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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

The story is an edited version of a conversation between Matthew Daniel (Madreya), Hazel Ferguson and Tara Melis, on November 9, 2012.

It contains reflections on Arriving at New Govardhana  |  The history of New Govardhana  | The WWOOFing program  | Sources of information  | Approach to growing food  | Self-sufficiency

My name is Matthew Daniel, here they call me Madreya and I manage the two main farm gardens and I have ers who are volunteers.


Arriving at New Govardhana

I was doing some music in Sydney, before that I was the General Manager at a yoga retreat centre in Southern Sydney. And I got tired of the music thing, for some reason and I thought I haven’t been to New Govardhan since 2002 I always like to do it but I could only ever come for a short visit because of work and responsibilities and things over the years. So I thought I would come up and stop in and see a few friends in this area including Agita, whose an old friend of mine. Agita Mitra, do you know Byron Yoga, in Byron. Anyway, hadn’t been up this way for a while, why not, it was December, nice and warm, didn’t have a job for the first time in a long time so I thought I’m free. I’m going to go for a little vacation.

So I came here one night, December 14th or 15th 2010 and just thinking to stay for two or three days and I met some other friends here, other people I knew that I didn’t know were staying here. So I ended up staying like a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. And then eventually after a couple of months I was thinking more and more gee it’s a nice life. A nice lifestyle up this way, and after maybe two or three months there was a gentleman here named Trevor who was managing some of the gardens that I manage now, and he was older and he’d done some good work for a few years but he was thinking to go. And Agita didn’t have a replacement so he… I’d never done gardening before in my life, ever at all, never lived on a farm, never done anything, so he said why don’t you go and be a gardener? Whatever, I’ve been asked to do weirder things so came down and we just started working on those paddocks over there on the western side. And then growing silverbeet, whatever just trying to figure it out and then within a month or two Trevor left completely so then it was just me and two acres of paddock. But no clue at all of what to do.

I guess I came up with a plan of I would call Trevor or call some of the local gardeners, some of the successful people, some of the professional people. And another guy named Vijai, who’s been a professional vege fruit market gardener for about 30 years. Ah and so I get advice what to do, what to grow at this time and how to grow it, how to plant it and where to buy stuff and what do I need and blah blah blah. And um just sort of started with that and at the same time when you work all day in the field by yourself it does occur to your mind that yeah it would be cool to have some help.

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Willing Workers on Organic Farms: volunteers on organic farms, often trading accommodation and meals for their work.