In these crazy (Covid-19) times of genuine health threats and uncertain financial futures I find myself thinking “what would Reg and Pat do?”

Reg and Pat are my grandparents who sadly aren’t with us anymore but their legacy of outstanding health through home gardening, outdoor physical exercise, strong community engagement and thrifty living have many lessons for us never more welcome than right now. 

A few of you reading this would have had the pleasure to know Reg and Pat but for the rest of you… let me set the scene.

Growing up in humble country North Western Tasmania about 100 years ago Reg and Pat married, built a house and had a family in Ulverstone (a small quite seaside town). During their lives together there were many tough times but despite this they both worked hard on themselves, at their jobs and on creating a home environment with near self-sufficiency. They didn’t live on a farm but on a traditional ¼ acre block which boasted a vibrant flower garden (tended by Pat) in the front and masses of productive growing beds and fruit trees out back (proudly under the care of Reg).

As you know I am an avid gardener and in recent weeks have been upping my game to secure bountiful fresh, nutrient dense food for my family into this uncertain future. Although I believe that we are very luck to call Australia home and that food security is unlikely to be an issue any steps we can take to produce “some” food for ourselves and our community is worth pursuing.

So when currently planting out my autumn and winter veggies I am thinking to myself “what would Reg grow” and the answer is: potatoes, pumpkin, beans, peas, silverbeet/chard and berries. And when I think about it… right there is your rainbow of antioxidant rich foods guaranteed to provide as much immune protection as possible.

Although as a kid I didn’t fully appreciate the quality of the veggies we would be served at Grandma and Grandad’s house I now understand that it wasn’t the veggies fault but the old-fashioned methods used to cook these beauties. Luckily times have changed, we have up-skilled in the kitchen, and we are no longing boiling the veggies to death in salted water but are lightly steaming, sautéing, roasting, grilling and enjoying raw this bounty.

Reg saved seeds and used very simple no-fuss gardening methods passed down from his family, community and by Tasmanian gardening legend Peter Cundall.

Reg and Pat where huge outdoors enthusiasts, enjoying time in the garden, going for bushwalks, picnicking in nature and exploring Australia far and wide. These outdoor pursuits (except for perhaps the broader travel) wonderful options for maintaining physical and mental health during these times of social distancing. How long since you have packed a picnic or filled a thermos and enjoyed this simple pleasure in nature (or even in your backyard)?

While Reg was busy in the garden Pat was most often busy in the kitchen, baking, preserving and freezing. I literally had never eaten Heinz ketchup until I was in my teen years as tomato sauce had always come in a bottle made by Grandma. Their large chest freezer in the kitchen always full to the brim with neatly stacked recycled milk cartons full of veggie soup and stewed fruit. How long since you have heard of anyone strewing fruit? Its a dying art that makes so much sense. Basically when fruit is in abundance or about to go bad its a great time time to cook it up and save it for later. Stewed fruit is a great breakfast food and can be used in all sorts of recipes like cakes and muffins.

And the most topical point I wanted to make about Reg and Pat is the they were very conscious of not using too much toilet paper. Yes you heard me… as a kid I received little reminder knock knocks on the toilet door if they thought I might have been using too many sheets of toilet paper! Maybe they knew something we didn’t know until now.

I know many of you are feeling very uneasy at the moment. You might be looking for home cooking ideas and recipes, tips for setting up balcony gardens or raised garden beds or generally ways to eat for less $$$. Well I have your back and I am hear as a resource and support for you. Keep connected and we can get through these tough times together.