Sunday, March 6, 2011

Resource Inventory, Ulgii Soum (Day 05)


Photo: Yeltai hasha, site of Design Task 1.


 Photo: Hodvsgol River, still frozen enough to drive across.



Photo: Treeless river flats of Bayan Ulgii.  Two generations ago, the flats were covered with trees.


 Photo:Chickens, huddled together against the cold.  This flock has survived here for years, producing about 10 eggs /day from March until October, bringing in 300 tugrik per egg.



Photo: Father & Son show off their Root Cellar, which stores 20 tonnes of carrot and potato, and is heated throughout the winter.

Photo: Tree plantation, Siberian Larch.


Photo: Remnants of Russian Agriculture.



Photo: Bottle greenhouse under construction.  Everyone wonders: 'How long did it take him to drink all of this??'

 Photo: Ulgii street cows.




 Photo: Final Design Task site.

Met with Dr Beckett today, a Mongolian scholar studying the ethnography & ecology of Bayan Ulgii province, and the future impacts of climate change and global warming on the region's environment, communities and economy.  A strong silver-haired gentleman (wish I had the presence of mind to snap a photo; we were so engaged with our conversation and the task at hand that it completely slipped our minds) with smiling eyes, an impish grin, and the bearhands of a wrestler, he proved to be a wealth of information about plant species native to, and suited to the area. 

Through him, we successfully identified 2 local species we were previously unaware of to fulfill nitrogen-fixing and coppicing functions in our tree cropping guild, and learned that a local variety of apples were grown successfully in a neighbouring soum.


Highly specialized information such as this can be accessed locally by seeking out leaders & innovators in relevant areas of expertise (so far we have met: Tree Doctor, Chicken Lady, Root Cellar Farmer, Bottle Greenhouse Man, etc.).  Much can be learned from their local experience by taking the time to visit, asking about what they have been working on, and about how you can support their work (what they need next). 


In this instance, an informal strategic alliance was formed with a mutual agreement to share information between projects, and a pledge from the Doctor to support our work with answers to queries about characteristics fulfilled by specific local species, which can then be used by students to create planting guilds, to be utilized in pasture cropping, vegetable cropping, and tree cropping systems for their designs.


The Permacultural approach to Aid & Development seeks to work with the resources that already exist (rather than impose systems which may have worked elsewhere, and are therefore deemed to be appropriate & effective in other scenarios); we seek to identify existing resources, and make connections between them so that the needs of one element in the system are fulfilled by the waste products of another.

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