I am becoming an expert on heritage wheats, almost a collector. People like owning things, I want to find the centre thread that holds the Holocene together. I think it is an old wheat variety.
Farming and cultivation followed a path through the neolithic revolution, or conquest maybe we should call it, of Europe.
We see the past as some golden age, but this is only because we are genetically designed to remember the last layers, the past is not golden, it is just the last steps, not very different from the present, and if we manage not to destroy the world, possibly not too different from the future.
I believe there is a thread going through all of this, one central wheat variety, probably a Durum wheat, one that was taken out of Israel, like me, taken out of where it grew. I want to find this wheat.
Heritage wheat is a new market, I predict it is going to be an explosion in the UK, once the public realises what heritage wheat actually is, in short it is any wheat grown before the green revolution, before we bred wheats, when we were still peasant farmers, and we selected and grown wheats in the same place for thousands of years. Again let us not get confused with the past being golden, it is just the past. Peasant farmers are just like us, they also grew wheats from other places if they could get them, they also lost some old varieties at times like we do.
Solina wheat of Abruzzo I say, could have been the modern wheat of roman times, now it is one of the most bio-diverse oldest bread wheats in the world. It is just a story of the new bread wheat of the romans, the white grain, taken by someone to the mountains, and it being locked there, turning into a special mountain landrace; simply because that is where it was grown.
In a sense there is no past, there are just stories, of the present that happened to people before us, making the same mistakes, older wheats are their mistakes, and modern wheat is ours.
In all of this there is a magical thread, which is a story line, I try to trace it to the first Durum wheat, after Emmer, but before bread wheat. A moment in time, a business plan.
In my mind it could be a story of the tribe of Dan, argued by some historian theories to have been part of the mysterious sea people alliance, together with the Sherden of Sardinia, an alliance of sea pirates no one could defeat. I would try to trace that Durum wheat following their foot steps, possibly as some forgotten variety that is still grown in Sardinia. To isolate it I need to find some university that can compare the DNA of older varieties, some I am working to source from a friend in Israel, and others from small, amazing projects in Italy, People who have worked hard to find the older varieties.
People like to own things and heritage wheats, especially now we all understood that those have a market, and are in fact a sort of a gold mine, are becoming like possessions. I have many issues with the way landraces are protected, making them possible to only grow in one location. Landraces have adapted to a land, that is true, but they also came to that land form another in most cases. I am not looking to own wheat, I am looking to find the original story, the golden thread, which possibly was never golden, it is just a story of the first wheat taken out of Israel to Italy.
Life revolves around cogs, unseen fabric. Most of the time we do not think about what moves us, what makes us do things. There is one sack of wheat that has changed Europe, and seeing I have to now smuggle some of the wheats I work with, I sympathise with the sea pirates. Wheat for both of us is an after thought, we went away from where we lived, but we could not leave our wheat behind, I understand their logic. I am back in Wales, but there is no way I can eat plastic bread.
Our Idea of the countryside, of farming, even the economy is all the same, it follows stories, it seems as if we make those stories up, I think that in truth, in most cases, those stories make us.
The countryside is a business plan, farmers have to be poor so we can all eat, wheat is the core of that business plan, but it is just a model, a link that ties us to the earth.
What I want is to find the original wheat, the one that we wrote the business plan with, I want to own it and with it change the way we work the countryside, I want to start a revolution.
People who start revolutions, usually inflame people with an idea, a return to the past, sprinkle catchy slogans on the top, and you have a winning formula. I want to start a different revolution one that means we have to think about the countryside. This is why I need the original wheat, it is like the programming language, the HTML so to speak, I want to find it so we can write in code.
To start a revolution in which we take control of the countryside, we will need to understand cultivation as an economic plan, the problem with affecting change, is that we all live in an economic system, and whatever you do you can never escape it. I love the romance of people who try to drop off the rat race, who farm off grid, who travel without money. Whilst we will away in romance, the economic plan is tightening around us.
You can no longer park your van in a lay-by and seeing that I lived like that for 10 years, I find that very offensive, I want the freedom to live in a lay-by, or better still park anywhere. Laws are tightening up. Countries are falling one by one into an order. No more free travel, no more romance, no off-grid farms.
So if we want a revolution, if we want freedom, we need to make it an economic plan, and we need a sword, we need to be like the Sherden people, like some sea gypsies, pirates carrying a sack of Durum wheat, horns on our helmets, and bronze shields, and a sack of golden wheat.
I have tried to lead people into another way of life, for over 20 years, I taught them whether control, a simpler life, community, nomadic love even. I have come to realise that all of our grass root revolution ideas, fall down to the ground, because we have to follow an economic plan. There is no way we can have a community in the modern world, we either become small scale poor farmers, or we have to be corporations.
The revolution I would like to see is a countryside revolution.
I have come back to Wales, to the UK.
Everything was faster, it all works, but no one has a plan, they are just rushing to make money, a new world of healthier foods, of yoga and wellness, is just a symptom of a society that has lost its roots, looking for an ethos to follow, an American dream.
The problem, is that we do not have a design plan, not for farming, not for the economy, we do not look at the whole story, we don’t understand what we eat, and why we eat it, we are stuck in a cycle of cultivation, and we remember the past, but only the last layers, we can not see the whole picture, and we do not know where we are going.
The picture however is not very complicated, it is the same picture we have been looking at for 10,000 years. Wheat. Fields and farmers, making surplus. Surplus building larger society and supply chains, and making off-shore farms. Once you farm elsewhere, the countryside becomes an estate that you do not have to farm yourself. The goal of any business plan, or so my to-be, business coach was telling me, is to have the business operating without you.
Fuck me!. A revolution is called for, first because we need to free the lay-bys, second because people who have left their businesses, now own all the land, and none of us are farmers because we get our food from off-shore farms, I know because I am growing heritage wheats for the UK, but in Italy. Italy is poor so we could live a richer life in the UK.
When European countries went to conquer their off shore farms, Italy did very poorly for itself, whilst Great Britain got India, whilst it developed North America, Italy got Somalia. Thus modern day economics is also just an echo of yesterday’s business plan.
The divide between the the serf and the feudal lord though, is something that Italy has kept very small scale, and for that I love it. In a sense it is still feudal, especially in the mountains. We all have learnt to see feudalism as the root of all evil, but I do not agree, in a sense small scale administrations, small barons that love an area and its people, living in a small castle or a mountain hinting villa, are much closer to the land. Italy of the mountains is one of my love affairs.
I have come to it with modern ideas, and it thought me some old ones, I asked my self – how come there is no design plan for rural areas, why are we left to invent it, whilst government is bearing hard, looking for some economic gold in the mountains, luckily Italy of the mountain has no gold, no industry. So it was no longer developed. Its last design plan, its last economic plan was the feudal system.
It got me thinking of a way we can manage the country side again, because in truth the bigger the divide between the serf and the feudal lord, the harder it is to develop an area.
Was small scale baronial lands such a bad idea?
Hierarchy, it is argued, started with sedentary lifestyles, tribes needed a leader, society broke into specialists, fed by farmers, who by default had to always be the lowest strata. Values were designed that way, and they still are, so more of us can eat without working the land.
The problem is that through this business plan, we lost the means to design areas, to tailor them to their own nature. Now every place needs to look the the same, some large wheat fields, smaller crops of pulses, a few orchards, and some farms with sheep, cows and pigs.
This has worked well everywhere, except in the mountains.
As my business coach was going to tell me, if I would have hired her, the goal is to have your business running without you, that is a successful business. I am a small business owner so I can agree, if it can operate without me I can do so much more. The problem is that I love being part of my business, I said at the start, that if we are going to go into the system and make money, we have to make something real, something people can use.
My goal is not to leave my business, my goal is to start a revolution of rural design, I want to be me, and I want you to be you, and please do not try to be me.
The issue currently is very simple, we followed the rule of making surplus, and turning the countryside into two large sections, estates and off-shore farms. This could have worked if we had endless earth to develop, it is a nomadic business plan, it came from hunter gatherers, who used to exploit an area in a maximum yield strategy, their genius was that they kept on moving, and there were only a few of them, so the impact was very little. The problem was that they were very successful, and they carried that plan into sedentary lifestyles.
Because I see myself as a nomad, I always asked myself some of the same questions as they must have done. As a business owner, It would have been much better for me to stay in one place, to grow bigger. I find it hard to stay too long in one place, things become stale, relationships, ideas, feelings.
I used to think I am strange, but I have come to understand, that we are all like that, that everything we aspire for, is in truth, nomadic; high yields, love, rich food, quick gains, travel, new sights. Business is a nomadic design plan, because only a hunter gatherer could see the land in that way, quick gains, and exploitation only work for someone who comes to a place, and reaps the cream from the top. Once you have to stay in a place you need to develop more sustainable mechanisms.
So, land ownership, cultivation, farming, and business are all caught in this age long saga, the stories of the sea gypsies, coming to a new land to develop it, carrying their wheat with them.
The world in the last 50 years has followed a strange pattern, it was all grabbed for quick returns, in a flurry that peaked two hundred years, and bit by bit, undeveloped countries as they are called, liberated themselves form the yoke of the so called “developers”. You would think they will go back to some earlier or traditional sense of life, but instead they too rush to grab the same business plan, to try and develop themselves as off shore farms, to get someone else to do the farming. Quick or large gains, or any country that is now “rich” is just a story of those last 200 years, an equation of how many places it exploited. No one is better, because in a sense we are all part of this system, of trying to exploit nature for quicker gains, we are all stuck somewhere on the ladder, be it top or bottom, trying to climb up.
Nomads, who I always like to associate myself with, have given us notions that do not really work well in a sedentary lifestyle. True love is a high yield strategy. Hunting and eating all the animals around themselves is what got hunter gatherers to settle. Scientists still argue about the overkill theory. I think that from a natural point of view, it is obvious that fauna and flora, are parts and parcel of each other, there can be so many grazers as there is grass, so many predators as there are grazers. Upset this formula, even a little bit, and the balance breaks down.
Obviously it is not sustainable for us to eat meat, yet I think high meat diet is what gave us all those aspirations, all the magic, the rituals we are obsessed with…… smoked brisket, we still haven’t changed. We want true love and high magic, and we all want it, together at the same time. around the same fire so to speak.
In truth all we have right now, is the last remaining strands, a business plan made by nomads, that is collapsing because there is no place for quick gains left, there are no offshore farms, even though we can rely on Italian farmers for a while longer because they are poor. We can convince other countries that they too want to develop, but as they come late into the game, it is just a way we trick them to farm for us, now we can not simply go to their country and enslave them anymore, there are no winners, we are all on the conveyor belt rushing to try and go up the ladder, but it is going nowhere.
The answer is a rural area design revolution, or maybe a devolution, a retraction into smaller units.
Deeper relationships between man and the environment, a slower love, a deeper one. All we really need is to stop trying to escape our own business, we need to learn to love being in them. We need to make the countryside meaningful again, I laugh at the fact some of the largest estates in Europe were bought by millionaires, who made their money from a system that exploited everything, but are now rewilding their massive plots of land, because they want to go back to a natural sense, to give something back, or simply because they like to live in nature.
Instead of spending a life time, trying to outwit the system, to build a million successful business without owners, why can we not simply make it a process that happens in every business, on every farm, part of all the land.
This revolution of mine, is economic, as I have come to understand that as small businesses we can shout forever, we can criticise, we can become idealists, we can dream of making it big or stepping out of our own bracket, climbing up the ladder of the classes, into a class we do not belong to, and where we would not be accepted anyway. The problem is that the system is built in a way that small scale business can never really grow. We have a problem right now, because the divide is so much larger, you are either a small business or you are a corporation.
The revolution is simple, it starts with us small scale business owners coming together, without leaving our own, without stepping out and building another company. It starts with giving farmers the voice to decide how to farm, because they are the person on the ground, it starts by bringing back the feudal system as a first step, by connecting the lord to his serfs, in smaller areas, which are not nations, not even regions, they are a valley, or a mountain.
We need to bring the business owner back into his business, don’t spend your life making money, escaping from one business to another, just to sit back and look at your large estate, while your offshore farms are ticking, weaving, harvesting. Stay local, stay together farm meanings.
It is hard for me too, hard to give up on the idea of true love, of high gains, of endless exploration, but in a sense I do not want to travel without a meaning, I discovered that I love being with the farmers, with land owners, I love being in my business, I want to help people like me thrive. I want us to stop competing as small companies, who are trying to step on each other, all thinking that they will make it big, because none of us will, we can not escape our own brackets, those were put there, as fences, we rush over each other as mice.
I do not want to be more than myself, I want us to work together what we have, the land, the people, I want us to come back to the fires, and eat golden wheat, and brisket, to remember true love, which is deeper. I want us to stop toppling over each other. I want us to revive the feudal system first, then the tribal system, go back and reinvent ver sacrum, the sacred spring.
A ritual in which we send our young, we vow them to the gods, “all that is born to us by next spring we will sacrifice”, I want us to send them off to find new lands, blind folded as they were to the edge of our own territory, I want them to follow a sacred bull, the Vitello, I want them to make a country, and call it Italy.
I want us to tell a story to each other, in the land, in the forests by the fire, make love over beech leaves, in small huts made out of branches. I want us to go back to the boats, back to Israel, like gypsies, back to the first field. I want us to stand our ground at the start of the Holocene, to remember how we got there, the animals that we ate, the stories of the ancestors, I want us to build a temple, in which we tell the sky stories again, surround it in standing stones and call them the constellations. I want us to face the climate change like we did 13,000 years ago, with high magic and with a total lifestyle change. When nomads come to garden, I call it.