[Friday Five] Grapes in the bathroom + golden geese

Hi, this is Geoff.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is my birthday. 62 big ones. Never thought I’d make it this far – I thought I’d get wiped out by a big surf session, step on a landmine, get caught by some bandits while wandering on the wrong trail, catch malaria…but, no. Somehow, someway, I’ve made it this far, and all I can say is that I’m grateful beyond words for the wonderful journey I’ve been gifted, and the incredible people I’ve been blessed to connect with.

Thank you.

Before I get too sentimental, let’s jump right in.

Soil Day: December 5th is “World Soil Day,” and the UNFCCC / FAO released a brief 2 minute video that highlights the importance of healthy soil. And almost as if on cue, some interesting research was released earlier this week from a team at the University of New Hampshire that argues microbial pathways, not plants, are, “the chief originator of the organic matter found in stable soil carbon pods.” I’ve talked extensively about soil erosion being one of the most critical challenges we’re facing: Despite all our knowledge, we continue to lose soil at an ever-increasing and alarming rate. And it seems that every time we try and define soil in an atomistic manner, it continues to elude us, and the less we seem to be able to understand it. Time will tell if the UNH research and other similar efforts that uncover some of soil’s complexity will help us develop a better appreciation in working with it.

The golden goose: We’ve all heard Aesop’s fable about the goose that lay the golden eggs. The story exists in many forms across cultures, but the upshot of the parable is more or less the same: Behavior motivated by greed is at best, counterproductive and at worst, destructive. A couple weeks ago, life unfortunately imitated art, and thousands of snow geese perished after drinking and resting at the Berkeley Pit near Butte, Montana. Snow geese are absolutely beautiful creatures, but they were no match for the red-colored toxic stew found in the former open pit copper mine, contaminated with cadmium, arsenic, and cobalt.     

Best olive oil in the world? So claims this headline earlier this week, based on the concentrations of oleocanthal and total phenolic compounds found in the olive oil produced by Nicolas Netien. Nicolas is a French environmental engineer with olive groves in Morphou, northwest Cyprus. After experimenting with different milling settings, and measuring the resultant phenolic content at the University of Athens, he and his company (Atsas Organic) achieved a rate of 3760 mg / kg of polyphenols, more than 15 times (!!!) the 250 mg / kg recommended by EU labelling requirements. Nicolas’ background? He and his wife, Maria, met here at Zaytuna Farm, where they did an internship and completed a teacher trainer course. They then got married, went to Greece, and lived happily ever after. Oh, and somewhere along the way they also set up the Permaculture Research Institute in Greece (PRI Greece), taught the PDC course, and are now busy making “the world’s best olive oil.” Great job, Nicolas! How about some free olive oil samples for everyone in the Friday Five community? 🙂

Grapes in the bathroom. Every philosophy, ideology, movement, or idea that gets some traction will inevitably gather people who enjoy talking “about it.” That’s all well and good, but with something like permaculture, the emphasis has always been on the doing. This is something that Bill repeatedly emphasized: understand the theory and concepts, but the best teacher is the feedback you get once you put these principles into action. With that in mind, I came across this beautiful story of a family in Tasmania, Bill’s home, that have created an off-the-grid paradise.  And the part that is getting the most attention, naturally, is the bathroom, where they grow figs, grapes, plants, and have put in a couple of relaxing chairs for good measure.

Oldie-but-goodie: Last year, Joshua Finch wrote an in-depth and thoughtful piece on forest gardens, using his Nottinghill Edible Forest Garden as a “case study.” It was also extensive (8000+ words!) so we broke it up into 5 separate articles, which you can read here. This is not for the faint of heart; to really get the most out of Joshua’s exceptional piece(s), put aside some time to go through it and absorb its countless actionable takeaways. In the meantime, you can enjoy a photo slideshow from the first year and another one from the second year of his forest garden. If you enjoyed Joshua’s post (or all 5!), be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, and feel free to check out thousands of other past articles, here.

As always, you’re welcome to forward this Friday Five to a friend. Anyone can sign up for the next batch.

Cheers, and have a great weekend,

Your friend,



PS: I want to thank all of you who are engaging with the Friday Fives by sharing your thoughts in the comments section. As I’ve said before, these Friday Fives are meant to be a conversation-starter, and our community benefits when you share your insights, experience, and different point of view. So let your voice be heard by jumping over to the blog post version of this Friday Five (and all past FFs), and sharing your thoughts in the discussion / comments section below. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

2016-12-13T11:05:39+00:00 Blog|21 Comments
  • jan

    Hoop you gonna be 1000 years the world needs you ,Thanks man for what you are doing ..

    If there was e nobel price to save the world you shut win one.

  • Dan

    Happy birthday Geoff, and thanks so much for all the work you do around the world!

  • Devi Nair

    Wish you a Very Happy B’day, Geoff and many, many more to come. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many of us.

  • Happy Birthday. There is no easy exit for you Geoff. You have a long way to go. Inspiring, digging deep, spreading inspiration, transforming the soils, the minds and the lives. You are a transmitter. Enjoy the fullness of the 6 the decade.

  • Miguel Angel Delorenzi

    Happy birthday Geoff, it was really nice to meet you ( by papers at the begining).

  • Karl Treen

    Re: soil carbon: Thanks for this article, Geoff! my mom, dad and I all attended the University of New Hampshire at various times in our lives – my father actually went to the UNH school of agriculture and, indirectly, set me on the path to find you own work. Now it circles back to UNH again. Funny how things work.

    Happy birthday, sir. Here’s to an abundant southern hemisphere summer!

  • Mauve

    Hello Geoff! We are new to this community and planning a life style change guided by your teachings and Bill’s Manual. We really need you Geoff – things were getting pretty bleak. The ostrich and the penguin scenario comes to mind from video 3 of 9. 🙂 The Idealist and the Practical married for a reason. In the end, we want the same thing, and now we are pulling together again and Permaculture is our common ground. Heartfelt thanks for all the teachings and the free sharing. You and your works are so inspiring. Much respect, and Cheers to you on your birthday!

  • DeBorah

    Happy Birthday! Today is my Earthday too. Glad to know we have something in common. All the Best and enjoy your day.

  • Florie

    Happy Birthdy Geoff may you have many more wonderful years. You see you have a purpose to educate us all to preserve the world.

  • Nadia

    Talking of soil, hope you like this song! Happy birthday! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGGkDogh0kM

  • Michelle salois

    Happy birthday Goeff! I beat you to 62 by two weeks. So appreciate your life work and the love you live through everything

  • Spectacular Friday Five Geoff! The oil, the bathroom, Joshuas forest garden study. Great stuff.

    Happy birthday!

  • Sarah

    Thanks for sharing such a diversity of sources for good work being done. I attended UNH and my husband has been a researcher there for 49 years. They have done some great work that applies to many of my permaculture projects. Sometimes within the permaculture community I have experienced a closed mindedness toward work done at colleges and universities. I knew I had found the right teacher and mentor when I first saw how you are willing to consider that insights and knowledge are found in many different places. May all the blessings you have given others come back to you in abundance. Happy Birthday.

  • donwstewart

    Does anyone know if the UNH results are anything different from what Elaine Ingham and Christine Jones have been saying for decades about the ‘liquid carbon pathway’ and ‘feed the microbes, not the plants’?
    Thanks…Don Stewart

  • Mikko Salonen

    Happy Birthday Geoff,hope you have a great day!

  • Mother Nature has kept you safe because she needs people like you !!!! You are a blessing. Happy birthday !

  • Rita

    Happy Birthday Geoff.

  • Chris Searles

    Happy Birthday, Geoff! Thanks for all you do — here’s a 1 minute video i made on tropical forests https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXpEYssat2A Looking fwd to the online course !

  • Happy Birthday Geoff – thanks for giving so much back. Looking forward to the online PDC staring soon.

  • Nicolas

    Happy Birthday mate! Of course ill send you some of our oil! Cheers for mentioning us, hope all is fine with you and the family. Lots of love, Maria & Nicolas

  • claudio esberard

    I hope you keep on much more years to help people like me, because you are a rare person, and regular people needs to listen rare people to improve and update the regular urban and social system. Thank you very much for everything, and happy birthday!