Publication Details

Ihlein, L. M. (2015). The Yeomans Project: peri-urban field work. Axon: Creative Explorations, 5 (1), 1-14.

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The Yeomans Project


Despite moves towards inner-urban consolidation, Australian cities continue to expand in girth. In the process, housing development transforms formerly rural land into "peri-urban" settlements. These transitional zones are often sites of contestation: they place pressure on local amenities and infrastructure, reveal limitations in transportation and food systems, and conflict with “lifestyle” values. In this paper I explore these tendencies through the lens of an art project about Australian farmer P.A. Yeomans. Between 1940 and 1980, Yeomans developed a system of organic farming - "Keyline" - optimised for the poor soils and low rainfall of Australian conditions. Keyline has been hugely influential, particularly on the permaculture movement, which advocates re-localisation of food production in inner-cities. But Yeomans’ own farms, despite being praised as exemplars of “agricultural heritage”, are themselves in the process of being wiped out by medium-density housing developments.