The Soil2Soil Project is an idea for linking sanitation and urban rehabilitation birthed by Riyaaz Ismail and Caroline Kloppert with the close collaboration of Vermiculturist Stephan Kloppert.
It utilizes the biological chain reaction of decomposition to connect humans with renewed urban landscapes on a physical level, passing on nutrients and calorie yielding molecules excreted by us and processing them to serve all different kinds of needs.
Soil2Soil uses a raw material people produce en masse right there in the place where we gather en masse, in cities, creating need for jobs, energy, food, sanitation and water. This simply means we turn human toilet waste into an incredible resource. We harness the natural decomposition of feces and urine to produce value in a series of composting or preferably 'production' or recycling stages where tiny organisms do all the work. While so doing we turn a potential danger to health into a safe sanitized soil enhancer by using five processes which remove pathogens from human manure, namely biogas production, hot composting, mushroom growing, vermiculture and the passage of time. Just one of these would be a good thing, but we want to be five times sure ! Then to further demolish the bad organisms we have tow final 'post production' stages. We grow food forests, herbs and trees on the soil on top of which the final composting process occurred, which has been loosened and enriched by the addition of vermi castings and worm action.
Then we ensure that the human's ecosystems are also functioning in a very healthy way. We pass on how to ferment the olives and other products of the food forests to provide those who eat with excellent gut health !
One outcome of Soil2Soil's method is to contribute to re-greening the city, covering it with diverse drought adapted vegetation, of differing heights, giving different cover, and serving different ecological and human purposes, so that future drought may be alleviated and the people nurtured. We cannot go back to what it once was, as the great need for food in the metropolis must be met, but we can use adapted food plants and low maintenance growing methods which use little to no water, and we can cover the earth with plants, to save water.
We would like to start a movement to turn around urban desertification caused by monocultural landscapes like these, seen in a park in Durbanville. We do not want to convert land with indigenous vegetation, only the degraded land like this, which consists mostly of Kikuyu grass that dies back in summer, drying into a hard cake that repels water, expelling it from the landscape rapidly, instead of recharging deeper soil layers. Such wastelands are found everywhere in the city, in rich and poor areas. They are a major reason why the city suffers so much desiccation when rainfall is reduced, but they are not the only reason.
We feel that turning such spaces into rich productive areas covered in different plants instead of the usual monocultures for mowing will help turn the city into a water retentive landscape, create greater biodiversity and resilience, support food security in parts of the town where it is greatly needed, and beautify Cape Town for the wellbeing of all, especially in areas without much proper green-space.
Many people in the city are engaged with designing and building commodes for collecting humanure. I wrote an article on the Guerilla House workshop which you may like to consult, the link is below. The workshop shows you how to make a quick and easy commode in a crisis, as well as find long term solutions. The question at the collection stage is whether to separate urine or not and debates are certainly as heated and diverse as any steamy compost pile.
DIY ecohouse pages on biogas, methanogenesis etc. Apologies, but please cut and paste the url into your search tab, direct links on this page are limited.
A popular humanure compost bin uses recycled pallets because they make a bin of the perfect size and are quick and easy to assemble. Everyone is using them. Here is Riyaaz of the Soil2Soil Project on the left getting pro-active while Imraan of Guerilla House (right) supervises ! Soil2Soil has a new idea for making humanure composters that we will share publicly soon.
Here are my husband's little oyster mushrooms sprouting in the bathroom. There are many kinds of mushrooms and some of them are coprophiles (poop lovers). Mushroom mycelium absorbs and destroys not only petrochemicals, but a number of pathogens found in human feces. Soil2Soil hope to be working with a wonderful wild mushroom grower, but if you'd like to read about this look at Paul Stammet.
One of the first stages in establishing a man-made forest is to scatter pioneer ground cover (look up Jeff Lawton videos on permaculture food forests). Here in the form of selected seeds that are tough, quick growing and usually nitrogen fixing. We are creating a food producing ecosystem this way, that self sustains, rather than needing constant attention. Growing many many hardy useful trees and support species for the Soil2Soil project is essential. I've grown a number of hardy African fruit trees and hope to use this knowledge to the benefit of all on a larger scale. I attended a fascinating seed saving workshop at SEED, the Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre.
The plants above grow 'wild' with no labour but harvesting needed, in my garden. Those below can also be grown in mixed beds with some care as to planting choices and spacing.
This delicious pie contains four berries which can all be grown in agroforestry (mixed trees and other plantings). One can also make wine, vinegars, pickles, soups and salads from a small garden. But that is not all that can be harvested. Fire and building wood, cork, medicine, tea, honey, mushrooms, fibre, herbs, flowers, fruit, spices and vegetables are planned for the Soil2Soil plantings and additional forms of farming downstream.
We plan to pass on how the food can be processed organically to increase its value with the production of dried herbs, oils, essential oils and ferments. In addition our project would produce biogas, 3 kinds of compost, and worms which are a very desirable for large scale export. But its greatest monetary value may be in savings. Saving arable soil, saving on petrochemical fertilizers, and savings for the city and communities on energy, water and sanitation.