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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.

The locavore’s pleasure: eating garden snails, laughing cap mushrooms and making local spelt grain beer with honey

Our two weeks with Maarten and Marlies have been sheer delight. They made many a scrumptious meal, including a locavore’s feast of garden snails,

served with Powlett Hill biodynamic spelt, ground, freshly rolled and made into pasta,

roasted salsify root (they look like grasses, don’t they?),

and parsnip. Both root vegetables we have successfully encouraged to naturalise in the garden.

The snails were prepared for a few days using the method we videoed Maarten back in Gerringong telling us about. Then they were pan-cooked in ghee, beetroot, carrot, garlic and Patrick’s infamous 2013 Library Wine. The parsnip and salsify were roasted in the oven and sprinkled with rosemary. Fresh basil was tossed over the top of the whole dish. The result was delicious!

We’ve also been enjoying Meg’s lovely fresh cheese for our lunches.

But sadly not from raw milk, at least not for now. And not because of the Victorian government poisoning raw milk, but because there isn’t any currently on offer around the corner where we usually get it. Huh! The gift economy is unpoliceable! Nonetheless, we joined many good folk on the steps of Parliament in Melbourne to voice our concerns about the State’s overreaching hand when it comes to some foods, but not others. Where does the nanny-state begin and end?

Get the government out of my kitchen read one very apt placard.

David Holmgren, Joel Salatin, Tammi Jonas and Costa Georgiadis were among keynote speakers who addressed a packed Collingwood Town Hall later that day, an event organised by the very cool Regrarians.

Back at home, while Meg and Zero worked on Chapter 8 of our book, and Zeph was busy at school, Woody and Patrick rode out to see our own family of regrarians new farmgate store.

Since being home from the road, we’ve enjoyed a weekly visit from Meg’s folks, known in the family as Ra and Bee, bringing the Friday night challah. Thanks Ross and Vivienne!

Patrick has also been in full bread production mode since we returned, making rolls for Zeph’s school lunches and daily spelt loaves for home lunches,

and from the same Powlett Hill spelt grain, he has been experimenting with producing a very local beer with the ingredients of just forest honey, our garden hops and dandelion, and the spelt grain. Andrew Masterson’s great article recently on eating local food spoke of the dilemma of not being able to find a local brew. Well, we hope this is one delicious response to that call. As for Andrew’s exception of coffee to his local diet, we made the switch to dandelion root coffee a number of years ago because it grows in the garden and because, well, it’s free! And free is freeing. We’re very excited about the making of a very local beer. The only thing not local is the little sachet of ale yeast.

Every Summer our hops grows across our bedroom window, making sleeping a dream.

At this stage Patrick is keeping things simple by brewing in a bag, using 1.5 kg of grain, 1.5 kg of honey, 40 g of hops and about 20 g of dandelion leaf (though he’d prefer to use the flower, when it is available). The brew is currently bubbling away and will do so for a week to ten days before being bottled for several weeks for the second fermentation process. We’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Another local food we’ve been eating this week is the laughing cap (Gymnopilus junonius) otherwise known as the spectacular rustgill.

Because we thought this fungus was the Australian Honey Fungus (see comments below) and therefore very bitter, we soaked the mushrooms in milk for 24 hours,

cooked them in ghee and ate them with fresh parsley. They were delicious, although left a bitter aftertaste that could have been remedied with a fruit chutney or some honey.

Well, it is time to say goodbye for now Dear Reader. It is also time to farewell the dynamic Dutch duo, Maarten and Marlies, and thank them for all the knowledge, work and love they brought to our household and community. We will miss them sorely.

Groetjes!

The roads more dangerously travelled: biking the change we want to see in the world

As our friend and mentor David Holmgren has said many times, permaculture is about creating (through a succession of considered activities) the world we want to see rather than banging on the doors of power in the hope of change.

When people ask us about our trip and after we give a brief explanation about what we are doing, they often tell us we are crazy. Some mean this in a complementary sense, some mockingly, others a mix of the two. A question we have been asking ourselves, and that often stems from such a comment, is why subject our family to the dangers of Australian roads that treat bicycles as second class citizens, or worse?

On the whole Australian motorists and truckies, despite the endless noise pollution, oil wars and streams of residual toxic chemicals they produce, are pretty courteous. The real danger is the state of the roads. While some legs of our journey have been made relatively safe by the state of the road,

others are decidedly not. Shoulders, not those things that branch out from our necks but those little lanes that run alongside the bigger, cleaner, wider lanes where first class citizens are able to travel in comfort, can either disappear in an instant, have never existed in the first place, are covered in sticks, litter, old tyre parts and gravel, blocked by a parked car, or are just too small to be of any value.

Shoulders, depending on their width, are either our best friends or our worst nightmare. They mean the difference between safe transit, terror and rage, or potenial premature death. We hear the concerns of others that we adults are subjecting our kids to potential life-threatening situations, but what are the alternatives? Stay at home, put the kids in front of the tele, drive them between school and park and shopping centre, teach them to be passive, riskless, conformist and more than likely overweight?

Despite the risks, we believe if we don’t try to pioneer truly sustainable travel opportunities in an unfolding era of climate change, energy descent, bodily ill-health and environmental crises then those who have the authority to make the changes won’t see there is a need. In other words if we don’t try to create the bike utopia we wish to see in Australia by at least living a little of its reality, then it will never actually occur. This is our dangerous performance. Some parts of Australia are now more bike friendly and much safer because bicycle lobbyists (those who have repeatedly banged on the doors of power) and cyclists (by their physical and constant presence) have demanded the change. Many cyclists have also died during this transition of culture from industrial damage to material accountability (appropriate technology).

So come, if you’re able, be careful and vigilant on our roads and highways, and join a critical mass of two-wheeled friends for change. Bicycling is a joyous thing, and there’s nothing quite like bike travel with family and friends.