We hope you find inspiration and some design tweaks or ideas in the diverse stories we share in this issue of regenerative projects from around the world.
Chinampas, an ancient form of water gardening created by the Aztecs, uses the natural accumulation of lakebed sediments to form and feed finger islands and canals built on the edges of the shallow lakes of the Valley of Mexico. These are one of the most regenerative forms of agriculture in the world.
Most of these small but fertile farm fields were destroyed as the city grew over the years, but some 3,000 acres remain in Xochimilco, a district south of Mexico City. The organization Yolcan resolved to revive this ancient practice before all of the chinampas were wiped out; they are creating CSAs that sell food to restaurants in the capital.
As this ancient practice is revived, farm-to-table events given by top chefs working with the organization have expanded.
Many communities in flood plains or with access to lakes or ponds could use these methods. As one example, in Florida, this growing method could remedy the low nutrient levels of sandy soils. It is also a way to add farmland to highly developed urban areas which have access to water.
In the 21st century, the relict Aztec chinampas have to contend with water polluted by heavy metals and other toxins from industry in the metropolis. To remove the pollutants, Yolcan uses solar-powered pumps which move water through a series of biofilters (specially selected wetland plants) placed throughout the canal system.
Seven case studies document the use of agroforestry practices to increase resilience and economic viability through permanent agriculture. These lessons are shared in detail via the link.
In Burkina Faso, soil and water conservation led to natural tree regeneration, creating conditions to plant a diversity of both food and commercial crops.
In Brazil and Ghana, cocoa is used as an understory in a polycrop forest system, to grown both income producing crops and food while the young cocoa trees mature.
In Ethiopia, large-scale communal holdings are the key to creating abundance.
In Guatemala, the ancient practice of interplanting the nitrogen-fixing Gliricidea sepium trees with annual crops helps to reduce land degradation, build soil, and increase yields.
In SE Asia, mangroves and community forestry are used to increase both ecological and economic resilience.
Creative work with mycelium continues in a variety of directions. Some are developing biodegradable packaging with it, others are working on building materials. The photo below shows Ganoderma mycelium which has been hardened into a container. It is grown on hemp substrate in a mold until the desired shape is accomplished. Then it’s hardened through baking. This also prevents the mycelium from fruiting and thus the bowl from decomposing prematurely.
When baked, the network of thread-like filaments is transformed into a very durable material.
Containers that will repeatedly be watered may not be the best application for this novel biohacking, but many other applications from insulation to packaging material to furniture present themselves as exciting eco waves to come. (Photo and information courtesy of Caitlin Fogerty of Orlando, Florida.)