Tag Archives: summer

Permies make passata

In the inner southern suburbs of Adelaide, a small group of permaculturalists have been gathering to experiment with artisanal food skills. From cheese-making to sourdough, they’ve been exploring and sharing the skills that make good food. To herald the end of summer, we sourced 180kg of tomatoes from local farmer’s markets and had a go at making passata. A 15-hour food preservation epic, our kitchens are now lined with long-necks filled with crushed tomatoes. This film is a little something I shot amid the spraying tomatoes and bubbling barrels.

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5×5: Australia/Survival Day

Another of my experiments with the 5×5 format (5 shots, 5 seconds each, using only background noise) from Adelaide’s Australia Day parade, celebrating the many cultures that make up our community.

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5×5: Summer Rain

Online film-making community Vimeo regularly sets ‘weekend projects’ for their members. Recently they invited participants to create a 5×5 (a 25-second film made of five 5-second shots) showing aspects of a daily routine. Here’s my attempt, shot on a steamy, brooding Saturday. I realised when I came to editing that I’d been gathering the pattern of events that occur in the lead-up to a downpour, things like frenzied ant activity, gusts of wind and creatures seeking shelter, all while the sky darkens until the rain finally comes.

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How to make fennel cordial

After acquiring a copy of Lynda Brown’s The Preserving Book, Jeremy promptly developed a rigorous program of regular DIY preserving workshops, hosted by our very own contender for South Australia’s smallest kitchen. (Despite its size, our kitchen’s generosity of spirit, if not space, seems infinite, with successful cheese-making workshops as well as daily cooking duties completed with cosyness and ease).

With a parade of syrups, cider, champagnes and cordials, the DIY Preserving Autodidactory program has been largely successful, although not always in the direction intended. Adapting one recipe for mint cordial, Jeremy also brought a selection of other herbs (fennel, lemon verbena) to test in the same proportions as the mint. The highlight, even better than the original mint, was fennel: sweet, punchy and ever-fresh.

Finished, homemade herbal cordials, complete with labels courtesy of Giles

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How to host a worm party, (or: making a worm farm that doesn’t incinerate the little beasts every summer)

Last summer in Adelaide seemed, yet again, to reach new heights for backyard devastation. We kept our chickens in shape with plenty of shade, periodic hosings-down and ice-blocks in their water. For worm farms however, it seemed to be pure apocalypse, with the black plastic barrels transforming entire civilisations of megadriles into a foul-smelling puree as the temperature climbed above 45 degrees Celsius.

When we recently visited Nirvana Organic Farm, farmer Deb Cantrill demonstrated her snazzy, lo-fi worm farm: an inground bucket, filled with holes. I remember my pal Jeremy describing a similar contraption as a “worm party”. The bucket, buried to its rim, is filled with food scraps and soil, and wild earthworms are free to come and go through the holes as they please, digging into the treats and redistributing the wealth of their castings into the surrounding garden bed. Because the bucket is buried (and the top can be covered with a terracotta pot), when the temperature goes up, the worms can retreat to the cool beneath the surface.

Unsuspecting cheese buckets, about to be transformed

When Sophie was a cheesemonger, she managed to accumulate an enviable collection of buckets that formerly held olives and cheese. We decided to use some of these to make our own experimental worm farm, and install it in our community garden patch.

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How to make fruit ices

The fruit ices in their improvised moulds, the left one has the cling wrap in place

For Christmas, Soph and I got Pete and Shani some rocket-shaped ice-block moulds, however, the modern permie-improviser doesn’t require moulds to discover the pleasures of frozen breakfasts, particularly when temperatures keep on climbing. My parent’s peach tree has been under attack by carpophilus beetles, so I came home with a bag of peaches drilled and half-mushed by the fiendish little invertebrates.

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Lizards in the laundry


The second of four days over 41 degrees Celsius. I was heading out to check on the chickens, and to refill their water, add ice-blocks and if necessary, give them a squirt with the hose. Apparently chickens don’t drink water outside a certain temperature range, so on a hot day, once their water gets too warm, they’ll simply stand, wings out, beaks hanging open, but unable to drink.

As I walked out through the laundry, I heard a slithering sound behind the washing machine. I look behind to find a blue-tongue lizard, medium-sized, one of two or perhaps even three that live in our yard. I don’t know whether even cold-blooded creatures need to seek solace from the heat, but I knew that if the cat discovered it, it might come off second best. I’d seen the Big blue-tongue that lives behind the shed up by the house a couple of days before, its back looked injured, like perhaps a cat or a dog had had a curious chew, and taken with it a mouth-sized patch of scales.

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