Donald Johnson

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since May 06, 2018
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bike forest garden trees
A product of radiation and  pediatric pharmaceuticals at the temporal gates of a possible petrochemical wasteland.
I'll clarify and elaborate on this later.
South of the the headwaters to the tributary at the final bend of the Monongahela River
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Recent posts by Donald Johnson

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.
10 months ago
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.
Good luck!
10 months ago
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!
10 months ago
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.
11 months ago
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.
11 months ago
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.
11 months ago
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.
11 months ago
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...
11 months ago