I SEE YOU

As always, you come to the end of the wave. The rush is over as the force dissipates beneath you, leaving you behind in the frothy surface. Hello..?

Making a decision to act can be a lot like surfing. I decide to go for it (whatever ”it” is), paddle hard, catch the wave, stand up, find my balance and try to adapt to the movement – until the wave throws me of or rolls away. A split second of uncertainty follows, then, sitting up on my board again I have this happy feeling in my body, telling me that I did after all surf that one. The ocean and the waves all look the same, repeating infinitely, but the feeling of success lingers.

Anyways.

It’s fun, comparing different parts of your life, different sides of your personality. I have just decided to act upon an old, hmm, instinct of mine? I’ve just pledged to become a regenerative small scale farmer. The feeling that I belong to the land, to the biosphere, and that I should devote my life to regenerating the ecosystems, it goes deeper then everything else. And so perhaps, perhaps using the word ”instinct” is correct.

After making the decision to become that person, the grower and the stewardess, I relax. I throw my fists in the air, let go of the wave and sink back into the ocean. Making a decision is hard work and I need a break. I read the news, read about different projects, read about what other people have accomplished. Mostly positive, solutions oriented stuff within the frame of climate change and how to address it. It’s nice to see what else is happening outside my little nomadic sphere of right now.

Suddenly, I can sense a shift. The warm fuzziness of achievement is evaporating and a sort of fearful nervousness is creeping into my emotions. Like a hunter I step back and watch, scouting this intruder. Grrrr… I lounge at it and pin it down. Ha!

Oh fear, fuck of! I see you. I SEE YOU. You’re here because I’ve made a decision to act on a small scale and you don’t think that’s good enough. We’ll let me tell you something, you’re wrong. Dead wrong. Because if I don’t start here, with something that I can manage without running myself over, I’m never going to be able to scale up this regenerative plan I’m holding.

Hey fear, I see you and I know you from before. You’ve been part of my decision making process for a long time, interrupting and pushing for unrealistic goals, or rather – pushing for super-fast achievement of huge goals.

E r r o r. Not. Possible.

Subconsciously I’ve been so afraid of not being enough. Of not doing enough. Of being that sucker who saw it all happening yet did nothing or too little to prevent all coming generations of life from suffering.

But how do we measure these things, our actions in relation to the health of the biosphere? We’re all different and can accomplish different things within our lifetime. I for one thought you had to go big or go home. That in the end what mattered surely wasn’t how much money you had in the bank but how much good you had done for The One & Only Planet. Did you save it? No? Shame on you!

But now…

My feelings regarding personal responsibility have changed, they’re still demanding but not overly so. I’m a human, a person who only knows so much, who only has the experience of my own life to count on, and who can no longer be fooled by myself into thinking that what I do is not enough.

I’m doing just fine, because I am doing all I can. Own it, Klara.

I’m trusting myself evermore as the years pass by. I read what I’ve written at different stages of my life and the core of it has always been the same. Help the planet. So why worry about not doing enough when clearly I’m devoting everything that I am to making that happen? Not tomorrow, but in the long run.

I can start small and keep evolving.

I will start small and keep evolving.

Adiós, fear, see you round. You’ve been very helpful in your own way.

Klaras odlarmanifest

Djupt inuti finns en stark kraft. Jag har alltid känt att det jag som människa ska göra är att ta hand om planeten. ”Hur då” har varit den ständigt ledsagande frågeställningen, och länge, länge har jag letat efter mitt eget sätt att vara en Bra Människa.

I olika omgångar har jag granskat mitt eget liv för att se var jag befinner mig och vart jag ska styra vidare. Jag listar de möjligheter jag kan se, sätter prioritet och agerar. Ramverket och målet är ett miljövänligt liv: Boende, kost, transport, energi, fritidsaktiviteter, men kanske framför allt – arbete. Vardagsval i all ära, min största påverkan tror jag ändå att jag har genom mitt yrkesval, och därför är det ett Mycket Viktigt Val. Borde jag bli politiker, forskare, lärare, biståndsarbetare, journalist eller jordbrukare?

En skön del av att leva och åldras är att tankar och känslor får tid att utvecklas och mogna. De senaste månaderna har jag återigen inventerat mina möjligheter och kommit fram till en ny insikt, och jag tror att jag kliver in i nästa fas i livet i detta nu.

Jag ska bli småbrukare. Jag ska odla mat och restaurera ekosystem. Det har tagit lång tid att komma överens med mig själv om detta, men nu är jag redo.

Tänker jag igenom de andra möjliga yrkesvalen så placerar de mig alla alltför långt från jorden och samtidigt alltför långt från mina egna etiska kriterier. Jag vill inte motarbeta mig själv. Jag har svårt att se att jag skulle vara nöjd om jag inte får vara med och skapa något verkligt, något att ta på, smaka på, njuta av. Jag älskar att arbeta med odling, kompost, träd, vattensystem, maskar, tång, grönsaker, jord… Ute är mitt inne på så många vis, och om jag får leva i jorden så tror jag att jag över tid kommer att bli allt det andra med, lärare och politiker, journalist och forskare. Jag kommer att göra det mycket bättre om jag grundar mig i jorden, som odlare, trädgårdsmästare och småbrukare. Det är på många sätt att vara aktivist, och det passar mig utmärkt.

//k

Farewell competitive freediving

One can only do so many things at one given time. To me that’s been a tough lesson to learn. I love keeping all my different ideas afloat, giving them a push every now and then and never quite saying no to the though of acting on them. It can be frustrating for those close to me and now I’ve come to terms with that it might actually be holding me back. For many years it was a functional and fruitful way of living, right now it’s not.

So.

I’ve decided to let one of my most long lived dreams go to rest: To be a professional freediver. To compete, get sponsorships and teach freediving. To have my life circling around the ocean through this sport.

I think that deep down it was never really something that I wanted to do, but the thought of it was so… alluring. To be that strong athlete, focused and calm, with a clear purpose.

After 14 years of on-and-off training and competing, ranking at best as 3rd in the world, participation in five world championships, setting Swedish records, completing dozens of competition dives and thousands of training dives, I’m now officially saying farewell to the arena of competitive freediving.

Just as freediving once was key to setting me free and setting me apart, giving me that edge I so strongly needed, it is now keeping part of me hostage. I want to keep diving, I just want to undo my ties to the competitive side. If the thought of training for another word championship is going to keep popping up in my mind, I’m going to keep toying with that idea, putting my energy into the field of freediving, when what I really want to do right now is to root myself even more in my chosen field of work as a food-growing gardener and steward of resilient ecosystems.

Thank you all, it’s been a splash, and I could never ever have done it without you 🦀

You can always invite me along as your mascot 🐙

The Chaltén Massif in Patagonia

It rains in our alpine paradise. Where yesterday the sky was blue and the evening had a golden glow, a light drizzle is now hanging in the air. We hide inside and try to make smart plans, skimming info from all other climbers we can find, turning the pages of the guide book back and forth. This route maybe, or this?

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We’re abruptly figuring out just how many factors we must take into account when planning what granite spire to (try to) climb. In Patagonia the weather that matters is not just if it’s sunny or rainy. It’s winds and temperatures and days of sun vs days of rain. It’s the aspect of the rockface, the depth of the cracks, the amount of ice and snow, the temperature of the rock, the humidity of the air. Is the approach over a glacier or in skree? Can you rappel the route or will you be going down an unknown face? Will your gear freeze up? Can you back of anywhere should the weather turn bad? Do you walk in and set up camp closer to the spires, or is it more efficient to do a monster day from town all the way up a mountain and back down again in one push?

From El Chaltén we can se the spires of Fitz Roy and friends soaring high, a dreamy skyline of grey, brown and white. That is, if it’s not raining. And most of the time Fitz Roy is clad in clouds anyway, being a tower that creates its own weather system. It’s original name, Chaltén, means ”the humid mountain”. (It wasn’t until 1899 that someone proved the mountain wasn’t just a volcano, spewing out smoke).

Tim and I have no intention of trying to climb this famous mountain. We don’t have the skills not the equipment or the time to do it. Plus, when I look at the full Fitz Roy range and my eyes come to rest on Poincenot I know that’s the one. That’s the most beautiful of them all. I wanna be an ice princess, climbing and hacking my way up that spire! It’s so clean, it’s lines so neat. Another year, perhaps. One can never have to many dreams…

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To achieve a dream it’s a good idea to go about it all in small steps. I know that I need to keep on practicing my climbing skills on both rock and ice to be able to competently and safely make my way up those beautiful high walls. This time around we will therefor first try our luck on smaller peaks like Guillaumet, De L’s and Medialuna. Some 500 meters of climbing in proper icy alpine conditions is enough for now. I’ll save my first vertical kilometer for later. The approaches alone will be strenuous, with tens of kilometers of walking up sandy trails to thalus slopes and over glaciers, 8 hours or more one way.

It all sounds like a very fun day or two in the mountains, non?

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Ah. The alpine paradise. Patagonia. The Chaltén massif, home of Cereo Fitz Roy, Cerro Torres and other beauties. It’s a true pleasure being here in this real world Narnia. You see, it’s not just the mountains which are special, it’s the whole scenery with gnarly old southern beech wood trees, a gazillion of yellow flowers on spiky bushes, a blue green glacial river snaking the bottom of the U-valley below us and condors soaring above our heads. It’s a drop dead beautiful place. If we get to climb, that’s great. If not, we’ll happily enjoy the natural magic.

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//Your little andinista

Ihop, alltid, jämt, ständigt ihop.

Det här med att resa med sin partner, att sova ihop, vakna ihop, äta frukost ihop, klättra, surfa, vandra, wwoofa eller göra någonting annat ihop, äta lunch ihop, äta middag ihop, hitta på något på lediga dagar och kvällar ihop, somna ihop – det är en väldans massa tid, IHOP.

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Jag och Tim lever hela tiden på och runt varandra under resan, och det går bra, det går till och med över förväntan. Jag trodde att jag skulle få spel och vara tvungen att säga hej svejs i en vecka då och då och klampa iväg för att få tid för mig själv, men hittills har det räckt med ett par dagar eller ett dygn mol alena för att sedan känna att jag saknar min andra hälft. Det är ett bra betyg för en relation det!

Jag tror att om vi hade rest på samma sätt för ett par tre år sedan så hade det varit svårare, men nu har vi ändå varit tillsammans i hela sex år och vi har stött och blött alla små vardagskonflikter redan innan vi for iväg. Vi har så mycket mer tålamod med varandra nu än i början, och det gör en jädrans stor skillnad för kvalitén på den här resan. Istället för att snäsa av varandra eller tycka att den andre är klumpig, klantig eller gör något dumt har vi båda ett par sekunders omedveten betänketid inlagd vilket gör att vi oftast hinner vända tanken från ”klantskalle” till ”stackare” när den andre spiller ut kaffe eller glömde köpa ägg eller missar att tvätta ens strumpor i tvätt-o-maten…

Vi har alltså blivit väldigt bra på vardag ihop! Det får en ju inte möjlighet till på samma vis hemma, där 8-9 timmar är arbetstid, plus resa till och från jobb, och sedan är det någon sorts fritidsaktivitet vilket vi i och för sig ofta gör ihop – ex klättrar – men ändå. Säg att vi en vanlig vecka á 7x24h=168h delar upp dagarna på:

  • Sömn, 7h
  • Jobba plus ta sig till/från jobbet, 10h
  • Laga och äta mat, 2h
  • Leka, 3h
  • Fixa och dona hemma, 2h

==> Max 7h om dagen i tillsammanstid. Jämför det med att vi nu alltid hinner sova 8h per natt men därefter umgås i princip alla andra timmar på dygnet, et voilá, 7h vs 16h är rätt stor skillnad.

Jo, vi har ju också tagit bort den allra mesta vardagsstressen genom att vara på resande fot. Det är ytterst få mail som ska besvaras eller samtal som ska ringas. Vi har inga släktingar att besöka och bara några få vänner som vi bestämmer något med utmed resan. Inga deadlines, inga riktiga måsten.

Haha! Living the good life!

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Climbing in the Bugaboos

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Bugaboos. Bugaboos! Granite spires in all directions. Glaciers melting into streams. Frozen lakes and thawing ones. People dressed in colorful outdoor gear with helmet compatible hoods and crampons dangling in their hands as they come back into camp. Toilet huts built on site from granite blocks, with a view of the Bugaboo spire itself. Small patches of grass and slow growing green cushions flowering with purple, red and white beauties.

It’s magic. I didn’t know much before we came up here, not about the size of it not the natural splendor. It’s so freakin beautiful! I thought, granite – I like climbing granite. Mountains – I like climbing mountains. I love the view, the bird perspective, the far away from everything feeling and the fact that you can only trust yourself and your partner to stay alive. We are climbing safely, but the days are long ones, with approaches, climbs and rappels leading us into 8-15 hour adventures. Active days. Full on days.

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Climbers descending the col at night, with Snowpatch on the left and Bugaboo on the right.

Beep, beep, beep! 5 or 6 AM, not super early but still early… We eat porridge and drink coffee in the morning, pack our gear, water and snacks: Nuts, bars, boiled eggs, carrots, then head into the alpine environment to practice mountaineering. Trudging up the steep snow to the col between Bugaboo and Snowpatch takes us about an hour, then we keep on walking over the glacier to the beginning of our chosen route. Gearing up with harnesses, ropes and trad racks, stashing crampons and ice axes for the return, or packing them to go. The person on the sharp end of the rope begins the ascent of the first pitch and the rock climbing is on. Through cracks, flakes, blocks and slabs we go, up, up and away.

Ah! It’s good to be here, amongst silent rock giants and moaning glaciers, with people whom you appreciate and love. The hours pass without us noticing. Already 3PM? Huh. We climb on. Some days we’re back at 6PM, some at 9PM. We boil water and eat freeze dried food. Devour it, hungry after many hours of pushing ourselves mentally and physically. Our tents stand on a hard granite surface at the Appelbee Dome camping. When the chit chat and planning for the next day slows down we brush our teeth and crawl into our sleeping bags, hide from the wind inside the thin tent walls. The camping is a silent one, most people wanting to go to sleep early and rest well before the next day’s undertaking.

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There’s a mental simplicity underlining the time spent up here. There are no cafés to go to, no food to shop for, nowhere to drive, no computer screen telling the state of the world. When we are up here, we are separated from the normal everyday life. It makes a difference even for us, Tim and I, who for now are living like nomads. Though it can be straining to be up here, to carry those 35 kilos on our backs when walking in and to push up to summits 3000 meters high most days, the simplicity balances the effort made.

Then comes a resting day. No alarm goes of. When the sun hits the tent it gets to warm in the down sleeping bag and we crawl out. Get water. Boil it. Make coffee. Stretch. Eat. Swim. Talk about stuff, life, adventures, getting older. We’re still looking for what to do with our lives. Acknowledge that this is a pretty good way of spending a week. It feels longer, with a string of new strong memories binding each moment together. This place, magic.

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IMG_7342For me, still struggling to fully get back from my knee injury, these days have made me smile. A lot. I could walk uphill for 4,5 km, gaining 950 meters of altitude, with a stupidly heavy backpack on my shoulders – and the knee felt good!

I could hike up the col with crampons and axe, walk the glacier, then simulclimb the Westridge to the Pigeon Spire and reverse the whole thing – and the knee still felt good!

I could hike up to the foot of the Crescent Spires, lead a 5.6 called Lions Way, scramble down a scree-turn-to-snow-slope – and the knee was not even on my mind!

I could climb an 8 pitch 5.9 called Wildflowers and really go for it as a team together with Tim, leading every second pitch. Most memorable was leading the last, strange 5.9 to just below the summit, stemming and pinching and jamming my way up flaky grooves, slowly formed through endless weathering of the hard granite. I lost my way in all the different flared cracks. It turned into a 5.10. Still, I pulled myself together and got through. Proud, thirsty and tired. And guess what, the knee still felt bomber.

If I would ever get injured again, I’d do the same thing. Rehab. Hang in there. Then get back into nature ASAP and let it work it’s magic. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I did my ACL surgery, another six months and all the nerves that can grow back will have done so. Then I’m gonna be ridiculously strong, because right now I’m STRONG.

Ah.

 

Be the change?

Writing. An activity best undertaken alone. But I am not alone. And so I write only short stories, jotting down thoughts from the small events shaping my everyday experience. These are valuable little texts, nuggets of information telling the story of who I am right now.

In between all of those texts I guess there’s a larger picture to be found, but it annoys me a bit that I’m not writing about that too.

The medium of Instagram, which is my main channel for now, is helpful and limiting at the same time. It’s contemporary in its essence, speedy and fast, forever flowing with new input, new pictures, new stories. I like that flow, like to stay in touch with all these different minds sharing parts of themselves through photos and texts.

But.

It’s just that I also set out on this journey with the intention to write. A lot. Long pieces providing my view on stuff like permaculture, urban food production and regenerative agriculture. Where are those texts hiding? Do I have anything to say? I wish not to speak what I have to say but to write it, to provide for a timescale which allows a maturing process to take place. I thought I would have more space for theses weaving, organic, interconnecting thoughts than I currently do, and so it bothers me a bit. I feel like I’m not doing my part.

At the same time, I couldn’t care less. Each day spent in nature gives me so much. Each day melting occurs inside me, layer after layer of ethically induced intentions dripping away. I’m shedding thoughts, not knowing what will be found underneath. It’s a deconstructing process, becoming aware of which ideas that are truly mine and which have been given to me through a cultural indoctrination. Who am I but a simple human being? Who am I but a person living? Who am I to believe I have opinions worth voicing and pushing forth?

I grew tired of Klara the Orator. She had to be always witty, clever, informed and charming. She gave hope to those who were looking for alternatives but she gave too much.

Now she has become an everyday philosopher, pursuing her ideals through writing while hiding in the open, gorging herself with a high intake of Nature. It seems to be working quite well. It feels good.

Is that because there is no home ground to bounce of from again and again? No constant that pleases or disturbs me? Nothing I feel that it is my job to take care of?
The ever-changing nature of the nomadic pattern is very forgiving in the sense that the only constants are created by me and my traveling companions. What food we eat, what time we get up, how many days we climb vs rest. Being on the road I am confined to a small bubble. Sure, we relate to the outside world all the time but we are mere visitors in the places we come to. We have no means to interact on any deeper level.

And so, something is shifting and changing inside me. I’m not sure I recognize myself, but I am aware that it has been my intention for a few years now to slow down and be a bit less aggressive. The pace I used to have had served its purpose, and now I have yet to become familiar with the Klara of today.

In the periphery of my mind I can sense that I’m worried that I won’t be enough when slowing down. That I won’t accomplish good things. That my life will flow away and leave me behind, working on some mundane task better suited for a non-philosopher who has less ambition to be a change maker.

Maybe it’s the feeling of loosing your purpose. Not that I feel fully lost, I’m just stumbling while looking to find the right path. I’m in the area of knowledge where I want to be: Horticulture, geology, ecology, but how do I want to manifest the work I can do? Gardening? Project managing? Guiding? Farming? Studying?

Trying to make a mind map figuring out the options I get frustrated. It’s like I don’t want to want all these different things anymore. It’s fucking complicated being a curious mind. I just want to dig in and do good, but w h e r e? This is when it would be good to have a mentor or someone else to pick the dilemma apart with and then put it back together in a slightly different order. I like the thinking, the questioning, the twisting and turning, but it needs to leed somewhere.

Here I am, sitting on a balcony of a small alpine hut in the middle of the Rockies. Taking the day of from the others, spending time with myself. Giving space for the kind of thinking that I used to occupy myself with back home much more frequently, but now thinking ”What good is it?”

Why do I try to think about what to do in April next year when it’s only July? Because I’m me. This is who I am, who I’ve been. Maybe I’m changed, maybe not. Maybe when coming home I’ll drop right back into being the same person as when I left, but I don’t think so and I don’t hope so.

This journey, I want for it to change me. Why else make it happen?

 

Once upon a time back in Violet Town…

Murrnong Farm. Hmm. Where to begin? Let’s tell it like a saga!

Once upon a time, way Down Under, there was a young man looking for a piece of land for himself and his lady. Not just a house with a garden, but a place where you could be and that you could live from. He wanted to create something, to get his hands dirty and just do it, do all those things that people were talking about if you listened in on the alternative scene of the day. He wanted to build a house, to grow food, to keep animals, to plant trees and keep bees and all other things that are part of a self-sufficient-and-beyond kind of farming ecosystem. Why only think about it, when you can act? And so the young man went out on a search for a Good Spot.

In Violet Town, a small place of some 650 inhabitants, he came across an old paddock. The rectangular 8 hectares had some good soil for tree growing and sat just at the edge of the village. It was close enough to a community but still provided space and privacy to do your own thing. Hm. Yes. This was it, this was the place. He just enough money to buy the piece of land, and to build a water storage pond. Bingo!

Murrnong map

So began the story of Murrnong Farm, by now a small and constantly evolving piece of land on this Earth.

The young man set about implementing all his ideas and skills, and step by step the transformation took place. What was once a plain cropping or pasture paddock (and maybe cultivated for the murrnong yam daisy before that?) turned into an interconnected system featuring humans, chooks, goats, cat, bees, birds, fruit trees, olive trees, trees for timber, nut trees, shrubs, perennials, kitchen gardens, buildings, water tanks, sheds, machines, ladders, tools, storage, irrigation and fertigation, and much, much more. All these different elements played their own parts at the farm, working together in the symphony of life, co-creating diversity and abundance.

At first the place had looked to some like a mad person’s project, with a bunch of built structures and a few young trees, but as the years passed the maturing system claimed its rightful status as a Proper but Different Farm. Things were really taking off, growing and multiplying and diversifying. As well as feeding the farm household, surplus food was now being rolled out from the former paddock, getting sold at markets on Saturdays. And hey, providing food is what farming is ultimately about, eh?

While the farm was developing, the young man and his lady had two children together but later went separate ways. The children of the farm grew into clever young adults. The young farming man grew into a wise man. All was good at Murrnong, almost. For the wise man, something was still missing in the human puzzle. A loving connection to a partner, another person with whom to share life and all in it. He found it, lost it, found it, lost it… Meanwhile people came to stay at the farm, to learn from hands-on work how a permaculture system can be shaped and maintained. Some were older, most were young. Once there was this one woman, she had something special… then, like other helpers, she went away to continue her life elsewhere. Nothing had happened, but an imprint was left with the wise man.

A few years later he saw news of the woman on the Book of Faces on the internet. ”You look nice in this picture!” he wrote, and that was the start of a long, long conversation. It ended with the woman marrying the wise man and moving Down Under to his Proper but Different Farm. Love. Yes. Yes! Now they were two, one wise man and one wise woman. Life on the farm kept rolling with the seasons, crops came and went, helpers came and went.

The wise woman had a connection to another young woman, who was out travelling the world with her partner. They were researching stuff, like permaculture and agroecology. The couple asked if they could come help out at the farm. Was there a need for more hands, for more skills, for more energy? Always, the answer came, and so they drove their little van to the farm.

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Two weeks flew by while moving goats, pruning trees, harvesting olives, chopping wood, mending broken things, making jam, cooking food etc. The couple jumped in with the rest of the current team, working away and thoroughly enjoying whatever they were doing (except when the young woman lured her partner into milking a goat, which he really wasn’t that keen on…). It felt good, deep down on the inside, to be a temporary part of the Murrnong Farm. It felt good to live the shimmering dream of a farming lifestyle and feel content, happy. Then again, it was time to move on.

The wise man and the wise woman were sad to see the young couple continuing onwards, but gave them good food and warm hugs and put them on a train. At Murrnong Farm, people come and people go, so it is.

Maybe one day, the right people will show up, the ones who will want to permanently move into the cob house where the young couple had been sleeping for some nights. Maybe one day the wise ones will have a second nucleus, a second home, forming at the farm, providing skills and stability, furthering the resilience.

I hope so.

The End.

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My preferred kind of ”office”

When I give in to my love for the land and just open up to the possibility of working on it, in it, with it, I feel so strong. So calm. So happy. So relaxed. So clever. So in the right place.

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All these positive emotions are pronounced and enhanced when the land I’m on is also geared towards food production, not just food for humans but for the ecosystem, hence a cyclic approach. There seems to me little point in farming a landscape unless you make sure that you over time enrich the soil biota, the carbon stored, the living mass above ground, the water cleaning structures etc. Mind you, I’m not arguing that all landscapes should or could be foodscapes with an output suitable for humans, its simply the version which happens to be my preferred kind of ”office”.

Back home, working as a gardener at Gothenburg Botanical Garden, I’ve had the chance to learn more about the skill of taking good care of plants which are not necessarily well suited for your climate. Being a living plant museum, there is so much information stored in the trees, shrubs, herbs, bulbs and tubers which are growing there. In a limited space such as this garden, there is no room for large scale ideas, and so most species have but a few individuals representing them, and we are all collectively pampering them as best we can. There is no special
focus on food, since the focus for a botanical garden by default is on maintaining a gene bank – and to present it in a beautiful and interesting way. I can totally roll with that, I think it’s a valid and useful raison d’être, but it took me some thinking to get there. During this long journey I’ve made a point out of visiting other botanical gardens and to talk with different staff members, and this has really helped furthering my understanding of the ”why, how, who, where and when” kind of questions related to my own judgement of the validity of preserving plant material in the setting of a botanical garden. I’m even more proud now than before of the place as a whole and of the work done back home in the garden in Gothenburg.
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Switching back to looking at gardening as a way of providing food, the strategy needs to be a bit different. At a farm, even at a place like Murrnong Farm (where Tim and I are working/wwoofing right now) which is based on the principles of permaculture, diversity will in a way be limited. A farms primary reason must be to provide food, or else it will not be able to continue. You can’t acquire the energy needed to maintain and regenerate your farm (and yourself and everyone else feeding from it) if you dilute the calorific outcome by going all in on diversity. Yes, diversity is key to allowing for anomalies in weather and it’s consequences, e.g. droughts, pests, frosts, floods a.s.o., but be mindful: how will you cope with the myriad of outputs that your farm system will deliver if you are putting diversity too high on the wish list? You can of course find and use many different seed sources within the same species or graft many different varieties of the same fruit tree, because that allows you to work with a meaningful and wide enough diversity. Step too far beyond that, and you might loose sight of the food. If you can’t be efficient enough, your not a viable farmer.

I do enjoy working in the diversity of the botanical garden, because the site is such a great teacher, and of course there are many skilled gardeners and others to ask for advice and information. I feel that everything I learn there will at some point come in handy again. There’s no regretting signing up for a couple of seasons there instead of going of to work at a farm. I’ve learnt through life to value all learning opportunities, you just have to zoom out to understand in what area these opportunities take place. For example, cleaning the husks of from hundreds of nuts last season after my colleagues brought back a batch of North American nut species was a perfect intro to now cleaning hundreds of walnuts and pecans grown for food here at the Murrnong farm. Honing your skills is not something that requires you to constantly be in the same kind of setting, for cross pollination can potentially bring you so much further. All kinds of experiences and skills count, as long as you can live with the fact that you don’t always know when you’ll be able to use them next time.

For me, I can truthfully say that I have a wide and broad range of skills listed on my internal CV. Not all of them seem relevant to a potential employer, but to me they are. So on paper I narrow it down to what’s applicable right now, and of I go.

I am a gardener. I am a food grower. I might one day be a farmer.

 

Äventyr, Research – och Tänkande

När jag drömde ihop den här resan tillsammans med Tim så hade jag en tydlig vision om att jag ville skapa utrymme för två olika delar:
1. Äventyr: Att klättra, fridyka, surfa mm.
2. Research: Att jobba på småbruk och gårdar för att lära mer om permakultur, agroekologi och regenerativt jordbruk.

Jag såg de två delarna som en bra mix av vem jag är, tjejen som ville bli äventyrare när hon var 20 men som inte kunde med för att det var för egoistiskt, och tjejen som älskar naturen och som försöker hitta ett sätt att arbeta mitt i den för att vara med och återuppbygga våra ekosystem.

Det visade sig dock ganska kvick att jag hade glömt att definiera en tredje och minst lika viktig del. Kanske borde jag ha vetat och noterat det redan innan avfärd, men jag var så fokuserad på görandet. Det jag glömde var mitt mer allmänna behov för Tänkande. Att få ta mig tid att insupa och fundera över geologi, vattenvägar, alla sorters växter och djur, mänsklig kultur, landskap mm. Jag ägnar alltid en stor del av min tankeverksamhet åt att observera och reflektera, och ibland blir en ju så att säga hemmablind.
Jag tänkte inte på hur viktigt det är för mig att ha utrymme att få tänka.

En ny formulering för vad denna resa handlar om kan således summeras med Äventyr, Research och Tänkande.

Eftersom detta böljande tänkande sker lika automatiskt i mig som att jag andas hela vägen ner i magen, så har det klivit in och tagit sin naturliga plats utmed hela resan gång. Det gillar jag! Jag har hunnit tänka j ä t t e m y c k e t. Nästa del av tänkandet är att också formulera det i tal och skrift för att dela tankarna med andra. Det har varit många långa samtal de senaste veckorna, och så småningom kommer de att ge liv åt nya texter.

Jag är glad för att de olika delarna balanserar varandra, vi har visserligen haft större utrymme för äventyr och tänkande än för research, men nu är vi på väg mot en gård för att tillbringa våra sista veckor i Australien med att plocka oliver, mjölka getter, rensa odlingsbäddar och allt annat som hör till en höst i detta klimat. Eftersom jag aldrig tidigare har varit här så ser jag fram emot att få lära mer!

Jag längtar efter att få vara mitt i ett grönsaksland eller bland träd, längtar efter att få använda mina händer för att hjälpa något att växa. Jag är trädgårdsmästare, eller snarare lärling. Det finns så mycket kunskap och erfarenhet att få fatt i, och jag älskar att när jag befinner mig i rollen som trädgårdsmästare så är jag rätt bra på att glömma bort det där med prestation och istället hänge mig åt den tydliga uppgiften framför mig. Rensa morötterna. Beskär fruktträdet. Dubbelgräv landet. Skörda salladen.

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