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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.

Childhood wonderland

This year we’ve been running a weekly life-led bush school called Make and Play. We’ve carved spoons, made multi-pronged fishing spears, learned to cook on a camp fire, built cubbies, observed many aspects of the forest, made cord with flax leaves, yabbied and fished, swam, climbed trees, learned to find and share food, and enjoyed stories and good times with one another.
The last Make and Play for the year took place this morning and it was truly magical. After our initial acknowledgement of country and the Dja Dja Wurrung people and elders, and our own old people who have travelled from far and wide, Patrick told the story of how that morning the dawn Kookaburras had told him something strange was happening in the forest today. He asked the kids to keep an eye out for a sign or a clue as to what that strangeness might be.

Ashar told us the story of an indigenous group that uses ash from the fire to receive messages. He didn’t know the full story so we decided to experiment with our old camp fire. Patrick buried his hands into some cold char-ash, threw it up, and as it settled on the ground he discovered a letter under the coals. We were all gobsmacked.

He read it out.

We knew we had to help The Captain of the Flying Pirate Ship, so the first thing to do was to find him. We got Zero, our trusty Jack Russell and his scruffy mate Fluff, to smell the letter and get the pirate’s scent so these two rough coats could lead us to the Captain. We followed the dogs and lo and behold…

We found the pirate sleeping not far from our cubby camp. Our excitement must have woke him. He was so surprised to see us. The letter mentioned he couldn’t talk unless he had his hat on, so we set out with the friendly mute pirate to try to find it.

The hat we soon found at the Can Tree, he put it on and – it was a miracle – he could speak! But it was a foreign language he spoke. We had to use our best expressions to tell him we don’t speak his language. He quickly understood and spoke a language we could understand. He was so happy we could understand him and that we were eager to help.

He told us that his flying pirate ship had crash landed and his things were scattered all around. He was especially hoping to find his beloved stringed instrument which he had on him when he crashed. He lost it right after he’d heard the magical sounds. Therefore we wondered whether we would find his guitar at the magical musical sound machine (an old mineral water check point pipe) that goes deep down into the ground, and where we’ve often stopped and listened for the music of the underworld. It was here we found his guitar.

The pirate captain, who calls himself Norseman, asked whether there was a magical fairy tree close by. He remembered learning a song from the fairies back home, so he thought that maybe the fairies here would be able to understand the song. Some of the children knew about the fairy tree and led us to it. Our pirate sang the fairy song, and asked us to join in. Towards the end of the song Patrick saw Zero looking intensely inside the fairy tree and said to the little dog “what is it?” Zero raced straight inside the hollow and uncovered a beautiful coin bag. The pirate said that with this was his bag of magical coins and he could now do magic. He showed us how he could bite a coin in half and then blew it back to full size again. We all watched on in amazement. But how did he do it?

Just at this time a mother fox was seen watching us from just a few meters away. The two dogs got scent and off they went on a chase. We knew the dogs would catch up with us. The pirate was keen to go looking for his tucker bag and find his treasure box. And so were we, so we all headed off to help him. The tucker bag was resting by the mineral water pumps at Sutton Spring, and we stopped for some of this delicious underworld water, and the pirate shared some of his fruit leathers, dried nuts and seeds. Yummo.

We headed off again, this time we had the treasure chest in our minds. Keeping up with the older kids was quite a challenge.

We arrived at Lake Daylesford where our Norseman remembered his ship crashing into. He also remembered holding on to his treasure chest while swimming ashore, but remembered little else after that. We all got very excited that we were possibly close to recovering the chest. The pirate showed us a stick riddle. It’s answer, he said, would tell us the direction to go.

The riddle revealed a fish, and the fish pointed as an arrow, and off we raced in the arrow’s direction.

We knew we were getting warmer.

Two turtles and three ducks on the water all turned their heads as we approached and we knew this was a directional sign. We followed their pointer. A small bag with a key in it was soon found and we were jumping with excitement.

And then young Axel (or was it his older brother Oscar?) found it. The pirate was so happy because it meant he could perform the old magic he’d learned from shamans from all over the world.

He turned a blank book into a book of colourful drawings by just rubbing over the cover,

stuck four separate pieces of coloured cloth into his closed hand and when he pulled them out they were all stitched together.

The children were dazzled. How did he do it?

He was so grateful we helped him to find his lost things, and we were so grateful for the adventure he took us on. He took a bow and thanked us for our generosity as we bestowed gifts upon him.

We then feasted on nourishing fruits and fibres of the earth. We have honoured the earth back in many ways this year, one example of this is having our snack food nude, and not in disposable plastic.

We then hung out on the jetty, playing games, not quite believing the adventure we’d just had.

Luckily Meg and Patrick took some photos to show friends and family, because otherwise they would not believe the time we’d just experienced.