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Communing with plants in the abundance of harvest

Gratitude to plants.

This is not a wafty, throwaway praise. This is an embodied knowing, a deeply felt thank you for the living, growing, seeding, podding, storing and shitting of plants. For their many giving parts.

Whether plants are in their own autonomy, in relationship with measureless earth others, or requiring peoples’ union to thrive, plants embody the feminine divine. Mother Country is the vessel in which all things are brewed, hotly or coldly, and plants are often the very fibres that enable the alchemy of such fermentations throughout life, into death and back across into life.

They are encasements of nourishment, wisdom holders, inebriation agents and great revealers.

But so much plant living has been violated by industrial food, energy and medicine capitalisms. Plants have been incarcerated, mined and used as gratuitous commodities. When welded to the dominant culture we devour them, we’re never fully satisfied, never fully full. Why? Is it our relationship with plants has radically changed under the spell and ideology of modernity’s project?

We have never had more food available to us in our short time as a species, but is it in this glut that gluttony occurs? That we are unfulfilled?

So many of the capitalisms that exploit plants are greenwashing capitalisms. Biofuels are the obvious example, but almost all uses of plants are a form of enslavement, within the machine of hypertechnocivility.

Domesticating plants, it has long been said, is the story of our own domestication. This is not always the same story as the process of becoming hypertechnocivil – that is, so industrialised to think we are the only species worth feeding – our food automated and chugged into cities, from where anthropocentrism powers over all life.

However, if we open to the ritual possibilities, the medicinal, magical and teaching properties of plants, can we call on our more expansive selves – the broader, mythological, transformative and cosmological potentialities of our selves – to take hold in our daily actions and processes?

This, we’ve found, is more possible when our foods, energies and medicines come from the gentle labours of our creaturely bodies. When we are ecological participants in loved biomes. When we are creatures of place. A loved homeplace.

When we walk for the plant gifts that make our lives possible, we cannot but step into the magical and divine realms of plants. From such a place both abundance and gratitude flow. We, people, can once again co-union with plants. It is deep in our cultural DNA that we live this way. It is lifemaking connected to ancestors. It refuses the severings of modernity.

Highly cultivated plants such as grapes thrive in conditions where people yearly prune their radical vines. In turn people thrive by eating the fruits created by the goddess herself.

Borlotti beans don’t need highly cultivated soil as they fix nitrogen in the earth and bring fertility to any earthly biome. Their colours delight us in the sun, under which we dry them to store for winter fuel.

Basil loves the full brunt of summer’s heat – a powerful herb and food medicine destined for almond pesto.

Ella, one of this week’s volunteers at Tree Elbow, communes with prune plums. We all delight in this prunus variety, also destined to be dried for winter’s cellaring and eating.

Volunteer Beau works alongside Blackwood with spelt from Burrum Biodynamics to alchemise this old grain into pasta to join the almond basil pesto for dinner.

Patrick sets up a tree net to catch acorns for their harvesting, thus stopping the midnight clang of hard little nuts landing on the water tank and waking the underworlders sleeping nearby.

Blackwood demonstrates his method of acorn shelling to his family and volunteers, using a nut cracker. Acorn meal will be used with spelt for winter pancakes and for the brewing of Patrick’s acorn beer (a recipe which can be found at the end of his re:)Fermenting culture book).

It has been a week of communing with plants, glowing in the gratitude of abundance, and savouring this time of harvest with volunteers and visitors, including Jess from Canada, who like Beau and Ella brought a joyful spirit to Tree Elbow.

The week finished with Wild Fennel – our local herbal medicine circle led by local witches, Catie and Zoe. Their beautifully facilitated plant medicine circle elegantly brought us all into deeper presence with the holy Tulsi, while we were warmed by the equinox fire in the garden at Tree Elbow.

A special thank you to Jordan for the pic of the plant circle, Catie and Zoe for the love and for the crafting back of the peoples’ medicine, and to Beau and Ella for your loving attention and joyous labours this week as SWAPs.

If you’d like to listen to a conversation between Catie and Patrick, tune into this episode of Reskillience.

We look forward to hearing from you which plant or plants you are present to right now. What herbal teas or medicine plant foods are you most grateful for? What is your latest herbal/harvest discovery?

Overcoming fear in the New Year (news, views and crews from the neopeasant home front)

You can listen to Meg and Patrick reading this blog post here (9 mins):

 

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been a while. We hope your social season has been a time of reflection, growth and joy, and if there’s been pain or grief in your world we hope you have both support and inner resources that are aiding you.

We’ve been away visiting friends and family and have returned to an abundant garden with all the rain a Djaara Country summer could hope for. Here is a vista of Tree Elbow University in early January 2024:


We’d like to share a few things with you in this post and ask you some questions about the year ahead.

First up, we’d like to introduce you to our brilliant mate, Catie Payne’s new podcasting project. Here is the second episode in which Catie and Meg have a spirited yarn.

Catie’s podcast, Reskillience, is a weekly dive into the lives of those around the world who are observing civilisational collapse and are acting in a colour wheel of ways that are contiguous with village rebuilding and living a more beautiful world. Or, in Catie’s words, it is for people who are interested in how “…remembering our place in nature’s systems, re-learning traditional skills, and re-claiming our wildness can calm apocalyptic fears and create a healthier culture that produces less emissions/zombies.” We highly recommend you subscribe, share and support her efforts.

We have collaborated with Catie before, and greatly admire what she brings to the world.

We have also been reading useful Substacks such as Why the Great Reset will fail and eloquent and wise stacks such as Deep Resistance: Philosophical Practices of Sanity (Part 1). We’ve been observing the growing threat to dissident thinkers and commentators such as CJ Hopkins and tuning into Bret Weinstein again, one of the most articulate biologists of our time (who thankfully isn’t staying in his lane). Here he is giving his take on the post Covid moment in this interview with a former Fox-News-gone-rogue journalist. While you’re over on Rumble, you might also like to check out Useful Idiots.

Another dissident voice we think worthy of our attention, is Whitney Webb, whose focus is on investigating power and corruption. Like others (including from inside the establishment), Webb is predicting an orchestrated ‘cyber pandemic’ that will likely be blamed (at least by the establishment) on nefarious actors like Iran and co., which may (for some amount of time) bring the internet down, give more cause for governments to re-instate a state of emergency, and thus again the opportunity to erode human rights under the banner of ‘making us all safe’ with ‘safe and effective’ measures.

Here’s a peg of Webb’s most famous book:

Webb, more than us, has felt the brunt of the Censorship Industrial Complex. According to Wikispooks, links to Webb’s domain TheLastAmericanVagabond.com have been “automatically shadowbanned by Reddit at the admin level for some time. In October 2020, YouTube removed the channel of The Last American Vagabond, and in February 2021, the subscription service Patreon banned the site.” She is also a permie and is not just a researcher, but is living the change, in Chile.

If we are not all expecting the next big thing that will attempt to give global power the license to further punish or disappear dissidents and further reward conformists, we are not going to be in a mental state or communitarian position to resist the next stage of totalitarianism as it is likely to unfold in 2024. So it would be wise to organise and collectivise more, whatever the future brings.

What are your strategies for resilience? Do you become immobilised by fear in a crisis, and if so what are you doing now to address this? How reliant are you on money? How much debt are you carrying? Will your employer again coerce you into complying with the global agenda? How will you cope when you’re once again gaslit by friends and family who are following the script? What have you learnt about power during Covid? Where lies the brittleness and dysfunction of totalitarianism, and how can you exploit these, while not breaking laws or exposing yourself to persecution?

With what Webb is forecasting, we are wondering how we might all stay connected, should the internet really go ‘dark,’ or some other ’emergency’ unfolds, when the only ‘media’ available to us here in Australia is, alas, the government operative known as the ABC, or whatever the equivalent is in your neck of the woods. If you haven’t noticed the gradual slide of the ABC from journalism to propaganda over the past 30 years, you might want to place a bullshit filter over the big stories they present, especially anything regarding the pharma-military industrial complex that rules US congress.

Have those of you in Australia noticed how the ABC logo and the word Emergency have become entwined?

~

For the last several years we have been rebuilding our book library and other offline resources that will be helpful in a post-internet world, and we are curious if this is something you’ve been working on too. What are you doing to build information and critical thinking resilience for either an internet-less or heavily censored future? We would be grateful if you share in the comments some of your thinking here.

Going into this new year, in order to control whatever narrative needs to be controlled, those in power (political, financial or ideological) will attempt to further silence dissident voices, and this is why all around the western world governments are bringing in censorship infrastructure in the forms of misinformation bills, while gaslighting dissidents as being spreaders of mis-, dis- and even malinformation – facts or opinions likely to be true but that hurt a government’s reputation and therefore must be censored.

We believe the dissemination of critical and dissident thought will become a greater challenge in the year ahead, which may well lead to a new golden era of political graffiti. The diversity of Covid dissidents and heterodox thinkers from across the political spectrum has been extremely effective at exposing the failures, cowardice and corruption of the state/Pharma nexus during Covid, but how will this occur should we enter an internet dark period?

We are asking a whole lotta questions, but we are not fearing the future. The present and future are filled with possibilities and this year we will again face up to whatever fear or global ’emergency’ comes our way. We will not fear tyranny, we will mock it, dance with it and eventually compost it. And most importantly, we will receive our most critical information not from experts but from Mother Country – the fruiting, flowering, regenerating flow of wisdoms that will help us overcome the unfolding “neofeudal technocratic biosecurity surveillance state,” which in real terms just signals the collapse of global civilisation.

Life cycles before news cycles. Ecological participation before anthropocentric team sports ideology.

Before we sign off, we’d like to end with a joyous introduction to two newcomers at Tree Elbow.

We first met Jordan and Antoinette from Happen Films when they came to film Creatures of Place with us several years ago. That little film about our life, economy and culture making has reached some 2.4 million views and has brought us many volunteers from across the world to labour and learn with us. We have stayed in touch with Jordan and Antoinette over the years and they made another film about our working with goats and neighbours to reduce bushfire risk a few years later.

Jordan is now back in Australia after living in NZ, and will be living with us here at Tree Elbow. We are so looking forward to sharing our life with this thoughtful, talented, switched on and humourous young man.

Here he is helping us with the post rabbit hunt processing. Welcome Jordan!

The other newcomer we are excited to share our space with is Prunella vulgaris, aka Self Heal, a wondrous and useful herb that has invited herself into the Tree Elbow garden.

We look forward to learning from her and from Jordan, and Catie, as well as a rich cohort of diverse specimens, human and more-than, all labouring to make the world a more beautiful, more abundant place.

We hope 2024 is a year in which you too can work towards composting fear and pitchforking into your gardens, balcony pots, farms or community allotments, the psychopaths of world power, and play your part in the step-by-step renewal of eldership, mentorship and village rebuilding.

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.