Labour Time / Documentation (2016)

Taken as a whole, the 2015 blog is a strange and fragmented representation of the year. OK sure, maybe some of that had to do with the fact that at this time last year I was breastfeeding a 5 month old and going back to teaching part time, but I totally neglected to document some of the more major projects such as the completion of the Frog Pond and the building of the Aquaponics System. I did  not report on the very reassuring soil testing results we received from the VegeSafe project at Macquarie Uni. I did post images of ants living in rejected pots and abandoned wasp nests to meditate on the other kinds of life that share this patch of land. I also managed to capture the coop rebuild and the arrival of the new chooks, the reworking of some of the beds and some of the harvesting. Primarily, however, I posted about a series of events that aimed to articulate some of the broader political imaginings that come with renting and gardening in a time of environmental crisis: “Earlwood Farm Presents…”. Doing those events with Verge Gallery was so great, and we even ended up on the front page of the Daily Telegraph branded as a pack of good-for-nothing hippies living on a commune wasting rate-payer money (see our reflections here), but the events also took labour time away from the garden itself. And then writing and blogging also takes time away from the practice of gardening too.

The Aquaponics system was Craig's pet project in collaboration with two colleagues Ned and Mattias

The Aquaponics system was Craig’s pet project in collaboration with two colleagues Ned and Mattias

The scattershot nature of the blog reflects a general lack of focus in the garden. We got some veges, but not enough given the capacity of the yard and the amount of energy we invest in its upkeep. We weren’t consistently following those permaculture guidelines. Don’t get me wrong, there was labour invested in place, stewardship of the land insofar as we aimed to live with the critters, we hand weeded plants that weren’t in the places we wanted them to be and we got some food, but it just wasn’t as productive as it could have been.

"Some food" here = madagascar beans. Stan trying to eat the bean pod and all. The plant is regrowing this year.

“Some veges” means lots of things, but in this photo it means madagascar beans. Stan is pictured trying to eat the bean, pod and all. The pods are a bit to fibrous, but the beans themselves are pretty and tasty. The plant is regrowing this year.

As one fifth of the adult human resource here atop the hill, I initially thought I should just shut the blog down and invest all my focus on the garden. But our friend/idol Joe, farmer at Love is Love farm in Atlanta, GA, doesn’t complain about all the documentation involved in maintaining his real-deal organic certification. For him the practice of documentation feeds his good farming skills, enriches his knowledge of his produce and makes him a better grower. I like this idea. Insofar as is necessary, then, the blog will be about documenting what we do.

This Striped Marsh Frog was found under the bathtub frog pond. We haven't yet had many visitors but we will eventually.

This Striped Marsh Frog was found under the bathtub frog pond. We haven’t yet had many more froggy visitors but we will eventually.

With all this in mind, and for a range of other reasons involving a greater focus from everyone, 2016 has started off on a very different foot. It is a year for regrouping and regrowing. We’ve had two working bees already. The lack of documentation so far is evidence of my own focus on the actual work rather than on my meandering reflections. And there are so many good blogs both documenting and reflecting on this kind of practice out there now. With Milkwood, of course, leading the way with their amazing community resource, archive and network. In short, the revolution will not be blogged on this website. The revolution will be live, lived, laboured for in slow care directed towards a multispecies future. If this blog is involved in the process then it will be as a note keeping device, like our chalkboard, an image gallery, or for very selective reflection. Now is a time for plans and actions.


Some plans – more planning. more mulch. stronger seedlings. new toys (including our new soil blocker!). more labour. more responding. prioritising of garden. new community (esp. excited about the opening of frontyard projects, down the road).

Some actions – redesigned, composted, mulched, planted, purchased, weeded, watered, watched, waited, sat, whipper-snipped, mowed, dug, moved, … what else? … sprouted, added, combined, shaded.