Where are you from?
I live in Brisbane’s far north west
What’s your background?
I grew up in the Far North Sunshine Coast in a town called Gympie. An agricultural town. I grew up in a diary area. But my family are working class so I grew up in the housing commissions of Gympie.
Describe your life right now
I think I’m living a very charmed life, much beyond what I ever imagined myself worthy of when I was a kid.
It’s been a couple of steps to get here. I always new I wanted to live out Samford way. We did look at a few properties and we knew that it was well beyond what we could afford in the early days, so we bought a house in the Gap, which is where we lived when our first 3 children were born. But it was when our friends moved out to Samford that I felt inspired to look out here again. And we tried to buy a property about a km away from here that was well beyond what we could afford, but we put in the offer anyway, several times, and each time we got outbid and then that buyer’s finance fell through and we’d be asked to bid again.
It happened three times and it drove us crazy, so we started looking for other property and when I drove in the driveway of this property I had an emotional reaction I turned to Paul and said “We’re not haggling. This is the place.” And we just said the instant that we saw the real estate agent “we’ll buy it.” And he said, do you want to go for a walk around the property first. I said “sure, okay.” but we didn’t haggle and we said, yes we’ll put in an offer on this property today, right now. No one else put in an offer that day so it was ours. I knew I wanted this block of land.
There’s something really special about this place. The landscape holds you. It’s the height of the horizon and the mountain, the way the shadows fall and you’re looking to the South and the view is lit from behind so you’re not looking into shadow all the time. I don’t know what it is but this place holds me.
What’s important to you and your life?
I don’t think it’s changed since I was about 18 years old and I told Paul I wanted to live an agrarian life in the country.
This isn’t really an agrarian life in the country. It’s morphed a little bit but I still aspire to grow some food and make things from scratch and host the family every Christmas and for this to be the place people gravitate back to.
This is our forever home. I can’t imagine we would want to sell up and leave until our very old age. This is the home base for, I’m hoping, several generations of family to come. And we’ve probably deeply over-invested in this property. This building where my business is, and just all of the extensions and improvements we’ve made over the 12 years we’ve been here. But I don’t see it as a negative at all coz we’re not leaving, so I feel really blessed to have that connection with the land.
Our neighbour on this side, his family were pioneers in the area. That land has been in his family for generations. And when we talk about this place I understand why aboriginal people feel tied to the land.
What specific experiences, people or events have shaped your view?
I have an Uncle, my father’s half brother, who we used to visit out at Ipswich quite frequently and he traveled quite a bit in Africa. He was a bachelor his entire life and he still is. He’s still alive and he’s in his 80s. He made a rainforest from scratch in Ipswich, on 2 acres of land, in Karalee. And he lived there for 20, 30 years and made this rainforest on his dry, shaely property.
And he gave me my first copy of Permaculture One, that original permaculture book which was actually based on experiments in Tasmania and had really no application in Queensland but I read it from cover to cover and I was just inspired.
It’s not just a philosophy for gardening but it was a social philosophy too. I could relate to that. A lot of people around here are ‘permies.’
Jodie Miller is the founder of Fresh Local Provisions, an author, mum and health consumer activist.