20 Cheeky Questions: Rohan Anderson

Rohan Anderson realised many years ago that he had no desire to continue consuming highly processed, industrialised food, and living a complicated and stressful life. He moved to rural Victoria, planted a garden, learned to cook and hunt, and started Whole Larder Love, a passionate, occasionally divisive, and brilliantly honest blog documenting his food/life journey.

Since then, things have kind of gone mad for Rohan. He wrote one book, travelled the globe talking about his food philosophy and ethics, and has just released his second book, A Year of Practiculture. We’re pretty stoked he’s found the time to answer our questions about his new book, life, and other cheeky bits and pieces.

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, and your life with plants?
I realised a while back that I wanted to distance myself from modern processed foods and revert back to growing most of my own food in my backyard. I also hunt for most of the meat I feed my family, and trade with local ethical farmers for pork. At certain times of the year I go to my special spots out in the bush and pick free food, be it fruit, mushrooms, edible weeds etc.

Can you please tell us a bit about your new book A Year of Practiculture?
This book contains the story of a year in my life, beginning in Spring, following the efforts to prepare for the harsh central highlands winter. It’s also full of recipes of the food I cooked, stories of factual events, excellent use of witty humour, and my food philosophy snuck in as per usual.

What does Practiculture mean?
My life is full of practical activities necessary for me to survive. I’ve deliberately committed to avoiding supermarkets for much of my food, and although I don’t refer to myself as ‘self sufficient’ (a paradox) I do grow most of the food for my family. My life is full of practical tasks, like planting and propagating food plants, preserving food, learning new food skills and fixing things when they break.

If you were a plant, what would you be?
Anything resilient, with no special needs. Probably something like a succulent or a successful climbing weed like Ivy. Tough, durable and independent.

What cheers you up? 
When I’m out bush, somewhere isolated in nature, somewhere away from human distractions.

Hearing my daughters giggle cheers me up when I’m sad. But then I do happy tears. So it can be confusing for people around me.

What is the habit you are proudest of breaking or want to break?
Being an alcoholic and a chain smoker. Whilst I enjoyed it at the time, it took a heavy toll on my body and relationships. I see my new life as part of a human metamorphosis. I often refer to myself as ‘the old Ro’ and ‘the new Ro’.

What is your favourite word?
Love. It has so much promise.

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time?
Yes. My daughters.

Name a skill you wish you had.
Welding. It’s on my list of practical skills to learn. The amount of times I’ve had to ask friends to weld me something is annoying. I’d love to be more independent and be able to make things with metal myself. The cost of a welder has put me off for years, but one day.

What is the most played song on your playlist?
I listen to a good deal of old country music, it takes me back to a time when I may not have existed but wish I did.

If you had to make a garden with 3 plants, what would they be?
All edible and prolific food produces. I do have a soft spot for growing climbing beans over summer, and two other preferred food plants are tomato and jalapeño.

What makes somebody sexy?
A combination of many things. A cheeky smile, a brain, ability to hold a decent conversation, open mindedness, a heart for humans, a smart sense of humour and knowing how to move well in the bedroom. This is my girlfriend in a nutshell.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Freedom of time. As an adult there is always something nagging at me to do. Either real life chores of gardening, cooking, hunting or spending time writing about those activities and why they’re so important to me. As a kid on the farm I remember the freedom of time, I’d grab my fishing pole and spend hours by the river alone. So peaceful. I miss the peace of slow time.

What’s the first thing you notice when you meet a person?
One of two things, nose hair and brains. Nose hair drives me nuts, and lack of brains is equally challenging.

What qualities in people do you admire the most?
So many to choose from. I admire ‘doers’. I admire and look to them not as role models, but as a benchmark for me to work harder at what I believe in. There are so many ‘gunnas’ in the world, we need more active ‘doers’.

What would you be doing in an alternate life or career?
Working cattle on some range, on horseback.

What’s your perfect three-course meal?
A glass of pinot, a hearty full flavoured main meal, an evening of love making.

What is special about where you live?
Where my house is not special. In fact it’s temporary for our family. The old farm-house we rent is surrounded by conventional farms that grow a mixture of produce for the mass market. The understanding that most of the food grown here ends up as processed food is a depressing reality. The region we are based in however is pretty beautiful, it has some really good producers and a climate that presents all four season in equal measure.

If you could control your dreams, what would you dream about?
A world where humans cared more for each other, themselves and the natural world.

What’s your favourite kind of weather?
Anywhere where all four seasons are represented. I’m not completely over this winter yet, but I won’t complain when spring arrives, then I’ll get excited when the hot days of summer arrive and my veg garden grows wild. Then I’ll love cool Autumn nights, the break of rain then arrival of the annual wild mushrooms. Every season I’m alive is bloody magnificent.

How many people are you completely yourself with?
Everyone. There is only one version of me. Many moods but, only one me.

A Year of Practiculture by Rohan Anderson is out now and published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $49.95.

Pic by Kate Berry