Fuck Urban Gardens – shriekingviolet – March 15

In Victoria, there was an addictions recovery resource center located in the midst of a fairly classy downtown shopping area. Its location in the downtown core was ideal for the city’s marginalized and homeless, it was very accessible and saw a lot of use. This caused no end of frustration to the local community business association, the presence of obviously impoverished people is bad for the image of the area. And that’s bad for business. Across the street from the resource center was a small undeveloped gravel lot, it was a popular space to stop outside the center to smoke and socialize. This too was part of the success of the center, it’s absolutely necessary for that kind of place to have somewhere people can smoke, and the sidewalks were narrow and unsuitable as Victoria is full of stuck up health yuppies and punishing civic bylaws.

The business association brought a proposal to the city: they wanted to give back to the community, and contribute to the beauty of such a lovely city. How kind of them! They wanted to build a community garden. What an excellent idea! They received approval from the city, and the business association reached out to various affluent leftist groups in the area to help with the project: the organic growers guild, student groups on campus, that sort of thing. They all loved the idea, community gardens are fantastic! It’s good to see corporate types contributing to the community, maybe they’re not so bad after all. On the empty lot, they built a beautiful garden.

Of course, a garden needs to be sheltered so that things can grow, so they built a fence around it. And we can’t have cigarette buts polluting the soil, so littering was vigilantly and harshly penalized. Gradually, due to the lack of a socialization space and the increased presence of cops and clueless do-gooder students who want to feel safer, attendance at the center declined. The local business association came forward with another proposal: the current location for the addictions recovery center wasn’t very popular anymore, but they had a larger place further out of town that they would generously lease for cheaper. The city thought this was an excellent cost saving measure for a program that had mysteriously declined in effectiveness.

They moved their offices, and now if you want to get to the center from downtown (where all their people are) you have to take the incredibly expensive Victoria transit system. The place is always practically empty. On the old downtown block, the business association is very happy.

Kill hippies.


Fuck Intersectionality and bell hooks – dryads playing dyads – Feb 15

bell hooks’ notion of intersectionality is not only a complete failure, it actually functions completely opposite the way she intended it; it revolutionizes capitalism, reproducing capitalist relations directly into the political sphere.

what is derisively referred to as “identity politics” (using this term because i really dont know what else to call it, maybe “the postmodernist social justice movement”?) is a perfect example. inersectionality is the answer to a contradiction of postmodernism: there is effectively no “objective” reality because all we have access to are a multitude of subjective perspectives. how can we have social justice, how can we fight oppression as a vast multitude of individual subjectivities without a single “objectively” correct universal to unite us?

So again intersectionality is the answer to this problem. It displaces the contradiction to a discursive process of discourse – I’ll explain. Kyriarchy is a field of different oppressions, all interwoven (connected) with each other through intersectionality. In this way, someone can simultaneously be in the role of both the oppressor and the oppressed; furthermore, this is also true within the same field of oppression as in, for example, patriarchy, where a woman can be both the target of misogyny and also a misogynist herself (by internalizing patriarchy).

The genius of this move is that it frees us of the oppressive “objectivity” of dominant discourse (for example, men are “objectively” gay – which is a bad thing, of course – if they don’t adhere to certain behavioral norms). In place of this objectivity, we instead have subjective interpretations – but that’s not all. At this level, we can quickly discern a reemergence of “objectivity”, for example in cases of bi erasure: gay and lesbian people saying a bisexual couple, a man and a woman, are “really just straight” because they aren’t acting gay enough – or, to put it in jargon, even though they are (or claim to be) bisexual, they nonetheless benefit from straight privilege.

It’s here, though, that the true brilliance of intersectionality enters: not only is (the pretense of) objectivity supplanted by subjectivity – in a final move, this subjectivity itself is made to be reflexive and discursively performative. What this means is that in place of objective (social) truth, we have a subjective perspective on what is perceived as truth that is aware of its limitation (that it is only an interpretation, not “objectively” correct), and which is simultaneously a process of collective enactment – the social justice movement is nothing but the endlessly-changing, ongoing (“performative”) process of the self-identifications of each individual (individual people and individual communities) within it discursively distributed into a social network. This is why “the personal is political”: your self-identification is a performative process that doesn’t happen in isolation, it’s inherently political; if you are able, you need to call out oppression when you see, it fight against it – in the fight against kyriarchy, pain is inevitable and the most marginalized are the most vulnerable, so if at all possible we should all raise our voice against it to do our part for the benefit of others, especially in cases of intersectionality.

As I said, this is brilliant. Why should we accept it, though? The end result of this (I hate using the word like this, but it fits) paradigm of intersectionality is a continuous struggle of self-overcoming: the way to overcome oppression is through struggle (the more liberal-oriented of course restrict “conflict” to mean debate, petitions, protests, votes, etc), and this holds true for internal conflicts as well. How, then, do we decide among ourselves if something one of us said is oppressive in some way? Through debate – discussion, sometimes, if possible, but ultimately the option of debate (or argument; or even physical violence in leftist groups) has to be left open, because someone with good intentions who doesn’t feel outright argument is warranted can still think and say horribly oppressive things. This brings us to the question of outliers: what if you or you and your community, disagree with what is currently the predominant ideology of the social justice movement (for example, me in disagreement with the overwhelming majority of liberal privilege-checkers on tumblr)? The answer is conflict, which could result in simple disagreement and the decision “to each their own”, or it could just as easily turn into a nasty, bitter conflict, as happens sometimes on tumblr and twitter, with thousands of people dropping by to leave you with insults (as a rule, including some formulation of the word “privileged”). This form of conflict is characteristic of the performative, discursive ideology of the social justice movement: the predominant ideology is not a consensus, but the moment-to-moment, “organic” result of the inner conflicts of its individual members (individual people and individual social groups).

What else can we think of that is performatively-discursively constituted, which requires constant, indefinite self-revolutionizing to sustain itself, necessarily leading to vicious boom/bust cycles resulting in social unrest? It looks like capitalism, and acts like capitalism, but this shouldn’t fool us: it really is capitalism! (…or rather, the direct [re]production of capitalist social relations in the political domain [as opposed to the economic].)

ps don’t use “dumb”, it’s a slur.

also bell hooks thinks having a vagina magically turns someone into a woman. lol

Schoddey & Poor: The Right Wing Think Tank & The Neopets ‘Master Artisan’ – Petrol – Nov 14

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a right wing free market think tank that wields an incredible amount of influence in the Australian political scene. Literally incredible, because for an outfit that claims to be non-political and research-based, it’s laughably transparent and its output the opposite of rigorous.

The IPA was founded during WW2, and attracted the attention of the Commonwealth Security Service (Australia’s wartime security agency and forerunner of ASIO). They immediately and rightly recognised this union of capitalists as a ‘fascist mob’.

1943 news clipping about founding of IPA with title added by CSS. Source: IPA ASIO file

The IPA has always existed to wage political PR campaigns on behalf of its wealthy benefactors, and thus its campaigns have varied in focus over the years. In the 90s for instance, it drew opprobrium for a scare campaign, launched at the behest of mining companies, that tried to convince white Australia that indigenous land rights would mean not being able to visit your favourite beach. Around the same time, it was responsible for reports outlining the ‘Costs and Benefits of Smoking’. The IPA was publicly abandoned by some mining companies after the anti-land rights campaign was deemed to have gone too far, but they still work on behalf of embattled tobacco companies, railing against Australia’s plain packaging laws.

None of this would be particularly interesting but for the stature of the ‘Institute’ in political discourse. IPA researchers are not only regularly tapped for media comment as ‘experts’, they also regularly pen op-eds for both the Murdoch and Fairfax press (the only two newspaper proprietors of note in the country). More disturbing is the relationship the IPA has with the current Australian government. The think tank has always been closely associated with the conservative Liberal Party, but no previous Prime Minister has embraced the IPA so warmly and publicly as Tony Abbott. As opposition leader, he addressed the IPA 70th anniversary celebrations early last year, alongside luminaries such as Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch (whose father was an IPA founder). As one independent news outlet put it, Abbott’s actions have more than matched the promises he made to his IPA comrades at that event:

http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2014/05/31/abbotts-faceless-men-the-ipa/1401458400 posted:

He noted the IPA had given him “a great deal of advice” on the policy front, and, offering “a big ‘yes’”, promised them he would act on it.

“I want to assure you,” he said, “that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the department of climate change, abolish the Clean Energy Fund. We will repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, at least in its current form. We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red-tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN.”

Abbott has been good to his word. It may well be that not all of these measures will get through the parliament, but there is no doubting Abbott and his government are absolutely serious in their intent.

In fact, one might argue that Abbott under-promised at that dinner and has over-delivered since. Other major items on the IPA’s published wish list included stopping subsidies for the car industry (done), eliminating Family Tax Benefits (part-done), the cessation of funding for the ABC’s Australia Network (done), abandonment of poker machine reforms (done), the introduction of fee competition for Australian universities (done), and negotiating free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, China and India (more than half done).

There is a bunch of others, too, where the government has made significant moves. It might not have abolished the Human Rights Commission, but it has cut $1.65 million from its budget, refused to renew the position of its disability commissioner and appointed – absent the usual due process – one of the IPA’s own, Tim Wilson, as one of the remaining six commissioners. Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged an intention to “further reform” the HRC.

It’s notable, then, that the IPA has recently launched a curious campaign in defense of western culture. If that sounds like an overzealous paraphrase on my part, I should point out that they’ve actually called it ‘The Foundations of Western Civilisation Program’. At first glance, this seems simply like a weirdly pretentious attempt to position their freer-than-free market capitalist ideology as the pinnacle of (white) human progress. Okay, creepy enough! But the ‘program’ also seeks to critique government cultural policy, and particularly its education policy.

IPA researcher Stephanie Forrest has been the driving force behind the institute’s attacks on the previous government’s National Curriculum, primarily on the basis that it eschews The Western Judeo-Christian Cultural Values Upon Which Australia Was Founded, in favour of unworthy material such as writing by indigenous authors. This happens to be precisely the same line towed both by the government and by the academics it appointed to review the curriculum (one of whom was recently exposed as a frothing racist who refers to ‘Abos’ as ‘human rubbish tips’).

Forrest has been criticised by the head of the Australian Association of English Teachers on several grounds, not least of which is the fact that her ‘bachelor’s degree is in classics and history and that she has never been a school teacher’. In fact, as her IPA bio makes clear, she only graduated in 2013, and has indeed never had a real job prior to (or during) her current appointment.

So it’s natural, perhaps, that she needed a hand with her latest effort, a critique of the National English Curriculum. It is after all a ‘research report’, even if the research consists of a comparison with a handful of previous curricula. So Forrest recruited someone new to the IPA stable: Carla Schodde. Schodde’s IPA bio is oddly brief, driving the curious to google for more information.

The first few results contain no real surprises: Schodde studied classics alongside Forrest at the University of Melbourne, and maintains a classical history-themed blog called Found in Antiquity. This is her first real job, too:

https://humanities21.com.au/2014/04/april-2014-carla-schodde/ posted:

I worked in retail for a couple of years, but left the job to focus on my studies. I then took up private tutoring for High School Latin students – I keep it up to this day, and it’s still my favourite work. Finally, after graduating, I started my first ‘real’ job, as a research scholar for the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

(Schodde is so proud of her employment history that she’s actually put all three of those jobs on her LinkedIn profile.)

She’s also a big fan of Neopets.

Carla Schodde’s Neopets profile.

Schodde, better known as Pacmanite, has been an extremely active member of the Neopets community for the past 9 years. Her most notable contributions have been a guide to making comics, and a guide to international copyright law.

First of all, Pacmanite does not even once consider herself a complete expert on the subject or the Universal Supreme Comic Empress. She hardly ever laughs at her own comics, so it’s not like she can reliably compare her work to other’s anyway. But at the same time, she reckons she knows a thing or two about writing comics, and that’s enough for others to benefit from

First of all, the name, copyright.

It is not copywrite. And by extension, the past tense is not copywritten. It is copyrighted; the former is just a spelling error as the word bears no real connection to the verb “to write”.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets get into debunking the most widely-believed copyright myths.

Schodde also maintained a Neopets fine art page under the name ‘Lupine_canine’.

Welcome to Lupine_canine’s petpage! This page serves as a gallery for a great deal of Pacmanite’s artwork, both neopet and non-neopet related. You can have a looksee at some pretty fine examples of artwork down at the Other Artwork section.
Now remember y’all, taking anything off this petpage for use of your own will get your account sent to the bottom of an icy dungeon. But anyway, have fun browsin’!

The violin was probably quite a bit harder than the cheetah. Even now the strings don’t quite match up. But that would have taken ages to do properly… and at a glance they look all right, right?

This weekend I went to an exhibition of Australian Impressionism, and I got inspired’d to draw a human subject once more.

Just because most people here wouldn’t have read Matthew Reilly books… Jack West is an Aussie who leads a team of small nations to basically save the world, yo. The book’s called Seven Ancient Wonders, and the team of ten people have like a week to find all seven pieces of the Golden Capstone (which are left in the remains of the Seven Ancient Wonders protected by like a million million traps), while at the same time the big bad countries like America are on their tails and picking off their puny ten-man team one by one. Oh and the big countries have heaps bigger budgets too.

Pacmanite doesn’t play Neopets as obsessively as she used to, but even with the demands of her newfound IPA research gig, she still finds time to actively contribute to the Neopets forums, her last post (at time of writing) being September 11, 2014.

It’s through these posts that we are able to glimpse a fuller picture of the typical right wing think tank staffer:

“Re: Horrible Fear”

Sep 20, 2013 at 8:57pm posted:

Come to think of it, when I was about 12-14, I had the same kind of fear… it was probably not the same as what you’re going through, since everyone’s different. But I had this vague fear that I would be caught doing something like cutting myself, so I would never so much as touch my own wrists with my fingers.

I think around that time I was hanging out with a good friend who liked a gothic kind of fashion, and though it wasn’t my own style I didn’t see anything wrong with her liking gothic culture-ish stuff. Fashion preferences weren’t obvious in school, anyway, since we all wore uniforms and only saw each other in normal clothes outside of school times. But when she came over on play dates my Mum would tell me she’s always wearing black shirts, tell me that that’s weird, like gothic is weird. And at that time I was at my internet noobish phase, where I came across the word “emo” and a whole bunch of posts saying things about them cutting themselves and how horribly shallow they are. Apparently people really, really didn’t like emos, but there was a surprising abundance of them to complain about.

Anyway, I knew my friend wasn’t like those emos at all, she was totally fine. But somehow I was afraid that I might turn out to be an emo. What if I was one already and didn’t know?? I already kind of liked her stuff… what next??

None of this really entered into the level of fully articulated thoughts, though. But after finding out what “emo” was, I was careful not to wear too much black at any one time or adopt gothic tastes in accessories. And I had a vague yet powerful feeling of repulsion about touching my own wrists. When a pet cat scratched my wrists once I was a bit paranoid until it healed over. I was trying not to show the scratch, trying not to look like I’m hiding something, trying not to think about what it kind of looks like.

But again, somehow these fears never really entered much into the level of conscious rational thought. I was just kinda afraid of being emo. I was going into the teen years and had no idea what teenagers turn into when they become teenagers, and I resented any notion that I would become “rebellious” just because of my age. That really didn’t sit well with me. I tried distinctly hard not to rebel. Because I thought that’s what teenagerdom would pull me into doing, and I hated that idea.

“Re: Religious Apologetics / What Do You Believe?”

Feb 13, 2014 at 12:50am posted:

I spent quite a few years crossing and crossing back across the evolution vs creationism debate. I’ve finally settled on the Old Earth side. It took some time because, like you, I felt something of a culture shock through the process… I remember the first time I went Old Earth it was in early high school, and I thought to myself in frustration, “Here’s the plan. I’ll ask Jesus when I get to see him in heaven which side is right, and THEN I’ll agree with him, whichever it was.”

When I later went Old Earth for good I wasn’t quite as blunt as that, but the thought was similar, in that I do not believe Jesus requires his followers to subscribe to Young Earth Creationism, and so many, many observations made more sense in an Old Earth model of history. I’m prepared to be wrong on natural history, but since I can’t be absolutely certain of a 6-literal-day Creation I might as well choose the theory that makes more sense. It has some knock-on effects, like I now believe that there were animal deaths before the fall. But the venerable Bede (7th-8th century) and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 93, Article 1) also believed that animals died before the fall, so it’s not altogether unheard of in more than a thousand years of of mainstream Christian theology.

“Re: The Girly Talk Thread”

Sep 16, 2013 at 1:59am posted:

I have a fairly random relationshippy question. No one’s ever used this line on me while breaking up with me, but I’m curious to know, why on earth would someone break up by saying “I think we should see other people”?

To me it doesn’t sound like “I think we should break up.” What I feel in reaction is this confused line of thought:

“What? You want us to be polyamorous?? You’re crazy! I’m not sure I can handle that! …oh, you actually meant to say we should… stop seeing each other? If that’s what you mean, then you should say it ’cause otherwise I get this weird image of us dating other people while still thinking we’re together still. Uhh, okay then. But I’ve invested time and emotion in you, so if we break up now, it’s obviously going to be a while before I can “see other people”, which you say would be good. But even then, why assume that the goal in life, the pinnacle of happy contentment, is to not be single? Seriously, after breaking up with you, I might actually enjoy the liberty of single life… what made you decide it would be best for me to immediately “see other people”? And even if I wanted to see other people, what if there aren’t any promising matches in my circle of friends? If I don’t “see other people” does your plan fail? Why are you even asking me to see other people when I think you’re kinda going to be pretty sore about the breakup, like most people are after breakups? You’re not going to like it if I get to the stage of “seeing other people” faster than you… D:”

*facepalm* Soo confusing.

“Re: Christian Support Club”

Jan 22, 2013 at 1:23am posted:

So, I asked this guy I know if he wants to come to a prayer meeting with me where there will be things he’s not used to, like speaking in tongues and prophecy. He’s a bit taken aback, a bit “O_O” and unsure about whether it’s best to go there or not. So he told me he needs to pray about it first. Fair enough, really.


Then I realise how ironic this situation is. He’s praying to know whether he should go to a prayer meeting or not.

ah, life.

“Re: Problems with the VFX industry”

Mar 18, 2014 at 10:27pm posted:

I wonder if there are some jobs – particularly creative ones – that will never pay well simply because lots of people would be happy to barely break even on it if necessary, let alone make a profit. And as long as there is a stream of poor artistic souls who would happily sacrifice more than you are willing to in order to have a creative career, you will never get a comfortable living out of doing what they do.

I’m not saying this as a criticism of creative people, since I agree that there is more to a productive life than earning money. But living like a “pixel gypsy”… I’d be stuffed if I got sick or had some kind of financial difficulty. How many things I would fantasise about doing, and try to make a profession out of, if only there wasn’t the risk I’d be moving away from loves or begging my relatives for money if I did it.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:59pm posted:

It’s strange to hear that there isn’t a strong VFX guild. They deserve far more for their talent and time than what they’re being paid. But hopefully these events will strengthen their resolve as they realise just how much the industry need to unionise.


Is China Socialist – Urbandale – Nov 14

I feel I should say that I do believe China is socialist, for reasons I’ll talk about in the post. Me saying that I think China is socialist shouldn’t lead anyone to believe I’m saying China is without problems, but socialism isn’t an idealist state after all, its got its own contradictions. This is gonna focus a lot on the economic arguments for why China is or isn’t socialist, but in order to do so we first have to look at a bunch of raw data. I’m gonna be referring a lot to World Bank stats so if you’re curious check them out here.

So what’s up with the Chinese economy? China under Mao was a China wracked with poverty. After his death in 1976 the poverty rate was about 86%. Despite efforts like the Great Leap Forward to build up productive capacity in rural areas the country was still left with a problem somewhat similar to the Soviet Union in 1928, namely what little production existed was based in urban centers while the overwhelming majority of the population lived in rural areas. The rise of Deng and the Special Economic Zones and sweatshop labor should be viewed in this historical context, because they came to exist, for good or ill, as a means of solving this problem. So, what did these Special Economic Zones and their sweatshops do for China? Over the last 35 years they are the chief economic cause of the reduction in the poverty rate from 86% to 12%. That’s about 600 million people coming out of poverty. For a sense of how massive this is, this is about double the entire population of the United States.

Obviously merely making more money is not the only factor at play in terms of happiness or anything like that. We’ve all heard about the infamous Foxconn suicides where 18 workers killed themselves in the span of a few months. There’s gotta be some serious shit wrong with this picture, and there most definitely is. I don’t want to claim that this policy is without problems. But we only hear about media stories talking trash on China for pursuing policies that are actually better for the population than rural poverty because demonizing China for sweatshop labor is what the cold warriors who were previously demonizing the USSR moved to. And its not just cold warriors. The AFL-CIO NGO Solidarity Center, the labor arm of US imperialism, was exposed using National Endowment for Democracy grants to fund Hong Kong protesters. But this is a tangent, and I should really get back to what this is supposed to be about. Last thing I’ll say on sweatshops is that there is a specific voice we never hear on this question, and its the voices of the workers themselves. Why is that? When the Foxconn suicides happened foreign media swarmed these sweatshops, interviewing hundreds of workers without state intervention. Why did we hear so few interviews in the US? Its because many sweatshop workers view their new life as industrial workers as a direct improvement of their old lives languishing in undeveloped rural areas. This is a TED Talk (I know, I know) discussing this issue but is also a report back on various interviews that were taken by the presenter. While I have a minor nitpicks about the presentation I think it serves as a good counterpoint to the stories about how awful these sweatshops are for their workers, serving to put this claim, while true in many regards, into its proper context.

So let’s compare China with another country that has a similar history. India has the same colonial background, similar population, and the same productive capacity post-liberation as post-liberation China. It’s got Special Economic Zones and extensive public firms. It also serves as a good comparison because almost no one calls India socialist, which works rather well as I’m contrasting China’s socialist economy with India’s capitalist one. What does India’s economy look like today? Fucking shit. There’s a lot of stuff to talk about on this comparison, but the entire first third of this talk goes into detail about India’s economy and what it looks like for workers there, so I don’t want to replicate it.

Ok, so now that we have a good capitalist example of what China could have looked like, and my brief outline of what China looks like, I hope the difference is somewhat clear. One last thing though. What do the millionaires do in order to get their money? Unlike the US where most make their money through finance, most Chinese millionaires make their money through appointment to work in public firms. However, as the post in the OP points out, public firms are constantly seeing changes in management, either through party members shuffling in and out to combat corruption or just cuz theres a bad manager or cuz of complaints about the person or a number of reasons. This is obscenely wasteful according to common capitalist logic. If you’re constantly putting in and removing people from positions in firms, your managers lose job security and get all scared, and you have periods of time where the new people have to get used to handling their new job and picking up where the last manager left off. This was part of the reason given for the bonuses given to the same banking institutions that were (supposedly) behind the Great Recession. While it was thoroughly mocked, it does comply with standard capitalist logic. If you’re not making as much money as you feel you should be, you have the right to find another job. But if China isn’t capitalist but instead socialist, it makes sense. It doesn’t need to care about what the bourgeois class its SEZ’s have created think, because they don’t hold power in the party. And if they throw a fit and have a capital strike or do a slowdown, they are simply removed from their position and have no recourse.

The guerrilla’s garden: low-input, low-maintenance distributed food production in the temperate zone – dank_xiaopeng – Oct 14

let’s just say that us and several hundred or thousand-odd like minded folks needed to go backpacking for a long period of time, and going to the grocery store would be against the rules. we could have friends bring us some food and supplies. but our friends might not be reliable or they might get lost. we’ll probably be doing a lot of hunting out in the woods so our pals can bring us ammunition and the like, but it would be tough to feed all of our camping friends and still be able to go hunting every day. how are we gonna eat?

with some resources and four or five years of prior preparation we could set up hundreds of distributed self-propagating garden plots scattered throughout the area we plan to be conducting people’s w-backpacking. there is a lot of overlap between tsinava’s permaculture concepts and our goals. small clearings could be opened in wooded areas, berms and hugelkultur beds created, and the land prepared for plantings in ways that maximize soil fertility-building and moisture retention. sheet mulching and other forms of nutrient banking would be extremely helpful in setting up long-term fertility in our gardens. companion planting and forest gardening (layering edible understory plants with tree crops to maximize crop yield per unit area) will be key to good food production.

some considerations about what we’d want in these gardens:

low-maintenance: you’ll be too busy backpacking and hunting to devote time and labor to tending crops. the plants in these gardens must be hardy and able to thrive with a minimum of care. favor plants that spread rapidly and bear prolifically. fruit trees like apples, pears, and cherries are too finicky and disease-prone for our needs.

long-lived: these crop plants should be perennials if at all possible, any annuals must be able to self-seed prolifically to ensure adequate supply from year to year. you’ll be camping for a long time, probably.

nutritious: these crops, when eaten together, must supply a full complement of protein and enough calories to fuel rigorous athletic activity. favor nutritional value over flavor. backpacking is tough work and your pals will be hungry. you can’t have tasty food every day and you’ve got to to take what you can get in order to keep on backpacking.

reliable year-round: select crops that bear for an extended period, have edible roots that will not be damaged by frosts, or whose edible products can be easily stored for extended periods.

concealable: you don’t want nosy neighbors and the cops to find your gardens. they should blend into the landscape and be able to grow well in remote areas. no neat rows of vegetables and no carefully-pruned orchards, here.

so, what gets planted? a short herbal for the hungry guerrilla:

1.nut crops: low-maintenance, easy to store, and prolific. nuts will be the cornerstone of our diet. just wait till the nuts are ready and gather them from the ground. large mast crops will also attract game, which can supplement our diet with valuable protein.

oaks: in precolombian north america, the acorn was one of the staple sources of quality carbohydrates. one pound of processed acorn nutmeat contains 1600 calories and 28 grams of protein. consumption has been largely abandoned because acorns contain large amounts of tannins that give them an extremely bitter taste. with proper processing, however, they can be rendered very delicious. simply gather acorns and place them in a basket or sack and soak them in a stream for several days. the running water leaches out the tannins and the nuts can then be shelled and eaten. acorns also can be toasted (to kill bacteria and nut-eating grubs) and stored in pits or elevated granaries for years at a time as long as they are protected from pests. another advantage is that the oak is the climax-stage hardwood in the majority of north american forests. high-quality nutrition literally falls from the sky each autumn in these areas.

chestnuts: the chestnut was another staple of eastern native americans. although the native chestnut population was largely destroyed by an invasive fungal blight in the mid 20th-century, many hybrid blight-resistant varieties are now available. while the chestnut is less calorie-dense than the acorn (only 592 calories and 9 grams of protein per pound ) it is very delicious and requires almost no processing. like the acorn, chestnuts can be toasted and stored for years. dwarf varieties of chestnuts, the chinquapins, have a large, spreading, bushlike habit and can tolerate shade.

other calorie-rich nut crops like walnuts, hazelnuts, filberts, and butternuts should also be intermixed for variety and nutritional variation.

2:tree beans: unlike the beans we’re used to in our sedentary dinners, trees in the legume family live for many decades, while still producing nutritious edible seeds. like all beans, these seeds are valuable sources of protein and vitamins that can be dried and stored for long periods. they also improve soil fertility in our gardens by fixing nitrogen.

honey locusts: these trees last many years and are known for their distinctive spines, which are so hard they were actually used as nails in times past. a mature honey locust tree produces thousands of edible seedpods every spring and into the summer. young pods can be cooked and eaten like green beans, larger, still-immature pods contain a deliciously sweet, syrupy pulp between each developing seed (this pulp gives the honey locust its name), and mature dry seeds can be collected and cooked like any bean.

siberian pea: originally introduced to the US by russian settlers who used it for food, the siberian pea is a sadly neglected crop. it produces thousands of small pea pods each spring, and is a prolific grower (young plants grow as much as three feet a year). they are decried as invasive pests by gardeners and farmers. they spread quickly, grow fast, and are resistant to heat, cold, drought, and floods. they are short at maturity (6-15 ft), allowing for easy harvesting, and can tolerate shade.

3: tubers n’ roots:another staple of our semi-nomadic agriculture. they stay hidden underground and can survive winter frosts, only to be dug up when needed.

jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke: along with the acorn and the hog peanut, the jerusalem artichoke is one of the kings of our foodscape. they are unstoppable once established and rapidly spread to fill any available space as many a hapless housebound gardener can attest. their roots overwinter well. surprisingly, fresh jerusalem artichoke does not contain many calories in the form of carbohydrates, as the plant stores its energy in the form of inulin, and indigestible polymer of fructose. however, with storage, this inulin breaks down into calorie-dense fructose. the jerusalem artichoke is also extremely high in protein for a tuber, containing 10% protein by weight as well as large amounts of potassium and iron.

groundnut: the american groundnut is a climbing vine that produces numerous edible tubers that taste a lot like a nutty potato. its climbing habit makes it a great choice for scrubby areas or at the edges of larger plantings. its tubers have 16% protein by weight and are a good source of calcium and iron. it also fixes nitrogen.

hog peanut: the hog peanut, a close relative to the more famous regular-type peanut is another native american staple who fell from favor with the advent of cracker monoculture. the hog peanut is an extremely shade-tolerant nitrogen fixer that spreads rapidly along the forest floor. it produces large numbers of seedpods just at the level of the soil surface. the pods each contain several beans that are nutty in flavor and store well. the hog peanut is an excellent companion plant with the jerusalem artichoke as they both thrive with neglect and their invasive habit can quickly turn a small scattered planting into a huge one.

4:fruits and vegetables: apples and other commonly-farmed tree fruits are too delicate for our needs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat tougher fruit. there are also many nutritious plants that thrive without human care that are very edible when properly prepared.

pawpaw the pawpaw is a tasty native fruit that is related to the mango. they have a delicious, custard-like flesh that is studded with small shiny seeds. it thrives along streambeds and produces for most of the summer.

persimmon the persimmon gets a bad rap: most people complain that its fruit is disgustingly, puckeringly bitter. the trick is to wait to harvest them until the first frost has nipped the fruit: the freezing temperatures make the bitterness disappear and the fruit becomes deliciously sweet. persimmons can be gathered and dried for storage.

white mulberry: the white mulberry yields prolific blackberry-like fruits every year, and the young leaves can be picked and steamed or boiled and eaten as a potherb.

egyptian walking onion: unlike onions that have been selected for uniform shape and ease of monoculture production, the egyptian walking onion is well-suited for our needs. every year, the walking onion produces a seedhead that tips over and plants itself nearby. one small planting of walking onions can quickly grow to a very large one, and will supply us with onions for many years without the need for replanting.

asparagus:asparagus is a perennial that thrives without much attention. will add some nice variety to our diet in the spring

turkish rocket a perennial member of the same family as cabbage and broccoli, turkish rocket has edible leaves, stems, and produces flower heads that can be eaten like broccoli.

misc. potherbs: perennial weeds like common plantain, sorrel, and skirret can be steamed or boiled like kale and are a valuable source of vitamins and minerals. stinging nettle is also a very delicious potherb (if annoying to harvest). when cooked , it loses its sting and tastes a lot like spinach. it also has the double benefit of deterring nosy neighbors if planted thickly around our gardens.

so there you have it. these gardens would be easy and cheap to plant, just putting a few seedlings in the ground, scattering seed, or plating saplings in sleeves to deter browsing deer. if preparations began well in advance of our adventure, these mature plantings could feed us and our friends for a really long time!