Community Gene Bank
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Video Presentation on Local Food Systems
Introduction - Open Source Continental Gene Bank
See description of context for our local food systems work at http://blog.opensourceecology.org/?p=506 :
We are creating a gene bank (for all 5 kingdoms) for useful species adapted to the North American continental climate. Our physical location is the central united States of America, near the geographical center of the continent. Temperatures here range between 90F in summer and -20 in winter, with about 35 inches of annual rainfall.
We are starting a funding collection for the living stock part - an open source nursery - the community-supported gene bank. We are creating an open source living gene bank and propagation facility, and populating it with as many useful species as possible. You can benefit greatly from this – by sweat equity propagation where you then get your stock for free. This means that if you support the gene bank, you are welcome to come on site, and propagate material for yourself. Sweat equity means that both sides benefit. For example, if you propagate an apple tree for yourself from rootstocks and scion wood, we would like you to propagate one for us as well. This is a loose arrangement, but it typically means that we do a service to you by providing you with plants and animals, and you give back to us in terms of your labor of propagating some stock for us. This is both educational and productive for both sides.
Funding will go to purchasing plant and other living stock, which will subsequently be stewarded at Factor e Farm. About half of the total of $6k request will go to the stock, and the other half to soil improvement via manuring, contour swales, microberms, and other earthwork to stabilize erosion and build the soil. The soil improvement work will go towards the supplies and tractor work involved in this task.The economics work out in terms of us collecting a diverse array of stock - by co-funding this collection - so that it can become a one-stop-shop for many peoples' needs. Sweat equity helps us propagate material, and others benefit by access to low-cost or free material. We can use this stock to start productive operations - nut and fruit orchards, berry u-picks, and so forth. We are aiming to encourage others to become producers themselves - by providing easy access to the required living material.
The point is that contributions go to creating a rich repository of living material. As such, even from the financial perspective, a future producer who is interested in totally diversified productive operation has an incentive to contribute. It takes thousands of dollars to acquire initial living stock for such an operation - but that cost may be practically eliminated if one has access to a nursery. This is exactly what we're building.
For example, say you want to start an orchard and u-pick. You can come to our apple root stock planting, followed by rooting of branches that become rootstocks. In the spring, you graft the apple plants and do raspberry root cuttings for a crop that fruits much sooner than apples. You can do that - at no cost outside of a day or two of labor, which can provide you with hundreds of plants. These would otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars, or thousands if you got older plants. Is this doable? Yes, because plant propagation can produce in abundance - and sweat equity can address the labor requirements to a large degree. This does rely on appropriate equipment for soil propagation and maintenance duties - but we've got that covered with the LifeTrac and MicroLifeTrac infrastructures. Think of it this way: we are creating a propagation facility, and every one of us collaborates in making it a success. How about freeloader? You can't freeload if you're paying with your labor. Giving back to the gene bank by propagation keeps the gene bank from being depleted.
We believe that such a gene bank or open source nursery could be a great contribution to local food system, as an increasing number of people becomes involved in edible landscapes, perennial agriculture, and production.
Propagation is trivial for many plants, such as raspberries and apples. You have to come on-site for this aspect – and our wiki has a propagation calendar that displays available stock and timing for propagation. Supporters are welcome to come to workshops or by appointment. This is meant to be a regional plant exchange with a living facility, as part of a small farm incubator for local food systems – by providing access to the necessary tools, stocks, and knowledge.
We’re generating the necessary knowledge by documenting the successes and failures. One example of success is - if we plant out rootstock seed in the greenhouse – the plants can be ready for grafting by budding in late summer, if we take care of the plants. We did some budding, but none of it took last year. From some of the pictures in this video – does anyone have any suggestions on what went wrong? See the video above.
We are interested in collecting stock and breeding of all types of useful material. If you have any further questions or would like to collaborate, please email opensourceecology at gmail dot com.