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Crypto-permie homesteaders on Nat Geo TV show "Live Free Or Die"  RSS feed

 
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I'm gonna blabber a little bit more.
I understand the value of ramial wood piles and really wish I had space to devote to rotting brush mounds...but alas, I don't. I really can't justify loosing that much space to cumbersome debris...so we burn brush, but we do not use accelerants. I try to extinguish the brush fire before the char turns to ash. I use large limbs more responsibly. I either make check logs on contour with them, or bury them in the mounds of our larger swales. I get plenty of free wood chips from my arborist neighbors, so we have no shortage of OM.
Now, I will address slope stabilization. We use check logs, swales and mulch to arrest sheet erosion...and it works like a charm. For deeper stabilization we live stake willow and lombardy poplar coppice on contour in newly established zones every winter. This not only arrests erosion, but will drastically increase soil OM via root sloughing since we aggressively coppice these trees for rabbit fodder. Then the rabbit poop goes into red worm tubs.
And we make a lot of charr that gets charged with pee.
As for Camelia sinensis, we do not use any winter protection, and they've survived -10 degree nights.
 
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Tony,

Big fan. You're the reason we watch the show. You're a source of inspiration and motivation for my kids... probably desensitization to what most people they know would find abnormal in these parts. Your a reason to talk about all the great reasons people choose to live the way you do. I never watch reality tv but make the exception for your show. Keep up the good work and thank Amelia for us too. I'm sure choosing to be on the show wasn't a decision taken lightly but we're glad you did it.

Once the rest of the family find out your here I might be back with questions for now just thanks.
Mike
 
Anthony Francis
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David Wood wrote:From what I saw of the cute hippie couple they're taking what looks like regrowth forest on very steep land, clearing it and adding some veggie etc beds enclosed by flimsy surrounds.

Clearing forest to grow crops on marginal land? Isn't that one of the poor sustainability practices that has contributed to the mess we're in?

By the look of the forest I'm guessing it's a reasonably high-rainfall area. Without trees to hold it together there's a reasonable chance that once they've cleared their block if they get a substantial amount of rain they'll almost definitely get sheet erosion and possibly a slip that will see their topsoil head off down the slope.

They're burning green waste that's just been clipped using an accelerant of some kind. Why not compost it? Setting a fire on top of soil does all sorts of damage to soil structure and health. And anything larger than twiggy stuff makes good kindling.

Bit of a mess IMO.




David, you've made a lot of assumptions in this post, that if were true, would make our garden look like "a bit of a mess". We catch lots of rainwater, build lots of soil, and grow a considerable quantity of food. Not really a mess at all. The regrowth we are cutting is about 30 years old, and mostly pine...not a very productive or diverse landscape. The topsoil had been washed away from pulpwood harvesting and extensive grazing. I have no concern about scorching the topsoil because there isn't any. Once an area has been cleared we terrace, swale, mulch and livestake to keep erosion in check. We don't bother much with annual crops and don't till. Tilling literally isn't an option on our hillside. We do grow tons of pumpkin throughout the system, tomatoes have naturalized, and we grow sweet potatoes in wood chip mounds.
Ironically, erosion was a problem befor we cleared and swaled the property. We're fixing problems, not creating them.
It also might surprise you that it doesn't rain much in our microclimate.
And just to set the record strait, we don't spray accelerants on our brush piles.
 
Anthony Francis
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Thanks Stu
 
Anthony Francis
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Mike, rather, thank you Mike
 
master steward
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Welcome to permies, Tony! I haven't watched your show (mostly because we have limited internet and no cable), but it's really neat reading what you're doing on your land, and seeing that there is someone doing "permaculture" in the mainstream media. I actually know little about the more "woo-woo" version of permaculture, because most of the people here on permies are very...practical...in their application of permaculture principles. Paul Wheaton (the owner of this forum) describes the difference as "brown" (practical) and "purple" (more spiritual) permaculture on this thread: Pruple Permaculture Vs. Brown Permaculture

Do you know if there's a specific episode of the show that you're on that does a particularly good job of showing your land and what you've been doing on it? I'd love to watch it, if there is.

Thank you so much for stopping by and saying, "Hi" and answering our questions!
 
pollinator
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Thank you for clarifying what you're doing there, Tony.

 
pollinator
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Welcome Tony!

I congratulate you on your efforts. In my book, doing and trying is preferred over dreaming and judging. It's a shame that I have no TV nor high speed Internet, so I'm missing your show. I bet it's interesting and I could pick up a few good tips.

I wish you the best in creating your forest garden.
 
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i love the show and the positivity - sharing everything with the public. ive seen probably all of the episodes to date. awesome stuff Tony
 
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Dan Boone wrote:

Roberto pokachinni wrote:It could be that these folks do not yet have their PDC. It could be that, like me, they have been doing permacultural/homesteading/back to the land research for years and have gleaned enough information to give it a go without the official courses. As such, National Geographic is keeping out of legal complications with Permaculture by not using the term, since only those having taken the course can use the term. Just a guess.



It has been my impression that persons without a PDC are not supposed to teach permaculture for money or sell permaculture design services. I would find it startling if I should learn that there exists any enforceable legal principal (or even any serious legal contention) that people may not use the word permaculture to describe what they are doing, whether or not they have taken a course and whether or not they appear on cable television.




Pretty sure I have heard Mollison explicitly state that everyone can describe what they are doing as permaculture, but if you are going to teach permaculture and describe what you are teaching that way, then you do need the PDC credential.

As for why Nat Geo would avoid using the word permaculture? I suspect they may think that their audience hears permaculture and thinks dirty hippies....
 
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Tony's already stated in this thread that he hasn't been using the word permaculture. In part precisely because of the hippie stain.

And yes, unless I am mistaken there's nothing prohibiting the use of the term Permaculture without a PDC except in cases of actively teaching it.
 
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@Tony

Thanks for speaking up here. The article about PC was great. Hope at some point you have time to visit again.


@Dan Boone

Amelia is a hippie chick. Being a hippie chick means you have to make some compromises between clothing practicality and presentation. If you go all-out for practicality, you end up presenting as a farm wife, which is no bad thing in the abstract but has squareness issues for hippie chicks.



Man, I hope you're writing books or doing a column or something. Your descriptions are closing in on priceless! It's great to laugh. <G> And I sure hope Amelia takes this in only the truest best possible way, understanding that hippie chicks are one of the most wonderful and amazing creatures to be found in America, ever. <g>

Cheers

Rufus


 
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Rufus Laggren wrote:And I sure hope Amelia takes this in only the truest best possible way, understanding that hippie chicks are one of the most wonderful and amazing creatures to be found in America, ever.



Gosh, Rufus, I hope so too! Because that's exactly how I meant it.
 
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now you have me addicted to this show! : )
its so well done and interesting.
 
alex wiz
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Tony, I'm guessing you're gone. But how'd you come upon your living situation?
and how much money did you have diving into this off the grid lifestyle?
 
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Tony, I pretty much watch the show for you guys. Moving into our first house next week and are excited to get started doing some stuff. Have about a dozen trees another dozen bushes and about 400 seedlings to plant.
 
pollinator
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I spotted this thread when posting about a new "reality" TV show Homestead Rescue, and read through this thread and decided to give the show a try. I am up to episode 5 of season 1 now. Mostly decent. the producers seem to actually be decent enough to try to back up the cast with helpful info for the viewing public rather than the more typical narrator contradicting or down playing what the cast says.

Tony and Amelia are a pleasure to watch, Thorn too is interesting and his daughter is adorable, and Colbert is hard not to like. The Californian guy I forget his name I just don't connect with, but that might be a lot to do with they seem to have only showed him running around trying to hunt constantly so far. I do like that it shows hunting is not just stepping into the woods and you get something, as well as if you don't get something you keep trying day after day until you do. Seems that in season 2 though he is no longer part of the cast, and 2 new people are added. So I guess not that important for me to learn his name. I am in no way though diminishing what he is trying to do, just felt what is presented of him in the show just doesn't build a connection for me.

My only big complaint with the show, is how broken up the narrative is. I would much rather them show each person's segment in full rather than bouncing back and forth between the people. Sort of annoying, and makes the editing just that much more difficult to follow as your just getting into someone's story and they move to another location to tell you about what someone else is doing.
 
Devin Lavign
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BTW if Tony ever pops back on here, I was curious if you and Thorn have ever met up? Sounds like he is right in your neighborhood as they keep saying "5 miles away over the ridge" about the two of you.
 
Stu Horton
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Devin Lavign wrote:BTW if Tony ever pops back on here, I was curious if you and Thorn have ever met up? Sounds like he is right in your neighborhood as they keep saying "5 miles away over the ridge" about the two of you.



Devin,

There is an episode where Thorn's daughter isn't feeling well so he drops her off with Tony and Amelia while he goes foraging for medicine. It happens to be their anniversary. I believe it's on season 2.
 
Devin Lavign
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Stu Horton wrote:

Devin Lavign wrote:BTW if Tony ever pops back on here, I was curious if you and Thorn have ever met up? Sounds like he is right in your neighborhood as they keep saying "5 miles away over the ridge" about the two of you.



Devin,

There is an episode where Thorn's daughter isn't feeling well so he drops her off with Tony and Amelia while he goes foraging for medicine. It happens to be their anniversary. I believe it's on season 2.



Cool I will look for it when I get to season 2, thanks for answering the question.
 
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Tony and Amelia are a cute couple who look like they get on really well. I like this show mostly for the Tony/Amelia parts and Thorn segments. I feel for Thorn in regards to his situation with his daughter. I hope things are well with everyone on the show and just want to thank them for allowing themselves to be filmed doing something most of society thinks is weird. It is appreciated by many.
 
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I'm confused... didn't Sepp do his thing in a mountainous conifer forest... spruce, I think?  And make many, many terraces, a lot with ponds, ... on mostly steep mountainsides?   Is there a conflict here between the Mollison and the Holzer 'schools of permaculture'...?  Gee whiz !!  I agree that this program (which I haven't seen yet) must be amazing!! in getting the ideas out... anything else doing it in the MSM?? ??   I agree with Anthony ... 'a rose by any other name, etc....'  
 
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Anthony Francis wrote:This is Tony again.
This article sums up why I avoid the word permaculture.
http://academia-danubiana.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/2.12.09.01_HARPER-A-critique-of-permaculture.pdf
If you want to save time just skip to page eight.  I agree with everything this author has to say about permaculture.
This is my favorite excerpt from the article.
If you were in India, say, and encountered someone helping a blind beggar across the road, it would be odd to say "I see you are a Christian" as if Christianity had a monopoly on kindness. In the same way it seems odd to me if people say "Oh I see you're into Permaculture"; am I? I am inclined to answer "Yes" on the understanding that Permaculture is another name for the holistic approach. But then all hell breaks loose: people project so much baggage onto the term that using it at all leads to a godawful tangle of confusion and misunderstanding. I've learned to steer clear of it; I prefer to speak in plain English and say what I really mean

There was a time when I called myself a permaculturalist.  I was young and idealistic.  I am older and slightly wiser now, and I actively distance myself from ideologies...including permaculture.  When people ask me what I do, I generally reply "I plant useful trees". This is concrete and tangible to anyone.  Permaculture isn't something you can do, because it's an idea that exists only in the fertile imagination of homo sapiens.  Planting a tree on the other hand is all doing...no need for explanation...no need for a philosophical discussion...you just plant the tree...done!
Here is a (in my opinion) funny video that hints at my dissatisfaction with permaculture.
 


To quote the opening line of the video "we can see permaculture as a musical symphony, a symphony to freedom".  OH REALLY!  Well, not only does that have nothing to do with my homestead, but it doesn't actually mean anything.       



I love it! That awful video illustrates one of the major problems i have with 'permaculture' in general. Spacey, touchy-feely people dressed in mud and building sand castles with "re-purposed" broken bits of industrial trash. I hate how that sounds and at the same time it is a disliking of mine.

Hunter Thompson said it best;
'It all comes down to a matter of taste'

So, to each, their own but i am avoiding the term even though what we do here, is very similar in explanation, i just am not good at art, and am not a new age monk of some type, and people immediately get that impression (space monk with glass-mud) when we tell them what we are up to... appropriate technology. I used to say; 'im a quasi-amish guy with a solar panel and a ham radio', but...labels.

'I plant useful trees' That was awesome!
 
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:Geoff Lawton has stated in an interview with Paul Wheaton that there is absolutely no requirement to have done a PDC in order to teach permaculture, or use permaculture, or describe what you're doing as permaculture. So there's that.



Are you sure?

I specifically remember him stating his concern that permaculture not be taught in such a way as to be considered "wacky".
 
Devin Lavign
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Well I finished watching through season 2. The Thorn episode of dropping off his daughter was the last episode of season 1.

The 2nd season replaced the 1st season Californian with two new people, one in AZ doing much of a similar thing to the Cali guy, and a CO blacksmith mountain man.

Like the Cali guy, the AZ footage just wasn't something I could get into for similar reasons. No fault of the person again, just not overly interesting to follow at least for me. Others might really enjoy those segments though.

The blacksmith mountain man, I actively dislike. Everything centers around his mules and his lack of ability with them. He obviously does not have the skill or knowledge of how to care for and train mules. I don't know if he BSed his way onto the the show or if they added him because the producers knew he would create lots of drama.

Tony and Amilia still amazing, and seem to have gotten into a groove in season 2 having more infrastructure built up and getting more and more added to their homestead. Each episode I look forward to seeing their segments.

Thorn and his daughter still wonderful. I do really like how much they include his daughter and how much he includes his daughter. I also have to give props to the off screen mom for allowing Thorn and his daughter to interact this way. I am sure it would have been easy to prevent Thorn from having such visits, so kuddos for her being supportive of this relationship and lifestyle even if they aren't together still. And speaking of, Thorn got a love interest. I feel a bit bad for them as having cameras pointed at you doesn't make for the most romantic setting. But they seemed to make a connection.
 
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Permaculture is not tapping on a metal bowl while you chant. Permaculture is tonight's blackberry pie, made from berries that I grew, and it will follow a dinner of the fish that I caught. Mowing a lawn and planting herbs can be called Permaculture: chanting while tapping a bowl is not!!!
 
Stu Horton
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Terri Matthews wrote:Permaculture is not tapping on a metal bowl while you chant. Permaculture is tonight's blackberry pie, made from berries that I grew, and it will follow a dinner of the fish that I caught. Mowing a lawn and planting herbs can be called Permaculture: chanting while tapping a bowl is not!!!



Hi. I respect your opinion but the site isn't about permaculture. Some of the people on the show use some permaculture like techniques. I'm sure some people that do permaculture ride a bike, go to church, do yoga, collect stamps, whatever.
 
Terri Matthews
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Stu Horton wrote:

Hi. I respect your opinion but the site isn't about permaculture. Some of the people on the show use some permaculture like techniques. I'm sure some people that do permaculture ride a bike, go to church, do yoga, collect stamps, whatever.


My bad: I expressed myself badly. I meant to refer to the video of the Permaculture class where everybody got muddy. 

 
Tyler Ludens
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I don't personally see any conflict between rolling in the mud and the ethics and principles of permaculture.  You don't have to roll in the mud to practice permaculture, but you can roll in the mud and practice permaculture.  However, if people want to elevate the status of permaculture in the opinion of the wider public, displays of mud-rolling might not be such a great idea.  Strangely, even though rolling in the mud is far more sustainable than driving a tractor, tractor-driving in permaculture is much more acceptable than mud-rolling in permaculture.

 
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Just found this thread.  Guess I am going to have to check out the show. 

I am always intrigued by people who have recently made the jump and started building a homestead.
My family and I are SOOOOO close to doing that ourselves that I can taste it.
I've spent enough time researching and dreaming.  It's time to start doing and applying. 

Cudos to Tony and Amelia for making it happen for themselves.
 
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The 3rd season of Live Free or Die has been showing and is the best one yet. 

The parts with Tony and Amelia have been the highlight again for us with their great working relationship, excellent humor and wonderful ideas they bring to the show.  We can't wait to see what they do next. 

 
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The show producers influence a lot of what Tony and Amelia do. This season's trip to the coast for salt made the couple look ignorant in my opinion. I live near and in the same climate as the couple, I know that they travelled about 250 miles to the coast to collect their sea salt. The deer meat was left where? Our winter was super mild when that was filmed. Deer meat, venison, is safer canned than cured or smoked. Tony and Amelia are very intelligent people, but gave in to the producers need to show "drama". I just wanted to blow off a little steam in regards to the " show"...
 
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This show helped me want to learn about wild edibles.
 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:As in the Tea Plant? Are you growing it in a High Tunnel or similar?

As for the word permaculture, there's no doubt that hippies have... how to put it... tarnished the word a bit. Certainly not the image Mollison was going for.



You say that like being a "Hippie" is a bad thing.

There is this thing about "Hippies"; They were right.  Still are.



 
Devin Lavign
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Chris Griffin wrote:The show producers influence a lot of what Tony and Amelia do. This season's trip to the coast for salt made the couple look ignorant in my opinion. I live near and in the same climate as the couple, I know that they travelled about 250 miles to the coast to collect their sea salt. The deer meat was left where? Our winter was super mild when that was filmed. Deer meat, venison, is safer canned than cured or smoked. Tony and Amelia are very intelligent people, but gave in to the producers need to show "drama". I just wanted to blow off a little steam in regards to the " show"...



I have little doubt that Tony and Amelia know what they are doing and have some control of what is happening in the show. By this I mean they are barterers, and so likely are getting something for every silly drama thing they do for the show. My guess is they get some grace on pushing some information point that they want to share but the production thinks is too boring when ever they do some silly unreality show drama thing.
 
Stu Horton
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Devin Lavign wrote:

Chris Griffin wrote:The show producers influence a lot of what Tony and Amelia do. This season's trip to the coast for salt made the couple look ignorant in my opinion. I live near and in the same climate as the couple, I know that they travelled about 250 miles to the coast to collect their sea salt. The deer meat was left where? Our winter was super mild when that was filmed. Deer meat, venison, is safer canned than cured or smoked. Tony and Amelia are very intelligent people, but gave in to the producers need to show "drama". I just wanted to blow off a little steam in regards to the " show"...



I have little doubt that Tony and Amelia know what they are doing and have some control of what is happening in the show. By this I mean they are barterers, and so likely are getting something for every silly drama thing they do for the show. My guess is they get some grace on pushing some information point that they want to share but the production thinks is too boring when ever they do some silly unreality show drama thing.



Couldn't agree more Devin. I'm not sure if the sequence was portrayed accurately but I had a huge problem with tiny and Amelia harvesting a deer but being to build a dehydrator and go to the beach to get salt AFTER the fact! I know they're smarter than that and would have found a way to barter for salt or build the dehydrator first.
 
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I think Tony gets it. You nailed it with that video: the chanting, the whimsical spiritual-level ambiance, the bowl tapping, mud-flinging, the spiral hairdo and the didgeridoo. Uggg.. Seriously?   Permaculture is that? Permaculture, edible forest, soil nutrient cycle farming - whatever you want to call it - it's alot of work!  If I ever get that covered in mud it is not by choice but because I was out working in the rain by necessity.

As for the show, it is good. I don't pay for TV so I can only watch on this CPU whatever vids are free on Youtube. I would much prefer a "how-to" type of show. The producers seem a little more interested in finding shock-value drama, but that is just the film industry in general and is to be expected.

So Tony - you said ask you a question. I live in the same general area as you and Thorn, probably not 50 miles from either of you (northwestern SC). How did you guys hold up during the wildfires last month? I imagine that it will be featured in a future episode as it was a pretty big deal in this area for many weeks. Maybe season 4? 
 
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I'm still fairly domesticated, and my kids LOVE the show. There are some people with real skill on there. Matt (the Utah primitivist) has some impressive knowledge base, editing is not at play (he shot a wild turkey with a primitive bow and the turkey was not, say, chained to a post). We have a mutual friend and he is legitimate. But, most people will view his skills with curiousity but without envy. Colbert and Tony and Amelia do a nice job of presenting the ideals to a Level 1 audience. I would totally live next to Tony and Amelia, because they are visibly working WITH their property, trying to turn barriers into advantages. Colbert seems like a hoot, and maybe will inspire people to downsize and embrace their primitive side. Thorn does strike me as the hardest worker of the bunch, kind of the Marine ethic of work harder not smarter. He makes "biochar" by making a huge fire that literally could have burned down the county due to wind and close trees, takes the charcoal/ash, pees on it, throws some leaves on it, and puts it on his "food forest". From the editing this looks like a day from start to finish. There were so many things wrong with that particular episode I thought this guy has succeeded in sterilizing his erosion gully and expending a whole lot of calories in one episode. But it is obvious he is trying. He is trying to jump from Level 1 (I think he said he was a teacher) to Level 9 in one jump. What Tony and Amelia are doing is more sustainable/likely to thrive, because she apparently grew up doing similar stuff. Tony cracks me up because he is relatively new to this, but still excited and likely to inspire others. He is the guy that people can identify with that are on the fence.

Overall, a good show. I would be more interested in a Tony/Amelia type show.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Dee Kay D'Stuph wrote: He makes "biochar" by making a huge fire that literally could have burned down the county due to wind and close trees



I'm not convinced that's an appropriate way to make biochar.  Char is made in the absence of air:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-BioChar-and-Terra-Preta/

Setting a big pile on fire is just a way to put extra CO2 and particulates into the air, making life miserable for neighbors with bad lungs like me. 

 
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