Tuesday, 26 August 2014

My winter veggie garden

Over the years our vegetable garden has evolved to become two distinct areas.  We have seven rectangular beds in one area.  Three of these beds are now perennial beds.  They have raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus and, as of last year, loganberries.
The other area is a round garden.  We now use the rectangular beds more in winter and choose the round bed in summer.  Right now we are enjoying broccoli, kale, peas and the asparagus is just starting to poke through. 
The round bed receives some shade from our house, whereas the other beds are very exposed to the sun.  I also think it is easier to water just one large area in the heat of summer, than individual beds.  Well that's the theory anyhow!  I always imagined putting a sprinkler in the centre and letting it do it's stuff.  Trouble is the plants get bigger and block the water from reaching the edges.  I'll try and set up a raised platform for the sprinkler this summer.
The separate areas work well for us.  I used to find that when I wanted to prepare beds for spring, they still had veggies growing in them.  Now the winter veggies can quietly grow in peace while I work on the round garden.  It was like a jungle in there at the end of Autumn so I set about clearing it.

The idea was that Hubby would construct a temporary fence and we would put the chooks in to do all the hard work.  Ha!  I'm forever the optimist.  Nothing is ever quite that easy!  The chooks kept flying out and digging up the winter garden.  After all the work Hubby put in to create a cosy and safe pen for them!  Eventually, frustrated, I put them put in the chook yard and replaced them with our two oldest hens.

Well, the geriatric girls certainly didn't get out!  They didn't have the energy but neither did they have much energy to scratch and clear my garden.  They just lay in the sun basking while waiting for their warm evening mash.
A couple of weeks later, I popped them back in the chook pen too and set about weeding.  I've sowed some peas and broad beans to dig in when they get going.  The garden should be ready by the time the soil has warmed enough for the spring and summer plantings.

As usual, at this time of year, my rose coloured glasses are firmly in place and I'm anticipating a bumper crop of tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants and many other delights.  Last year, what I actually got was HEAPS of rocket and the occasional tomato!!  Oh, and plenty of zucchinis.
The fruit trees are pruned; they've been sprayed to combat curly leaf.  One strawberry barrel has been rejuvenated and the other is patiently waiting for my attention. 
The weeding has taken place and the resulting weeds have been used to create several compost heaps in situ.  So the ground work has got off to a flying start.  Now I sit and eagerly await the planting time. 
Will this be the year I've been dreaming of?  A summer filled with luscious home grown salads? Plates piled high with crispy, crunchy, flavoursome food?  Will this be the year I trade, barter and share all my amazing excess while I busily preserve and pickle in the kitchen?

Well maybe.  But just in case, I might start searching for recipes that combine zucchini with rocket...

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Secret girly business - reusable pads

You may have noticed a button appear on the right of my blog.  This button leads to the Rad-Pads site.  Rad-Pads is the company from which I first bought my reusable pads.

I've been writing here for four years now without any thought of benefitting from my blog.  While I need money just like everyone, I don't like the stuff very much!  Money seems to do strange and very unattractive things to many people.  It kinda revolts me that people can be thoughtless of others or the environment due to love of money or material 'stuff'!

I am motivated by the idea that we can do things for ourselves, work together as a community and make do with much, much less.  I read a lovely quote the other day, "Some people are so poor that all they have is money".  It really resonated with me because there are so many things that I value above money or owning things.

Perhaps I should spend a little more time thinking about money though.  I'm pretty sure I frustrate close family and friends as, every now and then, we go through what I like to term a 'rough patch'.  Luckily they don't happen too often!

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I didn't want to advertise on this blog and encourage people to add to the problem of everyone buying more than they need.  We try very hard to buy only what we actually 'need' (a word that is misused so often).

However, I've now decided it would be okay to affiliate with a couple of companies that I use myself and feel comfortable with.  Rad Pads is one of those companies.  I love re-usable pads.  Firstly I love them because they are re-usable.  Using these pads doesn't create much of a footprint at all, whereas the store bought disposables waste energy, have been transported and come wrapped in heaps of plastic packaging.  Secondly I love them because they are nicer than the disposable alternatives.  When people ask me about their comfort, I always liken it to wearing paper knickers.  Wouldn't that feel horrible!  Well I think it is the same with pads.  My cloth pads are really comfortable.

Re-usable pads are very easy to make yourself.  Some friends of mine just made a heap of them.  They researched several different types and then came up with a style that suited them.  The material was op-shopped and they look great!
There are plenty of instructions online.  I found this site which has links to several different styles of pads.

If you are time poor and would prefer to buy your pads ready made, then I thoroughly recommend Rad Pads.  They pay for themselves over time and are well made and last well.  It works out heaps cheaper than buying disposable.  Do the maths and you'll be amazed at the savings.  They sell different thicknesses of pads and liners.  They can also be used for incontinence issues. If you choose to buy them by clicking through on the button on the right of my blog, I receive a small percentage of the sale. 
My pads are mainly purchased from Rad-Pads but I also made a couple myself.  I don't find reusables to be difficult to manage.  I just have a little bucket with a lid that I keep in the laundry cupboard.  When I need it, I just soak the pads in water until I'm ready to wash them.  Then I give them a rinse and pop them in the washing machine.

The only time it has been a bit awkward was when an occupational therapist wanted to go to my clothesline.  He was working on Buddy's fine motor skills and every occupational therapist loves pegging activities that encourage pincer grips and strengthen weak hand muscles.  I can't remember what excuse I mumbled but there was NO WAY I was going to let him near my clothes line at 'that time of the month'!

I hope you already use reusable pads or that you'll get on to making or buying some straight away.  You won't regret it!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Are you self-sufficient?

Oh dear, oh dear!  Earlier in the week a delivery van came here.  The driver pulled up in the drive and hopped out.  The first thing he sais was, "Are you self-sufficient?!" 

It wasn't until he left that I realised!  He couldn't see into our yard from where he pulled up.  He couldn't see our veggie garden, compost heaps, orchard or the dairy.  So what made him ask this question?

That gave me a good giggle!  What gave him the clue that we try to do things for ourselves?  Was it the chooks, ducks and geese wandering everywhere?  Was it the children running feral on a school day and coming to investigate the stranger that had arrived?  Maybe it was my attire!  A baggy pair of tracky dacks, boots, beanie, scarf and a filthy jacket!!  Haha!  Perhaps I need to work on the impression we make when people turn up unexpectedly.
The question certainly started me thinking though......  We certainly are not self-sufficient by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I think we are  aiming to be.  To be self-sufficient, we would need to be able to provide our own clothes, grow enough food for ourselves and our animals, extract oil from olives or similar, to be able to make all our fencing and animal shelters from natural materials etc. etc. 

 Maybe not a hope in hell we could do all these things but would we want too?  Every waking minute would be filled with providing the basics for our needs.  This got me thinking about our motivation for living the life style we have chosen.  It's as simple as this.  We are trying to live a comfortable life while being respectful of the environment.  We don't want to add to the climate crisis that is occurring.  (And it truly is a crisis!  We're not doomed yet, but damn close, so you might want to give it some thought if you haven't already.)
 I make our own soap but find I don't do it regularly enough to keep us supplied.  Ditto with bread.  We are producing goats milk.  We make cheese.  I knit and sew.  We garden.  Hubby builds many things that we need and often uses natural materials when it works.  It's all wonderful stuff but there aren't enough hours in a day to do everything all the time. 
A temporary chook shelter in the garden they're digging over.
I still buy crackers, coffee, bread fairly often, all my staples like sugar, rice,  pasta and a heap of other things.  We try to buy household items and clothing second hand.  Most of my shoes are from the op-shop but I buy my workboots new and usually buy the children new shoes.  I would happily buy them from the op shop but, more often than not, I don't notice they are falling apart until it's too late.  When I notice the children wandering around with flapping soles, there's no time to scour the op shops so I race to the shoe shop feeling like a neglectful mother and buy the best option I can find.  All in all, our impact is fairly low compared to the average family and we keep working our way toward a greener life.

There's another very important element here too.  People.  If we truly spent every minute trying to provide for ourselves, we would be too busy to connect with others around us.   It would be an insular and lonely life.

So when I ponder the question of self-sufficiency I realise, it's not looking after ourselves in isolation that I'm after.  I want to connect with those around us and work together to create a better world.  I want to swap my goats milk for their pickles that I didn't get around to making for myself.  I want to use my friend's lard and repay her with the soap that I create with it.  I want to spend time with friends learning (or teaching) new skills.  I want to come together with other families so that our children can play.  I want to share meals where everyone brings a dish that they have cooked with fresh ingredients from the garden. 
It has been an unexpected benefit for me to discover that in trying to address climate change, in trying to create a good future for my children and others, that our lives have become more fulfilling.  We feel grounded, connected with nature, our food and our community.  We feel a sense of achievement that comes from being creative and learning new skills.  It's not doing it on our own that I'm after.  It's being a part of something bigger.  I want my community to be with me in this way of living.  A non-commercial life of thoughtfulness and creativity and appreciation for the simple things in life that really matter.

So now I need a new term.  It's not self-sufficiency.  Help me coin a new phrase.  Mine don't have a ring to them.  Is it 'community-sufficiency'?  Is it 'friendship-farming'?  Is it 'the-way-life-should-be sufficiency'?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Slow Living Monthly Nine - July 2014

How exciting!  I'm hosting the Slow Living Monthly Nine link-up today.  Christine, at Slow Living Essentials, began this link up early in 2012 and I have regularly been taking part.

It's a lovely way for people to record their months and share their ideas, acheivements and news.  If it's inspiration you're after, you will love reading through these posts!

It has been wonderful to watch a connected online community form throughout the process.  I have got to 'know' many new people and formed some great connections.  I'm often amazed at how thoughtful bloggers can be, even offering assistance and advice to each other via email outside of the link-up.  This little group of people have become friends!

I am honoured (and a little bit amazed) that Christine has gifted me the custodianship of this link-up!  I hope I can do it justice.  While I will really miss popping over to Slow Living Essentials to join in each month, I totally understand the point Christine has arrived at with needing to blog less.  I am glad that her idea will continue on and the community can continue to grow!

 Thank you Christine for choosing to keep this forum alive.  I hope to hear about your happenings often and hope that one day you will decide you are in a position to take your blogging baby back.

The Monthly Nine format is perfect as it is, so you will see little change.  I will probably rename it but am reluctant to do so without some thought.  So for now it remains the Slow Living Monthly Nine.

Please join me and many others as we relate our achievement and joys. I look forward to reading your posts.

If you are new to this link-up, welcome!  You will find all the details here.

Slow Living Monthly Nine - July 2014


We've been enjoying continuing on with winter warmers.  There have been plenty of casseroles and soups appearing.  I've been making a conscious effort to choose meals that I can cook in huge amounts so that I can freeze some.  It has paid off BIG time!!  Do you know how good it feels to go to the freezer on a disorganised evening and find a precooked meal waiting.  It's even better if you have a terrible memory like mine.  I am often surprised by what I find in there; it feels as though someone has gifted me a meal!
Rhubarb Pudding
While our lemon tree has not been at it's best this year, lemons are something that are often shared by others at this time of year, so we've been enjoying lemon slice, pancakes with lemon and sugar, lemon cordial and lemon and vinegar to soothe colds and sore throats.


Ah ha!  I've already covered this in the last category.  My frozen meals are serving us well.  We've also been dipping into the preserved fruit that we bottled in summer and autumn.  The kids are loving eating fruit on their puffed rice, puffed sorgum or just in a bowl with yoghurt.


I participated in Plastic Free July.  The aim is to reduce and track the amount of single-use plastic that enters our homes.  To be honest, I think we did worse with reducing plastic this month than we normally do.  We always shy away from plastic when we can, but July saw lots of plastic sneaking into the house while we weren't looking!  The best outcome this year has been the kids involvement.  They have been very aware of the challenge and have shrieked, "PLASTIC!" whenever we accidently acquired some.  They treat it as though it is poison entering our home, and so they should!!

The idea was that I would be telling you all about the soap I made in July but I never did get around to it.  Again. 

I've been using a little bit of castor sugar mixed with some lovely, local olive oil as a facial scrub.  A couple of times I have used honey or yoghurt as a mask, much to the children's amusement.


My garden has been sorely neglected of late, yet I am still enjoying broccoli and plenty of rhubarb.
Buddy and I have begun the task of weeding and making compost in preparation for spring.  We've had a lovely time.  His favourite job is shovelling and it works well for me.  He carts compost and manure wherever I want it!

I actually have stuff to report this month!  Yay!!  I made Rosie a belated gift for her birthday.  The intention was to have it ready on time but I was too preoccupied with organising the party.  So early in July, I finished the book I was making her and popped it in the post.  The photo's from Rosie's phone because I forgot to snap it!
I made some draining board cloths too.  I hate using dish drainers because they harbour so many germs.  Now I drain my dishes on the cloths and at the end of the day I can use the cloth to wipe over my sink before I throw it in the washing basket.

I have a jumper on the go for Buddy and am half way through a sock for me.  Wow!  I hadn't realised I had done so much (for me) in this category!

I have a great group of like-minded friends and we work together with trying to source food outside of the major supermarkets.  Sometimes I receive a phone call offering me excess fruit from a glut (yes, I know....  It's only a dream here too!  I've never had excess yet) or someone might contact me to see if I have spare flour to see them through until the next bulk food day.  Together we co-operate and share where we can and it feels lovely!


I attended a course on beekeeping and how to put together a bee box.  The presenter was a very experienced bee keeper and I learnt so much!  Some people just love to share knowledge.  I have volunteered to work alongside him in spring.  I can't wait!
Photo of a queen bee cell - courtesy Clare Watson
I even received a book to take home.  Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees.  It's fascinating!  The children and I had a bit of a giggle over the mating process.  I had no idea!!  Apparently he pops with "an audible pop" and part of his doodie falls off!

Hmmm.  Who want to be a boy bee??!  It's also amazing how each type of bee has an individual role for the good of the hive and, if the need arises, can reactivate past functions to keep the hive in good health.  I'm looking forward to getting back into beekeeping in spring.


While I didn't lay eyes on my older girl's in July, I enjoyed great chats on the phone and saw some lovely photos on facebook.  Aren't we lucky to be able to communicate in so many ways?  I was also delighted that my parents had the children to stay a couple of times.  It's so nice to spend time with Hubby without feeling like parents.  Nice to remember that we are people in our own right.
A photo of my granddaughter that I was able to enjoy via face book
I really savoured the cool weather.  The contrast between the biting cold outside and the cosiness of sitting near the fire, reading a book to a child, enjoying warm meals and the occasional hot pudding, drinking hot chocolate and even doing a bit of knitting if time allows, is just wonderful.

I particularly enjoyed milking time with the goats.  Belle has taken over this task most nights so I do the manual work of feeding and watering and then sit on the hay and listen to Belle chattering happily away.  All in all, July was a fantastic month for me!
Did you have a lovely July too?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Home Education and the dilemma of style

The longer I homeschool, the further I seem to stray from the mainstream ideas of education.  I have attempted to teach at home twice before (with my older children) and both times I panicked and sent my children back to mainstream government primary schools.  I was scared I wasn't doing it properly and that my children would fail to learn.

There are definitely difficulties when deciding on educating at home. You tend to think very deeply about what your children's needs are, what their futures might be, etc.  When children attend mainstream, parents often don't doubt their choices because that's just what everyone does and society views it as the 'best way' to educate our children.  So, without another thought,we send our children off in the mornings, relaxed in the knowledge that we are doing what we need to for them, and pick them up again in the afternoon.
We're actually not sure about what happened in their day and they are completely unwilling to relate it to us.  "What did you do at school today?"  "Nothing.", is the standard reply.  Then the busyness of afternoon tea, homework, dinner etc takes hold as we prepare to send them off again the next day.

It's amazing how we happily take part in this system with little thought, yet when keeping our children home we are assuaged with doubts and guilt because we are not educating them in the same way as everyone else.  When I originally took the kids out of school, I tried to emulate what happened in the conventional system.  My idea was that we would do formal lessons but for a shorter time than at school.  I figured it would be interesting for the children because they could help guide the topics we studied.  On top of this, I tried to immerse them in our lifestyle of being connected to our food, energy usage, skill learning and attempting to reduce our environmental impact. Ultimately, this would be perfect.  A conventional education as well as learning about their place in nature and our family values.
However, I think I was being unrealistic.  There aren't enough hours in a day.  I don't think this method of learning was good for me or the children.  I was trying to teach as expertly as an experienced, trained teacher and cope with the huge task load at home.  The children were great at sitting down to their lessons and accepted that was what was expected of them but were very obviously bored and uninspired.  They were also under a fair bit of pressure due to having to do lessons and participate so actively in daily life.  I'm going to try a new approach.

I have been alternating between ignoring, and actively arguing against, my gut instincts which were.... to let them play and follow their own interests.  I found myself wanting this more and more but kept thinking it was irresponsible, lazy, selfish  (and a thousand other negative self labels) of me.  I was plagued by questions like, "How will they learn anything?", "Will they resent me later for not having taught them in the same manner as their peers?", "What if they want to go to University but don't know enough?", "What if they can't get a job?"
After many conversations, Hubby and I have decided sit down learning is not right for us at this point and that there is heaps to be learnt by simply being.  And I think it's ok.  After all, how many parents of children at school never mentally torture themselves like this even though the reality is that their child may never achieve a high enough score to enter university, may resent attending school, be miserable or not be able to get a job at the end of it all?  School is perfect for many children but not for all.  Let's face it, I managed to NOT learn my times tables right into high school.  I hated maths, hated being forced to study, so didn't try.  Yet as a young adult I was able to go to university by sitting a mature entrance exam.  Not learning my maths was not the end of the world for me (though I now wish I'd listened at the time, of course).
Over the past year, I have missed out on so many opportunities for natural learning because I was being  'responsible' and stayed home to do lessons.  A lady at our local patchwork group offered to teach Belle embroidery and she was very excited at the prospect but we didn't get around to going down because the group is on a school day.  Another lady, whom I find very interesting and I believe my children would learn a lot from, asked me to visit about a year ago.  For the above reasons, I never made the time.  Also, Pumpkin has been asking repeatedly if I can teach her to knit and I haven't got around to it yet.

Now I want to change the way the children spend their days and immerse them in play and following their interests.  I believe they will learn so much by thinking for themselves, problem solving during play, work and craft and by meeting a diverse range of people.  Today I have watched them playing and they are not idle!  They are incredibly animated as they go about their chosen activity with no adult input.  Buddy and Pumpkin have created a water slide for toys with a puddle at the bottom.  They have also experimented with rolling a barrel down a hill.  That looked like fun! At only seven and eight years they can move a heavy hay bale through a tight space with no adult help.  It took them ages to work it out but, through experimentation and co-operation, they have learnt to work together to move the bail and guide it in the direction they want it to go.  No one showed them but they figured it out.
This week, Belle has learned to pearl and is knitting a very simple pattern for the first time.  And this morning, as if to demonstrate my point about problem solving, I found her in the dairy using a new method to fill the hay bags.  It's hard to keep them open while filling them with bulky armfuls of hay.  I've previously encouraged her to hook one end over a post to help hold the bag, which helps, but it's still difficult.  This morning she came up with a much better method.  She organised herself two posts to hold it open.  She filled it in no time!  I've watched her today and she skips along rather than walking.  I don't think she's even aware she's doing it.  Since educating at home, I have watched her mature past her eleven years in her dealings with the world while simultaneously watching her learn to play like a much younger child at times.  I think it is very healthy for her.
Now I'm not saying there will be no academic learning in this house.  Of course there will.  But I am not going to value it over natural learning.  This afternoon I will finally teach Pumpkin to knit!  Belle is still outside at the moment but I imagine she will choose to continue with her knitting later.  Or maybe write.  She has begun writing her own blog and is very enthusiastic about it.

I know some people will read this post and doubt the sensibility of our choices around our children's education and future.  All I ask is that you take into account that no education style is perfect for all children, that we are not doing this without thought and, just like everyone else, we are doing what we feel is best for our children.  I'm happy for you to watch with interest but I hope that you won't be quick to judge.  We will continue to assess their progress and can change our minds if we feel we need to.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Seize the day

I had a fairly clear plan of what I wanted to do with the kids for lessons today.  Belle was to start with a couple of pages in her maths text book, Buddy Boy and I with a maths lesson and Pumpkin writing a poem.

The morning unfolded and my plans changed.  It was cold this morning.  Very cold.  I had used all the sheltered wood so I went to the pile near the cutting block to collect more.  When I came inside, we all went to the window to admire how the layer of frost on the wood glistened in the sunlight.  It looked magical coated with sparkles!

When we had all dressed and made beds, we headed out to the orchard where we milk the goats each day.  Belle chose to milk while I fed the chooks and refilled hay nets for the evening.
Buddy Boy wandered around feeding the ducks and geese.  Then he called to me, "Mum, I saw something amazing!"  I expected it to be something very boring like the goose drinking water or similar but wandered over to see.  "I saw spikes!  The goose was chasing something with spikes."  We wandered over to the geese and sure enough the goose had chased an echidna which was hiding in a corner.  Buddy Boy was right.  It was amazing!
Then we lay on our tummies in the sunshine waiting for the echidna to move into a good position so that I could snap a photo of his face.  We lay still, whispering quietly and enjoying the sun on our backs while we waited.  When we grew bored of photographing the echidna, Buddy grabbed some more wheat and tried to hand feed the new chicks.  He had no success but it was lovely to listen to him coaxing them.
We watched the geese and rooster arguing over some food then walked the goats back to their paddock.  Finally Buddy rediscovered a doll he had left out in a pram overnight.  I left him playing outside with his 'baby' and went to help Belle.
She was in the kitchen, finishing up the milking.  She had measured out the milk, placed it in the fridge and was in the process of washing the milking buckets.  She was asking about what she could bake and settled on Anzac biscuits.  I found the recipe book for her and left her to it.   I have found she prefers to cook independently and requests help when she needs it.  I poured some boiling water for her and lit the stove.  The rest she did by herself.
Pumpkin and Buddy dried the dishes while I refilled the fire and then we played a game together.  The morning flowed and felt right.  I couldn't bring myself to spoil their wonderful mood and insist they sit at the table with text books out.  Sometime this afternoon I will probably bring out the books for a short while but right now I'm enjoying watching my children just 'being'. 

They've decided to go and play outside for a while.  I asked Belle to recite a couple of tables before they went and we played a counting game for Buddy's benefit and then they ran off to play.  Some days school work seems to be the be-all-and-end-all but other days life itself seems so good that school work doesn't seem so relevant.
We experimented with this candle we say online.  It's just an orange peel with olive oil and it really works!
I love teaching my children at home because it is so flexible.  I place so much importance on the children appreciating nature, being in touch with their world and learning practical skills in a way that makes sense to them.  As a family, our priorities are somewhat different to many in the general population and, like all families, we would like our children to grow up with our values.  I welcome these gentle days that are full of wonder for my children.  I love listening to them laugh, play, imagine and, yes, argue too.

Tomorrow I may feel differently and be frantic about getting through enough lessons.  We have plenty of days like that.  It's hard to find the balance.  But for today, I'm just going to revel in the beautiful people that are my children!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

CERES excursion and Plastic Free July report

We are well into the Plastic Free July challenge and I can confidently report a huge fail in my efforts to avoid single use plastic!
I've stopped saving my plastic since taking this photo because I managed to completely fill and even overflow this plastic bag.  I think I know all I need to know to convince me we need to try harder.  I'm even contemplating saving my plastic every month so that I can monitor how we are going.  It concerns me that we have done better in the past.  We should be moving forward, not backward!  To add insult to injury, do you see the discoloured patch on the table?  Me, who never, ever irons, decided to iron our hankies this morning.  Seeing as they are small, I thought I'd be clever and not get out the ironing board.  I just ironed them on a hand towel on the table.  Not thick enough obviously!!

We've had a great week all in all.  I've been meaning to take the kids to CERES for an excursion for a long time now.  I kept putting it off though because I find it very tiring taking the kids on a trip by myself.  While they are (usually) pretty good they still require a great deal of energy in supervision.  So when Hubby had a day off this week, we jumped at the chance to go even though it's school holidays.  It wasn't a very schoolish excursion anyway.  We basically just had a good look around.

I suffered strong pangs of chard envy!
 The children had so much fun on the play equipment!
 What a clever use of recycled materials. Buddy has taken to trying to ruin my photos with face pulling of late.
 So then I tried to take one of just his sisters, without him in it.  He didnt' like the idea of not being in the shot, so decided to be sensible.  LOL  He does love a photo of himself!!
 They also climbed on this great piece of bamboo equipment.
CERES has community garden plots, a scheme for restoring broken bikes, a market, permaculture nursery and so much more.  The children were so well occupied that I forgot to keep snapping the camera.  Hubby and I actually *gasp* held hands as we strolled along!  The kids usually keep us far too busy for those sorts of shenanigans.  We'll be going there again, for sure!  Apparently they have music playing on a Saturday morning.  I'm not sure if that's part of the market or separately but it sounds very appealing.
Have you visited CERES?  Maybe you're lucky enough to get there on a regular basis if you live in town.