On Locavorism

I just read an analysis of locavorism on an unexpected website, The American Conservative. One of the comments, by Escher, reads:

“With most people working crazy hours just to get by, locavorism may unfortunately stay the preserve of the upper and upper middle classes, who have the time and money to source high quality local produce…”

I have heard this argument time and time again. In response to veganism, homecooking, seasonality, organics… This ought not be the case at all. Locavorism – and other ideas and concepts – is about encouraging Joe and Jenny Bloggs to give a crap about food. How did the thing so central to our lives get pushed to the back, and endless toil and TV to the fore? No wonder we’re so fat, lazy and celebrity- and tabloid-obsessed.

Visiting the Mallee Permie Block

I visited the block yesterday. I haven’t seen it since the one and only time I visited it before I put in an offer. It’s different than I expected, in a few ways. The boundaries weren’t as I remembered. There are more clearings than I recall. There are more scrap building materials that have been left behind. And it’s a hell-of-a-lot prettier than I first imagined. I spent 3 hours at the block sitting, walking, observing and exploring. I dug some holes with a metal rod I found. The soil doesn’t appear to be as sandy as I expected. It’s white and loose in parts, red-sandy loam in others, and where many camp fires have burnt years ago, it’s starting to develop a nice humus.

I bumped into three locals on my visit. Both my next door neighbours and a bloke from up the road, who was cycling to the post office to collect the weekend paper. On one side there is Neville, a semi-retired, 80-something-year-old, farmer turned concrete-worker. We talked about work, small business, bushfires, and community. Then I met Teresa on the other side. She is a 40-something mother of grown-up sons, who lives by herself and loves the peace and quiet of the town. She was really pleased to hear that I had purchased the land and intended to follow permaculture principles in how I developed it. She said “it’s a bastard to grow plants out here sometimes” and suggested my first priority be to “build the soil”. She loved the idea of a straw bale house, and commented on the insulation qualities of this building method. She offered me heaps of scrap building material that she no longer needed – more limestone than I can poke a stick at, two old galv rainwater tanks, trellising, an old garden shed, and old avery, and a heap of roofing iron. She also offered me a place to stay and shower if I need it. Oh, community, you’re alive and well. I also met Ron. He is a leather-worker from up the road. He was going to participate in a straw bale building workshop a few towns over a couple of years back, but life got in the way. He has three books on straw bale, he told me. And one day he intends to build a small workshop, in which to do his leather work, out of straw bale. I offered for him to help on my project. He is keen to lend a hand when I get bailing.

If Zone 6 is community, well, I have done a fair amount of observing and interacting already. This was one of my objectives of this, my first trip out to the block since settlement: to meet locals and tell them of my plans. Fitting in isn’t necessarily my aim, but getting along with people certainly is. And so far I am off to a positive start.

I shall let the following pictures express more about what I observed at the block. I feel a comprehensive analysis is only a few posts away.

 

Pigs face (Carpobrotus rossii) grows like crazy as a groundcover across the block.

Pigs face (Carpobrotus rossii) grows like crazy as a groundcover across the block.

Some of the useful materials left behind by the previous owner. The old galv rainwater tank (of which I now have 4) is destined to be turned into 5 raised garden beds.

Some of the useful materials left behind by the previous owner. The old galv rainwater tank (of which I now have 4) is destined to be turned into 5 raised garden beds.

Another of the galv tanks. This one might make a good fire wood shed.

Another of the galv tanks. This one might make a good fire wood shed.

The next door neighbour has used the block for storage, he makes these wonderful concrete products. At least I have a place to sit for now.

The next door neighbour has used the block for storage, he makes these wonderful concrete products. At least I have a place to sit for now.

From the front, looking north.

From the front, looking north.

Looking north from the 'driveway'.

Looking north from the ‘driveway’.

The main clearing.

The main clearing.

Native vegetation.

Native vegetation.

I went for a walk in the scrub behind the block and found this old truck.

I went for a walk in the scrub behind the block and found this old truck.

This is what some of the soil looks like. Sand or sandy loam?

This is what some of the soil looks like. Sand or sandy loam?