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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.

Is there a time and place for binary thinking? Or, what mythos do you serve?

 

Do you stand against the abuses of institutional power in all forms and legalisms?

Do you stand against those who try to convince you health is dependent on industrial pharmacy?

Do you stand against politicians who fake democracy and grow corporatism?

Do you stand against industrial pollutants, contaminants and toxins that cause unnecessary disease and thus suffering?

Do you stand against anthropocentric capitalisms and socialisms, and the various city-centric ruinations they bring to life?

Do you stand against media that is permissive to the imperatives of Empire, power and global industrialisms?

Do you stand against the iatrogenocide that is the ‘Covid response’ by the state-Pharma nexus?

Do you stand against safetyism, paternalism and nanny statism, which render people immobile and dependent on institutions and industries that are manipulative and controlling?

Do you stand against the NATO/Azov nazi/US invoked genocide of Ukrainian youth by a reactive and bullish Russia?

Do you stand against the century-long genocide of Palestinians by British, US and Israeli colonists?

Do you stand against the extraction of fossil fuels and rare earth minerals used to power a false flag renewables industry?

Do you stand against cultural or political groups who silence and smear others based on their beliefs and values?

Do you stand against large-scale industries including factory farms, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals and sweat shops that mistreat humans, animals and complex biota?

Do you stand against a King (and others like him dripping in privilege) arrogantly calling for an end to ‘convenience’?

Do you stand with the people of villages, towns, cities and suburbs who in their own power and capacity claim for themselves an end to industrial-scale convenience and consumption?

Do you stand with the flowering, fruiting and singing of Mother Country and Grandmother Gaia and everything else that is sacred and not industrially conformed?

Do you stand with life that enables more delicious life to cross over into necessary death and decay, and back into more abundance?

Do you stand for a future society that doesn’t help raise sociopaths or psychopaths into positions of power and influence?

Do you stand with eldership, mentorship and rites of passage, which mark the accruing of wisdoms, and the witnessing of all in the village, regardless of their stage in life?

Do you stand for the flow of gifts across all species and within all species?

Do you stand for distributed wealth, access to land for all, and subsistence economies that are earth-honouring?

Do you stand for the economic interweaving of community sufficiency and autonomous household productivity?

Do you stand with the rivers and creeks – the veins of the world that take life force to the largest biomes – the oceans?

Do you stand with mountains, caves, hills and rocks, and any undulation within the terrain of any Mother Country that enables the magic of surprise, and the shadow world from where wisdom springs?

Do you stand with the seeds that are our heritages, which have made our cultures of belonging, and will do so again?

Do you stand with the smallest biomes, bodily biomes and microbial communities, as extensions of Mother Country and Grandmother Gaia?

Do you stand with Mother Country and Grandmother Gaia, honour them in the way in which you live, and defend them from machine mind in whatever capacity you have to do so?

Do you stand with both individual freedoms and communitarian care, without one eroding the other?

Do you recognise that true consent is not possible when metered out by top-down authority?

Do you stand with pollinators, in all forms, recognising the monumental gifts they bring to lifemaking?

Do you stand with the fungal webs that rule the worlds of the world, including the unreal worlds of hubristic human Empires that will always collapse and turn back into the mycelial realm?

Do you stand with humus and humility, and recognise they have derived from the same root word?

Do you stand with your herbal and medicinal plant commons, the remnant traces of your indigenous liberty and soul, which continue to bring gifts to your health and to your meaning making?

Do you stand with ecological killing in order to take life that makes more life possible, outside of a ‘man-made mass death’ cosmology, where at arm’s length civilisational violence occurs on your behalf as an industrial-food-dependent vegan, vegetarian or omnivore?

Do you stand with empowering young people to obtain skills for the future, both pragmatic and sacred (such as deep listening and beholding, foraging, gardening, forestry and hunting)?

Do you stand with village rebuilding and grass roots, cultural, ecological and microbial diversity?

 

Here are the Forest & Free children after harvesting 1.5kg of narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) seed heads for psyllium. This plantain is a common, ancestral (Eurasia) and abundant plant that brings healing food-medicine to our lives. The kids collected this amount in just twenty minutes. Each week they learn about a new food or medicine that is not under lock and key, so they can build the skills, knowledges and daily rituals to augment their own pathways to freedom, responsibility and wisdom. We run Forest & Free within a gift economy.

So, does binary thinking have a place? In the absence of binaries how do we form our values? Is it possible to live without binaries?

We’d love to hear from you. When is binary thinking problematic? When is it useful? Would you answer yes to any the above questions? All? We hope this post generates some goodly discussion, and serves the contemporary dialectic for what mythos, what world story, we want to serve.

Fire in our hearts; fire in our bellies

Fire! It’s wild, feared, harnessed and praised. Our first tool. Like the Greek story of Prometheus stealing fire to give to mortals, Djaara people – on whose land we have made home – also have their stolen fire story. Waa, the raven, was originally white and in stealing fire got himself burnt. We heard this told at Yapenya in Bendigo recently. All comers were invited to come witness this new Djaara ceremony.

Djaara women performing Yapenya, before the ceremonial fire is lit. 

Performing new ceremony is soulful, much needed work. Former SWAPs Connor and Marta – who met at Tree Elbow, got hitched, travelled far and wide and moved back to the area – are expecting a child. Patrick lit a fire for Connor and a number of men gathered in the forest to warm Connor into fatherhood with stories about being dads, sons and men. The night was transformative, a kind of medicine.

Meg concurrently held a women’s circle for Marta and again the night revealed many insights and gentle sharings, and this group also realised ceremony was missing in their lives as women.

The cultural absence of gathering around fire, in forests and in other more-than-human environments, led us to establish Make & Play a few years ago. Patrick has recently begun a second weekly group for older kids called Feral & Free – a radical form of scouts (drawing on both the ecological masculinities and ecofeminisms of our day). The following quote from Patrick’s book re:)Fermenting culture, which excavates the fire stealing creation myth of western culture, has been cited as the epigraph in the recently published, Ecological Masculinities: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Guidance:

A culture that has lost its beginning story is a culture adrift, destructive and self-harming. While the West can be seen as synonymous with imperialism, this is not our old people, this is not our true culture, gender-lopsidedness is not our only heritage.

Feral & Free crew

The Celts reportedly said that a woman’s soul is male and a man’s soul is female. How’s that for oldskool gender fluidity? The father fire (technics) and the matering earth (ecology) are within us together, regardless of how we identify. They are not opposing stories, they are intertwined. We are technical animals; storytellers. Story derives from fire.

Story features at all these gatherings in the forest. It is stories – what we tell out and to ourselves – that make us who we are. When we gather and speak together across a fire a raw heartfeltness springs forth. Courage to do this is more than required. Woody spoke his first public story recently, at the local community Cicada storytelling night. He mustered all his pluck to raise himself from his seat and make the slow walk up onto the podium at the Senior Citizens’ Room behind the Daylesford Town Hall. His story was called Spring Blossom, and he quietly spoke of beholding the blossom of a wild apple, trying with his 6-year old language to conjure that earlier moment of praise and delight for the tree, for all of us to share.

Pic: Juanita Broderick

Stories heard from across the crackling foci of the fire speak to our ancient selves in our present bodies. The podium or stage can adversely change this intent, but that’s another story for another time.

Woody is growing up within a general household narrative where a commons (of any form) is never to be capitalised, where an economy (of any form) never enslaves us or makes ruin terra mater. On working out how he is to save up for a new guitar he said: “If I get the sticks from the tip to make my kindling bundles, then I’m not selling them from the floor of the forest but only selling waste.” This ethic he did not learn at school but by learning to think with a forest’s thoughts. What if the dominant value system shifted from unrestrained growth at all costs to the sanctity of humus and earth others at all costs? What transformations of culture would we see?

If we know that the tumorous Internet of Things is just the next sales pitch in a long line of greed and intransigence, how do we garner the courage to turn away from such seduction and face and embrace humus, and all the quiet things of earth not screaming for attention? How do we perform other stories that don’t just passively go along with the dominant, egotistical ideology?

Pic: Laurel Freeland
Woody has been setting up his fire-starting stall beside his dad’s edible weed ID stand at the Daylesford Sunday Farmer’s Market. Like the mushroom ID stand Patrick offers in autumn, spring is weed time, and there are many beneficial autonomous plants to eat, make medicine from, preserve and ferment. None of these gems beneath our feet require climate altering transportation, weeds move around without industrial distribution systems.

Weed knowledges are just some of the things we’ve been sharing on our Permaculture Living Courses (PLCs) this spring. Foraging for weeds is a powerful way back to sensing what ecological economies might be performed in the near future. Weeds constitute about 5% of our diet, but because of their many health-filled properties this constitutes about 40% of our preventative medicines.
On the third and final 2018 PLC we hosted Ryan, Lucille and Clare for two weeks, and reperforming commons of all forms was central to the curriculum. As was making leek kraut, another arsenal in our preventative medicine chest as it is both a pre- and probiotic.

Just three students at a time is small enough to engage intimately with the many interrelationships and layered learnings within a permacultural neopeasant household. We began the course with a big list to get through, that grew and grew from this picture on…

Wood was collected on bikes from areas of forest where fuel reduction burns take place. We talked about the importance of reducing fuel load going into the fire season while at the same time leaving more than enough for habitat, mycelium and humus production.

We also scavenged useful materials from the tip such as chicken wire and fire wood. (If you’re reading this in your inbox you’ll need to click through to our blog to watch the video below).

We gathered elderflowers for brewing tonics and ciders in ready for the festive solstice period.

We planted pumpkins at the community garden, yet another goodly place for reclaiming and expanding the commons.

We prepped beds (double dug and humanured) in the Tree Elbow annual garden. By the time a PLC participant leaves The School of Applied Neopeasantry they would have been introduced to the imperatives of origin-known food. They are also introduced to our economic form: subsistence first (nourishment of household), surplus second (gifts in and out to community), money third (paying the rent and bills). If money by its very nature must grow as an economic form, and knowing what this means to terra mater, it must be sent into degrowth. Money constitutes just 30% of our economy now. We are active degrowth-ers.

Each day of the PLC, when we broke for refreshments, we engaged in discussions on the philosophy, poetics and politics of neopeasant economy, permaculture garden-farming, or regenerative culture making (take your pick of language). Oh, and the subject of Zero was a high priority…

While philosophy, poetics and politics are important, they are nothing without a sleeves-rolled-up pragmatism and a goodly interspecies back scratch.

While Ryan, Lucille and Clare were with us we updated our fire plan, a three page document featuring various codes and scenarios, and what our actions will be with each. We’re sure this doc will be put to use a number of times this season.

We carried out a dress rehearsal on the first Very High day in early December. The PLC participants will no doubt call on such prep work well into their climate changed futures.

Bush fires are, of course, going to be more and more frequent, and more or less a direct feedback to neoliberal economics. Thanks Jordan Peterson environmentalism! Thanks neoliberals everywhere! Thanks belligerent Baby Boomers and your mainstay Ayn Rand ideology! Go get ’em Hercules, Superman, indulgence tourism! Plugging and filling our gutters with water is really such a quaint response to the climate leviathan so indelibly ready to pounce. But plug we will.

As a car-free family, we (ironically) need to be even more prepared on fire risky days than those with cars. Which days we stay home and defend and which days we leave early (on the bus out of town after hopefully persuading the driver to let Zero and his PTV rail approved dog carrier on board because we are, pleadingly, climate refugees) will be critical to call. Packing special items and required documents to have on hand throughout the season is just one of the many tasks listed on our plan.

Ryan, Lucille and Clare carried out fire mitigating work on public land nearby to Tree Elbow. This labour also has the benefit of ensuring a weedy commons is not sprayed with pesticides, burnt or bulldozed by one of the various land managers, and thus the weed cycle returned to phase one, again. Using chop and drop techniques and an old peasant trick of laying down a sheet of iron or a large board onto the brambles, we reduce fire risk while using the crushed material to make more humus for other (fire retarding) plants to grow within.

We made this video to highlight holistic, post-pesticide methods of fire and weed mitigation, which is not the same as traditional Djarra land management practices, due to the fact the A1 soil horizon, and thus the ecology, has changed so radically. However, like both contemporary and traditional Aboriginal principles of land care, our methods aim to incorporate fire-risk mitigation with ecological enhancement. Watch on our Youtube channel or below.

Fire is something we handle every day. For us it is a local, renewable energy. Our outdoor kitchen stove (repurposed from the tip) to fuel our 8-slice toaster made up of a wire rack (again from the tip), powered by wood (also from the tip) collected on foot or by bicycle. No grid is necessary. Being of the mindset that nothing needs replacing, things just need repurposing, remaking or mending, we move our household’s economy further into a degrowth of money and debt, growing an abundance of relationships with people, forests, soil communities, knowledges, nourishment and skills.

And when the day’s labours are done, and the heat is upon us, we descend to the lake with our big post-carbon rig. Just about everything we need comes from the tip, skip bins, op-shops, garage sales or from terra mater herself. A blow-up dinghy is only ever a reclaimed waste product, lovingly patched. It never comes new off the shelf. When the tip runs out of such things, then we’ll learn to make our own canoes from scratch. This is powerdown in action.

Picnicking by the lake is a great chance to unwind, especially after the stresses of a day prepping for potential fire. Although it only turned out to be a dress rehearsal, it was a great opportunity to see where the weaknesses in our fire plan lie. Swimming in untreated lake water is so restorative after such a long, hot and windy day, especially after we’d been so pragmatically staying with the reality of climate chaos, trying not to lose our senses.

On the last night of the third PLC we invited the first 6 participants to join us. Nearly everyone was available. We walked with Liam, Cara, Ryan, Lucille, Clare, Moe and Marty up to the forest so each could see what the other had done in the commons to allay fire threat and continue the work of moving ecological succession into the next phase.

The PLC alumni came together for dinner and swapped notes and sang some sweet tunes. A tradition we’ll keep going.

Marty and Cara, from The Rattlers, and the first PLC, gave a wee after dinner performance. (Again, you’ll need to click through to our blog or Youtube channel to watch if you’re reading this in your inbox).

Aren’t they great! We’re continually inspired by the love, labours and intent of young people on their respective regenerative culture making journeys.

Connor, Marta and Jeremy – the three Tree Elbow musketeers of 2017 – have all moved back to the area permanently, and are all brewing up special things of their own. Jeremy will be taking interns at his place in 2019, especially for those interested in learning all things curing animal skins, blacksmithing and other lost arts. Here he is with newcomer to town Tony, harvesting broad beans at the most recent community garden working bee.

Community garden working bees really get the love juices going. Through activities like gardening, the soil releases nonpathogenic Mycobacterium vaccae, which increases levels of serotonin and decreases levels of anxiety in mammals. Do it communally and you get oxytocin as a top up. Oxytocin is the bonding chemical found naturally in the body and exchanged between loved ones (including between dogs and humans). Though be aware, it also heightens awareness of enemies and potential threats. This smiling assassin will rake apart any mug who threatens terra mater.

And this mama, Lovely Duck, is also a fearsome warrioress when it comes to keeping her brood safe. It has been a pleasure to get to know her over the years. Her truly giving demeanour instructs us and lets us know what love is possible as radical homemakers.

There are many in our community who are actively engaging in a flow of gifts economy. These lil beauties were brought to us by Fiona and Edward from Adsum Farm. Kohlrabi kraut is the best! Knowing where the great majority of our food, medicine and energy comes from means we can better live accountably to our local land’s logic and processes, and know what we need to give back to keep such abundance flowing.

Thank you Fiona and Edward for your generosity and nurture, and thank you Sari for your flame red morello cherries that you didn’t want to see go to waste. They have lit our days; a wild morello cider is on the brew, and a bottle or two will boomerang back to you.

Flame red morello cider will be appreciatively consumed this summer as more and more fires will burn in the nation-state of Australia, never ceded. Bill Mollison famously wrote that, “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

Fire is a wild force that could more than displace us and our community one day. Creation stories across the world speak of how humans tamed or procured fire as our first tool, and how we got burnt in the process. With climate change fire will be wilder and far less tameable. Djaara people haven’t forgotten that Waa got burnt stealing the first tool and they are retelling that old story today. We would be wise to heed such a story.

Merry solstice everyone! May you continue to trust the fire in your bellies in 2019, and stoke your guts with goodly microbe-generating fibres and ferments from your homeplace hearths

If you would like to come and visit our homeplace we have three more house + garden tours coming up in 2019: Sunday 24 February, Sunday 31 March and Sunday 28 April.

Pic: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin

 Sending our very best wishes for the solstice and new year, much love from Artist as Family.

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.
***
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.

Keeping it mostly hillbilly with a brush of face powder in Sydney Town (Goulburn to Katoomba)

We hung around Goulburn until the evening, cooked dinner in the town’s central park,

before boarding a quiet, off-peak metro train where our big bikes would be less in the way and Zero less likely to be discovered. Hello little patient dog under there.

We haven’t been so hardcore on this book tour. If there’s the prospect of a day of riding beside heavy traffic and there’s a train line running near to our route, the train option has been fair game. While we climbed up to Marulan, Meg fed Woody by standing on her helmet. He was dead tired. So were we.

We arrived in Bundanoon and made camp in the dark, waking to this little idyllic park environment. Oh sleep, you magical medicine.

We headed to our favourite Bundanoon bike cafe,

and after reaquainting ourselves with the friendly crew there, Woody found a little scooter, dumped in some bushes. We got to work to make it a going concern again.

Not surprising, wheels have always fascinated our youngest, as they have our eldest. Back at home Zeph has become a madkeen downhill mountain biker and stunt dude.

Patrick’s brother, Sam, rode out to Bundanoon to meet us and we all rode into Moss Vale and unpacked our gear before the afternoon book event at The Moose Hub in Bowral. Our talk there was part of the Southern Highlands Green Drinks, where various different green groups merge once a month and share their different projects and approaches. Thanks for snapping some shots Uncle Sam!

Woody thought all his Chanukahs had come at once when our delightful host Nicole brought out the fruit spread. Thanks Nicole!

It was a short visit to the Southern Highlands. We had a full plate of things in Sydney to get to, including guerilla camping at a fine little harbour free camp (surrounded by billion dollar dog box apartments and poisoned harbour fish), picnicing with the Milkwood crew and their lovely garden produce which included fennel root, carrots, zuccinini, saw-leaf corriander, parsley, basil and capsicum all wrapped up in reusable beeswax cloths,

and visiting Lucas, John and Diego at Big Fag Press.

Diego Bonetto is a consumate communicator. Above he is showing off the Big Fag printing press to some local punters, below he sings the virtues of the plants that plant themselves.

Diego invited us to collaborate on a walk with him, and about 20 kindred spirits joined us along the Cooks River.

Wow, it still amazes us how much food can be found growing on a municiple lawn. After we finished our walk and cooked up a weedy horta dish for everyone to try, a group of landcare volunteers come in with plastic bags and trampled all over the precious sandstone ecology pulling out weeds. It was a remarkable spectacle of nativist ideology in action where an environment is stripped of the plants holding soil and sand from ending up as sediment pollution in the river.

We left this tragic expression of eco-purity and rode on a little further to hook up with the Bicycle Garden: a group of volunteers that regularly sets up a pop-up bicycle repair station in public areas to teach people to fix their own bikes. What an awesome social collective! We had lunch with these generous and knowledgeable folk,

before heading to SNO where Patrick spoke about his and Artist as Family‘s practice of permapoesis.

Then it was TV time. So many diverse communities. We were lightly powdered and went on the record at Channel 9 and Channel 7. We had to be on set at the Today Show at 7am, luckily Patrick’s sister Hen and her family live just around the corner making our early morning tent pack-up and ride a breeze. Thanks Hen and Ant and girls!

Our Sydney book event occurred at the delightful Florilegium book shop, owned and operated by the charming plant lover Gil, who generously loaded us up with books after our talk, read and Q&A.

It was a media circus in Sydney. An excerpt from one of Meg’s chapters was published in the summer issue of Slow Magazine. The theme for this bumper issue is resilience.

After Sydney it was rest we needed to pursue, so we hopped a train to Katoomba and headed for our infamous camp site where on the last trip we were visited by the Federal Police. The story appears in The Art of Free Travel.

Just a wee walk down from the camp is this little hidden billabong, a source of great pleasure and restoration.

This afternoon we speak at Gleebooks in Blackheath and then more rest and riding and visiting old and new friends until the new year and we point our two-wheeled caravans south and coastal. We wish you much rest in the coming weeks, Dear Reader, whether you’re a hillbilly, city-dweller, coast rider or other.

Cold season food and family cloth

The cold months in Daylesford are a time of surprise and pleasure. It has given us much delight, for example, to suck out the bletted jelly from medlars plucked from the tree.
The currawongs have loved them too.

We’ve been praising walked-for snared rabbit, stewing the flesh, brothing the bones and salting the pelts.

We’ve been digging up dandelion roots for roasting and brewing into a dark thick coffee. Patrick discusses the full process in the next issue of Pip magazine.

Our goodly neighbours brought us back some fish they’d caught on the coast and we cooked them on coals in the garden, which made us nostalgic for what we loved about living on the road.

We’ve been hunting common pine mushrooms like these saffron milk caps,

and slippery jacks,

We’ve been harvesting and drying hawthorn berries for Meg’s nourishing herbal infusions (with rosemary, rose hips, elderberries, parsley and fennel).

We’ve been juicing autumn’s cellared fruit and winter’s wondrous weeds.

We’ve been free-ranging the chooks to make sure they are healthy to get them through the sub-zero nights.

We’ve been finishing off the SWAP* shed, ready for our next guests.

We’ve been reclaiming our peasant sensibilities with our friend Vasko, herding his sheep on common land as part of an organic land management model.

This is the current land management model: herbicides kill a patch of the nutritious free street vegetable mallow in Daylesford and the toxic residues end up in the local water supply.

One of the big break throughs AaF has made since our last post was to rid our household of toilet paper. We once spent around $260 a year on this unsustainable, forest-pulp product.

Here is our bathroom. Notice anything unusual?

Instead of toilet paper there are numerous cut up rectangles of cloth sitting on the cistern that are used over and over again. We cut this cloth from an old flannelette bed sheet.

In our SWAP* shed we have built a simple composting bucket toilet, note the family cloth here too.

After wiping with a rectangle of family cloth, we simply fold the cloth and put it in a bucket with a lid that sits beside the toilet. Family cloth is much softer than toilet paper and much much easier to process than cloth nappies.

Inside the bucket it is dry. Occasionally we throw in a few drops of eucalyptus oil. It doesn’t smell at all (although we may have to adapt the process in the warmer months). We learnt by trial and error that cutting the cloth with pinking shears,

didn’t help with the cloth fraying when they went through the wash.

So we bartered a sour-dough lesson with the delightful Mathilda, who beautifully over-locked them.

This is what they now look like up close.

About once or twice a week we put on a hot wash of our family cloth and hang them out to dry.

Thanks boys! And thank you Dear Reader for checking in with us again.

*SWAP (Social Warming Artists and Permaculturalists) is our version of WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms).

The Forest Floor

Patrick is in Sydney and visited the Food Forest with family friend Josh Bowes, who generously helped with the initial planting back in July. They found fungi, edible weeds, an abundance of leaf vegetables, thriving fruit and nut trees, and evidence of dynamic social engagement.

A mushroom (perhaps don’t eat) and some onion weeds (use as chives in a salad) spontaneously inhabit the forest floor, while rhubarb has been harvested to be used as an organic spray.
All these things show that humans and nonhumans are participating in this garden autonomously, and as a result this little food forest system (based upon permaculture principals) really appears to be working. Residents are bringing in their compost, harvesting plants and herbs to eat, while some are using plants to make organic sprays to allay pests. The woody mulch has, with spring warmth and rain, created humidity in the soil that fungi adores. Fungi in a forest floor is a great sign of soil health and, as gardeners will know, if the soil is healthy plants are less prone to pests. Growing plants in a polyculture using companion planting methods also assists the garden’s health and allays pests and disease.