Becoming an urban forager means tapping into a resource of free and abundant food. But whether it’s foraging edible weeds, redistributing excess produce or even diving into a dumpster, there’s far more you can gain than just a free meal. The savvy urban forager can dine out on gourmet cheese, berries, herbal teas and locally grown olives without ever stepping foot into a shop. But the philosophy goes further than just eating for free. You’ll reconnect with nature, save food going to landfill, learn plant names growing in your yard, parks and bikeways and connect with your neighbours.
More than just a food fad, sourdough is an ancient practice of breadmaking that has captured our imaginations for centuries. Among many things, a sourdough starter bubbling away on your kitchen bench means you’re taking care of your gut health through the proper preparation of grains. You’re connecting with nature in the form of the microorganisms and wild yeasts that are hanging out in your kitchen, and you’re slowing your life down in a nourishing way.
A rise in interest in permaculture during the pandemic has highlighted the important role its practices play in building household and community resilience. Faced with limited access to goods and services, many Australians turned to permaculture practices as a solution to the pressures associated with the coronavirus pandemic. From the early days when panic buying cleared supermarket shelves, to the recent higher-level lockdowns, more people are recognising the benefits a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle can have during a crisis.
Fire is an intrinsic part of the Australian landscape. With the opportunity to both reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience, Australia should be leading the world in transitioning to renewable energy to reduce the severity of bushfire. Fire has become more destructive since European colonisation. And due to climate change and changes in land use, Australia has experienced even greater destruction over recent decades. Australian landscapes were once effectively managed by Indigenous cultural burning practices, but stopping this has left us with denser forests more vulnerable to fire.
Growing your own medicinal garden is easy and the benefits of having fresh herbs on hand – both medicinal and edible – are immeasurable. It’s difficult to know the age and viability of dried herbs, so growing varieties which are suited to both your climate and soil conditions will ensure you have the highest chance of gaining the best therapeutic and culinary outcomes.
A much-loved permaculture illustrator and educator, Brenna Quinlan’s drawings guide communities away from consumerism and towards living a life brimming with meaning, beauty and community connectedness. Brenna lives at the idyllic Melliodora property established by the co-originator of permaculture David Holmgren and his partner Su Dennett, where she practises, educates and illustrates permaculture. Her articulate watercolour paintings have been used in numerous books including Holmgren’s newest Retrosuburbia, as well as Milkwood: Real Skills for Down-to-Earth living and Farming Democracy: Radically Transforming the Food System from the Ground Up, and in just three short years has cultivated an Instagram following of more than 25,000.
This long, enclosed and wearable towel is the perfect project to give new life to tired towels. Great for coming straight home from the pool or the beach without getting changed and ideal for when you need to discreetly change out of your bathers somewhere public. Treat you or your family with a practical addition to the beach bag this summer that will both reduce waste and save you money. Using the towels from the back of your cupboard, or some bright-coloured or patterned towels picked up in an op shop, this wearable beach towel means the kids can stay in the water for longer. And with enough room to be able to get changed within it, accidentally exposing yourself is a thing of the past.
When it comes to fermented drinks, most people think kombucha or water kefir, but good old-fashioned ginger beer can be just as beneficial for gut health and really easy to make yourself. It might seem unintuitive, but the link between fermentation and good health is bacteria. And they’re everywhere, from the start of a fermentation process to the insides of your stomach, and responsible not only for digesting things inside our intestines, but things outside them, too. Not content with breaking down our food for digestion, bacteria reduces it into molecules more easily absorbed by our bodies: this is called bioavailability. Besides that, the microbial community makes vitamins, breaks up toxins and medicines, and strengthens our immune systems. All things which are a great advantage for our health and wellbeing.
For the love of good cutlery, we all need a hand-carved Swedish butter knife in our lives. And the best thing is you can carve your own smörkniv from trees growing in your garden. Hand-carved butter knives are strong, sturdy and a work of art. They range from simple, elegant forms through to animal-shaped spreaders with matching dishes. They’re relatively simple things to make with a few low-tech tools and you probably won’t need to go any further than your garden to gather all the materials you’ll need.
Helping vulnerable people access permaculture needs to be a priority. With one percent of humanity currently displaced and half of all refugees aged under 18, permaculture is the ‘difference that makes a difference’. The UN World Food Program has warned by the end of 2020, one in 30 people could be pushed to starvation. Credo Walola is a 12-year-old boy who has lived most of his life in a refugee camp in the far southwest of Uganda. Rwamwanja is home for over 70,000 refugees, mostly Congolese nationals like him. Life there is challenging and this year it has become even harder; schools have closed, food rations have halved and basic supplies are no longer reaching his camp. His friend, 15-year-old Salumu Itongwa, died a few weeks ago of blackwater fever.