family.


Whatever happens next, I think we’d all benefit from getting back to basics and thinking about a more self-sustaining lifestyle. We’re living in unprecedented – and sometimes scary – times, but I like to think there’s a little bit of a silver lining to look at.