Matt was a graphic designer, Lentil was a speech therapist. But something was missing from their lives, so they gave up office jobs and city life to create the life they love on a flower and vegetable farm 120km from Melbourne.
“It was difficult to leave my job as a speech therapist, because I was helping people, and working with kids. But I had to be honest with myself, growing flowers, farming and living here is what makes me happy,” says Lentil. “And growing flowers makes other people happy. It’s sometimes hard to choose to be happy, but people should be encouraged,” adds Matt.
It’s about having good conversations with people and creating community. I started selling flowers but it wasn’t what I wanted to achieve, the beauty of it was being lost because it became about the money. The flower exchange is about getting people to think about what they have, about where their products come from.
“We’ve been given simple things like pickles, preserved and baked goods and quail eggs. It’s beautiful seeing what other people have in their lives, what they can do, give or are good at. We’ve been given beautiful artworks, gig tickets, there’s a lady making me a ring in response to flowers I gave her.”
Matt and Lentil re-use everything in a process they call ‘closing the loop’. From fertilising and sowing, to harvest and delivering, to harvesting again. They collect as many compostable scraps as they can – from restaurants they deliver to and people who bring them to the van, so they can return what came from their land when it comes to fertilising it again.
And the feel good factor doesn’t finish there. The couple have just introduced the concept of ‘paying it forward’. For every $40 of spare change they receive, they’ll donate a box of veggies to an individual or family who really needs it.
If the beaming smiles on their faces and cheery personas are anything to go by, it seems like they’re onto a good thing.
Have you got something you can offer in exchange for a beautiful bunch of Lentil’s flowers? To get in touch with Matt and Lentil go to www.grownandgathered.com.au