The good life

I can't think of anything more satisfying than getting close to nature, getting your hands dirty and harvesting your own fruit and vegetables

Back in the '70s there was a very popular BBC sitcom called The Good Life. It was about a young couple, Tom and Barbara Good, trying to live a completely sustainable lifestyle in suburban London, much to the bafflement of their middle-class neighbours. But it seems that this idea of self-sufficiency has really caught on over the last 30 years and a lot of us are now craving our own version of "the good life".

I smile ruefully when I think of the image of young hipsters making homemade tomato puree to go on top of the hand-made pasta. I smile because in my eyes they are living the dream. But it's not a new dream. Many have been living it for generations. Long before Tom and Barbara Good.

For too long we've built busy lifestyles around the knowledge that we can get our food easily from supermarkets. In our haste we haven't noticed (or have chosen not to notice) how floury and tasteless the apples are. Or the growing number of processed and packaged foods that we mindlessly throw into the trolley. We don't seem to consider whether the vegetables are actually in season. Or the huge amount of preservatives that we're feeding our family.

Or do we? The demand for growers markets and organic foods is stronger than ever before. Does this indicate a burgeoning age of enlightenment? Personally, I can't think of anything more satisfying than getting close to nature, getting your hands dirty and harvesting your own fruit and vegetables. It's incredible how much can be produced in even a small area. And a larger area means you can feed extended family and friends as well.

Growing your own food is not only good for the mind and body (and environment) but good for the soul as well. So many of us have become completely detached from the rhythms and cycles of nature. But there may be an imminent change in our collective consciousness. More of us are actually starting to think about where our food comes from.  This idea is also being promoted through mainstream media, with television programs dedicated to carving out a subsistent life on the land. And even if this message is coming from huge commercial franchises like MasterChef, the end result is still positive.

The first week of September is Landcare Week, and everyone is encouraged to get more in touch with nature. And you don't have to be a TAFE horticulture student to do this. Anyone can become involved, whether you live in the country or in an inner-city apartment block. Landcare Week is about protecting our wonderful country's natural resources. About getting our hands dirty, and reconnecting with the land.

So even if you start modestly by growing some fresh herbs in little planters on the kitchen windowsill or the balcony, it's still a step in the right direction. It's still a step towards the good life.