Founding the Magical World of Stellar Violets

 In Food

I was wondering what line to start with, and would have sat here, with a blank page, for an age waiting for the perfect words to come to me. Waiting until everything was in place before throwing open the doors and sharing the Stellar Violets dream with the world. Ha! Just nailed my story of the past five years. I grew up surrounded by neat orchard rows and thought colouring inside the lines, reciting facts and playing the music as written was the done thing. This approach served me in life for a while… however I needed to start learning to break free of the confines of  conditioned thinking and behaviour to step into this magical world we’re creating with Stellar Violets.

With a little blog in July 2011 and little garden to speak of I began work on Stellar Violets. Then came a Founding Committee I brought together, to set up a structure for Stellar Violets that would enable us to operate long into the future. This process took over a year, until on the 12th March, 2012, a letter arrived in the mail from the Australia Tax Office. It was a stamp of approval for Stellar Violets Life Library, Living Museum and Gallery and the day we became a registered charity. Today marks five years of working toward our vision to create an arts & cultural centre reconnecting people to the land and food provenance. Mapping holistic, sustainable living for ourselves and our organisation was our first goal. I found out pretty quickly this was no quick fix. Creating a way of living and working on a rural block that does more good than harm, is, requires… a lot. I wondered if Marvell was having a laugh with his poems of  garden idylls?


Sometimes it felt like we were ploughing through heavy ground that would’ve better left to drain and dry for several weeks. I could see where we were going, in a flash in my mind’s eye. Making that happen in physical form took hard graft and perseverance. See those rows? Took almost a month to create the first time, carefully removing the last of the kikuyu, adding soil amendments, referring to our Allsun market garden training guide again and again.

Along with the challenges of building fertility on a small block with limited resources, I had my own trip. No longer someone’s employee, I had to rely on what skills I had, and instincts. I did doubt myself – was I doing enough? Was I going about things the best way? What didn’t I know that I didn’t know? Periodically I would should on myself despite advising others it’s not the thing to do… I should be paid full time for my work by now. I should have a manager by now so I can focus on x y and z. Not helpful.

Along with the shoulds, was the resistance to things I hated doing.  Like a petulant child, in low moments I asked myself, why do I have to do “everything”? Even though of course I was never doing “everything”, that was just my story when the lights went out. My Shadow rose from time to time, as it does. A few years ago, ok, many years ago my sister and I went to a restaurant in France called Dans Le Noir – in the dark. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Blind people serve. Once guided to our table, we groped for our seats and sat down, clutching the drink we had been given for fear of spilling or losing it forever to the darkness. I reached out my hand,

“Where are you, Nic”?


I had poked her in the eye.

Our blind spots are so close, it’s a wonder we don’t see them. Eventually, hopefully we do, and then – oh. That’s how I was being about that? Oh dear.

No, sometimes noone else will do that thing you don’t like, that needs doing… if you want to progress, if you want to move, you have to do it. Get off it and get on with it, or get out of the game. I had no boss to tell me to turn up, to perform, to try this over that, that I “did good”, or not. What a gift, and what a challenge.

The early uncertainty, fears and lack of trust in myself to follow the rainbow, likely combined with a history of certain lifestyle habits, manifested in severe gut and digestion problems in 2014. For several months illness and discomfort increased, until – Vesuvius! The gory eruption details can be found here> Time for Gut Healing: Eton Mess Brings untold Distress.

So I changed my eating habits dramatically. And slowly, over time, gained weight, rebalanced my system, and came good.  Bone broths, good fats, some meat, and lots of vegetables are the best things for me. I’m not saying that for everyone mind – they are what work for me.

As my energy and capacity returned, so has health – as long as I remain aware of my needs and go with what’s best for my body. I’ve embraced yoga again, and am managing, at last, to make it as important as my other work, as important as growing food, as managing and furthering Stellar Violets, as fostering good relationships with loved ones.

I don’t always get the balance right – but my yogi, Gwen, just laughed when I talked about my challenges with balance. “Balance! Hahaha! Everything is in constant motion!” or something like that. Gwen is Singaporean with strong cultural ties to Japan, having spent her teenage years there. She talks about Wabi Sabi – a Japanese concept referencing acceptance of transience and imperfect perfection, or rather, the beauty in imperfection. Cracked crockery might be fused back together with gold, bringing focus to the imperfection, indeed, making it the most beautiful part. I laughed too and realised I had been getting a bit earnest about “balance”. Better just leave the clock pendulum to swing as it will, step toward what works for me where I can, and most importantly, hold everything as lightly as possible.

“Relax your eyebrows”, Gwen said in class this morning. I laughed, and my eyebrows relaxed.

For five years with my team we’ve unfurled this creative vision with little restraint and the photos don’t lie, we’ve had a damn good time doing it! With a wondrous team, and some incredible supporters and sponsors including my family and many close friends, we’ve worked away at creating a beautiful rural sanctuary to invite people to visit, share in, and learn from. I still wake up in the morning and think, wow, there are train carriages in the garden. They look… amazing.

Along the way I have discovered what true health might look like for me, and our land. You can’t buy that experience You’ve got to ask for it, search for it, learn about it, and crucially, live into it. It’s not a fixed result, either, I have to keep creating it with a thousand small choices.

I’m sitting in a beautiful sun lit space, with the leaves of trees and some unruly vegetable rows just beyond the French doors. It’s our reception and co-working space, and, first gallery. There’s no sign out the front yet, nor paintings hung, and we’ve just started building a driveway. That’ll mean buses, of tourists, and students, in the not too distant future.

You know, there’s still so much to build here, to plant, and experience. I’m done with waiting for the perfect moment. It’s time to share the next stage of creation with our community, and we kicked that off recently launching Fridays with Stellar Violets.

I am pretty excited. Because now, there is enough, visually, on the outside, and crucially, within me. My initiation is complete. I’ll keep learning, and more hurdles will be there for me to break my funny bone on or crash through or kick over. When hurdles are done, I’ll be done. May there be many more hurdles and may I have the grace not to tantrum about any of them. Except maybe the march flies. And the wind. They infuriate me and always will.

So… where do you fit in to this dream?

Well, you’re invited. Step up and knock on the door. When you do, you’ll see we have been busily creating a magical world, awaiting discovery. If I have a hope, in doing this, it’s to inspire you to live your life, your way, as much as possible. Claim your life. Take it with both hands, take this world and create what beauty,  health, and wonder you can. Lean in. If we don’t take action to build our dreams, noone will do it for us.We don’t have forever. So let’s get to it. If you’re not sure where to start, come and see us here at Stellar Violets. We have a few ideas.

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