Who are the cultiwilding people?


…We are here to cultivate our wildness. The wild being that which is out there, in the “natural world”. For argument’s sake, let’s not dwell on that difficult term, natural, and just suspend disbelief: out there where the bees and the trees do their thing. Finding ways with the wild, cultivating its essences, building alliances, that’s the idea of cultiwilding as a lifeway and as a food system and as an attitude to landscapes. Long time ago a friend gave me a copy of Jay Griffiths’ “Wild: An Elemental Journey“, who herself presents it in this way:

“…This book was the result of many years’ yearning. A longing for something whose character I perceived only indistinctly at first but which gradually became clearer during my journeys. I was looking for a quality of wildness, which, like art, sex, love and all the other intoxicants, has a rising swing ringing through it. A drinker of wildness, I was tipsy with it before I began and roaring drunk by the end…”

On page nine in that copy (from 2008), we encounter this line in the sand, this provocatory? statement:

“…There are two sides: the agents of waste and the lovers of the wild. Either for life or against it. And each of us has to choose...”.

We keep choosing, we keep failing, we keep finding ourselves loaded with confusion, complacent complicity, and associated “guilt”, in heavy industrial, energy intensive trappings, such as as this fossil-fuel produced, high precision steel-nuts-and-bolts scenario, paradoxically and in self-contradiction, freighting oak chips in a plastic barrel in order to cultivate the wild:

Anyway, when I say we, I mean me myself and my family. Kids and a dog are in the nuclear set-up, compounded by an itinerant grandmother and a fly-by uncle, and I will return to the latter later, but the kids do not need to feature in public. My life’s partner since 1997 – a friend, lover, nurse, doctor, patient, confidante, director, assistant and emotional support animal – Nina, has her own presentation elsewhere. No need to reproduce it here. As for me, these are the milestones and major phases:

  • Smalltown boy: international transport industry, in a hub of truck drivers with anecdotes from as far as Tehran/Iran, Kabul/Afghanistan, Saudi-Arabia, the ports of Piraeus and Genova; the passes of the Balkan and Carpathian mountains; and a diesel garage with everything petrochemcial and an angle grinder far too big for me, in my hands, at eight years old, put to work; seen much of Europe and too many service stations to remember by the time I drove 40-ton lorries across the alps myself. To quite some extent I remain identified as an asphalt sailor
  • Packed my backpack and left it all behind; encountered neo-colonial DIY raves in Goa, marvelling at the beauty of self-organised, leaderless accomplishments culminating in mind-manifesting gatherings of lost and creative youth from across the planet; and had my mind blown by the sounds, sights, smells and the whole shabang that is the Indian subcontinent in its advanced state of decay. Perceived, felt the dark side globalisation rising from the ashes. Met Nina.
  • University life (BA, MA, PHD) where I was fortunate to live out my white privilege in an excellent place – long since sadly gone – called The School of Independent Studies at University of Lancaster in the North West of England. I dabbled in everything from astrophysics to zoology, composing my own BA study plan with the thematic framing of “Globalisation & Technology”, pondering the developmental trajectories of information technology from cave paintings to extra-terrestrial networks (merely an idea at the time, now reality), and how that intersects with the evolution of consciousness and culture, as well as the nature and history of social movements, change in society generally and political agency particularly; and, of course the legal, organisational, institutional and mythical aspects of civilisation . The MA was also self-directed, but with a given overarching framework: Applied Research & Consultancy. Eventually there had to be a focus for the phd, which became “Property, Commoning and the Politics of Free Software” – a manual in property hacking against a backdrop of social movements – with reference to the concept of commoning and the spirit of pirate rebellion – informed by a critical analysis of copyright, copyleft and the Free Culture movement.
  • Student life also involved deep and traumatic engagement with “…the Movement against Capitalist Globalization…“, resulting among much else in two independent documentaries – genoca citta aperta and DOGS RUN FREE – and the beginning, in the summer 2000, of integrating permaculture principles in our lives
  • In 2006 I went to the Amazon, where Nina did field work for her thesis. It changed everything. Again. Animism, all things are alive in a discursive framework where everyone and everything is entitled to a projection of agency: rocks, rivers and trees have spirit, you can interact with those, birds foretell the future in song, people do not have psychotic breakdowns or suffer from schizophrenia, rather when the phenomena Euro-Americans diagnose that way unfold, they are adressed in a manner and with a language that suggest an expansion of consciousness and the emergence of an ability to heal the community. The energetic, dynamics and systems theory-oriented way of framing reality that is typical of some Amazonian shamans revealed itself as an excellent guide going forward further and finally into adulthood
  • Two kids. What can you say? They do change everything, somehow. Even if everything stays the same. As a stay-at-home, though travelling, father, reflections on gender, power, subsistence and life fulfillment are plentiful
  • Five seasons as pro bono host, cook, workshop leader and more in a real food guest house in southern Ardeche, dishing up research based healing recipes with delicious ingredients sourced from local, small-scale and more-than-organic farms for people with health trouble, especially auto-immune conditions, who were seeking to take their health into their own hands, often when given up in by the established health care system
  • Return to the Amazon after eight years of absence and shocked by the pace of development. Having spent more than three years in total in the rain forest, I have seen enough to know that I have seen too much to ever fully heal the scar it has left on my soul
  • Moving to Egholt and commencing the cultiwilding journey (here from the automatic typewriter):

“…Cultiwilding: A Synthesis of Rewilding, Permaculture, and Regenerative Agriculture

In the world of land management and ecological restoration, there’s often a tension between seemingly opposing philosophies. On one hand, there’s the concept of rewilding, which advocates for the restoration of ecosystems to their natural state, often employing a biology-deterministic perspective. On the other hand, approaches like permaculture and regenerative agriculture celebrate humans as creative agents embedded in landscapes, shaping them in ways that are productive and harmonious.

Enter “Cultiwilding.” This emerging concept seeks to bridge the gap between these perspectives, offering a holistic approach that recognizes the value of both wild spaces and cultivated areas. At its core, Cultiwilding is about striking a balance that acknowledges the ecological importance of rewilding while embracing the positive role of humans in nurturing and creatively enhancing ecosystems.

Cultiwilding rests on several key principles. Firstly, it emphasizes the creation of mixed landscapes that seamlessly blend wild and cultivated zones, fostering biodiversity and ecological resilience. Secondly, it encourages holistic management practices that consider the entire ecosystem, not just isolated components. Thirdly, it promotes the use of regenerative techniques in agriculture to restore soil health and enhance the sustainability of food production.

A real-world case study of Cultiwilding in action highlights the practical application of these principles. This approach seeks to achieve a harmonious coexistence between wild and cultivated spaces, offering numerous benefits. Enhanced biodiversity supports ecosystems and food production, while regenerative practices help sequester carbon, mitigating climate change. Moreover, Cultiwilding fosters resilient communities capable of self-reliance and sustainability.

However, Cultiwilding is not without its challenges. Striking the right balance between wild and cultivated spaces can be complex, and promoting awareness and understanding of Cultiwilding principles is essential. Additionally, garnering policy support for such practices is crucial for their widespread adoption…”.

Ultimately, the future of Cultiwilding envisions a world where humans coexist harmoniously with nature, recognizing the creative potential we hold in restoring and nurturing ecosystems. It offers a pathway toward a more biodiverse, sustainable, and harmonious future, calling for a paradigm shift in our relationship with the natural world.

Cultiwilding people