Jeremy R. Campbell

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since Oct 02, 2017
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Technologist and jr. Permaculturist
Midwest USA
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Recent posts by Jeremy R. Campbell

I'd love to help.  Happy to draft, edit, research, support.  Though I bring no qualifications with regard to Africa in particular other than having been there for a short month of my life, and it being the beginning of my permaculture interest.  
5 months ago
My reading about annonacin, a neurotoxin found in Pawpaw, has me concerned about pawpaw consumption and long term (not acute) potentially compounding health issues.  I'd like to hear what others know about this.

Annonacin is a chemical compound with toxic effects, especially in the nervous system, found in some fruits such as the paw paw, custard apples, soursop, and others from the family Annonaceae. It is a member of the class of compounds known as acetogenins.

An average-sized soursop fruit contains 15 mg of annonacin, while a can of commercial nectar contains 36 mg and a cup of infusion, 140 μg. Studies in rodents indicates that consumption of annonacin (3.8 and 7.6 mg per kg per day for 28 days) caused brain lesions consistent with Parkinson's disease. An adult who consumes a fruit or can of nectar daily over the course of a year is estimated to ingest the same amount of annonacin that induced brain lesions in the rodents receiving purified annonacin intravenously.

15mg of annonacin a day is likely to be toxic to humans. If I'm calculating correctly...1oz of pawpaw contains 215mg of annonacin. A single pawpaw is probably 2-3 oz, or 430-645mg of annonacin. We don't know if this builds up in our system, or how much per day/week/month is toxic.

Here is a journal article that speaks to Annonacin and Pawpaw specifically:

Annonacin in Asimina triloba fruit: implication for neurotoxicity.

Its conclusion is:

Pawpaw fruit contains a high concentration of annonacin, which is toxic to cortical neurons. Crude fruit extract also induced neurotoxicity, highlighting the need for additional studies to determine the potential risks of neurodegeneration associated with chronic exposure to pawpaw products.

An additional journal article that draws no conclusions, simply discusses the methods for measuring the annonacin levels in pawpaw.  Note that these measurements were with the meat/pulp of the fruit, not the seed/skin/twigs/etc...

Determination of Neurotoxic Acetogenins in Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) Fruit by LC-HRMS

I'd love to grow and enjoy Pawpaws but the jury is still out on whether I should.  Can anyone weigh in on this?
1 year ago
Based on the advice of cutting off the growing tips of my fig, I incorporated that into another project I had planned that would allow me to put those tips to good use.  My hope is to propagate my tree, with a system I could use for other propagation as well.

I’ve used 2 unglazed terra-cotta pots with sand as the potting medium.  The smaller pot is plugged and holds a water reservoir to keep the sand wet.  The hope is to root the tips and facilitate plant propagation.

I’ll follow up if the scheme works.
1 year ago
I’ve been thinking about this same problem.  We are in Kansas City and have a Chicago Hardy that is 3 years old.  We got about 15 figs off it but still only 1/4 of the fruit; we haven’t had our first freeze yet so we may yet get more.

That’s a great tip to cut the growing tips off to encourage ripening, I’m definitely going to try that.

I really want to avoid trying to wrap it over winter.  Too much work, and not attractive at all.

An idea I had was to put a cold frame on it a few weeks before last freeze in the spring to see if I can get it an earlier start on the year.

I love the tree it is one of my favorites.  It is right by our back porch so we keep a close eye on it and it puts off a great smell many months out of the year.  Would really like to get more fruit from it.
1 year ago
I recently visited a region of the world that is recognized by the World Bank as the "poorest region in the world" with "98 percent of the inhabitants ... considered multi-dimensionally poor" in both resources, education, employment and other opportunities, and harshness of environment.

What I observed on my multiple visits to this region were attempts at introduction of industrial-ag influences...Large scale GMO based monocropping with dependency on synthetic fertilizers...  Alongside a region that is substantially subsistence farmers.

And that makes sense when you think about where the funding for these initiatives come from.  When the governments/World Health Organization/et al fund programs to help poverty-stricken countries, these are the farming models that are going to receive funding/attention.  It is probably based on the methods your ag extention would've been a proponent of 10 years ago, based on how slowly these things move and the red tape and corruption and corporate lobbying it has to endure.  

Those who have the education, resources, equipment, pull this type of agriculture off...are very much the minority.

That model doesn't scale as well as Permaculture in what it has to offer the vast worldwide population of subsistence farmers.  

Simply supporting the subsistence farmers doesn't have the same value to government officials and policymakers in trying to improve their GDP/exports and make a name for themselves on the world stage, so it may not receive the attention it should.

The Permaculture model promotes minimal input, regenerative practices, capitalizing on inherent natural advantages and improving them, incorporating indigenous practices, and improved productivity and effectiveness.

How is the Permaculture based agriculture model being promoted to policy makers and agriculture departments within nations around the world?  I have to think there would/should be tremendous interest, with the right support and education and resources.  Methods to support 100% of the farming population that don't depend on significant import needs of equipment, material, supplies, fertilizers, herbicides.  

We all know how industrial-ag methods are being promoted to these same groups.  Corporate $$$$$

One organization I've come across related to this, although more entrenched and on a local level, is Mavuno.  They're more hands-on boots on the ground supporting change/development/education/opportunities (in Congo/DRC)

I'm curious if there are organizations that are working at a higher strategic level, across all or groups nations, targeting policymakers and officials and nation-level ag departments, and providing the support of education/training/materials or just showing the legitimacy of regenerative agriculture practices?  Can anyone reference any?
1 year ago
Thanks for the notes George/Tivona.  The tool was having issues but I fixed it, should be operational again now.

Perric, thanks for the suggestion.  I recently added the C|F conversion to the climate explorer and plan to do so for the analogue explorer as well as time permits.
1 year ago
I've recently come across the concept of "Grape Girdling", which is apparently a common grape growing practice that increases table grape size and quality.  I'm interested in the groups thoughts on this practice, and in general the process of producing good quality table grapes.

Trunk girdling is the removal of a thin strip of bark all the way around the trunk. It is done each year on an area of the trunk or cordons that was not girdled in previous years. The practice temporarily disrupts the downward flow of carbohydrates and hormones through the phloem (inner bark) and, when timed properly, increases the berry size of most seedless table grape varieties. It can make berries about 10 to 30 percent larger when done correctly.


The practice of girdling removes the bark, phloem and cambium from around the trunk or cane...Removal of these tissues prevents the translocation of carbohydrates to the root system thus making more available for fruit growth until the girdle heals....


I've searched the forums and not found anything on this topic, so I wanted to open discussion on it.  

Does anyone here do this, and have positive or negative results?  
What would keep you from doing this, given its potential benefits?
Does anyone here have experience producing large quality grapes without this method, and if so what do you think contributes to this success?

More about my situation, for any other suggestions/feedback:

I'm on year 2 of my own grape growing education and learning a lot.  

I have about 30 clusters per vine, even after thinning over 75% of the clusters, on my Concord and Catawba vines.  They are quite vigorous.  

I've had less luck on my Marquis due to puppy bite, and on my Reliance due to the original nursery tag constricting the main vine and going unnoticed until a few weeks ago.  I'm expecting next year they will all be very well established.  

Perhaps I should have thinned more or all of the grapes being only their 2nd year, but I'm not that disciplined.

I have a good bilateral cordon system going, and the plants seem healthy.

My Concords are starting to ripen and I expect I may begin to harvest .  They're small compared to the grapes we buy in the store.

In general, my goals are simply to feed my household of 8 with as much as I can from my urban backyard.
1 year ago
Nathanael, keep up the good work and thanks for the updates!


Besides, many of our Western initiatives have VERY little benefit. You mention the 'zero defecation in open air' campaign. I have to confess, I'm a sceptic. The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.

I want to make sure my primary point about CLTS wasn't missed, because I'm not qualified to try to justify the implementation or results of the work and that wasn't what I was trying to do.  What was most impressive to me about the CLTS is how it was seemingly able to do what many in this thread have bemoaned as insurmountable, and that you touch on in your response:

it is unrealistic, exhausting and condescending to tell local people to live differently than they want to.

I really wasn't intending to open a debate about the effectiveness of the solution provided by CLTS (less than effective wasteful latrines) or even a debate about the outcomes of those latrines vs. open air defecation.  That would require consideration of different context (eg, village of 500 vs 20,000... Time of year...) and would also require data that I simply don't have beyond anecdotes (eg, studies showing results of disease/infection reduction).  I think it would also require consideration that improvement is incremental, but seeing the need for improvement may be the hardest part at times.

What's interesting to me about CLTS is that they did what is so hard; they lead communities towards recognizing the way they were living isn't ideal, what that they had otherwise accepted as normal, and led them to consider improvements that would be beneficial them.  And their methodology in how they did this on a broad scale across thousands of communities was what was so interesting to me.  

Isn't this what the permaculture community seeks to do in influencing toward sustainable/regenerative growing practices?

I think there is potential inspiration in the CLTS methodology to consider in advocating permacultural principles on a broad scale.

1 year ago
I'm very excited to have found your thread, I've spent hours pouring over it today.  Unfortunately I don't think I have very much permaculture wisdom to impart that hasn't already been passed on, but permaculture application in Chad is something that has been on my mind and heart for years and is even what had originally inspired me to dig into permaculture in my home in the midwest USA starting ~5 years ago.  

I've spent a decent amount of time in Chad over the last several years, and have dear friends in Chad, multiple families, who have been living in the country for nearly a decade.  The challenges are so real.  My heart hurt with every familiar challenge you described, that is such a struggle to relay to other well-intention poster who hasn't experienced it.  The nomadic tribes and roaming livestock, the views on ownership, the termites, the dryness!  I laugh at our aversion to bare soil, if only!  All of my time spent in Chad (Mostly in Salamat) was in the April/May, so I only got to see the dryest hottest portions time of the year and never got to see the rainy season.

We understand permaculture as a system, and it's the challenges you face that show just how far that system extends beyond just the boundaries of your plot that lead to successful harvest.  Societal, cultural, infrastructure, spiritual.  I'm reminded how much we in developed nations and western cultures take for granted in the systems we enjoy that support our efforts.

I'm so excited to hear about and keep up with and support you in your efforts.

It was my visits to Chad and seeing the struggles there specifically that have inspired me to try to create digital technologies / web based tools to help enable better sharing of information and technique related to regenerative/sustainable agriculture for regional/climate specific challenges.  This forum is great, but there is a wealth of articles/blogs/scientific literature that is probably applicable as well, and nothing to structure it for your needs.  I want to structure it and make it available to the millions coming online via smartphones every year.  I see so much opportunity for better connection of existing resources and information to those in challenging climates to be connected with others who are experimenting and have solved problems they're facing.  

I'm burdened for Chad and other developing nations and their agricultural practices.  The practices that are going to receive funding, training, resources, be it via NGO support, local government, World Bank / WHO funding, or commercially, are going to all be based on industrial practices where there is commercial interest or mainstream commercial agricultural support.  Indigenous and sustainable practices will be lost.  What I saw in Chad was a history of misuse, mis-application, and destructive practices that we've even already learned from in the 'western' world but those mistakes we've made and learned from have not been caught up on.  I never got a picture, but if you could find some of the large scale 'agricultural fields' in Chad during the dry season and post it here, the vastness of the dry cracked nothingness extending for miles, it is astonishing.

One of the families I spent time with spent a lot of time learning, experimenting, and trying to grow and be fruitful and I tried to assist with ideas/inspiration as I could, though I certainly didn't have as good of advice as the masses on this forum.   That family was successful with raising rabbits, banana circles, and several trees in their limited/typical sized lot in Am Timan.  Malabar Spinach was a favorite I don't think I've seen mentioned yet. Chickens were great to combat the scorpions and other pests.  Their brick-stone wall surrounding their plot was instrumental in their ability to create a good microclimate for living, growing.  It protected from the roaming livestock and wind.  With eventual shade from trees, and walls to keep the cool air in moisture in, it made a tremendous difference.  It was culturally acceptable for them, it was standard in their location.  Everyone had one.  It would seem like that should be a high priority for you, though I know you have a sizable lot.

One of the tools I've created helps you find your climate analogue.  It takes the city you input, considers its Köppen-Geiger climate classification as well as your elevation and latitude, and looks for other cities in the world with similarities.  Learning these cities can help you expand your research base.  There are probably not a lot resources written for Boudamasa, but there are a good number of other cities around the world that have similar characteristics that might help you learn other ideas/techniques/inspiration.

Here are the analogues for Boudamasa:

There are cities (some quite large, >1million in population) in Nigeria, Venezuela, Columbia, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Peru, Ethiopia, Brazil, Curaçao, Cameroon, Angola, CAR, and Samolia with similar characteristics. This tool doesn't verify an exact match, eg their wet/dry seasons may be different than yours, but they might enable more research possibilities.

I hope you can take a respite at Zakouma at some point.  You should consider it important for your native wildlife and plant life, and permaculture related studies and observations.

Finally, if you've never heard of CLTS (Community Lead Total Sanitation), I'd recommend you check it out.  My friends in Chad were involved with this program for a brief time, in seeking to help eliminate open deification in some of the communities they served.  I believe, though I have never validated or developed this idea, that some of the principles in this approach could be powerful and/or helpful in considering ways to introduce helpful change and support in the community for some of the things you may be looking to implement.  

A good book that briefly covers the CLTS approach, and a book I recommend for ANYONE that seeks to influence, is "The Power of Moments" by Chip and Dan Heath.  Fascinating book, and good brief coverage of CLTS, and speaks to why I think this methodology may have merit to your situation.

I wish you the best and hope to hear more from you as the years go on.  If you have a blog or ministry email list I'd love to be added.  I can connect you with some tremendous people in NDJ, hopefully you are already well-connected and supported 'locally'.

1 year ago