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Jordan Fink @BuildSoil
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Today I want to discuss a way to fix carbon that could feed us well, & save the honey bees. We’ll go down the silk road to Kazakhstan & find the wild ancestor of Apples living in an endangered Garden of Eden & come back w the possibility of changing our world. You coming? 1/?
One thing Permaculture folks are always trying to do is make food systems that are based on diversity & pattern of productive, self-renewing ecosystems. one way is to mimic the genera & form of forests 2/?
& right now there are hundreds of interesting varieties of apples that have a lot of different flavors. when I go to the local Home Orchard Society Fruit Show, there are hundreds of kinds of apples. 3/?
The Pacific NW, is divided by the mountains into a wet and dry side. The dry is great for growing apples. But the modern apple is a strange creature. It doesn't produce trees that are like their parent tree, must be grafted, & can be vulnerable to diseases like apple maggot. 4/?
In fact they have so many problems that, unless your thing is to be an apple-tender, it might not be worth the effort of pruning, tending, dealing with scab, dealing with disease. I'm not saying don't but they are pretty needy pets most of the time. 5/?
my 1st permaculture teacher, when i was 15, Connie VanDyke buys cheap apple trees from school sales & then plants them, eats apples first few years&when they would get bigger (& scab started) she would cut them for good quality firewood! prb coppice too 6/
anyway i promised you adventure and this is turning out like the first Hobbit movie. How that you've heard the issues, let's get moving eh?
There were questions of where apples came from. _Malus_domestica_ is a weird rather inbred creature that has been carried all over but all signs pointed to a Central Asian origin & we knew that Alexander the Great brought back dwarf rootstock trees from Kazakstan campaigns 8/?
So let's go there & see what the wild apples are like. I'd read about this for the longest time– it wasn't until @Ethan_Soloviev went there with a permaculture eye that we had really great photos that focus on the right things; many of the following photos are from his work. 9/?
So Ethan went there (so jealous) to Eastern Kazakstan which has a similar ecology to eastern Washington. Cold winters, rainshadow, sagebrush steppe with grasslands & lusher valleys (slides from @Ethan_Soloviev) 10/?
The species that grows there is called _Malus_sieversii_ & it is AMAZING. They grow 50' tall, have a wide range of forms, most very edible often with pink flesh, they co-evolved with bears (probably), and they PRODUCE TYPE TRUE TO SEED. Meaning you don't need to graft them. 11/?
genetic analysis ten years ago showed they are the ancestor of our apples. Prob all of our domestic apples are from a handful fo seeds taken from M sievarsii, then bred from that. The amount of genetic health in this community is amazing. (photos here from @Ethan_Soloviev )12/?
So they are found in the mountains just above the town of Almaty whose old name 'Alma-Ata' means 'father of apples' it has become a oil-center with priorities fast-tracked towards that model. The wild forests have vastly been reduced and are threatened with anniliation. 13/?
@Ethan_Soloviev got to meet one of the people working on saving the best examples but remember his is a wild population that needs a large population to be strong. They are so diverse! this is a good article that looks at some of the efforts…
so last bit on @Ethan_Soloviev he spent time looking at the plant communities that live with the wild apples& saw what a permaculturist would see. This place is a real candidate for the Garden of Eden& origin of many foods. A plant list of some of what he saw growing together 15/
This is the basis of an intact ecosystem that could grow huge &plentiful food most anywhere in the temperate zones. yet we are letting it die out… 16/?
Researchers at Cornell have taken back a few samples; they have found them to be resistant to maggot & scab. The Published stuff looks mostly on how to use the genetics of the wild apples to "fix" domesticated apples But why not help these thrive? 17/
But wait what pollonates these ecosystems. A native honey bee with great honey IT IS MITE RESISTANT. WSU researchers are trying to use it to save the bees. They are using them to breed with our bees, but i don't know if that is even necessary 18/?
Take this information & connect it to my other posts re food, coppice, carbon sequestration, regenerative food production, reducing tillage, building soil; can you picture what our lives could be? Do you see that we could all eat freely as part of our environment? & fix this? 19/
No one has to go hungry,
growing food doesn't have to destroy the environment,
we alreadyhave amazing solar energy that makes things,
we don't have to lock away the food from the poor
the climate crisis is a product of these things

So anyway one of the things i'd like to see us do, is help those preservation efforts and get the full range of these wonderful trees growing in the palces wehre we already grow food. Thanks for your time and attentionfor joining me on this.
And thanks to @Ethan_Soloviev for documenting all of this. His work is amazing and i'll be sure to repost him from time to time. Here was his full slide show:…
And picture how if we follow the keyline/siena model of residential hill design for collecting water and picture these trees as a part of the vegetation watered by the streets:
maybe one more followup- we don't have to wait for these forests to be available as seed for the rest of us. we can build complex food forests and meadows NOW with available species.
I'd like to start a nonprofit to get a large population of these going so we can make sure they stay alive in numbers; to make it available to anyone who wants to set up a community orchard. Could be planted on land where we do a ton of other carbon-capture techniques.
i should point out Almaty is 1.5 million, the side of Philadelphia, I used "town" pretty loosely
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