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Archive for the ‘Food Forest’ Category

Disasters are never fun and neither is having your daily routine upset in order to survive one. It can be stressful and full of things that can go wrong.

I’ve been checking out a variety of blogs and websites advocating a variety of ways to survive a disaster. Most people who prepare for a disaster tend to follow textbook advise by supplying themselves with modern conveniences and technology. For a short-term disaster that is often fine but not if it should last six months or more. What do you do then?

Here is an example of what someone might do to prepare themselves:

Buy a diesel powered electric generator, either a tracktor or plow and stock up lots of canned
food and other personal care items. So along comes someone who didn’t prepare but has weapons and takes what you have which took you so long to stock up in the first place. Then what?

If your scour blogs like I do you will come across those people who advocate that you militarize yourself with weapons and follow military survival techniques. Although helpful will not help you survive if there are also other people competing for the same resources in which case you both fight it out until one is dead, one gives up or you both decide to work together. That’s a lot of wasted energy and it only perpetuates the very mindset that created the problems in the first place.

Here is why I don’t recommend following prescribed plans for surviving a disaster:
For all modern things that require a liquid fuel such as a generator or tractor need a huge supply
of liquid fuel which means a large tank to hold it. Eventually you will run out then what?

Then people think about getting a plow and an animal, horses or buffalo to pull the plow which requires a large amount of feed (namely grasses and other plants) or large enough field for them to graze in. Don’t forget you have to train the animals and yourself too. That only adds to the work needed.

Instead here is what I recommend:
I say do away with conventional thinking and do the work yourself in small manageable sized plots. Figure out how much you can work in a day then figure out how much you need to feed yourself and that is the amount of land you need. Masanobu Fukuoka – a Japanese Permaculturist – said anyone can feed themselves on a quater acre by following his [permaculture] principals.

It is actually not that hard to feed yourself by building a quarter acre food forest which grows a large variety of edible plants which has built in resiliency. What does that mean?

When the potato famine happened in Ireland it wiped out the single type of potato they grew. If on the other hand they had grown a variety of potatoes like Peruvian people do then they would have survived the potato famine because not all of the potatoes would have been effected. That is what resiliency is about. If one thing fails not everything fails that means you don’t fail either.

So, if you are going to prepare yourself to survive a long-term disaster, which means you can also survive short-term disasters, you prepare yourself in such a way that includes resiliency in your plans. It also means not relying on any modern techniques, machines, technologies and so on. That way if someone with weapons should pass your way you stand a better chance of surviving because you don’t have anything worth stealing.

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I have been working for the last month very hard to find gainful employment and I have come to the conclusion that there is none. It no longer exists and we are not out of this continued recession, depression. In my book, Recession Survival Guide self-published in 2009 I said it wouldn’t be over before 2015. Now it looks like it will never be over. Anyone who thinks they are being told the truth by the news owned by the companies that manufacture the news is dumber than shit and ought to be composted. At least that would create something of value. The U.S. has an enormously large number of dumb people as compared to other industrialized countries. Reagan even lowered the I.Q. scale by ten points to raise the national I.Q. level.

The future on the current path looks very bleak. I have to back up for just a moment before going forward.

Robert Hayes who likes to comment on everything I post followed me from Facebook where all he did was post negative shit and now he is here doing the same. Here is my response to one of his comments he posted – a quote from Wikipedia:  “Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline. Every oil well and field exhibits similar characteristics of being discovered, the logistics to extract the oil being put in place, a peak or plateau of production, followed by a decline.  US domestic oil production peaked in 1970. Global production of oil fell from a high point in 2005 at 74 mb/d, but has since rebounded, and 2011 figures show slightly higher levels of production than in 2005, as the definition of “oil” was changed in 2007 to include synthetic liquids.”   [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil]

So yes, the world oil production has gone up only because of fuzzy questionable bookkeeping not because there was anymore oil found all of a sudden which had peaked in the 1960s. We have only found less and less oil fields and wildcatters are coming up with more dry wells each year. Robert Hayes only finds enough information to support his point of view and doesn’t spend hours reading or cross references to see what he is saying is factual or supportive.

I say all this to show how so many people keep saying that we have lots of oil left for(ever), a long, long time. Discovery peaked in the 1960s and the entire planet has been surveyed so the question is where, or how, are people finding “new” oil. It is scientifically impossible.

So much for that.

The closer we get to the end of cheap fossil fuels the fewer choices we have or time left to act. Former president Clinton, Matthew Simmons an energy investment banker and adviser to George W Bush, and Dick Cheney all have said in one form or anther that we are running out of oil. Whether directly or indirectly stated we are on the downside of the Peak Oil curve and headed downward at an alarming speed. As Cheney said, “That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day.” That means replacing that which we have lost due to decline. There has been plenty more people in the last decade that have come forward to say the same thing from former geologists, oil explorers, and people who worked with oil production information (like the U.S. Energy Dept.).

No one agreed when Peak Oil will or has happened. That doesn’t matter so much as it will, or has and we are doing absolutely nothing to prepare for no more oil! Technology will not save us like some white knight or some savior, they don’t exist. Technology is utterly dependent on cheap energy to work or for its production. Without oil absolutely everything collapses. Do a mind exercise and research to find something that isn’t dependent on oil in some way or another. (I’ll give you a hint: You find a single thing that isn’t dependent on oil.)

I am afraid this country is being pushed into a Mad Max scenario where people will fight over whatever scraps they can find.  In the book, Raising a Nation of Whimps by Hara Marano, editor-at-large and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has been watching a disturbing trend: kids are growing up to be wimps. [from Amazon]

People in the U.S. have little or no backbone or character worth acknowledging.  That said I have come across some very remarkable people but when it comes push to shove many of them would whimp out.  Too many who would give in to anyone doing violence.

What does the future hold for us. Nothing good. There will be those who will know how to grow food, process fiber and produce enough energy for their needs. They just lack the ability to defend themselves against the people who would rather steal what they need than produce it on their own. My wish that everyone learn to defend themselves, be able to produce what they need, create a strong reliable resilient community in order to survive the decline in cheap and once abundant fossil fuels. It will be through these communities that people will be able to not decline to far into a dark age and find solutions for a real sustainable  future based on the principles Nature has set forth where there is no waste, everything has worth.

My mantra has become: Learn to grow food & fiber. Learn to become energy independent (that doesn’t mean using only trees for fuel or you will see a localized Haiti effect).

 

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My last post asked what will happen with people who have a disability and I got exactly what I expected no reads and no comments. That speaks volumes.

I a very short time I will have to take a dead-end job just to pay the bills because Not the governor of Colorado not any city I contacted here where I live care about creating any sort of transition plans or real sustainability, durability, resilience policy. It seems the state I live in could care less what happens after cheap energy is gone and that will happen soon.

A now former CEO of Shell just a few years ago predicted we will have $3 per gallon gasoline by 2010 and we did, and do.  He also said to expect by 2015 the price to be $5 per gallon of gasoline.  We are heading that way and I have no doubt we will reach it.

Former president Clinton said in more than one speech or interview that we were headed for Peak Oil soon.  That was in 2006.  He also gave a deadline of 2030 as the year we can expect to run out of oil.  He may have let the cat out of the bag.

Here are some links.  You decide for yourself.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/warning-oil-supplies-are-running-out-fast-1766585.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
http://business.financialpost.com/2011/04/01/oil-may-run-out-by-2060-hsbc/?__lsa=dcb8baa2
http://www.theinsider.org/news/article.asp?id=0423

At this point the U.S. is fu–ed.  There isn’t enough time to do anything really so here are my suggestions:

  1. Get some land, even within a city.
  2. Reduce your consumption of energy by super insulating your home.
  3. Learn to grow food and save seeds from one year to the next.
  4. Connect with people near you, within walking distance, to barter and exchange whatever you need.  This would include skills.
  5. Learn to grow fiber, process it and make cloths or whatever else you need. Also learn to grow dye plants.
  6. Grow some plants for easy fuel like sunflower for oil to burn in a lamp. Honey bees for honey and beeswax. Grow your own fuel.

That’s it people.  The other option to fight and defend precious resources is not the answer because those who rely on war and violence will die at some point when they can’t steal anymore because the people who know how to grow food, fiber and fuel will live far enough away for violence to reach them.

The future will change dramatically and we are not prepared.

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[ Sorry about the way this article looked. I am not sure what happened to the font. ]

Can we feed ourselves after the oil is gone?

This article is in response to an article in Permaculture magazine Spring 2012 issue, No. 71. The article,Can We Feed the World? Five experts give their views on the best methods of eco-farming, page 54 to 56.

These five experts each have their views with some cross-over. The five experts are, Bethan Stagg, Colin Tudge, Peter Harper, Patrick Whitefield, and John Ellison.

First there is Bethan Stagg who says we need to put into a practice techniques that take into account
local environmental conditions using intensification to get the most output possible. Saying it another
way, it is a type of polyculture farming technique.

Next Colin Tudge just says what I’ve have been hearing for some time now, we are growing enough to feed 14billion people but it all goes toward increasing profits rather than feeding people. Not completely true
as some of the food stuff are not meant for people but cattle or other farm animals because the grain has been genetically altered so people can’t eat it. He mentions the problem of wastage some of which can not be helped and that which can be helped should not be dumped but fed to people. People in industrialized
nations have been brain-washed into buying only the best looking and ignore blemishes or slight defects.
That needs to change.

Peter Harper talks about producing food in a post-carbon future. In other words, food production without
fossil fuels.

Patrick Whitefield is a strong promoter of Permaculture.

John Ellison and Bethan both agree that we can’t afford to rely on just one approach to solve our food
needs in the future.

They are all correct. We need to stop relying on mono-culture large factory farms and change the way we
farm altogether. This means we go back to the way we used to not too long ago. Also, we need to do away
with chemical inputs, tractors and so on to move away from oil and other fossil fuels, even biodiesel.

Based on their input and my views the answer to growing enough food is this:

  • We get away from the corporate farm and go back to many smaller farms.
  • We need to incorporate many approaches to grow the food we need.
    • Masanobu Fukuoka from Japan gave us no-work farming where there is no tilling of the soil, no
      fertilization, all organic and he has yields the same or better as farmers using tractors and
      fertilizer’s.
    • Sepp Holzer from Austria gave us poli-farming techniques. He combined fruit trees, herbs, grains, vegetables, hogs and fish all on the same land requiring again no equipment, no fertilization, and it is virtually self maintaining. He mostly spends his time harvesting and selling what he grows and does most of the work establishing his method and then there virtually no more work.
    • Polyculture at the most intensive manner possible geared to a local environment. This comes up in Permaculure in designing a Food Forest were in a small space you can feed more people than using traditional farming methods. Usually every three acres of Food Forest can feed around 8 to 12.
  • We need to produce food closer to where it is consumed. Places like the U.S. need to consume less calories overall, start by cutting the meat consumption by at least 50% the first year and again
    another 50% a few years later. Cows, pigs, chickens and other factory farmed animals need to be set free to feed the way they were originally intended, without hormones.
  • We need follow models like Cuba as a way to transition off oil and produce enough food for ourselves
  • The profit needs to be taken out of growing food, and feeding the people of the world.
  • Corporations like Monsanto need to be put out of business so food can again be put in the hands of
    people.

Everyone needs to decide what happens with their food, how it is grown and treated before it gets to theirtable. People also have to realize that for decades corporations (or governments) who have controlled their food have not had their best interests at heart only their own. That needs to stop. Our ancestors were either Vegetarians or near Vegetarians because they realized that it was a matter of survival and feeding an animal came second to their own survival. This meant that meat consumption was low.

Traditional methods of growing food need to be brought back and taught to everyone growing food if they
are to survive after the end of fossil fuels. Otherwise we will need to prepare ourselves, especially in the U.S., for food wars, riots, and uprising because people will want to eat and not know how to feed themselves in any other way than to steal it.

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In the last few years I have heard time and again about Living Green, or Green Living. The idea is to live in a more sustainable way. Yet, so many people who don’t know better seem to have the notion that if they adopt some of the ideas labeled as Green that they are living in a sustainable way. Not so.

Some of the ideas being pushed as being Green: turn off unused lights & other electronics, use recycled products and recycle as much as possible, buy paper made from non-tree sources such as kenaf or hemp, have houseplants to clear the air, use a ceramic mug instead of a paper or plastic cup each time, use washable flatware and dishes rather than throwaway, add a green roof, carpool, walk more, bicycle, skateboard, roller blade or roller skate, insulate your home, use green energy, use public transportation, change your light bulbs to more efficient ones, turn the thermostat down in winter up in summer, compost and so on …. But are these things sustainable? NO, not by or of themselves. They are only a small piece of an overall puzzle. Don’t get me wrong they are worth doing.

Let me explain. All these things and many more that people are suppose to do that are called Green are on their way to being sustainable but they are not in and of themselves sustainable. Each of these plays its part, if made from things that Nature can recognize and then reabsorb without effort. You see, only Nature is truly sustainable and if Nature can not deal with the waste that an item generates or the item itself once it can no longer be used, reused, recycled or repurposed then it is not sustainable nor is it anywhere near being truly “Green.”

We need to stop producing things that are not sustainable. Rather we need to look to nature to find ways to mimic it. Has anyone looked a beautiful shell? Wondered how it was made? Did you know it was made at so called “room” temperature (in the water or on land) and with a minimum of energy input. The shell was made without mining anything or causing destruction. It was produced one layer at a time from freely available materials without much effort and yet we can not do the same without using a lot of energy and effort. That is what we need to change.

I think that for something to be labeled as “Green” then it should also be fully sustainable in the bigger scheme of things. It should generate no waste, unless that waste is food for something else. It should be easily reused, repaired, recycled, or repurposed before it is returned to Nature to be devoured – with exception of metals which should be continuously recycled.

Nothing should ever find it’s way to a dump-site, burial ground or be disposed of the way in which we currently do. All landfills should be, 1) harvested for the methane until there is no more, about 25-30 years, 2) then opened to have all materials mined for recycling, including the goo at the bottom needs to find a use other than burning it.

So, what does any of this have to do with feeding people or the Greenhouse Project. Everything!

The idea behind this project is to close the loop and recycle nutrients so the soil doesn’t become depleted for continuous production and health of the plants. As the health of the soil goes so does the health of the people, and other life forms.

I propose that the greenhouse itself be made from reclaimed items as far as possible or items that are renewable in some way. The water within the greenhouse be reused as much as possible – grey water used to flush toilets, in hydroponics or a living machine. Black water is used to produce methane before it too is put through a living machine leaving only clean water at the end. The energy (heat, electric, methane, …), which has been reduced to its minimum, be produced from Solar and Wind mainly. (All energy consumption is used in the most efficient manner and no more.  Hard to explain in such a short piece.) That the greenhouse become a model of efficiency, low energy use, maximum food production and an ecosystem itself.

Once food production has been achieved that the project move onto producing fiber for the making of cloths and paper. It grows oil seed plants which can be used straight or converted to biodiesel. The oil can also be turned into plastics or other products. That whatever waste the greenhouse produces is made into something; methane, alcohol, worm food, …, which is then returned to the soil to grow food. No waste. Everything is used somehow.

The fiber which was turned into cloths once used up and can not be used as rags either that it be consigned to the compost or burned as fuel and any metal or plastic items be reused on a new shirt.  That it is returned to where it started from, the soil.

By following this principle we could grow more than enough food to help feed people who normally could not afford healthy organic whole food.  I am not much for giving food away – give a person a fish they eat for a day. I am more in favor of giving people a helping hand to help them feed themselves – teach them to grow food, fish, they feed themselves for life.

Food for life. Hence my overall idea of establishing food forests within the city which neighborhoods maintain and harvest. Would this put us out of business? Maybe. But, that is a long way down the road and we could run out of cheap fossil fuel energy long before that happens. I want to create this process to: 1) work out the kinks and teach others wherever  to do the same, 2) get more people to once again respect Nature as the source that maintains all life on this planet, 3) to grow food in a truly sustainable manner.

We will face opposition from supermarkets, wholesalers, even farmers who would all claim they would go out of business. They would be right. But a system that uses between 10 and 50 calories of energy to bring people their food is not sustainable nor can, or will it, last forever. As cheap energy begins to run out these farmers, wholesalers and supermarkets will go out of business and I hope that this project, and many other projects like it, will be around to help feed people and teach people the skills they need to survive.

Until next time, Go Green to end up Sustainable.

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Aren’t we suppose to be the richest country in the world? And, yet we have millions of people living in poverty or are homeless. Why is that? (We currently have about 42,881,000 living in poverty in the U.S. (based on U.S. Census data).)

Before the whole collapse that happened 2007/2008 there was discussion among businesses, economists and the financial community whether or not moving the unemployment up to 10% would be a good thing. The outcome of that we are seeing today. Also, anyone believing the unemployment data, well I have some really prime land on Mars for sale, and you can start terraforming. Just because someone isn’t collecting an unemployment check doesn’t mean their employed. The data is faulty!

Bush Jr. while in office pushed some 1 to 1.5 million new people into poverty every year. By the time he left office there were some 13 million people who had joined the ranks of the poor.

Let’s not forget that Peak Oil (which occurred world-wide in 2008) looms over our heads and experts around the globe agree, we are in deep doodoo with this one and the U.S. is not preparing like Europe is. We can expect to see the rise of oil prices, and goods made or heavily influenced by oil, that includes food, to go up until no one can afford things anymore, except of course the wealthy. We only have about 15 to 20 years to go before most of us join the ranks of the poor or homeless because of Peak Oil.

So, back to my original question at the beginning. We have poor not because of some out of our hands event but by people who control money in some way or another. We can all argue about whether it’s the bankers, speculators, quants (quantitative analysts), day traders trying to make a fast buck, investors or investment banks, the fed, and so on. The thing you have to remember, it doesn’t matter who is at fault, but what are you going to do about it.

My solution is simple: put permaculture to work. My Greenhouse Project is just such an idea. Another is to create food forests, at first on a commercial basis, but once it is established the fence could be left open or taken down altogether to allow people free access to whatever is there (after they’ve been educated because is would be stupid to trample a helpful herb just to get at an apple).

Food, can be grown in parks, open lots, along highways or wild areas, in medians, wherever possible would do so much to help reduce the need of the poor and the homeless. Heck, plant some trees right in front of your house with a sign, “Please Help Yourself.” Be a ‘Johnny or Janis Appleseed’ in your area, but plant more than just apples, whatever grows in your climate, area. Tend the trees lovingly until they are fully mature and can continue on their own. Harvest some of the seeds and grow some more.

Look into planting a tree with a plaque in a park giving thanks to mom, dad, auntie, uncle, grams or just make up a name. The idea is that parks, and other public areas will allow it with a permit the planting of a commemorative tree and then the city tends the tree and won’t cut it down unless it dies.

It has been said, and I truly believe this, that if the poor, or homeless, were allowed to grow their own food then there would no longer be any poverty. All one needs is access to some land, water and seed that can be harvested from year to year and replanted. Once the poor have this then they can move out of poverty.

Until next time, be good to one another and plant something.

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