Dumbo Feather Issue 58

Dumbo Feather is an iconic Australian magazine. Published quarterly for seven years, and hailed around the world as a design leader, it is a magazine like no other. Our readers are people who want to be told a different story than the one they hear every day. Each quarterly issue features five extended (20 page) profiles of people worth knowing, across enterprise, education, science, sport, politics, fashion and the arts. Whether they’ve touched millions, or just those around them, we take the time to get to know these people, and ask them to tell us their stories.

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3 Edities

in deze editie

2 min

Dear reader, I have to admit I was reluctant to do an entire issue of Dumbo Feather about farming. It seemed too niche, specific only to farmers themselves or those with a green thumb. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The art and practice of working the land (or better yet, working with the land) is everyone’s business. It always has been. It determines how healthy our bodies are, how resilient the planet is. It affects our wellbeing, our ecosystems. According to Project Drawdown, it is one of the most powerful opportunities we have to reverse global warming. What I quickly learned is that farming is as much about nourishing the land as it is about producing food. Our ancestors knew this. And yet somehow over time we’ve drawn a big line between…

3 min
living soil

WORMS & MILLIPEDES The mining and shredding machines of the soil cityscape, these comparatively giant animals feed on plant residues and convert them into food for smaller organisms. FUNGI The most famed and prized of all soil life forms, the threads of mycorrhiza fungi form a network through the soil like a central nervous system—communicating with plant roots and assisting them to mine nutrients. PROTOZOA While munching on bacteria, thousands of single-celled protozoa release nitrogen into the soil—an essential macronutrient for plant growth. BACTERIA Diverse and numerous, there are billions of bacteria in a mere one gram of soil. NEMATODES Visible under the microscope as tiny worms, nematodes are the most numerically abundant animals on the planet. They help release nutrients for plant growth. REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE If the soil is fed, we will be fed. Regenerative farmers believe soil health, environmental…

7 min
the spiral of existence

Spring’s surge begins while the wind still blows frigid air from Antarctica, while the ocean roars and crashes under stormy skies, while we humans settle into the long, cold nights of winter. Daylight increases, very slowly at first. The legumes and grasses sense it. The sun is returning south. Sunlight is eaten, carbon is drawn from the air, and both are trickled down through tiny root hairs penetrating the earth. The life beneath the soil awakens as the sweet exudes ignite the community surrounding the plant’s roots. Soil organisms breed, reproduce, proliferate. These are the mineral miners and organic matter digesters, the underground communication network, the tunnellers who open air-pockets and increase water penetration. They symbiotically transform organic matter, carbon and weathered rock into stable humus—the perfect structure of moisture and minerals…

6 min
what i’ve learned from masanobu fukuoka

“ Food and medicine are not two different things: they are the front and back of one body. Chemically grown vegetables may be eaten for food, but they cannot be used as medicine.” —Masanobu Fukuoka When Masanobu Fukuoka was 24 years old, he had an epiphany that would set his life on a completely new track and ultimately change the world. This was in 1937, and Masanobu, who had trained as an agricultural scientist, was working as an agricultural customs inspector when he was struck down by pneumonia. Lying in his hospital bed, unable to escape thoughts of his own death, an existential crisis took hold of him which would not abate even after the illness had passed. He could barely work and spent his nights wandering aimlessly, deeply depressed. Then,…

5 min
letter to a young farmer

“Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the centre of an education.” —Alice Waters Dear young farmer, I want to start by saying “thank you.” Thank you for choosing to be a farmer and for choosing to take care of the planet. Thank you for dedicating yourself to feeding us all. And thank you, too, for being the inspiration for my restaurant—indeed, for my life’s work. You are my partner in change. Forty-four years ago, when I first opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, I could never have imagined that my restaurant would be anything more than a small neighbourhood place for my friends to gather and talk politics. When I was 19 years old, I spent a year in France. I can honestly say that…

5 min
growing ag talent

I’m 16 and my mate and I are standing out the front of his farmhouse watching a wall of fire rolling across the fields in the distance. It’s the middle of harvest and I’m shitting myself. To get to this point, the crops have already dodged every other force of nature. Not enough rain, too much rain, frost, pests. Now fire. Personal harm is pretty unlikely in a grassland fire, but the danger to crops and animals is high. As we stand gazing through the smoky haze we can see the flames edging closer. In the great story of farming luck, there is a tangible change in the atmosphere. A puff of breeze on our backs signals that the winds have turned. The fire is blown back on itself and denied…