The new day has well and truly started outside. Rather than slip in to the well worn Rossis that beckon at the front door, I have a cup of tea by my side and am taking the time needed to introduce the Ecolosophy family to its new team.
As a family, we watched Tanya and Rose build this eco-business from scratch. Grappling with web design and the intricacies of small business, ethical trading and operating online, they created something truly beautiful, and over the years we have used Ecolosophy as a source of tea to lift our spirits and calm our souls, and for gifts for special friends. Knowing they had put the effort in to sourcing products that were lovely and ethically sound (in our eyes!), made shopping so much easier for us. The fact that we were able to buy online, as people who lived 100km from town, meant we had easier access to what we needed (toothbrushes are a need, aren't they?).
So when these two amazing ladies decided it was time to pursue their other passions and talents in a more focused way, and we were offered the chance to keep Ecolosophy going, we embraced that opportunity.
As we go through the transition phase that goes with new ownership, we have had to ask ourselves "why". This is a simple question with a complicated answer.
Our family is rooted in the business of farming. I was born on a mixed farm in England. My early memories are of potatoes, sugar beet, wheat, cows and sheep in a soft, violet scented childhood, peppered with running brooks, fresh milk and the dairy cows on family farms in Scotland, tempered with later years (and many more of them!) in wheatbelt paddocks with Merino sheep and rust-coloured grain crops ripening in summer. My husband's life has been spent on stations in the north of Australia, with cattle of a different kind, and properties in the south east of WA, where we managed cattle and sheep for others. In the meantime, we ran our own, much smaller properties and parented five children.
It is the smaller properties that really reveal who we are; we have always tried to live in tune with our environment, growing as much of our own food as possible, recycling, refusing, reusing. We recently moved in to our own home on our 89ha (220 acre) property near the Dalyup River. Our house is built from materials salvaged from the Esperance Primary School when it was demolished a few years ago, and we are creating gardens around it that will settle it into the landscape that was a bare patch in a paddock. We have fenced creeks, planted trees and perennial pastures and it is home to a small herd of Angus cattle, some sheep of mixed breeds and with plenty of character, and our horses.
As we start a new phases of our lives, returning to our own land and trying to make a living from the place we have, we find ourselves looking for ways to foster the interests and talents found within our family, and to make our way in a sustainable way. Ecolosophy fits in to this picture by providing us with a way of diversifying our limited income, while giving us an outlet for the philosophising and creative pursuits we are already engaged in. Eventually, we will include products we have made, including wooden kitchen ware, and art works that are created by our talented, photo snapping adventure loving grown up offspring.
And that brings me to a discussion about education. Years ago, after travelling around Australia and homeschooling our (then) young daughters, we made the decision to continue that adventure, learning at home using curriculums that were very much nature based and itended to foster the growth of individuals who were caring, passionate about social justice and the environment, and yet practical, competent and capable of doing anything, anywhere. It is in the field of environmental education and the encouragement of decisions that put others and the environment first that we see businesses like Ecolosophy playing a huge role in our new world. Social enterprises, not just concerned about making money or selling stuff, but about making the world a lovelier place.
And so now the tea is finished and the sun is well and truly up, there are cows and horse to feed and plants to water as we wait patiently for rain.
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Efforts to save tonnes of strawberries from being dumped in the wake of the needle scare, including the sharing of strawberry recipes on social media and strawberry picking outings to pick your own farms, show that we can use our power as consumers to great effect. But this is not the first time we have used our clout to save something we value, as the SPC Ardomona story reveals.
It rained and the roof leaks, but the cat has found a patch of sunshine and the self-sown seedlings are taking over the garden...life abounds even in the dry!