The most important challenge of our generation will be to regenerate the earth back to health and abundance from the degraded and polluted state that it's in now. The Abundant Edge podcast is here to show you how you can make changes in your life that will create a regenerative future for you, your family and community, and for the earth we all call home. Join host Oliver Goshey every Friday as he interviews innovators and leaders on the cutting edge of regenerative movements in business, land management, ecosystem restoration and much more.
A Permaculture guide to Earth Surgery, with David “Doc Spice” Spicer
Tying in perfectly with last week’s interview with Zach Weiss about building ponds and water harvesting features, I spoke with David Spicer, affectionately known as Doc Spice, an accomplished permaculture designer who has specialized in earthworks installation. Having taught and worked on various projects extensively within Australia and internationally, in places such as Morocco, Jordan, Palestine and New Caledonia, Doc has worked in a broad array of different soil types, topographies and climatic zones.
He’s also a valued member of the Permaculture Sustainable Consulting team headed up by Geoff Lawton and is registered Teacher #5 with the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.
Doc is a master of practical and logical mainframe permaculture design and he's pioneered the design of water harvesting and storage earthworks which frames all regenerative farming.
In this episode we talk about why it’s so important to invest early on in a project to get your earthworks right because of what it can mean for the health of your land. Doc also shares some insights on his personal design process and what he looks for in a landscape to give him clues as to the most effective interventions on the form of the land. We also cover some of the risks of improperly installed features, the need to draw from as many sources of knowledge as possible and he also gives some valuable advice for people who are new to earthworks on how to get started.
I’ve put some pictures of the projects that Doc has done to help to illustrate some of the concepts and techniques that he talks about so don’t forget to check those out along with further links on the show notes for this episode on the website.
How to install ponds, dams, and water retention features, with Zach Weiss from Elemental Ecosystems
Welcome back to the ongoing series on waterway regeneration. Today’s interview is the second conversation I’ve had with Zach Weiss, the Protégé of revolutionary Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer and founder of Elemental Ecosystems, a company that designs and implements water harvesting landscapes and features for clients around the world. Zach is best known for blending a unique combination of systems thinking, empathy and awareness, in his projects.
In the last interview I did with him, which I’ve linked to in the show notes for this episode on the website, he introduced me to the importance of a healthy water cycle to climate regulation and how it actually plays a much larger role than just the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In today’s session I wanted to focus more closely on a topic that I get a lot of questions about but have very little personal experience with, and that’s building ponds, dams, and other water storage features on the land. Zach is an expert at this and explains the difference in how sealed and unsealed ponds can have a very different effect on the ecology even if they both hold the same amount of water. He also explains his methods and techniques for reading the landscape to determine the best placement for water features that are sometimes contradictory to simple topography. Be sure to stick around until the end where Zach gives some amazing practical advice for people who are looking to get started on installing their own water retention features and landscapes.
Before we start in with the interview I also want to give you a heads up that the next two episodes will also be deep dives into permaculture earthworks, water retention landscapes and actionable information on how to optimise your land for the best use and creation of water resources, so be sure to check out the next few weeks of episodes too.
Elemental Ecosystems on Facebook
Elemental Ecosystems on Youtube
Zach Weiss’ TEDx talk
Desert or Paradise with Sepp Holzer
The Flow Partnership
The Facts And Stories Behind Waterway Restoration, With Judith Schwartz
As we continue into this series on waterway regeneration, I reached out to Judith Schwartz, a wonderful author who tells stories to explore and illuminate scientific concepts and cultural nuance.
Her two most recent books, Water in Plain sight, and The Reindeer Chronicles both feature incredible case studies of the importance of a healthy water cycle, to the health of our ecosystems and global climate regulation.
Judith is known for taking a clear-eyed look at global environmental, economic, and social challenges, and finds insights and solutions in natural systems. She also writes for numerous publications, including The American Prospect, The Guardian, Discover, and Scientific American.
In this interview Judith begins by explaining some essential information on the water cycle beyond the simple rain and evaporation rotation we all learned in grade school.
She also walks me through the ways it interacts with plant life to affect the rainfall of an area and hydrate the land. From there we explore some of the incredible examples of ecosystem regeneration that she highlights in her books and we even get into some mind expanding questions that you can use yourself to re-evaluate your own understanding of the potential of your own regenerative projects and dreams at the end of the episode.
Beyond the clear information of water’s hidden functions in the global ecology, Judith is a great storyteller and helps to connect the hard facts with the personal and intimate side of these projects and journeys.
How we can overcome the looming water crisis in our cities with “the Godfather of Green”Jerry Yudelson
Welcome back to the second episode in this series on waterway regeneration. In this series we’ll be looking into the often overlooked role of the water cycle and its effects on the climate crisis. I’ll be speaking with experts and innovators about how repairing the hydrological cycle and the health of our waterways can lead to the restoration of all sorts of ecological services and the health of entire ecosystems as a result.
In this week’s episode I got to chat with Jerry Yudelson, the author of 13 full-length professional and trade books on green buildings, integrated design, green homes, water conservation, building performance and sustainable development. Dubbed 'The Godfather of Green' by Wired Magazine, Jerry’s passion for optimizing the built environment is reflected by his many years of professional experience in the green building and certification fields, serving as an elected LEED Fellow and as president of the Green Building Initiative. He also served on the national board of the USGBC and chaired the Steering Committee for the largest green building show, Greenbuild, from 2004 through 2009.
Despite being best known for ecological building design and policy, in this interview we’re going to focus on his book Dry Run, which unpacks some of the best ways to manage scarce water resources and handle upcoming urban water crises. The book explains the most pressing water issues that urban zones face, and examines the vital linkages between water, energy use, urban development and climate change. Dry Run also demonstrates best practices for achieving "net zero" water use in the built environment through, water conservation strategies for buildings, factories, cities and homes, rainwater harvesting, greywater reuse and water reclamation systems, water efficiency retrofits, onsite sewage treatment, and new water reuse and supply technologies.
In this interview we specifically address the urgent changes that cities need to make to ensure longer term water security. Jerry explains his classifications of the colors of water that help to categorize the different sources and uses for water in cities that require different management systems, and gives a few case studies of municipalities that have started to make improvements in their aquatic infrastructure.
If you're interested in reading the episode as a full transcript. Click here.
Why regenerating our oceans makes both public health and economic sense, with Dr. Enric Sala of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Project
Welcome to the first episode in a brand new series focusing on waterway regeneration. In the last few years of hosting this show it’s become vividly clear to me just how important and yet overlooked an issue that the health of our water cycles are.
While the climate change narrative has mostly focused on the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution, we’ve ignored the essential role that the water cycle plays in regulating global temperatures. In this series I’ll be speaking to an incredible list of scientists, farmers, and restorationists who are dedicated to reviving the precious waterways of the world. From the urban environment to the deep seas, our actions will determine whether or not we preserve our aquatic resources and all the life that depends on them for future generations.
In this first episode I got to speak with Enric Sala, a renowned ecologist making a clear case for why protecting nature is our best health insurance, and why it makes economic sense. Enric is the director of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project (which has succeeded in protecting more than 5 million sq km of ocean and created 22 marine reserves). Dr. Sala has received the Young Global Leader Award by the World Economic Forum, a Research Award from the Spanish Geographical Society, the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club, and a Hero Award from the Environmental Media Association. In his new book “The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild,” he tells the story of his scientific awakening and his transition from academia to activism. More importantly, he shows the economic wisdom of making room for nature, even as the population becomes more urbanized, and how saving nature can save us all, by reversing conditions that led to the coronavirus pandemic and preventing other global catastrophes.
In this interview we begin by unpacking the changes that have occurred in our oceans in the last few decades and how this is affecting people all over the world, even if you don’t live anywhere near the sea.
Enric also offers a lot of hope that our oceans can recover if we act swiftly and give them the space and protection to regenerate.
I learned a lot from this talk and as I begin to learn more about how marine health is closely linked to terrestrial health, I would encourage those of you listening to examine how your own habits and lifestyle choices are connected to ocean health in ways that can be hard to see.
Get the book The Nature of Nature
Steps to food security: saving seeds, with James Ulager, author of Beginning seed saving for the home gardener
Today’s guest is James Ulager, the author Beginning Seed Saving for the home gardener, and though this certainly isn’t a talk about farm scale seed saving and propagation, I thought it was essential to include in this series. In my opinion, seed saving and selective breeding is one of the best ways that anyone with even a small yard or garden can participate in ensuring the food security of future generations. We live in a time when governments have deemed it possible to patent seeds and own genetic information. This not only threatens the sovereignty of our seeds, but of every aspect of our food system as life itself is now able to be patented and owned. Yet we all still have the capacity to grow and save seeds that keep the genetic history that is the foundation of so many cultures alive and evolving, not through technological genetic tampering, but through the stewardship and care that selects for adaptation and resilience. While this is a topic that I’m looking forward to exploring from a lot of different perspectives and advanced applications, James gives a wonderful talk in this episode that directly speaks to the novice gardener.
In this session we break down just how easy it is to get started saving your own seeds and just how powerful an action it actually is. We cover all the essentials like knowing when the seeds are ready to harvest, the best way to store them for good germination rates, and we even get into more intermediate steps like working with biennials and plant varieties that don’t like to grow true from seed if they’re cross pollinated.
James does a great job at making this practice accessible and fun and because I’m so excited to get more people saving and breeding their own seeds, I’ve teamed up with New Society Publishers to give away a free copy of the book. If you want to win a copy of Beginning seed saving for the home gardener just message me through our dedicated facebook group called Abundant Edge weekly regenerative skills and write a post about why you want to save your own seeds. I’ll select a winner one week after this episode comes out and send a hard copy of the book to you if you live in the US or Canada or a digital copy if you live anywhere else in the world.