What I came away the most inspired about, after today’s morning tea at Government House, was not the high ceilinged stone buildings or the beautiful timber floored ballroom dented by a couple of hundred years of high heels. It wasn’t even the normal motley crew of passionate, over committed, caring school gardening community that had been invited, and who I, as usual, laughed and commiserated with in turn. It was the pantry.
It was in the cavernous, sealed pantry that a whole new world unfolded in front of me. I had never seen the likes of that level of preserving. Quince, jams, chutneys, acres of fruit in bottles. Freezers held even more. Hanging suspended from the ceiling like giant watchdogs, were giant swathes of bay leaves, put there to chase away any insects. I suspected they had been hanging there just the same, or their forebears had, throughout the houses lifespan. I felt I was tapping into the source of all of our grandmothers cooking.
The garden was the source of all that produce, surprisingly not enormous as I’d thought, but obviously abundant with food. I am honoured and proud to now be, along with a team of incredible people, attempting to follow in the traditions of these great harvesters and preservers with the kitchen garden program at school. All of a sudden, all those jars sitting on the shelf seem to be what life is all about. From the garden, to the table. Oh, and of course, the Governor herself was lovely.