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podcast 175: tree bogs and natural burials

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Paul Wheaton talks to Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine. They talk about the English translation of Sepp Holzer's new book by the beginning of October. They describe tree bogs, which utilize willows to help break down poop. If the tree bog gets a lot of traffic, you could consider having it be a dry outhouse with urine diverted. You could also consider introducing certain insects and detritovores. Paul mentions the "poop beast" thread at permies.com, and the benefits of using certain tree species. Paul wouldn't use the tree bog in cold weather when the trees were dormant. They talk about coppicing. Maddy talks about burying the dead naturally at her sustainability center. They compare the process to a more industrial death process. Paul and Maddy clarify some rumors about Sepp's work in the Portugal desert. Maddy talks about how desert is not just about rainfall. Paul mention the "Allan Savoy Wins an Award" thread at permies.com. Maddy mentions people around the world who are doing Sepp-quality work.

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Related to the natural burial thing, I read an interesting article in the New York Times about a guy doing some research on the subject.
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Location: Okanogan County, WA
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I've been thinking about natural burial for the last couple of years, and was very happy to hear a podcast about it.

I think there are two very tangible benefits to be derived from it.

First, for the family of the deceased, the increase in involvement should help with the grieving process. As the family digs the hole by hand, builds a casket, etc. they will have time to process through the concept that their loved-one is gone. We see all too often these days people who are unable to let go. This is evidenced by the way we prepare the deceased for an open casket funeral - preserving and making them up so they look like they did when they were alive.

The second benefit is for society as a whole. I think it's a great thing for people to have a physical location that they know is the resting place of their loved one. However, how much land is filled up and untouchable with bodies of people that no one remembers anymore? I much prefer the idea that as soon as my descendents no longer care about where I am buried, there is no physical marker on that spot to indicate someone is buried there, no taboo from stepping on that place. I love the idea of having graveyards be native-plant forest reserves instead of manicured lawns where 90% of the property is tabood for foot traffic.
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On the willow poop field - anyone who has ever worked on septics will know the propensity of tree roots to find and FILL tanks and utterly destroy how septic tanks work. Sure they'll help dry it up, but thats not the point of a septic. Maybe I'm missing something big here.

I've learned more on the natural burial thing and decided that I want a simple pine box and if they can plant an apple tree on me or something like that, all the better. The native plant garden is a great idea too. I also like your suggestion of the family digging the hole - our society has gotten away from that (the way it used to be) in favor of paying for it since no one thinks they have the time for it anymore. It gives closure.

I cant fathom burdening my family with an expensive funeral, casket, and all that. I believe that God will resurrect this body and has no need of preserving or protecting my body whatsoever. If my family wants to feed the poor with the money otherwise spent on preserving a lifeless corpse, then all the better.

Just imagine all the food that COULD be produced for homeless or bereaved families on the land currently used for rows of expensive and difficult to mow around markers.
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This may be a bit of a hazy thought, but what exactly does a willow do with the nitrogen boon in a poo-bog? I know its not a fixer by any means, but would it uptake *any* of it, assuming it was drinking #1's n 2's all summer?

I just wonder if the coppiced matter would be any richer than regular willow scraps in nitrogen, or if it just does its usual nitrogen thing?

"When I die, just throw me in the trash! Who gives a shit!"
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