Evolving Natural Landscape Paradises
Written Aug. 2014.
Support Towards Thriving
Since the mid 1900s action researchers have been gathering and cohering around the theme and challenge of finding ways of greatly improving the potential of landscapes towards thriving. This is in marked contrast to just surviving and being sustained in a current state.
In order for humankind to thrive well and long into the future, we of Earth need to go beyond the meaning and limited hints of action behind a popularized word like ‘sustainability’, which can create defined limits and a steady state of comfortable compromise maintaining nature in current impoverished states. ‘Sustainability’ meaning capable of being continued at a certain level - from Old French sostenir ‘hold up, bear; suffer, endure’ (Online Etymology Dictionary); also meaning ‘Maintenance in being or activity especially in a certain condition or at a certain level’ (Oxford Dictionary). This all has a feeling tone that is a far cry from supporting nature to thrive guided by nature’s own wisdom.
Following the Natural Living Processes Lexicon:
To survive is to fight to maintain relationship to the present reality.
To thrive is to use natural processes, available resources, emerging resources and evolve relationships with future possible potentialities and realities – the motivation to explore and constitute new possibilities, choices and realities, that in turn nurture future growth and ongoing success.
Around the whole planet it’s virtually impossible to find a natural system in pristine glory – pristine meaning unspoiled untouched, pure. Virtual every aspect of nature around planet Earth has been imposed upon by man guided by his own ideas, rather than been supported by people towards thriving states wisely guided by nature. When engaging in this later way with nature, what are termed numinosum states may be experienced. Numinosum refers to the experience of life’s richness in being in the world, with nature in turn being experienced as fascinating, mysterious, sacred, and tremendous. Indigenous people use the term ‘sacred places’. On ‘letting nature tell us what to do’, notice P.A. Yeomans comments in the Kiewa Valley Video at the ten minute mark. This phenomenon of numinosum has little meaning until you experience it.
In this action research, ideas began entertaining and evolving possibilities for creating superabundant landscapes where nature is constantly thriving; looking for standout natural settings around the world where nature is still showing its full capacity, and wondering whether these extraordinary places may be replicated in less performing regions - to mirror nature’s fullness of potential for abundant fertility.
Ideas began exploring the potential for having nature guiding us in our quest. On surrendering to this quest, learning comes quickly; and nature reveals that there’s one must-have ingredient that goes along with, and underpins all of these pristine thriving landscapes. There’s always the presence of this unusual putty like colloid pervasively throughout the soil. This colloid varies in colour; mostly dark brown to jet black and it always has the texture of fine particle soft putty.
The plants that thrive in it have their roots so densely through it that it is hard to find with the naked eye a square centimeter without the presence of some kind of root-like structure woven through; and this material is extremely fine like a spider’s cobweb. It may be likened to an enormous neural network of energy-exchange fibre optics. There’s this pervasive sense that there’s a fantastic correlating multi-causal linking between what’s going on above the ground with massive activity underground in the soil.
A Pioneering Example to Inspire Aspirations
While this action research was commencing in the 1990s there was also research into finding others, if any, who were challenging the prevailing notions of landscape design who could be an inspiration to the action research. One standout was P.A. Yeomans who action researched during the 1940s through 1970s inland from Sydney in Australia. P.A. was an Australian mining engineer turned farmer who wanted to see if it was possible to design landscapes, particularly farmland towards thriving fertility and abundance using nature as his guide. This was a challenge in the one of the driest inhabited continents on Earth. P.A.’s thinking was, ‘what better place to start’. If he could do it in Australia, he could do it anywhere.
P.A. Yeomans achieved astonishing results in just a few short years; so much so that people were coming from around the world to see for themselves what some had said was impossible. Refer Kiewa Film at the 3.37 minute mark. He received so many inquiries into how he achieved his results that he wrote a book in 1954 called the ‘The Keyline Plan’. In it P.A. reveals the Keyline principles, processes, techniques and systems. When fully utilized, these Keyline Designs can provide the keys and practical approaches to unlock the latent potential of the existing landscape through regeneration and enhancement. The questions that came back from readers of the first book soon impelled P.A. to write other books to further widen out the novel concepts raised in his first book. The Challenge of Landscape was written in 1958 and The City Forest was published in 1971. The Kiewa Film with PA Yeomans being interviewed provides a feel for his ideas in action
In the late 1970s, David Holmgren and Bill Mollison the developers of the Permaculture design methods and practices were looking around for exemplary practitioners of permanent agriculture methods and decided that P. A’s successes deserved to be included in their teachings as a core fundamental. David Holmgren states the following about the Yeomans:
In the research I did in the 1970’s developing the Permaculture concept, we identified the Keyline system of landscape analysis, soil development and water harvesting developed by P.A. Yeomans as the only example (in the world) of modern functional landscape design that provided a precursor to Permaculture as ecologically functional landscape design.
In continuing the Action Research on creating thriving landscapes during the 1990s, P.A’s work inspired the continuing extending of his process. What emerged was finding links and bridging points between Keyline insights and super-abundant naturally occurring landscapes; how to go from a typical Yeomans’ Keyline Farm to a deep ecological food forest able to sustain a complete biological wonderland and therefore begin restoring and regenerating the Earths Eco-systems to hopefully better than they’ve been in times long past. The 1990s Action Research had been deeply immersed in this from the outset and Keyline provided a guiding frame for further action.
The Life Colloid
Studying the putty like material (what has been called Life Colloid) revealed that it has a number of stand-out properties. Firstly, plants roots will seek it out and go to great lengths, quite literally, to partake of it as plants seem to sense when it is in the area despite this Life Colloid being sometimes in isolated pockets. Tree, bush and plant roots have been tracked, like buried telecommunication cables; with the roots leading from the colloid back to a tree a long distance away. Sometimes all that can be seen is a ball of roots that seemingly is living in no substrate what-so-ever! Upon closer inspection these roots are wrapped tightly around this colloid.
Why is this colloid so sought after? It must contain something really valuable to the plants? What is it? Secondly, colloid is at times only in tiny amounts in some contexts and more plentiful in others. Why is this so? When there’s more colloid there are way more plants and tall trees.
This colloid was collected and put in a controlled greenhouse environment away from the source. The research method followed normal scientific protocols. Two test bed sets were created in isolation via separate sets of containers under the same roof so that they received the same amount of moisture sunlight and warmth. One set of varying soil type containers had no colloid mixed in it, and the other set contained a number of varying soil types that had the colloid added in similar amounts. Each container except for two (one with colloid and one without) received the same vegetable seedlings and were closely monitored over a full growing season from seedling, fruiting, to seed, then decay. We also had removable panel for access to view the underground soil profile while they were growing - showing root growth patterns.
The containers that had no colloid did as expected for their soil types from clay to loam with varying degrees of fertile organic matter in them; no noticeable difference from what was to be expected from plants growing in varying degrees of fertility in the soils. Poor yields with clay, better with loamy clay and best with compost added to these substrates.
The colloid containers were different stories indeed, even the one with no plants. Every container, including the one with the heavy clay soil showed remarkable improvement. Upon inspection of the roots along the growth timeline there was the same seeking out of the colloid as had been seen in the source locations! The better the substrate the better the plants did also. The container with no plants was a curious one. There emerged three main types of weeds that the one without colloid did not produce. In fact the one without the colloid only produced a few stunted grass patches and a couple of measly dandelions. The one with the colloid was completely covered with a healthy amount of green cover crop within weeks. Dandelions, stinging nettle, clover, and chickweed with two types of grass.
It was like the colloid provided some kind of kick-start switch to the biology within the soil and that provided enough of a change to allow the seeds lying dormant to have a chance to start their metabolisms.
Applying Action Research
The challenge was finding a way to grow or make Life Colloid in quantity. The inclination was to treat the Life Colloid with more and more reverence as it became more familiar – the numinosum phenomenon! This is a most remarkable substance to be relating with; one that nature is really into. If it could be grown or made, this material could be placed into the surrounding soil to enliven the potential of even the poorest soils, as was demonstrated with the heavy clay test.
This became an exhilarating prospect and one generating passion and energy. In lay terms it was presumed that the Life Colloid was full of living organisms that get along well with each other and produce some sought of sticky glue or jell in the process of breeding, feeding and producing. Placing Life Colloid under a special microscope and there is a myriad of types and numbers beyond imagination inside the smallest of samples. They showed large separation as if, despite being a dense Colloid, they kept their space from one another and also exhibited vigorous movement; and there was lots of ‘visiting’, ‘meeting and greeting’ and what appears like ‘partying’ going on – fun to watch. It was like looking at a chaotic bee hive of activity with a difference being that there was no queen bee ruler.
It was assumed that there must be some self-sufficient cycling of nutrition within the mass for it to stay effective in poor soil environments. Astonishingly, closely observing Life Colloid under special microscopes allows one to see living samples without any harm or destruction revealing there are indeed millions, billions, even trillions of vibrant minuscule organisms producing their own food supply, and what’s more, they are making excess to individual needs which raised some eyebrows as to why this benevolence towards their fellow organisms. Well, they all seem to be there to do the same thing - make the soil fertile for larger species of organisms. An altruistic collective! This was stunning! They as a complex system of systems are one of nature’s nurturers! Along with the soil organisms in the Life Colloid were tens of 1,000s of species of micro-flora – the good gut probiotics that live in the human intestines and that transmute digesting material into the chemicals our bodies need. Also present in the Life Colloid are paciferins that ecosteralizes against harmful mold, fungi and yeasts. Life food - retaining its genetic integrity and easily reproducing itself in nature - grown in Life Colloid rich soil has a special property in that these kinds of food also can ecosteralize against harmful mold, fungus and yeasts. The natural paciferins in life food in turn have a special property in that they can transfer their ability to our bodies so we too have the ability to ecosteralize against harmful mold, fungus and yeasts. Potent effects towards thriving!
After eight years of intense effort and following P.A Yeomans, networked action research has evolved processes for growing Life Colloid in volume within 9 weeks!
Knowings have emerged as to why Life Colloid persists in pristine natural settings and why plants want to tap into it so eagerly. Also known is why it is not common within most landscapes.
Life Colloid is found with an extraordinary mix of Micro-biota, spring and surface water, minerals, organic materials and humus in special places in nature termed Livaceum, something that may occur naturally at some Keypoints (refer ‘Keypoint’ in Keyline Design). The locality where very special thriving soil is evolved by bio-mimicry to replicate a Livaceum is termed Livacea. The very special top soil in Livaceums and Livaceas is termed Livyon.
All of this provides scope to move towards thriving landscapes emerging through action of thriving communities.