When Nomads come to garden or the return of the Zombie Mink

The Holocene is a 10,000 year old old Social experiment.

Something happened at the end of the Younger Dryas the last Ice Age, something big.

Pre industrial humans, lived in a total different syntax, a connected world. Built on oral traditions and a body of knowledge, their mindset is so foreign to us, that we can no longer conceive the world like they did, or even imagine how they conceived the world themselves. Having travelled extensively, living and working in some of the most marginal areas of society, in raw landscapes, focusing on a unique brand of research into human mechanics, gave me some insights into what possibly happened at the starting days of the Holocene. The picture is so far from what traditional science paints, it could only be viewed as a sort of myth.

I ask myself, how can you tell a story if you do not start at the beginning, how can we understand where we are at right now, if we can not go back to the initial spark, the thing that ignited our civilisation?

We are standing at a strange point in time, our world is at peril, you can not isolate one subject in order to fix it, because everything is wrong, it is so wrong I can not even start talking about it coherently, not if we do not go right to the very start.

The world view of earlier people was very different to ours, in it everything was connected. A belonging to a place, to a people, to nature where all elements of the same thing.

Older mindsets existed in one body, a world with no separation. In that world nature was part of man, and he was part of nature. Earlier people used to have a world map for navigation in which they knew the smallest movement of earth, the changes on the bark of trees, the setting of the starts in the night sky and the rising of the sun.

Their histories were built as a never ending stretch of myths, in which a person would have known of all of his ancestors going back some 20,000 years. Polynesians navigators to give one example, even until recent times, were called wayfinders, navigating impossibly large stretches of empty ocean to the smallest of islands in the pacific, without any given instrument. To us this accomplishment seems an impossibility, that is until they explained how they do it; Following the setting of stars, reading the criss cross patterns of waves crushing on swells in the ocean, and doing so with the feeling of their body only. They did not even need to look at the ocean!

The most amazing thing is that they held a moving map inside their head and body, in which a far away island lying some 2500 miles, was not fixed in place. To arrive to it they needed to navigate a moving world, the rotating sky and the movement of sea, the birds told them where they were, that is if they got off their route by mistake. That is only because we have met this knowledge at its very last days. Imagine that a navigator like that could cross the open ocean without even having to look at the sea, or the sky. Having a moving Island as an image in his mind, one he can constantly relate to, knowing where he was, in those days they did not make mistakes.

This is why it is so hard to take one element in our current world, and to try and fix it, that is because everything is wrong. To the ancients the world was not made of separate phenomena, everything related to everything else.

There is a whole forgotten world of nature law, and weather magic, where humans used to create and “farm” their own weather, so much is lost, and everything is wrong, so wrong that whole cultures disappeared before they could even tell us one thing. We who “conquered” them, think we have always been better, otherwise why did they not say anything. They did not say anything because all of it is wrong, they were caught time and time again in our headlamps, not understanding how we can do the things we do, while they contemplated, we took over. They did not say a word, and that is because it was all so wrong, so wrong they could even start one sentence to explain how extorted it all is to us, so we thought they are simple minded. I think that in truth it is possible whole cultures disappeared like that, not understanding how to event start talking to us about the problem, incredulous of the way we carried ourselves, poof. We took them out.

Those were our own ancestors. Now after 10,000 years of working their inventions, we are talking about climate change as a separate phenomena, thinking that if we can cut carbon emissions, we can still save the world. You must be joking me.

The whole world has come to a stop now, with coronavirus. We who have enjoyed a 10,000 year long march through the ages, an almost totally stable world, with a 1 degree of change in average temperature, have no clue what our ancestors had to go through, this is why we can no longer grasp what they did for us, which makes talking about the initial steps of the Holocene hard.

Everything is wrong, because we forgot how to view the world in a non separate terms. Coronavirus is just a symptom of a world trying to regain balance, it is trying to bring us back into a relational world view. Genetics of epidemics, or genetics in general, are a constant body of adaptation, in which the mutant is very rare. Viruses are but a marker of when we fail to engineer change into a system, seeing that our DNA and our genetics are actually slow to change, viruses in this light can be seen as the outside writers, coming to give us a hand. So everything is wrong but we no longer know how to fix it.

Recently there was massive cull of all the mink in Denmark, because the caged animals, raised for their fur, have got infected by us with a strain of Coronavirus, it mutated and we got scared. So they were all gassed, their bodies were buried, but inside the earth they swelled, and they floated back to the surface, as a return of the zombie mink, coming to hunt us. I saw a dark sort of humour in that. There are so many problems right now, almost no one even noticed the fact Denmark culled over 15 million mink!. Are you joking me?

Burying the Zombie Mink

So everything is wrong, and we know it, but we do not know what to do about it, or maybe our genetics are too slow to adapt.

Let me tell you how it all started. Over 12,000 years ago, we stood on an icy world, a world that was devastated over and over again, we were nomads, or maybe it is better to say our ancestors were nomads. They were as far from us cognitively as night is of day, we forgot what they knew, we lost their power. Their world was going through constant devastation, it was a process of ten thousands of years, because we think like we do, we can not grasp that they thought differently.

In oral societies, nothing was lost, there was no break between generations, that is because you can not rely on a book to find knowledge again, once you lost something, it was gone forever, there was no fake news, because if anything was altered, everything was altered. Give someone a wrong piece of knowledge and a whole people will become lost, tell them the position of the Island is 5km to the west or where it actually is and all the tribe is gone, nothing could be discarded either, because you let go of the myth, you forget one story, and with it you lose all of your ancestors in one go, this is how we were before we wrote anything down. One collective body of knowledge, held in tribal libraries.

We find it hard to know for certain what happened 200 years ago. They, in contrast, held a total record of the earth stretching for tens of thousand years, but they like us have had enough. They too faced a constant climate change, and like us they viewed themselves as the problem.

What they did, is very different though, very different to what we do and it did not happen over night. No, it took them eons to try and figure it out, what we do know, is that when they figured it, everything changed. They turned a totally volatile earth, into an unprecedented harmonious world, the world of the Holocene, the world we lived in since, the world that is now falling apart because we forgot how to work it.

So it is all wrong, we can focus on any given aspect, like farming, or economics, or even go deeper into the mechanics of consciousness, but we will get nowhere, because you can not view any of it in separation, you can not fix the whole thing using one element. This is why I do not talk either, people tell me things, but how can I explain, not if I do not explain it all, I laugh inside myself, wondering if whole societies were culled like that, in silence. The Silence of the mink, this could be a good movie title.

I walk in the street these days, as I find myself spending a lot of time in the city, and it makes me laugh. ‘How did we get here?’ I ask. We have masks on our faces, we fear to come near anyone, our whole economies are falling apart, and no one has any design plan, any idea how to fix it. Maybe if we kill some mink, and carb some emissions it would all fall into place, are you joking me?

At the start of the Holocene something happened, and my story of how it did, is like no other version. I say that we made the Holocene, we created the balance, the stable weather patterns, all of it. I say that every time we stepped out of that initial business plan (so to speak) things went out of synch. My version of it is like no other, but that is because we do not listen to the older versions of the story, told by orally based societies, because they all say the same thing, that when man loses his connection to the whole, the weather changes, people start thinking bad thoughts and then the world is destroyed, they tell us of time after time when it happened, we call those versions myths, because we can not believe they held their oral traditions over such stretches of time, not when we hardly remember the stories of our grandparents.

After ten of thousands of years, watching our world being destroyed over and over again, living in constant winters, they had enough. They came together in a special council site, as a group of nomads. That place was called the heart of the world, It was the place nomads came to garden, when they changed in order to change everything around them. No one understands why nomads ever stopped moving, and with the way we go about it they never will, I will tell you this, no nomad will ever give up his lifestyle for a sedentary home, not if he had a choice. Houses are tombs is what they say.

Our long forgotten ancestors, lived under a connected sky, they knew the patterns of nature to perfection, they were magical hunters, who would go and catch the rain like a wild animal, they could command the winds, I know because I have experienced their world view, I do not have a command of it, but I have seen enough to know how they did it, I even teach people from time to time how to control the weather, most of these people turn into impossible new age shamans, instead of falling in love with our ancestors, with the forever changing world like I do.

At the start of the Holocene our ancestors made a bargain with nature, with the night sky, they held this motif, the heavenly mill, the mill that ground the ages. They knew there is a constant change and progression through the procession of the equinoxes, they mapped the constellations, they gave them powers, and they stood under them. The built an amazing machine, made out of standing stones, each representing a star constellation on the ecliptic. Why? you may ask. The answer is that they had enough.

They were like us, faced with a world at its end, they are like us, or how we would be after everything falls apart, they made a bargain with the elements, standing in a small group inside their magical machines; the heavenly mills brought down to earth, placed at a power spot they called the heart of the world. Inside that stone circle, they formed a group, made out of their medicine men and women, their shamans, each standing for a constellation. Why? you ask again. The answer is that they decided to make the biggest magic ever, they wanted to stop the sky from rotating, to stop their world from being devastated, to stop meteors falling on the earth, to stop the endless winter.

The strange thing is that they did, somehow at the start of the Holocene everything stopped, the weather became totally harmonious. It became warmer, after they seem to have changed their lifestyle all together.

Nomads would never stop roaming if they had a choice. I say our ancestors did it as a part of a magical bargain, they stopped in order to keep the sky from falling, they were millers, working the heavenly mill, coming to it every night to grind the new age. This is how it all started.

It took a consummate knowledge of nature, a control over their feelings and thoughts, it was the highest magic we humans ever performed on this earth. It was a pact we made to look after it, to grind the magical eon-flour out of stars. Inside their magical machine we were the stars, standing in a circle representing the sky, it was a symbolic method of sympathetic magic taken to its highest form, Shamans came together to form the group mind, inside the heavenly mill, their understanding was that the sky was out of balance, and they worked it as if they were it.

The so called first stone circle in Turkey, seems at times to be the most complex, before standing stones were just stones, they had hands carved on to them, they represented people. The ritual they performed was one in which a group of people needed to be selected to represent the constellations, in their middle a couple would stand, a man and a woman, representing the sun and the moon. This is how they made the garden of eden, Adam and eve.

This ritual was not just an new age meeting, this is how we an imagine it, for them it was the culmination of living in another type of consciousnesses, being connected, that is the element that is so hard for indigenous cultures to explain to us, how can a person affect the weather? Living in an oral based society for so many centuries, created this group mind phenomenon, through which, rain shamans, and oracles, have come together to start the Holocene. We find it easy to grasp symbolic meanings, where a symbol stands for a function, it is so ingrained in our awareness we do not even think about it, but each letter we use for writing, was an incantation once upon a time, but before all of this, every symbol was not a thing on its own, it was the power to affect the element it stood for.

Their ritual was to build the celestial sphere in stone, at a special place, in the same sense they also chose a group of people to represent the stars and control them. So much has mutated in our understanding even though we still use the same principals, writing, farming, symbols, language, art, they all started as a sympathetic magic through we controlled the elements. These days we are obsessed with the sense of power, and maybe they were too, but their coming together was an act to balance the weather, they chose to stop living nomadically, in order to be custodians of the weather, and of this earth. The truth is that it was not only the Natufian culture, in truth whole cities of south and north American Indians were later built under the same logic. Same with the Egyptians, they built the sky on earth, and each of their actions was meant as a means to “farm” the weather.

The Holocene was a magical pact of Man and nature, how come we do not know about it? You keep asking. Well…. we lost the logic.

Agriculture was born under the same principles, the idea was that if we mimicked what the earth did after it destroyed us, it would not need to do it itself. Growing wheat was a magical act. How come we, who were the most daring of nomads, living on this earth for hundred of thousands of years, travelling through oral traditions that saw us as one whole race, discovering magical continents, and killing whole races of fauna in traps we built out of the landscape, how come we gave up this life style, just so we can grow wheat? We did it as a part of a bargain, a trade deal. It took the earth 20,000 years to convince us to change. In the end, we gave way, not to grow wheat though, not to grind flour. We gave way because we ground the ages in the heavenly mill every night, the magic of working the weather, the trance of holding the sky, is what ignited civilisation, not the cultivation of cereals and domestication of animals.

We farmed wheat in a way that emulated destruction, we kept clearing fields as if it was the day after the flood, we gave them fertility they did not have, exactly as if the flood and the melting ice just passed through, we did so over 10,000 years. We do it today. We wake up and we have to get on our tractors and plow the earth, but why? Why destroy the earth like that, why did we have to eat grass in the first place?

It all does not make sense, all except the Holocene itself, I call it when nomads come to garden.

So now we come to now, our earth was given to us by our ancestors, they made a pact with it, they gave away their freedom in order to work it, night after night through magic, and day after day through farming.

Farming was day magic, they built agricultural machines, made of stone and ditches, water flow and terraces. They chose and domesticated plant after plant, things that grew in their fields, they even domesticated the animals, the difference is that they had a mission in mind, they needed to keep the balance, they needed to go back to the heavenly mill every night. The tower, the thing that stood in the middle of our earliest sedentary settlements, what function did it have? You may ask. Maybe we should go and talk to the Zombie Mink instead, because we really lost our origins, no one can even give us the answers.

At some point, we forgot. It was a protracted process, that took over 10,000 years, we forgot why we do what we do, why was it we go to our fields every day. We forgot because we lived in a word of so much peace, we did not need to operate the heavily mill anymore, not until our age has started to come to and end, when it started to fall apart because we stopped working the magic.

We need to come back into a non separate world view, it starts with our feelings and thoughts, extensions that were developed in us genetically in order to function as a tight group, moving telepathically through a changing landscape, a landscape we could navigate in as a larger body, that was the consciousness of hunter gatherers, they held a fixed point in a seemingly moving world, one unit, the knowledge of the ancestors, built into a group mind, shared by all, a super intelligence where the group affected the environment through magic.

I teach people how to control the weather, and they are amazed, but what amazes me is that our “feeling bodies” have become so small, that we can only feel the self through them. Where once we felt everything around us, the secret of controlling the weather is very simple, all you need is to grow your “feeling body” into its original size, when it is bigger, you have to feel the feeling of everything which is in it, and by becoming a larger zone you can also command the weather patterns in it, because there is no separation, modern Man does not control the weather because it is painful to feel everyone around him. Yet the ability to do so is included into us, like everything else on this earth, the problem, is that there are so many “painful” people around, but when the ability evolved, there simply was not so many people, there was only a small group and the rest of the living world.

My favourite book of lost knowledge would be that one, the book of hunting the weather, like the San bushman tell it, as if they go after the sky cow, and bring it back with a noose, when they hunt the rain. We forgot everything.

The world view of separation is a byproduct of living in small sedentary communities, in houses, in boxes, in tombs. I park our car some days in some small Italian street, and I shrink inside, how did we turn like this, where we have to always push our feelings down, and why is there no parking, who makes us pay, and why do we always have to squeeze ourselves. Why does Italian streets have to be so small, and my 4×4 so big?

I do not know how you manage, does it not bother you? I find having to shrink myself all the time very painful. Maybe I was exposed to too much freedom, I find it hard. Everything is wrong, or maybe I needed to buy a small Italian car instead.

So is that it? You may ask. No, I do not think that is it, just that in order to talk about it I needed to explain how we got here. How did we get to a point we have to park our cars in impossible spots, and we kill mink without thinking, because we infected them, how we got to a place where our whole planet is on the verge of collapse, the planet we inherited….. A whole planet can you imagine?

There is a design plan, and it starts at the top, because I have become tired of doing it from the bottom. It is a business plan, of the cutting edge in experiential tourism and farming, it is a new world view. A system of turning the countryside into harmonic machines again, where we need less tractors, where we have towers and standing stones again, gatherings into the night where we make flour out of the stars. It is a return to the relational.

For me it starts with working with estates, and large farms, and off course abandoned areas, anywhere that has large tracts of land that could be freed for a purpose, places that aren’t totally involved in keeping up supply chains.

Taking them through an integration between farming and social innovation, the solution is a design plan, it is a programme for the countryside, where we build it again like our ancestors, into farming machines, with which we hold the balance, it is a performance made from the land, like it always was before, why estates? You ask again. Because they are the largest land owners.

After spending 6 years in marginal rural areas in Central Italy we have found our dream, we have found that all of our dreams come into one plan, a regeneration design plan. It is a progressive programme, a sort of script writing for rural design, imbued with the most daring business plans. Building landscapes into machines that work in unison, where man is only a part, where there is no zones of interference, viruses no longer have to develop in the leftover marginal lands, because there is no more room for nature. We design marginal belts again, that is better than vaccines every other year, or tracing bats for the next virus, give them space, and help nature with bio diversity, there is less need for mutation in existing species because they live in a void.

In any given field of work, one is asked to take oneself into perfection, into the ultimate mastery of a subject. Our field is creating sustainable tourism, like nomads infiltrating the sedentary.

There comes a time when you have to give your mark to an art, I would have liked my art or work to have been different, but after 15 years I have come to terms with it, I feel it is time to take it to its outmost expression, the consummate art of sustainable tourism and farming, of rural development, which is pure magic.

Growing heritage wheat as a symbol for the moment when nomads came to garden, knowing that as long as we grew landrace wheat (and not modern wheat) the Holocene can not completely end, it is a design plan for the countryside, where we turn it again into a living situation. My love for it was born on a small Italian bulldozer, and you may laugh, but I got the design plan for the whole of our countrysides on it, on one wintery day, under the majestic mountain. I understood why nomads came to garden, and how the only way to do it again, is by creating the most daring business plan, script writing of innovation, growing heritage wheats to save the Holocene, magical experiential events where people come to work the magic, to understand sustainability, conscious cooking and where our feelings end and others start, a world of no separation, all done in large tents under the celestial sphere itself, the Zodiac tent. We have been writing this script for years, it is only that now it all came together.

This is my design plan, its either that or we can all wait for the return of the Zombie mink.

And as a side note, just that we can see how wrong is everything, the mink were all culled because we have discovered a new strain of Coronavirus after they got infected, yesterday a new mutant strain was announced in the south of England. When it was the mink, it was a possible threat that may contribute to another wave of pandemic, but when another strain was discovered at the south of England and in humans it was deemed of no threat what so ever. So maybe in truth the Zombie Mink have a reason to come back and work their revenge on us. (Since writing this it obviously came out that the new mutation was actually very harmful).

So this long post is about how we come back to the original plan, the Holocene is our only book, we lost the oral “writings” of earlier times, indigenous societies sometimes held knowledge of up to 40,000 years, but the idea is the same, tourism can not longer be the sale of a territory when people can not live in it anymore, the trade off of making surplus for people in the city, running back to take some fresh air before they have to dive in for another crazy year in the polluted water.

Tourism as I see it is the reworking of an ancient magic, it is script writing, it teaches people how to be custodians of the earth, but not as organic gardeners, even though that is nice, I mean we teach people the art of magic again, how to become wether magicians, we no longer sell them empty holidays in yurts, because it is nice for them to live in a tribal structure, but much deeper if they actually find out what the tribal coming together felt like. Tourism at is best is a participatory theatre, where one discovers other ways of being, different feelings. I know we all need peace and nature, because we have none of it in modern life, but I would like to script write it as a whole different experience, of discovering the lost magic of being humans on a magical earth, coming together around the fire, and working the stars into trance. Food, experience, magic, land, and wild animals, nomadic tours, and clean water. Tourism is the only place where people can step out of society for a moment, and so it should be the first step in creating a new world. It is just that tourism like everything else has had no design plan or message.

Nature and men, the return of the agricultural machines

One of my favourite themes is agricultural machines.

No, not as you imagine them, although I do have a sort of love affair with old Italian machinery too, especially tracked tractors.

What I am talking about is machines that were made out of the earth, of stone, areas sculpted to turn nature into a machine that farmed on its own.

I live and work in Central Italy currently, in an area that is still seeing the last days of peasant farming, our own farm is called La Difesa, an area that was set aside for the large communal animals, where they used to feed on acorns in the forest at the last days before real winter. Owning that place made think a lot about the nature of farming, about the place Man has in nature.

We are currently seeing a wholesale abandonment of an earlier way of life, their strategy of farming was different to ours, and La Difesa is a symbol of that, where men made areas out of the forest, where he built stone collection areas, channeling water into vineyards, mix of olives and oaks.

I see some of my neighbours pick boulders out of their fields, in order to grow wheat, but those boulders were cogs in an earlier machine, one made to enhance nature, to catch water, to farm on its own, now the water runs down their clay soil and washes the road, which we have to fix every year, but I do not blame them, I admire them. In La difesa, there is a whole other world, the old vineyard, which I used as a campsite for my volunteers, it has been dug up, lime stone floor has been laid as a catchment area, and a meter of soil piled on top of it, the sheer amount of work!, Stone walls work together with old channels to irrigate the land without any interference.

I have found out the hard way, because I love to landscape with a bulldozer, and sometimes Ill dig one of those old machines out, my machine against theirs, I do archaeology and permaculture from the back of a bulldoser, and as you can imagine sometimes it spells destruction.

The marginal areas and the open lands are really where the new war is being fought, Man has got some kind of maintained balance in farmlands, it is not necessarily healthy farming, or good for the soil, but in criticising it, I think many do not take into account that, the issue is not farming practices, it is a global supply chain, small scale farmers have almost no say in how they farm, they barely make ends meet, they should get a medal for the fact they still farm.

War happens in the marginal, and I see it in the sickness of the olive trees, the elms dying before they can mature, nature in the marginal is trying to repair itself, ash trees in Italy are mainly still healthy but who knows how long until ash die back will arrive here too? Ash is the first attempt of nature to reforest, and wild boars are magicians when it comes to making forests too.

Yet all is not well, new sickness comes out of the marginal areas these days, and the wild boars themselves are often sick. The problem is that Man has lost its place in countryside. Where once the old stone cogs would work to enhance the forest, farm with it, without the need to do heavy lifting, now the old machines are buried, stone walls that have fallen down, and nature itself is struggling, you can read it in the trees, or you can read it in the expressions of the old people that live in small villages in the mountains.

War is where nature and Man meet, when the identity we enforce over it falls away, Nature comes back, but it does not favour us, and who could blame it. After all we stopped favouring it, we no longer have time to build our complexes, to naturally breed landraces, to plant our trees in a certain way.

Peasent farming was not agriculture, it was a way of life, when you finished collecting you tomatoes, you will wander around to your apples and trim them, little manure for the olives, and secrets whispered to your wheat. Sure it is easy for us to romanticise it, because in truth it was a hard life, I can still imagine the family who sold me the farm, sleeping all in one room, 2 adults and 5 kids.

The marginal areas are the front line between Man and nature. The settling fathers, those “pioneers” who went over to turn America into an offshore farm, noted that when clearing the forest to plant wheat for the first time, a weird process would start, sickness would come out of the forest for at least 10 years, whole communities would die. Then as if nature gave way to domestication, everything would come down.

That is what is hard for all of us to see, because we only view countryside as farmlands, and although if you were a soil engineer or a specialist the problems would be screaming at you, most of us see it as healthy nature, but what is healthy in a way is that nature gives way to us, it says ‘ok, you can write over this area, you died for it, Ill let you’. It backs off and we farm quietly, maybe too quietly.

It took 3 years for the birds to come back to our oak tree, and now at times there is a party in the two oaks in our garden, where have they been before? Design plan for rural areas (in my mind at least) starts as a conversation with the group identity of small communities and nature, and for those of you that think that a life in nature is pure joy, I would say you have never really lived in a marginal rural area, where nature and man wash on each other like waves, where non can win over the other.

One day the mountain is stronger and the next man is. It drives people crazy, although there is a beauty in it.

It is a question we all face now, of how we would design the large open natural spaces, how we could develop the marginal as a protection belt. If I had a say in it, I would make it like La Difesa, a small belt of forest farming, which is not really farming anything, but keeping nature at bay. My favourite thing is landscape design, and I love doing it on my Old Italian Bulldoser, building up and digging the cogs of the contadino way of life. I clear and plant, yet I laugh at how the wild boars pull all my trees out. ‘Do not plant hazel’, who knew they had such a preference, but after they pulled out the hundred trees I planted for the third time, I gave up.

This is the land of the wild boar king I let him rule, when I let him be, he and his family seem to farm with me, they dig up my gardens but only around the plants, how considerate of them.

It is easy to be an idealist, to farm without farming, the hard thing is to see my neighbours struggling to farm the land, I try too help them, yesterday my neighbour borrowed my digger to go and cut a load of wood, I told him it is crazy to do so in the mud, but a pandemic and lockdown meant the little money they had coming in is gone a long while ago, I drove it home in the dark, the tracks all covered in mud. I love seeing how they cope, they should have been starving by now, as many of them did not really have an income even before, but life goes back to what it used to be before modern laws, it is cold and people go and cut wood and create a circular economy, somehow they survive.

There is this notion, of which I too used to participate, that the abandonment of this peasant farming way of life, can be fought off with a wave of new young people, coming from the cities, people wanting to try to take try their hand in real country living, they tell you, ‘I have come to live my dream’, I laugh, ‘You really have no idea, it is not living your dream, it is fighting to make a living in the face of abandonment’. I tell them ‘if you have the guts to fight for that dream and make a life to sustain it, maybe you will come through’.

I have come to side with the locals, tired of empty projects, a hard mountain people, maybe the mountain made me hard too.

Things will change because this is how it always was. I have changed things simply by repeating the same thing over and over, by creating a new identity in front of the mountain. But I do not love the dreams of people, as much as I love the whispers of the land, the rustling of the quiet, walking over broken down bones of the agricultural complexes of the ancients, there is a war in which I take no sides, my farm is a no war zone, La difesa is made of forest and of Man, it has no plan in modern life, and I would like to keep it that way.

La Difesa the an ancient forest farm

The Old vineyard which we cleared but left semi forested

Job and investment opportunities

Its 2021, who would believe it, seeing the inside of our homes so often. So many things have gone wrong for so many people, and we had our own share if not more.

We feel it is high time we collectively start looking at rural areas, our efforts remain on two fronts Abruzzo where we focus most of our work on a real slow development, where marginal areas can be developed slowly into experiential, maybe even transformational locations, but focusing on keeping local community and villages intact as much as possible. In the UK we would like to help take the whole Glamping industry forward into a new type of experience, themed campsites, and small scale venues of experiential tourism, something that has never really been done before, its the cutting edge of script writing for the tourism industry, and something we have been playing with for years, whenever we and our clients sit and talk about how we really would like to see things done.

What we are looking for is a large land based project, probably an estate, or a conservation project with large land. We would need to find accommodation as part of the project to allow us to be hands on, we will be bringing some of our larger event yurts so our own investment can be from 25k to 50k depending if we can build a campsite as part of the project. We would need a two bedroom house and a small workshop as we aim to keep our cover making work alongside the project.

What we are looking to create is theatre, taking Glamping into a new platform, where clients are no longer just holiday makers, they get to become involved, through heritage foods, and a special eating experience, with a sort of show that takes the client from a spectator into a participant. We look to run events of a new kind, focusing on a return to heritage foods, and historical reference, where man belonged in nature. The themes we aim to play with are tribalism, peasant farming, and traditional issues. The idea is to develop a new kind of an event, a gathering which is like a small scale festival at times, or a high end eating experience, with flavours and foods that have become almost extinct, heritage wheats, and old varieties of food, with participatory theatre, that takes people into the fabric on older ways of life.

We believe that with Covid 19, festivals will have to start becoming smaller type of events, and in a way this ties into it perfectly, it focuses on smaller events of up to 100 people in very special settings, and would be a perfect income for a large estate or farm even. We need someone who is really open to take a new approach to sustainable tourism, and not afraid to venture into a new direction, the fact we are bringing our own tents into the deal means initial investment is low.

We are open to explore an option to run this project from afar, but believe that it would make things much harder, as we would like to guide the whole style of the events. We are also looking for a special type of chef who is open to cooking with and over open fire, and is passionate about the tastes of real foods, and the unique flavours of landraces and heirloom veg and cereal. We focus a lot on heritage wheats, which we help grow in Central Italy, and most passionate about Durum wheats, of which we are collecting some of the oldest in the world. Most of our events focus on handmade pasta as an art form that ties wheat to the land through tradition of peasant farming, but we also play a lot with archeo-foods, old recipes that have been almost lost, and leave one with a question for why.

Because we are starting to venture in some new directions, and to keep our cover work going, we are also looking for someone to train as a seamstress, but the focus here would be for someone to work with us on making covers from distance, and mainly yurt covers, we would prefer a woman, but are open to a man just the same. We need someone passionate about the art of cover making, and can withstand the stress of making seams, we would look to give pass them gradually more and more work, and for them to eventually work independently possibly, but with a clear vision, that we are no longer looking to teach someone to sew yurt covers, so they take our work and compete with us later, so that would need to be clear from the start. We not only are probably one of the longest cover making in the Glamping industry we are almost the only one doing so at a distance, it is not an easy job, and one that can leave you crying. We not only actually wrote the full yurt cover sewing book, we have also taught many in the business, most of which make their own yurts. This time we would like to teach someone that can keep the work in house, even if they operate separately in the end. So it is a chance to work with us, and take on some off our clients, for a larger percentage of the work, we have many regular clients. We have a love for sewing canvas like no one else, born out of endless nights and days where we worked the machine to the bone, and we would like to find someone who loves this art like we do, and work alongside, learn pattern ,makings, and all of our secrets.

We hope 2021 will see us all in a better place, and hope we can start focusing more time on rural development as a whole, take the tourism industry into a more integrated place with small scale farming, and natural conservation, we believe that waiting for politicians to sort it out for us is meaningless, because in truth they do not really have an idea about rural areas, and so we feel the work should be done by all of us regardless, and that if we want to really defeat globalisation taking over, the loss of the countryside and possibly all of freedoms this is the only way. We wish you all a happy new year.

The girl with the crow from a tribal dinner event in Abruzzo

Yin and Yang

‘Bombs’ Marziale said, ‘first they throw bombs and then close everything up’, it was his conspiracy theory.
The gate for his charming ramshackle row of houses was closed behind him, I think it was more of a reflex because the dogs used to come out, but I don’t think he realised that the only dog that posed any danger has been tied for two years now. With a few of his dogs killed by the hunters and a few others gone missing.
The paint on the gate was old, but the tricolours of the Italian flag could still be seen clearly.
He has been our neighbour for over 6 years. His Italian is a dialect special to him only. He made me laugh, i’ll stop every time on the way back home, and even though our conversation would always be the same, as if we are rehearsing, I’ve come to appreciate it.

The fields were all ploughed, and though we usually spoke of our strategy for sowing wheat, it was as if time itself stood still, things did not make sense anymore. The Holocene has come to an end.
Winter was approaching, but the last few years it came late, climate change was everywhere. By ‘bombs’ he meant to say that the pandemic was back, that it was man made, it was dropped on us all.

There is a craziness in rural Italy, one that is hard to make sense of, especially for us that have grown up in the western mindsets. Families are the rule, and there is an ancient law that rules the land, and it all comes together in my neighbour in a strange way. We were leaving, or at least I think we were, something snapped inside me, we were leading a revolution by ourselves, a revolution I did no longer believe in.
So standing there with him outside his gate, the fading tricolours and 10,000 years of sowing wheat, the climate change itself even, and our plans to bring back the heritage wheats of old into production, where all on standby, as if waiting for some heavenly decision, ‘bombs’ he said, ‘they drop bombs on us and than they make new rules’.
This plan that I have convinced him will see him back into farming, more as a way to convince him not to give up. Somehow all of it came together for me, it is this imposing mountain we live under, it makes everything dramatic, everything seems big. I was sitting in the car, talking to the last peasant farmer of Torricella Peligna, about sewing wheat.
The revolution was none other but an effort to save the Holocene from collapsing on itself.
Wheat is what made the weather stable for over ten thousand years, no one really knows about it, because it’s not a scientific fact. It is a pact some long lost ancestor of us made.

One of his dogs set on the ledge of the second floor window, even the dogs here do not follow normal rules, the row of 4 houses were a progression from liveable, to quite broken, to beyond repair, with the last being the house were the dog lives on a window ledge, that dog used to have a brother, one was white and the other was black, the black one used to live on the roof of his house, but he disappeared one day. Then after the roof was somewhat fixed, the remaining puppy, I took to call Yang, because they looked like Yin and Yang, the white has a black head and the black had a white.
The remaining puppy used to sit on the upstairs window, as if he was mourning his brother.
Things were different under the mountain, and it made some dogs behave differently, Yang found a compromise, he only ventured as far as the second floor, his brother went all the way to heaven and disappeared. One needs to find a balance with how far it allowed the mountain to drive him into other planes of existence, the dogs knew it.
It was the time of the second wave and sure no one dropped bombs to infect us all, or so we we think, but it is also true that things stopped making sense.

Yang at the window ledge

It was a picture frame, his dog. Framed by choice over sensibility, the mountain pulls us into higher planes. Sometimes it seems crazy, the old laws of conduct in small Italian villages, so difficult to the outsider at times, that they almost broke me. I felt like I am being asked to make a ruling, here in this strange land of the past, medieval villages are suspended in mid air, dogs are pulled into window ledges, and wheat stands in question, the stability of the Holocene.

I drove back home, I have given all my wheat to local farmers to plant, I give them one seed and they give me two in return, that’s the core of the project. I could not really focus on wheat anymore, In fact I never could. I was running late for work, we have endless yurt covers to make. I wonder how we got to that point, we used to be free, on the road, with no work and no hassle, how come nomads can not travel freely, because they make yurt covers for a thousand campsites.

It is a strange occupation being a yurt maker, and a yurt cover maker (which is the majority of our work) even more so, it’s such an art. We make all of our yurt covers from afar, and believe me it is maybe one of the hardest lines of work. To know how much to add, how much to trust the client’s measurements, where to cut more, where to add less. The fact I was running up and down the mountain, did not help, the measurements of three different covers were turning inside my head to a point that I could not see the math anymore, Pythagoras was taking over but who knows what he was calculating. There are pictures in my mind, snaps, stories and they tend to come out when I sew.
The problem is that it is hard to bring them out to make sense, not so much to me, but to others.

I know what was going on, I know it was not bombs, but I also know my neighbour is not crazy, even though the locals sometimes say he is, he is the last link of a chain of a people, a way of life – the sedentary. I am his neighbour, yet I never belonged anywhere, and though I find it hard to deal with the issues of central Italy, I have found a belonging here. I am though more of a nomad and he, the last peasant farmer. The mountain frames everything in this dramatic sense, a romanticisation of daily lives.
If we did not buy our land with the last houses of the commune, he would have sold already. So I live in the contradiction, it’s the end of time, not because the world is ending, because it is not, what is ending is our pact with the creator.

Currently here, under the mountain where dogs live in their own abandoned houses, perched on window sills, me and my neighbour are facing this question together, can we save the climate?.
What is hard to explain, is that the climate we are used to is an agreement.
It is an agreement made by nomads at the end of the younger dryas (the last ice age) when in order to stop the sky from rotating, which they failed, they chose to live in one place. What they succeeded in, is making the chain of ice ages stop. They did it with wheat, they did it by stopping their roaming.

It is only in the contradictions, on the edge of abandon, or when everything seems to fall apart, something magical opens, like a door. In it you can see the making of ages. Italy of the mountains is ruled by something older, something that seems so foreign to the outsider, it is community.
What makes it hard to see, is that we have a sense of community that we gained from instagram, novels of a paradise lost, of other ways of life.
So it is hard for us to see it, because now, at the end of the Holocene, when all the agreements are falling down, we do not understand that the last guardians of a ten thousand year agreement, are small Italian farmers.

Nomads, it has been said always plunder the sedentary. We, in our own personal journey, have come to place after place like that, the rule of 5 (which also means something else to us) meant that we were used to pack our things and move within 5 minutes, if we deemed a place to be unhealthy. That still drives me crazy, the idea of living in a park-up, in a lay-by for 6 years. The Huns see houses as tombs, and I can not fault the judgement, houses are tombs for nomads.
I sit on a pile of yurt covers, there are only a few people who knows this art, the cover makers, most of which have been taught by us. We have our own language, seam allowances, and shrinkage. Sometime at the end of long day of chasing the illusive line between reality and craziness, trying to find the right place to end the canvas above the yurt door, not sure if to trust the client, or the figures they have sent us, it boils down to intuition, at the end of the day sometimes we have a small victory, a new way to pattern the roof pieces or
another way to stitch the cap. Sometimes we design another tent, but most of all it is impeccability of the trade, throwing yourself into the unknown of
someone else’s frame. Learning a to know from experience what can go wrong, and assume the worst, I laugh how my clients get amazed when I tell them how they took a measurement and why its wrong. To give them their dues, they work hard to measure their frames for us, and we send them back and back again to them to make sure they haven’t got anything wrong.

How did we get here, can nomads make the law for the countryside?, I remember when we lived in tents, and everything seemed sane, even if new age community is a monstrosity, with no real roots in existence, but we were the only people living in tents. The rest of the population lived in houses, we were poor, and once every few years we would sell our tent cover, or poles, it was our way to pay for a new home. which was again a tent, it was like a snake shedding its skin, and in order to afford the new one, he had to sell the old to someone else, this is how it all started.

How did we end up with a thousand campsites, and people in massive estates calling us to make them new yurt covers. Now they ask us how to run the countryside, but we alongside them have ruined it. We turned it into a chain of holiday homes and campsites, we sold them our community and they use it to repackage their massive estates, so we can never buy, or even rent in the countryside, and none of us is really happy, even though for a time they pretend it’s so much better solution to farming, its called diversification, I can call it diversify your attention from what’s really going on.

So you see, it is hard to strike a balance between the real and the made up, the lines are diffused, only a few yurt cover-makers know that art, only they understand. We live in a lie, because as long as we make yurts for sedentary people we can not travel, it is their way to keep us in place, they sell our art, and the country side with it to an endless stream of people who would never live in it. Together we have repackaged the land and made it less accessible to all.

We have no time to make up our mind, to lead the sedentary into another epoch, because there is always the next yurt cover to make, I am lucky because I have trained others to make covers with me, and it gave me some time to focus on something else. We dreamed together, but the pressure of making a cover after cover, yurt after yurt, broke their dreams. They feel like we will never find freedom, all that we have found is an endless pile of patterning, we got holed in small homes and workshops. Once the only campsites were where we lived, around the fire.

We all knew how to make our tents. Sure, none of us were very good at it because we only did it every few years. Now we sold our freedom, and we make the best tents in the world, I know things about pattern making that few do, Its an art, when you get good at it you can do it in mid air, its a space a few can hold, the patterns float, and you must hold them all inside you, balancing all the factors, holding all the measurements, the canvas shrink, the stitching. We sold our way of life and the community, and as long as we keep doing so, to people who re-market it as an experiential tourism, nor we or them can ever find it again.
The people who I’ve trained blame me, and maybe they are right. I feel like something is looming over us all. It is decision time. Underneath all this industry of selling the landscape as a package, there is a small family of tent makers, and most of us are related.

In central Italy the mountain rules all, I know that modern society is incapable of true community, it does not even know what it should look like. We have become accustomed to making belief, we convince each other community still exists. I have lived in the marginal, in the borderlands of society all my life, I have seen enough alternative communities to know nothing is different. Maybe I am the only one that will say it, but there is no such thing as sustainable tourism either. We sell abandoned lands as a dream, as a resource, when we aren’t willing to live sustainably in them.
I have been up since 5 in the morning, and I am on the verge of giving up on my (now) one man revolution, I know something else. It is just hard to speak about it, my “crazy” neighbour seems the only sane person around, ‘bombs’ of coronavirus, are the mark of the end of an epoch. Most of us are so distracted by Covid-19, that we do not see that the countryside itself is sick, the apple trees, the olives. This last year has seen a whole olive field next to our place in Italy, develop a new sickness. We are all so homocentric that we miss out, currently (it seems to me at least) all of the non local varieties of fruit trees are dying. Sure they always had less tolerance to sickness, but they managed, you do not expect them all to die within one year. After all the olive grove next to our houses have been there for 30 years.

I say I am a nomad, but there have been no true nomads for over ten thousand years. Nomadism as we know it is an offshoot of the neolithic revolution, the people of the steppe domesticated horses, and it gave them a trading power. They lived in yurts, and now I feel like their last descendant, I know things that only exist in contradictions. We have ran out of a design plan, our rent is due. I led a one man’s revolution, I have to make up my mind, but my mind does not function like other people’s.

In the long long ago, all mammals have been infected by a virus, not unlike we are now. ‘Bombs’ he said it, and it makes me laugh.
Some think he is crazy, but there is a sanity in how he sees things, in his dialect, it is a language of his own, made from being the last frontier man for so many years, farming the last farm of the village. The real edge of abandonment makes one sane in ways others can not comprehend, it is where nature writes Man.

All of our minds have been infected by a virus, and this is how we think. Activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein or ARC as it is known, plays a critical role in synaptic plasticity in our brains. With an important function in our memory. It has been suggested that it acts in a very similar way to a virus, self assembling into virion-like capsids that encapsulate RNA as it does.
It is thus theorised to be repurposed from a viral event somewhere in earlier evolution in order to mediate intercellular communication in neurones.
What?!! you may ask.

We have ALWAYS been thinking like a virus!!!, in fact thinking is a viral function, and that is what I am trying to say, what we deem crazy, is that some of us do not encapsulate in the same manner, our thoughts are not regular, and mine never seem to have been. We are humans, now scared of a new virus, always scared of the virus, yet it is the virus itself that taught us to be scared. We above all other animals, we are not the smartest, we just got more virused. That is why community is hard for us, we make separation inside our heads, the capsids we wrap around our thoughts and memories.
Yet that was then (million of years ago) and now is now, and now is the time for someone to make a decision, the trees are dying, and the Holocene is at an end, not because of climate change, but because we stopped honouring our agreement with the creator, when nomads come to farm.

Living in the marginal makes you see things that others do not, and it teaches you to not put stock in thoughts, or agreements, those work very well for people in the city, they live in a system, for me houses are tombs, and thoughts are a take over from another ancient pandemic, one that has changed mammals into new evolutionary strategy. So we think, and we think a lot, we remember also, but it is just the function of a virus from long ago, and even though it gave us brilliance, we still need to make our choices for ourselves, the trade off for that so called brilliance is community, what made us “better” than the animals, is not that we are, is that we think is separation, we can break the biome, we can encapsulate the idea of the individual, and they can not, they have been infected like us, but never got as sick.
My problem is that I need to decide for others.

Writing for me is a way to bridge all of that, where I live there are no rules. Simply because no one wants to live there. I was pushed all of my life to this place, the borderland, even as a kid. So now my mind works in a different way, and it takes a lot to balance it all, I have to wake up at 4am to think clearly. The hard truth about the virus that made us able to think, is that it gave us one mind only, and made us all share it. None of us think alone. I took me years to accept that fact. I was taught by others, the simple first steps into telepathy, and it almost ruined me. What was hard was not being able to hear other people’s thoughts, it was understanding that none of mine were ever my own.

So I guess since then the only place that makes sense is the marginal, the abandoned lands without design, where nature and Man hit on each other as waves. It is a contradiction – where nomads come to farm, to hold the last days of an epoch at bay, and because I do not like to decide for others, I find myself sitting on a mountain of yurt covers, that we make for a string of campsites, places that have “diversified”, or in other words, stopped farming. We are nomads and we never cared about farming. I mean we are all nomads, we only farm because there are too many of us to live freely, we killed too many animals. That is the story of the last epoch, that is why we spent ice age after ice age in isolation. The world was devastated in ways we could no longer fathom. Now we freak out because one degree celsius of change, at the end of the last ice age, our ancestors stood a much more nomadic earth. Their stories of the flood, and comets, of endless winters of starvation is what drove them to a new agreement, but even then it was not all of them who decided, it was a small group of people who came together to hold the sky from rotating. They tried to stop the heavenly mill from grinding the ages, and they failed, but they did manage something else, they managed to appease the creator, and they gave us the Holocene, they were as wild as we are tame, we fear a change of 2 degrees, which comes to show how stable our climate is.

I have to make up my mind, but I no longer trust the mind, I say this, if we are to make a new decision if we are called to turn the heavenly mill around again, our rent is due, and we can no longer find a house to live in, because houses are tombs, yet nomads are just horse breeders without an idea, that do not even grow their own food.

Nomads have been a threat to the climate, because the climate is an agreement they made, I write because I feel you too must have a say. In order to find sanity.
I always ran away, my mind maybe does not work like yours, I need a lot of quiet to hear my own thoughts, so much so, I usually do not trust mine, only at 4 am while the world is asleep. I know the thoughts are mine.

I have learned to trust something else, which is more akin to feelings.
I see truths in contradictions, where dogs sit on window ledges, where the crazy are actually the sane ones. Yang lives on the window of a broken house, mourning because Yin has gone to heaven.

A once in a lifetime opportunity to buy a dream. Two farmhouses with 30 acres in the purest Italian landscape.

La difesa Farmhouse and Shepard hut

We are looking for a buyer for our Italian site and project, this is a very rare opportunity to plug and play into an existing project. we are hoping to find a young couple with enough resources and finance to pick up the project from where we got it to. We would like to not only sell the property but also pass some of the association work to whoever takes over, which means that with enough dedication you can also have an income, and get involved directly in one of the most important issues currently, which is rural development in marginal areas, possibly you can work with us and take over our existing projects in area, so there is a lot of scope there too.

The outside wood-fired bath

The property consists of some of the wildest, most magical land in Abruzzo, it is in the heart of the valley of the Aventino river, looking to the Majella massif, arguably central Italy’s most spectacular mountain range. This is a slow valley, where a traditional way of life is still practiced.

The Majella Massif and the valley

The property itself of 12 hectares of land (almost 30 acres) and an abandoned farmstead we have brought back to life, a lot of work has been put into the old farmhouse to renovate it to a special type of unique old style accommodation. The land itself is made of some open fields, surrounding by oaks, and old forest. The property has two small streams runing on opposite sides, one of which borders the property itself for some 200m, the other is maybe 50m from the property border.

One of the small pools at the bottom river

This is not any abandoned farm tough, it is built on its own in one of the Old Difese, areas that were dedicated to forest farming, and rearing large animals on acorns. Hence the oaks were never cut. The project we have in mind for this amazing farm, is to create a new type of forest farming model of agriculture, in order to address some of the issues that central Italian mountains are currently facing, where small scale farming is at a crisis. The focus is to bring old varieties of fruit, and veg, nut trees, and maybe even the old vineyard (the area has some very special varieties which are unique to it) back. Its really a once in a lifetime chance to live and work in a world that has disappeared. With wild nature, wolves, bears and deer, boars and eagles. Slow Italian way of life, a magical valley shroud in old magic, religious beliefs, and mystery one of which is the secret hot spring that used to run until 50 years ago in the land below our property.

The old vineyard and olive field

We have brought back to life some 80 olive trees, most are of the intosso variety, it now enjoys the presidio slow food recognition and is considered one of Italy’s best olive oil makers, with bottles going up to 20 euro for hald a litre, there are various apple trees dotting the forest, plums, figs, cherries and more, so it is already an edible food forest by itself, yet with a scope for another 500 fruit trees easily.

The aim of the project is to also create a unique accommodation on site, we have 5 yurts of various sizes, and one Shepard hut that can be sold with the property, we have been toying with the idea to turn all the houses nearby into a scattered hotel, as so many of those are semi abandoned, yet we have so much time on our hands, and it is usually full with other projects.

We have 5 coppiced yurts that can be included in the sale of the property

A little way away from the site itself we also have a 2/3 bedroom house and another small plot for garden, this is closer to the tarmac road, it is also totally on its own and private, close to that house we also have the possibility of another 30 hectares at a really good price with two old houses which we were looking to turn into an albergho diffuso as part of the project, so currently as part of the same sale there is the option of owning a whole hamlet, and this can in that case turn into a community project.

The top 2 bedroom farmhouse and garden

The idea is to find a young couple of a small group of friends that is willing to take forward the work and the project, there is a possibility for us to transfer some of our work with local farmers in regards to heritage wheat, which can be developed further into a point it can be a full time employment. As Abruzzo has seen a tremendous boom in tourism and demand from buyers, this is probably the best time in our lifetime to invest in this region. It is one of the last gems of an older way of life, and for which we would like to protect it.

Volunteering with our heritage wheat project

We feel that with everything else we have on, work commitments and the fact that we spend so much time away from the UK we can no longer give this project what it needs, and it would be best to pass it on completely to someone who can invest all their time and focus, and can enjoy it better, we would prefer not to sell it as glamping site as such, because we have a completely different vision for it, where we hoped to use this site as regenerative model for farming communities in the central italian mountains. It is also because of our work in rural areas we are also progressively against holiday homes, and part time rural living, which is deciding us against simply keeping it as a part time project.

If you are looking to a new breath of life, if you feel like you are missing out, that you need to live closer to the earth, that you need to farm, if you want to help some of the wildest, most hospitable of regions, a place made of endless natural parks and wildlife, this project is your dream come true. Seeing that we have endless pictures and 6 years of association work there is really so much we can say here. It would be best to contact us directly, and have a chat over the phone. We can talk prices and options.