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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.

White people dreaming (and performing other forms of culture and economy)

We saw out the year with greenkin friends, once again walking and pedalling the main drag of our home town for the 2018 Daylesford New Year’s Eve Parade. 
(photo by David Jablonka)
It was quite a challenge to pull around 100kg of future community food on our e-bike. We community food gardeners were awarded money to dress our annual NYE float. By purchasing fruit trees and perennial veggies we once again steered arts funding into something deep-rooting.

This lil video will give you a feel for the parade and our contribution to it, for which we won the sustainability award. (Please note: videos won’t appear in your inbox subscription.)

Yes, it’s a strange time of year to plant dozens of trees, herbs and perennial veggies, but with our $100 prize money (Thanks Hepburn Wind!) we bought a new hose and established a watering roster so we can nurture these generous gifts through the coming hot weeks. A big thanks to the permie crew from Deans Marsh who strengthened our numbers and dug right in, joining the local permablitz working bee mob.

In late December we had a number of friends come and stay for the Melliodora solstice party, which eventuated in another form of spontaneous permablitz, this time a music video. Charlie (from Formidable Vegetable) came for dinner and he spoke of the possibility of a new video clip. We hooked him up with our mate Jordan (from Happen Films), added in a whole bunch of Artist as Family creative direction, garden and community peeps, and voilà, this was hatched:

It was another moment of spontaneous creation at Tree Elbow. Thanks to all the neopeasant solstice revellers who showed up and ensouled the morning; all we singulars numbering a collective effort with not a single dollar mentioned, spent or sought. An example of permaculture media-making at its best – and an antidote to typical white-people careerism, profit motives and meaningless content.

photo by Vasko Drogriski

In other news, the violet and rhubarb leaves at Tree Elbow are being frequented by these lovely Southern brown tree frogs (Litoria ewingi),

as well as common garden snails (Helix aspersa). While allcomer frogs, toads and froglets are more than encouraged to make their life in, through and around the garden, snails are gathered up in large numbers and fed to the chooks and ducklings, or we prepare them this way for dinner. Yum!

The ducklings certainly think so. Snails and comfrey leaves are their faves.

Photo by Amy Wagner

For Blackwood (much like the froglets, baby snails and ducklins), home schooling and home economics have become the same thing. Like us, most things he requires are non-monetised, but each of us have occasion to save up for things. A new guitar has been the motivator for this little market store.

But generally we try to make what we need, such as this fishing spear. Every occasion, every visitation, project and ecology

is another school for Woody. It is in these places where play, exploration and experimentation are given true homes. His education isn’t evaluated or assessed. He is free to learn without anxiety or comparison. He is free to collate all his learnings and build upon them in his own time and way,

and with others, such as the children he is bonded to at the Make & Play bush school we hold. Here’s Charlie again at the M&P end of year celebration. (Jumpers in late December? Yikes!)

And because of the expansive time given to him to learn, time to be, time to thoroughly explore what NAPLAN could never allow for a child, the rewards come, which only aid more learning,

where play making and knowledge building are all part of the same flow.

While his learning is mostly self-directed, he also absorbs his parents’ knowledges, and they share with him what to glean and hunt and make bounties from,

while far away from the high country lakes
and productive gardens of home.

He observes the gifts that can be made from the abundant raw materials of our local terra. This wrist band was made by Patrick for Meg on her birthday. The lake is a special place for Meg, where giant-leaved newcomer NZ flax grow (great for cord making) and moulted breast feathers from oldtimer cockatoos are shed around the foreshores (thanks for the tip Kimshar!).

Woody observes the gifts and skills of other adults too, from musicians like Charlie, filmmakers like Jordan and Antoinette, and all the community gardeners to name just a few. Out of all the adults that generously pass on their trades, it is Jeremy that Woody calls mentor. Jeremy made this insulated oven window cover for us, especially for summertime cooking. It reduces the heat radiating into the house on the coolest day of the week when we bake bread, roast veggies and heat up our hot water.

We traded him a wild ferment brewing lesson, exchanging microbe knowledges for technical know-how. What we’ve found is that gifts flow, if generosity flows. A few years back Edward from nearby Adsum Farm gifted us some garden bed hoops. In spring they support a hothousing re-usuable plastic hood to get the potatoes going early, in summer they support a fine netting to keep the cabbage moths from destroying the brassicas.

Photo by Amy Wagner

Knowing what to protect and what to leave open to the multifarious relations of diverse garden ecology requires kinship with both domestication and wild entities – a subject Patrick will be speaking on with Claire Dunn and Maya Ward at the National Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne on February 9. And this subject is at the heart of why we hold the annual Terra Nullius Breakfast,

which acknowledges, accepts and seeks compassion for the history of this continent – a nation that has crippled symbiotic life by over-playing domestication’s hand.
Terra Nullius stands at the heart of property relations in Australia and aggregating wealth division. When property is turned from a basic need into a predatorial industry, more and more people will suffer. We wrote this song for our friend Eka, a fellow Bentley Blockader, when we visited her on our travels last winter she spoke of the constant insecurity and powerlessness of her housing situation. Eka stood with thousands to stop the Northern Rivers from being fracked by greed’s intransigence to common sense, giving her time and skills over weeks and months as a volunteer. While we dedicate this song to Eka, it is also for all people kept from having secure tenure over a little plot of land that can be loved, held sacred and given back to for the momentary time we dwell with and upon it.

If you feel passionate about this issue, please copy the link of this Youtube video and share it widely. Songs can be fertile seeds for change, even rough-cut home-brewed ones such as this.

Well, thank you Dear Reader, we hope we served up some nourishment and inspiration for you in our more or less monthly instalment. If you’d like come on a house + garden tour we’ve released more forthcoming dates. If you’re interested in applying for one of our Permaculture Living Courses please watch this space, we’ll be opening the applications for the spring 2019 courses shortly.

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.

Into the glean and scene of 2017

We ended 2016 with a community garden working bee with mates,

cleaning off graffiti from around the town (that one of us thought was a good idea to do at the time),

building a new squat compost loo with SWAP, Isobel,

going for a little ride,

to spend the summer solstice at Melliodora with neo-peasant and permie mates,

advertising for our first SWAP-intern suitable to work with the whole family, particularly Zeph,

and carried on with forest work and play,

until the year was done and we gathered with various friends and other community groups to celebrate the new year.

 Our little ensemble of community gardeners won best ‘float’, despite our on-foot-ness.

The next day, with our Milkwood mates, we were very floaty when we heard the news of our win ($500 to the community gardens to grow more free food).
This year we’ve been welcoming Connor into our family. Connor was chosen to be our first SWAP-intern. Within days it was like this remarkable young man has been with us for years.
And we’ve been blessed with more wonderful SWAPs coming to live and learn with us. Hello Anna!

And hello Marta!

We went out of town with our mate Pete to collect some locally grown and milled timber. We’re going to build a number of things in the next few months.

With friends Mara, Kirsten and Kat we made a banner,

which will be used each year to mark January 26, terra nullius day at the Daylesford Town Hall.

We’ve been doing little fermenting experiments and loving the results.

Actually, Connor doesn’t need elderflower cider to fool around in the gloaming.

Connor and Marta have been hanging out working together, riding the tandem and generally keeping the home fires burning.

Because it’s a time of storing,

food forestry and many people staying,

pumpkins, citrus and kiwi fruiting,

honey making,

poultry growing,

appling,

learning,

keeping the mice numbers down,

and more storing.

Collecting materials from building sites, the tip, and having friends who gift large doors and windows (thanks Nicko and Elle), has enabled the planning of the north-facing greenhouse.

Our home is a busy mess of multiple projects, ferments and general productivity. We’re using the excessive affluence of industrial civilisation to transition to low-money, low-carbon lifeways before inevitable decline or collapse.

Prepare now or struggle later is our motto, and what we’ve found in the meantime is a more joyous, meaningful form of life making.

Firing up the (mostly moneyless) home economies

Our last post ended with the butchering of a large car-killed male kangaroo on the morning we rode into our home town on the last day of our three month book tour. This sad and angry moment, which became an opportunity to store a large amount of meat for Zero and us, has triggered a month of joyous local resource gathering, starting with dandelion coffee making.

We have harvested carrots, potatoes and beetroots that we planted before we left.

Revived our sourdough starter and made bread for home and friends. Friends and neighbours have also bestowed upon us many foody gifts, understanding our home production is at a low ebb courtesy of being on the road so long, coupled with an extremely dry year. They know, as do we, that what goes around comes around. Thanks Bob and Beth, Pete, Alison, Su, Maria, Nick and Larch, Lena, Beverly, Kate and Bren, Bee and Ra, and Andrew. 

Planted out new beds and put our permie love shack on Airbnb — proudly the cheapest, most primitive tourist accommodation in Daylesford.

And for money (and love) Meg is back at Melliodora writing, editing, answering emails and phones.

Back on the non-monetary home front, we’ve been walking daily for our fuel,

hand cutting and wheelbarrowing, readying for the winter.

We’ve been preserving fruit and vegetables, using the free service of the sun.