By Sam Betteridge
SolarPunk PermacultureMay 09, 2021
S2. The [__~#%^*S-*tripl*-P*^%#~__]
Carbon Gardens: Part 8 - Community
I’m writing this text for Community. I’m writing this text for the Earth System.
I’m writing this text for the gardeners, market growers, forest fillers, regen rangers, loggers, land clearers, guerillas and grand scale permaculturalist of our planet.
Without community, we have nothing in common.
In this tale of forest thoughts, we have relished in the joy and wonder of abundance that be
by-products of our carbon gardens.
In learning to create from scratch, we have created a garden to which others are no match.
The gardener as archetype has been discovered.
For no longer do you mine country.
You cultivate country for community using the tools of nature.
It is common to bring produce produced in pounds to market places and areas of gathering. The foods and abundance we create in our carbon gardens fills our soils with the beautiful gases necessary for life on our earth, in exchange for our breath.
Not only do we share our carbon gardens with one another, we share this earth system with one another.
Whether you like it or not, you can't help but share your carbon garden with those who you love and care for.
The clean air they create, the rain they draw in. Their soils that physically fill our souls.
For those who are happiest in times upon biophilic berms.
When your toes meet the trophic networks working tirelessly beneath us trying to keep us all connected.
Remember: Keep calm and start a carbon garden.
Do it for all of us.
Do it now.
Carbon Gardens: Part 7 - Preservation
“All that yield. ALL OF THAT FOOOD!
So much produce and beauty to preserve.” - I think to myself.
There are no preservatives in the aisle of your syntropic agroforest. Not the store-bought shelf types anyway. This is good! We like it this way. A system in syntropy is a system of self-sorting.
More or less preserving its own beauty over time, a carbon garden doesn't need much upkeep in the department of pretty. Gaia sure knows how to put on a show.
But food on the other hand can last a long time if you know how to preserve it in a form most valuable.
The fridge will only work for a while. Beyond a few weeks, give or take months, depending on how cold you can get a self-contained box. Looking for other methods of storage will be in order.
In a carbon garden, one of the best ways to preserve the abundance of yields is to preserve it back into your soil reserve.
Food for your face is also food for the forest. Whether it's a half-sunk parsnip feeding the rhizosphere or a fried lettuce leaf from too much star time. The best way to preserve any life is by providing a source of nutrients back to the earth to which it grew.
This is regenerative agriculture.
Hold on… didn't you just say food and edibles? I thought you were going to tell me to place my chopped radish in a jar of vinegar?
Yes - you can do that.
This is a carbon garden.
Our focus throughout this gardening adventure has been on carbon construction and sequestration.
Ultimately, life creates more life in a carbon garden.
By focussing more on how the system functions we ensure a continual cycle of exponential growth.
Get this right first and you can chow down on sauerkraut for centuries to come.
Carbon Gardens: Part 6 - Edible Carbon Gardens
Ever since your run-in with the forest mage, you've been racking your brain tryna remember seeing any limes in the forest.
After a few days, the thought gradually catches up with you - *There aren't usually that many edible species in a natural growth forest system. Not many you know of with limes anyway.
In our day and age, fruits, along with nuts and timbers and fibres and edible foods and medicines, are usually grown in orchards or greenhouses, or in properly managed, straight-line farms.
And often this is for logical reasons. Growing edible foods for populations of humans that eat a couple of times a day on average is no easy feat. You want to be organised so you can keep up to date with the latest growth patterns, nutrient holding capacities and an array of other water and sunlight-related data points.
But these food factories. And I mean quite literally, factories.
Are often designed to function like the robot arms on C-Deck. Incredible feats of engineering as they are, they're rarely running on truly regenerative software.
The fact is.
We can model our carbon gardens the way our forests do naturally.
Which also means we can leverage the Gaian algorithm to produce an abundant edible carbon garden...
If the hangover from your mojito had any silver linings, it's the pounding memory of brollies in the bushes.
If the genie's blue aura still bedazzles your subconscious with his loud proclamations of soil protection.
If that crazy little nymph hadn't knocked your knees into nursery mode.
Then I guess you wouldn’t know what to do by now.
But because you've been collecting observational data over many moons, you're probably beginning to realise you’ve got yourself a pretty valuable and practical tool kit to start your own edible carbon garden.
The type that can and will feed you and your community for good.
Carbon Gardens: Part 5 - Stratification
Picture me this. - A garden full of umbrellas.
Umbrellas are exactly how the forest mage wants you to think of trees.
When you first stumble upon his buttress root, he looks at you with such an intensity, you wonder if he is of this time.
His intensity also lets you know his forest observations are legit.
The old guy brings forth a wisdom that you only get from watching how the rain falls w/ the sun over spans of time unmeasured.
…And this is his general message.
*Seedlings. Shaded they must be.
Treat da trees lyk be dem brollies.
Must stack shuzoku thru space w/ time.
Treat da trees lyk be dem brollies.
Elders bring cover 2 youngies at our feet.
Treat da trees lyk be dem brollies.
Muvah Gaia casts her eye on all and every1.
Treat da trees lyk be dem brollies.*
Your mind-meld breaks free and you hear the sound of a fax machine nearby.
You look at the printout now in your hands.
Translation: Stratification 101.
Make sure plant species are stacked in space and time.
Use the fast-growing upper strata to nurse the young slower-growing lower strata.
Integrate your nursery into the carbon system.
“Are you Vulcan, bro?” You ask, panting and out of breath.
He shakes his head and offers you a small mojito, the one with those little umbrellas in it.
Carbon Gardens: Part 4 - Nursery
Nursery work is plant work. If you're working or playing w/ plants, you're in the nursery game.
Now the genie is off your back and you've begun pushing solar panels into the sky via billions of little green blades. You look around at the iridescent green magic carpet beyond your toes.
Seems bare, right. Seems like you need some plants to grow. Make it a little more… bushy.
I’ll tell you a tale that got me thinking about growing plants and setting up nurseries to do so.
I was in the forest one day thinking to myself...
“*Dude, it takes a loooonnng time for a forest system to build and produce its own topsoil.
It's also taking a looooong time to build that compost in my 440L bays.”
“Carbon production in terms of time is slower than the forever spiral of our galactic expanse.” I hear, murmuring faintly at my feet.
“WTF!?” I exclaimed with a stiffened stare in the midline of my mind.
*BONK* - I wince and grab my knee!
“Ooft! What the hell are you doing?”
She looked up to me and said;
“Here, use these.” - Dropping a small timber on my toes.
“If you've only got a bit of compost going and a bunch of twigs, you can make a hugelkultur!”
- She exclaimed in her strange raspy accent.
Hey!? Hugel Vulture? - I reply.
A hugelkultur! You idiot. Just collect a bunch of twigs and off-cuttings from pruned trees. You can even throw in some weeds ya pulled from the front path ya dummy. - She grumbled.
“Righto mate, calm down. I hear ya.”
“And when you're done, stack that stuff on the floor and drop ya half-arsed compost on top, followed by some of that cardboard ya pulled out the bin ya filthy animal!” - She ordered.
“Is it just me or are you getting progressively more angry as this conversation continues.”
“Just shut-up and hugelkultur wouldya maaan!” - she blasted with an erratic edge.
“Ok. sure. Will do. Aaahh... Can I ask one more question?”
“I haven't got all day.”
“Should I have something to cover the cardboard? Will that help sweat and break the cardboard down for the worms in the compost?”
“Ya grew all this grass didn't yeh?”
Carbon Gardens: Part 3 - Seeds
Seeds are like eggs. Hard outer shell with a proto-life form, armoured at its core.
If the character traits for seeds were not realised in the manner that they are today, who knows what sort of genetic response the embryonic stage of plants would have evolved to protect itself.
Either way… I’m stoked we have seeds as they are. Super interesting little spheres, oblongs, brain-resembling embossed geometries. They are all good in my book. In fact, in every book that recounts our horticultural histories, you can be sure that seeds were as much a part of the story as plants themselves.
Of course, using the egg analogy in this instance draws upon the obvious question.
“What came first, the seed or the plant?”
Well, I argue it's too far back to know anyway. So I tend not to bother with finding out, for sure.
But, a better question I ask myself is… how do I raise my own seeds and be regenerative in the practice of doing so?
… The first seed a carbon gardener may want to embrace is that of grass. A simple mixed-species box can be purchased at many garden centres. They’re as cheap as chips and are easily spread recklessly across a patch of dirt.
You - “Grass seeds!? Are you sure?”
Me - “Yes.”
I’m thinking about ground covers that want to be on-tha-grow, go, go, go, quick smart.
Yes, you did just create all of this lovely soil, composted and complete with complex chains of nutrients and biodiversity you want to brag about. But, all of the grass you're about to grow wants to become soil again anyway.
Ironically, you're only worried about it going to seed…
The very thought of letting grass go to seed in a productive muti-stratified forest ecosystem may make some ppl implode, but if managed bio-intensively, a well-sized grass system can be the kickstart for your backyard bio-engine. Good bang for your buck too!
Remember - Biomass is key in soil production.
A heavy seeding of a mixed-grass crop will do 2 important things in your carbon garden.
It will please the Genie who still pesters you about not having your soil covered…
… annnnd it will create biomass for more soil production. This will happen relatively fast, too!
Carbon Gardens: Part 2 - Groundcover
The term ground cover is a funny one. When I first heard it I went straight to the idea of a carpet on the ground… not the natural type either.
When you first meet the ground cover genie, he asks you, “What are you looking for?”
Stunned and unsure about this blue cloud of vapor that has appeared in your yard, you and he eventually get to yarning about the various functionalities a specific species of grass blade can wield over the great waterways in time.
You relay thoughts as to how some plants can be grown strategically and fruitfully, found on the margins of fields that fluctuate w/ fire, coaxing the fauna found nearby into system beneficiaries.
!*Biodiversity blossoms. - You visualise.
You speak about the trees as they fall upon the land at scales larger than life itself…
The unidentified and seemingly real cerulean spectre ultimately wants you to remember just one thing…
…“Soil on which you stand must be covered. Shaded.
Protected from the great light in the sky.” - Bellows the… Genie?
“MATTER NOT DOES SPECIES!” The psycho continues to leer.
*Righto mate, calm down. I hear ya
“Seems legit.” You say.
And in an instant.
Your eyes open to the possibility of the soil and its needs for support.
You rub your dome and hold that thought.
It is now with you. For good.
… And it ought.
Carbon Gardens: Part 1 - Soil
There is a good reason to start with the soil. Apart from it being the interface between seed and plant - The part you're most interested in if you're into plants. It's literally the engine of the garden.
This is why you have to create good soil before anything else will happen. No soil, no seed germination. No soil, no nutrient or substrate for seeds to grow in. No soil, No good.
Now you could go to the local garden centre and buy a bag… a plastic bag… a petroleum-based polymer bag that holds soil created offsite.
You could decompose yourself a bunch of food scraps.
You could even go and collect a bunch of leaves from the local park.
These 2 options centralise around the concept of building soil from scratch. Which is literally what a forest does. A forest does not do debit cards or car rides to crop swaps (which I actually think is a good idea). It grows everything it needs… including soil.
But notice that nothing requires you to actually grow anything. Like a forest, your garden can tap into what some would consider “waste” streams.
Scraps and leaves are free. People (and maybe even yourself up until now) are literally throwing that stuff out. Like it was yesterday's news. I’m telling you… it's hot off the press. Tomorrow's sensational scoop.
There are 2 common methods of building soil from scratch.
Composting and Worm Farming.
Both are stupid easy to do.
With a little practice, you can be shoveling soil into your desired ditch in no time at all.
With a little bit of expertise, you can be harvesting nutrient-dense seed substrate at hyperspeeds.
Carbon Gardens: Regenerative tales for our Earth System - INTRODUCTION
What if I told you that your green waste bin was a waste of time?
What If I told you that all the fertiliser you spent money on was unnecessary. What If told you that most people who call themselves gardeners are possibly better described as miners.
Really!? You might say. Surely not miners…
It's sadly true. Most of the methods used in conventional gardens are either backwards or completely void of anything remotely natural.
You see, plants don't belong in bins or want to be shipped off to a site other than the soil in which they grow. Plants do just fine without being sprayed or doused with different synthetic soups.
Annnd unfortunately most gardeners are taking away a lot more precious minerals than they put into their plots.
Fortunately, none of this is necessary.
The garden you tend to is much closer to a forest than you think.
You know Forests? Those giant guilds of great trees and swathes of understory shrubs and vines that sprawl vast distances that make any vineyard look laughable. Yeh. Forests are what your garden wants to be like.
What else do we know about forests?
Forests are touted as being carbon sinks, right? Giant vacuums of potent VOCs and greenhouse gases like methane and CO2.
If you treat it right, your garden can become a highly valuable carbon sink as well.
In this book, I'll show you how.
I’ll also show how to grow regeneratively. How to start an engine that produces all it needs and creates more fuel for your garden and face than you’ll ever know what to do with.
Then, I’ll show you what to do with the abundance.
Let's create a carbon garden.
Dr. Martin Freney - Sailing toward our SolarPunk future on an Earthship
Dr. Martin Freney has spent the past decade+ invested in the concept of the Earthship.
Inspired by books written in the 1980s by Michael Reynolds - founding father of the eco-home movement, Martin dove headfirst into this solutions-based construction niche in search of a better way to steward our planet.
After living in, building, and studying Earthship design he decided to go all-in and base his Ph.D. Thesis on the movement in an attempt to legitimize the field scientifically.
His work in; Earthship Architecture: post-occupancy evaluation, thermal performance, and life cycle assessment - has contributed significantly to the field of Earthship Biotecture both scientifically and practically.
Now leading the push of Earthships being constructed by Solarpunks all around the Australian Country, Dr. Freney's Earthship - 'Ironbank' commodores this fleet. Its role as a demonstration sailing off the grid with him as the captain, along the plains of our sunburned country, is more important than most people think.
It's no wonder he's responsible for the education, design, and construction of the vast majority of Earthships here in Australia. As you will hear in our conversation - this SolarPunk knows what he's talking about.
You can find Dr. Martin Freney's work, research and news on upcoming events hosted at Ironbank @ www.earthshipecohomes.com.au
Reflections - How life has changed over recent times.
Justin Hartley: No-till, no dramas. The Duckfoot Model
Justin is a small-scale regenerative agriculturist, looking after a number of parcels of land in the southern highlands of Sydney. Inspired by hands-on experience and the no-till market gardening methodologies of the ever-inspiring Charles Dowding, Justin has set out on a hero's journey to bring nutrient-dense food to the community in a regenerative manner.
Not only is his farm responsible for the growth of organic produce that goes on to nurture the bellies of beautiful human beings, but he's also on a mission to teach others and connect interns with their own parcels of land. Small scale ag as he explains is the way forward for the future of our families and friends.
Doubling as an educator, this farmer has his hands full, trying to ensure that this vision of regenerative food production scales. Land-care or land-share is key to this as Justin leverages an ever-growing network of people who know of his market gardening prowess and connects them with trainee Duckfoot farmers.
Justin's SolarPunk narrative reminds us of just how logical the no-till regenerative farming approach is to the stewardship of our entire earth system. With little to no inputs, using bio-intensive methods on small-scale plots, he demonstrates regenerative connections between feeders and eaters. Helping to restore balance to the biomes on which we rely upon.
You can follow Justin's important work and follow his SolarPunk story on the gram @duckfoot_farm or find out more about his work at https://www.duckfootfarm.com/
Shubhendu Sharma - Hyperspeed Afforestation Now
Shubhendu is a special human being with an inspiring story. After attending a lunchtime workplace presentation, his life took a sudden U-turn away from the manufacturing of cars on a Toyota production line, towards the entrepreneurial pursuit of earth and people care via afforestation. For it was this chance event that Shubhendu was introduced to the Japanese biologist Dr. Akira Miyawaki, originator of the self-titled Miyawaki Method - a scientifically informed approach to reforestation that boasts hyperspeed germination rates.
Shubhendu's meditations on the Miyawaki method have been documented extensively online via a number of TED talks and conference presentations, collectively viewed tens of millions of times. As he realised the method's potential through multiple case studies and project iterations, his company Aforestt have now decided to share their hard-earned technical data in the open-source spirit that every D.I.Y dude and dudette dreams of - freely via their website @ afforestt.com/methodology
In this meandering conversation, we explore the significance of trees in the evolution of our species on a spiritual level and how they have influenced our thinking about what it means to be a cognisant creature on this planet we call home. We also talk and discuss his perspectives on the argument for using native over non-native species, specifically within the context of forest growing. On top of this, we explore the problems with large afforestation projects and the carbon narrative that converts their sequestering abilities into commodities causing seemingly large planting projects to become large tree plantation problems.
**For more details on the SolarPunk Permaculture Podcast & Projects, follow me on the gram @mr.betteridge
Laura Ryan - The Seemingly 'Impossible' SolarPunk House
Laura is a woman on a mission. In my mind, she is a true SolarPunk. Fed up with the snail pace speed of development seen in the city of Sydney, in which we both reside, Laura has taken on the seemingly impossible project of retrofitting her Newtown workers cottage and turning it into an urban off-grid oasis. Seeking to use 'The Impossible House' as a demonstration of what can be achieved in the heart of our cities, she has embarked on a complex journey of design and construction synergy. Spending her surplus time coordinating with various architects and tradespeople, Laura has managed to corral a team of skilled individuals from future-thinking organisations in an attempt to make the impossible, possible. I feel this won't be the last time we hear from Laura, as the adventure she has embarked upon has a lengthy future. Thankfully she is happy to share her learnings with us as it is her intention to develop a template for anyone looking to live and thrive in the SolarPunk cities of our hearts desire. You can follow her journey on the gram @theimpossiblehouse and on her feature website theimpossiblehouse.com
Andrew Millison - Pure SolarPunk Permaculture. Right now, on Planet Earth.
Lauren & Oberon - Life in a waste-free Spiral Garden
Byron Birss - Creating Paradise in the Bay of Plenty
Aaron Mears - The Living Classroom Legend of Lulu's Perch Permaculture
Aaron is a Permaculture and Highschool Educator with an inspiring and eclectic story. Having worked as a mental health nurse for a decade, he found himself searching for answers for the people in his care. Who would've guessed the answers would be found in the deserts of Jordan, w/ Permaculture heavy hitter; Geoff Lawton. Additionally, through the now 18-year-old 'Living Classroom Project', Aaron and his colleagues are drawing students into engaging living and learning spaces by drawing them outdoors on true, tangental learning tours. In this fascinating conversation, we discuss the super healthy Hunza people, his experience helping to re-green the desert, the richness and "informality" of Project-Based Learning, his hand cultivated Permaculture demonstration site, Chad the chicken and Captain Planet. You can observe Aaron's array of educational videos on the tube @ Lulu's Perch and follow his journey on the gram @lulus.perch.permaculture.
Dustin Jacobus - Illustrations of a SolarPunk future
Lauren Nissen - Landscape Architect and Urban Designer of the future!
Not only is she building the future we SolarPunks are hoping for, but she is also incredibly insightful when it comes to understanding how places of the future will function as mechanisms of societal support. If you're a Sydney-sider you'll be familiar w/ some of these projects including the Darling Quarter precinct, home to the dopest playground around. The now world-famous 1 Central Park - a commercial/residential village that looks like it belongs in Singapore and if you're a current or former UTS student, you've likely sat and chat or studied on the newly developed Alumni green.
You can see all of the ASPECT studio projects on the gram @aspectstudios or on the website at www.aspect-studios.com/au.
Andreas - A systems thinker, an ecological philosopher & a SolarPunk Farmer
He's thought long and hard about many topics such as Radical Agriculture - an approach to Regernative Agriculture that he feels empowers individuals to do what is right in a society that can often get things wrong. Amongst many things, he is driven by a desire to create a SolarPunk future where humans partner with nature, just as he has done in his own Resilience Garden. Andy reminds us of the famous Mollison quote - "Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple."
Along with his Youtube content, Andy keeps us optimistic about his journey via the gram @solarpunkfarmer