Category Archives: Natural Life

What is Ethnobotany?

What is ethnobotany and why does it matter?

Ethno (as in ‘ethnic’) refers to people, culture, a culture’s collective body of beliefs, aesthetic, language, knowledge, and practice.

Botany is the study of plants—from the tiniest fern or blade of grass to the tallest or oldest tree. Botany includes all the wild plants and the domesticated species. Domesticates are species that we humans have selected over time from the wild plant species, then tamed and trained to optimally produce for us: food, fibers, medicine, materials, and more. The domesticated species are both the subject and object of agriculture.

Ethnobotanical knowledge encompasses both wild and domesticated species, and is rooted in observation, relationship, needs, and traditional ways of knowing. Such knowledge evolves over time, and is therefore always changing and adding new discoveries, ingenuity and methods.

The impacts of modern human societies on traditional cultures and natural habitats have caused huge losses of individual species, and profoundly disrupted communities of species (plant, animal and fungal). Displaced or dispersed peoples—who may have passed along hundreds of generations of observations and customs via oral tradition—lose their languages, the names of things, and their place in the web of relationships. Sometimes new relationships develop as people migrate, and this generates new or modified ethnobotanical knowledge.

What is ethnobotanical lore?

At Botanical Dimensions, we particularly treasure those threads of the fabric of knowledge that carry an awareness of how humans are woven into nature. This knowledge is apparent in the worldview of a people, which arises as beliefs, stories, myths, instructions, songs, art forms, rituals, recipes, and practices. The lore has for millennia informed the young people of these cultures in how to be human in a natural world. Lore comes from the same root word as learn. It includes both knowledge and know-how, passed down from ancestors.

Which tools do ethnobotanists use?

Ethnobotany is an integrative, multi-disciplinary field of learning. So the tools of ethnobotanical investigations are many: botany, mycology (the study of fungi), taxonomy (ways of categorizing), anthropology, ethnography, archaeology, comparative folklore, religious studies, medicine, chemistry, pharmacology (uses and effects of chemicals in plants), and more. Some of the psychoactive species and their lore carry us deep into realms of ritual, mythology and cosmology. Sometimes, in ethnobotanical inquiry, we call upon ancient history, or colonial socio-economic histories, or even examine the roots of our modern social movements.

Field ethnobotany is the observation of the human-plant relationship in places where it is visible and may be either experienced and/or documented, in stories and images.
These are a few of the many branches of investigation that draw on cultural knowledge, and that begin with the prefix ethno:

Ethnobiology is the study of the relationships between people, the lifeforms surrounding them, and the environment in which they live, in the past or present. Ethnobotany is included within the greater category of ethnobiology.

Ethnomycology is the study of folk knowledge of mushrooms and other fungi. Ethnomycology is often subsumed under ethnobotany, as mushrooms were long believed to be plants, which they are not.

Ethnoscience is the study of the various ways the world is perceived and categorized in different cultures. Ethnoscience regards the operational concepts in an indigenous knowledge system, and is sometimes called folk science. Folk classification and naming systems are also called folk taxonomy.

Ethnomedicine is the study of traditional medicines, whether written (as in Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine), or remembered and transmitted via oral tradition (such as in much Native American, Latin American or African folk medicine, or in Euro-American herbal medicine). Medical anthropology studies contemporary ethnomedicine, which includes concepts of what illness is and how healing occurs.

Ethnopharmacology is the study of the uses, effects and modes of actions of naturally-occurring drug compounds. This is a key field that often explains the effectiveness of herbal medicine, stimulants, analgesics, inebriants or psychoactive species. Both ethnomedicine and ethnopharmacology overlap significantly with ethnobotany.

Ethnomusicology is the study of the music of different cultures, and musical instruments they make and use, which are often made of plant materials. Ethnomusicology may include the study of dance.

Ethnoecology refers to a paradigm that is gaining ground in the early 21st century: Understanding and documenting how peoples perceive and manage the ecosystems they inhabit.

Source – BotanicalDimensions

 

Black Beekeepers Bringing Detroit Vacant Lots Back To Life

Black Beekeepers Are Transforming Detroit’s Vacant Lots Into Bee Farms

A pair of Detroit natives have decided to combat neighborhood blight in a pretty sweet way — by transforming abandoned vacant lots in their city into honeybee farms.

Detroit Hives, a nonprofit organization founded by Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey in 2017, purchases vacant properties and remodels them into fully functioning bee farms.

“These properties are left abandoned and serve as a dumping ground in most cases,” Paule told HuffPost. “The area can be a breeding ground for environmental hazards, which creates a stigma around the city.”

Paule, a photographer, and Lindsey, a staff member for the health care provider Henry Ford OptimEyes, had been dating for some time before launching the nonprofit. Paule attributes their inspiration to a cold that he just couldn’t get rid of.

“I went to the local market that I normally go to, and he suggested that I try some local honey for my cough,” Paule said. “He said you consume local honey because it has medicinal properties.”

After he started to feel better, the couple also began to think about how urban blight contributed to allergies through overgrown ragweeds in abandoned areas. They put producing local honey and erasing urban blight together, and Detroit Hives was born.

To become certified beekeepers, Paule and Lindsey took two courses at Green Toe Gardens and Keep Growing Detroit. The duo bought their first vacant space on Detroit’s East Side for $340 with the help of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, an agency that works to redevelop abandoned properties.

“The land bank offers a community partnership program for nonprofits and faith-based organizations to purchase structures or vacant land from the land bank to put back to productive use,” Darnell Adams, director of inventory at the land bank, told HuffPost. “We encourage them to bring their visions and their proposals to the land bank so that we can give them access to land to implement them.”

Currently, Detroit Hives owns just the one farm, but they’re looking to expand in 2018.

Besides raising honeybees, the nonprofit aims to spread awareness about bees by hosting public tours of the farm ― they encourage community members to schedule an appointment ― and by traveling to schools in the Detroit area to speak with students.

“It was a little hard at first because most high-schoolers are afraid of bees or they really don’t care,” Paule said. “So I had to find a unique way to introduce bees to them. One thing they found intriguing is how each honeybee had a unique job.”

And of course, Detroit Hives sells honey to the public and to local vendors that use it to create products such as handcrafted beer and sauces. They’ve even created Bee Moji, an emoji sticker app.

While you’d think people would be concerned about thousands of bees in the area, the local community loves the bee farm, according to Paule and Lindsey.

“The neighbors love it. They say they wish we were there 10, 20 years ago,” Lindsey said. “That area has always been a place where people dump trash, so when we came there, we gave that area a sense of purpose. The neighbors keep an eye on the area to make sure that people aren’t dumping anymore.”

Detroit Hives’ tagline is “Work Hard, Stay Bumble,” fitting for a city that knows all about perseverance.

“We’re hustlers, innovators and thinkers,” Paule said. “Bees work really hard, and they’re humble. In Detroit, you have to work hard and be humble. It’ll take you far.”

Source – Huffington Post 

Book Select – Farming While Black by Leah Penniman

In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.

Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. Throughout the chapters Penniman uplifts the wisdom of the African diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described—from whole farm planning, soil fertility, seed selection, and agroecology, to using whole foods in culturally appropriate recipes, sharing stories of ancestors, and tools for healing from the trauma associated with slavery and economic exploitation on the land. Woven throughout the book is the story of Soul Fire Farm, a national leader in the food justice movement.

The technical information is designed for farmers and gardeners with beginning to intermediate experience. For those with more experience, the book provides a fresh lens on practices that may have been taken for granted as ahistorical or strictly European. Black ancestors and contemporaries have always been leaders—and continue to lead—in the sustainable agriculture and food justice movements. It is time for all of us to listen.

Read the Ebook online at Google 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leah Penniman, the 2019 recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award, is a Black Kreyol farmer who has been organizing for an anti-racist food system for over fifteen years. She began with the Food Project in Boston, Massachusetts, and went on to work at Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts, and Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, Massachusetts. She cofounded Youth Grow urban farm in Worcester, Massachusetts. She currently serves as founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, a people-of-color led project that works to dismantle racism in the food system through a low cost fresh food delivery service for people living under food apartheid, training programs for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous aspiring farmer-activists, Uprooting Racism training for food justice leaders, and regional-national-international coalition building between farmers of color advocating for policy shifts and reparations. She has dedicated her life’s work to racial justice in the food system and has been recognized by the Soros Equality Fellowship, NYSHealth Emerging Innovator Awards, The Andrew Goodman Foundation Hidden Heroes Award, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, New Tech Network National Teaching Award, Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching (New York finalist), among others. She has contributed to two published volumes, authored numerous online articles, and given dozens of public talks on the subject.

How Food Can Save You From A Corrupt Government

The most effective change-makers in our society aren’t waiting around for a new president to make their lives better, they’re planting seeds, quite literally, and through the revolutionary act of gardening, they’re rebuilding their communities while growing their own independence.

 

Every four years when the big election comes around, millions of people put their passion for creating a better world into an increasingly corrupt and absurd political contest. What if that energy was instead invested in something worthwhile, something that directly and immediately improved life, community, and the world at large?

The simple act of growing our own food directly challenges the control matrix in many authentic ways, which is why some of the most forward-thinking and strongest-willed people are picking up shovels and defiantly starting gardens. It has become much more of a meaningful political statement than supporting political parties and candidates.

Propaganda gardening, a combination of guerrilla gardening and political protest, is about developing self-sufficiency while making a simple, yet bold statement about the world we all share, and the rules we choose to live by. [Source]

http://www.Rd.comTake, for example, Ron Finley, the ‘Guerrilla Gardener’ from Los Angeles who inspires the world with no-nonsense truth about how the corporate food system enslaves us, while proving to us that the most effective weapon in this fight is fertile soil. He makes growing veggies cool again, as it should be, because food sovereignty is the very foundation of personal independence.

I live in a food prison.. It’s all by design just like prisons are by designed. I just got tired of being an inmate. So I figured, let me change this paradigm, let me grown my own food. This is one thing I can do to escape this predestined life that I have unwillingly subscribed to. – Ron Finley

Think about it. Creating your own food supply challenges the status quo in a number of important ways. Growing your own food:

-Decreases dependence on a polluted corporate food system

-Improves health and wellness by providing exercise and nutritious food, freeing us from dependence on a for-profit medical system

-Undermines Monsanto and the agro-chemical industry that is polluting our world and killing bees

-Highlights issues of political control by pitting homeowners and gardeners against government and ordinance makers

-Builds and heals community by providing a place and activity worth coming together over

-Works to repair the damage we are doing to the environment with our consumer lifestyles

-Protects us against insecurity and food unrest

-Facilitates a greater awakening by setting an example for others to follow

http://www.mnn.comWhen united, awareness and action create the kind of changes that a rigid control system cannot tolerate, and when extraordinary people like Ron Finley take the lead, a meaningful movement can take hold. This is real action, it is very effective, and as it becomes more mainstream to set up gardens in your yard and on your block, we will witness the re-emergence of the kind of society we just cannot create by playing by the rules of a rigged system.

I had sixty people putting in an urban garden while you all were marching. Now who do you think was more effective? – Ron Finley

Here’s Ron in a recent interview with Marc Angelo of the Superhero Academy:

Just a few generations ago, gardening for sustenance was not the fringe activity that it has become in recent decades, because it was a basic daily act of survival. One that will rise again as a controlled economy and engineered economic collapse will make it imperative to join forces with your community and defend your personal sovereignty.

Why don’t you churches get together instead of with your ‘my religion is better than yours’ bullshit, and get together and put in a healthy food market… isn’t that doing good business? If your people live longer, don’t you get more money? – Ron Finley

http://www.gamechangers.comWhat happens when you transform yourself by deepening your connection to nature?What happens when you then transform your community by bringing your neighbors together in the goal of providing something of immense value to all? What happens then when a nation of transformed communities sees their world without the boundaries of and limitations imposed on us by a corrupt system?

The four-year cycle of presidential politics in the US is far more effective at stealing the constructive energy of motivated people than it is at bringing about meaningful change to our lives, communities and to the nation as a whole. Time to try something far more effective and rewarding. Let’s overgrow the system, and transform our health and communities in the process.

For a sign that this movement is spreading across the nation, check out this homegrown music video, ‘Gardening is Gangsta,’ by Mark Jankins and Sifu Paul Davis.

I don’t rely on new food stamps. Cuz’ every season got me harvesting some new plants.

Read the full article at RealFarmacy.com 

Golden Flourish Tea II

The smell makes you want to grab a cup everyday! I love taking photos of Golden Flourish products mainly because I get to keep the tea once the photos are complete and secondly because the tea really taste good. My favorite happens to be Moon.

Interested in tasting Golden Flourish ? Go to the website and pick up a pack or two Goldenflourish.co 

(They are currently swapping out photos and making changes but the site will be back online shortly! )

 

Psychedelics Today: Quetzalcoatl and the Ceremony of The Deified Heart Tom Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the Podcast episode here : Psychedelics Today 

In this episode, Kyle talks with Tom Lane, author of Sacred Mushroom Rituals: The Search for the Blood of Quetzalcoatl. In the episode, they discuss the history of Quetzalcoatl, the ceremony of the deified heart and sacred mushroom rituals.

3 Key Points: Quetzalcoatl is a feathered-serpent deity of ancient Mesoamerican culture that can come to you when partaking in the ceremony of the deified heart. Quetzalcoatl teaches how to overcome fear and hatred and bring love. The ceremony of the deified heart is a sacred mushroom ritual that when methods are combined correctly, can bring about Quetzalcoatl. In the episode, Tom tells intriguing stories of his experiences with mushroom rituals and experiencing Quetzalcoatl, including a ceremony with Maria Sabina.

Show Notes : Quetzalcoatl He was not an Aztec, he originated as a King in the Toltec civilization thousands of years before the Aztecs As legend has it, where his blood fell is where the sacred mushrooms grew Some people believe he was a Naga, a combination flow of energy, a male/female serpent A winged, jeweled, male/female, serpent In the ceremony of the deified heart, the serpent will come to you About Tom He was building geodesic domes in a remote area in Mexico He had some of his first mushroom experiences, and it led him to realize that the story of mushrooms was about Quetzalcoatl His first experience with the mushroom was mild He said the mushrooms found him, he takes them as a sacrament Ceremony of the Deified Heart The legend was that Quetzalcoatl gave cacao to participants as an aphrodisiac and it would help release serotonin The goal is not to talk a lot Then, the mushrooms are to be retrieved from the ground, fresh Before the ceremony, Tom says he likes to put four candles placed in all four directions The key to eating the mushrooms is eating them totally covered with honey You eat them two at a time, as it represents the male and female And when you eat the mushrooms, you actually never swallow You chew and chew and the mucous membranes of your tongue take the psilocin straight to the brain and spine He says once it starts to take effect, it feels like there is a snake up your spine (He mentions his friends call this Kundalini) Then you go out and Quetzalcoatl will come When he comes, he is like a rainbow jeweled serpent, an embodiment of pure light, pure energy, pure love Tom says the next day it feels like you’re 10 years younger Its a pure force of love, an obliteration of the concept of time Quetzalcoatl created this ceremony to bring about the serpent for healing, for a balance of male and female This ceremony is best done during the night, with thunderstorms in the mountains Ceremony with Maria Sabina One night they went to see Maria Sabina She agreed to do a ceremony at night Her house was in the mountains and had a thatched roof with no windows or doors and sometimes clouds would come through her house During a ceremony a lightning bolt came though the house, in one window and out the other Maria’s daughter gave him truffle like mushrooms and he brought them back with him Maria’s daughter really tried to learn his name, she repeated it a multitude of times until she said it exactly perfectly so she could say it during the ceremony Quetzalcoatl Messages God gave us love and pain We have to learn how to celebrate the pain God gave us knowledge, and tools of how to heal the pain Tom’s goal is to teach people how to take the sacred mushrooms to meet Quetzalcoatl and find healing,  love

Rain Water Home Design

Architecture company develops a roof that collects rainwater and cools your house at the same time

A brilliant new bowl-shaped roof serves a double purpose for people living in hot, arid climates — providing free water and free air conditioning.

The “Concave Roof” is designed to “help even the smallest quantities of rain flow down the roof and eventually coalesce into bigger drops, just right for harvesting before they evaporate,” the architects told Arch Daily.

The shape of the roof is perfect not only for maximizing water collection but also for providing shade and airflow between itself and the interior layer of roof, helping keep the house below cool.

The “bowl roof” also provides a second cooling feature. The water it collects is stored in tanks in the walls of the house, cooling the walls and insulating the house.

The Iranian architecture company BMDesign Studios hopes the design will help provide water security in a part of the world that receives less than a third of the global average for annual rainfall.

The company is working on a school building as a prototype, which is expected to be able to collect and store over 7000 gallons of water with 10,000 square feet of rooftop.

 Source – ReturnToNow 

Mycology: The Masters Mix

One of my favorite things about being a dedicated mushroom grower is that I’m constantly learning new things. As soon as I think I have it all figured out, I’ll try something new that changes everything. 

In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much more to learn!

A perfect example of this occurred just recently, when I picked the most gigantic flush of Blue Oysters I’ve ever seen off of a 5 lb fruiting block. (almost 2 lbs!) 

The thing is- this particular fruiting block wasn’t made with the standard fruiting block recipe of sawdust amended with bran. Instead, this unbelievable bounty was harvested from a 50:50 mix of hardwood sawdust and soy hulls- known by many as the “masters mix”.

As far as I know, the master behind this substrate recipe is T.R. Davis from Earth Angel Mushrooms. I first heard of it while browsing some of his videos on his YouTube, where he describes this beautifully uncomplicated substrate recipe while standing in front of some pretty impressive looking oyster blocks. 

I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

oyster-mushrooms-grown-on-soy-hulls-the-masters-mix

THE MASTERS MIX

The masters mix is pretty straight forward:

“Combine 1 part hardwood sawdust with 1 part soy hulls, hydrate to 60%, and sterilize at 15 PSI for 2.5 hours.” 

It is simply A 50/50 mix of soy bean hulls and hardwood sawdust hydrated to perfection!

To break it down even more, for every 5 lb fruiting block, you need:

  • 1 lb sawdust 
  • 1 lb soy bean hulls
  • about 3 lbs (1.4 liters) water

Many hobby growers like to use hardwood fuel pellets, and pelletized soy hulls instead of bulk. In that case, in order to get the perfect mix, you’ll need:

  • 2.5 cups Hardwood Fuel Pellets
  • 2.5 Cups Pelletized Soy Hulls
  • 1.4 Liters of water 

Just mix up the ingredients and sterilize! The hardwood pellets break apart really easy, but Soy Hulls need a little more encouragement-, so be sure to soak them overnight so they are easier to mix.

recipe-for-growing-on-soy-hulls

Why Grow Mushrooms On Soy Hulls? 

So what are soy hulls and why are they so effective?

Oyster mushrooms are known to grow on just about anything… coffee grounds, sawdust, banana leaves, cotton seed hulls, and many other agricultural waste products… they all make reasonable substrates.

But some substrates are bound to produce faster growth and higher yields, and I gotta say that for Oysters, I have never seen something so effective in producing huge yields as the Master’s Mix.

Read the full article at Freshcapmushrooms.com

Why Bonsai Cost so much ?

Bonsai is an artform that requires years of training, and centuries of dedication. At the 2012 International bonsai Convention a tree was on sale for one hundred million yen, just under a million dollars. And many more of these trees are considered completely priceless. So what is it that makes these trees so expensive?

The Mycelium Revolution

Humans have been harnessing the power of yeast for thousands of years. These fungi allow fermentation, the molecular process whereby living cells typically transform sugar or starch into more complex molecules or chemicals. Discovered 10,000 years ago, the technology of liquid fermentation—from mead to beer to spirits—and solid-state fermentation—bread and cheese—helped put humanity on a rapidly accelerating path of evolution and advancement.

Fast forward 9,950 years. Around three decades ago, humans applied the potential of liquid fermentation to create medicines. In 1978 Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Itakura produced the first biosynthetic insulin using E. coli as a single-celled manufacturing plant. The epiphany that single-celled bacteria and yeast are sugar-powered microfactories that can be utilized to synthesize novel compounds is one of the most powerful discoveries of the past 100 years.

Since that revolutionary insight occurred, science has been devoted to understanding, cultivating and ultimately reprogramming single-celled organisms such as yeast, bacteria and algae, and we’ve been using the process to make more lifesaving drugs, biobased fuels such as corn ethanol, fragrances and a growing suite of small biological molecules. Liquid fermentation is now a 150-billion-dollar industry and growing rapidly: many of the products we use today are moving from chemical factories to biological fermenters.

Enter mycelium. Mycelium is technically a kind of a yeast, but unlike most yeast cells, which grow as a single cell, mycelium is multicellular and can grow into macro-size structures—which we most often recognize as mushrooms. Not only does mycelium produce small molecules, but it gently and with supreme precision assembles them into complex structures so small that they are invisible to the human eye.

Working much like single-celled yeast, mycelium takes in small molecules of food—typically sugar but often from sources such as wood or plant waste—by excreting enzymes that break these materials down into digestible morsels. As the mycelium grows it assembles a dense network of long, microscopic fibers that grow through the substrate like a superhighway system.

Once the mycelium has fully built its network, it transitions to its next stage: building a mushroom. This is where humans can intervene. Rather than letting a mushroom pop up out of the substrate, the mycelium can be coaxed to build predictable structures by controlling temperature, CO, humidity and airflow to influence the growth of tissue. This is a rapid process: the accumulation of fibers becomes a visible speck after a few hours, a visible sheet after a day or two, and an 18-by-2-by-12-inch sheet weighing a couple of pounds within the course of a week.

Read the full article at ScientificAmerican