The GrowUp project aims to develop a model community/communities which, as much as possible are self sufficient, low impact and carbon negative,and whose main objective will be to reforest/replant, as we believe that this is the starting point to solve the problems facing humanity. Assisting the Earth to regenerate biomass, soils, water and nutrient capacities. Following permaculture principles, we will address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions whist providing a source of fuel, food and material for shelter which will allow people to create low impact homes, and small communities and to provide for their needs locally and organically. By creating forest gardens to provide for our food supply, we will also work at increasing biodiversity, reducing carbon in the atmosphere,increasing carbon in the soil, at retaining more water in the soil and re establishing nature’s way of controlling the water cycle, at increasing the fertility of the soil and stopping soil erosion; the list of benefits that intelligently replanting achieves goes on.
What’s more, planting up will give us a surplus of the resources needed to create clean carbon negative energy, biomass being the fuel which creates clean electricity and biochar/ charcoal. The role of biochar in reducing the level of carbon in the atmosphere is huge. By turning biomass into biochar in fact we permanently sequester carbon from the atmosphere and are left with a potent ingredient to replenish the soil. It has been proven that digging charcoal into the soil enriches it and hugely improves growth rates, overall yield and soil life/health, thus feeding into a positive cycle of aiding the regrowth of trees and plants on which a low impact system relies.
Research shows biochar can also be beneficial for the production of carbon negative energy (“Bioenergy with biochar carbon storage facilitates the generation of carbon-negative energy” – UN) . Biochar is produced by cooking biomass in a machine called a gasifier in a zero/low oxygen environment, simultaneously producing syngas through a process known as pyrolysis/gasification. Gasification is a very efficient way of extracting energy from plants whilst permanently sequestering carbon from the atmosphere (up to 85% efficiencies at the moment) . The syngas co-product is then transformed into electricity via an internal combustion, gas turbine engine and alternator or fuel cell such as the bloombox into carbon negative electricity with which we can keep our computers and washing machines running and charge up the electric vehicle/energy store.
Humanity is facing four fundamental problems in these times:
- Climate Change
- Biodiversity Loss
- Peak Oil + many other finite resources
- Soil Depletion
If all of these problems are not addressed, civilisation as we know it will end.
Fortunately, the knowledge and technology exists to deal with all of these problems simultaneously. These are:
- Permaculture: Forest Garden polycultures have been repeatedly shown to produce surpluses of food, materials and energy crops, whilst creating conditions for biodiversity to improve. Increasing the overall amount of perennial living matter on the planet locks up CO2.
- Charcoal/biochar: production which locks up CO2 whilst restoring soil, improving water retention and increasing yields.
- Biomass gasification: a process which gives 1kWh (1 unit) of electricity for each 1-1.5 kilo of plant matter (biomass). Biomass gasification produces clean energy whilst locking up CO2 taken from the atmosphere by the plant during growth, in the form of the charcoal co-product which is returned to the land.
- Consumption reduction: localisation, passive solar building techniques, waste elimination – systems should cycle and feed each other as in nature.
To implement these solutions on a large scale, planning laws must change to allow people back on the land to build off-grid low impact forest garden based eco-villages.
Growup.org.uk is campaigning to obtain this change in the law in the UK, but it’s also actively promoting a more sustainable way of living, spreading awareness about the opportunities we have to shift to a more meaningful way of life, reconnecting with nature and community, whilst improving standards of living through consideration of natural capital.
Our ideas are expressed in a weekly exhibition on sustainable living called ‘Forward the Evolution’ which started on Saturday June 12, 2010 in Oval, London, and will be on every Thursday from 6pm till midnight, with film shows, live music and information sharing.
Luckily, the UK Government wants to reforest two million acres of the UK for its carbon sink potential. They also need 300,000 new homes by 2020. Access to land will mean new houses, new jobs, more growth as in forest, food, soil fertility, biodiversity, sustainable energy, CO2 mitigation, communities and less waste. All of the techniques and technologies exist and are supported by sources such as the UN, the UK government, the Rand Corporation, The Royal Society along with many of the research papers upon which their findings are based, which you will find in the growup website pages.
This is positive, possible and necessary action. Are you up for it?
There are various ways to get involved in this project. The simplest is to keep in touch by email at info (at) growup.org.uk or befriend us on facebook.
You could also sign our online petition which will be delivered to new Liberal Democrat Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne as well as 10 Downing Street.
Support the cause by sending an e-mail to your MP to demand a change in planning law to enable people to address the dire problems we face. Here is a template.
Join us at one of our events such as the exhibition or online at growup.org.uk