|WICKEPIN, Western Australia, Australia
(projects i'm involved in)
I was a child of German immigrants. I grew up with people from many cultures migrating to or already in Australia, who carried many interesting skills, beliefs, pride and prejudices. The family traveled from Melbourne through aboriginal territory to settle in a small town in the Pilbara WA, where despite social injustices, racism and rampant alcoholism many people grew food, the fishing was good and the environment beautiful. Despite a breakup in my parents marriage when I was 4 I never felt poverty. The land was rich and people generous. I remember many good nights of celebration, music and food such as that from a hungi made by Maori farm workers when the farm owner killed a pig.
My mother worked many jobs including teaching pottery and gardening. By the time I was 9 I was quite good at cooking and had developed an interest in what was grown as much as a drive to discover what other cultures offered as food. We moved south to Fremantle when I was 11 to a place next door to Italians who farmed crayfish, had vegetables and a shed with chickens. This appealed to me more than what most my age did and I developed an interest in seeds, plus they didn't mind my hens and roosters running free range through a section of my yard, and I became a regular visitor at my local community garden center where David Holmgren visited and spoke of permaculture when I was a teenager, groups I casually eavesdropped on while browsing seeds and seedlings.
I became involved in handing out pamphlets in my early teens to protest against animal testing and nuclear testing and watched media on the worst famines of Africa, caused through agricultural malpractice as much as natural disaster. When at 17 a relative offered to pay my ticket overseas to meet the family I took the opportunity and also worked my way around to see other countries and cultures, and spent almost a year traveling abroad before returning to Australia and doing some traveling around the country I called home. During this, on a visit where I grew up, I witnessed there had been a lot of environmental loss in the time I had been away.
In 1987 a ban was declared on importing corn seed into Western Australia which ignited my desire to save what I grew myself. I watched over the following 2 decades as 20 varieties on offer turned into 2, and now more bans and a costly fee to import any seed, but still save my own. I moved to the country in the early 90's with my partner of the time, but with relationship issues ended up moving back to the city to be nearer my mother with my children. I studied various science fields, created a food garden (including chickens which also provided meat until councils ruled roosters no longer welcome) and worked for over a decade in a smallgoods butcher while my children were growing before moving back to the country. I now own the place I used to rent 20 years ago. I again witnessed the devastation over time and changes in place that I believe are not good. But "my" trees have grown and I am using my skills to create something that will be wonderful to me. People are starting to take notice and while solitary I am happy to give advice. I am still evolving but what I have been doing is practicing permaculture all along.