Tag Archives | Food

Putting the cult in permaculture

We have been implementing some big changes around here. So tired are we of the dominant culture, we have decided to build a giant, beautiful stone wall to separate us from the outside world. Yup, we’ve decided to put the cult into permaculture once and for all.

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We have hired a gang of young thugs to help protect our perma-paradise.

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We have bribed a team of experts from the land of milk(wood) and honey to come and help grow food that will sustain us and nurture our soils.

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And to ensure diversity we have friends from afar growing food from our seed stock. Here is Cyrano with a prolific Syrian cucumber. Look closely and you will see that apparently it only needs itself to continue growing!

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We have spent thousands of hours hosting focus groups so we could come up with the perfect design for our new range of summer hats. We call it perma-couture.

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Here is a photo taken with a spy camera of our top secret lab as we grow more prototypes of even weirder and more human-like hats that will eventually be grafted onto the wearers’ foreheads, for this ever-warming climate.

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We have invested thousands of dollars constructing technically complex and elaborate towers to help us protect our boundaries.

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We have taken advantage of the most advanced technology known to humanity to develop a fierce beast that will gobble all intruders, and their foliage.

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To help spread word of our cult’s principles and ethics, we have collected a team of co-conspirators to work on David’s forthcoming book.

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We have joined forces with undercover agent Mgee and his formidable task-force as they help spread our message through the means of subterfugal music, to help convert the young and the illiterate.

Grow Do It - Formidable Vegetable Sound SystemThey are launching their exciting new album Grow Do It this coming Friday at 7pm at the Daylesford Town Hall, if you’d like to come along. You can buy tickets here (or on the door), and the new album here.

 

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If you like what we are about and would like to be part of our collective, please come along on Friday night and join us. If you pass the dance initiation, you’re in. We’re fussy, but not that fussy.

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The Future of Local Food Conference

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What does it take to create a local food system that is healthy, affordable and sustainable for Australia?

Our local food industry is being neglected while Australia’s national food and agriculture debate focuses on boosting production and increasing exports. Other countries, such as the US and Canada, that have explicitly prioritised local food, are now reaping economic benefits.

Local government in Australia has begun to analyse the benefits of a larger local food industry. For example, Mornington Peninsula Shire found in preliminary modelling that expanding its local food industry by 5% would bring in A$15 million and create nearly 200 jobs.

The Municipal Association of Victoria two-day conference, The Future of Local Food, will explore how to best design food systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Among its varied speakers, the conference will feature David Holmgren, whose presentation, ‘Vision of the Bioregional Food System adapted to Energy Descent Futures’ will highlight the need to consider futures different from Business-As-Usual. Holmgren will discuss how local government areas (urban and rural) might fit into an emerging bioregional economy if and when the global one declines.

You can find out more about the conference here.

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A History from the Future

We are thrilled to be sharing with you an excerpt from David Holmgren’s A History from the Future – a prelude to his upcoming book RetroSuburbia.


A HISTORY FROM THE FUTURE: a prosperous way down

future-scenarios-logoLong time central Victorian resident and co-originator of the globally influential permaculture concept, David Holmgren draws on his Future Scenarios work to paint a picture of how simple household and community level strategies can build resilience to the hard emerging realities of economic contraction, peak oil and climate change.

Holmgren has spent decades modelling how low impact resilient ways of living and land use provide a happier and healthier alternative to dependent consumerism. In this story, based on an original presentation from the Local Lives Global Matters conference in Castlemaine 2015, he shows how these informed lifestyle choices and biological solutions become the basis for surfing the downslope of the emerging energy descent future.


A LOCAL STORY FROM 2086

Prelude: The World at Energy Peak 2000-2015

At the turn of the 21st century the evidence for energy descent driven by peak oil and climate change was already strong. The quasi religious belief in continuous economic growth had a strong hold on collective psychology in central Victoria as much as anywhere in the world. The global financial system began to unravel in 2008 at the same time that global production of conventional oil peaked. For a minority it was increasingly obvious that the policies put in place ensured that the collapse was even more severe when it did come. It was like the powers that be had pushed the accelerator hard to the floor in one of those supercharged sports cars of the time, to attempt to jump across the widening chasm that humanity was facing.

The collapse of global financial growth unfolded differently in different places but here the story had many upsides that were partly due to luck and partly a result of visionaries and innovators who helped create a better future. These are the bare bones of how we got from what a few people still consider was the golden age to what we call the Earth Steward culture.

Photo Erica Zabowski

Choose from a vast array of nothing, or perhaps a different path. Photo Erica Zabowski

First Energy Descent Crisis 2017-2026

In 2017 the Australian property bubble burst. For our communities, this marked the start of the First Energy Descent Crisis (of the 21st century). Ballarat Bank was the first financial institution to fail and a government forced take over by the Commonwealth Bank saw the Community Bank network hived off as local lending co-ops backed by local government hoping to restart economic activity in regional towns that were increasingly on their own as State and Federal governments focused on dealing with hardship and social unrest in the cities.

The crisis was world wide, so dramatically reduced global Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the peak of global oil (what they called Total Liquids at the time) the same year was very much in line with the 1972 Limits To Growth report default scenario showing industrial output peaking about that time. More recent studies suggest that net energy available to support humanity peaked closer to the turn of the millennium but it’s all a moot point because it seems that economic growth had been a net drain on human welfare for decades before that.

As capital investment in oil fell off a cliff, and production from existing fields declined at nearly 10% there was a second oil price shock, a US currency collapse and a short war between the USA and China in 2022. Australia got punished in the trade embargo imposed by China. The economic crisis in China had already caused nearly 100 million of the recently urbanised workers to return to the villages, and reimposition of a command economy to continue the shift to renewable energy and revitalise agriculture. Consequently China was able to cope without Australian coal and gas and there was so much scrap steel in the world that the iron ore exports had come to a standstill.

While oil and food remained costly (at least relative to falling wages) most manufactured goods were dirt-cheap. Solar panels from China (somehow getting around the trade embargo) accelerated the trend for retail customers going off grid which, combined with collapse of commercial demand for electricity, led to a “Death Spiral” in the power grid with rising prices and increasing blackouts (and surges due to excess wind and solar inputs).

A newly elected Federal Labor government renationalised the power grid, along with price controls, rationing an Australia ID card allowing rationed access to subsidised supermarkets that had been experiencing shortages of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy.

In Victoria, a Liberal government implemented policies to encourage people to be more self-reliant. Permaculture education was adopted as a framework for integrating aspects of self-reliance including home food production, owner building, water harvesting and waste management.

Rationing of fuel led to hitch-hiking, ride sharing and in rural areas a rush to convert vehicles to wood gas. Bicycles became the default personal transport around town in Castlemanine but in Daylesford and Hepburn, electric bikes and vehicles powered by the Hepburn Wind charging stations installed for tourists before the property bubble burst maintained mobility for locals.

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Charcoal powered public transport from Japan. Photo: ‘Lover of Romance’

Conversion of vehicles to wood gas by a range of bush mechanics and ex-hot rodders had mixed success. The market value of higher powered larger vehicles and trucks rose as a result of the first wave of conversions. The Castlemaine Obtainium Engineering Institute was established to test and improve local designs and prototypes. One of the motivations was a competitive spirit with the electric car networks centred in Daylesford and Ballarat.

Use of Bitcoin (a virtual currency), local currencies, precious metals and barter all increased to support exchange in the rapidly growing informal and grey economies. Bitcoin then failed in mysterious circumstances after being targeted for funding terrorism.

The Internet began functioning again after major breakdowns during the conflict between the US and China. But Facebook and Amazon were bankrupt, cyberspace was littered with defunct and unmaintained sites and Internet marketing was plagued by cyber crime and draconian government regulations. Local computer networks using wireless technology, as well as a revival of two-way radio, started building back to basics communication pathways.


A History from the Future eBookletTo read the full story, purchase the eBook here or get the download for FREE when you sign up to our mailing list for updates to David Holmgren’s upcoming book RetroSuburbia, due for release in March 2017.

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Build it, chop it, grow it, pick it, preserve it

It’s not much to look at, we know, but we wanted to start this post with a blank canvas: the exciting possibility of the empty page, a timely reminder to observe

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and interact:

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There has been much observing these last few weeks, looking around to see what we could use for a retaining wall. Hello willow. Thanks so much to Mitch, the current Melliodora apprentice, for this fantastic series of photos:

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This week we welcomed Lori who will be MIAOWing with us for three weeks. Lori did her PDC at Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington and has been an active member of the Seattle Permaculture Guild. Lori says that her vision for the future is to infiltrate the mainstream education system and inject it with permaculture. “My goal is to bring this message to young people in a way that inspires them to perpetuate it.” We hope you reach your goal Lori!

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With Lori’s help we picked olives

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cut and dehydrated feijoas, and scooped out their sherbety flesh to freeze them.

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We made kraut,

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and fresh goats cheese.

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And we looked up. We gave thanks for the rain, the falling leaf mulch, and the kiwi chandeliers.

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Food for thought, security and sovereignty

This is a longer version of the article David Holmgren contributed to the inaugural issue of the Pip magazine.

Food insecurity also shows up in affluent countries in many surprising ways.  In Australia declining backyard food production since the 1960s and the loss of community, reduced the opportunities for barter and social insurance from non-monetary exchange. In the decades since, increasing apartment living and smaller backyards has reduced the capacity for household food production. Multiple generations of wage, and even welfare dependence, has left many Australians without even the “skills of poverty”, including food gardening and home preserving.  In recent decades high debt levels have seen all household members commuting to work or school, leaving little time for food gardening, animal rearing and preserving.  The decline in home cooking and storage of food at home have increased dependence on 24/7 commercial food outlets which themselves have become monopolised and transport dependent.  The constant drive for greater efficiency and profits by food corporations has seen “Just In Time” logistics replace warehousing and storage in shops. Interruptions to supply chains from natural or economic disasters set up instant dependence of large populations on emergency relief on an unprecedented scale. Even without Peak Oil and Climate Change, the prospects of large numbers of people being food insecure in Australia increases inexorably due to the dysfunctions of multi-generational affluence. I wonder why people feel so comfortable relying on Coles as their personal food cupboard.

You can download here full text of Permaculture for food security and sovereignty.

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Food Security and Sovereignty

PIP-Cover-issue-1LR-e1395804611513 “It’s been ten years since Australia had its own permaculture magazine and since then we have had to rely on overseas publications to learn about permaculture and hear what other like-minded people are doing ” laments the founding editor of a new permaculture magazine, called Pip magazine. Nothing wrong with permaculture periodicals overseas, but when we consider that permaculture ‘originated’ in Australia and being tauted as one of the biggest exports of ideas from this country, it is a poor state of affairs nonetheless.

Despair no more Australians as Pip magazine will hit the market very soon. Pip is a brainchild of journalist, editor and photographer Robyn Rosenfeldt, a Melbourne native now a resident of far south east NSW. She and the team no doubt have exerted not an insignificant amount of passion, but as she notes, publishing was made possible by the generosity of the community through crowd-funding.

Pip magazine is not just another gardening magazine, just like permaculture is not just about gardening. Permaculture is a design system that can be applied to all aspects of life to enable us to live more sustainably. It starts in the home and garden and is about creating systems that are self-reliant. But it extends right out to broad acre farming, to community development and beyond.

The first issue has stories on how to grow your own shiitake mushrooms, create a food forest, herbal first aid, natural dyes and creating a clothes swap in your own community, as well as a piece on food security and sovereignty contributed by David Holmgren.

Below we publish a short excerpt from his piece. Please get hold of the magazine, available at good newsagents and retail outlets, to get the whole story, and better still, subscribe to it here. The Pip mag is also available digitally across all devices. The second issue is due out in September.

The inaugural issue is available for purchase at our online shop.

Food insecurity also shows up in affluent countries. In Australia, declining backyard food growing and home cooking since the 1960s  has increased dependence on 24/7 food outlets which are car transport dependent and increasingly monopolised.  The loss of community has reduced the ‘social insurance’ from non-monetary exchange of surpluses.  Interruptions to supply chains from natural or economic disasters set up instant dependence of large populations on emergency relief on unprecedented scale. Even without Peak Oil and Climate Change, the prospects of large numbers of people being food insecure in Australia increases inexorably due to the dysfunction of multi-generational affluence. I wonder why people feel so comfortable relying on the supermarket as their personal food cupboard.

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Graphics from the “Relocalising Our Food using Permaculture Theory and Practice at Sustainable and Fair Food” presentation (Feb 2014), based on Folke Günter, 2001.

Applying permaculture principles to food production changes the way we produce food and how much we store, preserve, transport, distribute, prepare and consume.  Beyond the dinner table, permaculture design reorganises the supply chain to ensure all wastes including human waste are recycled to food producing land. These closed loop cycles are easier and more energy efficient when organised at the household and local scale.  Growing at home increases food security in many overlapping and self-reinforcing ways.

Firstly it is relatively easy to produce perishable vegetables, fruit and small livestock products using organic methods that recycle household and local wastes. These foods might not be staples but they reduce the food bill, diversify the diet and improve everyone’s health, both in the production and the consumption.

Secondly, home-grown food gives a sense of pride and sufficiency, builds skills and confidence to scale up if necessary, generates surplus for preserving that increase household food storages while gifting and barter further increase your credit with others.  All these processes help reboot the household and community economies that were once the background to the monetary economy. History shows us that whenever the monetary economy takes a dive, the household and community economics grow rapidly.

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Insects as food

The locust biscuit (insects as food) not served by Su but taken  from http://insectcuisine.jp/?p=283

The locust biscuit (insect as food) not served by Su but taken from insectcuisine.jp

Su loves to see the reaction from tour participants as she explains the ingredients in her hot-out-of-the-oven cake served for either morning or afternoon tea; “Wheat, yes it’s commonly graded as chook wheat. Nothing wrong with it, just dusty, a bit of grit and odd insects. Good source of protein.” and thus the insects as romantic food conversation started: Continue Reading →

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