Blog

A selection of our writings from 2009 to the present. If you'd like to keep up to date with our latest posts, please subscribe below.

Communing with plants in the abundance of harvest

Gratitude to plants.

This is not a wafty, throwaway praise. This is an embodied knowing, a deeply felt thank you for the living, growing, seeding, podding, storing and shitting of plants. For their many giving parts.

Whether plants are in their own autonomy, in relationship with measureless earth others, or requiring peoples’ union to thrive, plants embody the feminine divine. Mother Country is the vessel in which all things are brewed, hotly or coldly, and plants are often the very fibres that enable the alchemy of such fermentations throughout life, into death and back across into life.

They are encasements of nourishment, wisdom holders, inebriation agents and great revealers.

But so much plant living has been violated by industrial food, energy and medicine capitalisms. Plants have been incarcerated, mined and used as gratuitous commodities. When welded to the dominant culture we devour them, we’re never fully satisfied, never fully full. Why? Is it our relationship with plants has radically changed under the spell and ideology of modernity’s project?

We have never had more food available to us in our short time as a species, but is it in this glut that gluttony occurs? That we are unfulfilled?

So many of the capitalisms that exploit plants are greenwashing capitalisms. Biofuels are the obvious example, but almost all uses of plants are a form of enslavement, within the machine of hypertechnocivility.

Domesticating plants, it has long been said, is the story of our own domestication. This is not always the same story as the process of becoming hypertechnocivil – that is, so industrialised to think we are the only species worth feeding – our food automated and chugged into cities, from where anthropocentrism powers over all life.

However, if we open to the ritual possibilities, the medicinal, magical and teaching properties of plants, can we call on our more expansive selves – the broader, mythological, transformative and cosmological potentialities of our selves – to take hold in our daily actions and processes?

This, we’ve found, is more possible when our foods, energies and medicines come from the gentle labours of our creaturely bodies. When we are ecological participants in loved biomes. When we are creatures of place. A loved homeplace.

When we walk for the plant gifts that make our lives possible, we cannot but step into the magical and divine realms of plants. From such a place both abundance and gratitude flow. We, people, can once again co-union with plants. It is deep in our cultural DNA that we live this way. It is lifemaking connected to ancestors. It refuses the severings of modernity.

Highly cultivated plants such as grapes thrive in conditions where people yearly prune their radical vines. In turn people thrive by eating the fruits created by the goddess herself.

Borlotti beans don’t need highly cultivated soil as they fix nitrogen in the earth and bring fertility to any earthly biome. Their colours delight us in the sun, under which we dry them to store for winter fuel.

Basil loves the full brunt of summer’s heat – a powerful herb and food medicine destined for almond pesto.

Ella, one of this week’s volunteers at Tree Elbow, communes with prune plums. We all delight in this prunus variety, also destined to be dried for winter’s cellaring and eating.

Volunteer Beau works alongside Blackwood with spelt from Burrum Biodynamics to alchemise this old grain into pasta to join the almond basil pesto for dinner.

Patrick sets up a tree net to catch acorns for their harvesting, thus stopping the midnight clang of hard little nuts landing on the water tank and waking the underworlders sleeping nearby.

Blackwood demonstrates his method of acorn shelling to his family and volunteers, using a nut cracker. Acorn meal will be used with spelt for winter pancakes and for the brewing of Patrick’s acorn beer (a recipe which can be found at the end of his re:)Fermenting culture book).

It has been a week of communing with plants, glowing in the gratitude of abundance, and savouring this time of harvest with volunteers and visitors, including Jess from Canada, who like Beau and Ella brought a joyful spirit to Tree Elbow.

The week finished with Wild Fennel – our local herbal medicine circle led by local witches, Catie and Zoe. Their beautifully facilitated plant medicine circle elegantly brought us all into deeper presence with the holy Tulsi, while we were warmed by the equinox fire in the garden at Tree Elbow.

A special thank you to Jordan for the pic of the plant circle, Catie and Zoe for the love and for the crafting back of the peoples’ medicine, and to Beau and Ella for your loving attention and joyous labours this week as SWAPs.

If you’d like to listen to a conversation between Catie and Patrick, tune into this episode of Reskillience.

We look forward to hearing from you which plant or plants you are present to right now. What herbal teas or medicine plant foods are you most grateful for? What is your latest herbal/harvest discovery?

14 comments

  1. Martin Carter says:

    Thank you for this beautiful banquet of words and photography. It is a boon to be reminded of the gifts of the sun and bounty at what we hope is the end of a long winter here in Sweden.

    Just planting our Celeriac and tomatoes over the last few days and they join all our onions and leeks to lap up what sunlight shines through our windows. We listened to Patricks recent podcast last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Our family miss seeing you all on Youtube, though understand your reasons for leaving that space.

    Bless your harvest time and look forward to the book when it lands.

    1. Thank you Martin, may your summer produce be as fruitful as ours this year. We have had such a gentle season with few bushfires and feel the blessings of this gentle climate here in southern Djaara Mother Country.
      Love and sunshine to you and your family.

  2. Claire says:

    Tamarillos galore, passionfruit parade commences, chilli, chicory & a basil bounty also.

    1. Thanks dear Claire,
      sounds like you’re also in sthn. hempisphere.

  3. "PermaGrannie" says:

    Greetings! Here in the Northeast, USA, we will soon enter our Springtime. We are container gardeners, growing herbs such as basil and parsley and rosemary, along with lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Fingers crossed for our snap peas…may it be a better year than last. Sending hugs!

    1. Thanks PermaGrannie, go well into the light and see you on the other side of the night.

  4. Rachel says:

    A beautiful collection of words and photos! We are celebrating our first little ‘proper’ harvest from the almond tree. Also have loads of Basil going to flower and I’ve been looking for ways to use it and store it, so thanks for the tip about almond pesto!

    1. Oh, yay Rachel! Almond pesto is besto!

  5. Genevieve Jones says:

    Cucumber, zuchinni, ground apple, raspberries, eggplant and capsicum are growing, mostly in pots, in a narrow strip of sunshine in my driveway and I feel ecstatic!

    This is my first year and it’s a humble harvest, but it’s a harvest!

    Thank you for Patrick and Meg for your ongoing inspiration.

    1. Thanks Genevieve, congratulations on your first harvest. Those little strips of sunshine make all the difference.

  6. Shane says:

    Thanks for this inspiration by example! Plant-growing space where I live is tight w/ limited light, but I salvage plants & pots others toss out & now have a small jungle in my kitchen, about to spill out onto the fire-escape. Humble indeed, yet their presence brings deep pleasure. Real beauty, healing vibes, they give so much more than they ask for. Blessings to you.

    1. What a beautiful picture of your indoor garden, Shane. Thank you and many blessings into your days.

  7. Jimena says:

    I live in a small apartment in a Helsinki suburb but have been growing for a while two small lemons, ginger (it’s perfumed, wet leaves, are a delight!), watercress, lemon balm, and recently a tiny succulent stem I salvaged from the floor of a commercial greenhouse and managed to reproduce. Always daydreaming of visiting Tree Elbow one day <3

    1. Thanks for sharing a snapshot of your apartment garden, Jimena. Wow, ginger in Helsinki! Lemon balm is a common go-to herbal tea of ours too – a giving adaptogen that helps keeps a clear head.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *