Marrickville resident Matthew Moore has grown a ‘heartfelt economy’ from what was once a vacant shopfront on Norton Street. The Backyard Network teaches locals how to make the most of their waste and outdoor space.
Where did the idea for the Backyard Network spring from?
It grew out of several seeds: I noticed a disparity between how it felt to do a heartfelt project for not quite enough money, compared to exchanging them for the fruits of somebody else’s passion, and that got me thinking about the possibility for helping to grow a heartfelt economy; at some point I realised that there is a continuity between our emotional selves and the spaces we inhabit, so that if we change a space with which we identify, we change ourselves.
How does it seek to change the way community engages with food and other commercial products?
It encourages people to identify and pass on their excesses, especially in exchange for things they don’t have in abundance but which others do. That is the simple secret to functional abundance and the original root of all our commerce. Once identified and if necessary processed and packaged, people can share things directly with friends and neighbours or bring them to a hub which can distribute them on their behalf.
For anyone thinking of starting to grow food in their backyard, what crops are the easiest to start with?
I’m a big fan of survivors, so I recommend eating organic and then nurturing the volunteer sprouts that come up in your kitchen compost. It’s tailored to you since it is made out of the foods you like to eat anyway, it has proven its determination to survive by coming up with little or no encouragement from yourself, and it has chosen where and when to take root, rather than being put there by you, so you’ve preserved the principle of freedom of choice for all beings.
What was the first thing you grew and cooked?
I didn’t grow it but I got amazing use out of the fruits of a lime tree that I brought back from the brink through pruning, watering, nourishment and attention. With those limes I made tons of distinctive hommus, chutneys, marmalades, tom yum goong soups, and a tub full of mojito cocktail mix for the wedding of two dear friends.
Where is your favourite place to picnic in the Inner West? What do you pack in the basket?
I love the part of Callan Park that juts out into Rozelle Bay, especially at dawn and sunset. I pack a bottle of rainwater and my meditation mind.
And if you could plant any one thing in the vicinity of Leichhardt what would it be and where?
I would plant an olive tree at the point where Norton Street meets Parramatta Road.
1 ½ cups dried chickpeas
¼ cup citrus juice (lime or lemon)
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup tahini
1-2 garlic cloves
½ tsp dried cumin
½ tsp dried fennel
Dash of chopped chilli
Salt to taste
Smoked paprika to garnish
Chopped coriander to garnish
Soak your dried chickpeas the night before in twice as much water as the volume of peas. After they’ve had at least 12 hours of soaking, rinse them and allow them to sit in a colander or sieve for another couple of hours. Rinse again and cook in plenty of salted boiling water until soft and ready to blend. You can keep any leftover chickpeas chilled in the water in the fridge for use in other dishes – the liquid becomes thick and flavoursome itself.
In your blender combine chickpeas, garlic, tahini, citrus juice, salt and spices with some of the chickpea cooking liquid (or water). Puree until smooth. Drizzle some oil on top to retain moisture and flavour and garnish with smoked paprika and fresh coriander. Enjoy!