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Gift economy

We said goodbye to the Goulburn River and the Murchison caravan park, home to a community of colourful permanent residents – Desley, Brian, Keith and Di – and headed east.

It was an unexpectedly difficult ride due to the lack of shade and a headwind for much of the forty-three kilometres to Violet Town. The sun baked us on this flat and straight stretch of road where annual grasses and fences dominated. Little stood out apart from the occassional creek and composition of wild flowers.

We arrived in Violet Town hot and exhausted, we found some shade to recuperate under and some free municiple power to recharge.

According to Sam from Ballarat e-bikes, “each lithium ion battery holds 0.333 kilowatt hours. Assuming someone is paying 27 cents per kilowatt hour, and the charger is 90% efficient, it’s about ten cents per charge per battery.” While the bikes recharge we have been collecting litter in the parks, reserves and sports grounds that we poach the power from.

We figure that the 20 cents of free energy we take from each town to assist our movement equates to about one bag of collected rubbish. When people ask us about our art practice we say we’re quite well-known for waste collecting. We also pick up rubbish and pull up weeds in exchange for a free camping ground.

This morning we woke to a rich chorus of birdsong at our camp along the Honeysuckle Creek. A morning’s walk enabled a feast of free food, including these deliciously sweet Nagami kumquats (Citrus japonica spp.)

and these luciously ripe loquats (Eriobotrya japonica).

Zero had earlier just missed out on hunting down a buck hare along the creek, so when we stopped for a cup of tea in the main drag we asked the cafe if they had any meat scraps for him. Success!

We’ve discovered three other things while being in friendly Violet Town. The first is the potential food supply in the gardens of abandoned houses, something to note as we move from town to town.

The second is walnut shell mulch. The region is a walnut growing climate, at least for now, and what a great way to use the waste product of this food.

The third is that Violet town has a range of publicly-accessible, intentionally-planted fruit trees and herbs, including figs, plums, rosemary, lemongrass, sage and olives,

which compliment the spontaneous roadside fruit growing here including cherry plums, pears, apples and walnuts.

From field to forest

When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary – Masanobu Fukuoka

While Meg and Zephyr were digging up more potatoes and tickling the first garlic shoots up out of the frosty Djadjawurrung soil in the home garden, Anna Davis (MCA) and Patrick met with the St Michael’s church wardens late last week to finalise the agreement to allow the Food Forest to go ahead on this ancient Cadigal site in Surry Hills, Sydney. Here are the set of working drawings Patrick presented to the group on behalf of the Artist as Family. (click for bigger)





Some members from the local community, including both church and non-church groups, have now been asked to choose from this plant list their more desired fruit, herbs and nuts. If you wish to participate in the development of this Food Forest please comment below your desired food plants and we’ll see how we can include your suggestions as we begin to source plants. But be quick as we aim to start planting in the first week of July, pending approval from the traditional owners.
Anyone wishing to help us with the planting in July please follow this blog and we’ll keep you informed as to the when and how. Indigenous locals and non-indigenous residents who can help build information relating to Cadigal plants and medicines, your input is highly sought after.