Return To Eden (Full film)
In 2016 I inherited this garden. I've always thought it would be great to eat from our own garden but I'm working 12 hours a day. How wil I have time for a garden? In a gardening book I once read permaculture is for lazy gardeners. And I thought: that sounds good for me! What are the benefits? In nature, for example, you won't find bare soil. Soil organisms live much better under mulch.
You don't need to spread fertilizer. The soil holds its moist better, so I don't need to irrigate much. So basically, it's all about covering bare soil? Yes, indeed, that's very important. When you look at how nature works for example, how a forest is functioning. You won't find bare soil there. When you dig deep you'll find soil.
Then you'll find old, composted leaves Then you'll see a layer of recognizable leaves. On top you'll find fresh leaves, just fallen. We're trying to copy that here. I've always eaten healthy which meant I bought organic food. Nevertheless, I had a magnesium deficiency So I thought: how's that possible? Then I studied the correlations. And what I really learned, is that by using fertilizer, plants have problems to imbibe magnesium.
Most people don't know what impact healthy soil has on food. Here I have a refractometer. They're not expensive. You can measure density of a liquid with it. With this, you can measure nutrient-density of food.
This is one of the first tomatoes from my garden. You drop some liquid on it. Close it. Try it. You can calibrate your taste.
Look here and you see that the Brix-value is eight. They say from six, a tomato tastes like tomato. So, that's good. This is an organic tomato I bought.
Five. I did an online permaculture design course and I must say, it completely changed my view on the environment. Since then, we catch rainwater in big tanks. We cannot let rainwater flow away unused with this drought. One thing led to another. Permaculture and animals.
In 2016, we moved our milk cows out of the barn because of the extremely low prices. And we asked ourselves: what's next? She asked me whether I realized how much money we're losing every day. It's really not interesting anymore. When I produce a liter of milk for 30 cents and sell it for 23 cents. With our volumes, that's quite a loss.
I googled permaculture and animals, and came across Allan Savory. I listened to it and thought: wow! When it's correct what he's saying. That's enormous! Yeah sure, but it's hard to know what to do when. That for us the unnatural has become normal. In nature, the herd is moving across the grasslands and predators will keep the flock together. Imagine, if we would have a predator here the cows would flock together to defend themselves.
And we lost that in our environment. That's why we use a movable fence. Twice a day we move them a bit further in order to copy nature and the predators. The herd would migrate by itself because they ate the grasslands and dropped their manure. So they'd move on. Because the herd tramples the grass and the soil remains covered the water isn't evaporating as quickly. So the old grass decomposes? Becomes compost? Compost or biomass. It'll fertilize the meadow
You see the flies in the manure. They lay their eggs in it and the manure will be processed. It has an effect on other animals and insects, the birds can pick the maggots out. Because of this, the soil organisms are thriving.
They die from the salt in chemical fertilizers and from pesticides being sprayed. They die because of heat. In general, you often see bare soil. Not here, because it's nicely covered. We're trying to let all soil organisms flourish.
When the herd is grazing like this, in principle, we need less hay and winter feed. We're planning to keep the cows as long as possible outside. When this drought will continue for another three weeks, many farmers will face problems with their meadows. When I see what's below our feet, despite the drought, then these are paradise conditions. I believe more and more in the bible sentence: when you eat from the knowledge tree, you'll be kicked out of paradise. When we simply live together with nature, we'll stay in paradise.
And what can we learn from it? That everybody understands that their shopping involves choices. Often people think that it is just a matter for farmers. But that's not true. Everybody! It's not just somebody far away. Everybody needs to change their thinking.
Then we can change something. We're in the middle of Amsterdam. Three months ago we moved to this building and installed our food production units. Here we produce lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. We directly deliver to shops that are located close to us So very few food miles. Why are you producing indoors? Indoors we are not hindered by the sun and we want to produce in the city.
The way we produce indoors, we have more yield per square meter. Our yield is much higher than in a greenhouse or outside. This way we are not affected by a bad spring or a cold winter.
But you said without the sun? - Correct. But you need the sun, right? Well, not really. We can create photosynthesis with two colors of light: red and blue.
So you won't need all the other colors and thus save energy On the other side of the unit we start with a sprouted seed. Within 12 days, it grows into an adult lettuce crop. Here, at the end of the unit, we harvest the crop. We started with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and different herbs but in the meantime, we've also produced bananas and pineapple.
Not only the fruit as an end-product, but production of a young banana tree. Afterward, you can plant it outside so it has a much better start, which we did a couple of times. In time, a full range of supermarket products can be produced in indoor units. So you are copying nature in a sense? Yes, we are here in a plant production unit where we check and control all conditions important for a plant. Because we are indoors, we can control all parameters such as light, temperature, moisture, CO2, and airspeed.
So the plant always achieves his most convenient environment. And I don't see any soil? - Correct We're growing here without soil, but on rock wool blocks. That's how it's been done for years already in large greenhouses so we don't have to use soil. We can use it longer and it holds the water, which is perfect for the plant. They often say that many essential nutrients are in the soil.
Where do they come from? - We're supplying them with the water. We're starting with clean water and then add the fertilizers. That water we'll give to the crops. The rest water, not used by the crop, is returned to this room and reused 100%. So you're not using pesticides? No. Because we have closed units and don't have diseases.
That's why we don't need to use pesticides. The only water we're consuming, is the water inside the crop. With outdoor cultivation, you sometimes need up to 250 liters to get 1 kilo. Comparing this with our way of production, we just need 1 liter.
With 1 liter water, 1 kilo yield. That's all the water we consume. Outside, the water evaporates, so it's lost to the air and cannot be given back. Which means consumption of water.
So you could place a unit, call it a container, in the Ethiopian desert and you could provide food immediately? Correct. We would not do it in a container, though, that's too small. You should look at how many people and adjust the production to that number to avoid overproduction. You need to produce for the actual amount of local people.
You can calculate in advance how many square meters of units you would need to feed the population in a certain way. People around the world have different food patterns we have to take into account. And that's easy, because we can produce every kind of plant in our units.
So, this way we decentralize the complete food production? - Exactly. It becomes very local and people can be involved. Instead of bringing sacks of rice, we can install this kind of technology locally so they become responsible for their own food production.
And immediately, it has a high standard in terms of nutrients. We can produce food that is really valuable there. After the dry summer of 2018, rain was scarce again from the start of the year. We don't have enough feed for our cattle because we used it all. When this drought continues, we just can't go on. Is the Dutchman at home? Yes, he'll be here soon. Would you like coffee?
Yes, please. It's unbelievably dry. It's not so bad here, because I can irrigate somewhat. But oh oh oh.
Have you ever experienced it like this? - No In our forest as well, you can see it from here. All these dead trees. You can see it clearly. It's just unimaginable. Like I said, I'm luckily that I have water here. Otherwise, the cows would have to leave.
And it's the joy of my life, being in nature here. Luckily, I do have hay. But not a blade of grass grew this summer and autumn. You can imagine how farmers are doing. That feeling like, oh my, oh my... They are trapped between the industry and the banks.
The chemical industry and the customers. The yields all go to markets, traded at stock exchanges. The farmer just receives a small part and the banks are constantly breathing down his neck.
Hot breath. When do I get my money? So the farmers, especially now, must be stressed out big time. Now we're in September. Still no rainfall, thus no business. You are a milk cow farmer. Your cows need feed, normally they eat grass. What do you do now? Grass is indeed a big problem.
Normally we do four cuts, which means we harvest hay off the meadow four times. This year we could harvest once. To compensate, we harvested green grain and stocked it in our silo which on the other hand, reduces our grain production. And we're buying extra straw and corn. In Northern Europe, we see degradation of arable land.
Do you see that here as well? We've experienced this practically for the last two years. By the end of september, we should be seeding for certain crops and we didn't do anything yet. So it's already pre-programmed that the next year will not be optimal. When I can't seed at the best moments I can't grow the crops like I should, due to the weather.
So this year you are not able to... What's the point in seeding crops when there's no water? It's like trying to grow grain in the desert. We work in tourism and earn some money. And when the tourists are not here, we live from this. No problem.
And that's good. With the money we earn, we can create this. We can eat a little bit and be healthy. You know, we like tomatoes and we can grow anything. Maged told me that you're working on greening the desert here in Sinai? That's true.
It sounds rather ambitious. We received a question from the General of Egypt if we could make a plan for lake Bardawil because there the the ecology is breaking down. It's very salty and shallow there.
And that is a lake? - It's a lake in the Northern part of the Sinai. And when we visited, we came to the conclusion that if we would green the Sinai itself we would be generating rain for a very large region. And better water conditions for an even larger area.
So we said, let's do it. It might mean all of Northern Africa can become green again. All of Northern Africa? The location of the Sinai, in combination with the lake sediments can have that big potential for the world. You say, we reactivate the lake? Do you mean the desert was once green? Yes, our theory is that this is the case. We believe it was green 7,000 years ago and that it was destroyed by human activity. Look, we have satellite images.
This is the Sinai and here is the lake. You see the heart with her veins, they were once river beds. Based on this image, we created an X-ray and then you see how it was once beating like a heart. We want to reactivate that.
I can't imagine this being green once. Still, the riverbeds mean that there's been ecology, nature, flowing water. This was alive once. So how did it become a desert? It's the same with what people are doing now. Our theory is that 7,000 years ago, people farmed just like we do now. Monoculture, grazing of livestock and they took more from the land than it could give.
And then rain caused mudslides. Due to erosion all sediments flushed to the lower delta. Fertile material... We see it on the news today, mudstreams flushing down mountains. That happened here as well, multiple times until the ecology collapsed. So the fertile soil flushed down. Where is it now?
It ended up in the delta. There's a lake bordering on the sea. A lagoon. This lake used to be 20-40 meters deep and now it's just 1.5 meter. The eroded soil flushed into it with salt and sand, etc. And all organic material is still there. So you dredge the organic material and bring it back where it came from? Initially, you can use the organic material together with halophytes Plants that tolerate salty environments and desalinate the soil. You see here, on salty soil with local sediments people are already growing food crops And we're now talking about creating plants and trees on higher altitude.
They can take root so we can avoid erosion. And they can store moisture and create natural water production. The trees, their leaves, will capture moisture from the higher air layers. We are continuously analyzing how natural systems are working and trying to kickstart it. What life needs to become regenerative again
In a desert you see the wind is fiercely blowing over land which receives no moisture due to lack of ecology. And all moisture will be lost over the mountain. We see that when ecology has been restored the evaporated sea air will receive enough moisture from the land to come down as rain.
The moment there's ecology and water can evaporate, the energy needed won't be converted to heat anymore. The land will be less hot, the wind will be blowing with less speed and because you still add evaporation, the concentration of water still increases. Until it starts condensating. With condensation the air will implode and attract on a higher air layer evaporated sea moisture.
But everybody knows that if a droplet evaporates, heat is given to the air. So clouds develop in vertical direction until the droplet is heavy enough. When it cannot find enough thermal spirals to lift itself, it'll fall down. The moment the droplet is falling, due to the dragforce in the air, the wind direction will change. Here you see the Sinai.
The land warms, you get thermals, low pressure areas. So evaporated moisture is pulled from the sea over the Sinai. There's no ecology to add enough moisture for rain so the wind blows fiercely and beats into the Red Sea. And I saw that the Indian ocean air went into Mesopotamia, Irak, Saudi Arabia... If we turn the wind direction here by ecology restoration we can turn the whole system.
If we stop this little part here, the moisture won't be pulled from the Mediterranean into the Red Sea anymore. But because of the Coriolis effect, the world turning, I knew the old Indian ocean air in fact wanted to go this way. What you see is that it's a acupuncture point of this region and maybe even of this whole world. And if you restore the weather system by restoring the ecology you can completely turn around the global and regional weather patterns.
But aren't you stealing water from other countries? You see here a map of all the registered typhoons and cycloons in this region. This is the Sinai. You see that in the current system the moisture that's being injected into the water cycle of the Indian ocean is currently the cause of many bad weather systems. The moment you green this, the number of cycloons and typhoons will decrease drastically. Furhtermore, when the wind starts again Northern China will no longer have the foehn effect from Aleppo. So by greening one small part of the world, it will be a climate hotspot, when we will be restoring that.
Andreas, I'm reading about cloud seeding, solar radiation management and weather manipulation. I mean, can I take this seriously? Cloud seeding is being practised to avoid hailstorms. They vaccinate clouds so they they prevent stormclouds producing hailstones.
This is being done in Europe, too. They are doing it in the USA, in Israel. They also do it to influence rainfall, more rain, mostly in desert regions.
They did it in China during the Olympics in Beijing to optimize the weather conditions. It's questionable if it works On the climate it has no effect at all, it's too small, too local. After one day, it's all gone. The clouds shed all their rain. They're considering to increase the cloud layers on a global scale.
Clouds are bright and they reflect sunlight and can therefore reduce global warming somewhat. They bounce sun radiation back into the universe. What kind of substance is it? The idea is to use volcanic sulphur-like materials.
Sulphur is good to use because it attracts water vapour, binds doplets. So with little dust you can achieve many big drops and create a large, white mirroring surface to bend the radiation. Some scientists say we could use aluminum particles or chalk but CO2 will still be there because it has a lifespan of 400-1,000 years.
That means, the dust needs to be enough and the clouds revaccinated. Are we not interfering too much with the biology? Let nature simply be nature. Yes we can do that. Nature will somehow regulate it. We had many situations on earth when CO2 was much higher than today. Nature can deal with it. No problem. It will be cleaned.
Planet Earth always did this, during trillions of years. It's a selfregulating thermostat. Unfortunately, that process is very slow and we humans don't have the patience for it. The main question of course is: who is actually controlling what, where and how much is happening in our atmosphere? To whom belongs the climate? Our climate is a common good, I suppose, so it needs to be done in a democratic way.
And we don't have a world democracy to decide. When we're starting with radiation management and one person will decide how warm or how cold it will be, we will all immediately be dissatisfied. Because we will ask why did it rain so much? Or the farmer asks why didn't it rain today? There's always someone to blame. And when we know who's to blame, we start to fight. And that's a world in which I don't want to live and which is likely to make mankind unhappy.
In the Old Testament, the Garden of Eden has been described as a place where the balance of everything created paradise. What are they trying to tell us? First of all, in the creation story it says: Act in the name of the creator who created heaven and earth, plants, animals and people. That tells us also that the creator is present in all alive beings and that we all have a big 'together', as well.
"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it." But subduing doesn't mean exploiting and being selfish. It means live and let live. Albert Schweitzer had a very nice ethical principle.
I'm life who wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live as well. That's actually meant with Paradise. Live and let live. So that everything is doing well, not only we, humans, but also the animals and the plants. Because I lived in Northern Norway. We really had glaciers and we saw how they retreated.
We saw what damage it did in nature. And it's also important that we're telling these stories. The big question is, at least for me, the Garden of Eden has its own life as well and he is doing what he likes. Sometimes he's cooling, at other times warming.
Do we need to stop the Garden of Eden? Or? Where's the balance? It's difficult, right? You can say, the glacier is retreating, and that's nature. We need to come to a point that we say: we need to give nature some space to live. And not immediately intervene with technology but also see if nature perhaps can help itself.
We couldn't plant anything on this sand. It was so barren. We had to have our kraal in the fields so we can have better yields. This is my movable kraal. Now I'm getting better yields than before. When I put the kraal somewhere, I count the days. I look at how the soil is mixed with manure and then I move the kraal.
In the village, people didn't think we could achieve something like this. We started to plant our vegetables and we even planted the orange fruit trees you see over there.