Feature: Life on an eco-community in Byron Bay

The last time I saw Kelsey, we had just run into each other in Chefchaouen, Morocco. I had one of the best weeks of my life with her and a gorgeous group of people eating tagine and drinking fresh orange juice. Kelsey continued to travel around Europe, Asia and India before returning home to work on an eco-community in Byron Bay.  

“Words of inspiration from Bill Mollison that sparked something within me” – Kelsey

The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale in our gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.

Where are you living at the moment and what are you doing?

I’m living at a permaculture based community/eco retreat. It follows principles of the gift economy and volunteers from all over the world come to stay, learn and grow. There’s no set work times, you pick the jobs you want to do and find yourself giving more because you aren’t being told what to do and when – a big shift from what we are accustomed to. My heart is in the garden. I spend my days planting, harvesting, making new beds, watering, taking care of the seedling nursery and loads more maintenance. Other jobs range from cooking, woodwork, metalwork, landscape designing, housekeeping or making jams, chutneys and kimchi.

Whats your favourite thing about where you are living?

The focus on eating what we grow here and contributing your energy into creation. It’s morning, the sun is shining and a few of us go into the garden. We harvest beetroots, lettuce, pumpkins, and kale. By lunch everyone gathers from their jobs as we share roasted beetroot dip, pumpkin soup, oven baked kale chips, a fresh green salad and our home baked bread. We eat on the table that the boys made up in the shed a few weeks ago with a tree that fell down the back of the property. We all put a little piece of ourselves into the work we do.

What is something that you have learnt recently that has astounded you?

A fruit exists called black sapote aka. chocolate pudding fruit. We are growing a tree here and I kid you not this fruit is natures fix for anyone with a sweet tooth like myself. Also that they have made trees which can produce two or more different types of fruit.

Any health and wellness advice? Maybe something that you wish you had known earlier?

Smaller portions give you more energy. Even if its healthy, loading your plate up a mile high makes your digestive system work harder and slows you down. Hence that feeling of sleepiness after a heavy meal. I have integrated intermittent fasting into my life now and am feeling on top of the world, reminds me to be mindful and slow when eating.

I saw you fasted recently, what did you do and how did you feel? 

For four days I drank water and herbal teas. The previous week I eased into it by eating less and cutting out caffeine,alcohol and heavy grains. It’s important to still be active or work so in the mornings I did light activities and in the afternoon dedicated time to meditate, self-reflect and rest. Overall the results astounded me. I rarely thought about food, felt lighter physically, my mind was so clear and present in each moment as slowing down allowed me to reconnect with nature as I spent time just to sit and appreciate. In the mornings I felt slightly nauseous but like everything in life – it’s temporary. I was lucky enough to do it with six others and definitely recommend doing it with friends for support.

You have travelled A LOT over the last few years, any tips for staying healthy on a budget?

For Europe – dumpster diving and going to small farmers markets around closing time to see if they have anything they won’t sell. For dumpster diving, try’s using Trash Wiki and trust me its not as dirty as it sounds. At one health food store’s bins in Portugal we found packaged goji berries, protein powders, nuts and oils all one day after their ‘best before’ date. At markets find out how to ask in their language, they will appreciate it and I found local farmers would prefer to see their slightly overripe or damaged fruit or veg make a grateful backpacker happy rather than rot in the bin.

Favourite fruit, vegetable and meal? 

It would be impossible to pick one but I can try narrow it down to three.

Fruit – bananas, figs and guavas.

Vegetable – pumpkin, sweet potato and brocoli.

Meal – Oven roasted vegetables, masala dosa (only in India) and acai bowl with Coyo !


Why is organic food so important? Find out here.

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