Thursday, April 28, 2011

Modern Agriculture verse Permaculture &/or Nature

I have been thinking and reading lately about the differences between modern Agriculture verse Nature producing food, the differences are pretty amazing & the facts say a lot. Let's start about the fragility vs amount of food produced.

The typical farm is pretty fragile. Any single one problem can come in and wipe the farm out making the idea of a bank investing on someones property a pretty scary investment. It has no resilience in that many farmers bankroll the entire year and pray, hope, and spray every chemical under the sun to destroy everything living around the food. There is no diversity to help the soil lock nutrients for use by the plants. There is no diversity in the insect population, they are being killed, even the beneficial ones that help pollinate. The idea of a farm ecology is laughable at best since there is no degree of functional interconnection between the plants, and trees save one. In other words, a typical farm is a well maintained desert that can have a swarm of locusts descend upon it at anytime, or worse, RoundUp. If by the love & grace of something this farm survives the season after destroying everything around the farm and releasing carcinogens into the water table it has an over abundance of 1 type of food which needs to then be shellacked, waxed, or some other way preserved that appears fresh to get it to multiple markets to sell to a large amount of people to recoup all expenses of the year and save towards the next. Why on earth the USDA, & FDA thought this was a smart idea is beyond me. All it did was help destroy our country and its infrastructure.

With a typical edible forest as the model for a farm, if you can call Nature that in this case, you have the exact opposite values. It is a resilient ecosystem in one can grow on 7 different levels of food. It attracts many kinds of insects, both good and bad, same with plant life but it achieves balance. Yes, some food product will be lost, but entire crops are rarely if never wiped out because there is always more then 1, and that confuses all kinds of predators from diseases to deer. There is a great amount of diversity between insect life, and plant life. There is no one thing to take to the market, there is an over abundance in different foods produced year round. More importantly, the trees can make connections with other trees, and with other plants, creating a sound, healthy soil making everything that grows in it healthier over all. There is no need for bought fertilizers or the money needed to spend to ship them in, with proper design, the property will make its own, literally, using only the sun as a source of power. No pollution is caused, & very little property management is needed compared to the regiment of sprays caused in the typical farm. There is one downside. There will be no massive amount of food spiking the markets, there will be a slow, constant trickle of money, and it takes time, research, and patience to get there.

Do I have it in me to get there?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Can Boston Have Something to Teach Coos County About Apples?

In an amazing turn of civic renewal I am proud to let you know about a little story I came across. It seems in Boston, a bunch of people are getting together and planting heirloom apples in the streets with a party planned for the harvest a few years from now!

Wow, what an amazing idea that could be carried over to the River Walk!!!!!

Here are 2 quotes from the article I found.

Art meets civic action in a project launched this month in Boston that focuses on community and environmental health -- and apples. The Boston Tree Party's goal is to improve urban areas by planting 100 pairs of heirloom apple trees across Boston with the help of citizen groups of all kinds. Participating tree party delegations -- faith organizations, schools, hospitals, businesses and other community groups -- receive an apple planting kit and access to apple experts, aka pomologists, to learn how to care for their mini-orchards. Groups that have access to land to plant partner with those who don't.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like an excellent way to give everyone access to free healthy food while at the same time preserving a national heritage. Well, there's more, it concludes...

The Tree Party does not end with planting. Five years from now, a harvest festival is planned, where nature and community will be celebrated with the sweet fruits of this project's labor.

I toast my apple cider to their success!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bye Bye Clean Water in the USA

In the wake of Texas trying to sue an Oklahoma Native American reservation 150 miles north of Texas for water, this suddenly comes up.

WASHINGTON -- Millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens were injected into wells by leading oil and gas service companies from 2005-2009, a report by three House Democrats said Saturday.

The report said 29 of the chemicals injected were known-or-suspected human carcinogens. They either were regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act as risks to human health or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Methanol was the most widely used chemical. The substance is a hazardous air pollutant and is on the candidate list for potential regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The report was issued by Reps. Henry Waxman of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado.

The chemicals are injected during hydraulic fracturing, a process used in combination with horizontal drilling to allow access to natural gas reserves previously considered uneconomical.

The growing use of hydraulic fracturing has allowed natural gas production in the United States to reached levels not achieved since the early 1970s.

However, the process requires large quantities of water and fluids, injected underground at high volumes and pressure. The composition of these fluids ranges from a simple mixture of water and sand to more complex mixtures with chemical additives.

The report said that from 2005-2009, the following states had at least 100,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluids containing a carcinogen: Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, North Dakota, New Mexico, Montana and Utah.

States with 100,000 gallons or more of fluids containing a regulated chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act were: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi and North Dakota.

The report said many chemical components were listed as "proprietary" or "trade secret."

"Hydraulic fracturing has opened access to vast domestic reserves of natural gas that could provide an important stepping stone to a clean energy future," the report said.

"Yet, questions about the safety of hydraulic fracturing persist, which are compounded by the secrecy surrounding the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. This analysis is the most comprehensive national assessment to date of the types and volumes of chemical used in the hydraulic fracturing process."

Well, there is certainly no reason to give Texas any water from Oklahoma, it's all unsafe to drink because of short sighted greed, and yet despite various news sources, blogs, etc, people remain apathetic thinking these problems can't happen to them. WAKE UP AMERICA.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Grow Your Own Car? Why Yes it's Possible!

You did not misread that. It is now possible (thank you transitive process from math) to grow your own car. Essentially, that is what the 2 car designers Kenneth Cobonpue and Albrecht Birkner have done making the "Phoenix"

The Phoenix is a real car made of bamboo. And if you didn't know, bamboo is stronger then steel. Is there anything that can't be solved in a garden? The vehicle comes in at a little over twelve and a half feet long or some where between 3 and 4 meters. has the full story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Open Letter from Sepp Holzer

Herr Sepp Hozler is someone I admire. He is a true farmer in the best, & truest sense of the word, but I prefer to think of him as a caretaker, or Warden of the Earth. The man farms unlike any other I have ever seen, and it works better then any industrial agriculture, on a hillside, in the alps of Austria.

On Herr Holzer's website he has put up for all to see:

Short abstract:
Open Letter to Members of the Political, Economic and Scientific Communities.

The presenting problems and my proposal for their solution:
We come into the world, usually in a sterile hospital where immediately, our natural roots are cut. We are then inoculated and nursed with a chemical cocktail and begin our journey into and through an unnatural world, increasingly severed from Nature and from natural processes. Instead, would not a natural birth in the circle of one's family and a natural childhood be the correct start for the future life of a young person? And should not every planetary citizen have the birthright to their own piece of earth upon which they could develop and maintain their essential need to be nurtured and sustained by their natural environment? I maintain that a land reform which confirms these realities is long overdue. By growing up in insulation and isolation from Nature and our Mitlebewesen, the creatures co-existing with us, we lose the natural relationship to our environment. Growing up in symbiosis with plants, animals and humans, however, enables an experience of meaningful belonging and sharpens the task and ability to act as a thoughtful individual, the task of mastering the challenge of Directing rather than Fighting. By observing the life all around us, our Mitlebewesen, do we discover that Nature is perfect already and that Creation has considered everyone; that everything is in relationship one with the other and that there is nothing to improve.

The whole letter you can find here >>
That is one powerful abstract. The entire letter is equally powerful. I can't but help agreeing with it after I have learned all I have in life. My entire life experience has led me here, from learning marine biology, building ponds & large scale aquariums, terrariums, and vivariums as well as the lighting and filter systems... ..and that was prior to college... learning about Mr. Fukuoka & trying his techniques for several years in a ghetto in California. Sepp is dead on IMO with what changes are needed world wide, but will we listen.

Herr Holzer's website in English can be found here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Permaculture Design Certificate Course DVD Collection

If anyone ever wonders what they could donate to me, this would be it. I am currently saving, for the recently released Permaculture Design Certificate Course DVD Collection available from Powells Books here in the Northern Hemisphere. Tagari publications partnered with them in order to cut down on postage, and thus fossil fuels in the atmosphere as well.

Here is a quote from the Publisher about the DVD collection.

The Permaculture Design Certificate Course was filmed in September 2005 at The University of Melbourne. Using a professional production team. The entire course is presented by Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton. Each disc has (+/-) 4.5 hours of content, 58.5 hours total for the set. The last disc finishes up Chapter 14, student questions, the design assignment, graduation, round table and conclusion to the course.

There were 13 hours of the course devoted to students producing their designs (2 hours with Geoff mentoring, students also worked after class hours to complete their designs) the student design presentations (7.5 hours, big class! ), the graduation day, round table, conclusion, and the where to from here? discussion ( 6 hours). The entire footage of these 13 hours is reduced to a delightful 60 minute (+/-) collage for the viewer.

Sounds like a valuable resource for the future. I look forward to reviewing it someday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tomato Companion Planting, a.k.a.Tomato Polyculture

I was researching some plant things a little while ago when it occured to me that I need a polyculture for my tomatoes!

Here is the list I am going to try and use this year since they are all companion to tomatoes:

  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Borage
  • Celery
  • Chives, Onions, Leeks, Garlic
  • Marigold
  • Dill
  • Scarlet Runner Bean
  • Marjoram & Oregano
  • Nasturtium
  • Parsley (Both flat and curly)
  • Yarrow
  • Parsnips
Many of these plants will provide insects for pollination and to take care of enemy insects that would harm the tomatoes. While I may grow them all together, it is also a good idea to have many of these plants simply near by, or at the base of the tomato plant.

A gift was given yesterday...

...I.. ...I feel like the richest man in the world after answering a Craigslist ad for free seeds. I was given several heirloom variety of seeds, some of which have very interesting stories behind them. For example, Victory Seeds, ((an Rare, Open-pollinated & Heirloom Garden Seeds company that signed the Safe Seed Pledge guaranteeing they are not treated with chemicals, hybridized, or GMO)) had this to say about Coyote tomato.

50 days, indeterminate — This variety was given to heirloom tomato collector Craig LeHoullier by Maye Clement during a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Harvest Fair show, as a cluster of fruit on the vine. She indicated that it grew wild in her home country of Mexico. It is a tiny cherry tomato that ripens its prolific crop to an ivory, translucent yellow color, shading to darker yellow at the shoulders. Flavor is superb.
Heirloom seeds are wonderful, and generally have much better flavor, and resistance against various ailments in nature. Given that so many things are grown together here, I have little worry about diseases at all on my property as the soil gets better every year with my worm army.

So what is that Safe Seed Pledge really? Well, here is another quote for you from Victory Seeds .

The Safe Seed Pledge

"Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundations as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately people and communities."

Council for Responsible Genetics
5 Upland Rd, Suite 3 Cambridge, MA 02140
Phone: (617) 868-0870 Fax: (617) 491-5344

Do I support this? Hell yes I do! Our food sources is not something that should be messed with for profit. People everywhere have the RIGHT to healthy food, and my life will be happy in that pursuit of happiness!

So, with all that said, I am beyond happy and deeply humble and thankful to my benefactor of seeds so that my family and friends can have healthy food this year, and with any luck, more years to come. Blessings upon them, and to you... ..stay green!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are you keeping track of your garden?

I will admit, I am not great at this. However, I realize the importance of seasonal changes that have been occurring. For example, according to the USDA zone system, we are zone 9, and our last frost date is the 6th of this month. Great, we had frost this morning though on the 7th, and it is predicted for tomorrow the 8th.

Weather or not you believe in global warming is not relevant. What is important is that we as gardeners keep track of our successes, and changes in the weather, and most importantly our failures. How else will you and others learn?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So WTF is Permaculture ya damn Hippy!

I have been wracking my brain on how to explain the difference between modern USDA agriculture and permaculture. I knew I could tell someone it is not a fad, religion, cult, army, or pseudo-science. However, that quintessential difference between permaculture farms and modern farms was hard to explain till today when I found someone who summed it up beautifully.

From all that I have learned, I believe it sums up this way:

Modern Industrial Agriculture is nothing more than Hydroponics with Dead Soil as the growing medium. Crops do not tolerate adversity well.

Permaculture builds the soil and nutrients, making them easily available when needed. Plants can tolerate adversity better.

Modern Industrial Agriculture tends to grow Successive Monocultures. Chances of complete crop loss and complete financial loss are high when adversity strikes because you are all in and usually financed your expenses for the year.

Permaculture, the majority of the land is planted in polyculture. Rare to lose all of our crops/produce, so rare you would lose the farm from losing one crop, given you did not have to bet the farm.

Modern Industrial Agriculture focuses technology on creating solutions to issues they create, and kill everything and everyone (including you) in the process. (molested seeds, chemicals for fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, fruiting, flowering, ripening, irradiation, pasteurization, homogenization... They are raping and pillaging the farmer, turning all food into a commodity crap, killing the land and bankrupting the farmer at the same time. You have to give them credit for going a good job.

Permaculture focuses technology on better ways to reduce work and get better produce. It looks for multiple uses for everything. If I can not harvest something, livestock can.

So Modern Industrial Agriculture gives you the chance at all or none for the price of your soul and all the wealth of you have.
Permaculture gives you an opportunity to build multiple crop productions over time, reducing risk and saving souls and wealth. -Dr. Temp
That sums it up for me. However Permaculture itself is more then just farming. Its about being practical.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hey you! Wake the *@# Up!

That's right, WAKE UP. I know you are reading this but you aren't awake. Your awarness level of what is going on around you is a joke. Your goverments are taking away your freedoms, or at least trying to.

Many of the goverments we have been 'helping' we have actually been hindering. For example, we just helped Iraq over throw its tyranical nazi trained leader Saddam, but now thanks to the State Department and Monsanto we did this to them...

...administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Paul Bremer has already issued and signed Order 81, a heinous bill that completely eliminates Iraq's traditional "free-to-little-regulated" seed supply system and replaces it with, you guessed it, a system controlled by multinational biotechnology companies. CPA was set up after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and Bremer was tasked with "overseeing the country's reconstruction"...

Wait, isn't India also our allies? Didn't we send them a ton of American jobs in the 90's and early 00's? Oh wait, our State Department has pressured them to use GMO foods, and now this.

...Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) threatens to eliminate people's right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed, and even eat the food of their choice. BRAI will seize control of food from the people and hand it over to multinational biotechnology companies. India's State Agriculture Minister Ramakrishna Kusumaria actually said to The Hindu that the implementation of BRAI "will enslave our agriculture"...

How long before you think it happens here?