See how SWOP Collingwood team member Dani Marano has spent her lockdown.

Apart from obliterating any plans I had for 2020, and in a time where many have lost so much, Covid has actually been rather kind to me.


During iso I have found myself equal parts productive and sloth. I have endured the emotional highs and lows, whilst simultaneously bleeding the Netflix "British Crime Drama" genre dry. From collaging to tiling, learning how to light a fire to raising chicks, making music to building a greenhouse, this time has been restorative, yet f*#cked.



If you have watched Gilmore Girls, anyone who knows me will understand the comparison I draw between myself and Kirk, a small town character with 2,000 jobs. Apart from working with the lovely people at SWOP, I own a small vegetable seedling business, work as a freelance floral assistant, gardener and was studying floristry at Melbourne Polytechnic. In the weeks leading up to lockdown, retail closed its doors, all my event floristry work was cancelled and TAFE put on hold until 2021.

My interest in floristry and gardening ‘flourished’ when my partner and I returned from Europe last year. Before I moved to regional Victoria, I knew nothing about plants or maintaining a garden. Gradually I have gained confidence through experience and the sharing of information with other growers, gardeners and flower folk. This shared information has been essential to our success in the garden, as growing food in our region can be challenging due to the poor soil conditions, intense winter frosts and oppressive summer heat. Due to these extreme environmental factors, we have to do our homework and be diligent with our land management.


In addition to growing food, I have been utilising our greenhouse to cultivate spring flowers like feverfew, cosmos, and hollyhocks. Once the last frost passes, I will plant these in front of our little cottage amongst the roses and native grasses. There is almost nothing in this world I love more than arranging homegrown flowers in one of my many silly vases.


I also love spending time in the garden, mostly due to our 24 feathery free ranging pals. We have an array of rescue hens and a silkie rooster, David Peckham. This iso, our hens Pecorino and Dani Marano (the chicken), raised 6 chicks.

We adopted chickens to assist with improving our soil, maintaining weeds and ultimately to know where our eggs came from. It was quite overwhelming at first but now I can't imagine my life without them. Keeping chickens has been one of those surprisingly enriching experiences in which you learn so much about yourself simply by caring for another and expressing gratitude for their existence. I also know way too much about chicken poo...

So whilst the world has turned inside out, having the privilege to slow down and reassess has proven valuable beyond measure. I’m (cautiously) excited to come out of Covid with loads of new knowledge, a new career path, and a newfound admiration for watching things grow. 

Be Kind To One Another. 
Dani Xx