The Book of KinJan 09, 2021
What legacy will you leave for those who come after you?
I have considered this question a lot throughout my permaculture journey and very much so after holding space for loved ones who have passed.
In this reflective time, I considered the 8 forms of wealth (another blog coming soon) and how a legacy can have many different expressions. In this sharing, I give some insight into how I hope to leave something of value not just to my direct family but to all Kin. In saying that, this blog is titled The Book of Kin, so I will indulge you with how I came to create one for my family and how it has been integrated into my online permaculture program.
First things first, legacy, as I see it now...
I have planted edible gardens and food forests in the various properties I have lived on and those of my clients over the years, and these, I hope, will become a legacy for future generations. Even the plants I propagate and sell from my nursery are rooted in people's homes all around the tropical areas of Australia, which I feel contributes to this legacy too. Knowing that Bunya Nut trees, Mulberries, and Elderberries (to name just a few) will be food and medicine for people in this region long after my life is heartwarming.
As I continue to observe, learn and practice this art of design and grow with nature, I have read many books from people no longer here, like Masanobu Fukuoka, Percival Alfred Yeomans, and Isabell Shepard (just to name a few again) who passed on their intellectual wealth as a legacy I continue to enjoy. They even inspired me to write my own book, the Incredible Edibles Tropical Superfoods Guide, and I plan to write more!
As an educator, I realise that I stand on the shoulders of giants, and knowledge passed onwards, down the lineages, keeps the fire alight, and, in some ways, evolving. I have done courses or attended lectures with teachers like Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton, Robin Clayfield, Robin Francis, Ian Lillington, Penny Livingstone Stark and Darron Doherty, to mention just some of my favourite people who have passed on their skills and knowledge to me over the years. I have been connecting the dots between what I have gained and how to communicate it by teaching Permaculture Design Courses and workshops in my own garden and developing an online program focused on helping families learn permaculture living together. Another legacy that I hope goes far and wide with the students I am so lucky enough to share with!
Finally, my grandmother, Valmay, was especially close, and she still visits me in my dreams to teach me lessons. In fact, all of my grandparents have been pivotal in teaching me how to be or how not to be, and their legacy lives on in me. Some have left me some financial wealth, though it is their stories and life struggles, the memories and experiences we enjoyed together are the cultural and experiential wealth I value so much.
Finding the Book of Kin...
A series of books that first introduced me to the Permaculture concept was The Ringing Cedars of Russia by V.Megre. They have influenced my life in many ways, from how I garden (placing seeds in my mouth to access my DNA and, in some ways, inspired me to eat more consciously, become a producer rather than a consumer, and create easy-to-make products at home and the ways I educate and raise my children.
Even the way I conceived and home-birthed my daughter was with consideration to some of the wisdom shared within the pages.
In particular, one of the nine books that really stood out to me was The Book of Kin.
After spending some time in the Jungles and working with plants on a more spiritual level than my usual gardening and eating, I was reminded of the importance of leaving a legacy...to plan for the next seven generations. Not just my lifetime, not my children and their grandchildren, but seven more lifetimes. In these deep meditations, I receive useful information that I bring back to my daily life and implement. One message or guidance that came through was to teach permaculture to families and to create a Book of Kin. I saw the importance of documenting the wisdom relevant to each family and their landscapes so that the lessons are contained and organised in one place and can be reflected upon and shared in the years to come.
So what is the Book of Kin?
Kin means ‘relations’ and includes not just your blood family, but also the animals, plants and other beings.
My version is that it is a dedicated book that holds the wisdom of my family and the land where I live. A family's Book of Kin can include anything they feel relevant to pass down their family line, the information they can learn from and improve their life and household traditions. It captures the knowledge of the plants and animals of the place and how to live a permaculture life.
As a permaculture designer, I see the value in people having visual plans and records of the plants they grow, notes of planting and harvesting and photographs of their journey. I imagine a time when we can tell detailed stories of the land and teach the newcomers to that place about what, how and why we have cared for or stewarded that special place. If we are ever to move on, it would be beneficial to hand over the 'green print' as a legacy so they, too, can continue caring for Kin.
For e.g. This Rollinia Tree is our Kellinia Tree, as it was planted over our Kelpie Kelly. Every year, a swarm of bees comes through to pollinate the fruit, and we can sit underneath it and feel the vibration from the buzzing hum. It's about 11 years old now and has flowers, developing fruits, and ripe fruits all at the same time, almost year-round. We grow passionfruit over its canopy for two fruits to harvest in the same space and for lots of shade, as it is the place where we do our hot-composting, store our worm farm and hand a chair swing from a branch. It is one of the coolest places to be on a hot summer's day; ask our chickens - they love to dig and lay in the mulch there! Another great thing about it is that it shades our zone 1 kitchen garden in summer when it has all its leaves, and in winter, it sheds its leaves (deciduous) to let light in when we need it! During our in-person gardening workshops, we set up hay bail seats underneath and enjoy it as an outdoor classroom.
The information that we keep in our Book of Kin includes;
- An observation chart to record the special animals, plants and weather each month.
- Seasonal living resources, including edible gardening planting guides.
- A lunar calendar with dates to journal our monthly intentions and do our garden work and planting in tune with the moon phases.
- Our wheel of the year poster cycles with the seasons and notes of how we enjoy the seasonal celebrations bring meaning to the changes in our environment.
- Our animals and plant allies; the research we do to learn about them and gain insight into their uses, personalities and powers for healing.
- Our favourite recipes for keepsakes and make for special occasions.
- Art, musings, activities - whatever I feel worthy of inclusion.
- All of the how-to resources from each of the 96 Activities & Games to Learn Permaculture Through Nature Play as we journey through sustainability principles and create a resource for our future - together within the Nature Kids Club Permaculture Program.
This is the template title page for the Book of Kin lesson so our students can start to make their own. As with all our resources, they are made to colour in or as inspiration to freestyle.
Are you inspired to begin your own personal or family Book of Kin? Learn more about our growing community of earth carers enjoying our online curriculum, Nature Kids Permaculture Program For Families!