When we speak over the phone, Bronwyn and Helen
are bubbly, and they’re busy. The couple from Braidwood, southern NSW, leave for Italy tomorrow on week long eating and talking extravaganza – the largest gathering of foodies world wide, the Terra Madre biannual event by Slow Food.
Bronwyn and Helen run Wynlen House Slow Food Farm in Braidwood. The farm produces a vast variety of foods, and before even counting meat, eggs, Paddock-to-Plate events, the farm produces 45kg of produce every week. Describing Wynlen House is like telling a good dream – the place sounds poetic and almost too good to be true. I am drawn to the farm’s rhythms in one description. The ‘very small farm’ is located within the village boundary of Braidwood. Its’ size is under 1 1/2 acres. The farms’ philosophy is about how much and what range of food can be produced in a small space. Wynlen House demonstrates that food can be grown in any climate including in the harsh Braidwood winters.
Helen and Bronwyn have designed Wynlen House to grow food that is consumed locally. Doing so demonstrates just how much they value the connection between people and the food we eat.
In January Wynlen House created a pop-up cafe at a recently closed local restaurant. Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, council workers, farmers and others from the community poured into the cafe, both curious about what a pop-up cafe is, and what local produce tastes like. Helen and Bronwyn were complimented on the range and quantity of their produce, and particularly on the flavour of what they served.
Bronwyn is a child of the 1970’s and has held a life long passion for growing what we eat, explaining “I’ve always believed connecting with the earth and growing your own food is the only way to live”. Helen has always had a vegetable garden and been lucky to have access to fresh food all her life.
Helen and Bronwyn’s passionate commitment to sustainable farming and education about eating locally is clear from our first conversation.
Photo: Helen and Bronwyn at Terra Madre, Turin 2016
I may have mentioned that Terra Madre is the largest conference for food lovers in the world. 6,000-8,000 people are expected at the event. Slow Food, a movement and organisation was founded in Italy in 1986, has grown to 165 countries. The week long event will include workshops and ‘vertical food tastings’. Helen will be speaking at the Oceanic forum on food activism. She talks about three big issues in the region, recognising these are also issues faced by countries worldwide.
- how to produce food without negative environmental impacts
- the effects of climate change on food production
- the trend away from smaller farms to large agribusiness
Much of the solution to these global problems lies in connecting communities to food and farmers, Helen says.
Helen explains that in developed countries like Australia, the divide between the farmer and consumer is great. Farmers lack equity over food sales due to large corporate organisations, and consequently farmers are not getting fair deals for their produce and work.
Bronwyn’s answer to these complex problems lies in “loving the earth and therefore change how we produce food”.
Bronwyn and Helen travel to Terra Madre for the first time. When I ask what they are most excited about, they can’t name one thing, but talk passionately about experiencing Italy, meeting people from almost every country across the globe. But one thing stands out for me as a solution to the mountain of complex environmental, logistical, social and economic problems that exist across the world today, “our commonalities could be reassuring that we are not doing this alone”.
Photo: Street parade Turin 2016
My thanks to Bronwyn and Helen of Wynlen House for speaking to me and permission to use your photos.