Of Rainforests, Bamboo Huts, City Farms, the Internet and Eating the Wildness of the World

January 24, 2011

I know, its been months since my last post. Far from being idle though I have been back in Aotearoa (New Zealand) preparing for a permanent shift to Japan where Asako and I will be establishing our farm Shikigami, practising natural farming, foraging, simple living, finding the Way…

Well, preparing for the move was the purpose of my return but, actually, I have been involved in all sorts of projects and adventures. No doubt, these would be of some interest to anyone that has been following this blog but, as always, its a matter of finding the time to write about them.

Had I the time I might write about developing a courtyard garden for the Auckland restaurant, Sunday Painters, where salad greens and herbs are grown amongst tree ferns, citrus and berries in a miniaturized food forest… Living in a bamboo hut that I built in the middle of a 400 square meter bamboo grove in an inner suburb of Auckland city and foraging bamboo shoots, snails, taro, mushrooms, loquats, bananas, plums, citrus, wild greens etc… Hitchhiking the length of the country visiting amazing folks living in the embrace of Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) and working hard to re-establish her natural abundance and halt further destruction… Going deep into rainforests to be in the presence of ancient trees and to be breathed by the forest… Inoculating logs for shiitake mushroom production with the wonderful people at Kelmarna Organic City Farm, a lush urban farm in inner city Auckland that provides gardening space and education for “mental health clients”… And putting together a website for the Terraquaculture network, an association of student/practitioners of terraquaculture/natural farming that have been drawn together and fired up by the work of Haikai Tane.

In this last project I believe we have put together a fantastic resource for all those interested in natural farming, sustainable land use, eco-system rehabilitation… Make use of it! terraquaculture.net.

I have also been reading many wonderful books and currently I am in the middle of one that right from the opening lines felt revolutionary. It is called The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner. (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2004). A must read for anyone interested in wild foods/plant medicines it will also be of great interest to natural farmers and environmentalists. The following passage from the book comes from a section where Buhner is instructing the reader to eat the leaf of a plant whilst not necessarily knowing what the plant is and to the typical response “what if its poisonous?” he replies:

One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world.

Our Mothers intuitively understood something essential:  the green is poisonous to civilization. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us. Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, nonlinear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic.

Beautiful! Although, I would have to say, my personal experience has been that the suit was ill fitting and my language strange before I started to eat the wildness of the world… But still, without a doubt, my early foraging forays with “Wildman” Steve Brill in New York’s central park marked a departure on a moss covered meandering pathway that has led me deeper into the forest to taste another world where the rational mind recedes in the direct unmediated experience of Nature. To taste a reality that until very recently was well known to us but which we have been taught is unreal or unrealizable. Taste it. It is real.

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