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Towards a microbiome approach to culture and economy (or, Re-dreaming a gender-distributed science) with Gemma Smithson


Hello dear Subscribers and other curious visitors,

Over the past week we’ve hosted three new volunteers at the School of Applied Neopeasantry, who have been learning-helping with the harvesting and storing of this warm season’s abundance. We’ve been harvesting and preserving summer crops and also prepping soils to plant winter crops while there’s still heat in the giving earth, here in Djaara Mother Country.

While we’ve been working hard – doing-saying, lifemaking, neopeasanting, demonstrating the possibilities of living a low-impact ecological-economy – Tully, Anisa, Gemma, and we mob have also engaged in many conversations.

On Gemma’s last day, she asked whether she could record Patrick for a university assignment. Gemma is studying environmental science and has, true to her openness and curiosity, organised two radically different placements for her summer work experience – with Artist as Family and with Parks Victoria. Go Gemma!

We have edited this little interview, recorded on Gemma’s phone in the garden at Tree Elbow, into a twelve minute excerpt, and we’re sharing it as a way of giving an insight into some of the subjects/conversations we have with volunteer-students at the school, this time occurring at the end of a neopeasant lunch, just before we all headed off for siesta.

We hope you enjoy this little moment (12min listen) with Gemma, pictured here with Meg and Patrick.

As always, your input, questions and comments are valuable to our readers and to us, so please feel free to offer up what’s living in you after listening in. Also, we have a place available next month if you’re interested in volunteering and learning with us. Head here for more details and please get in touch if you’re keen to join us.

Permission to plant

We have just received a wonderful letter of support from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), the legal custodians of the Food Forest.

“We hold great pride and respect for our culture and fully support the way in which the food forest will educate the wider community on Aboriginal history and culture.” Rebecca McHugh, MLALC

Today we also spoke to Helen from Marrickville Community Nursery, a biodiversity nursery that specialises in plants native to the Cooks River in Sydney. Many of these plants are also native to Surry Hills, so we’ll be making our way there shortly to buy bush food plants for the forest.
A list of Cadigal Wangal Edible Plants will benefit any Sydney food garden. To produce food while renewing local ecology is a significant principal of permaculture, and this can be achieved on a balcony, in a backyard or on a farm.

Rocks, logs and leaf litter

Some notes on the food forest:

1. Create many habitats for predators, such as lizards and frogs.
2. Create a site of intense biodiversity – flora and fauna – to help allay pests.
3. Allow fruit, nuts and berries not consumed by humans or non-humans to be left to compost on the forest floor.
4. Allow plants to seed, fruit and regenerate naturally by open pollination.
5. The food produced must remain uncapitalised and free from pesticides and other synthetics.
6. The intent of the forest is to trigger a foraging vibe for humans and non-humans local to the site.
7. To design the forest so it becomes self operating, self feeding and self watering.
8. Combine indigenous and exotic flora.
9. Create a ‘green pharmacy’ with many herbs.
10. Plant companion plants in close proximity to one another.
11. Bring in much biomass, top soil and compost to help create an organic base for the site.
12. This work is a fabrication, an artwork, based upon biomimicry. It participates in what it represents: a reunion of the conceptual with the corporeal; the mind with the body; man with woman; human with non-human; food with ecology; poetics with pragmatism.