Friday, February 20, 2009

Peddle, gather, cook, bottle (food activity alphabetised by return)

Our community has a local benefit concert and fundraiser for the survivors of the fires this coming Sunday and I spent the early part of the week thinking what I could contribute that didn't mean burning cash or burning carbon. We both have no work at present, which makes us time-rich and extremely productive in all manner of non-capitalist activity, while at the same time shitting ourselves with mounting bills.

I borrowed Meg's bike, which has a handy detachable front basket, and trawled the town for street fruit. I asked the local librarian, Janet, if I could harvest the rhubarb from the small community garden at the back of the library and she happily agreed, and I found some feral apples and pears ripe and delicious. I also noted other varieties of apples, nectarines and pears that would be ripe over the next few weeks and noted that many of the feral trees which had a substantial build up of humus at their base had disease-free apples. I cooked all the fruit together and added local honey.

I then peddled to O's to exchange some of our old glass jars for his larger, uniformed, black-lidded ones. I stayed for lunch, talked about brewing beer and gathered more apples and a branch of red-flowering eucalypt for my gal on the way home.

These small bottled gifts are for the organisers of the event – friends – folk who have worked hard over the past few weeks to organise the forthcoming day. As a child my folks had a successful cottage industry manufacturing jellies, mustards, chutneys and jams and this week I felt the spirit of that familial activity return.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cucumber on a fork - cucupop

Street food: some minor alternatives to capitalism

Peter Tyndall opened my first (awarded) public work, Poemscape: a physical anthology, with a considerable talk critiquing the use of the word 'scape' and its problematic mediation of the natural world. We all baked facing west to a hot afternoon sun, listening to Peter outside the public library. The 18 Fujis that I planted, across the road from the town's supermarket, clung pathetically to sturdy timber plinths, each capped with a poem etched into a brass plaque. One of these poems was Michel Deguys' O great apposition of the world. I used three local poems, six Australian (from other parts) and twelve from other countries, each based environmental themes. Nearly ten years on, with various re-plantings due to drought and social idiocy, the trees struggle on. Each year I prune, water and feed them, and this is the first year the apples have coddling moth, which I'll need to treat over a period of time. 

This afternoon Maria, our neighbour, dropped over a large bag of green apples, produced by her trees. "No good for eating", she said, "but, OK for stewing". So I harvested what little rhubarb we had left and made a combined stew. For breakfast in summer we usually have organic rolled oats, that we buy in bulk, with stewed fruit or currants and local apple juice. In winter we make porridge and add local honey. The only time we have to visit a supermarket is when we have been disorganised, and missed the small produce shops or the Sunday market. Each time I walk into a supermarket I feel ambushed, and the more I learn about industrial agriculture and the plastics industry the more difficult it is to actually buy anything from these centers of mediated and fluorescent violence. 

Many people are talking about post-capitalist strategies. Here's a few of mine: If you are in the city join or start a permablitzing community, if you're in a rural area grow your own food and buy, swap and glean from local growers. If you're into graffiti, plant fruit trees Рthink espaliered tags Рwhere council workers might ignore or not see them until they are established. Official public art, such as my Poemscape, seems pass̩ today, but all of this thought and activity is in transition from a broken cycle toxicology to a closed-cycle ecology. We need to get incrementally better at the latter in order to mitigate the former.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The garden cops a beating

After a week of record breaking temperatures, some of our food supplies are being knocked around. Where are the wild chickpeas and ancient grains that can withstand extreme temperatures? They may be all we can grow in years to come.

Visit the Seed Hunter here to give you an idea of what's most likely to come.