Rethink Your Life!
Finance, health, lifestyle, environment, philosophy
The Work of Art and The Art of Work
Kiko Denzer on Art
Cob RE: Beyond cob...Carol M. cllee at SWBell.net
Tue Dec 2 06:52:18 PST 1997
> > This is all just an invitation to inquire more deeply. No one will participate who doesn't feel like doing so...< John, I am very interested in this discussion and hope many others will be also. The more, the merrier... > >I think that's roughly what I said at the end of my post...and what about tomorrow?< My concern is for the next couple of decades. The crisis in housing will come during this time frame but my concern doesn't end there. Hopefully, the solutions to the housing crisis will be in line with a broad environmental awareness and that will be ongoing. > >Yes, *one of*, but addressed in isolation it will be unlikely to do any good in the long run. Sprawling tracts of cob houses are still sprawling tracts. < We are in complete agreement here. > >Anyone else recall when providing people with low-cost, personalized transportation (cars) was one of the *most* critical needs we faced? :-p < Not really. But I remember when my most burning concern was how I could get a car of my own the first time. <g> And that was a long time ago... > >The research of John Jeavons and Ecology Action over the past 20 years is one source of such info. Introductory info is available at: http://www.crest.org/sustainable/ecology_action/index.html > Much of what they base their statistics on, besides their own work, are publicly available statistics from state, federal and private agencies and research. Permaculture methods offer related alternatives; they are less well-researched than Biointensive methods but offer more diversity of scale. Having studied and practiced both, I see them converging and learning from each other.< Thanks for the link - I'll go visit and learn. > >I'm quite aware of crop rotation - it's not sufficient. Agribusiness-scale farming methods have shown how unsustainable they are in less than a century (the "dust bowl" of the 30's was a result of these practices, as are the salination and heavy-metal problems in the CA central valley in the last several decades). In the US we lose six pounds of topsoil for every pound of food produced by these methods. In China (which had sustainable agriculture for thousands of years until "modern" methods were recently imported) it is about eighteen pounds of topsoil lost per pound of food produced.< I agree that the Dust Bowl experience was a loud warning that is largely ignored now. And I've had some personal experience with the loss of top soil. My garden area was on an easy slope and after the first rain, much of the soil was at the bottom. Hauling it back where it belonged by wheelbarrow gave time and impetus for finding a way around that disagreeable task. That was just about my first lesson that while large farm equipment, a tractor with tiller, was the easiest way to break ground and till up a garden area, it wasn't the best. My solution was to buy treated 2 X 4's and make raised beds that were six feet long and three feet wide. I planted ground cover (which was promptly choked out by the stronger, more vigorous weeds) between the raised beds. In short, I never licked the weeds, but I was able to keep them out of the raised beds which I used intensively. And I was able to keep the soil from washing away in the torrential rains that were so common where I was living then. > >There is less sense in depleting one's soil so that one can no longer grow anything at all, which is what all of "modern" mechanized agriculture is doing. And it would indeed be much easier on the farmer for she or he to grow what they and their family need, and then market a small sustainably produced surplus for income. They would no longer need huge subsidized loans, huge expensive machinery, hundreds of acres of topsoil-losing farmland, and so on in order to be farmers, and it would be less work overall.< > Again, we agree. > > >Unfortunately, neither is using up all the soil, because then the exact same scenario you outline will occur. A percentage of what's grown can of course be harvested for eating. A larger percentage needs to be used to feed the soil, or the soil can't feed us. > > Everywhere in nature, the systems that have been operating for thousands of years follow these principles - animals eat only a tiny fraction of the plant matter, and the rest decays into the forest floor to feed the soil that feeds the plants that the animals eat a bit of. When the animals eat too much, the forest produces less, so a bunch of the animals starve and then (sometimes) the forest recovers, and so on.< I think we are mostly in agreement here. Where we parted ways in the prior post, was about farmers composting the majority of their crops in order to nourish the soil they grew in. There is absolutely no point in growing anything just to compost it and return it to the soil. Leaving the soil unplanted to begin with is certainly less labor intensive and more reasonable. But if every farmer now does that, anarchy is sure to follow. So somehow, we have to find a path between the presently unsustainable farming practices and a more closed loop method of feeding ourselves in the (hopefully) near future. Carol M. > >
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