Gin chats with Helen from Farming Secrets about how farming chemicals affect our bodies and what we can do to start eating organically and chemical free. Helen discusses all our alternatives and provides insight into the farming trade and what options we can take to increase our health and well being.
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Helen’s Wild Journey
Even as a young girl, Helen always thought she’d marry a farmer. She spent much time in her childhood at at her Uncle’s farm and always loved rural life. After graduating from teaching, her first primary school was at the base of the Grampians during the 1967 drought where kids were bringing water to school every day and drovers were on the road herding very thirsty cattle close by. Helen sees these people as the backbone of the community.
Helen went on to marry Hugo who had a farm and then came her interest in supporting farmers. Back in the 70’s she worked on their farm and they also owned a farm produce store selling chemicals to nearby farmers. One day whilst doing a stock take she was horrified at how bad the chemicals were and how they were filled with poisons. These were then sprayed on orchards for people to eat. This then lead her on a mission to find products that were soil friendly, including blood and bone and fish and seaweed. Customers then came in who were sick and badly affected by the chemicals they were using. It became her passion to find alternatives. They sold their original company and bought a company that bought and sold fish and fertiliser supplements. They started going to field days and met thousands of farmers. Some of these farmers wanted change as well. They learnt a lot from the farmers on what today is called regenerative farming.
Helen and her husband Hugo then took a leap of faith and started filming successful farmers who were not using chemicals. They visited experts who talked about using the soil in an eco-friendly way. This is now what they do. Their blog is called – Farming Secrets. They acknowledge that even today there is a lot of resistance as many people out there still believe you cannot farm without chemicals. Those that have embraced this at times feel isolated from their small communities.
The good news is that there is now a huge awareness of people wanting to know what is in their foods and where it has come from. There’s more interest in permaculture and the popularity of Farmers Markets is on the rise. The organic movement is the quickest agricultural move in Australia right at the moment.
The videos Helen and Hugo produce are made to help other farmers understand what it is like to make the move away from chemicals, so that they can see this in action. Videos are made in a variety of farming areas and farmers can then have a consult to help them better understand the changes required. Farming Secrets also offer online courses in the many aspects of going chemical free.
Helen points out how the chemicals (including Round Up that stops the massive amounts of nutrients being collected and fed back into the plants, hence nutrient-free plants) on the foods grown negatively affect us as consumers including increased risk of allergies, autism and poor gut health. It prevents our bodies from taking up nutrients.
Helen believes that supporting local organic farmers is essential to our wellbeing.
Many banks are however intervening and not giving support to chemical free farms. She believes this is linked to pharmaceutical companies that then make money healing the people with diseases from chemicals.
The Farming Secrets website gives you the ’10 Must Do’s for Farming’ and a webinar to listen to. There is also a soil test you can follow to see how healthy your soil is (fun to do with kids) and information on worm farms. Helen suggests making a worm farm made out of four wooden slats. This is found on their blog.
Future inventions are looking promising. A scanner has been developed that will allow you to scan a fresh product and it will tell you what nutrients and what pesticides are present. (CSIO.com)
Helen’s Precious Tips
Top things you can do start eating organically and chemical free:
- Grow as much as you can yourself – water all plants!! It’s the key.
- Don’t worry about weeds. The weeds bring the minerals up that are present in your soil. Leave them on the soil to balance the minerals out.
- Leave the lawn clippings on so that the soil is covered all the time.
- Encourage employers to put in edible plants to the workspace.
- Visit farmers markets in your area. Have a chat to the grower to really understand how your produce has been grown.
- Go online to visit a Community Organisation (Co-Ops) and buy shares with a local farmer. You can then get a box of what is being locally produced on the farm.
- Share what you grow.
- Look online for sites like FallingFruit.org to see where there are free fruit and vegetables.
- Look for apps like ShareWaste where you can share your own compost or donate your food scraps.
What to Avoid
Avoid strawberries, potatoes and anything that sits on the soil as that will soak up all the chemicals.
Apples get a lot of spraying. Buy one organic apple instead of five sprayed apples.
Check out the “Dirty Dozen” list of the 12 most contaminated fruit and vegetables. Strawberries in number 1 position.
I hope you got as much out of this as we did. Let us know in the comments below any thoughts you’ve had after tuning in. Oh, and be sure to check out the Farming Secrets Facebook Group too.