"Many small people, in small places, doing small things can change the world"
– Eduardo Galeano 1940 - 2015
We are determined not to contribute to the environmental destruction being carried out in the name of economic progress in our time. As brewers, makers and gardeners we have envisioned a production process for drinks making that contributes to land regeneration, to reverse its depletion.
As the content of so much of the internet is created through commons based peer production our idea is to set up a brewery with a distributed production process, so that goods and services can be sourced closest to their point of creation. For Example - if drinks are ordered through us for an event or venue in Bristol, we will have some one there in our network setup who lives in this area to create the product there. The idea is to build on this network so we can create desirable part time work, more localised (and seasonal) drink production, and in the longer term use the profits to create a fund for youth land regeneration initiatives.
This is our shared technical vision for fuelling a drinks producing (and edible landscaping) enterprise that contributes to earth (soil, land, community and water) regeneration.
Here are the 13 processes that we are actively working towards:
“People often think that there are two ways of doing things. One is by returning to a life of drudgery, the other is by throwing fossil fuels at it. Permaculture offers a third way of doing things, and that is by design.” – Patrick Whitefield, 1949 - 2015
We have been inspired by the work of Soil-Carbon-Regeneration to work with wood-fuel as a means to provide our production energy in this age of peak oil. Our focus here is a form of alt.energy that has received the least recognition and investment, for the benefits it offers, as far as we can see. This energy stream is (waste) wood gasification for the creation of climate-stabilising (bio)charcoal, bio-char, as a bi-product from all heat creation and use. With heat we can preserve the nutrients and flavours of all kinds of fruit and veg that we are increasingly able to acquire as waste or surplus from outlets supplying urban markets. Our operations, (outside of established kitchens) will be powered by wood-gasifying, charcoal producing heating and cooling systems. The stoves are designed to burn all of the gases in wood fuel that are normally emitted into the air to produce extremely efficient heat and give stabilised Carbon (charcoal) as a yield.
Storing carbon in the form of bio-char, made by our future heating systems, would not be effective without its application through forestry practices. Adding charcoal to soil through the gardening initiatives we plan to expand will build soil, safely store carbon, reduce the need for watering crops and optimise energy use for the future. Faced with this economies total dependance on the continued exploitation of earth's fossil fuels, we are focussing on spreading tangible alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels, which can grow limitlessly to build soil and generate energy, as the fossil economy contracts.
Closed loop production
With all our services, we will aim to minimise the use of imported raw materials. With all our production, we will seek to to create ecologies of scale, whereby the bi-products of one industry or field are raw material for the next, and the wastes of one enterprise can be fertiliser for another. Our first closed loop cycle we are working towards is setting up our new fermentory in Brighton. Rather than buying in fossil-fuel gas bottles to power our production operations, we are making a bio-digester to make ourselves cooking gas and plant fertiliser from our compost from fruit pressing... In this design, we could make raw Apple juice, supply half of it as raw juice whilst digesting the pulp and then use the cooking gas from the pulp to pasteurise all the remaining juice in bottles... Gaining two valuable products, one more highly nutritious, the other with lasting value in shelf-life, from just one source of energy - the apples themselves! The energy from both Biogas and bio-char processes, harness natural processes to cycle the energy embodied in the bi-products of industry, back into the production process which closes the loop and reduces our dependance on fossil fuel based energy and practices that are costing the earth.
Wood Up-cycling for Aesthetic and Function
We constantly come across discarded wood and store as much as we can for workshop re-making, re-purposing and restoring. For all our brewing operations we plan to use reclaimed wood where applicable, repurposed pallet wood will be fashioned into Old Tree boxes for carrying all the drinks we use and the Old Tree logo will be an actual brand - burnt into the wood to give the timeless aesthetic we want for the Old Tree.
Pedal powered and solar assisted transportation
We are the proud owners of a rickshaw and are currently working on the design and build of making it electrically assisted and solar charged to be the Old Tree community delivery vehicle for all our drinks throughout Brighton. Pedal powered transport in cities offers a sustainable alternative to the urban nightmares of congestion, air pollution and parking restrictions and also saves time and money in the long term, so is something we plan to invest more into as we grow - carbon neutral transport forever!
‘To be is to be related, for relationship is the essence of existence.”
We will generate social capital for community resilience. Through our widespread planting of food-forests and organised land-regeneration initiatives we strive to add educational and social value by facilitating new connections between people, plants and living landscapes. We want the realisation of abundance accessed through food forestry, community gardening and small scale organic farming to shape a new social and economic culture. A culture that heals the earth and (re)empowers people to join it.
Ultimately the Old Tree stands to sow the seeds of a restorative culture, through a web of connections it can make around the world, building beneficial relationships to create the synergies in the human world that we can see abound in nature. We see the accumulation of social capital as the foundation of this kind of new productive network, leading to:
Commons Based Peer Production
‘Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking’ – Margulis & Sagan
We know that real wealth, health and wellbeing are created by people and nature and not by the handful of gigantic non-human persons (corporations) and institutions that hold power over our global monetary system and mode of production today. We see in this society, so many unmet needs and simultaneously so many unrequited gifts. Skills and talents of people (the young in-particular) that are so badly needed in society that are un-pursuable for them, because they cannot be converted into money in the same way as other services. We have genius that cannot be realised, because it cannot pay the rent. Establishing as a makers co-operative we believe we can continually integrate this genius into our co-operative and network, and that constant diversification of products and services through the Old Tree can bring about greater economic resilience and growth to the business and practices of all involved.
Activated carbon filtration
If we can make safe drinking water and living soil everywhere, then we don't need sewage systems that degrade the earth. We plan to use the charcoal created by our heating processing to filter our drinks. Charcoal, ground into activated carbon, is the most effective material for water filtration known. Anyone with access to basic materials can build a charcoal water filtration system capable of purifying even the most polluted water. In our drink production we wish to filter out the yeasts of fermentation at the right moment to achieve the desired levels of sweetness in our drinks and give them shelf-life. In the future we also want to filter rain-water to run our breweries and kitchens and we will be storing charcoal with as many of our brewing operations as possible, ready for this.
Post drink-production Carbon Farming
"Most peoples incomes derive from systems which rely on the burning of fossil fuels. If a critical mass of people were to produce resources in ways which build soil and reverse climate change then we would have a sustainable economic backbone." – Ed Revell, Uk Carbon farmer and domestic heat bio-char pioneer
After the charcoal has been used for filtration we will use it to stabilise compost and add to the soil to build both: soil structure and natural fertility. The broad term for this practice is carbon farming. These pages explain the science of agro-ecology that demonstrate what make carbon farming so vital for our soil and climate. Ed Revell, the biochar stove pioneer and carbon farmer in Swansea, south Wales best explains the process of how soil aggregation is achieved by adding bio-char to the soil in a no-dig growing system called alley cropping and a symbioses between plant roots and AMF - Arbuscular (meaning tree-like) Mychorrizal (meaning connective) Funghi. Mychorrizal Funghi thrive with the addition of biochar, which achieves nutrient retention whilst building soil structure, which provides water storage for the ecosystem. Having visited this carbon farm we have seen Carrots the size of cucumbers and beetroots the size of footballs, amidst rows of flowering plants, woodchip mulch and biochar-stabilised compost – testifying to the productivity of this agricultural technique. Creating abundance whilst building soil, reversing climate change and avoiding the use of chemical fertilisers or harmful pesticides entirely. Ed Revell writes it on the pages: here.
"When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied." - Herophilus
The relentless burning of fossil fuels is destroying our climate and the underlying health of our biosphere. We wish to integrate all renewable production sources into Old Tree growth to develop resilient alternatives to fossil fuel dependance. Small solar, wind, hydro, and bio (diversity) diesel production will be invested in for real growth. One of our primary methods is to intercept waste wood, chip it and season it to create optimum fuel from material (that would normally be destructively burnt in bonfires or hauled away uneconomically to be incinerated) to use in the bio-charcoal producing, wood gas stoves which will power our breweries. To also accumulate fuel through forestry practices, from sustainable management of local woodlands. Our plan is to harness appropriate technology to use this material as power for our processing operations and utilities of: cooking, heating, transport and electricity.
"The future exists today as a seed" - Joseph Beuys
Our mobile refrigeration unit and kitchen is powered by 500 w of solar power and available to hire with drinks for events. We also innovate and share designs in: compost loo design and build, public space planting plans, water retention landscaping, green-roofs and hand-crafted growing structures.
Plant and tree solutions
“The desire to live with trees is part of being human. This longing is planted deep in our consciousness and open meadows, surrounded by trees with running water is our preferred habitat.”
We know that the kingdom of plants contains so many of the answers to the problems we face and that a great deal of innovation comes from the study of plants. Unbelievably, of the roughly 265,000 species of plant that we now know exist, around 40,000 are estimated to have medicinal or nutritional applications for humans, yet only 1100 have been properly studied and even less than this are in practical use. We see the alarming rainforest destruction happening around the world as a symptom of a disconnected people, who have forgotten the value of the plant world that makes their existence possible. So many health problems in all areas (society, economy, ecology) would be alleviated if people reconnected with plants through a growing culture.
The way we see it, if we can have a fast food restaurant on every street corner then we can have this many gardens too. We can create gardens everywhere using the nutrient flows (compostable materials) that we are currently wasting. These gardens can grow lots of what we need, from food to medicine and building materials, whilst providing beauty and environmental health at the same time.
Open Source Restoration Agriculture
"It was here i first saw how the wastelands of the earth could be restored by the full flowering of ourselves." - Charlotte Du Can
We need to assist in the natural process of regenerating the biological commons, and to protect the vital ecosystems (that create the fertile soil and clean air and water) which remain, to survive on this planet. We're greatly inspired by the project Farm Hack - an existing globally open sourced community for resilient agriculture. And websites such as perennial plant wiki's already in action that can begin to facilitate relearning of the ways of living in harmony with nature that have been lost. We plan to build up a following and develop an online book/blog with multiple contributors – to open source all Old Tree innovations and break-throughs in appropriate technology for networked, small-scale, restoration agriculture. We plan for the food-forest drink supply to fund our practice of giving knowledge and designs away for free, as the only way to accomplish vital ecological recovery and continue to feed the growing human population is for the small scale farming and growing culture itself to regenerate land all around the world.
Scaling out over scaling up
"If we’re not spending enough time in the rhythms of nature and the rhythms of community we begin to match the rhythm of the machine." - anon
We live at a moment of transitions between worlds and the transition must be full of joy to succeed. For this reason, we plan to involve people, both in our production and through land regeneration projects that our drink production will fund & feed. We do not plan to become brewers or gardeners that become servants to giant machines. There is no wealth but life, and that includes ours! We want to prove that efficiency doesn't have to come with the loss of creativity and connection to place or other. We want to create cultures of production populated by connected & contented people and we want to create thousands of part time jobs in a smaller (but more local and direct) industry scale of production – as opposed to the status quo of over-worked full time staff on salaries (without any time to actually enjoy the whole world that surrounds them or follow their own path through it). We know from the way advanced ecosystems (such as a forest or meadow) flourish that such transition is inevitable - that in nature collaboration and creativity constantly win out over competition and repetition, to create the conditions for greater diversity and resilience to emerge.
Aligned with this we plan to invest in human scale equipment for all the brewing operations and have them installed as close as possible to the drinks point of consumption, always keeping haulage to a minimum. We want to be able to create jobs that create health – driving barrels of drink to a nearby pub on a pedal powered rickshaw (and having rickshaws everywhere) for example, and not the kind of jobs that deplete our inner and outer worlds today - involving lorries and gigantic machines.
(work in progress)
"The old world is dying, but a new world is being born. It generates
inspiration from the chaos that beats upon us all. The false grandeur
and security, the unfulfilled promises and illusory power, the number of
the dead and those about to die, will charge the forces of our courage
and determination. The old world will die so that the new world will be
born with less sacrifice and agony on the living ... " – Carlos Bulosan
To be radical means ‘to grasp the root of’. So in search of the root of the problem, we seek to deal in the roots between people. Food and drink are two things that connect people and have been used as forms of currency throughout history. We have the knowledge to make drink well and grow healthy food in ecological ways and so plan to use this industry as the primary the economic industry of Old Tree growth.
In other words, life really occurs through cooperation, interaction and mutual dependance between living organisms. Its as though our civilised culture has been in denial of this for hundreds if not thousands of years, and in the hangover over the industrial revolution it is finally dawning as reality. What is the point in quantity over quality any more? How can we justify production that reduces life? How can such inequality of opportunity prevail in such a rapidly changing world?
We know also that all the nutrients generated in these cascades of life & growth are recycled endlessly by micro-organisms in the soil that form expanding connective pathways that simultaneously break down matter and attach to the roots of plants to make the vital nutrients available again for the dance of productivity to continue. We know that this has been evolving for millions of years, that it's only source of energy is from the sun and that it produces diversity, abundance, beauty and resilience, without human interference. If microscopic fungi can achieve this then so can we.
So our plan for real growth is to become networked like the Arbuscular (meaning ‘tree-like’) Mychorrizal (meaning connective) Fungi (meaning mushroom) – that is the great internet of the soil, allowing almost all the trees and plants to share (and cycle) nutrients and information to create the most abundant ecosystems we find on Earth.
We are at odds with our dominant culture on notions of progress in everything from economy to education, and we want to be involved in the transformation of these, for sustainable human existence to become possible.
WE WILL USE THE PROCEEDS FROM DRINKS TO PLANT FOOD FORESTS FAR AND WIDE.
Environmentally speaking, no single action a person can take for this earth has more beneficial impact than planting a tree.
We envision Old Tree drinks to become inseparable from a land regenerating, earth repairing culture, and to function as an educational tool to re-educate people about the qualities and uses of the plants used in food-forestry.