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.

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.

From pandemic to war through a geo-ecological lens (with David Holmgren)

This week we spent a few hours with co-originator of the permaculture concept, David Holmgren, at his home Melliodora in southern Djaara peoples’ country. Our conversation ranged from the personal to the geopolitical, dark green ecology to bright green billionaires, pandemic constriction to war construction, the role of energy in shaping culture to the gaming of the progressive liberal media.

Thank you Su and David for welcoming us into your home, and thank you Miles for once again sharing your two-camera craft and expertise.

We welcome your comments (below), and your support (here). A hearty thanks to those who contributed financially in the past weeks to make this video possible.


Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren

Future Scenarios by David Holmgren

Crash on Demand: welcome to the Brown Tech Future by David Holmgren

History from the future: a prosperous way down by David Holmgren

RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future by David Holmgren

Shades of Green (Lifestyle) Awards Reflection

Lewis Mumford Wikipedia page

Sébastien Marot

Robert Newman’s History of Oil

Possible Sites

While Meg and Zephyr have been tending the Artist as Family’s home garden, Patrick has been in Sydney looking at possible sites to plant the Food Forest. At one point today he was captivated by how wild nature goes about reclaiming urban environments to build habitat.

The following act of self-seeded brilliance is occurring at about 40cm above street level. The spider is a trusty companion, ready to gobble unwanted pests. Competition is often heralded as the main gig in evolution, but co-dependancy and cooperation are as much a part of evolutionary life. Working together and sharing resources and environments is key to interspecies survival.

Later in the day, Patrick and MCA curator Anna Davis arrived at CarriageWorks where they met with the executive producer Jamie Dawson who showed them a couple of possible sites. CarriageWorks is such a beautifully loaded locality that brings with it an enthusiastic community that is showing much support for our project. However, it’s a difficult site in terms of planting a forest outdoors, and the awesome space indoors, with great overhead light wells and rain collection opportunities, would sadly restrict the movement of helpful pollinators and predators – lizards, bees, spiders and frogs – into the forest. Jamie and his team would be great to work with, so we’re remaining very open.
Next stop: St Michael’s church in Surry Hills.
A community member, Heide, living near to the church, contacted the MCA when she heard our project was looking for a home, and mentioned St Michael’s as a possible site. Dotted around the world church grounds are currently being transformed into community gardens, which makes good sense as there are often soup kitchens being run from them, and fresh organic produce goes hand in hand with such great initiatives. Also, old churches such as St Michael’s generally have ‘clean’ soil from which heavy metals are absent. Not that a combination of the right plants, compost, biomass, fungi and microbial life couldn’t detoxify the soil organically.
We are working with the MCA on a proposal tonight, which will be taken to the church Warden meeting tomorrow night.
There’s one or two other things worth noting here before we sign off. Here’s a link to William Blake’s The Garden of Love, which has been a precursory text for our Food Forest and for Patrick’s presentation this coming Friday as part of Open Fields at UTS. Blake’s poem is a kind of elegy for a lost erotic Eden; a lament about that which became divided. Rev Frances at St Michael’s mentioned Eden too when we briefly met with him today. David Graeber (2007, p23), in a much broader context, bares this fruit on the subject:

Sexual relations, after all, need not be represented as a matter of one partner consuming the other; they can also be imagined as two people sharing food.

If you’re in the area on Friday, come by and say g’day to Patrick at UTS. We’d love to hear your tips on what specifically keeps your garden or local environment full of wild love and reciprocity.