Mike Kenzie

pollinator
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since May 27, 2016
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Gardener, historian, farmer, mycologist.
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Recent posts by Mike Kenzie

I have two stainless steel compost pales in my kitchen: one with a regular, sealed lid for my compost that goes to the worms, and one with the holes in the lid & carbon that r ranson posted for my non-worm composting systems (keyhole, tumbler, bokashi).
Neither kitchen compost pale stinks for 2 main reasons:

1) I add 1-inch - 2-inches of shredded, fluffy carbon material (aka "browns") to the bottom of my kitchen compost pales before throwing kitchen scraps in. Specifically, I shred the brown paper bags from the grocery store & regular paper junk mail and add a layer of carbon to the bottom of the pale. You can also use coco coir at the base if you are trying to avoid toxins at all costs. This method keeps a significant amount of air at the base of the pale. After months of stinky kitchen compost pales & after taking Dr. Elaine Ingham's course about aerobic compost conditions verses anaerobic compost conditions, I noticed that the weight of the kitchen scraps in the compost pale forces the air out of the bottom of the pale causing it to go anaerobic ("airless"). Stinky is your body telling you that something is wrong. That something is a proliferation of anaerobic bacteria that will possibly make you and your plants sick - if you are not adding them to a proper compost situation (ie. getting your thermophilic compost pile hot enough to kill those anaerobes). With an inch or two of fluffy carbon layered at the bottom of the pale & not letting the kitchen compost pale get more than halfway full with scraps - for our family that equates to emptying every 2-3 days - our kitchen compost pale is no longer stinky - ever! That's because there is enough air both above & below the kitchen scraps & never enough weight to force the air out.

2) We empty our kitchen compost pale every 2 - 3 days. As mentioned above, this prevents the pile of scraps in the kitchen compost pale from getting heavy, forcing the air out & creating anaerobic conditions.

After emptying the pales, I rinse them out with a strong jet of water from my garden hose & let them sit upside down - no lid - to drain before adding the base fluffy layer of carbon. Because my pales don't go anaerobic, I do not use soaps to clean out the pales as I want them to be lined with that beneficial aerobic bacteria to start pre-coating my kitchen scraps in preparation for my compost systems. Occasionally, some darker -blackish- color molds may appear on the walls of the pale. Then, & only then, will I scrub the inside of the pale with baking soda & a sponge to clean them out.

Hope this helps. :-)
2 days ago
Hello there permies,

My partner & I have something to share with you all. While we were recently expecting our first newborn, many of our friends & family were graciously wanting to shower us with gifts & they were asking us for our “baby registry”. I had no idea such a thing existed until a few months ago. Initially, while my heart was very much warmed by the sentiment of our friends & family wanting to support us on our new journey into parenthood, I was terrified of receiving “gifts” from some of my friends & family as I knew that they were not only not aware of the regenerative, permacultural maker, zero-waste paradigm, but that they were not even close to being on board with even the “green / eco-conscious” low-waste paradigm that preceded the current regenerative movement. What kind of “gifts” were we about to receive from these sincerely well-intentioned folks we wondered?

A side note: my partner & I do our best the create as much as we can within the maker culture of the regenerative permaculture movement. When we do consume, we do our best first check the second hand market (Craigslist, thrift stores, etc) first then - if we must - to purchase from small(-er), local, free-from-toxins (or toxin-reducing) producers. While some of our friends also try their best on this front, most of our family & friends are still very much into purchasing within big business consumer culture, oftentimes purchasing non-compostable products laced with toxins that we do our best to avoid. Most of them have not yet joined the regenerative maker culture to the extent that many of us in the permaculture movement would probably like to see. In short, ever since we got into permaculture we have been trying to balance our own production & consumption patterns while swimming up a cultural stream that – as we see it – is much more heavily weighted towards consumption than production. Now, back to our story...

While we were filled with joy about the idea of receiving baby gifts, we were terrified of receiving products produced by toxic, extractive, throw-away big industry ... terrified that many of our friends & family were about to additionally finance said toxic, extractive industry even more with their “gifts” to us because we were having a child … terrified of being paralyzed by the decision to either keep said “gifts”, donate them, or bin them – all sub-optimal choices in our minds.

Luckily, the baby registry idea actually gave us an out! With the registry, we ended up getting to choose which producers we wanted to support & what products we wanted to be made & enter our household. Granted, a couple of our friends did end up making us lovely permaculture gifts. We also received many hand-me-downs from friends and family that we joyfully accepted. THANK YOU! Most of the products on our registry emerged from the “sustainable / low-waste” paradigm – we were pretty happy with our decision to at least mitigate a great majority of the potential toxicity & potential funding of additional toxicity by choosing a registry of “green & green(-er)” products.

As my partner and I spent many hours researching these products in order to support small(-er) businesses & less-toxic industries, we figured it would be a shame to keep our heavily-researched baby registry list to ourselves. So we’ve decided to share our heavily-researched list here on permies, hoping that if you have a little one on the way and are planning a baby shower &/or a baby registry or if you're about to purchase something for someone who does have a baby on the way, that this list can be useful to you too.
Also, we have attempted to only include eco-conscious items that have many positive reviews.

If there are things you’d like to add to this list, we invite you to please post them in this thread!

Note: We are not receiving any kickbacks whatsoever from any of these producers. We simply want to share what we’ve found in our own research to help others who are in the same boat as us.
That said, if you know of any dubious greenwashing from any of these products &/or producers please mention them in this thread as a warning and hopefully as positive pressure on producers to improve their practices.

We ended up choosing to use BabyList.com to host our registry because they allow one to select which online shops that people purchase from, so as to avoid as many folks purchasing from Amazon.com as possible. There are likely other great registry hosts out there that offer this same service. This is just the one we chose.

Without further ado, here is a list of eco-conscious baby registry items that either ended up on our registry or we purchased ourselves.

BASSINETS: Note, as of this thread creation, our newborn is still co-sleeping with us.

organic crib mattress and wood cradle
Ultimate Green Baby Organic Cradle & Bassinet Mattress.

BEDDING:

Holy Lamb Organics.

BIB BANDANAS:

Baby Bandana Drool Bibs Scarves Unisex 8 Pack Gift Set for Teething and Drooling, 100% Organic Cotton, Soft and Absorbent for Boys Girls by YOOFOSS.

BLANKETS FOR BABIES:

Organic Flannel Receiving Blanket -- Field Day by ecomum.

Organic Sea Turtle Custom Double Gauze Bamboo Muslin Swaddle, Newborn Receiving Blanket, Nursing Cover Up by CocaandB.

BOTTLES | GLASS BOTTLES: Note, as of the creation of this thread, my partner is still breastfeeding 100% of the time. That said, she will need to go back to work after her maternity leave ends, so we will use bottle... provided baby's okay with that. In the mean time my job is to burp baby after every feeding.

Hevea Glass Bottles - 2 pack.

Hevea Baby Glass Bottles (2 Pack).

2 in 1 baby glass bottle with star ball (120ml).

Natursutten BPA Free Glass Baby Bottles – 4 Ounce Set of 2.

glass baby bottle in woven holder
Baby Quoddle Plastic-Free Glass Baby Bottle.

BOTTLES MADE OF STAINLESS STEEL (& INSULATED):

stainless steel insulated baby bottle
Pura Kiki Stainless Steel Baby Bottle (available in standard or insulated).

And what's cool about this model bottle is that it can become a sippy cup when baby gets older!
Pura Kiki XL Sipper Spouts

BOTTLE NIPPLES | NATURAL RUBBER NIPPLES:

natural rubber nipple and glass baby bottle
Slow Flow/Medium Flow 100% Natural Rubber – Anti-colic, 2 pack. Softer than silicone, these nipples are made of natural rubber tapped from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree.

BURP CLOTHS:

eJoyce Baby Girls and Boys Organic Baby Burp Absorbent Cloths Set of 5, EJ-2002 by JoyceTrimming.

Kinderglück Organic Baby Burp Cloths Set by LunaberryDreams.

Organic Baby Burp Cloths by KeaBabies.

CAR SEATS: My partner & I did waaay too much research on flame retardant-free car seats... too much especially in these times of reduced vehicle travel. There were several times she was literally driven to tears having to spend so much time emailing back & forth with various manufacturers & getting greenwashed marketing spin instead of honest, transparent information. To her it felt like a waste of time that such a heavy burden had to be placed on us - the consumers - to find out what was going into these products. Good news is we finally narrowed it down to 3 models:

UPPAbaby Mesa car seat. Note: only the “Henry” & “Jordan” fabrics are flame retardant-free UPPAbaby Mesa car seats!

Nuna Pipa car seat.

Clek brand car seats also claim to have flame retardant-free models.

CARRIER FOR BABY:

Storm Nalakai Eco-Friendly Baby Goods.

CLEANING:

BunchaFarmers All Natural 100% Biodegradable Environmentally Friendly Stain Remover Stick.

CLOTHES FOR BABIES:

Babysoy Organic Cotton Solid Socks - Dragonfly, 0-6 Months.

Burt’s bees baby organic clothes & products.

Because we’re really into mycology:
organic cotton sleep and play pajamas with mushroom designs
Owlivia Organic Cotton Baby Zip Front Sleep ‘ N Play Footed Sleeper Long Sleeve Mushroom.

DIAPERS FOR BABIES: One of the best gifts we received was that of a cloth diaper service for the first few months of the baby’s life. We opted for their cheaper pre-fold cloth diapers & are loving them thus far!

DIAPER UPDATE | 5 WEEKS IN TO CLOTH DIAPERING: Our cloth diaper laundering service gift was enough for the first couple of months. SO GRATEFUL FOR THESE COUPLE OF MONTHS OF THIS SERVICE! Since we knew this, & since we can't afford to continue with the service - despite loving it - & since we are certainly going to continue with the cloth diapering route on our own, we decided to try out some of the different cloth diapering systems out there. Holy moly there are so many different types of cloth diapers! After a crazy amount of deep research, my partner decided to try the "All-In-Two Cloth Diapers". After some initial testing, she likes them. She likes the fact that after washing, when folding laundry, you simply snap in the washable inserts into the re-usable diaper covers. In most cases, be they wet diapers or smaller poo diapers, these washable inserts do the job. Also, if only the washable insert is soiled it can simply be unsnapped & put in the smell-proof diaper pale, then the diaper cover can be reused with another clean snap-in washable insert. This avoids having to overly-wash the diaper covers and wear out parts like the elastic leg gussets that help protect the baby's surroundings from poo "blow-outs". It also means that one is only dealing with a couple of buttons, meaning it is much quicker to get on baby. This is especially important in the middle of the night when folding "pre-"fold diapers on a squirming kid while half-asleep is not the easiest task on the homestead! The insert buttons ensure that the insert does not move around in the diaper.

As for me, I personally don't mind folding the pre-folds. I have seen them empirically work to catch 98-100% of the poo during a big blow out. The inserts, on the other hand, are much thinner & cover much less of the buttocks than the pre-folds, so they cannot handle big blow outs. Plus, the pre-folds cost literally four times less than the All-In-Two inserts. All that said, I personally prefer the pre-folds and I change 3 out of every 4 diapers. By the way, that's an agreed upon arrangement as breast-feeding takes much longer than diaper changes. It's only fair that I change more diapers.
We ordered the OsoCosy unbleached organic prefold cloth diapers and are very happy so far with the product. The OsoCosy are softer than the prefolds our diaper laundering service provided.

So, we have decided to compromise on cloth diapering types. When we end our diaper laundering service, we will order 25% All-In-Two's for use when my partner changes night-time diapers, or when we are out of the house & need a quick solution. The other 75% will be the unbleached organic pre-folds which I will mostly be putting on our baby. Both All-In-Two and "regular" diaper covers work over pre-folds. Since the diaper covers hardly ever seem to get soiled it appears we only need about 7-ish covers to get us to laundry day.

That said, we have yet to try out will no longer be trying out any of the following cloth diapers but this is what we came up with from our research before we were gifted the cloth diaper laundering service, before we did too much research on different cloth diaper styles, & before we had any experience; buyer beware...

DIAPERS MADE OF CLOTH FOR BABIES:

Momgaroo 24 Organic Cloth Diapers One Size fits from newborn to toddler by Momgaroo.

Momgaroo 3 pack Organic Cloth Diapers Pocket One Size fits from newborn to 3 yrs old by Momgaroo.

Reborn Doll Collectors Organic Side Snap All in One Cloth Diaper You Choose Solid Colors AIO by PunkinSeedsCo.

ORGANIC Cotton Newborn Cloth Diaper with umbilical cord snap. by LoveusSewMuch.

Set of 2x 100% Organic Terry Baby Diapers - Washable, Reusable and Eco-Friendly by HandMadeOrganic.

Newborn AI2 Cloth Diaper Organic Cotton Ladybugs Made to Order All in Two PUL by PunkinSeedsCo.

Organic Side Snap All in One Cloth Diaper Later Gator AIO PUL Sized Made to Order by PunkinSeedsCo.

Organic Side Snap All in One Cloth Diaper Camo Moose AIO PUL Sized Made to Order by PunkinSeedsCo.

Floral Mauve Stripe Hybrid Fitted Cloth Diapers Organic Zorb Bamboo One Size fits 8-40lbs FDR Fold Down Rise Handmade by GreenGenesCloth.

Organic Bamboo One Size All in One Cloth Diaper Bramble Rose Fox 8-40 lbs. by PunkinSeedsCo.

DIAPER INSERTS FOR BABIES:

MamaBear Organic Bamboo Charcoal Fleece Reusable Cloth Wipes - Set of 10 by MamaBearBabyWear.

50 pack GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Cloth Wipes Little Wipes 8x8 1-Ply.....Your Choice of Edging Color by GinasSoftClothShop.

6 Organic bamboo cotton fleece cloth diaper inserts, super soft, super absorbent by BumBootyBumBum.

12 x 4 Hemp Organic Cotton Cloth Diaper Liners Fleece Doublers Soakers Inserts 2-ply **Flat Shipping Rate for Any Set Size by HandcraftedGoodies.

10 PACK Bamboo Charcoal Insert, Bamboo Charcoal, Bamboo, Cloth Diaper Insert, Bamboo Organic Insert, Cloth Nappy Insert, 10 Pack Inserts by UrbanBabyBoutiqueInc.

12 Organic hemp fleece wipes - cloth diapers - organic cotton washcloths: Rainbow by curlymonkey.

Set of 3 organic bamboo insert for cloth diapers, organic bamboo soaker for cloth diapers, thirsty bamboo inserts, organic soakers, boosters by Erynskidsworld.

DIAPERS | "BIODEGRADABLE" DIAPERS: We also did some deep research on "compostable / biodegradable" diapers. The blog post Safe Disposable Diaper Guide by Maia James was the best resource we found on this subject. We haven't tried any of these out yet as we are cloth diapering for the time being.

DIAPERS | WIPES FOR BABY BOTTOM: We haven't bought anything like these wipes yet. Instead, we took some old bed sheets - the same ones my partner gave birth on actually - & cut them up into rectangular baby wipes using fabric scissors. We then made our own baby wipe solution & I'm happy to report that this strategy is working amazingly well.

Cloth wipes - Organic Cotton Flannel - Set of 12 - Perfect for Baby or Family by WeeEssentials.

Washable Organic Bamboo Wipes and Bag by JackandFred.

Flannel Baby Wipes Organic - Diaper Wipes - Washable Cloth Wipes - Gifts For Babies - Cloth Baby Wipes - Family Wipes by BeastiesBabies.

Organic Cotton and Bamboo Velour OBV Little Wipes 8x8 1-Ply for Baby, Wash Cloth by GinasSoftClothShop.

DIAPERS | WIPE SOLUTION FOR BABY BOTTOM:

We ended up following this TheDIYMommy.com blog post in order to make our own baby bottom wipe solution and we love it!

DIAPER BALM:

Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm.

LOUNGER: For me, this has been the most useful thing for our newborn thus far. Very easy for them to relax in & be easily transported around.

organic cotton infant lounger
Suggle Me Organic Infant Lounger.

MATTRESSES FOR BABIES:

Naturepedic certified organic baby crib mattresses.

NIPPLE CARE:

Nipple cream by Mother Love. Another source: Nipple cream by Mother Love at Radiant Belly.

NURSING PADS: My partner says she absolutely loves these. We wash them in our sink for re-use.

Organic Washable Breast Pads Reusable Nursing Pads for Breastfeeding with Carry Bag.

PACIFIERS:

Colour Pop Silicone & Wood Pacifier Clip - Golden Glow.

PERINEAL ICE & HEAT PACKS:

Gentlepack Reusable Perineal Ice & Heat Packs with Washable Sleeves for Postpartum & Pregnancy.

TOWELS:

Organic Bamboo Hooded Bath Towel for Infants and Toddlers 600GSM | Soft, Absorbent, Hypoallergenic | 35in x 35 in.

100% Organic Cotton Terry Baby Hooded Bath Towel & Washcloth Set, Receiving / Swaddling Blanket, Double Layer, Hypoallergenic, Super Soft.

Organic Bamboo Terry Hooded Baby Towel, Medium Large size 30x30" (76x76cm) Swaddling Bath Wrap, Your choice of thread color.

Organic Cotton Hooded Towel for Babies and Toddlers by natemia.

WEBSITES | BIBLOGRAPHY | RESOURCES:
     
Clean Collective, The “Australia’s strictest toxin-free shop & savviest source of zero-waste solutions. natural, organic, eco-friendly products & information without the greenwashing. enjoy eco & healthy living with us. We've done the research and engaged the experts to ensure our ingredients and materials policy is the strictest in Australia so you can feel good about your shopping. We give you a chance to remove six pieces of plastic from the ocean with every purchase to help make real, tangible change.
We bring together the information and solutions to create a healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle. Our eco and healthy living blog is here to support you in creating healthier and kinder habits that will benefit your health and the planet, while our retail store is here to provide you with the solutions to the issues discussed in our blog. We’re a shop with a difference, a community with a mission, a vote for a better future.
Our natural skincare range boasts castile soap, natural soap, natural deodorant, natural toothpaste, natural insect repellent, natural sunscreen, charcoal teeth whitening, natural face masks and more.  We even stock ingredients and essential oils for those looking to make DIY skincare products.
Explore our baby range and you’ll find baby nappies (including cloth nappies, nappy covers and swim nappies), baby care products and organic baby products ranging from baby sunscreen to glass baby bottles. We’ve got everything you might need for your bub or an upcoming baby shower gift right here.
We stock all the ingredients you could need to make homemade cleaning products as well as pre-made natural cleaning products for your kitchen, bathroom, laundry and beyond. Be sure to check out the eco-friendly sponges, soapberries and dryer balls if you’re looking for extra eco ninja credits!
If it’s zero waste tools you’re after, navigate over to our war on waste collection. Here, you’ll find beeswax wraps, water bottles, coffee cups, reusable shopping bags and reusable grocery bags, reusable nappies, straws and so much more.
Whether you’re browsing our blog or shopping for solutions, you’re part of a global driving force for a better future. Thank you for being here.”

EcoBambino “Located in beautiful Downtown, San Luis Obispo, EcoBambino’s brick-colored storefront stands out on historic Monterey Street. The 2,500 square-foot space with its squeaky hardwood floor, is filled with natural and eco-friendly products for children.
At EcoBambino, we strive to enrich children’s lives with products that support healthy growth, and inspire thinking, learning, and creativity. We believe in creating a healthy environment for children, while also working to preserve our planet.
The products we carry in our store have been carefully selected using a list of criteria. We examine brands from many angles in hopes of selecting a well-rounded assortment of products to fit into a range of product categories such as Baby Gear, Feeding Supplies, Clothing, Bedding, Toys, Diapering, Furniture, and more. To give you an idea of what we mean, here are some possible questions we ask about a product and its manufacturer before bringing it into our store.
Product: Is it made from natural and renewable materials? Where is it made? Is it free from known harmful chemicals and exceed safety standards? Is it innovative and educational? Does it have longevity (grow with the family?) Is it made in an environmentally safe and responsible way?
Manufacturer: What certifications do they have? How socially responsible are they? Do they work to preserve our planet through financial contribution or other sustainable practices? Do they give back to community organizations?
We care about the products filling our shelves, but we also care deeply about the families who visit our store. We value our customers and want to give them a positive, memorable shopping experience, whether through our website or in person.”

Eco Girl Shop “Eco Girl Shop is a female-owned low-waste company specializing in carefully selected earth-conscious products. Whether you are looking for something plastic-free, packaging-free, cruelty-free, or organic, you’re sure to find something special. We believe that simple, conscious living helps to create a happy life and an awesome future for everyone. Thank you for choosing to be more eco-friendly!”
     
Gimme The Good Stuff “Gimme the Good Stuff helps busy, conscientious parents easily avoid toxic products in their homes through our in-home consulting service, personalized shopping guides, and online store. We simplify the process of navigating the confusing world of “natural” products, and our readers, customers, and clients enjoy peace of mind and confidence that their home is a safe, healthy place for their families.”

Safe Baby Healthy Child “Our renowned group of holistic health experts, chosen for their pediatric experience, knowledge and integrity, offer in-depth insights and trusted solutions to parents and parents-to-be who are committed to helping their child thrive in mind, body, spirit and soul. “There are solutions that all parents can apply to correct, enhance and protect their child’s health, starting with pre-conception preparation and throughout childhood. The stunning increase in primary childhood disorders during recent years must galvanize all parents into action.” -Safe Baby Healthy Child’s Dr. Murray Clarke.

Tot, The “The Tot makes it simple to discover safe, quality products for families at every life stage. We create the best content and hand-pick products that pass our high safety standards and are designed to last. We will always be transparent in where our products are sourced and the materials that are used. We don’t compromise and neither should you. Introducing The Tot Test: Not all products are made equal. Materials and chemical ingredients are mostly untested, largely unregulated and labels can be misleading. Companies continue to mass produce using harmful materials that are cheaper to source and more readily available. These carry a toxic burden that will wreak havoc on our bodies. Children are particularly susceptible. This is why we created The Tot Test.”

And thanks to our permie friend who made us this baby blanket!


PS- We left out any links to Amazon.com for the following reasons.
1 month ago
We did it! We had an absolutely beautiful home birth with the support of our midwives' wisdom, knowledge, experience, & herbs! We've just completed our first couple of weeks of p/maternity leave & are leaving the newborn stage and entering the infant stage! :-)

What are your top 3 pieces of advice -from a permaculture perspective- for an infant (age 4 weeks – 1 year)?

Check out the gift that we received from a permie friend of ours:

Note that the squares of the quilt denote the 3 ethics of permaculture.



PS- Thank you for all your wonderful replies in our 3rd trimester & 4th trimester threads. They were all very helpful for us.
1 month ago
Currently, I'm leaning towards the ecofiltro because I like that at the end of its life 100% of the filter can safely go into my compost. No plastic parts to throw away! I used ecofiltros for months while traveling around Central America recently & never had an issue. The water they produced was always high quality & I didn't get sick.

While most of the reviews from the Berkey & Doulton filters are positive; the negative reviews seem pretty legit: mostly about the connection point where the filter screws into the base failing.

Any thoughts?
1 month ago
My routine: I make a single batch of relatively strong coffee in my french press first thing in the morning. Usually, one cup in the early morning is all I have (need? heh) per day. If I feel like I need to get a lot done & would like (need? AM I ADDICTED?) the extra boost, then to stretch my coffee I simply heat up some water in a kettle & do a second pour in my french press over the early morning's "spent" coffee grounds. The second pour is obviously weaker than the first, but I can definitely feel the caffeine difference verses the days that I do not have a second pour. The days I do drink from the second pour, I definitely feel more "picked up". That said, my body is extremely caffeine sensitive. I never drink it after noon otherwise I cannot get any sleep at night whatsoever. Occasionally, when I want to be hyper-productive, I take a dropper full of cordyceps mushroom tincture as an energy boost. Those are the days nearly everything gets ticked off the ol' to-do list!
From there either my worms or my mycelium will get the spent coffee grounds. I kind of feel guilty giving them the grounds that I've gleaned a second pour from; like I'm depriving them of the benefits of the high...
1 month ago
I am looking to get a gravity-fed water filter and have narrowed my choices down to 3 options: Berkey, Doulton, or ecofiltro.
Does anyone here have experience with any of these filters?
If so, what are your thoughts: pros, cons?
Thanks in advance.

Berkey vs Doulton vs ecofiltro


ceramic filters by Doulton


ceramic clay, sawdust, colloidal silver ecofiltro
2 months ago
We'd like to share a highlight from the bibliography in this Forests or Deserts Class Package:

C. Levis wrote:Past human influences on Amazonian forest
The marks of prehistoric human societies on tropical forests can still be detected today. Levis et al. performed a basin-wide comparison of plant distributions, archaeological sites, and environmental data. Plants domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples are much more likely to be dominant in Amazonian forests than other species. Furthermore, forests close to archaeological sites often have a higher abundance and richness of domesticated species. Thus, modern-day Amazonian tree communities across the basin remain largely structured by historical human use.

Abstract
The extent to which pre-Columbian societies altered Amazonian landscapes is hotly debated. We performed a basin-wide analysis of pre-Columbian impacts on Amazonian forests by overlaying known archaeological sites in Amazonia with the distributions and abundances of 85 woody species domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples. Domesticated species are five times more likely than nondomesticated species to be hyperdominant. Across the basin, the relative abundance and richness of domesticated species increase in forests on and around archaeological sites. In southwestern and eastern Amazonia, distance to archaeological sites strongly influences the relative abundance and richness of domesticated species. Our analyses indicate that modern tree communities in Amazonia are structured to an important extent by a long history of plant domestication by Amazonian peoples.


Source: C. Levis et al. "Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition". 03 Mar 2017. ScienceMag.org


Amazonian grape (Pourouma cecropiifolia) by Dick Culbert CC-BY 2.0
2 months ago
This is pretty cool!

Thermotolerant and Thermophilic Mycobiota in Different Steps of Compost Maturation

Simone Di Piazza, et. al. wrote:Composting is a complex process in which various micro-organisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, are involved. The process depends on a large number of factors (biological, chemical, and physical) among which microbial populations play a fundamental role. The high temperatures that occur during the composting process indicate the presence of thermotolerant and thermophilic micro-organisms that are key for the optimization of the process. However, the same micro-organisms can be harmful (allergenic, pathogenic) for workers that handle large quantities of material in the plant, and for end users, for example, in the indoor environment (e.g., pots in houses and offices). Accurate knowledge of thermotolerant and thermophilic organisms present during the composting stages is required to find key organisms to improve the process and estimate potential health risks. The objective of the present work was to study thermotolerant and thermophilic mycobiota at different time points of compost maturation. Fungi were isolated at four temperatures (25, 37, 45, and 50 °C) from compost samples collected at five different steps during a 21-day compost-maturation period in an active composting plant in Liguria (northwestern Italy). The samples were subsequently plated on three different media. Our results showed a high presence of fungi with an order of magnitude ranging from 1 × 104 to 3 × 105 colony-forming units (CFU) g−1. The isolated strains, identified by means of specific molecular tools (ITS, beta-tubulin, calmodulin, elongation factor 1-alpha, and LSU sequencing), belonged to 45 different species. Several thermophilic species belonging to genera Thermoascus and Thermomyces were detected, which could be key during composting. Moreover, the presence of several potentially harmful fungal species, such as Aspergillus fumigatus, A. terreus, and Scedosporium apiospermum, were found during the whole process, including the final product. Results highlighted the importance of surveying the mycobiota involved in the composting process in order to: (i) find solutions to improve efficiency and (ii) reduce health risks.


Conclusions wrote:This is one of few studies that analyzed mycobiota during compost-maturation phases, and is currently the only one in which species were accurately identified using ITS sequencing supplemented with secondary barcodes. Our results confirmed high biodiversity of the fungal component that tends to stabilize during the compost-maturation process. Results showed a high presence of thermophilic and thermotolerant species that, if properly managed, could improve the composting process. However, a significant presence of species potentially harmful to the health of workers and end users should also be noted.


Source: Thermotolerant and Thermophilic Mycobiota in Different Steps of Compost Maturation
2 months ago
My friend Harriet wrote this & I thought I'd share it here with you:

Harriet Witt wrote:Pssst! You! Yeah, you… are a passenger on a planet... on a blue-green planet that’s orbiting a golden star. And right now we are traveling through the part of our yearly orbit where most people get a day off for Labor Day. But… I’m not one of them… I’m labor-free 365 days of the year… and all because of a demon. Once upon a time, I was possessed. But I didn’t know it; I was much too busy climbing the ladder of my career, mapping out time lines for each and every step along the way. My vacations were even busier - crammed with activities proclaiming my gain in altitude.

Then… suddenly, inexplicably, my career ladder collapsed. All my plans exploded in my face. Now… there was nothing for me to focus on – but myself.

What on Earth had made me think that success resides at the top of a long, straight career ladder? How had I forced myself to drive full-speed ahead, 24/7, on that long, straight, career-path to exhaustion? Why did I believe that time is a straight line when I know that a year is a circle around the sun? Why did I believe that time is a straight line when I know that a day is a spin of our planet around her axis? Why did I believe that time is a straight line when I know that a month is a “moonth” – the cycling of our moon around us? How did I ever forget that time is the cycles and rhythms of nature?

2500 years ago a philosopher named Euclid proclaimed, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” His book of geometry sold more copies than any book except the Bible, until the 20th century. All of our science – until recently – was constructed on the foundation of Euclid’s geometry. His belief that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points IS correct, but ONLY on a FLAT EARTH.

A light bulb turns on! Suddenly, I’m seeing a fatal flaw in my cultural conditioning … a bug in the social program that my computer-brain was running. This bug went un-detected (and un-suspected) for 2500 years - because it was flattering. It was the long, straight, line-in-the-sand that I drew between me and my fellow creatures - the story line that I am superior to all of nature: “I alone am civilized.” Now… I’m wondering: Isn’t this man-made line the very same line that can appear on a hospital heart monitor? Isn’t this the FLAT LINE of a heart that has stopped beating?

Yes, I fell off the career ladder. I exited the expressway to exhaustion. I deleted the story-line about my “civilized” superiority. And now… I’m exploring the cycles of seeds, buds and blossoms. I’m exploring the rhythms of feeding and breeding that are generated by ocean tides. I’m riding the waves of natural time, so I’m getting more done with less labor. Best of all, the waves of natural time are taking me to places – and spaces - where man-made lines cannot go. Now… all my days are holidays from labor.

This is Harriet Witt, your guide for this little ride on our passenger planet. You can find what you’ve just read here -- along with other maps of our cosmic journey -- at www.passengerplanet.com

2 months ago
Thank you for the peer review.

The Kuikuro people of the Amazon still create terra preta to this day; so thankfully it is not a completely lost technology. As the Amazon is unfortunately being logged, more and more ancient terra preta sites are being uncovered.

Kuikuro village by Pedro Biondi

The flooding was handled by ancient peoples by building up their settlements on mounds and roads on raised causeways and using flood-retreat farming in the drier months and aquaculture in the wetter months. See Clark Erickson's "Culture amidst the Pristine: The Anthropogenic Forests of the Bolivian Amazon" and "Pre-Columbian Monumental Landscapes in the Bolivian Amazon" for more details. While this was a hallmark in Acre in the Western Amazon, there is also evidence of mound building above the floodplain in the East on Marajó according to Anna C. Roosevelt's Moundbuilders of the Amazon: Geophysical Archaeology on Marajó Island, Brazil.

Cylindrical vessel. Marajo island, Joanes style, Marajoara phase by Marie-Lan Nguyen

The accounts of the explorers certainly mentioned dense populations along the river banks (not surprising as in fact, humans have always settled along river banks and shorelines all over the planet throughout all of human history) as they rowed downstream in their boat in 1542:

Gaspar de Carvajal p.21 (paraphrased) wrote:"Machiparo's towns went on for more than 80 leagues... ...one town went on for 5 leagues."
"que tanto tardamos en salir de la población deste gran señor llamado Machiparo, que al parecer de todos duró más de ochenta leguas, que era toda una lengua, estas todas pobladas, que no había de poblado a poblado un tiro de ballesta, y el que más lejos no estaría media legua, y hubo pueblo que duró cinco leguas sin restañar casa de casa, que era cosa maravillosa de ver..." - Relación del nuevo descubrimiento...



Gaspar de Carvajal p.24 wrote:"There was a very large population; in just one day we passed more than 20 towns & that was just on one side of the river. The river was so large we couldn't see to the other side [possibly implying more towns on the other side]."
"Salimos de esta población y fuimos caminando siempre por muy gran poblado, que hubo día que pasamos más de veinte pueblos, y esto por la banda donde nosotros íbamos, porque la otra no la podíamos ver por ser el río grande." - Relación del nuevo descubrimiento...



Gaspar de Carvajal p.34 wrote:"In the Province of San Juan we encountered over 150 continuous leagues of population."
"esta provincia de San Juan, que tiene más de ciento cincuenta leguas de costa, pobladas de la manera dicha." - Relación del nuevo descubrimiento...



Francisco de Orellana and crew sailing the Amazon River in 1542

The explorers also mentioned roads going inland (note Erickson's raised causeway findings mentioned above) to more populated areas:

Gaspar de Carvajal p.22 wrote:"There were many large-sized roads that went inland..."
"Había muchos caminos que entraban la tierra adentro muy reales..." - Relación del nuevo descubrimiento...



Gaspar de Carvajal p.23 wrote:"[In the region of the Omagua] there were many large roads leading inland."
"Deste pueblo salían muchos caminos y muy reales por la tierra adentro: el Capitán quiso saber a dónde iban, y para aquesto tomó consigo a Cristóbal Maldonado y al alférez y a otros compañeros, y comenzó a entrar por ellos, y no había andado media legua cuando los caminos eran más reales y mayores; y visto el Capitán esto, acordó de se volver, porque vido que no era su cordura pasar adelante." - Relación del nuevo descubrimiento...



Gaspar de Carvajal wrote:"The further we went, the more thickly populated & better did we find the land, there were many roads here that entered into the interior of the land. Very fine highways. Land from the river to a distance of 6 miles more or less, could be seen some very large cities, with glistening white. In addition to this, the land is as fertile & normal in appearance as our Spain." -Relación featured in Unnatural Histories, Amazon, BBC.



Loxley wrote:Based on the currently discovered Amazonian dark earth sites, it is now estimated that an area twice the size of Britain was settled by Amazonian people before the arrival of Europeans to the region.


This quote from the article Forests or Deserts originates from a data point from an old 2002 source. Even in 2002, this was way more human-inhabited Amazonian land that previously thought. With more archaelogical work - as well as unfortunate logging - new sites are being uncovered all the time and the pre-European contact Amazonian population numbers continue to rise accordingly. Even the most conservative pre-contact population distrubution maps based on recent archaeology prove that Betty Meggers' acceptance of Alexander Rice's assertion that Amazonian people were merely "scattered tribes eeking out an existence" has decidedly been tossed to the dustbin of history. As far back as the 1990's reports were putting the pre-contact population of the Western Hemisphere above Europe's. With the last 20+ years of archaeological uncoverings, South America's pre-contact population number has risen dramatically.

Map of the Amazon's terra preta areas by Clement from 2015 (note: 5 years ago).

From the ever increasing uncoverings of terra preta, megaliths, ceramics, geoglyphs, forest island mounds, fisheries, and dozens of domesticated plant species there is now plenty of supporting residual and cultural evidence of large populations in the ancient Amazon. When the overwhelming evidence is considered, it turns out that the book 1491 - published back in 2005 - now appears to be an outdated underestimate considering all the latest field work of serious anthropologists such as Clark Erickson, Michael Heckenberger, William Balée, Carolina Levis and others.
3 months ago