Category Archives: Agriculture

The Square of Cultivation.

The more chickens, the merrier?

On differences between human population limits and those of other organisms,

“Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens; but the more jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens.” – Henry George, in the Criticism section of

“[T]he more men, the more chickens” can pan out in a few different ways, and the pros and cons of those ways will probably write the future history of our population. This highlights a great potential we humans have for bringing about heaven or hell here in Middle Earth. A key metric distinguishing the two: agricultural externalities. The food you eat, where does it come from? How it’s grown, what does that do for all creatures involved and affected?

“It’s not like it grows on trees” – actually..!

Musing on

When people say “it’s not like it grows on trees” I always cringe about how much *does* literally grow on trees yet goes unnoticed, underutilized, and unappreciated. I think whether by our wise choices or lucky last minute adaptations, that can change and be of massive benefit to us and our surrounding creatures of all kinds locally and afar.

This reminds me of a critique against a vision I find beautiful – a vision of widespread forest gardens ‘in every backyard’ so to speak. The critic’s point – and they’re a permaculture-style farmer with shared hopes for that vision – is that people in modern western society don’t exercise or realize uses for the vast majority of products and benefits we can get from forest gardens, therefore the value of the forest garden diminishes to the point where people choose to have lawns instead.

Fair point. Here in NY I don’t know anyone who uses local trees for clothes, paper, or chemicals – except for people living in structures incompatible with local building codes, but they’re a precious few set of outkasts. There are rare cases of trees used as food and medicine, and thankfully local wood does get a decent amount of use as fuel or in construction. But why don’t we use trees for more chemicals, clothes, or even simply for more food, medicine, fuel, fodder, construction material, and … fun? There’s been “cheaper” alternatives for some time – will that remain the case, or how long will it last? Perhaps new technology like that described in this article will return wood to the “cheaper” alternative, or perhaps what’s currently cheaper will become (and/or appear) more costly.

Times are changing, with economics and ecology experiencing disruptions we cannot fully foresee. What we can count on is that we’ll benefit from having resilience – increasingly a buzzword in environmental work, and for good reason – as it ensures we can ‘weather any storm’ and potentially even thrive in the face of changes. How do we get resilience? I got two answers for you: trees and diversity. I’d be happy to discuss either with ya – please comment if ya got some thoughts to share on the subject.


1. net neutrality – ah what a tangled web we weave
skeptical of mega corporations
skeptical of big government
skeptical of unauthenticated opinions (be it via paid trolls or simply simpletons)
thankful for the spiders
time to decentralize
theorize: what could the internet be like?
we’re probably only a hop and a skip (rather a wireless transmit) away from mesh networks being able to turn cloud computing into fog
2. and in other news from the caverns of the internet:
bitcoin and other cryptographic currency was meant to be a currency(!) but has become a penny stock.
distributed ledgers, contracts, and authentication technology could no doubt prevail, but would it be as bitcoin? ethereum? …jp morgan’s version of ethereum? in any case, let’s hope it’ll be open source, at least for security’s sake.
in the mean time, good game & congrats to those who made bank on the wobbling web, and to the rest interested – hold on! (“The price was the least important thing about Bitcoin when I first read the whitepaper. It still is.” – Emin Gün Sirer)

Fossil Fuels and Standing Rock, or Reflections on ‘What would Sitting Bull do?’

“The Standing Rock protest camp represents that struggle for freedom and the future of a people. All of us. If I ask the question “What would Sitting Bull do?”—the answer is pretty clear. He would remind me what he said 150 years ago: “Let us put our minds together to see what kind of future we can make for our children.”
Some reflection:

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Indigenous * Technology

It’s interesting to find a lot of solutions for improving one’s life nowadays in seemingly opposite ends of a spectrum: modern technology (e.g. motors, computers) vs. indigenous ways (e.g. Traditional Ecological Knowledge). This is written with the will to transform the “vs.” to an “&”. The challenges of today are of a scale that calls for modern technology, yet are of a depth that calls for indigenous ways.
A couple of examples – by no means an exhaustive list – to clarify the importance of…

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Love what grows

A professor of mine, let’s call him Professor S teaching ecological restoration, emphasized connection to place and the power of love. That lesson dawned on me today as I thought about the love I felt for a parcel of woods my family and I recently invested in. I considered how my love for the place drew me to work with it, enjoy it, improve it. When we conventionally consider ‘improving’ land, we’re talking about turning the natural environment into the build environment. As I considered this, I realized a lesson that applies far wider than my situation: love what grows.

To improve the parcel, I could buy bricks and bring tools. Or, I could use what grows on site to satisfy my necessities. The trees which provide wood also provide so many other goods – tangible and abstract benefits to both me, the place itself, and the surrounding environment. Continue reading →

Cidade da Natureza: Mangues


Coasting & estuarying

Cidade da Natureza
Onde as marés da mãe da natureza vêm e vão
Um lugar para jovens e idosos, para bens e serviços, para o divertimento e para o trabalho
City of Nature
Where the waves of the Mother of Nature come & go
A place for young and old, for goods and services, for fun and for work
Deep value, literal and metaphoric, in growing our cities in friendship, rather than hardship, with mangroves, all kinds of estuaries and the water they – no, …we… – are all intimately coupled with.