“So we went in and had a look and thought, Oh no! This is the end of the earth! This is like as hard as you can get. This is hyper arid. And it’s ten acres of almost dead flat. Completely salted landscape, 400 meters below sea level. The lowest place on earth. 2 kilometers from the Dead Sea. About 2 kilometers from where Jesus was christened. Hardly got any rainfall. Temperatures in August that go over 50 degrees Centigrade…”

See the amazing video after the jump.

Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia

“Everybody farming under plastic strips. Everybody spray, spray, spray. Everybody’s putting synthetic fertilizer on. Overgrazed with goats. Just like maggots eating the flesh down to the bones of the country. Literally like maggots, giant maggots, eating it to nothing.

So we designed a system that would harvest every single bit of rainwater that fell on it. On ten acres. That’s one and a half kilometers of swell, water harvesting ditch on contour. And when they’re full, one million liters of water soak into the landscape. And they’ll fill quite a few times over a winter. And then we heavily mulch those swells with organic matter which was trash from organic fields nearby.

Life in the Desert

“We put that almost half a meter deep. So we saved that, and mulched the swells, which were about two meters wide and half a meter deep on the trench. Then we put micro irrigation underneath the mulch. And then on the uphill side of the water harvesting trench, we put nitrogen fixing very hardy pioneer desert trees, which help shade and reduce wind evaporation, and help put nitrogen back into the soil. And structure the soil for us. And then on the lower side of the trench, we put fruit trees. Major date palms as the long-term over story. Then we put in figs, pomegranates, mulberries, guavas, now some citrus. Within four months,  we had figs a meter high, with figs on, which is impossible.

We trained up some locals, got a translator who has a degree in agriculture in Jordan University. He got onto his mates in the agriculture department and said, ‘Well, you couldn’t grow figs. We’ve grown figs. You better come test the soil. No matter what you say, we’re either growing in salty soil what shouldn’t be growing, or we’ve desalted the soil. And we’d like to know what we’ve done.’ They came in, and the salt levels were dropping, and they became interested…”

This is amazing. Many thanks to Geoff Lawton and staff for providing us with such an amazing and inspiring example of restorative stewardship.

Just One of Many Applications

You might wonder why you’re watching a fascinating video on restoring barren salty desert into lush green life giving soil.

“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

I was severely tempted to make this a very spiritual post, about our “mandate” to subdue the earth and what not. But that’s artificial. That’s not where I’m coming from.

My REAL purpose in posting this is to share where we’re at as a family. There’s a family vision being formed which includes, but is not limited to, stewardship of the earth. When I saw this video, I got excited. I want to do this. It’s not ALL I want to do, but I want to be part of transforming a piece of this planet into something lush, thriving, and beautiful.

Those of you who know me know that, these days, I’m more of a thinker than a get-your-hands-dirty kind of guy. But it’s almost as though I recognize a call from the earth to reconnect to it in a way I never have before, but was intended to.

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