Excerpt from the book "Arqka Biological Architecture and Sacred Geometry" by Arturo Ponce de León, Ninón Fregoso and Michael Rice Acquire it here
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There are hundreds if not thousands of books regarding the ecological, economic, social and visionary dimension to build a village. We will not repeat here the immense intellectual baggage that exists but we will make a synthesis as dense as possible of nutrients. Following the principles of permaculture design, the first thing we do is observe and intervene as little as possible. This may take a week, a month or a year. But when you stop in front of a space, what do you notice? Observation is not meditative contemplation of the beauty of a place. Basically it is to discover its geometries and functions, it is to observe the dynamics of the structure of the elements, that is, and how the different elements that make up that system behave over time.
To observe is to see details and relate them, it is to see the context and to link it, it is to see the dynamics and the underlying structure of its elements and how they interact. For this it is essential to talk extensively with the inhabitants of the place, who have been there for decades and their ancestors perhaps for centuries. We have to make a detailed list of everything we observe; otherwise the intuitions or perceptions can be forgotten. The look of the observer will determine what is observed. It is the level of consciousness, literally, the level of quality of thought, emotion, and action, the fractality of the electromagnetic and gravitational field of the observer that will decisively determine the direction of the design.
Sometimes after a lot of field work that observer ceases to exist and merges into the observed. There the magic of perception happens. You enter the void, to the zero point of the place and some revelations may occur. This practice requires years of experience and training, quiet the mind, open the heart and see until it ceases to exist. Who ceases to exist? The characterological cuirass, commonly called ego. You get rid of the masks to feel through the skin of the different physical and subtle bodies and allow yourself to be one with the observed. It is when he expresses himself colloquially that the place “tells” you or “reveals” messages to you. It’s not that this happens like that, but you blend in with the place and feel it. How you feel your hands or your feet, their temperature, their dimension, their specific characteristics. The process is similar. It happens in a magnified moment of time, in a toroid that opens in the toroid of temporal becoming that can be perceived as a slowed down time, it can be said that, for the eyes of those who are not inside that toroid, time flows to its daily rhythm.
With this detailed list of the observed, we proceed to focus on capturing and storing energy, that is, the design allows the greatest accumulation of material resources (water, soil, nutrients, plants, animals) with the least human intervention. Good design means more free time. Nature is millions of years wiser than the human being and already has its forms of regulation and storage dynamics; you just have to imitate it with a purpose in mind. The Sun nourishes the primary producers (plants and microorganisms) that nourish the primary consumers (herbivores) that feed the secondary consumers (carnivores) and these to the tertiary consumers (omnivores) to finish the cycle with the decomposers that are toroidal they will return their energy to a greater cycle.
Recall that the net energy of a system is the energy obtained divided by the inverted energy. An example of a good design would be to do it with few resources, efficiently, accumulating water at the top of the hills, making seed banks, libraries, food preserves, passive solar design of buildings, and use of firewood to heat spaces according to the climate of the place. In forested places it is preferable to have spaces that are less high and wider than in desert places where the opposite is true. In current agriculture, ten kilocalories of fossil energy are injected to obtain a kilocalorie. It is not a very profitable process. The deficit is paid with resources of the planet Earth or with the labor exploitation of millions of human beings.
The third step in the design based on the principles proposed by Mollison (1997) is to obtain a performance. And the immediate return to obtain is self-sufficiency (to the extent possible, because obviously it is impossible to be totally self-sufficient, Who can, by their own hands and without external resources, manufacture a car or a computer?); the resilience obtained by the flexibility of the variants; that each question has several possible solutions; plant the plant species that are best in place, that is, native species; pay for the profitability of this or that harvest and finally, guide towards the simplicity and frugality of the design.
For the system to work, it is necessary to apply self-regulation, that is, the highest degree of self-sufficiency is being able to self-regulate. This means that it is not the exterior that is imposed on the subjective world of the individual but the individual through the toroidal law regulates himself, how much he can consume, how much he can spend, how much he can invest. Only he knows it. When this law of toroidal feedback is broken is the outside, the same system, another person or the environment that will impose its strength to correct the direction. When the external feedback is accepted, the toroidal fractal nesting law is fulfilled. You are integrating more thought forms into your intellectual baggage or different ways of proceeding emotionally with your environment. Feedback is the mirror that enlarges consciousness.
Since Nature has billions of years of evolution it is smarter to let it run its course. We achieve this by using renewable resources. You can have the shade of a tree if we let that tree grow enough, for it, sometimes Observation / awareness is proportional to the level of feedback It is necessary to make a thinning. Prune excess trees or plants to strengthen those needed. Instead of agrochemicals, an allelopathy plant can be used as a herbicide. It is important to take care of the half-life of a resource, that is, that a good or service lasts as long as it takes to generate itself in Nature.
The system should be thought to produce without waste, produce with the highest level of power of all systems. That, the waste of one part of the system, feed another party. For this, a philosophy of life is indispensable: voluntary frugality. Frugality is the quality of being thrifty, prosperous, prudent and economical in the use of consumable resources, as well as optimizing the use of time and money to avoid waste, waste and extravagance. Otherwise all the energy of the collective would have to focus on producing gigantic sums of resources to satisfy the always insatiable machine that devours human consumption desires.
We must bear in mind the importance of rejecting something when it is not useful, reduce the consumption of resources, reuse what we have available, repair the unusable and recycle as much as possible material and energy resources. For this in a human settlement should be committed to the production of quality objects, objects that bring added value because they intercommunicate better with the rest of the system.
In the process of resource design, we must bear in mind that the same resource, when properly integrated with the rest, generates resilience in the system. For example, windbreaks produce firewood when they finish their cycle; pollination with several species that make the system more complex and easier to maintain; the orchards with several species that take advantage of different nutrients; locating plants in different heights of insolation make possible a more efficient maintenance in the harvest, irrigation, weeding.
Another aspect to consider in the overall design is to prefer small, economic solutions instead of expensive solutions that generate debt. The small-scale economy with the use of appropriate technology is more appropriate than the use of external resources or loans that in the long term will bring tensions in the system. Within this design philosophy one of the most important values is the diversity, both of plant, animal and thought species, emotions, actions. The cultural, gender, sexual, and spiritual diversity is what can generate a richer interaction in the human task and in the impact of life itself. The health of a natural system, of the human heart, of the human psyche is the constructive nesting of waves, to greater fractality greater embodying.
The limit of the land and edges of a system, that is, the skin of the layers of the system is where the greatest amount of interconnections and abundance are generated. More diverse species in a reduced space and more diversity of ecosystems generate abundance of resources. Finally, and opposed to the first step of the design where the aim is to observe what the system is like, we look for a clear vision of what the system will look like in the years to come. How the farming systems, the introduced seeds, the grazing animals, the fishing will impact.
How to manage an agroforestry system: organisms, frost, wind curtains, orchard, soil, plants, bioindicators, nutrients, water, and trees. With respect to agroforestry systems, that is, the cultivation of forest resources we have to understand it as a system living dynamic that maximizes and complicates relationships and beauty; it can generate local rainfall autonomously (when there are more than 10,000 hectares), it generates a mattress effect of retaining erosions and materials; in addition, it tempers the climate, refreshes the soil in the day and gives the heat at night regulating the climatic temperature; It attracts messengers like birds to pollinate, it generates wind curtains and it is an energy accumulator. For its management the most advisable is to ask the people who have lived for many years in that place the types of plants that naturally occur in the area since they potentiate the ecosystem of origin. We can plant legumes that fix nitrogen to the soil.
Grasses give bacteria that prevent the growth of competing species. The black acacia is a pioneer in grassland because it fixes nitrogen, it is important that in thinning, cut one meter high from the ground to exhale more nitrogen. It is always better to seek to plant multipurpose species to take advantage of different functions of the same element.
There are several organisms that interact positively in the forest. The Trichoderma’s, fungi, make symbiosis with the trees; generate antibiotics, antivirus and antifungal.
They protect the seed and induce resistance in the aerial part of the plant, besides; it makes available to the forest certain useful microorganisms. Mycorrhizae, the association of some fungi and the roots of plants, improve the nutrient absorption capacity of the plant (although they are sensitive to agrotoxics). Black acacia can be planted as it is a pioneer in pastures and fixes nitrogen; kiwi as a vine; I smoke bravo, white acacia, false coffee tree or fruit trees on the edges of forest areas. We can also use gardens between 5 and 15 meters from the forest for a good management of the agroforestry system.
The management of frost can be achieved by observing the topography of the place, the cold will always go to the lower areas, the opposite occurs with heat. If there are intermediate zones where cold air is stored, it is important to take it into account for the growth of edible plants, since if there is a frost; the fruits of the same will surely be burned. The southern orientation in the northern hemisphere is the warm side; the opposite is for the northern orientation.
The wind curtains increase between twenty and twenty-five percent the agricultural production by providing pollen, wood, firewood, fodder, nitrogen and mycorrhizas. You have to line them up between five and nine rows of evergreens and abundant branches to cover the cold winds. It is important that we plant different tree species to have different root patterns and nutrient needs. The thickness of the curtain is one and a half meters of low shrubs, two to three meters of medium trees and three to four and a half tall trees with ten meters being the maximum recommended height. However, tall trees are not ideal because they direct the wind downwards. Possible species that we could use are casuarinas, silky oak, pines, acacias, willows, aguaribay, and laurel.
The garden can be located in the clearings and on the edges and will be integrated into the forest. In general, a plant needs nitrogen at the beginning of its development, then phosphorus and finally potassium. You have to plant varieties of heights, shapes, tastes and smells of plants. There is greater resilience of the forest as soon as there is the greatest possible diversity of cultivation since it provides fibers, medicines, condiments, dyes, fungi, lichens, micro and macro organisms, wild animals such as bees, wasps, noble woods and firewood for those who cultivate it.
A living soil consists of the mixture of organic and inorganic matter that contains micro and macro organisms that give it a lot of fertility. What organisms do is to make organic matter accessible to vegetables. There are about 10,000 million bacteria in a gram of fertile soil.
Some species of plants that can be planted to increase diversity, depending on the specific conditions of each place are: Malabar or New Zealand spinach, high production, 3 m high, similar to the taste of lettuce; palm trees, attract birds; I smoke bravo; araucaria; hisvatia virginia, a bush that provides nitrogen and supports beans; pecan nut Japanese bean; math; potato of the air; red and green chard; cliomens, the flower is used to fix the tinctures in the ceramics; Chinese cabbage; calendula, of edible flower; sage, with a lot of pollen; salvia guaraní, of edible flower; nicotiana, “jasmine” tobacco, attracts insects, birds and is very fragrant; chrysanthemum, of Japanese origin, edible leaf and flower; short carrot, for not so sandy soils. Attracts insects and wasps; marguell beet, orange tuber; chia, blue flower, family of salvias; zucchini suchini; tansy, aromatic; seikon, sweet tuber; perennial beans, 10 to 15 years old; Milk thistle, of deep root and great contribution of organic matter.
There are some bioindicators to know the structure of the soil, for example, the carqueja with comfrey and also the nettle indicate a deep soil, very drained and fertile; the pampa grass is an indicator of clayey, silty soils with little organic matter; the caraguatá of very heavy floors. The physical components of the soil are sand, clay and silt (very fine sand or very thick clay) and may be one of them preponderant or have different mixtures. If we wanted to sample the soil for further analysis in the laboratory, we would have to take the samples away from human activity and from the fences at 30 cm depth and ten samples for one hectare, mixing all the samples.
Forest nutrients are predominantly 95% sunlight, nitrogen 2.5% and other minerals 2.5%. The availability of organic matter depends on the work of the microorganisms. Nitrogen is in the atmosphere as gas, however, legumes have a symbiosis with bacteria that fix nitrogen (rhizobium), and there are also other bacteria without symbiotic associations that fix it. The animals contribute nitrogen to the soil through feces and urine, causing the plant to absorb it in the form of nitrites. The nitrites and nitrates are washed by the water and adhere more nutrients the best quality of soil is one that does not have tillage, or agrochemicals, or synthetic fertilizers.
Phosphorus is the most water-soluble nutrient and is present in algae, seabirds and animal feces, with mycorrhizae making it available. Potassium participates in the chemistry of cell thickening and is abundant in clay soils. We found it near the parent rock. Other macronutrients are Iron, Calcium (for cell division), Magnesium (for the production of chlorophyll) and Sulfur. The micronutrients are Zinc, Boron, Manganese, Copper, among others, these are fixed by the microorganisms and the microfauna of the soil.
The biological factors of the soil are the organic acids, generated by microorganisms and their corpses, stabilize the pH; the mycorrhizae / Trichoderma’s that are inoculated with the forest floor; the earthworm, which produces beneficial tunnels and galleries, is also fed with moderately decomposed organic matter; ants, which bury organic matter.
Regarding the use of water, the one with the highest value is the one that is above, since it does not require energy investment for pumping. Water is the basis of all biological processes and must be used for different uses such as dishwashing, irrigation, etc. Following the contour lines, in areas with a slope, collection channels are made with a soft gradient of 1 or 2% and they are stored in dams. This prevents soil erosion and increases the slopes by slowing down the water.