Eric Harrington on ‘The Natural Step’

On Jan 18 2016, Eric Harrington, a regular attendee of our Transition Town Chelsea gatherings, explained the concepts behind The Natural Step, which was founded in 1989 in Sweden by oncologist Dr. Karl Henrik-Robert, and has since spread around the world into many countries and many companies. He provided a Powerpoint of his presentation, and our Web designer collated some of his notes into the slides before making a PDF file of his presentation, called “The Natural Step: Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development.”  Eric described the four system conditions for sustainability that comprise the heart of The Natural Step – criteria which must be met in order for our society and economy to be sustainable. The presentation shows how these system conditions logically follow from simple thermodynamic laws, how they can be and are being applied, and also presents related concepts such as the ‘sustainability funnel’ and ‘backcasting.’  He provides links to the official ‘Natural Step’ website.  I also recommend looking at Wikipedia on ‘The Natural Step.’

2016’s Chelsea area Solar Home Tour

Saturday, October 1
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Start at Chelsea Library

On the day after the first Habitation film, see some real homes in the Chelsea area!  The public is invited to tour homes, both conventionally and unconventionally built, that have been fitted to produce energy from renewable sources.  Most often in our area it is solar energy but we also we have some wind energy and passive design.  The Chelsea Solar Home Tour includes on-grid and off-grid sites, solar hot water, a straw bale home that earned Mother Earth News “Homesteader of the Year” 2015, and at least one home with a car charger that runs from the solar power system.

The way it works is: Begin at the Chelsea District Library (map) between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.  There, you can pick up a detailed tour guide and map.  Go around to visit the sites on your own schedule throughout the day.  We expect to have many returning sites from last year that could well deserve a second look plus some exciting new locations.

We are grateful for the sponsorship from the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and the partnership with the Chelsea District Library.
See the event listing from the library here.
Solar Home Tour 2016 Flyer

Lynn Fox’s talk on her beekeeping proposal

May 16, 2016: We learned about Chelsea resident Lynn Fox’s proposal to adopt a beekeeping ordinance to allow beekeeping in Chelsea. Chelsea has had a ban on the keeping of bees within the its limits since 1919. She gave her presentation to the City Council on April 18th, with a follow-up on May 2nd. In short, all pollinators, including bees, have been under attack by diseases, pesticides and parasites. So much so that growers believe they are one bad winter away from pollination disaster to their crops. Whole Foods estimated that 50% of their shelves would be bare if pollinators disappeared for a season. Now, cities around the US and the world are becoming “bee safe cities” by opening their landscapes to include beekeeping to help strengthen bee colonies and increase healthy, viable stock.
Lynn strongly encouraged us to view these TED talks:

For further in-depth documentation on this issue:
(The Intergovernmantal Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the body which assesses the state of biodiversity and … ecosystem services …)’s federal health strategy

Renewable Energy Link

Scientists Turn Algae into Crude Oil in less than an Hour


from Vox (Brad Plumer, Dec 16, 2014) (thanks to Jesse Tack’s AMPY [Abundant Michigan Permaculture Ypsilanti] Facebook post): How much of the world’s cropland is actually used to grow food?

and Vox’s follow-up link, How to feed 3 billion extra people – without trashing the Planet(Brad Plumer, July 18, 2014)

From Jesse Tack (AMPY) via Gaia Nesvacil, 37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field

A lengthly ‘take’ on the subject of the basics of Oil (and fracking) by William Mistele for Facebook subscribers…

oh lardy’s Lactofermented Pineapple Papaya Chutney recipe (posted on AMPY Facebook group by Brigitte Lute):

Kris Kaul’s Lactofermation AMPY posts:
Lacto-Fermented Green Tomato Salsa
Cortido – A Latin American Sauerkraut from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Lacto-fermented Green Cherry Tomato Pickles – Leda Meredith,

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative’s Fundraiser

blog on bionutrient food Dec 7th talk by Dan Kittridge

A couple of us Chelsea Permies attended a free presentation on Bionutrient-rich Crop Production at the Gilbert House in Ypsilanti on Sunday. This was an introduction to the Bionutrient Food Association and what it does, and also promoted a 2-day workshop to be held in February 2015 in the northern lower peninsula. The talk was even MORE than it promised to be. Not only did it address the issue of “How can we return nutrient dense food, or food with high levels of bionutrients, to our markets, gardens, and farms?. . .
But also, it demonstrated a very positive approach for how we can fix our whole food production system by first helping the grower-community fix their soils, using a method of testing crops for nutrient density, and then using that same technique to allow customers to test foods in the store so they can find the healthiet and best-tasting choices …

The presentation was given by Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association ( that is located in North Brookfield, Massachussetts. The ‘about us’ page on this site tells us about Dan… “Founder and life-long farmer Dan Kittredge launched The Real Food Campaign (RFC) in 2008, to empower and educate farmers towards the production of quality food for the improvement of human health. In 2008 and 2009 RFC made major strides in developing a cohesive local, national and global vision, and networked nationally to build the base to implement its mission. Under Dan’s leadership in 2009-2010 RFC began holding yearlong courses on Nutrient Dense Crop Production and building a professional team of staff.”
A look at his website events page,, shows his ‘track record’ since January 2012… To be exact, since then he’s delivered 62 ‘bionutrient’ talks in various settings: 25 in MA, 8 in NY, 5 in CO , 3 in CT, NH, & OH, 2 in ME, MI & WV and 1 in NJ, PA & online…

From the Library section of the website is the powerpoint Dan uses in farmers workshops. Not all of this was presented to us.:

A synopsis

The USDA has been documenting mineral and nutrient declines on the average foodstuff for the past 80 years since the first records were kept There is also a large increase in degenerative diseases. It has been proven that 56 different chemical elements are required to construct a strand of DNA. Our body replaces between 60-70 per cent of it cells every 6 months, so we construct a lot of DNA daily. If one of those chemical elements is not present, then a piece of DNA might not replicate properly and may be missing. When a DNA fragment at a location is identified as missing, that is a form of ‘genetic marker’. Some of these types of genetic markers can be correlated with degenerative diseases. A long time ago, Linus Pauling was aware of these things. He was the one who said that behind every degenerative disease is a mineral deficiency.

Basically, two things are all that are needed to supplement your soil to provide these 56 nutrients – sea water and rock dust (so long as the rock dust has the necessary elements in a bio-available form). The soil life has DNA, just like us, so it needs these same 56 nutrients. To flourish, soil life needs 5 things: Water, air, mineral balance, microbes (themselves) and carbon (organic matter). A plant sends out through its roots much of the sugar product of photosynthesis to feed the symbiotic microbial ‘livestock’ nearby.
Conventional farming provides too few elements in the fertilizer and cuts the soil life infrastructure channels by tilling, which ends up compacting the soil more than it had been. Per the BFA website: “The BFA suggests that the objective of growing crops should be to produce nutrition that will cause people to thrive, and there is no way to do that without understanding that the soil is the foundation of that process. “
A better way is to address things systemically. Assess whether there is a ‘plow pan’ that needs to be broken so that the tidal forces can bring up water to the plants. A Penetrometer will help you see if you have a plow pan, and a Broad Fork, or Keyline Plow can be ued to fix the hardpan in a noninvasive way. It’s better to have 30 worms per square yard than it is to have a tiller. If you can’t pick up a handful of dirt with your hand, then your soil is too tight. If you’re growing annuals, you may need bare soil 2 weeks of the year. Otherwise, try not to have bare soil. Leaving soil bare damages its health.

Sea Water

One major nutrient that humans are dependent on is Vitamin B12. Eighty percent of the species of bacteria and fungi are also B12 dependent. This can be supplied by sea minerals. There is a book by Maynard Murray, written in the 1930s called “Fertility from the Ocean”.
You can collect your own sea water in a drum, put lye in the drum and wait until the trace minerals settle to the bottom. You siphon off the sodium and chloride at the top and use the rest. When using it, dilute it 50 to 1. Always mix your sea minerals with something like humates or humus (you’re buffering to improve bioavailability). Humus can be defined as the product of fungal digestion. Humates can be found in a layer between peat moss and coal. Leonardite is the geological name for humate. Biochar can be used as a buffer, too, after it has been activated to improve its bioavailability.

Rock Dust

Green sand costs a lot less if bought directly from a quarry. We need to use cooperative self interest to increase our buying power. All quarries crush a lot of rock and end up burying the rock dust produced as a waste material. Dust from ultramafic (hign in iron and magnesium) volcanic formations has been found to be the best to be used if available in your region. The most important factor in deciding what rock dust to use is that the minerals are bioavailable.
A Goal of the Bionutrient Food Association is to provide a Mineral Depot in each bio-region for members to buy critical amendments at bulk price.
From the BFA Soil Profile Project pamphlet: “Using data from farm soil cores, rock dust samples from local quarries, NRCS soil type and topographical maps and geological maps produced by the USGS, we are creating a layered resource of information to assist growers in understanding how to interpret their environment and implement fertility programs using inexpensive materials …
In addition to core samples being processed, we would like to start collecting Rock Dust Quarry samples to be tested for composition. We hope to collect samples from all over the country and would like to ask for your help in achieving this goal, by ssending in Rock Dust Samples from quarries in your area.”


Use innoculants on seeds and root stock with spore forms of bacteria & fungi. There are full families of species that are no longer present in our soils. The spore shelf life of these product are in the tens of thouands of years.
Mulch and cover crops are very important. Use woody materials for mulch only where perennials are grown.
The course will cover the critical steps and timing for the entire growing season.
Fall is the beginning of the growing season. That is the time to take a soil test and to address adding what is not present. Fall is mineral-balancing and cover-cropping time.
There was a study done on prize-winning pigs to see how long it took bad nutrition to wear out the genetics of the stock. It took 3 generations. It also took 3 generations of good nutrition to build back the prize-winning characteristics.
Therefore it’s the health of the mother and grandmother plant that are the best indicators of what you’ll get. However, it’s extremely difficult to get this information at present from vendors. That’s because they give the individual customer the poorest grade of seeds, saving the best for their own re-use and larger buyers. It’s better to save your own seeds to maximize seed health.


simplest to most complex:
sugars-> carbs-> proteins-> fats/oils/lipids-> secondary metabolites (essential oils)

If a plant can build carbohydrates then pests can’t digest the plant and will not attack it. What makes a plant taste good to us also makes it inedible to insects or fungi. And, conversely, if plants are digestible to insects then they’re not fit for human consumption. Insects and fungal pests are nature’s garbage crew. Our (including insects) sense of taste is our mechanism that helps us get what we need, and as part of the natural order, we all have different needs and tastes…
A Refractometer is the best tool at present for testing quality. You need a drop of juice from the plant. The more the light bends through the sap, the more nutritive ions are present. The handicap of using this testing method is that it’s destructive to the plant being tested. BFA is working with Cornell and the Biodynamic Association to develop a near-infrared spectrometer for use as a tester. They need to develop a spectrum signature and its variation for every type of plant. The goal is to give consumers these testers, at a cost of about $150, so that they can pick the healthiest food off the shelves. That should solve the GMO problem… Farmers will be buying the right quality of product to meet the new demand from customers that will be able to select the best product for the health of their family…
Without any way to turn customers away from nutrientless produce, the Health problem will take us down before anything else will…