Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our recent SWAP cuts the ribbon on the SOI

Joel FitzGerald, with a capital 'G', came and stayed as the inaugural SWAP (social warming artists and permies) in the Shed of Interrelation.

The SoI is made largely from reclaimed, upcycled materials and is a small garden room built to host friends, peers, poets and artists to come and stay, contribute to our/their food and energy needs by working within our relocalising systems.

Joel brought with him valuable composting knowledge which has been keenly taken on and practiced since. One of his jobs in Sydney is working for councils, fixing methaney composts. Before his stay our composts would cook at a slow 35-40 degrees celsius. Now they're baking at about 60 degrees, fast tracking much needed fertile soil building. He also set a slower compost, collecting a pharmacopeia of barks and wild plants based on a biodynamic recipe. This will be an enhanced compost ready for the spring, he told me, as we set out to forage for the materials to build it.

Collecting bark (above) and plantain (below) for the compost.

We collected mushrooms, stinging nettle, chicken and horse manures to make a tea so as to mist each of the layers as we stacked green and brown materials (nitrogen and carbon) simultaneously. The misting with both the tea and rain water create an even moisture throughout the compost which help generate humidity.

Two important things I learned about composting from Joel was keeping the pile small, so as to concentrate the heat, and the fine misting to help generate the humidity. These two things alone seem to account for the temperature hikes I can now get in my composts.

At the end of the build we bulked up the last layer of straw,

before putting the pile to bed for the winter.

Last weekend Joel returned with his girlfriend, Emma, and the SoI's cherry was well and truly popped.


Ross Wolfe said...

…LET the farmer, so far as I am concerned, be damned forevermore. To Hell with him, and bad luck to him. He is a tedious fraud and ignoramus, a cheap rogue and hypocrite, the eternal Jack of the human pack. He deserves all that he ever suffers under our economic system, and more. Any city man, not insane, who sheds tears for him is shedding tears of the crocodile.

No more grasping, selfish and dishonest mammal, indeed, is known to students of the Anthropoidea. When the going is good for him he robs the rest of us up to the extreme limit of our endurance; when the going is bad be comes bawling for help out of the public till. Has anyone ever heard of a farmer making any sacrifice of his own interests, however slight, to the common good? Has anyone ever heard of a farmer practising or advocating any political idea that was not absolutely self-seeking–that was not, in fact, deliberately designed to loot the rest of us to his gain? Greenbackism, free silver, the government guarantee of prices, bonuses, all the complex fiscal imbecilities of the cow State John Baptists–these are the contributions of the virtuous husbandmen to American political theory. There has never been a time, in good seasons or bad, when his hands were not itching for more; there has never been a time when he was not ready to support any charlatan, however grotesque, who promised to get it for him. Only one issue ever fetches him, and that is the issue of his own profit. He must be promised something definite and valuable, to be paid to him alone, or he is off after some other mountebank. He simply cannot imagine himself as a citizen of a commonwealth, in duty bound to give as well as take; he can imagine himself only as getting all and giving nothing.

Yet we are asked to venerate this prehensile moron as the Ur-burgher, the citizen par excellence, the foundation-stone of the state! And why? Because he produces something that all of us must have–that we must get somehow on penalty of death. And how do we get it from him? By submitting helplessly to his unconscionable blackmailing by paying him, not under any rule of reason, but in proportion to his roguery and incompetence, and hence to the direness of our need. I doubt that the human race, as a whole, would submit to that sort of high-jacking, year in and year out, from any other necessary class of men. But the farmers carry it on incessantly, without challenge or reprisal, and the only thing that keeps them from reducing us, at intervals, to actual famine is their own imbecile knavery. They are all willing and eager to pillage us by starving us, but they can’t do it because they can’t resist attempts to swindle each other. Recall, for example, the case of the cottongrowers in the South. Back in the 1920’s they agreed among themselves to cut down the cotton acreage in order to inflate the price–and instantly every party to the agreement began planting more cotton in order to profit by the abstinence of his neighbors. That abstinence being wholly imaginary, the price of cotton fell instead of going up –and then the entire pack of scoundrels began demanding assistance from the national treasury–in brief, began demanding that the rest of us indemnify them for the failure of their plot to blackmail us.

Permapoesis said...

Wow! that's quite a rant Ross. Are you not mistaking the farmer for the Wall Street banker?

Ross Wolfe said...

No, it's a rant written by the renowned progressive journalist H.L. Mencken in 1924, talking about the great tradition of the small family farm. His view reflects what Marx called "the idiocy of rural life," stuck in perennial backwardness and provincialism. The fetishization of the "local" and the "organic" in the present day is disgusting reactionary rubbish.

Von Fitz said...

What are you trying to say Ross? Your comments are utterly perplexing if not borderline aggressive. Are you angry about something, maybe you were never breast feed. I've gone through similar issues and found that things are far more manageable if I go easy on the sugar drinks and multiple-volume literary texts.


Ross Wolfe said...

I am trying to say that the ideals of self-sufficiency and home production are outdated Romantic hogshit, deeply regressive and anachronistic. I am sure they feel an overweening sense of virtue at the fact that they have (gasp!) boycotted supermarkets for four years. They're so proud of it that they've pornographically blogged and documented their whole endeavor for everyone to see. And how "authentic" and humble they all look. And how clever the name is "permapoesis" -- permaculture with "creative" (poesis) twist. Humbug and numbskullery all of it!

Permapoesis said...

breathe deeply dear ross!

perhaps you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you.

one day you'll need to be close to someone who supplies you with food grown close by. heard of peak oil and climate change? if you're in denial of these things then no wonder you are ignorant to what they'll do to corporatised food systems. how do you think people are going to eat and power themselves in an era of expensive and diminishing fossil fuels?

you really haven't joined the dots or given an energy descent future much thought, have you?

and you really are a tragic, sad little fellow with your bitter, abusive nature. why not leave your screen, go for a walk and try to find someone to love you.

take it easy ross.


Ross Wolfe said...

Bite the hand that feeds me? Most of the food that I consume (and this goes for most people in the more modernized world) comes shipped in from gigantic factory farms miles and miles away from the New York City. And this is to say nothing of the bananas that I'm able to eat in the middle of winter (hint: they sure as hell aren't grown locally).

And as far as your apocalypticism about the current energy crisis, I find you far too pessimistic. People were saying the same thing toward the end of the nineteenth century, with regard to coal. Coal was at that time almost as essential to society's energy-expenditure as petrol and natural gas are today, combined. Yet capitalism was able to unearth new energy sources, just as today new energy sources are being found as an alternative to petrol. Capitalism may be an oppressive global system, but it is remarkably innovative and flexible.

The private, small-scale family farms that were uprooted by the industrialization of agriculture were themselves wretched institutions. And none of these neo-Romantic delusions of the pastoral paradise, the bucolic splendor of the family farm, will change that fact. But I suppose you find it edifying enough that it makes you happy living the self-sufficient ideal. But from a Marxist perspective, all this nonsense is nothing more than Romantic anti-capitalism.

Permapoesis said...

good luck with your 'no limits to growth' ideology. the alternatives to cheap oil and the other fossils are nowhere to be found - eg. bio fuels - water intensive (climate change will attend to that) and require huge amounts of fossil inputs too, nuclear power is the same and vulnerable to climate chaos. post peak oil economies are just on our doorstep and sadly you won't be eating bananas in winter, unless you have very big bucks on you, which you won't bc your country will never recover its economy in a new era of expensive fossils.

and i know insular new yorkers think the whole world thinks like them, but just for the record, it's only america who's embraced factory farm - super farm idiocy. everyone else around the world understands the imperatives of soil microbes and mycelial networks that big farming destroys, let alone the social costs, animal cruelties and the costs to river systems, the atmosphere et al. you want your banana in winter then you speed up climate change - simple exchange...

and only fools invest in either progress or apocalypse myths. the reality is another long descent synonymous with every other human civilisation that has become too efficient, too systematic, so as to grow populations to unsustainable levels and over-exploit the landbase. the only difference today is with cheap oil we've made this happen on a global scale.

i've got no problem with systems of capital (exchange) at the local level. globalisation isn't capitalism it's corporate welfare, and extremely destructive to the planet and to diversity of cultures. your championing of this pathological system at the beginning of its long decline is rather sad and outmoded.

Ross Wolfe said...

Capitalism is inherently global. Even though it emerged in an historically determinate time and place (14-17th century England), from its inception it was global in concept. If you read The Communist Manifesto even once, you'd know that this is so. And I quote:

"Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages. "

And if that wasn't enough for you, check this shit:

"The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production."

That's why regressionists such as yourself are so loathsome. They don't want to overcome capitalism. They just want to go back to an imagined "kinder, gentler capitalism." They love the quaint idiocies and idiosyncrasies of "them local folk." It's all wretched, miserable trash.

Permapoesis said...

come back and comment here again ross once you've expanded your very limited bibliography, and you've grown up a little.

Ross Wolfe said...

My personal library probably dwarfs yours, and includes such names as Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Plato, Spinoza, etc.

What does yours have? Maybe some of that weak Billy Mollison garbage, written for the great unwashed masses of impressionable post-hippies.

Permapoesis said...

wow roscoe! all that good company on your shelves and yet you are still a complete failure as a thinker. a so-called marxist who's inherently fascistic and loathes the world. how is it possible to have read all this great literature and be such a complete waste of space?

Ross Wolfe said...

Fascistic? Hardly. The NSDAP fascists loved the simple peasant farming lifestyle, with gabled roofs and the closeness of soil and blood, all part of their their propagandistic and populist Volksgemeinschaft. Just look at all the honest family farmers who supported the Fuhrer. The Marxists were the ones calling for industrialized agriculture, for the serialization of farming practices and equipment and "tractorization."

Ross Wolfe said...

And I'll go ahead seal that masterful invective with a nice stamp of a happy völkisch farming family. haha