Relations of learning

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taking our eleven year old, Zephyr, out of school has been a long-awaited blessing and I'm slowly developing a teaching method which is increasingly simple, involving only walking and being open. Learning can't be quantified when we happen across a jelly fungus called Yellow Brain (Tremella mesenterica). An old and highly sophisticated organism that attaches itself to its food source, this saprotrophic fungus, like most fungi, help decompose dead matter and turn it into soil. This understanding of life, this directness of contact with earthly processes, makes our walks about relationships.

Today we walked across the town's lake bridge and noticed the degrading pebble-mix concrete barrier and the lichen covered cherry plum and the grey melancholy of deep winter. Our blood and woolen warm engagement with these cold elements and our closeness together as father and son brought a quietness to us both. A simple joy that encouraged openness.

In the forest on the edge of town we noted that the numerous little mounds of rabbit droppings are partnered with an ancient moss (Polytricum sp.) and when we later bumped into a friend on his mountain bike traversing another part of the town's edge we learned that it is the buck rabbit that makes these little mounds as territorial markers, as nitrogenous cairns, that the spores of such moss so obviously gravitate to in order to make an easier life.

As we walked and talked of such connectivity, we discussed the many different type of relationships that exist in life – the mutualistic, the parasitical, predator-prey, the advantagious and the loving. None of which are exclusively human, as Zero, our kin dog Jack Russell likes to remind us in his own particular creaturely way, and who nearly always joins us on our homeschool adventures, using senses we've long lost but surely need to rescue.


Another place of simple feeding

Friday, August 2, 2013

Numerous birds come into our garden and share the bounties there. Some are rare and singular, others in great numbers come daily. Occassionally one or more of these abundant species, namely the seed loving fruitarians, occassionally become ecological food for us. We use non-industrial tools to hunt them, which usually means we shoot them with our home-made bows.

Autonomous fruitarians

As locavores we try to eat outside of the industrial food system because of the blind violence that can be attributed to that food supply. We know that autonomous birds are regularly killed and their lives wasted for the farming of vegan, vegetarian and omnivore fruits, nuts, pulses and grains. And, unlike modern agriculture, we don't believe in 'pest' species. Every organism that comes into the garden is an ecological player – the greater diveristy there is, the healthier we all are. This is permaculture logic, which is the opposite thinking to monological agriculture that attempts to scale up single species production in order to make food a predictable commodity.

We contend that if we can see our food – grow, forage and hunt for it – we have a better chance of knowing what species are doing well and thus are fair game. Industrial food, contiguous with growth capitalism, must waste resources in order to capitalise significantly on just one kind. We see this in industrial fishing where millions of tons of fish are killed in drag nets and routinely wasted because the market doesn't see them as desirable.

We argue that small-scale, simple tools, non-transported resources and accountable killing all combine to constitute a future model of food and culture sustainability, and we believe this theory, which we actively practice, will help us adapt to changes in climate, economics and fossil resources while also mitigate the adverse effects industrial resources cause to these things. This is essentially observing indigenous peoples intelligence worldwide and composting the myth that super-scaled, highly chemicalised transported agriculture will feed the world. This is a colossal myth of our time.

A counter argument to ours that always comes up goes something like this: If we all hunt and forage then there will be a quick depletion of these species. My response to that is: by forest gardening for most of our food and sourcing some from small nearby organic polyfarms, then supplementary foods can be gleaned, hunted and foraged for without significant depletion. We need to eat around 90% less meat and start getting localised animal proteins from many nearby places including insects. Additionally, if we stopped driving trucks and cars we would see a great decline in wasted mammal life on roadsides, and once we lessen the burden on the environment that superfarms have, then we will see greater abundance of autonomous species more broadly still. Industrialism takes so much to make so little.

We are arguing for greater accountability in resource consumption and this will help produce a leaner and cleaner culture.


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