This is an edited version of a conversation between Leigh Davison, Jo Kijas and Hazel Ferguson on November 7, 2012.
It contains reflections on Family background | Engineering and travelling | The environment and agriculture| Aquarius | Moving to the land | Dharmananda: land history | The landscape | Early history of the Community | Growing food | Dairying | Community work | Working at SCU | Bananas | Neighbours | Sustainable farming | Systems agriculture | Communal living | Shareholding | The agricultural land | Conservation land | Community decision making: guns and herbicide | The lantana
I grew up on the North Shore of Sydney, had a nice middle class upbringing, went to a selective high school and did well at that. I was a good rugby player, so I was good academically and at sport. I have two sisters, one older one younger, both still alive. The elder sister’s a retired GP and the younger sister married a lawyer. Every year we’d have a two week holiday at the beach – Mum and Dad were really terrific parents, yeah. Dad was a great gardener.
And were there things in your background that made you start thinking about the land?
I remember, it was in about 1953, I would have been about ten or eleven years old, we got our first car. We got this FJ Holden and we’d go for drives in the country and I can remember being fascinated by landscape, just rural landscapes, so somehow I’d become transfixed by them. So I think some kind of resonance with the rural landscape – even at that early age when you’ve got so many other things on your mind I can remember being distracted by that; rural and bush landscapes. For example I was in the Boy Scouts and I used to do a lot of bushwalking. We did a lot of walks in the Blue Mountains. You’d come out of the bush walking through a paddock and I used to think – something warm would happen. As I look back on it, you know, there was something attractive about those agricultural landscapes juxtaposed with a natural forest ecosystems.