EVERY morning, before dawn, Jade Miles heads bush to start her day immersed in nature.
She may be gone two hours or 10 minutes - but rain, hail or shine, it is a given.
Afterwards she brews a pot of tea with herbs plucked from her garden and retreats to a quiet corner or sunny nook.
It is her time to regroup before the rush of family routine rolls around.
Over dinner with husband Charlie Showers and their three children at their Stanley farmhouse, they practice gratitude; each sharing a good, bad and funny story from the day just gone.
They value a mid-winter bonfire with their nearest and dearest. On the longest day of the year they host a potluck picnic in their back paddock on Black Barn Farm.
Miles says seeking out rituals and honouring rites of passage builds confidence and calm and assures us of who we are at the end of the day.
"The way we spend our minutes is how we spend our days and in no time at all it amounts to our life," she says.
"Our leaders are driven by elections rather than legacy thinking, so short-termism dominates our culture and has removed our desire to stop, take time and ritualise our lives."
A blogger for many years, Miles says her musings on lifestyle, food systems, curbing consumption and actively being part of the community galvanised during the Summer Bushfire Crisis 2019-2020.
With Charlie away fighting fires, the scale of the emergency really hit home.
"I kept hearing and reading things about 'they' really need to fix this problem," Miles recalls.
"Every time I was thinking: 'Who are they?' We can't always rely on government; people need to fix things as a community."
Together with Catie Payne, Miles launched a weekly podcast Futuresteading in April 2020, when the smoke had finally dissipated but the reality of a global pandemic was sinking in.
Simply put, Miles says, Futuresteading is living like tomorrow matters.
The term riffs on "homesteading" and has its roots in permaculture; actions are localised, simplified, slow and food-oriented but, most of all, cultural.
As a writer and Fair Food advocate, Miles says a book about the Futuresteading philosophy was a natural progression.
Released mid-week, Futuresteading: Live Like Tomorrow Matters is a down-to-earth handbook offering skills, recipes and rituals for creating a simpler life.
Miles says the book explores The Why and The How, Season by Season; stunning illustrations are complemented by exquisite photography from homegrown business Capture by Karen.
"You don't have to live on sprawling acreage to have an impact," she says.
"Whether you live in a city apartment, in the suburbs or on 20 acres, the principles of Futuresteading offer easy-to-understand information and hands-on ideas.
"Grow delicious food and medicinal plants; share rituals with loved ones through the seasons; feast on healthy home-cooked food for the family; nourish body and soul with outdoor expeditions and moments of rest; and create wonders with your hands."
Having moved to the North East in her early 20s, Miles settled on Black Barn Farm six years ago with Charlie to establish their own permaculture orchard and nursery business.
During a four-month study tour of Vermont, US, the couple gained an in-depth understanding of how effective a local food system could be for the resilience of rural communities.
Instrumental in getting Beechworth Food Co-op off the ground, they have given practical support to farmers, schools, community-owned enterprises, co-operatives and government departments.
Soon the public will reap the benefits of what they've sown on their own soil.
"We'll offer pick-your-own fruit in some capacity from February to May next year," Miles says.
Generating her first book during a one-in-100-year global pandemic, Miles says the public health crisis also highlighted weaknesses in other systems.
She says food security and supply chains could no longer be taken for granted.
"It was the first time in a lot of people's lives that they couldn't get things they wanted at the shops," she says.
"People are now considering, like never before, where their food comes from."
Speaking just after Victorian Lockdown 6.0 came into effect, Miles says there is hope and heart in relishing rituals.
"Our worlds have been turned on their head and instability feels more normal than not," Miles says.
"But there is so much soothing in daily rituals. For me it's digging a hole or chopping wood; it has to be physical. I know that's not everyone's thing; it might be sitting quietly with a cup of tea and mending socks.
"We've learnt the value of community, found other ways to connect with our clans, sought simplicity, learnt skills to build a different world and will happily never hear the words pivot or resilience again!"
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