Peak soil, not peak oil

I finally sat down and started to read the Jeavons book, How to Grow More Vegetables …, which I got back in December. The discussion of the focus on growing soil reminded me very much of something I learned while in Ireland. On the Dingle peninsula, the soil was created by gathering and laying seaweed on the coastal rocks for many generations. The commitment to the future that would take to overweigh present hardship is almost unbelievable. When compared to the voluntary hardship of the monastics in Ireland, especially in places like Skellig Michael, the soil project still seems vast to me, but not out of character.

“Gardening is an education in observation, harmony, honesty, and humility – in knowing and understanding our place in the world.”

Reading this text, I find myself once again fantasizing about a plot in the Organic Farm at Evergreen. For two years, my partner, Erica, has been commited to our plot in the garden, but I have failed to take it on. I think I want to be that person, but when it comes to being that person I fail to do what it takes. I don’t feel as good doing gardening as I want to feel, and that is disappointing to me.

I remember at a family reunion, for my mother’s family, the question was raised: ‘Who here does any farming?” The answer was, I recall, only one or two people. For at least the period of time we were in Kansas and thereabouts, we used to be farmers, but are no longer.

There seems to be a very clear connection between philosophy in the combination of companion crops and grow biointensive beds and the philosophy within the deep design principles of multi-use in arcologies, Soleri’s Acrosanti project. I know there is within the plan of Arcosanti a phase of development where the base of the plateau is curtained in greenhouse environments. After visiting Arcosanti, I was struck by the feeling of the place to me, as a visitor. I find myself thinking every once in a while about what it would be like to be a resident in Arcosanti.

In the Irish city of Derry, the hostel we stayed in felt impossibly tall, a building crammed next to other similar buildings along the block. The view from a window in the back revealed that an entire block was just a circle of buildings around a central, rough, dilapidated park-like space. I assume that an area like that was devoted to horses and carts owned by those in the surrounding buildings, but now seems like ideal community garden land.

The notion of design in multi-use and in grow biointensive philosophies, theories and techniques links in my mind with envisioning possible post-oil futures. One element in such a future would be transportation. In Ireland, I saw an actual Irish Gypsy cart, which is a mobile living tool designed over the centuries for contingency living. What would a modern, perhaps post-oil, wagon / cart look like? Seems like an interesting design re-visioning that could become a project like Ideo’s re-visioning of the shopping cart.

I find myself thinking about an Ursula K LeGuin book, for which I’ve forgotten the title. It was a novel about a future society that came with a cassette tape of music from that culture. There’s a complex feeling that comes with this association for me, a synethesia. There is a warmth, a glowing orange sunset colour that is enveloping.