• josefcarey

Growing microbes and not growing plants

Designing and maintaining healthy, productive growing systems seems to pose great challenges to our modern culture. After 10,000 years of stationary dwelling, one might have thought we'd worked this "feeding ourselves" thing out. But it seems not, and the impediment to progress (progress = maxing out solar capture with minimum human input) is perhaps the very technology being applied. From the monoculture to the polyculture and everything in-between the design aspects of our growing systems become irrelevant if we don't understand the principles underpinning them.

For us humans, plants are a big deal, not only providing the nourishment we need and clothing those allergic to wrapping themselves in plastic (even if we did somehow manufacture the capacity to mineralise rock and build carbon compounds from thin air, we'd still need plants to regulate the planetary cycles which our mostly hairless bodies have acclimatised to). So one may think that building a sturdy society would pivot around endeavours of facilitating and supporting healthy growing systems. But that's clearly not the case and so its left to idealists such as myself to wax lyrical about the tremendous productivity of plants when you provide the foundation under which they manufacture themselves (check out our new case study on the website before you leave).

Plants as we all know have unlocked the genetic code to the beautifully complex phenomenon we call photosynthesis. The relationship with air, with sunlight, with mineral and with microbe defines what we call plants. In order to create an environment for plant genes to express themselves optimally all need to be present. If they're not, disease creeps in and from there, all hell breaks loose and the icide shopping list comes out.

How many farms/enterprises selling the net results of photosynthesis that you know of intentionally create a platform for microbes to be present? Not many is my guess..... Lots of heavy machinery, lots of steel, lots of skull and crossbones, a few seeds and of course, lots of plants in their myriad shapes and sizes but not much in the way of the vital life giving processes that humus (and the microbes) that create this precious substrate. To unlock the fertility of the soil, we must ensure the presence of a complete and potent Soil Food Web.

To do this, I believe we need to start seeing plants as expressions of their environment. I'm gonna go unapologetically philosophical on you all here and slightly abstract because I think this is where the issue is rooted. Alan Watts said "Stars shine out of space and something comes out of nothing just in the same way as when you listen, in an unprejudiced way, you hear all sounds coming out of silence. It is amazing. Silence is the origin of sound just as space is the origin of stars, and woman is the origin of man". In exactly the same way Soil is the origin of plants. Totally, inexplicably miraculous is life, yet all our thinking in this day and age explicitly underpins the notion of control. This thinking could arguably be the source of disease. Our roles as humans are not as stewards (bees do not need stewarding, nor do the bats and the butterflies), we humans are facilitators. We need to establish relationships plants need and support them. Most of which start in the soil.

To be black and white, no synthetic, human manufactured product, can possibly meet the metabolic/physiological needs of plants. If you wanna build your business around properly healthy plants, you need to get cultivating microbes and let plants grow themselves. Soil must be seen as the living, breathing organism that it is, and all of our processes in our new, green economy must support them.

For proof of the pudding check out our recent case study posted on the website

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