Author Archives: R. Coville

Balkan Ecology Project takes note on value of diversity in polyculture gardens

The Balkan Ecology Project is finding success with regenerative design, and is taking to sharing the fruits of their labor through literal fruits (available through their Bio-Nursery Project) and through open-source, empirical note keeping on the inputs, outputs, and observations of their permaculture projects.

At the end of their Market Garden Study – Year 2 post, they share more on what their research is about:

If you are reading this you’re most probably aware of the environmental damage caused by industrial agricultural practices We believe this damage is unnecessary, and aim to provide healthier models of agriculture that yield nutritious affordable food while at the same time promoting biodiversity and general ecosystem health.

Industrial methods are heavily researched and funded, and there is a general belief among many farmers and growers that this is the only practical way of operating. Following 12 years of cultivating polyculture gardens we are seeing that small scale biologically cultivated polyculture gardens are a realistic and practical way of providing food for humans whilst preserving biodiversity and general health in the environment. Furthermore we believe this type of agriculture can help create thriving local economies that strengthen community, provide dignified work and enhance the amenity value of an area.

Little data exists showing the productive capacity of polyculture systems and the economic viability of them. There is a big need to fill this gap and provide solid data and concise coherent models that can be replicated easily and provide real solutions to the environmental damage caused by industrial agriculture. This project intends to go some of the way in filling this gap.

We aim to address the following questions;

  • How productive can polycultures be?
  • What advantages can polycultures provide ?
  • How much time do polyculture gardens take to establish and manage?
  • How economically viable are these gardens?
  • How bio-diverse can our food producing systems be?
  • Can we provide clean, nutritious, affordable food whilst enhancing biodiversity?

You can read that full study here:
https://balkanecologyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/12/the-polyculture-market-garden-study.html

As noted, the Balkan Ecology Project’s research is open source, and you can see all their data on their publicly viewable Google spreadsheet. They also express openness to share their sheets and discuss with others who want to undertake similar research.

Citizen Science: Testing a small-scale rapid aerated composting system for urban environments

Update January 4, 2017: Success! With an abundance of support for this research, the project earned sufficient funds to proceed with the study, and was awarded a $500 grant for placing first in amount of pledged supporters for the project by a common deadline between other projects within the realm of Cities & Transportation on Experiment.com! Thanks for supporting this citizen scientist, Syracuse resident, and backyard forest gardener in their proactive research efforts – we look forward to learning from his findings, and putting them to practice!


A local Syracuse resident is engaging their passion for environmental science and waste management with composting. Through crowdfunding, Ethan Bodnaruk hopes to kick off a science project to explore efficient, decentralized composting systems that can be used throughout Syracuse and other cities around the world. Here is an excerpt from Ethan’s research proposal:

Urban food and yard wastes can contribute in multiple ways to greenhouse gas production and water pollution. But they can instead be transformed into resources through efficient neighborhood-scale composting. I will test and demonstrate the use of a novel small-scale aerated composting system for rapid composting coupled with bicycle-powered collection of neighborhood yard and food wastes. I aim to make it simple and fine-tuned enough to replicate in many locations.

Ethan with compost piles

Almost half way through the crowdfunding campaign, the experiment is just over 50% funded. If you have the means, would you contribute? Visit this experiment’s proposal page to learn more about his qualifications, research idea, its significance and its goals. In any case, this may be something worth considering and sharing to help cities achieve increased resilience, less environmental footprint and degradation, and greater community empowerment and connectivity. Continue reading →

Annual Winter Potluck image

Annual Winter Potluck – 2016

Join us on Sunday January 29th from 6 pm – 8 pm
for our Annual Potluck and Angel Card Ceremony
at the Bitternut Homestead, 717 Otisco St Syracuse, NY 13204.

We’ll share food, enjoy a burning fire, pull Angel Cards, create art, and catch up. Vegan food is preferable for sharing. BYOB.

Share and RSVP on the Facebook page for this event if you can, and in any case, feel free to come and bring good company!

SALT-CNY listserv kick-off approaching

With the beginning of 2017, we are launching the SALT-CNY e-mailing list to serve and connect people in and around Syracuse and Central New York who are interested in and working on the topics of Sustainability, Agriculture, Landscaping, and/or Transition.

SALT-CNY listserv sign-up

To sign on as part of the initial cohort please send an email with your full name (First and Last) and email address to info@alchemicalnursery.org, along with the name of an organization you represent if applicable. Continue reading →

THANK YOU for Supporting Alchemical Nursery in the SeedMoney Crowdfunding Challenge

We have met our goal in the matched grant crowdfunding challenge through SeedMoney! You helped us raise $600 in donations within a month and we’re now eligible for an additional $400. Thank you! We hope you can come to the Gifford St. Community Garden to enjoy its fruits and help put these funds to use!

Take a look at our SeedMoney page to see how we intend to use it at the 610 Gifford St Community Garden and make a contribution.


Equality, liberty, and efficiency – finding a balance

Our society has skyrocketed in efficiency. I see this efficiency and how it’s been a long-time in the making. I also see in politics how the left-right arguments tend to highlight a supposed battle of equality vs liberty-and-efficiency. How, if at all, does liberty and efficiency go together nowadays, and how does our prioritization of efficiency impact equality?

I think our preference for efficiency has led us to an imbalanced state. In mainstream tendencies, I see that we prioritize efficiency highest of all. Because of this, equality has suffered, and even liberty is at loss; concentrating power in few makes it more difficult for the many individuals and common goods to reach real opportunities and to contribute to their personal and our collective potential. What kind of liberty do I have in a setting rigged[1] by powerful few, keeping their own high-and-mighty interests & direction in mind? What kind of liberty can both my neighbors and I enjoy, if we found our success in debt-based finances[2]? Though I hear folks claiming to fight for liberty by supporting high prioritization of efficiency, I see the preference for extreme efficiency breeds an authoritarian oligarchy, destroying liberty in the same breath as it blocks equality; destroying our common resources and environment in the same breath as it blocks the human spirit.

Liberty is something important in the middle I think. In libertarian philosophy there are subsets which sway to the left, favoring equality, and subsets which sway to the right, favoring efficiency. What is the middle ground? In the United States, we are familiar with the word as we pledge our allegiance “…with Liberty and Justice for All.” How can we move in this middle way?[3] The last word of that pledge is “All.” The core value of equality comes from that word “All” and its meaning, and it fits naturally in a saying calling for liberty and justice.

Statue of Liberty with Sunset (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BAI_wySCcAEOgaK.jpg)

Continue reading →

Bitternut Homestead News

This week's homemade stock was rich in mushrooms and beets (pic 1), so #borscht it is!! Best time to take cooking photos, cool afternoon with sun streaming in catching the steam coming off the pot (pic 2). Finished product, with hard-boiled eggs (pic 3). ...

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Found on a Shonnard St curb a few years back, finally added to the montage that is Bitternut Homestead Collective. ...

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Rahma Forest Garden News

Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden added 15 new photos to the album: Winter 2017 Propagation Day. ...

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Alchemical Nursery description on Idealist.org

You can see a clear & concise overview of what the Alchemical Nursery Project is about on our Idealist.org page:

http://www.idealist.org/view/nonprofit/z4f3NfKk4K5P/

Salt City Sorcerers: Alchemical Nursery article on Jerk Magazine

An article about the Alchemical Nursery Project which shares some background history, an overview of founding and ongoing intentions, and some outside perspectives.

Alchemical Nursery members believe that integrating permacultural methods will save energy, eliminate waste, and pave the way toward increased sustainability and self-sufficiency. The organization’s efforts also focus on providing an economic and social catalyst for urban areas by weaving agriculture into Syracuse’s inner city.

Read more here: http://www.jerkmagazine.net/salt-city-sorcerers-alchemical-nursery/