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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.

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?

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.

Artists and the Practice of Agriculture: Politics and Aesthetics of Food Sovereignty in Art Since 1960

Hello Dear Reader,

Our offering today is a reading from our contribution to the newly released, Artists and the Practice of Agriculture: Politics and Aesthetics of Food Sovereignty in Art Since 1960 (Routledge 2023). Authored by Silvia Bottinelli, the book surveys artists working with the materiality, politics and aesthetics of food sovereignty over the past 60 years.

 

You can find out more about the book on our Resources page, in the Our Books section. We hope this contribution generates goodly compost for your thinking and feeling into how you, your household and community might be adapting at a time of civilisational collapse.

As always your questions, comments and observations are valued here, and please share this post if it resonates.

Has the industrial censorship complex infiltrated Australian permaculture?

In this latest video, Patrick examines the role of heterodox thinking both broadly and within more marginal cultural milieus. He is curious whether the potent religious myth of the turned over money tables has currency in this moment and whether permaculture in Australia is falling into wrong story by adopting neoliberal guerrilla tactics of censorship and divisive behavioural strategies that include the creation of contagion/scapegoat classes in order to stifle dissent or debate. What society only recently called a difference of opinion is now being labelled as misinformation. Does this matter? Who is watching? Does anyone care if the heterodoxy is erased?

Here’s the low-fi audio for those with low bandwidth to listen:

 

And here’s the YouTube video:

As Patrick mentioned your heartfelt feedback – critical, camaraderie or otherwise – is most welcome.

Stories from the School of Applied Neopeasantry (podcast) with Coni, Ilenia and Carla

Please join us as we shell broad beans at the kitchen table and listen to stories about the homeplaces, wisdom and wildness of Carla Gallego, Ilenia Theuriclat and Constanza Hidalgo. Here’s the audio-only version:

 

 

These three women are the latest volunteers to visit Tree Elbow University and join our School of Applied Neopeasantry. It was a wild week of story, laughter, dancing and communing as we lived life richly together honouring earth, our food, more-than-humans and each other. Coni is hacking industrial design with permaculture, Ilenia wants to hack social work with permaculture, and Carla sees the potential of permaculture to reintroduce spirit into the arts.

This podcast series is dedicated to listening to those who have made themselves students of life, of permaculture and of neopeasantry, and are seeking their own learning pathways in diverse and dynamic ways. This podcast is slow media so feel free to create some space for the conversation. Make yourself a cuppa and catch some sunlight, or gently work through the piled up dishes while you listen. These women’s gifts, embedded in their stories, are a slow unfolding.

The week with Coni, Ilenia and Carla was magical and we hope you pick up a little of this spirit in our conversation, the spirit of which flowed into many places around home including the community garden working bee on their final day with us.

Wherever you are in your life right now we hope this hour of story calls to you. Your comments are always welcome and feel free to also tell us where you find your wild man or wild woman, and how you make room for this wildness.

Sending solstice greetings from Tree Elbow to your festive table,
Artist as Family

Stories from the School of Applied Neopeasantry (podcast) with Victoria Battisti

We’ve had the pleasure of spending the week with Victoria Battisti, a young permaculturist from Argentina. Victoria has come to Australia on a pilgrimage to deepen her permaculture knowledges and awareness, and before she left for her next destination she sat down with Patrick to share a little of the story that led her to travel to our School of Applied Neopeasantry here in Djaara peoples’ country.

This podcast is the second in a series (listen to our first with Gregori Papanastasiou here), and is 30 mins in duration. We hope you enjoy this conversation with the effervescent Victoria Battisti.​​

 

As always your comments are most welcome, and if you are interested in being a SWAP (Social Warming Artists and Permaculturists) or a SWAN (Social Warming Artisans and Neopeasants) with us, please read this doc for more info.