Monday, March 11, 2019

Is Climate Change Affecting Your Life

It is so hot today. Not just hot, but hot, hot and it is mid march the time I usually plant out winter vegetables.

Yesterday there was a storm, one of the most frightening I have experienced. Blocks of ice from the sky, horizontal winds from multitude directions and trees on cars etc.

Today more storms are predicted and I am feeling anxious, yet I never remember feeling this way before.

It has happened gradually.  I remember enjoying summer storms as a refresher after a hot day but now they just bring the feeling of what boundaries will be surpassed this time.

Climate change is definitely impacting my life and I am sure if you reflect you will also notice such changes.

In Australia this summer has been the hottest ever recorded, and now it seems to just be going on and on.

What have you noticed in your area? Are weather patterns changing? Does it just feel different?


And it is not just us being impacted. It is also the wild life around us.

We all know the polar bears are losing their habitat but all the flora and fauna around us are feeling the changes in climate.

Before yesterday's violent storm my three friendly butcher birds one of whom is pictured here came and sat on my stairs. I could see they felt something different and were looking for a safe place to be.

Sorry birdies I am doing what I can but this is a much bigger problem than one person can solves even if they do try to do all they can.

Some of the changes I am personally making include changing the foods I am growing.

I have learned to stop planting conventional plants and am looking for tough plants able to stand up to changing conditions.

This includes plants such as the pigeon peas pictured here, snake beans and Brazilian spinach.

All of these foods are recognized permaculture perennials and have been stables in many cultures for generations.

The luxury of water guzzling and nutrient hungry plants is something not compatible with the changing conditions that lie ahead.

It is hard however for people to change their ways. Even at the community garden where I belong many members want to cling to old patterns of gardening.

They feel more comfortable with quick fix soil boosters from the local garden shop than working with their soil over time to make it into living soil that can stand up to harsh conditions.

Permaculture as a solution to climate change teaches its followers to listen to nature and work with it rather than against it.


Permaculture is very much about creating living, healthy soil.

The sweet tasting Brazilian cherries pictured here were planted at the community garden by a passionate permaculturalist who clearly saw what lay ahead.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Why Organic Gardening Is Really Worth the Effort

Once you have tasted something freshly picked from your own organic garden lesser vegetables will seem tasteless and weak.

Your food may not look perfect but that will be irrelevant once you taste the difference between this food and that grown using commercial criteria.

My own food gardening journey started after I decided it was up to me to change my immune system after a third concurrent breast cancer and believe me if I can garden anyone can.

After my last cancer treatment I required regular colonoscopies but after the last one the specialist merely said keep doing what you are doing. The state of my gut had changed so greatly.

I do think changing to growing and eating my own organic food played a large part in these changes in my body.

You can buy great organic food as well but let's be honest most of us cannot afford to do this all the time but we can put a pot on the balcony, a planter box in the yard or as I did buy an old house and begin the journey of creating a vegetable garden from resistant clay soil.

I went to lectures with local permaculturalists and also joined the local organic growers association and gradually built up my knowledge on how to add strength and good health to my soil.

I had watched my sisters in New Zealand always adding every food scrap to their gardens and feeding their children on strong, gutsy vegetables from small garden plots, so I knew soil could be nutured and feed families in simple, inexpensive ways.

I remembered my father bringing boot loads of kelp from New Zealand beaches and digging it into the soil where he planted our yearly crop of potatoes.

Now seaweed emulsion can be brought from good gardening stores and it really adds natural strength to your food.

It is a journey learning how to grow food especially through the heat, drought and cyclones that are part of our new climate but creating rich and life giving soil not only heals your body but it is part of creating a healthier planet.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Things Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About Breast Cancer

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer it is all about getting rid of the cancer.

This is good but it does not deal with the bigger picture. How do you make your body strong enough to stop the cancer returning.

This of course can be a hard ask as we all have lifestyles to maintain even with a cancer diagnosis and income and other practicalities do not change just because we are ill.

This morning I have just come in from watering the beautiful collection of organic fruit trees above I have planted myself, bananas, Indian guava, feijoa, mango, sandpaper creek fig, custard apple and pigeon peas.

Twenty seven years ago when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I would never have imagined I would be doing anything like that. At that time I was a busy high school teacher with a new mortgage.

The realities of my lifestyle were difficult to deal with as I coped with treatment and the fear breast cancer aroused in others at that time.

It really took me two more breast cancers to begin to see the big picture which was my lifestyle, and to be fair to myself it was just not my lifestyle but the mindset in which I was living.

It is difficult to maintain one's health in an unhealthy world, so I decided I needed to change my ways.

This was eleven years ago and I am pleased to say, fingers crossed I am still cancer free.

So what did I do.

I began to remove as many chemicals from my life as I was able. This is a complex issue as our consumer world is so full of toxic chemicals and our body can deal with many. For some however we reach overload and this impacts our immune system.

I saw myself as one of those on overload so I checked out all the chemicals in my life and eliminated all I could.

I brought an old government house and made sure all surfaces were from `healthy' products which did not offgas.

I created a garden to give myself organic food.

The best thing about my new neighborhood which was so different from the trendy inner city suburb where I had lived is that people did live simply and compared with where I was before chemical free. They understood where I was coming from.

It was all a very different lifestyle and aspiration from my earlier years but it has renewed my body and brought a peace of mind I never had before.

I have made every effort to live in harmony with the natural world and to renew the soil on my land.

It has been rewarding and uplifting and definitely something my doctors never told me.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Creative Ways to Help the Planet

Rose Apple Canvas Print featuring the digital art The Rose Apple by Winsome Gunning
The Rose Apple Canvas Print by Winsome Gunning

Sometimes what is happening to our planet can seem overwhelming but if each of us makes creative changes to our lives there is still time.

Even in the smallest of apartments we can grow a plant in a pot that can change the quality of the air around us, a small creative act that adds change.

The beautiful Rose Apple pictured in my canvas print came from a small tree which I started growing in a pot.

Now well entrenched at the bottom of my garden I never realized what a contributor  to our earth it would become when I was first given it as a seedling.

Garden Coffee Mug featuring the digital art Garden Flavor by Winsome Gunning
Garden Flavor Coffee Mug by Winsome Gunning

One of my favorite things now is saving seeds.


These I share or grow into seedlings. There is a beautiful strawberry guava at my community garden full of fledgling fruit which came from one small seed I saved from a particularly beautiful organic guava I so enjoyed eating.

Not only is this little seed now feeding many but also adding to our air quality.

The smallest act can create change if it is the right act. 

The snake beans seeds I saved from my first harvest are now feeding many at my community garden thanks to saving them each year and sharing the seeds.

The beautiful nasturtiums on this mug were also grown in my garden from shared seeds which have now been shared on.

Lavender Portable Battery Charger featuring the digital art Lavender Moment by Winsome Gunning
Lavender Moment Battery Charger by Winsome Gunning
Both the flowers and leaves of this colorful plant are special in salads and the corms I believe make a great caper substitute although I have not yet tried them myself.

Lavender is another plant I love to share around.

My garden lavender is featured here on this battery charger and is it a strong lavender that grows so well from cuttings.

Most of the places I visit including my church now feature a lively lavender bush from this strong little plant.

Yes being creative about the planet is about learning new ways of sharing and creating, learning to think outside the box.

There are so many ways we can change our ways of growing and sharing what we produce and create ourselves.

I personally love plants and gardens so this is my way. I love to think I am breaking away from old models of producing food but for me it is still trial and error and a lot of learning.

Still it is not accepting the status quo which has resulted in such a depleted planet and although it may be a small beginning it is all adding to the creative ways we can help our planet.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Getting Smart With Breast Cancer

I tried to write this blog post last week but couldn't. It was the week before my yearly checkup for breast cancer and I had writer's block..
Healing Canvas Print featuring the painting The Healing by Winsome Gunning
The Healing Canvas Print from original artwork by Winsome Gunning

That day still brings up so many  emotional memories and I look back and wonder how I did what I had to do.

One of the staff at the medical center said to me as she completed her testing not many people hear good stories like yours they just hear bad breast cancer experiences.

So today I am trying again to give a brief summary of my journey.

In short I have had three separate or concurrent breast cancers the first now twenty seven years ago, the second nineteen years ago and the third eleven years ago., yes finally I am considered stable but not stable enough to skip my yearly checkup.

Bird Canvas Print featuring the painting Waiting by Winsome Gunning
The Waiting Canvas Print from original artwork by Winsome Gunning

Each of these cancers was caught early due to vigilant testing.

It really is tough fronting up to those regular checkups as you will have gathered from the beginning of this post but I know without them I would not be healthy and well today, in fact I have never felt better.

I am as nervous as anyone when going to be tested and each time I have had a positive diagnosis I have been a teary mess but then the let's get well energy has kicked in and I have got on with what I considered the best medical advise.

For me this consisted of three partial mastectomies followed each time by six weeks of radiation treatment and hormone treatments. I reacted to both the first two hormone treatments after approximately two years and came off them but the third treatment really suited my body and I still take it today.

Today with the amazing new technologies and wide choices of drugs for individual breast cancers the diagnosis for cancer is quite a different experience to what it has been in the past.

But even last week as I waited for my results after being called back for extra testing, a technical point, I was surprised at the emotions I experienced and remembered some of the wide variety of feelings and vulnerabilities being a patient  can make you feel.

Anyway I got good news and a renewed passion for the sustainable lifestyle I share here on this blog and which along with excellent medical advances has created for me twenty seven years after my first diagnosis a healthy body and a passion for life.

Garden Canvas Print featuring the painting Garden Of Joy by Winsome Gunning
The Garden of Joy Canvas Print from original artwork by Winsome Gunning

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Getting Smart With the Planet

Earth, Blue Planet, Globe, Planet, World
 Painting - Remembering Joy by Winsome Gunning

Remembering Joy

We only have one planet and we all share it so my new year's resolution is to get smart with the planet.

I have just returned from twelve special days in the South of New Zealand that small unspoiled country at the bottom of the world. At least it was.

Yes there are still areas of wilderness but the water in Christchurch where I was staying is no longer pure water from the ground.

Farmers around the city have gone for the quick money and turned what were mixed farms into cow factories.  The cow poo has got into the rivers and contaminated the water sources.

My memories are of drives in the country where my father who brought and sold crops from the mixed farms would comment on which grain was ready to harvest.

There was such a diversity of crops, we could swim in every river and water was drunk from anything that was running. nature felt balanced.

 Painting - Joy by Winsome Gunning


Now for the first time ever Christchurch water has had to be  chlorinated.

Enough chlorine to give me skin rashes, and it is recommended not to swim in what were three beautiful free flowing rivers surrounding the city.

The joy of a hot summer day in Christchurch was going to swim in the local river now you do so at your own risk as it is contaminated with bacteria found only in cow's intestinal tracts.

As we drove over one of these river beds I saw families were still camping there for their summer break and children were paddling in the water.

But now innocent enjoyable childhood treats come clouded with risks that would not be happening if farmers had not gone for the quick buck rather than honoring the land.

Yet this is what is happening everywhere,  so we all  need to get smart with our planet.
 Painting - Living Water by Winsome Gunning

Living Water

Do we need that extra car, do we need houses full of stuff or do we need a planet where people can run free and trust the land to provide good water and a fair living.

I want a new mindset where we put away the flash and start working together to heal our planet before it is too late.

Our governments do not seem to be doing this but together as individuals we can create change.

I want for everyone in the world to know what I experienced growing up, fresh, pure water you can drink with safety .  

Yes it is a dream but it is possible if  we wake up in time.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Is Glyphosate Affecting Your Health?

Jurors have just given a  $289 million settlement to a man they say got cancer from Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller, and many more cases are to come.

But how you are asking does that affect me?

Well it does affect you, it affects us all and yes you can do something about it.

The man in the $289 settlement Dewayne Johnson had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma which could be directly linked to glyphosate found in Roundup and many other weedkillers.

Glyphosate is not only linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but is an endocrine disruptor which disrupts our hormonal systems and creates many health issues  including testosterone processing, early menopause, cholesterol, obesity, onset of puberty, immune function, bone health and cardiac function and mental states.

 If you would like to understand more on the role of Roundup, and/or glyphosate and endocrine disruptors I would like to recommend the independent scientific studies of

The specific role of Endocrine Disruptors was something I felt was involved in my developing three separate breast cancer. Where I lived every public place and most designer gardens were obsessively sprayed with Roundup.



The first and most obvious thing is stop thinking you need Roundup or one of the other glyphosate infiltrated weedkillers to make your garden weed free.

Do not respond to the marketing hype. You don't need these weedkillers.

If you do need to spray something white vinegar or one of the many other natural homemade recipes on Google will do the job just as well.

Anything you use at your home adds to the glyphosate in our ground water and in the air we breath. With glyphosate now found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested the first step to stop this cancer causing build up in our bodies is to stop our personal use of products that include glyphosate.


Every time you buy organic you are supporting a farmer who is does not use glyphosate based products in the production of their crops. Sometimes this makes their food more expensive but there are always farmer's markets where you can buy directly from the farmer. 

Once you have eaten organic food other food will taste weak. There is nothing more special than the taste of a freshly picked organic tomato. 

 My local health food shop does not add profit on their organic vegetables. It makes their fresh produce on a par with the local supermarkets and supports these farmers and their efforts to create a healthier food system.

 If it is difficult to source organic food you can always grow your own.


Growing your own food may seem overwhelming at first but it can be done anywhere. There is an amazing collection of great articles on Google which show you how to grow food in even the smallest and darkest of apartments, and then there are community gardens. For city dwellers these are inspiring places where food growing ideas and new concepts on food are shared. I was lucky enough to have one starting nearby when I moved to my sustainable house. What a lot I have discovered about food growing at this garden.


High levels of glyphosate can be ingested when you eat GMO food. Over eighty per cent of Genetically Modified Crops are engineered specifically so they can be sprayed with glyphosate based herbicides and these crops use amazing amounts of glyphosate. These foods are  saturated with Roundup Residues.

In America more than ninety per cent of all soybean, and corn acreage is genetically modified. Canola is another common GMO crop.

Personally I don't eat soy, or corn and definitely do not use Canola Oil, but I would suggest you check that foods are labelled GMO free before you purchase. Restaurants of course are difficult because you do not know what you are getting, although I have a selection of eat out venues where I live that do not use GMO food and I stick with these.


You don't  need to be gluten intolerant to avoid wheat. It is now a common practice for nonorganic farmers to spray their wheat with glyphosate just days before harvest to dry off the crop for processing. The use of these pesticides so close to harvesting makes their presence in your wheat products stronger. Wheat products today are not the foods that were eaten by our parents or grandparents.


Learning about healthy soil was one of the first lessons taught at my community garden. When the soil is strong and healthy the brix index in the plants is high and they are able to withstand predators.

Building healthy soil is a sustainable solution to eradicating weed killers such as Roundup. With strong food grown in healthy soils you do not need to use the quick fix spray and strong food builds strong bodies.


The more individuals stand up against the use of unnecessary and life threatening chemicals such as glyphosate the sooner they will be eliminated.

Petition your local school or council against the use of glyphosate.  We now know it is not safe in our environment.  

No one wants someone to have to fight a tough court battle while they are dying but what a courageous man to fight for a ruling that will alleviate the suffering of so many.

As I said before where I live the council is contracted to spray all public spaces with Roundup. Someone is making money from the suffering of others. Young men are still out there spraying without protection, people are still wondering why they are suffering from cancer.

This special court ruling is raising voices against this situation. I hope it will end soon.


I hope the concepts mentioned here are starting points for you gaining further knowledge on how to eliminate glyphosate from your life and the lives of those around you.

 This product  has already caused pain and suffering for too many people around the world. It is now time to look at new ways to farm living, healthy food.