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This is permacultural neopeasantry

It has been a very social time of late, guests from many places visiting with much sharing, learning and sleeves-rolled-up labouring. A lovely French couple, Ariane and Thomas, stopped in. They are making a film of transitioning peoples from around the world, and they provided us a very privileged bird’s eye view of Tree Elbow University’s School of Applied Neopeasantry, AKA our quarter-acre home ecology.
Thomas Dorleans even made this little mash up of the footage he took, which we layered with our mate Charlie‘s songful magic to make this little vid of the spring garden. (If you are reading this as an email subscription you’ll need to click through to our blog to see it).
Thomas also took this lovely pic of us with our second Permaculture Living Course (PLC) participants, the delightful Christy, Moe and Liam. 

A PLC involves many differing skills and knowledges and any given day will include various songs of fermentation, cellaring, composting, sowing, harvesting, soil prepping, building, cooking, repairing tools, community gardening, community forest stewardship and fire prevention work, to list just a few things. Woody has been making a series of videos of late of such labours and learnings and this one shows the work Christy, Moe and Liam carried out to continue the fire prevention and ecology enhancing programme we’ve initiated on the south-west edge of the town, based on David Holmgren’s and the Spring Creek community’s volunteer work over the past 25 years in Hepburn.

This work complements and extends the beautiful labours that Cara, Marty and Teeka were doing in the previous PLC. Make and Play bush school kids, Woody, Luna, Fab and Leah, hang out while gently absorbing the volunteer service work of adults taking responsibility for their futures. 

Make and Play has been going for two years now and we have been learning so much about forest biomes, edible weeds and wild foods, and how to make magic, simple tools and build collaborative skills.


Patrick is about to start Feral and Free, a group for older kids, which will be a radical, less formal form of Scouts. If you would like more info please email him. Patrick has also been offering his weedy and feral knowledges at the Daylesford Sunday Farmers’ Market, collecting donations for the community gardens in exchange for proclaiming the edible and medicinal properties of numerous weed species. His next weedy appearance will be on Sunday 2 December between 10-12 noon.

While Meg has been sharing her fermenting knowledges at the monthly Daylesford Culture Club meet-ups. In December she will be facilitating a miso-making workshop. Make sure you follow the Hepburn Relocalisation Network for details to come.

Photo: Mara Ripani

Other guests we have hosted recently include Eva Perroni and Eric Holt-Giménez, who came to stay with us on their tour of Australia for the Food for Thought and Action series. With Eva we put together the Land for Life event as part of this series, and it will soon be available as a video on our Youtube channel. Community elder and permie activator, Su Dennett, joined us for a post Land for Life breakfast.

The Land for Life event, featuring Bec Phillips, David Holmgren and Eric, was a remarkable moment in our community, drawing on indigenous, permacultural and post-capital relationships concerning food, land, culture and economy. The night transcended typical heady discussions to become more about trust building and healing the traumas of our imperialist pasts, each as capital subjects and actors of varying degree.

It is always sobering after such a powerful event to return to the stuff of the everyday, using the body for what we call productive yoga – lifting, hauling, cutting, stirring, holding, shaking, walking, mixing, harvesting, digging, sitting, throwing, forking, running, thrusting, hurling, bending, squatting, etc. All these things constitute the biophysical rhythms of the day from stretching the gluten of the spelt dough, to mixing the weed or poultry teas, or sifting the dry potash from the char to make a range of home-brewed fertilisers required for the garden. In combination they call us home to a certain presence of mind, through the body,

like hanging out the family cloth, for example. Each cloth, after being washed, is ‘ironed’ by the palm of our hand as we prepare them for the drying rack. They dry by the solar of the sun (outside) or by the solar of our hand axed and walked-for wood (inside). Many small, repetitive tasks throughout the day mosaic into a rich order of productions, which together constitute as low an impact life as we can currently achieve. We were once fecaphobes, now we are fecaphiles, as our brightly singing family cloths and humanure soils attest.

And it is this that we aim to impart during each of our PLCs. Below Christy, Moe and Liam plant out our home-raised tomato and basil seedlings into our newly prepped humanure compost annual beds. Closing the poop loop and saving seeds are two very powerful processes that enable us to live off the industrial food grid and therefore divest from that sector of capitalism.

Running these courses has been extremely rewarding and heartwarmingly positive. Building relationships are everything within regenerative-gifting economies, and the social warming that takes place in a PLC is certainly the sympoetic honey on the cake. 
Many thanks for reading. We look forward to responding to your comments and questions. If you are inspired by what we do please subscribe to this blog or Youtube page, and tell a friend or two about the things we’re up to. It’s your social network that will help to share and expand a culture of households who are in transition from damaging forms of economy to a culture that includes a plethora of regenerative and life-giving household responses to the predicament of our times.
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Before we go we’d like to tell you about a number of forthcoming events:
A talk
Patrick is giving a talk in Melbourne on Wednesday November 14 at Hawthorn Library (584 Glenferrie Rd). The talk, entitled Here come the neo-peasants, is about how and why we live like we do and what are the social, environmental and climate imperatives of transitioning to low carbon lifeways. Entry is free. More info here.
A tour
We have one more house and garden tour for the year on Sunday November 25 from 1.30pm – 4.30pm. Tickets are $32.74 (incl. booking fee) and includes afternoon tea. You can buy tickets here.
More PLCs
Would you like to do a Permaculture Living Course? Do you understand the permaculture ethics and principles but are not sure what it means to embody them in your everyday life? Are you already on the path away from a pervasive pollution-consumption ideology but want to take it much further? Our next round of applications to do a PLC at Tree Elbow University’s School of Applied Neopeasantry are open. Head here for more info about what’s involved. And please email us if you’d like an application form. Applications close Friday November 23. The three autumn 2019 PLC dates are:
Feb 25 – March 10
April 1 – 14
April 29 – May 12
PLCs are 100% non-monetary and 100% non-accredited.

New podcast! House + garden tours! New PLC dates! And a very special forthcoming event!

Well, it’s been three weeks since our sweet divorce from social media and we’ve been breathing more deeply by not serving the algorithm. We are exceedingly more productive, co-organising a significant new community speaking event, tending, gathering and making returns within our food and energy biomes, and teaching our first Permaculture Living Course (PLC).

Teeka, Marty and Cara are our first three PLC students


PLCs aim to transform permaculture principles and ethics into truly living the change – living alternative economies, practicing social-permaculture, fermenting and composting incalculable things to extend life and honour death, caring for kin, community and more-than-humans, developing post-materialist/capitalist lifeways, growing and harvesting home and community food and energy resources, making biomic returns (humanure, potash, micturated biochar, weed and poultry teas etc), and guerilla-managing public lands using regenerative land practices. Song-, philosophy- and poem-making also feature big throughout the day’s labours, coupling the pragmatic with the soulful, the earthly with the abstract. Our PLCs are 100% non-monetary and 100% non-accredited.

Apply. Our next round of applications to do a Permaculture Living Course are open. Head here for more info about what’s involved. Please email us if you’d like an application form. Applications close Friday November 23. The three autumn 2019 PLC dates are:

Dates.
Feb 25 – March 10
April 1 – 14
April 29 – May 12

Gift. We’re looking for those who are not only committed to transforming their home economy into a carbon-conscious social ecology, but those already engaged in such work within the community (by which we mean non-monetary) economies.

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Tours. Our house and garden tours have begun again and you can book for a tour here. There are two more tours this year.

Podcast tour. If you can’t make it to an actual tour you can listen to our latest podcast, Radical neopeasant homemaking, which was recorded a few weeks ago, captured on our last tour:

We hope this gives you a little insight into some of the processes, systems and biomes we labour with and within.

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Event. With our community caps on we have been working hard with Eva Perroni to put together this special event, which takes place in our home town of Daylesford in less than two weeks:

Land for Life. Featuring Jaara speaker Rebecca Phillips, permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and US food activist-scholar, Eric Holt Giménez, this event will be the second in a series of talks, since we co-produced Land Cultures: Aboriginal economies and permaculture futures (2016) with Anthony Petrucci.

Note. If you’d like more info about Land for Life, please email us (click above right) or head over here.

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Another thing. If you are reading this in your inbox, some of our media will not appear. You may have to click through to our blog to read the post in full.

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Thanks. Thank you for reading and engaging with our labours in our little neck of the world,
Artist as Family.

Permaculture Living Course, Applied School of Neopeasantry

From the packaging-free food we consume,

including walked-for mushrooms,

to the manure from this food we make,

and the house and garden tours we take,

to the things we grow and store,

inside the cellar door,

to the fun we’ve bean,

and the community fun team,

to the things we (carbon-positively) transport,

and the abundance we nurture and support,

to the regenerative knowledges we teach,

and the people we introduce having the biggest reach,

from our elders who inspire,

to the politics we fire,

To the life we raise,

and the life we soberly erase (in both grief and praise),

to the insects we hive,

and the pragmatic skills we use to thrive,

to other skills we tend,

and the species we plant and teach to defend,

Come learn with us through life’s full force,

at our 2-week Permaculture Living Course:

Applications are extended! (please note the first course dates have been ammended).
Applications now due on June 15. Come get your skin microbiome very unclean. 
Places announced June 30. Neopeasant education is 100% non-monetary!

A month of growing, fermenting, retrofitting, foraging, forest work and lively, lovely people

It’s been a busy time for us up here in the hills to the north of the falsely-bartered city of Melbourne. We’ve had a string of wonderful young SWAPs come stay. This is Nina, far left, who was SWAPping with us when Bruce Pascoe and Lyn Harwood came to visit and speak at our town hall with David Holmgren and Su Dennett — we consider all four true elders of our respective communities, as well as our close friend, Pete O’Mara (far right and almost off screen), who dedicates so much time to the young people in our town. 

The couple of days we had with Bruce and Lyn were wonderful and Nina took some sweet snaps as well as pitched in with whatever needed doing. Here Patrick and Bruce get ready to plant yam daisies in Daylesford’s community garden beside the library.

About 400 people came to the various different events we (working on behalf of HRN) organised. Our dear mate Ant, and Patrick have begun work on a film that will cover the incredible day of knowledge sharing and thinking, particularly the social warming aspect of the day and of course David Holmgren and Bruce Pascoe’s wisdom and research.

Our dear friend Su, who started HRN back in the day (with Maureen Corbett), gave thanks to the 40 plus people who helped shape the day.

While Patrick had the idea to get Bruce and David together in one room and call it Land Cultures, Meg brewed up Culture Club. This was the poster we hacked up for the first get-together:

About 30 people came for what was a wonderful evening of knowledge sharing and the imperatives of wild fermented foods addressing the chronic health issues of industrialised food and medicine and what this has done to our guts. The energy was established for ongoing monthly meets. This is the next meet:

Actually Meg has gone quite fermenting mad over the past several months. Anything that walks in or is carried through our door gets utterly cultured.

When Angelica came to SWAP for a week, she learned to make sauerkraut, and many other useful things. In return she brought ebullience and taught us the art of making ghee.

In our household everyone has numerous roles to play. Zeph is proving to be the best cracker spreader in the ‘hood, and even though he’s exploring other ‘cultural’ realities at the moment, he’s usually willing to lend a hand.

Processing acorns from our inherited tree this autumn and milling them for pancake and bread flour has given us renewed focus on making sure seasonal local gifts are not wasted. This involves everyone chipping in as these processes can be laborious if there’s not a collective effort.

James has also come to SWAP with us for a week. His interests have been particularly focussed on the politics of permaculture. In our words: how old conservative processes (akin to peasant activities) are part of the radical household and community economies of the present and future. Something AaF is passionate about. We showed James some of our activities that reperform an engagement with public-Indigenous land. Here, he and Woody harvest Coprinus comatus for dinner.

James, like Nina, has a developed eye behind a camera and documented many activities, learning the meaning of doing-saying — thought and action. He learned our mantra: Ecological culture can only be modelled biophysically, on a small scale, in relationship and with many neighbouring models/relationships all responding to the predicament of our time.

Fun is essential in this life-making. Constant. Loose. Stupid behaviour. All are critical in our household’s transition. We are seriously not well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society, and we want to sing that from the tree-tops, and the compost buckets.

We are well-adjusted, however, to our soil; it is simply humming with life.

And we’re well adjusted to the nearby forest. We’ve entered into a gift exchange relationship with it, stomping down blackberries so they become dynamic soil-building and soil-holding ground covers, no longer a dry cane fire threat, nor a dominating species.

When we lay down the 2m high canes and let in sunlight to the earth, the gods of the forest offer up gifts for our efforts. In this case parasol mushrooms. Yum!

A few simple hand tools is all we need to engage in a stewardship relationship with the forest.

One of the reasons we want to reduce the fuel load in the forest is because land management authorities deem it unsafe every few years, and set fire to it. This affects not only the global climate, but the local ring tail possums who build their dreys in the forest’s hawthorns and apple trees. The hawthorns and wild apples are considered weeds around here and have no ecological status, so they can be burnt and cut and poisoned. However, if we use the fallen wood of the forest to heat our home, press the blackberries down to a groundcover, and thus limit the need for burn-offs, then the humus and moisture levels build up in the forest lessening the chance of fire.

Designing more community gardens is part of our public work too. This simple little garden (stage1) is about to go ahead at the local child-care centre. And with not a penny spent.

Eating weeds is another example of gift exchange with our biological commons or locasphere. The below weed is wild radish, the plant Patrick has chosen to feature (and give status back to) in the next Pip magazine Eat Your Weeds column.

Wild mushrooms are also a part of the gifts that return from the gods once a relationship is established.

Getting to know how the world’s more-than-human communities provide the opportunities for human life is essential learning, but how many kids are taught such a thing in school? Schools are factories for producing human-centricity.

Our boys know where their food and energy resources come from. They know their origins. But this knowledge is not valued in school. Zeph’s knowledge of bush craft, care and resilient living is ignored or shamed in his industrialised school environment. Go figure.

Woody will not go to school unless he decides to (like his brother did) when he becomes a teenager. Show us the boy at 7 and you’ll see the man. May this three-year-old always remain comfortable in a dress, just like his old man.

Woody and Zeph will leave home knowing how to turn rubbish from the tip into useful things, how to repair and service their means of mobility, how to build a house, how to capture and store energy, how to grow, preserve and ferment their food, and how to steward their local environment and help it spring forth more life.

Despite what they become, they’ll be prepared to adapt to whatever the future brings. We just wish that schools were aiding their contemporaries with real-life skills and knowledges, and valuing sustainable practices of life-making,

so more kids will grow into the kind of elders the world’s communities and environments really need right now. Elders not focussed on money and property, but on caring for the health of all the living, and keeping the gods nourished on our gifts. For our gods are our ancestors of regard. Those who lived before mass war and pollution, hierarchy and greed, who knew how to care for the earth.

Thanks Nina and James for your photos in this post. And thanks Dear Reader for checking in with us. We hope you have much autonomous and beneficial fungi popping up in your neck of the woods, be that in your local forests or in your wild urban kitchens.

A day of release

We’ve been home 9 months and today our book hits the shelves,

as a book, e-book and audio book. 
We’re launching The Art of Free Travel in both Daylesford and Melbourne so please come by and help us celebrate. David Holmgren (below left) is launching it in Daylesford and Adam Grubb (below right) is launching in Melbourne.
For a sneak peek, here is our book trailer made by our mate Anthony Petrucci:



We hope you enjoy reading or listening to The Art of Free Travel. Stay tuned for news about our forthcoming book tour.