Our Living World is Dying
Stacey Worman, 2006-2007 Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellow
Date: September 15, 2006
To: Undisclosed recipients
Re: Andrew, Jane, and Emma....
"How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way" -- Anon
Originally from the suburbs of London , a job opportunity relocated Jane and Andrew to New Zealand in 1989. After two years, they jumped across the "pond" to their current location in North-Eastern Australia's Wet Tropics, purchasing a 119 acre block of partly-cleared rainforest. Surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest, they have spent the past 14 years living on the landscape lightly to provide them with their basic needs.
To this end, they've developed a permaculture system.
(Permaculture; permanent agriculture; concept first developed in the 1970s in Tasmania by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. It means thinking carefully about your environment, your use of resources, and how you supply your needs. And it aims to create systems that will sustain not only present but also future generations).
They have installed alternative energy systems on their property (solar, hydro, and wind), providing them with their own power and allowing them to enjoy modern luxuries like lights, computers, the internet, television, and a washing machine. Having their own tanks to collect rain water, their self-sufficient lifestyle was given its ultimate test last March, when Cyclone Larry blew through (a storm more powerful than Hurricane Katrina!); while much of the rest of the local town was left without power and utilities for three weeks, they were unaffected and able to carry on with their lives as usual (except for the ominous task of clearing fallen debris).
With Andrew's help, Jane has been developing their beautiful and entirely edible orchard and garden, supplying them with the organic produce necessary to live healthy lives. Their system is continuously evolving through a process of experimentation, as the couple learns more about which plants thrive in their environment. Soon, it should be an entirely self-sustaining system, requiring little maintenance and further outside inputs.
Jane (aka "Many Leaves") shares their lifestyle with others; she had a five minute show on the local radio station called "Many Leaves" for five years, and currently writes articles for Australia 's Grass Roots magazine. Her biggest passion is seed saving and seed sharing, a crucial practice in our world where plant biodiversity is rapidly and severely lost through commercial agricultural practices (The gene pool of traditional food varieties shrinks at the rate of 2.5% per year and in the last century 75% of garden varieties have disappeared (source: FAO State of the World Report 2000)).
The most recent addition to their lives is little Emma. Just two years old, she is enjoying a rich childhood, close to nature. She loves feeding the chooks, picking fresh mulberries, and eating beans, tomatoes and edible greens straight from the garden; Emma's a happy child, finding enjoyment from the simple things in life. She's always smiling! Jane regularly takes her to the local playgroup to meet other toddlers. She is already leading a life with a small environmental footprint, using cloth nappies (diapers) instead of disposables.
Jane, Andrew, and Emma live in a world where everything has a purpose, from the weeds in their garden (which they compost) to the food that they eat. The most important thing that they have...and...the only thing they really need? "Time to spend together ."
"I can't change the world, but I can do my little bit and look after my little corner of it." -- Jane
"To make a difference, you have to lead by example. We are proof that it does, and can, work." -- Andrew