Sow & Grow Your Own

Growing food may seem like an unfamiliar concept to many people and some may ask-What is in in for me? I asked myself the same question and it wasn’t until I started to experience the act of planting a seed, nurturing it protecting it from attack and finally harvesting it, that I realised it wasn’t just the benefit of food I received. The benefits of growing our own food to our wellbeing are very well known and published, as is the lack of nutritional content of our conventional way of growing food.

Did you know that the nutritional content of most food grown using modern Big Ag has up to 90% less vitamins and minerals (especially the trace elements), than it did 50 years ago. This is due to the intensive chemical attack on our soil. More recently with the damage to our food supply chain, because of lockdowns and Brexit leading to the unhinging of our global infrastructure, growing food in the coming years will become less of a choice and more of a necessity.

You only have to look at the rise in food prices and lack of certain foods to see that the way we consume in this country will have to change. In fact rather than being consumers, we can actually become producers. And this is something that becomes not just about you or me but about community.

More importantly the once stable food system of growing vast areas of monocrops is now under threat from something no human being can control. As our climate shifts becomes more unpredictable and unstable, there will more crop areas destroyed by extreme weather events.

Polyculture growing, paired with permaculture principles and a healthy soil biome is one of the most effective ways to not only grow naturally but just as importantly enables a food ecosystem to withstand and adapt to much more dramatic changes to the climate than conventional chemical growing or GMO’s. There are more ways to grow food productively, healthily and regeneratively.

Modern Industrial agriculture is both destructive to our health and the health of our planet. The reason for this is the way we grow food and farm animals is unnatural. In fact the methods employed are actually against everything life stands for. Also this way of growing food can never feed a growing population, because it is unsustainable in every way.

However, there is enough land to feed up to 10 Billion people in a healthy and natural way, without any pollution. We can build sustainable systems that don’t cost billions of dollars. Regenerative principles that are based on health and harmony will only bring abundance and unlimited benefit to the human race. We don’t need Big Ag, all we need is community and the desire to have a deeper more wholesome connection to our food source. There are examples all over the world demonstrating the power of community growing.

The Vegetables, fruit, grains and herbs grown internationally are mostly subjected to the toxins and poisons of the chemical industry giants such as Monsanto and Bayer produce. These artificial fertilizers have not only poisoned the food we eat but also the soil that our food grows in, the air and water and into the biology of a host of species. The damage from Industrial Ag is the biggest threat to all life on earth. And the good news  is that we can rectify the excess CO2 in the atmosphere through soil carbon sequestration.

I would like to stress that our current food system is very fragile and far from healthy, so to continue to allow the further destruction of our land cannot be the way forward.

And yet, there is a simple solution to all this. Why not Grown Your Own? Buy from local organic and regenerative farms. As our conventional food prices continue to rise people will be caught of guard and many will  struggle to feed their families and maintain their standard of living.

It is most urgent of all, more than anything right now to Grow Your Own Food. Up until 150 years ago most families grew something in their garden in the UK. There has been a resurgence of recent years, however, without a broader knowledge of what is exactly happening with our planet, we would never see the necessity to grow food, which is exactly what our ancestors had to do, out of necessity.

Growing Your Own Food is the most empowering, healthy and fulfilling act that anyone can do. Literally everyone has the ability to enjoy the experience of growing, nurturing and of course eating delicious and nutritionally rich food.

Where do you start? There is a lot to learn and to experience, that enables us to strengthen our understanding of growing food and growing with our food. How do food systems work at their most efficient? Modern Agricultural practices are not only toxic to the soil, they are also very fragile, degradation of soil, pollution of the water table and uncertain yields are just some of the threats to our food system. As well as the climate and Big AG dirty practices, we also have the issues of health and well being.

The best way to start is to just plant a seed and watch it, with the right amount of water and temperature, it will germinate and you have past the first stage of growth. That seed, if it has come from a true heritage and is organic or heirloom, will have the potential it needs to become a strong adult version of itself. Once we understand what a seedling needs we can prepare it to become as healthy as it can be. This is the opposite of most agriculture today. Just like us, a seed will become a heathy plant when it is given the right environmental circumstances. It is the relationship between the soil life and plant that enables the plant to grow healthy and strong.

When we only focus on the chemical inputs to grow our food, we are missing a buck, literally. But most farmers are subsidized by the government.. Selling synthetic fertilizers at a unstable rate, insures that the farmer can never make a profit or have a healthy farm. Artificial fertilizers can never beat an approach of regenerative agriculture as it is based on the understanding of nature and not the desire to dominate or control it. Humans are an intrinsic part of nature not separate from it.

Just like ourselves, with the right amount of nurturing, i.e diet, exercise and a healthy interaction with it’s environment, plants like us, grow to be healthy. Just like us, plants need the right nutrients to become healthy, they need resistance from the wind and rain to be strong and an interaction with others which adds protection of community from common enemies.

Plants just like us can be understood and we can form a symbiotic relationship with them. In fact, evidence shows the connection with our food is more than just eating and sustaining, our food is the connection we have to our earth, in fact our food feeds us the energy of the earth, if you want to see it in that way. Their is real science behind the soil biome and gut biome connection and how many of our chronic diseases actually have appeared because of this disconnection to healthy food and access to the knowledge of nutrition.

 

Empower yourself and your community, sow a seed and grow your future.

 

Community Culture

I have observed over the past 3 decades of my life, the changes that have happened within my community. When I was a teenager, I attended the local youth club, I played outside all the time, I spent more time outside than in, and I still do, on the most days. We all know what community is on a small scale. The ‘family’, is a small community. In some parts of the world, it is exactly that. In the context of how we live now, even the family has been influenced by many factors which have changed the dynamics. Many western families are now, increasingly are plugged into the digital world and this has disrupted how we view each other. Even the digital world has a community, and I would say with confidence that the digital community is bigger than all the other face to face communities, at least where daily interaction happens. I find this incredibly sad, as at the same time, social alienation, mental health issues, physical health issues, division and many other symptoms have arisen from this type of community.

What is the alternative then, you may ask? Here at Sow & Grow our mission is to create new ways of being, doing, interacting and living within our community. Localisation of our most precious resources like food, water, textiles and even the decisions made for our community, are all possible. When we create a cyclical and regenerative economy, we are able to protect ourselves, establishing a resilient, cohesive and caring community, where all people can share their passion, skills, experience and much more. We can all be examples of community hero’s and generate strong bonds, where we inspire and motivate others to step into their dreams and start to take action towards a future that is filled with hopeful action rather than apathetic despair.

Our team is working hard to live this every day and keep connecting people who wish to see the same bright future. We are here to be a beacon for others, just like others have been for us. If we all work together we can create the most amazing and awe inspiring future for our community. Really the power lay within each of our hearts and all we need to do is believe in our own potential to create and motivate.

 

More than just Compost

 

When someone talks about compost! What comes to mind? I discovered my love of compost after experimenting with growing food. I had used potting compost before to start my seeds off but not really explored it more than that up until I started researching permaculture and natural growing methods like Korean Natural Farming (KNF).

So what really is compost and why is it important? The first thing to mention is that I am a compost enthusiast and I am passionate about producing the best compost I can. And like that compost I am prepared to adapt to stay on top of my game. Compost is decaying organic matter that was once living and over time bacteria and fungi along with other micro-organisms break down this matter to form compost.

The quality of the compost is down to what inputs of organic matter we use and the process we follow. There are three main composting methods; Mouldering compost is the pile you may see at the allotment or garden, Vermi-compost, which is the manure from worms, and Hot composting (Thermophilic) which is a method that enables compost to be produced in a month rather than season.

That mouldering compost pile, full of grass clippings, weeds, dead branches from pruning, is decomposition at it’s slowest state. These piles are static and are infrequently turned, usually when more organic matter is added. Many allotment holders and keen gardeners will have or would have had one of these and you can get very good compost in just under a year. However, this is the method where you have the least amount of control and input and the longest wait. This is what I call Lazy Compost and the results reflect what you have put in. This compost has its place and can be a constant amendment to your soil, however the results can change dramatically and it’s harder to control disease or fungal infection.

Vermi-compost is essentially worm manure (technically speaking, all compost is the waste products of life itself). Worms are great decomposers. Through the decomposition of organic matter, worms feed off the nutrients that are released, as this passes through a worms 3 stomachs it is recycled into more nutrient available elements, which is stored in the waste matter, which can then be used to fertilize plants. Although this method is now a viable business and a relatively easy method to compost, there are a few rules that need to be followed to produce an environment that the worms will thrive in. What you feed your worms, you inevitably feed your plants and yourself. Personally I only feed my worms organic produce, or food I have grown myself. The onion family, citrus and meat and dairy are not good to feed your worms, nor are large amounts of tomato products. The worms as you may guess don’t have very big mouths, so they need the food to be in fairly small pieces. Ideally we want to keep the worm home at a neutral Ph level, hence why we keep acidic foods out of their diet. Red Wrigglers are one of the best, having 5 hearts and upto 120 ring like muscles, and a huge appetite, these worms will feast on all your kitchen scraps, make amazing dark coloured compost and also produce worms castings, as their population expands and worm tea, which is the moisture from their manure. Vermi-compost is in a league of it’s own in the natural process and gives us an idea of just how important the connection between animal and soil is.

(Thermophilic) or Hot Composting is a method which is becoming more popular with gardeners, especially those that follow natural and permaculture principles. This is a method, which uses the process of heat to generate an environment that allows thermophilic bacteria to thrive in large numbers, by keeping a consistent temperature which enables the bacteria to grow in your compost and at the same time kill any pathogens that may be in the pile. The pile also needs to be turned on a strict and regular basis, or it can gas off nitrogen and become anaerobic, which doesn’t make good compost. The method recommended by Dr Elaine Ingham is designed in such a way that the decomposition can happen equally throughout the pile. Temperature and moisture checks need to be made on a regular basis and adjustments made accordingly. Whether that be adding more nitrogen, more water, manure or just turning it. With this method, although we have to invest time and  effort in to this, it does produce great benefits. And theoretically will give you around 700-900 litres of great compost.

There are other methods, like the Johnson-Su Bioreactor or EM Composting, all of these have been tried and tested and proved to produce amazing benefits for the Soil Food Web. The genius behind these methods has really come from the desire to really understand how nature works and to replicate the methods she uses.

 

Quite simply compost, at least good compost is produced by the most natural methods and passion for creating a great product. In my opinion, making compost is one of the best actions a gardener/grower can take. It not only nourishes our soil, it also nourishes our soul.

 

 

 

The Art of Permaculture

Permaculture! What is it? How did it start? Where did it come from? These were all the questions I had when I started learning about permaculture two years ago. As my adventure began, learning about the roots of this principle based practice which was actually the revival of what I later learnt to be an ancient way of farming that many people practiced around the world until only a few hundred years ago.

Permaculture is more than a way of growing food; the ethics and principles of it are firmly rooted in much older belief systems. To me, Permaculture is a way to understand and interact with all other life, in a symbiotic and valuable way, in where there is a responsibility towards all living things and to learn how they interact with each other. Bill Mollison, the man who coined the term ‘Permaculture’ along with David Holmgren created a set of ethics and principles that were adapted over the years, which encompassed the art of permaculture or the ‘natural way of farming’.

The Ethics which it rests upon are; Earth care, People Care and Future Care, the foundations that all the principles are built and rely upon.

Earth Care, is based on the connection that we have with nature, it is our ancient bond with other life. It means to respect and use natural resources in a mindful and creative way. By understanding nature we can develop a deep understanding and work with it to produce abundant nutritious food, and replenish the soil back to it’s pre-industrial condition. Essentially there are many natural cycles which influence life, including the connections between soil, flora, water, Sun and air. Within the soil, there are cycles, as there are cycles for the other natural systems. Earth is constantly recycling and replenishing herself and that includes humanity. The reason that our planet is in the state it is, both ecologically; due to pollution and socially is by the inequality caused through our disconnection with nature. Without this mutual and responsible connection to nature, how can we know what it is to be human? For me this is a very important point; essentially, we have reached a crossroads in our evolution, not for the first time, but certainly this time it is the most important decision that we have faced, mainly because 90% of the population rely on the consumer based system we live in today. If our connection with nature is severed, then how can we know if the actions we carry out are actually good for the planet and ultimately humanity? Learning from nature and how to work with it, so there is a mutually dependent relationship that fits in with all other life that we are nurturing, is our most fundamental goal in life and certainly now it is essential if we are to live a healthy and abundant life. From my understanding Earth Care is the relationship that we develop with nature and how we nurture that relationship based on creating a balance within ourselves first and then connecting to our ancient roots. Without Aborigines, and the tribes of the rain forests, humanity wouldn’t have such deep roots with Mother Earth. The industrial revolution was instrumental in causing this disconnection with our roots in growing food.

The second ethic ‘People Care’ encompasses the actions of our society and what they are based on, without equality, humility, love and respect, there can be no prosperous and fair society. When our actions are based on ignorance and narrow thinking, we tap into the part of brain that is controlling, fearful and weak and we cannot see clearly. On the other hand, when we approach people with the same care, that we best treat nature, we can have coexistent, harmonious and fulfilled communities, that respect nature, work with nature and each other, to create a naturally regenerative society, without the poisons and toxins that exist within society and our natural world today. Basic human rights, such as clean drinking water, warm shelter and enough food to fill your belly each day, have been stripped away from people in many parts of the world, by the big multi national companies invested in profit at the expense of people and nature. But without the knowledge and courage to take action, we will lose our rights and ability to be able to have a relationship with the land. Take people away from the land they depend on and they will forget how much they need it, and when that land is filled with toxins and polluted, then this passes up the food chain to ourselves but when we work together and have a shared goal we can be far more creative and beneficial for each other than if we see life through a narrow lens of ignorance.

 

In the third ethic, ‘Future Care’ we find the solution to over consumption. If people were to think of 7 generations forward’ perhaps we could become producers rather than consumers. It is ultimately the investments we make that define our future. When, most of the consumption of the planets resources are consumed by only a handful of countries. In my opinion, most of the products people buy, whether, they be food or useable goods, are ineffective at fulfilling us and  further disconnect us from the wonders of nature. This is no judgement on individuals, as the situation is far more complex and requires an understanding of a broad range of subjects to be able to ascertain to causes and the solutions. However, movements such as Permaculture are linked to much deeper and older understandings of the Earth and Indigenous people around the world, hold the secrets to our future success.
For me these Ethics not only underpin the core and essence of growing food or being self sufficient and caring for the Earth and all life that exists here, more so, it echoes the voices of our ancestors and the stories that they have of their connection to Mother Earth.

 

Built upon these ethics are the principles of Permaculture, these have been developed over the years to include now 12, which are a set of guidelines to create an abundant and healthy natural system and by following these guidelines we can not only sustain ourselves and our community but actually create a new localized society in which everyone can get access to and be responsible for creating a happy, harmonious and healthy community.

 

The first principle-‘Observe and Interact’ is synonymous with Buddhism, in as such as observing our environment to see how it interacts and understanding your part in the great web of life, and this as a principle is universal to learning all things. As far as nature and growing food forests is concerned, observing and interacting, is essential to growing abundant and healthy food in a closed loop system. Meaning that, after a ‘forest garden’ or similar technique is employed within a permaculture framework, after a while it becomes self sustaining and few if no external inputs are required. What this means is that through observing and interacting we are are seeing how we can mimic nature, as best as we can and through this relationship, we start to see patterns and cycles the nature creates.

The second principle is ‘Capture and store energy’, which is essential in a closed loop self supporting system, capturing the elements of energy that nature creates is exactly what a natural system like a forest achieves. Trees in the forest, use the wind to procreate, the sun to store energy and feed growth and the water to replenish and conserve the water within the soil to mitigate against to drier times. Photosynthesis is the most efficient engine that has ever been created with 95% efficiency of energy transfer.

And by using the source of energy to aid your food forest, with the third principle you are able to ‘Obtain a yield’. Whether it be food, medicine, building materials, or any other useful product, the ability to obtain a yield, all on the way you capture and use energy and the way you understand it in relation to all the other inputs. Within permaculture, yield increases as your own understanding of the Soil Food Web deepens. Knowing what is good for your plants and what is harmful, will affect the yield, understanding which creatures allow you to be able to keep the balance of life and understand what is causing what, enables you to increase any yield. Over time, your yield will increase as balance is restored and the work you put in becomes less.

When we ‘Apply Self-Regulation & Accept Feedback’ as the forth principle we are able to progress in our understanding and respect for nature. Being mindful of what we take from the Earth, whether that be the goods we buy or how we use that item, allows us to understand the importance of self regulation. Creating a self maintaining system is the ultimate achievement in permaculture, by following what nature does, we can reproduce this natural system to sustain ourselves. Forest Gardens are a perfect example of this, providing natural fertilizers, weed control and open pollinating plants a balance can be achieved where little input is needed.

The fifth principle of ‘using renewable resources and services’ and holding them in high value such as our Sun, water cycles and the power of the wind, can all be harnessed and captured to create energy that is needed, whether that be for composting, procreating or replenishing, there is no need to use external inputs when you can understand and harness natures power. This includes the amount of water we recycle and reuse or the amount of trees we harvest within a woodland. This is all part of keeping the balance within nature. In society this means that we hold nature in high respect and do not pollute the seas, toxify the soils and chop down pristine habitats, all in the name of profit. When our society is geared towards consumption on a mass scale which mostly masks the deep voids people have in their lives, we produce a lot of waste, in fact it is hard to imagine just how much waste is produced even by a small country like the UK. Natural systems like forests produce no waste whatsoever, every single nutrient, is extracted, recycled, and cycled again, then providing food to smaller and smaller organisms and the cycle starts again. In society and in our conventional ways of growing food, waste is probably the biggest problem that man has created for nature. The humble worm is one of the best recyclers on the planet-along with fungi, composting-whether it be through heat, natural turning or by working with worms, is following natures way. Worms amazing ability to be able to break down organic matter, into soil organic matter, or hummus, in my opinion gives them the humble status of kings of the soil. As the worm pushes the organic matter through it’s gut and processes it, taking the nutrients it needs, the soil is filled with carbon and other elements and turns into a rich dark multi-organism filled with life. Once we understand this cycle or life and death, we see that a natural system is the most effective, productive and least wasteful. Even the way humans recycle is inefficient. If only big corporations were to take a look at the humble earth worm to gain insight into creating a perfect equilibrium. They would see that just taking and taking and expecting there to be no consequences of their irresponsible behaviour is the most ignorant and damaging act. But if we do not hold them accountable they will destroy all that is beautiful in this world under the guise of progress. Nature, as I mentioned briefly above, creates patterns which are numerous and varied, although they follow certain principles, of birth, formation, decay and death, or the cycle of continuous recycling.

‘Design from Patterns to Details’ the sixth principle encourages us to look at the bigger picture, how individual organisms fit together, how they merge and overlap to integrate into the bigger picture. It’s impossible to see the bigger picture, when we observe only one phenomena in isolation, it cannot exist as it is without the dynamic inter personal relationships with all other life. The Soil, animals that live in and on it, as well as the plants all act as one interconnected organism, which, feeds every human on this planet. The top 3-4 inches of soil, brings life and provides, food, textiles, medicine to billions of people. That to me, means that by degrading and disrespecting the soil we are sentencing ourselves to a slow death. Once we understand the bigger picture, we can also see how we fit into the grand ‘Food Soil Web’.

In Permaculture, zoning is a way of understanding your overall patterns within your site and to see efficient it is at capturing and storing energy. Another method in permaculture is ‘sector analysis’, understanding the different energy sources and how they influence your site.

‘Integrating rather than Segregating’, is another principle at the heart of Permaculture, what in essence it represents is that, every living thing is as important to itself as it is to itself and everything is as important to having a healthy ecology of the soil and society. In this respect, nothing is more important than anything else. An obvious example is weeds, some think they serve no function at all, but as well as adding carbon to bare soil, weeds do serve other purposes, like telling us how healthy soil is, they can indicate certain thing with your soil but also some weeds provide medicinal benefits. Each element in a system, will provide many functions and each function is supported by many elements, this means that nothing can do it on its own, in isolation. Without opposition, support, rivalry and diversity, evolution would not exist. Practically, each element, like when cropping a vegetable, provides many functions, such as food, mulch, seeds for next year, medicinal value, etc. Each important function is supported by many elements, the food we consume, is supported by many different elements, main crops, herb gardens, orchards, greenhouses, microgreens, etc. If one element fails, our system can still be sustained. The location of the separate parts of a system in relation to each other is also key, water butts, would need to be near downpipes and herb gardens near the house.

Nature very rarely does things quickly, certainly not on a biological level-the changes are small and slow and as there are so many of them, the system is in a constant cycle of birth and decay, everything plays its part in a small way. On a community level, small is easy to grasp and can be implemented and used much more effectively. When trying to change something, the most effective way is to start small and see your success and expand or change accordingly, small steps lead to great changes. Diversity is the purpose of nature, the complexity of any eco system, is beyond many peoples view, especially within the mono-culture driven agricultural industry. The purpose of this way of growing is not health or wellbeing or respect of nature, it is merely another business for making profit for the greedy  global corporations, the entity of business allows them to cut many corners, poison the earth, destroy communities and heritage.

Preserving natural habitats and cultures are central to the Permaculture principle of ‘using and valuing diversity’. The aim of Permaculture is to regenerate areas that aren’t wild to increase their diversity to what it once was, by seeing diversity in everything action we take and using nature as our teacher we can increase our yields, our health, our soil and our communities. Diversity on your permaculture farm, would be everywhere, orchards, green houses, food forests would all have their own eco system, within the larger one of your farm, all working together, supporting each other, supporting us. What a shame that so many people have forgotten to wonders of diversity.

In Permaculture design, it is important to allow nature it’s own space, this is known as ‘zone 5’ but the more blurred the boundary, the more diverse your life will be. ‘Using edges and valuing the marginal’ is something that can be incorporated into a permaculture design by understanding that sometimes the most productive areas are where to habitats meet, like a woodland and meadow. Ecotone is the ecological term given to this and when used correctly can hugely benefit your permaculture space. Within society there are marginalized people, movements and beliefs and quite often these are a source of growth and diversity.

Change, the one constant in life that creates more opportunity for growth and understanding. How we deal with the change is fundamental to our success in growing food or within society. Many of the worlds issues arise from from people not willing to change or how they react to change. Within an eco system there are slow changes that nature responds to; the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter are intuitively followed by plants, tuned into the temperature, air pressure and other chemical and biological changes which drives there internal clocks to get ready to grow, flower, bear grain and germinate. Succession is a technique used in permaculture which prepares for what nature is going to do and pre-empt that with cleaver design. Forest Gardens are a prime example, all layers are put in at once, rather than nature taking years to achieve this.

Permaculture is vast as it is deep, it encompasses many aspects of society and mother nature and has the proof and insight to bring much value to the world, through the eyes of permaculture we can see life more clearly. But Permaculture has not only a lot of science behind it but also technical knowledge. Design, analysing, implementing, surveying, maintaining and evaluating are all aspects of any successful permaculture project. Permaculture can be adapted to any environment, to any culture or religion, there are no barriers to permaculture, only the ignorance of ourselves.

Being Human

What is it to be human? This is a question, that in some form or another I have consciously asked myself throughout the last 10 years of my life.

It’s difficult to describe what encompasses being human, as there are so many expressions throughout culture, history and beliefs, which illustrate ‘what it is’. If we think of; Art, Philosophy, Music, Literature, Science, Spirituality and so on, we find that all of these are expressions of life experiences; from what we observe, feel, think, how we react, and many other expressions. All of this is what it is to be human; to feel love, when you see a flower bloom or a baby smile, to have an inspirational moment; as if from nowhere, when you find a solution to a problem you have battled with for ages. The same can also be said, when you feel saddened by something, fearful or powerless to help. These are the emotions that drive our thoughts, words and actions.

It’s good to get angry, but where does that anger go? How do we use it? Most of our lives, our daily actions are quite often influenced by being in an emotional state which is reactive, rather than responsive. This creates a chain reaction, which is sometimes difficult to control. Many of us live in this way, because quite frankly, the world we live in is set up to create stress and conflict. We live in a dog eat dog world, where acts of kindness seem to be overshadowed by celebrities’ private lives and reality TV shows.

How many of us struggle to have time to actually stop completely and breathe, look up at the stars or get caught in a moment of joy, at something almost nonchalant. It’s these moments that we can use to observe our minds and see what is happening. But the sad fact is many people use their free time to relax in unhealthier ways, like watching TV, gaming and going to the pub to socialise. Not that I am condemning any of these, as almost everything in life has a positive reaction to it. But it is in what these new technological devices that have replaced their natural predecessors that the issue is found. The engagement that people have been having for the past 10 years with technology is now looming closer to our reality being changed into one in which the natural way of life has all but disappeared from many peoples lives around the world.

If we look back 1000’s of years ago, we see that our ancient ancestors had a deep connection with the universe, the natural world and ultimately themselves. We can see this evidence in many monolithic structures. Some which are still preserved today, which date back as far as 11500 years ago, like Globeci Tepi, which blows away the current mainstream idea on anthropological evolution of civilizations. The detail and quality of art work carved into the 5 m stones is beyond belief, and a structure within the site, has been constructed exactly to the true North South longitude.

What has driven the success of our language, culture, art, etc? How did we become so expressive with our minds and hearts? Considering that we were meant to be ‘according to mainstream science’ hunter gatherers 11,000 years ago and didn’t start agriculture until about 10000 years ago. With structures built with this kind of precision, just as with the pyramids humanity must have been advanced enough to have the time to dedicate to constructing them as well as taking care of the essentials of life. Essentially these building represented an expression of our ancestors connection to the universe. We can also see this expression through art of the thousands of petro-gliphs throughout the world that have common symbols of what our ancestors saw in the night sky, symbols like Jacobs ladder and sprites that were observed as messages from the universe. This is a civilization that understands it’s environment and it’s purpose within it.
How does any civilization reach this pinnacle? To reach the point where a society is prosperous enough to give time to expression through art, culture and language; there has to be a mastery of the basic survive and thrive skills. If humans have nutritious food, clean drinking water, shelter and warmth-then they are able to then focus on more important things, that truly make us human beings.

Bonobo’s (Chimpanzees cousins) have throughout their evolution been able to have an abundant existence, because of there being no competition for food, which in turn allows them to have the time to socialize more than their cousins Chimpanzees and Gorillas, who live on the opposite side of the Congo river. Whereas the Chimpanzees, are very competitive this can lead to violent confrontations with each other, which creates a tense and more hierarchical society. On the other hand, with the bonobo’s they have developed a more peaceful way of settling disputes. This lowers stress levels and strengthens and reinforces the importance of the friendships they have and how they prosper together and not apart. Fighting becomes unnecessary, unless their was ever a shortage of food.

In Human evolution, we would have taken this one step further or in a slightly different direction and found this balance quicker, due to similar geographical influences, of having the tools and resources to cover the basic necessities of life, so time was then afforded to developing more complex and beneficial ways of interacting and thriving. You can see this in many mammal species. When bellies are full, the mind is no longer in survival mode, it reverts back to the infant like state of playing, learning and growing.

Human beings have never had a linear evolution. The cultural and societal developments have happened because environmental conditions have favoured human development. Most of the population of the human race are located in the mid to higher latitudes of our Earth. This wasn’t always the case. Many of the ancient monolithic sites are nearer the equator, or certainly within the warmer parts of the planet, rather than the temperate zones.
What has enabled us to survive up until now? Knowledge and the ability to be able to adapt to an ever changing world. We now live in a one click western world, where we can get anything we want in one day, but we have forgotten our basic human needs. No wonder why so many people are lost. Confusion about who we are, disconnection from our true heritage and history.

So what does it mean to be human? It means to understand the history of humanity and mother earth. To gain a true understanding of our history, we cannot rely on what we learnt at school, or even our history books. The study of Geology for instance, gives us a glance into earths history and it hasn’t been a steady one, just like the universe, our earth is in constant flux. In geological time our earth is constantly moving. We can look at individual accounts and even into literature, and be able to see a correlation between changes in rock sediment accumulation and those accounts of human history recorded in that period. Through this we can see that our relationship with Mother Earth has been one that not only challenges the human race but also defines our evolution. It is this connection which I believe we have lost. When you find this connection then it is easier to see what is healthy and what can be destructive. It is the interconnection of ourselves and our world that encapsulates what it is to be human. It is the beauty of expression of culture, love and celebration, of interpretation. The search for knowledge about ourselves and our deep and ancient connection with the cosmos is, in my opinion the most responsible action we can take for ourselves and our Earth.

How do we realize in actuality this most fundamental of skills? The practical art of preparing is now gaining a reputation among people who are already seeking a self-sufficient and off-grid life. The beginnings of prepping came from a necessity to provide everything for ourselves, by our own means. Now, most people see this as a choice and not a necessity. It was based on knowledge which had been passed down on how to plan for most of the eventualities that life could throw at us. We knew how to read the changes in the seasons, the migrations of the animals and the bounty of nature. We could read the intimate changes and respond to them to ensure the health and prosperity of the community-working with nature and understanding our responsibility towards it and knowing how to survive when times got hard and if disaster threatened us, was essential.

It’s only down to the fact we have had a relatively quiet and comfortable period of peace on the planet the last 80 years, that we have become blinded to the reality of inevitable and unstoppable change. People in my view have become complacent to the fact that we have endured many hard times in the past. Upheavals of society, just like today, presented people with a do or die situation. Only by tracing back throughout history to find the lost ways of humanity, the lost ancient civilizations that were able to create such lasting images of their society. They too were faced with global threats, although they may not have known it was global, as a response they used their knowledge to find solutions. I often ask myself, why are the pyramids and other such monolithic structures standing today? I think ‘Will our skyscrapers still stand in a 1000 years time?’ Probably not!

The purpose of life, is for each of us to know our purpose! The richness and abundance of this earth is beyond anything humans could create. To understand and accept this is the first step to being in harmony with nature, with the natural rhythms of life. The happiest people on the planet are the ones that have this balance and they are able to harness this and show it to the world. The human spirit, is indestructible. Forget opposable thumbs and voice boxes (although these are fundamental for the expression of our spirit).  It is our soul, heart and spirit which is the cause of the myriad of culture, language and individuality we see today. Without the human spirit, we would have not overcome the atrocities that were caused by the ignorance of base man and the natural and sometimes sudden cyclical climatic changes.

The Power of the Sun

The Sun, that massive ball of energy, just hovering there in space, pumping out a huge amount heat, radiation, gamma rays and electromagnetism coupling with the Earth to name a few. The power of the sun, is something we still do not fully comprehend, even with the latest technology.

Without the sun, imagine what our solar system would look like, imagine what would happen to the Earth. The Sun’s reach not only encompasses our beautiful planet, it also protects all the other bodies in the solar system, through it’s electromagnetic field and it’s coupling with each of the planets. The Sun effectively holds everything together and acts as conduit for transmitting energy through the electromagnetic connections.

I always have admired the sun, In wonder. I used to practice sun gazing, an old ancient practice, which the Egyptians used to connect with their gods. I had never really fully appreciated the power and importance of the sun, until I started growing food. The power and influence of the sun has been vastly underplayed for the past century, by those that study it. ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ is about harvest time and the celebration of the connection of food and the sun with ourselves.

Our Sun, apart from producing heat and light for every life on Earth, it even influences the clouds and rain that then falls, the weather systems and jet streams, hail and snow and even such events as earthquakes and volcanoes. The climate of Earth has been in constant flux, ever since it’s beginnings, it has been in a constant ebb and flow with the Sun. This relationship has defined the rise and fall of all civilizations. And many of these have worshiped the sun, as a god

The benefits of our sun, include warm and stable food growing conditions, vitamin d supplementation and that feel good feeling, we all get when we feel the sun on our skin. It provides plants with the ability to photosynthesize and recycle our carbon into oxygen and also capture some of that carbon into the soil which enables the soil biome to stay rich and bio-diverse. Plants absorb sunlight and through the process of photosynthesis, they convert that light into energy to grow, produce fruit and seed to continue the heritage of the plant. This in turn drives the carbon process in the soil which is the primary agent in the process of a healthy soil biome. This in turn gives everything on earth life, including us. It’s no wonder we feel good and our mood changes when the sun comes out.

What actually happens within the sun, is still under debate. Some theories support that the sun is made entirely from a gaseous plasma. Other theories such as the liquid metallic hydrogen, although not a conventional theory, does carry a lot of weight, especially when the Gaseous Plasma model has trouble answering certain anomalies of the sun. But what we do know about the Sun, is that it’s mass is 99% of the solar system, it’s magnetic reach stretches far past Pluto, it’s light, heat and all other energy sources are driven towards us from 93 million miles away. Sun spots that appear upon the suns surface (which produce solar flares and CME’s) can be 3 times the size of the Earth. Some have been recorded as the size of Jupiter.

However, the sun isn’t in a stable state, despite what you may know. It, is in constant flux through the magnetic connection or coupling with our Earth and through it’s larger connection to the galactic sheet. The driver of the Earths behaviour and potentially human behaviour; the sun, and it’s relationship to the solar system, galactic-sheet and its filament connection with other solar systems, is and has always played the central role in determining the fortunes and failings of societies and civilizations. Earth, with the Sun is in a constant cyclical motion, cycles, upon cycles, and cycles, within cycles.

The History of the Sun, has been written in the scriptures of many ancient civilizations and religious and spiritual movements. It is observable within nature and now, the advancement in cosmology, we able to explore and explain the mechanisms of the sun in a rational and understandable way. Since Galileo invented the telescope and looked up to the sun, he started to observe it’s behaviour, over 400 years ago. This has enabled us to see the correlation between sun spots and what happens here on earth, as these sunspots go through cycles. Weather patterns, temperature and even volcanic and seismic activity changes as sunspot number rise and fall. NASA and NOAA have been recording the movements of the Sun for many decades now.

If we look into the history of our Sun, we can see it expressed in literature, art, culture, health and well being and many other dynamics within society. We can trace the historical recordings of the sun and it’s affect on our planet, to 40,000 years, through petroglyphs in many places and more recently over 10,000 years ago at Gobekli Tepe. Civilizations depended upon the sun, for everything, it sustained their entire existence. The Aztecs, Mayans and Egyptians all worshiped the Sun, embedding it within their society, as a God. It was after all the giver and taker of life. The Aztecs also known as the ‘people of the sun’ actually had five Sun gods, all within a different age of the Aztec empire. After each of the Sun gods demise, there was a great disaster on Earth. Some of the Mayan temples were aligned to the Sun’s movements upon the equinox. Both these civilizations had a great understanding of the Sun.

We are all sun worshipers at heart. To have knowledge of the sun and the power and influence it yields over us and our beautiful Earth, not only enriches our souls and gives us an appreciation for how much we rely on it. It also enables us to understand that, as humans, we have no control over our global climate or any real influence over climatic conditions. It, is, and can only be, our SUN that dictates our fate. Our ancestors seem to have understood this. Building great temples and pyramids directly aligned with the Sun and stars movements. They studied the Sun, mythology was created and whole civilizations were created around the worship of the Sun. Its movements, and how the landscape changed as the sun went through it’s phases. Planting food and raising animals with the sun. People’s lives, literally depended upon the cycles of the Sun.

The Sun and human health has always been something that has been contested. Too much sun, is bad for you, it will certainly increase your chances of exposure to harmful ultra violet rays, especially in times when our atmosphere is less robust and allows in more of space energy, such as cosmic rays to penetrate through the ionosphere. Too little and we have high chances of vitamin d deficiency, and in the northern hemisphere around 60% of people are deficient. Part of this is to do with lack of sunlight exposure in the winter months and also because more people have migrated from lower latitudes to higher latitudes this also affects vitamin d deficient numbers. People with darker skin need more sunlight, due to absorbing sunlight at a slower rate then lighter skin. We do see a multitude of mental health issues come from diminished sunlight exposure, conditions like SAD and even depression have been related to this. I believe that there are no coincidences when it comes to our connection with the Sun.

The measurement of sunspots, is one of the ways to be able to understand the movements on the suns surface and also how that affects us here on Earth. As we only have 400 years of recorded sunspot activity. There is enough of it to make fairly accurate predictions on how the Sun will behave and the kind of impact it will have upon us. As the sun changes it’s number of sunspots, that work on a 11 year cycle, we can see increases and decreases in the radiant output of the sun, the volume of geomagnetic activity and effects such as solar flares and CME’s. How this fully affects our planet, has been studied for decades by just a few scientists.

There have been a few note worthy events, that have happened on the planet in the last 200 years, that demonstrate the power the Sun has on our Earth. 1859, was year in which the Sun caused a CME to smash into the Earths magnetic shield with an extreme amount of high energy particles, which being electromagnetically charged interacted with the Earths atmosphere causing a geomagnetic storm, resulting in widespread issues with telegraph, the communication of the time. If this type of CME would happen today, there would be widespread issues to the power grid. The complex set of events that led up to the Carrington flare, was noticed by Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson. They observed more sunspots forming, leading up to the solar maximum of that cycle (10), in 1859. Afterwards both of them reported that there was a direct link between the suns activity and the Earth. People around the world reported seeing auroras of this spectacular event, I wonder what they must have thought seeing this in the Caribbean. There is also proxy data in Greenland Ice cores showing of larger events that happened in our past, these are found in carbon 14 and beryllium 10 deposits. although this data points to larger and rarer. However, in 1910 and 1960, less severe storms took place which caused widespread radio communication issues and in 1989, a geomagnetic storm hit Quebec, which effected the power all over.

Even after my spiritual journey for 10 years, it has given me even stronger purpose to my life. Seeking to understand about the Sun, it’s complex behaviour and long cycles upon cycles has given my life purpose in many ways. Ultimately, it has actually made me respect the Sun for it’s ability to create and destroy life. Personally, I believe that this is a subject that should be taught within education and be a talked about science. I am sure it was in ancient times. I think also with more knowledge of the Sun, the history of it’s impact on us and the our future with it will allow us to understand just how important our connection with it. Just as our ancestors did millennia ago, we still depend completely upon the sun, it’s life giving power. To me the Sun represents the essence of life and energy.

Organic Matters-The Soil Food Web

Dirt! Soil! Mud! Quite often referred to as the same living thing. But actually they are, but only by way of it’s basic elements. Soil, comes in many shapes, sizes and variations- The particles that is-and this determines a lot about how that soil affects your food and interacts with the living biomass underground. It has only been in the past 50 years that there has been a a push from farmers and scientists a like to know more about ‘Just what Soil is’ and How it affects us, our planet and other species, that live in that soil.  I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I was fascinated with soil. All the wriggly animals like worms and millipedes, even little earwigs. This is just what I could see, imagine what else there could be.

As I grew older I unfortunately lost my desire to learn about the soil and put it to one side to get to know myself a bit better. If I had known that the soil would have taught me all i need to know about how life works, then perhaps my life would have taken a different direction. However, I never lost that thirst for curiosity and understanding of our planet, I just stopped looking in the right place and thought my teacher had to come from a human rather than nature itself.

It’s not really until I started growing food, that my fascination with the soil began again. When I started learning about compost, soil and the cycles of growth and decay, I realized that animals like ‘worms’ are not just weird and wriggly and wonderful, they are also essential for soil health and our health, and, also are a key indicator to overall soil health and vitality. It’s the Soil Food Web and the interactions between the numerous different species that will define Soil Health and Life Health. It is quite often said in Regenerative Agriculture, that just those top few inches of soil, give life to the entire planet. That few inches of Organic Matter, does really make the difference between Life and Death on this planet.

SOG (Soil Organic Matter), also known as hummus, is the life blood and beginning of the chemical and biological reactions that kick start the Soil Food Web and cause the interactions of soil life. This is a natural process that has been taking place way before humans were able to understand the soil. It seems that this the importance of this understanding has been left in the dirt and we have forgotten the fundamental connection we have with the soil. This hummus, in nature is formed by leaf litter, decaying fallen branches and trees, animal manure, fungi and decomposing fruit and vegetables. As this ‘Decaying Matter’ is absorbed into the ground a myriad of organisms and creatures strip down the matter and cause further chemical reactions which promote bacteria and fungi to interact with the decaying matter and living matter within the soil. This complex and interwoven relationship, is essentially the most fundamental and important one on this planet. Without this, there would be no life on earth! The relationships that exist within this top few inches of soil determine the health and wealth of our planet. Our Soil Organic Matter provides the food for all life the thrive, the basis for the complex and mutual connections to create more life. Essentially natural death and decay provides the basis both chemically and biologically to create more life.

The composition of soil and the various organisms that make up SOM, all make up the affect on whatever is growing, each of these elements carrying out essential and specific tasks that are all inter-related and equally important. I wanted to introduce you to a few of them and some amazing books and life-long professionals who offer a much more detailed and comprehensive knowledge than I do in this article.

Firstly to give you an idea of the soil composition. Soil is made from minerals, air, water and organic matter (anything that is alive).

45% of this are minerals (sand, silt and clay) salt is very fine particles, clay has very compact particles and silt is somewhere in between. Loam is somewhere between silt and clay and promotes the most fertile soil.

20 to 30% air (this provides the ventilation for the soil to be aerated so it doesn’t become anaerobic.) Worms, especially provide this ventilation.

20 to 30% water. Some soil like sand can either allow to much water to penetrate to quickly through the subsoil, this is a cause of drought. Some soil like heavy clay soil does the opposite, it prevents water from soaking into the subsoil, which causes flooding, especially in heavy downpours. Both of these extremes can also be attributed to bad farming techniques and management of the land. Leaching of nutrients is a sign of soil that’s in need of regeneration.

5 to 10% is organic matter. This is what essentially to a large degree, influences all the other components of soil. The more bio-diverse, natural and undisturbed the hummus is the more of a positive affect it has on the rest of the soil. For instance, when there is more organic matter dead and alive on the surface of the soil, the more it will naturally replicate a living system which is self regulating and constantly seeks harmony and balance. Organic matter promotes better aeration, by way of providing food for worms, which build the tunnels for ventilation, promotes better water retention by way of holding water for the soil to absorb more slowly, which helps both very sandy and heavy clay soil. The minerals in the soil itself, which make up the particle size of the soil and therefore affect it’s water retention are harder to alter, but naturally will vary depending on long climatic changes, can still be influenced by organic matter. Clay, retains some mineral content and can be further improved and altered to more of a loam type soil, which has a higher organic mineral content, which is promoted by a healthy hummus layer.

The humble worm, has 3 hearts, is a hermaphrodite and is able to recycle decaying matter and transform it into humus, just like that. In fact, that’s what they were designed for. Worms are as essential to life on this planet as bees! Underestimated, misunderstood and insanely under-valued, the worm is one of our allies. Having an allotment, I have seen the change in the worm population over the past year and monitored the changes, based on the slight changes I have made. After putting straw down last autumn, I saw an explosion in my worm population, as well as with the other insect and invertebrate life, which attracted birds to be around my plot. Without worms, we wouldn’t have the healthy soil we have in our gardens and allotment plots. If you go onto the land of a commercial farmer in the UK, you may probably find that they will have very few worms in their soil, probably because of the artificial chemicals and fertilizers that have been sprayed on them. What we are doing by using artificial chemicals is not only destroying the home of worms but essentially, we are by this act saying that worms who have been on this planet aren’t good enough at the evolutionary purpose. As usually this shows the ugly parts of human beings, where profit always comes before the planet.

Microbes, our invisible friends, who produce all the nutrients plants need in the soil fight against our invisible enemy, like pathogens and disease, carry out many functions; including, fixing nitrogen, producing antibiotics (like Actinomycetes, a type of bacterium that shares some features of fungus), making organic matter into hummus. The microbes essentially act as traders with the plants roots and exchange for sugary exudates, they give the plant what it needs, either by adjusting the ph balance of the soil, or delivering specific nutrients the plants roots cannot reach. Microbes include, bacteria, fungi and archaea and whatever hasn’t been discovered yet. Some facts about soil microbes:

There are more microbes in a teaspoon of good soil, than there are people on the Earth.

Microbes are responsible for producing hormones that control growth, stress response and immunity levels in animals and plants.

90% of cells in the human body are microbes.

Arthropods, have for a long time had a bad wrap, I still know many people that think they have the right to squash them. Sure, they can be annoying in the house, but for the soil, they are just another essential part of the soil food web. They include: spiders, daddy longlegs, centipedes and millipedes and their purpose is to shred organic matter, promoting the growth of bacteria and fungi which they feed on releasing nutrients back into the soil. They also help transport microbes out of their own range, when they were eaten themselves, as well as aerating the soil.

Worth a special mention, is that of Fungi, or specifically Mycorrhizae, this is the mycelium (fungi roots, essentially, that intertwine with plant roots). Probably the most essential connection within the soil, certainly one the most mutually beneficial. This benefits the plants themselves by extending the reach of their roots and therefore their ability to get certain nutrients, in exchange the mycorrhizae feed on the sugars that the roots excrete, which feeds the main fungal body. Nearly all plants have this relationship with mycorrhizae.

Protozoa, the smallest of animals, one celled organisms, were the first to evolve on Earth and include amoebae. They are bigger than the bacteria and fungi they feed on, and some are visible with the naked eye. After digesting the microbes, they release waste back into the soil in the form of nutrients, including any waste nitrogen that they don’t use up. They are essential in the balance of the soil food web and will naturally follow the rise and fall of bacteria populations.

The creatures that live on top of Soil Food Web, are another essential part of the whole system. Animals such as birds, hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts and perhaps more depending on where you live, are absolutely essential to our soil. They eat unwanted pests, fertilize the plants with their manure and keep the system generally healthy. Remember the hedgehog was prominent within UK back gardens decades ago, and since its decline, they prey that it feeds on like slugs and snails have increased in numbers and now many people use pellets to take the place of the humble hedgehog.

How to create a healthy Soil Food Web?

CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) is the measure of how many positive ions can be retained on soil particles (negatively charged surfaces). Essentially CEC is a measure of how effectively your soil holds on to distributes nutrients in a way that plants can absorb them to use as energy. The minerals in your soil is made up of both positive and negative charged ions, called Cations and Anions, respectively. The minerals in the soil will be positively or negatively charged-Cations include calcium, magnesium, potassium, ammonium(the plants usable source of nitrogen). Anions include chlorine, nitrate, sulfate and phosphate.

Soils with different mineral content, i.e sandy or clay soils will have less or more CEC; sandy soils have low CEC, because they are unable to hold onto nutrients as well, due to the particle size being too small. In comparison, clay soils  can hold onto nutrients very well, almost too well, as if it’s too compact, plants can’t access the nutrients. Therefore the application of organic matter, is the solution to improve both soils capacity to hold onto and access the nutrients in soil and provide healthy and abundant food. Nutrients are the result of a myriad of organisms all working together to provide a healthy, bio diverse and balanced community of soil dwellers. Quite a fascinating story in my book. Essentially we all are born from the soil. Our bodies, immunity, evolution and minds are linked to the health of the Soil Food Web. Nature provides us all the answers, all we need do is look and learn.

My own experience of the exploring the Soil Food Web is just one account. If you would like to know more about the amazing and inspiring world of soil, then the following links will shed some wisdom.

 

 

The Nature of Things

Upon my voyage in life, I have come to realize how the true nature of humans seems to have slowly changed over the past few centuries. Even more so within the past 60 years.

Essentially, at the core, all people seek food, water, shelter, warmth and companionship. The first four are all basic human rights, even though so many people still don’t have this in life. In our modern world of civilized society, great technological and scientific advancement, many still go without food, water, shelter or warmth.

I have always found this perplexing, given the advances in these areas, why the basic human rights are still not afforded to every human being on this planet. And of course, i am not placing responsibility upon the governments of the world, however, how can people, still not have these basic needs? I believe that the system of society in which we live is unhealthy, unequal, and too centralized. Essentially when the fate of the nation rests in such few hands, who holds those people accountable. And even more now than ever before, the influence and power has been given to even fewer people. This unfair distribution of wealth and health seems to have been accepted by many as part of a capitalistic system. But, what happened to our humanity? Everyone on this planet is worthy of being given the opportunity for good health and wealth

If we localized all of our needs, brought the communities needs back into the hands of the community, then things would be much different. Everyone’s actions would be far more focused on helping the community. This would include, governance, as well as production, agriculture, health and education. All of these things would encompass the others, acting as a web of inter-connected actions.
Companionship, sought by nearly every person on the planet has always played a central roll in defining humanity’s evolution. In fact, without this, we would never have been able to build the civilizations that we have over the past 100’s of millennia. The true nature of humans is to care for, protect, learn and grow by observing and interacting with the world around us, being curious and having the desire to know the truth. These are characteristics that define humans, in my opinion. We see it in children, the nature of curiosity, in fact in all life, but as we become adults most of these characteristics have been misdirected into artificial entertainment of TV and video games and when we socialize in society we use drink to let loose. TV can still have its place but should it be at the expense of a deeper understanding of our place in the world.
What happened to sitting round the campfire?

I think it is about perception! When we are able to have a more objective view to our life, we are able to actually see more of the truth. connecting with what our ancestors did, actually deepens our understanding of ourselves. Too much attention is paid to economic development, discarding the old, in for the new, without any thought to the consequences. Ignorance and greed heavily influence the society in which we live, more than ever before. I wonder what the ancient civilizations would write about us, if they were able to see what we have done to ourselves and our Earth.

I think, so many people are in a trap. Afraid to be themselves, they look to fulfil themselves in other, sometimes unhealthy ways. Freedom, is really about our ability to be responsible for our own actions. When we are in the natural rhythm with ourselves and life, our freedom comes from being full capable and self supporting.

How can we as human beings, be able to benefit from the nature of things? How can we live a life that is truly based on the fundamental principles of nature? What is the ‘Nature of Things’?

The nature of all things are, their own nature and that in relation to its surroundings. Everything has it’s own individual nature which is unique to the life force, it’s individual character is displayed in its appearance and determines what influence and power it has upon its environment. If you imagine that each life force responds to different influences and exerts a different influence on other things depending on it’s nature and appearance which determines it’s affect both in the internal causes and manifested outcome of it’s actions. An accumulation of these moments, which are the life experience, all determine the effect at that very moment. The initial gut reaction or instinct, is the natural response, inherent within the mind of that life. It is the conscious response to a situation that cannot only be determined by the cognitive process that would be used to solve a mathematical problem. The nature of things, is that life’s own in-built survival system, the way it harmonizes with the inter-contented web of life, determines the balance of life and to be able to understand and observe this, enables us to be able to relate this to our own life.

When we are growing in our mothers womb, as a human being, we are synchronizing our bodies with our mothers. Science is still yet to fully understand the connection. In my opinion, one thing is for sure, any disruption to the natural way of pregnancy or birth, will have implications on that child’s well being. I don’t condemn c sections, or any other procedure which is necessary to save the child’s life. However, the environment that most babies are born is sterile, noisy and takes away the connection of mother and child. The first several years of a child’s life is incredibly important. To be reared by your mother and father for the first few years is extremely important for conceiving the world and feeling safe and being curious in a safe space. Although this actually begins in the womb, as does the immune build response, it continues after birth, by direct observation through the senses and also through the chemicals the mother releases in the womb during.

Children, just like animals are very good at tapping into the natural rhythms and vibrations of life.. This coupling of the nature of the mother and child is still something that is hard to measure with modern scientific instruments, but that nature is still there. In fact, it’s this ‘Nature. which has enabled the human species to survive up until now, through every event on our planet. It’s our consciousness, and understanding of our connection to the universal consciousness that allows our full true nature to be revealed. In the end, we can only determine the nature of things, if we ourselves understand our own nature. This is why our modern way of living makes so many people mentally imbalanced.

The nature of things change with subjective view and experience. What I only see as a weed today, can transform into sustenance or medicine the next day, depending on what I have learned. Essentially the thing its self has an essential nature, yet, it is the human experience and consciousness which determines it’s power and influence. The true nature of something, is inclusive and inter-connected to the true nature of all other things. But, you can only see this when you understand the objective reality of all things in time and space. The true nature of things is both it’s subjective experience and objective reality. When we understand this principle, we can start to realize that all things have their relationship with our minds (subjective experience) and nature of an entity (objective reality). Our relationship to anything depends on our experience and relationship with ourselves. This is fundamental in understanding why so many people have subjective experiences that differ when within the same reality and this complex relationship between the two is incredibly important to adaptation of all life.

As human beings we have the benefit of being able to observe, from our inner life force, to the wonders of the cosmos. This ability to observe and contemplate leads us to understand ourselves. For when we observe our own mind and nature at work then we are able to gain insight into the nature of things. Essentially, they are one in the same. In our past, we were more deeply connected with the nature of things and still today they are isolated groups of people both ancient and new who are the ‘nature of things’, and this doesn’t mean we need to live in a forest. That’s each of our choices.

Every woman and man has a choice on how they live their life. I have learnt through my experiences that learning to let go is probably the most difficult thing we can undertake emotionally. It requires a lot of strength and faith in the unknown. But as an observer, I have learnt to observe my mind, especially when it is in conflict. This disparity between myself and my ego, drives a void between my freedom and my reality. When I feel this way, I know what I am dealing with. I am dealing with my own distorted reality that has been created throughout my life, where I have, certainly as an adult been disconnected from my true nature and I am not always connected to it now. Just by knowing what my mind is, allows me to understand what is fact and what is fiction. Nature teaches us that there is a purpose to all of our lives, and for me, this is a way of life that is in harmony with the natural world, plants, animals and other humans, working with the land to produce healthy food and learn to build and grow in many ways, not just food.

I’m not there yet, however, I am working my towards that goal. The most important thing for me is to keep seeking knowledge and taking action, to allow myself to engage with myself each day despite the white noise and to connect with others of similar mind. The creation of consciousness towards this goal is the path of most resistance and yet ultimately brings the most fulfilment and enables us to grasp the true nature of our own hearts, souls, bodies and minds.

All of my articles are written my own observations and interpretations, based on ancient beliefs and philosophies that are now being proved by science.

However, I do believe that everyone has the capacity to connect with the nature of things. In fact I believe it’s in our DNA. This understanding is the path to understanding our purpose.

 

 

 

Food Security

I have been a food grower for a few years and have always enjoyed the freedom that it gives me, to simply plant a seed into the soil, tending to it as it is the most important seed of life and watch it grow!

To be the caretaker and not the keeper of nature is the key to creating a sustainable and organic environment and the conditions needed to produce nutritionally rich food and a place where nature does what it does and we can reap the benefits, whilst passing on the genetic heritage of that species. A symbiotic relationship between me and nature.

Our current food system is at best treading water, but in reality, the way most of the world farms it food, is unhealthy, unethical and illogical. Even with all the technology we have developed, it seems, that we drift further and further away from food sovereignty. Only 100 years ago, many people, especially outside of cities grew their own food, built their own dwellings, repaired their broken things and generally lived a life which was connected to living off the land. Granted we didn’t have many of the luxuries we have today, life was simple and hard, and people had more responsibility for themselves and their community. What you couldn’t grow or find or repair, you would have neighbours to help. People had little money generally, but most people had what they needed. Really, it was the cities where people were poor, as it was more competitive and more expensive. Cities were really a design to create wealth for already wealthy people.

Nutritional deficiency, rising prices and toxin ridden food has monopolized the western food market for over 70 years. Before this, generally food was not grown on mass scale and fewer if any pesticides were used. Much of the food was grown on small farms or on peoples patches of land. More control and accessibility was afforded to people, which meant that food was cared for like it was your own food. Now, this has all about disappeared, as slowly food become a commodity for growing national corporations. This, I believe is one of the greatest tragedies to happen. Food is life, everyone deserves to be able to eat and more importantly grow their own,. It’s one of the our Human Rights.

Once I decided to start growing my own food and buying from local farms where possible, I started to realize that food isn’t just about sustaining life. Now, I think, even more than ever, growing food is the most important action to take and also the greatest gift you can give yourself. Even if you may have tried growing anything, and it was a disaster. I would still urge you to grow. Growing food isn’t all about producing food you can eat. The idea of learning to grow is to observe and understand how plants work, react, change, evolve. Once you understand the ‘Soil Food Web’ you can grow anything. First year of growing food is for making mistakes. If you can grow food, you can do anything.

Humans, have in one way or another cultivated food for millennia, possibly 100’s of millennia. It’s in our DNA, and even in our own gut-biome is and has always been connected to the soil-biome. It’s actually essential for our health to have this connection. When you eat from the land, that is free from toxin, grown in soil that is bursting with life, our whole system synchronizes with the land. From that we can build great communities of health and conscious people. This is, in my opinion, true Health and Wealth.

It’s not until I started growing food that I started to change the way I thought about plants. I had always thought them fascinating, but I had never really thought about exploring the relationship that plants played in my life.
A seed (of varying sizes) contains within in it, all the information it needs to continue it’s species life cycle. Not only from all the previous generations growth and fruiting, but also a seed will record other changes in the environment; temperature, precipitation and disease etc. This enables the next generation of seed to be able to adapt to our ever changing climate.

The plant just like humans, has an immune system and is able to fight of viruses and disease. If a plant in an environment that is unfavourable, i.e the plant is isolated in it’s growth, then it will struggle to build a healthy immune system. For instance, when we grow mono-crop food with pesticides or any artificial inputs that plant becomes dependent on those inputs. Just as with our own immune system, what we feed ourselves is what we become. If their is the right biodiversity, the plants that grow their will be healthy and require no artificial inputs.
Throughout history; seeds and food were always an important trading commodity. It has only really been the past 100 years, where most people in the western world have become not only detached from their food source, more importantly we have lost our connection to the cycle of planting seed, nurturing seedlings, maturing the plant, harvesting, saving the seed for next year. Within that seed is my future, your future and humanities future.

To myself, apart from knowledge, I ask; What will be the next trading commodity? Food, especially seeds will emerge as a currency of sorts, especially as food and other imported goods become more expensive and harder to obtain. Our knowledge and skills will also become seeds of exchange in the future.

Investment in seeds, is an investment in yourself, in your bright future. It’s true that nothing can live in isolation, there needs to be support mechanisms for each organism so it can thrive. Exchange, will be the channel of trade in the future. Trade or Barter, is in it’s very essence the freest and most equal form of exchange, simply because both parties agree on a win/win outcome and the trades only outcome is that both parties need the product or service. Moreover, the continued exchange with your neighbour, etc, will lead to a relationship of trust and mutual fulfilment.

Our souls are seeds that need to be nurtured too. For me; seeds are the future and because they represent the potentiality for life they ought to be held in the highest regard. To think that all life on Earth generated from seed and soil within that shell, sometimes so small we can’t see it with the naked eye, is the potential life force to carry on the evolution of that species.

For the past century since the introduction of mono culture farming and the advent of chemical fertilizers produced by companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, there has been a direct yet subtle and covert attack on the natural order of things.

A deeply beautiful thing happened when I started growing food! It was as if the food I grew was a reflection for my life. I started to think about the complexities of the Soil Food Web, and the multitude of influences that ultimately determined how much food I would get and what it would taste like. I compared this to how I feel on a daily basis; depending on the factors and influences in my life and the balance between them, would help determine my general mood. I realized that with the wrong balance or influences or ones that were toxic or artificial that my life wouldn’t be healthy and abundant.

This got me to thinking, that I learnt this through observation, and I was able through this to determine how I can adapt to the changes and challenges on my plot and understand through observing the nuances and cascading causes and effects. Any natural system including our food and mind, are part of a wider web of life. Most of our actions are based on learning through subjective experience, which form ideas and belief systems to influence further the actions we take and how we feel on a daily basis. Without an understanding of how any system works effectively, it never will.

I have come to realize the depth of knowledge that can be gained from observing how a natural eco-food system continually creates, decays and reinvents itself, constantly seeking homeostasis, in the pursuit of growth and life.

Our mind and society is like this too. To become aware of these functions and how influence society and our minds, is essential if we are to truly grow.

To best way to grow food is to use natural techniques and guide and already perfect system to working for you. What I learned is that once I understood how a food system worked, I understood that I was part of it too and that if I was I needed to take action and grow with growing my own food.

So, you may ask! How and why?

With a more localized world, we can have that very thing. If we all learnt how to provide many of our own needs and build communities to be able to create a symbiotic relationship with others that focused on the essentials of life. The Off grid lifestyle is an example of this. But imagine if people started to grow their own food, or keep hens, or make honey, etc? If we all were able to provide something really worthwhile for our community. We can still have culture, music, etc. As this way of life would represent an understanding that everyone can provide something great but when the every day person doesn’t recognise that without this connection to the most simple and important things in life, we lose sight of when our actions and way of life can jeopardise our very existence.

Localisation of the Nation is one of the solutions to the current crisis we are facing.  The entire systems success or failure rests on all of the links being strong. However, because of the clinical and artificial connections we have with our trading partners, who we rarely meet, this creates relationships that are based purely on personal benefit and not the benefit of all. This is understandable as the way we grow food, be it livestock, grains or horticultural produce, is based on yield, volume and profit. Most farmers don’t grow there own food to eat. Most farmers on the planet, especially if they are part of the current mono Ag food system are heavily dependent on financial support and their crops are heavily dependent on artificial fertilizers. A farm now is not self sufficient, it lacks biodiversity, health and natural equilibrium. Farms have become specialists,  lacking the necessary knowledge to grow food in a healthy and natural way. We leave our own ancestral knowledge behind and instead employed the capitalist way of growing food.

One crop, high yield, using disease resistant seeds and relying on artificial inputs to feed to dependent crops. This may produce an abundance of food, but as research and tests have shown compared to the food grown in the 40’s, there is between 10-90% less nutrients. Much of this difference will be the micro-nutrients, which are found in much less concentration in conventional farms, compared to permaculture and bio-dynamic farms. This is simply down to diversity. Without the biodiversity of plants, flowers, shrubs and trees, soil cannot sustain this bio-diverse and nutrient rich soil. If we look at why permaculture farms can be so successful in the volume and quality of food grown, whilst still maintaining and building healthy soils, you can see through observing the natural bio-diverse living system which is self regulating. NO NEED for artificial inputs in permaculture farms and spaces. Although the principles of having a successful permaculture farm, are simple, it does take around 2-7 years to transform land into a self sustaining, healthy and abundant farm.

Through this process of regenerating land, into an abundant food larder, with a bio diverse and complexity of relationships, which give us in return everything we need to live a healthy and abundant life. Observing how nature interacts, communicates and integrates itself into the web of life, particularly the soil food web, gives us all the answers we need to successfully live with the land. With the benefit of having access to ancient knowledge off growing and new technology, we have the greatest opportunity to create an healthy and abundant homestead.