We began these systems in 2012 and it is an on going project.
It is really important to understand that you need to have a feeling of love and put love into this project. Without love it is not going to flourish and be abundant. If you don't desire to give love to what you are doing we suggest not to begin the project (better to look at why you don't want to first, and do the project at another time).
Living Systems are about creating, food, habitat, moisture (water) for Bacteria, fungus, microbes, soil-based creatures (worms, ants, white ants etc), Plants that prepare the environment (weeds, trees seemingly without “purpose”) Above ground and airborne creatures (insects, spiders, etc).
They very basically consist of putting a lot of dead matter in one place and creating a decomposing (not composting) mound or hole to give all the little life creating creatures/primary recovery organisms food and a place to flourish.
If your intention is to get from the mound or hole, to take for yourself e.g. plant a fruit tree right away in it so you can eat rather than purely just wanting to create fertility in the soil you may find there are issues (this does not mean that eventually there wont be a fruit tree there that you can eat, but we need to be very honest with ourselves about why we are engaging in the projects in the first place, expectation and demands on plants and creatures causes negative results in our experience (this is a process).
Living systems are about properly preparing the soil and environment so that eventually it will be wholly self sustainable and will support all life (flora and fauna). The intention of living systems is to provide abundance to the living intelligence that knows best how to repair what is damaged - in this case the soil. Soil based living intelligence knows best how to heal, balance soil, water based living intelligence know best how to heal, balance water systems, if we create places where these primary recovery organisms have all they need to live and flourish abundantly close by then they will feel loved, not attacked and will abundantly be able to procreate and multiply which is exactly what the land needs.
These creatures are all your friends. It is only when organisms feel attacked that they can get out of balance and 'attack' back (for them they are only ensuring their survival). Example: when white ants eat your house they are not purposely attacking you out of spite, they are just doing their job of recycling dead matter. If you loved the white ants and had a whole heap of dead matter and gave the white ants an opportunity to create a home that they loved with abundant food and water nearby they could well leave your house alone. If we love these organisms as much as we love other creatures e.g. your cat or dog, and give them as much love, food, shelter, water as we can then they wont have reason to attack and can get on with having lots of sex multiply at a rate that is sustainable for where they live (totally in balance and harmony) and doing what they do best - recovery jobs. That will cut down your work and effort and make everyone and everything in the environment around you much happier and more plentiful. They don't need us, we do need them and in our arrogance we often think that we don't.
|primary soil recovery creature! These guys are truly intelligent|
and completely amazing in many ways!!
Living System Example, Above Ground Variety (Mound):
Basic Construction of a Living System:
Give Abundantly to your living fertility systems, both love and matter!!
note: you do not need specific ingredients to construct a living system. you can use what you have on hand and you can do it over a period of time. For example you could have a hole in your back yard and put all your organic food waste, old clothing, some tin and metal (avoid aluminium where possible), your own manure - if you are vegan and want to, (meat eaters excrement has toxins and different bacteria in it), all paper (ripped up, or scrunched to create air pockets for worms), cardboard, newspapers etc (put it in vertically so worms and organisms have somewhere to go if it gets wet), old broken furniture, bits of wood, grass clippings, what ever you have in it, cover it with a board until you fill it up (so you don't fall down it) and when a few inches from the top cover it with a thick layer of wood chip, put an optional decorative stump, log or rock on top of it and let the primary recovery organisms do their wonderful thing. You could also have little holes all over the place and put your household waste in it.
If you do have access to fallen branches, dead trees (these need to be covered and have as much surface area contact with the ground as possible to encourage decomposition and so that the organisms can eat them without being open to attack, hay, debosia, manure, etc etc, use that!
Below Ground Variety:
Dig a hole:
This can be very large to small depending on the scale of your project and how much matter you have to put in it.
or Find a bit of erosion:
Collect a whole heap of matter (be Generous):
Newspaper, cardboard, paper, shredded paper,
Hay, debosia, damaged hay, mouldy hay, etc etc
Add what you have got, what you can find, what you have on hand.
Encouraging what is already there & using what you have at hand:
encouraging what is already there - feeding a white ants nest,
adding cardboard and wood chips to encourage the
life and support it where it is.
Add minerals (be generous):
You will need to identify what minerals the soil needs. A soil test is good for this. We used gypsum for the project in standby paddock as there was a clay base. In other areas of the land we have used different mineral combinations. Each hole may be different.
You can put an optional layer of newspaper (2 sheets thick) over the minerals if you want.
Put compacted matter into the holes:
put cardboard bales, hay bales, fallen trees, tree stumps, branches -cut up to fit hole, (compacted items) in the hole.
|jostling a bale into place|
Pack it in tight - generously:
Pack Cardboard/hay/matter around the compacted matter to fill up the hole tight. When using paper and cardboard put it standing up ways so that worms and other organisms are able to crawl upwards to the top to get out of excess water.
|Adding cardboard and newspaper|
|the more cardboard the better - food|
|Adding more food|
Add Manure and worms - generously:
Worms love manure and will chomp through it. We also created what we called 'worm slurry' a water manure brew that was soaked for a few days before putting it into the system. We did this to add moisture and a place for worms to begin feasting and breeding right away. Worms need moisture. (No need to deplete your worm breeding centres too much, take what you can and then wait till the worms breed up more and add more to the living system at a later date, if needed.)
(We put manure all through the systems and then made little worm pockets with slurry at the top of the holes to create a worm feasting/breeding area from which they can multiply and spread through the system).
This can be a mixture of all sorts of things that worms like, could include food scraps too if you wanted to.
Can be water, manure, decomposed matter, small bits of cardboard soaked, or just manure and water. Make use of what you have or can easily access.
make a worm food slurry/brew water, poo,
decomposed hay, small bits of cardboard
put the slurry/brew under the newspaper in all the
holes and cracks so that there is moisture
Cover with Mulch:
to keep it moist and also add more food and places for insects to live.
Cover with mulch to keep moist (what a lovely 'bug' palace)
Adding dead matter:
We were really grateful to our neighbours (the Munsies) for their generous gift of felled trees to put both underground into the living system hole and also on the top of it.
|moving dead matter onto the top - creating habitat and|
food sources for fauna.
|Put as much matter as possible in and on top of the holes.|
Cover as much surface area as possible:
Pack matter around the wood to ensure as much surface area of the logs are covered or touching hay, woodchip, etc so that it breaks down faster and so creatures can easily eat and make homes and do not have to endanger themselves or work hard to do so.
cover with woodchips (optional, you could use the wood chips in the living
system or if limited supply keep them to use for mulching around the
regeneration 'support' plants (legumes) rather than putting it
over the top.
|Woodchip packed around the tree stumps to enable more|
surface area to be available to primary recovery organisms.
(You can use hay, or any other materials you may have
Living System Above Ground Variety:
To construct an above ground living system is pretty much the same as below ground but without a hole. There are heaps of ways you can build it, some examples: on crates, straight on the ground, cut a small cut or swale into the ground before piling matter.
Important to note that the above ground system is about decomposition not composting. You do not want it to be overheating (unless specifically designed to do so for example in the case of cold climate and creating micro climate hot spots.) Composting kills life as it gets too hot. Decomposition encourages life, (decomposition still feels warms just not hot).
|above ground (mound) living system|
Make a cut, or just lay a crate, hay or any other matter on the ground to build upon.
You could use an old tree stump, piles of wood, windfall branches, logs, trees. You can make living systems around what already exists if it is too hard to move. GIVE ABUNDANTLY to your Living Fertility Systems!
The beginning of the worm 'mound'
Bale of hay wedged into a bit of open soil
and separated to create decomposition not composting.
Primary Recovery Organisms don't like too much heat
cut timber for the top and middle of mounds
Creating Living Systems (to improve soil fertility) was a great day learning about the earth, ourselves and how to create abundance through giving love and supporting the intelligent life systems without expectation* that support us.
I feel that one of the greatest gifts was the fact that if want to take and we want for everything to be given to us from the earth; If we do not desire to give and love the earth, land and all the intelligent life - the fungi, bacteria, microbes, micro-organisms, worms, insects, and all the creating things - then it is really best to not begin in the first place. The whole exercise is an exercise in giving for the pure desire to give to that which creates. To give without gain.
Personal Note on what Eloisa learnt from creating Living Systems: I need to be like a worm hole.
To stop expecting and demanding** from the earth and the land and to trust God's abundance and her way of creating and see the way she creates and help out the best that I can by providing food, water, shelter to everything that sustains life. To all the insects, fungi, bacteria, microbes, micro-organisms etc these are our friends and our desire to erridicate them reflects how much negative, self serving desire we have and how little we understand about the way that the world operates as God designed it. We create more and more problems that then need fixing. We are exhausting ourselves with meaningless things that could be done so much more easily if we were more humble, more logical and actually understood what God has gifted us in the first place. We humans claim to be intelligent but I am beginning to wonder, smile. What I saw today is that God's way is best*** and it is beautiful, magical, abundant and can create wonderlands.... We are excited about the experiment and to see 'who moves in' and what happens.
* Today I learnt how much expectation I have about things giving to me in order for me to get what i want. I learnt how much demand we have and how much pressure we put on the earth rather than giving to the earth abundantly and without expectation to encourage intelligent living flora and fauna to create it's own living self creating systems.
** This is an emotional change not just an intellectual exercise that we can think into existance. It takes us emotionally releasing the demands and expectations that we have on things to sustain us. To grow our desire to love, grow our desire to give and our desire to find out about all the intelligent life that God has created and support it purely because we desire to support it and for no other reason.
*** In my arrogance I am not always humble to this fact and try to force my way, but when it is logically explained I wonder why I thought there was any other but God's way. Much to learn and how exciting!