Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Di McDonald has been growing rhubarb for years.
It all started when a farmer she was working for couldn’t afford to pay her, so he gave her some rhubarb cuttings.
Evidently he gave her a lot more than a bit of cash to get her though the next few months, he gave her a livelihood.
Di leases a block of land from Tahbilk Vineyard. The setting is amazing, the rhubarb grows on a gum lined bank of the Goulburn River. Grass parrots potter in the green grassy rows between the rhubarb stems. Kingfishers duck and weave in and out of woody hollows.
Di lives in one of three workers cottage on the vineyard, and whilst she doesn't have any immediate family, the vineyard workers are her extended family.
When you drive in the dusty road to the vineyard you can see Di, head down bum up, quite literally. Picking and tending to her rhubarb is how she relaxes.
Working 7 days a week, making her own compost, weeding, taking care of her girls (the chooks)who take care of her rhubarb, is all in a weeks work.
On Saturday mornings she wakes at 3am to drive to Melbourne for the Farmer's Markets. It takes her two hours to get to the city down the Hume freeway.
By the time she has a cuppa back on the farm, Saturday has been 16 hours long.
Its hard work, but she is richly rewarded with "moments" on her farm. Today she watched two turtles baking in the sun at the river while she pumped water, and the migrating Kingfishers circled above her head.
She wouldn't have it any other way.
You can buy Di's rhubarb from any of the Melbourne Community Farmers Markets