Sunlight is a carcinogen.
Everyday every living thing is bombarded with countless exposures to DNA altering chemicals and radiation. It's unavoidable, weather you're in a dense industrial city, or hundreds of miles from the nearest paved road. Fortunately, evolution produced a bunch of ways to repair DNA and and reverse that constant damage, not to mention a healthy immune system helps keep things in check. Any living body (accidentally) produces cancerous cells on a somewhat regular basis but healthy habits prevent that from becoming a problem.
When it comes down to carcinogen exposure through permaculture, just take a step back and look at the alternatives.
With all of that being said, any charred carbon rich material will contain elevated levels of mutagenic DNA altering organic substances, don't rub the bone sauce directly on your skin or on the fruit and you should be fine.
Depending on how the land is sloped, and where your property lines are relative to the contours, with a steep slope, I always imagine a series of terraces, swales and relatively level winding walkways, with flat landings, that support retention/irrigation ponds, hugalkultural mound gardens, and/or open groves.
Different terrace layers and retaining walls can be designed and tamped to drain or hold water in the appropriate places, minimizing erosion.
In an ideal finalized situation, trees and stone would hold the hill in place. Trees keep the soil from moving, and the stones slow water runoff by supporting shrubs and preventing gullies.
Immediately logs and hay bales can temporarily fill-in for support trees while the roots of said trees establish themselves.
With a blank canvas like you described, I'd start with the swales and access trails, setting up the tamped water holding wetland like terrace layers, and blocking gullies at the top, so that water flows through that system, and support the ground on the flat level pathways above and below the swales. On the slopes in between, I would plant the fruit/nut trees and understory perennials, biennials and shrubs in relevant species specific, and landscape relevant sites. With this set-up you will need a good deal of biodiversity for the site to support itself.
For the slopes in between the swales and walkways, Trees and shrubs with deep strong roots, as well as ones with shallow roots that drink a lot of water, at strategic and relevant locations. Eventually Set some stones, or build plant supported stone walls in between the hillside holding trees, to fill in any remaining gaps in slope stability or water flow.
Thank you for that info!
I'll get in touch which them when things at work settle down.
I also saw a sign posted in Frick Park that was seeking volunteers for invasive vine removal, as well as a project to restore a natural spring fed water feature in South Park PA.
There is a local watershed association that is restarting as well, that I've been in touch with.
I'll follow up on all of these leads, and see what happens!
I agree that the terraforming question is many centuries off. I also agree that there is an ethical caveat towards preserving and leaving certain planets untouched, like if there is some chemical potential for some form of complex (especially non-carbon based) live to develop.
If our technology gets to that point, we can and will have all mining and industrial activities confined to colonies on asteroids and moons that could never support life, or as a direct part of the terraforming process on a planet. For example: if we can drop the sulfur from the atmosphere of Venus, the next step may look similar to strip-mining the entire planet to remove that toxic layer from the surface. However We don't currently understand non-carbon biochemistry nearly well enough to completely rule-out native sulfur, silicon or metal based life already on Venus, most substances act differently at those pressures and temperatures, hence the ethical consideration.
However back to the topic of human blight, we can turn forests into deserts, and we can mass produce weird chemicals that disrupt ecosystems and biospheres. We do these things out of short-sighted self-interested convenience, without considering the bigger picture. As humans, I am certain that we will continue our industrious and curiosity driven activities as we constantly seek to make "better" materials, find new energy resources and experiment with our understandings of chemistry, biology and physics. None of these things that we're driven to do are inherently destructive by themselves, so long as bad ideas are stopped before they grow out of control.
In an untouched old-growth forest, the blight sees timber and mineral resources to take, while the healers see an oxygen and food factory, that also purifys water for all life.
On a hillside, you can dig a straight trench to form a gully to drain excess rainwater, or you could build a curving swale to eliminate erosion and supply water to a sloping or terraced food forest. The difference is the attitude and intention behind doing these things, even if the end goal of the project is the same.
The human blight will prevent us from leaving the earth, as environmental conditions and natural disasters disrupt our ability to develop the necessary technology. If our damage is not mitigated and reversed, the human species will drive itself to extinction. Between all the environmental destruction, and media conditioned mass-stupidity, it is Permaculture and our sheer will to adapt and survive that ultimately gives me hope for a prosperous and beautiful future as a race of benevolent peaceful explorers.
Well, I've been through some college, studied biochemistry at Duquesne, that didn't work-out. I was happier when I was living on the streets and helping with a permaculture project on some squatted urban land.
I moved back in with my parents, after that group got "disrupted" and I've been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the overly comfortable living situation and the scale of my permaculture options on this suburban property and this low paying job.
I'm planning a bike-kayak trip down the Ohio River, this will ideally involve organizing local community permaculture and green infrastructure projects along the way, with side missions involving environmental activism and the highest goals of re-establishing the surviving American Chestnuts to its native range, and pre-emptively introducing thousand canker blight resistant black walnut genetics to existing stands to help preserve that species.
I already have stories, but it won't get interesting again until the next time I put rubber to the road and paddles to the water.
Wow! You're doing some amazing work!
I'm from Pittsburgh, and our watersheds, infrastructure and stream based ecosystems are in shambles, because of repeated deforestation, old unregulated mining and now fracking. We get new landslides and major floods that ruin homes and block/collapse roadways several times a month. We need an army of green infrastructure engineers and permaculture specialists; doing the same kind of work that you are.
Our city water and sewage authority is starting a green infrastructure certification program that seems very relevant. I'm networking with residents and local officials and the watershed associations to make some restoration projects happen, but it seems that I need help with credentials, certifications and actual experience, as well as access to funding to really move forward on anything.
Any advice on how to move forward to a series of payed gigs and longer term multi-year projects in the field of restoration ecology? The timing seems perfect to get permaculture ideas incorporated into Pittsburgh's long overdue environmental restoration.
I'm an INFP today. I've taken this test numerous times in different situations and mindset.
Consistently a strong 80%+ Intuitive. Always borderline between thinking-feeling. Trending towards growing stronger on Prospecting. Introvert-extrovert swings wildly and irradically based on immediate attitude towards whatever short-term social situation I find myself in. Routine pushes isolation and introversion, new experiences and discoveries push extroversion.
If you could scale this up to launch groundhogs, and somehow incorporate a self-resetting mechanism this could become something big!
In less than 20 minutes, a squirrel stole over 200 black walnuts that we intended to plant strategically as part of an attempted food forest project.
The most ecological way to deal with the squirrel problem is to set-up the ideal nesting habitat/situation in the nearest largest species compatible tree. Prune and train the highest branches as the ideal "welcome sign" for a new mating pair of native predatory raptors. Bald Eagles return to the same nesting area for life if the nest remains undisturbed, and if the tree falls, they will rebuild in the same area if the environment is healthy enough to support them.
A wonderful indicator for ecological health is stable and healthy populations of apex predators; like eagles, falcons, wolves, bears, and humans. Permaculture is basically engineering the most ideal possible natural habitat for humans. We could theoretically put our skills towards other animals well being; effectively recruiting certain wild animals to guard our food for us. This is likely how we started the domestication process that got some wolves to become dogs.
The better that humans collectively get at permaculture the more animals that will want to be our friends, as there becomes a mutualistic benefit to our interactions.
On the other side of the continent, American Chestnut has mostly been extirpated due to the chestnut blight, however a few blight resistant trees and stands still exists throughout their original range.
Hazelnut and Paw-Paw are very difficult to find here as well...
Now that I understand how this works, I'd like to thank you for all the time and effort that you put into keeping this discussion board civil and focused!
If I may offer a few suggestions as a new member;
Something like a "golden apple" badge that gets attached to the top of any apple winning post, visible to all users as an example of quality content.
Almost all of the time I spend in the regular forums is reading threads about topics that I would've otherwise asked about. A lot of my questions so far have already been answered somewhere on here, and I have a lot to learn through reading what's already been discussed.
I don't own any land to work with yet, so I have very limited ability to generate any new practical information about permaculture strategies or techniques. (Off topic but; A former about land use rights or land acquisition would be extremely helpful towards growing this community in the real world)
Another thing that could help with the "feeling excluded" aspect of the "Cider Press" could be limited posting ability for members with less than 4 apples. Maybe 1 reply to 1 topic a week pending moderation for 0-1 apple, and some incrimental increase as more apples are attained.
Through good conflict resolution skills, and proper etiquette, the "Cider Press" has potential to function as great place for new members in different life/property situations to earn some credibility.
That plant is still useful for removing certain types of soil contamination, as well as making rope, and waterproof resins.
As for the legalities, it could definitely cause problems in a lot of places.
It's probably already a widespread native plant already, since it likely first sprouted Somewhere in the western Himalaya mountain ranges.
Anyways, my black raspberries are growing and will be ready for a harvest in the next couple weeks.
Have you successfully sprouted any seeds from the mail?
If so, how where they packed and shipped to you?
Unfortunately you can't really avoid fracking or Pipelines in Appalachia, this whole region is either coal-country or gas-land. We're in the "Shale Crescent" overlap zones between the Marcellus, Utica, and Devonian shale formations. All of them have frackable gas, and the industry wants it all, mainly to support an Ethane Cracker and Pipeline network to turn our entire city into a massive petrochemical hub.
Not trying to make this about our local plight, but if you go with Pittsburgh, I will be happy to help you find a location to get started! Especially Hays or near Streets Run (the whole valley is a beautiful second growth hardwood forest that covers at least 1200 acres, with steep hills and flat landings, and wooded valleys. The soil needs some remediation after logging and coal mining, and the stream beads some help with acid mine runoff.
Aside from the fracking and mine legacy, this urban/suburban area has everything else that you're looking for!
There is also a wonderful network of environmental activists coming together to counter the fracking threat with creative solutions, permaculture and green infrastructure are cornerstone concepts towards achieving that.
There will absolutely be a place for your tribe here! We actually need your help!
Thanks for the links! I'll definitely check them out when I have time.
To answer asked questions;
We have a humid continental climate, and moisture from the gulf coast gets forced out of the atmosphere by the western side of the Appalachian mountains.
Rainfall used to be occasional and regular, but this regions climate appears to be transitioning to a either drought/monsoon cycle or subtropical rainforest. Rain events are becoming a lot more concentrated.
As for the composition of the contaminants, I'm working on making connections with some local university professors to get samples analyzed.
As for environmental impact, nothing lives in the main stream, occasionally I will see minnows if there wasn't a new blowout recently, there are uncontaminated ponds and headwater sections that support aquatic life, but most of the stream system itself is dead. Near the source points, the runoff strips bark from the trees that it flows past, and kills them if the roots get into it.
This problem is extremely widespread here, so much so that our subsurface water flow is determined more by abandoned coal mines than anything else.
I'm honestly kinda shocked that there are any wells or springs in this area that are still safe to drink from, but they do exist!
Congratulations on a new sprout!
I live in Pittsburgh (US) where these plants are native and grow wild. As a food resource these patches must be maintained and taken care of to keep up production.
Unmanaged berry patches turn into thick thorny patches that are very difficult to manage or maintain, that will need cut to ground level to be properly set-up.
These are highly invasive plants, and can easily take over forests, any disturbed soil and turn them into unmanageable thorn beds.
With all that being said, these are my favorite types of fruit, and they are a wonderful addition to any garden or maintained environment.
I have a wild black raspberries patch that established in my parent's back yard that I started tending recently.
I'll be happy to mail some seeds to you if they actually produce good fruit.
Good luck getting your berry patch set-up!
In Pittsburgh the PWSA is attempting to start a training program to build green infrastructure like swales, constructed wetlands, and water sinks/dry wells to manage the flooding in our valleys from storms.
As far as public works, it's a step in the right direction, but the scope and limited intentions behind the projects isn't enough to qualify as actual permaculture in my opinion...
I'm looking for the same information. What city are you thinking of and what are some obvious regional issues that this idea could be intended to fix.
There is the National Green Infrastructure certification program in the US, that recently went national, so you could get an official certification for building "green infrastructure" which includes a lot of permaculture concepts for watershed and storm runoff management. Www.NGICP.org I believe.
I'm in Pittsburgh and the local bureaucrats are dragging their feet on setting the training program up here, otherwise I would have it.
Government agencies that manage infrastructure and environmental problems would be good to talk to. Roads, pollution sources, flooding problems, water lines and sewage infrastructure will all greatly benefit from regional permaculture projects with properly planned watershed management.
the whole valley system is steep hillsides and floodplains that channel a ton of water very quickly into the main stream after a rain event. There are a few flat areas, but pretty much everything is on some sort of usually steep slope.
This is in Baldwin in the main source of the blue streambed acid mine precipitate.
This land has backed taxes, and I'd like to use this problem to get the land from the borough that I lived in my whole life. There are also a few healthy looking springs feeding the creek on this parcel of land.
Thank you all so much for the wonderful information and great leads to follow-up on!
I haven't acquired any of the land yet, but I want to live somewhere in that valley, and establish a permaculture and green infrastructure land management strategy on a large (public works or industrial) scale, producing economically viable soil remediators for funding (hemp is a big example, when that becomes legal) and ultimately transition remediated land and water ways into a residential food forest with enough biomass to support to support its own population and the surrounding communities, as well as permaculture wild areas for healthy animals to free range and people to hunt for food or back-yard safari.
I see this entire suburban watershed that could become an incredible regional improvement with proper land and water management.
Basically the mine runoff problem here is so widespread and varied that any imaginable situation is probably relevant. I'll make separate posts detailing a few different situations that I found so far.
I live south of Pittsburgh, and we have an entire tributary basin that drains 10 square miles, that sounds exactly like this but in a much larger scale!
It's mostly wooded, very flood prone valley that supports drainage and sewage infrastructure from the surrounding densely populated hilltop developments, including a slag dump, dozens of leaky abandoned coal mines, an airport, a scrap metal processing yard and a suspicious construction site (really hope it's not a Fracking well)
This situation is identical to numerous valleys through this particular watershed. Landslides are a huge problem here, and these ideas on a city-planning scale would mitigate these dangerous problems!
I wish to acquire land here to treat, and eventually permanently fix the mine runoff, flood and landslide problems in this valley, and transition this landscape from a polluted mire into a permaculture based sustainable community that manages the local watershed and ecosystem.
That's awesome! Fungi have a ton of biochemical pathways that do all sorts of things with many different materials!
It would be very worth-while to look for appropriate fungi cultures to inoculate different remediation situations with.
I think I've heard about a species of bacteria that incorporate arsenic into the structure of their DNA.
Specific microorganisms would also be very useful for this type of project...
In Pittsburgh, Our infrastructure is falling apart because of poor watershed management, and lack of maintenance. As a result, our hillsides are collapsing and bringing bridges, houses and roadway with them. That's what the emergency is, a Federal disaster declaration literally because our aging infrastructure is eroding, collapsing and washing out.
A lack of consideration for watershed management and deteriorating drainage infrastructure is at the heart of this problem, heavy rains cause floods and landslides, as well as abandoned mine blow-outs and combined sewage overflows that kill entire streams and poison our rivers on a regular basis.
Terraced wooded hillsides, rain gardens, rainwater retention ponds, and constructed wetlands would mitigate the flooding and combined sewage problems, as well as stabilize the land-slide prone hillsides.
Take the concept to the level of a fully functional food forest, and implement this on a city-wide scale and we could fix this situation by making the city even better than it was before.
It seem that most of the threads here revolve around making minerals biologically available to food producing plants.
I'm curious about doing something somewhat opposite first.
I need a list of things that absorb, render insoluble, or otherwise remove toxic contaminants, or over-abundant minerals, mainly heavy metals like lead, murcury, arsenic, zinc, cobalt, chromium, nickel, iron and copper.
Plants that could do this, withstand high acidity and process sulphates would be extremely useful for abandoned mine runoff and soil decontamination...
I'd recommend Pittsburgh, except for those damn fracking idiots who are invading my hometown.
We could definitely use more help keeping them away, if you'd want to get an urban green space we have a lot of it, hundreds of acres of vacant land and wooded hillsides with abundant materials on-site with-in city limits! It would be a damn shame to lose one to a wellpad.
Also, the steel making and mining legacy left a lot of contaminated soil that will require remediation, although in many places the contaminants have already been removed through reforestation and natural processes.
There is a controversial housing development idea involving Hays Woods, that may disrupt a bald-eagle nest. No plans have been presented and no $ mentioned, but a better idea would probably be welcomed by this progressive city at an economic and environmental cross-roads
Wow! I've certainly come to the right place for more permaculture information.
This is my first post, from the great regional Confluence city of Pittsburgh.
As another millennial, I find the mine runoff and fracking that's plaguing our region quite disturbing. It's "use it or lose it" with our land.
Permaculture and green infrastructure is the solution to these problems.
Can't grow good food on contaminated land, so I intend to start a company that builds urban and sub-urban green infrastructure, initially to control and decontaminate acid mine runoff, manage storm water and full permaculture and food-forest infrastructure to decontaminate the soil while maintaining the existing ecosystem, with the intention of converting that land into a low-density residential food-forest, with some areas made abundant and maintained for wildlife and game.
I've actually found a mine runoff problem that the EPA believes is serious. Lined channels, constructed wetlands, natural retaining walls, and Native hillside stabilizeing trees would remedy the emergency aspect of this situation. Permaculture commercially viable super-accumulator crops (like hemp) could make the start-up phase of this process economically viable.
I even heard talk about abandoned coal mines getting repurposed for mushroom growing. I wonder what else those underground hollows could be good for if they can be safely accessed and stabilized?
I also love the amount of ambition that I've read in this thread!
Let's work together and collaborate to make all of these dreams happen!