It’s a supremely tranquil space, but don’t be fooled, this home is a hive of activity. If you read Monday’s post, you’ll know Matt and Lentil are the industrious couple behind Grown and Gathered, a project which sees them farm their own organic fruit, vegetables and flowers for a growing community of loyal customers in Melbourne. Matt and Lentil spend all week farming, foraging and tending to their animals, and then on Saturdays they make the drive into town to sell their popular vegetable boxes, or to trade flowers in Lentil’s ‘Flower Exchange’. It’s idyllic – but it’s also very busy!
Matt and Lentil live in their sweet little farmhouse cottage on a property which is partitioned off from the Tahbilk Winery estate – owned by Matt’s family. But, their home wasn’t always this beautiful. ‘To put it simply, when we first saw the house it was almost falling down’ says Lentil. ‘The winery wanted to bulldoze it, but we loved the location and so decided we could make it work’. She and Matt renovated their little house together with the help of friends, at the same time as setting up their farm.
‘There were walls falling in, the powerpoints were coming out of the walls, it was super dark, the floors were carpet and lino, and the walls were a turquoise blue and cream’ recalls Lentil. Never afraid of a little elbow grease, the pair set about gutting the house, ripping down crumbling walls and pulling away layers of junk to reveal the bare bones of the home.
‘Matt and I did most of the work ourselves, calling on friends with skills to help. So lucky for friends’ says Lentil. ‘Matt was once a designer, so he drew things up to see if they would work – he designed beautiful spaces like our kitchen. We put in lots of windows, re-did the floors, knocked down a few walls, painted, put in a new kitchen, and built the deck’. Everything used to build or put in the house was salvaged, re-used, made by hand or traded. There is nothing new here!
It was a totally exhausting, yet amazing experience. We learnt so much about building, what we liked, what we didn’t, how to make things sustainably. It was an amazing challenge. We are always up for a challenge’
Since moving in a year ago, the pair have continued to chip away at unfinished tasks, also adding a few ‘fun’ things like the outdoor bath, and a greenhouse built from salvaged old doors. As time has passed they’ve also accumulated a few more personal details – treasured gifts, and artworks made by friends, or traded in Lentil’s Flower Exchange.
Though not generally enamoured with material things, Lentil does have a few favourite pieces at home. ‘We are a bit in love with Carla Fletcher’s prints in our spare room – the kangaroo and koala. These guys were traded for a few buckets of flowers, and she is just so lovely!’. Lentil is also very fond of the vessels she and Matt have recently made from the clay on their property – ‘we are super happy with how these have worked out!’ she says.
Having each experienced life in the city, (working both in office jobs, believe it or not!) for Matt and Lentil, this home is about much more than just having a beautiful place to live. The farm really has given them a new lease on life. They’ve jumped at the chance to craft a unique lifestyle here, to make their own rules, to invent new ways to earn a living and trade their goods, and to champion a more mindful way of living. In Lentil’s own words, life in Tabilk is ‘Simple. Not shiny’. And that’s just the way they like it.