A Little Edgy, Very Marginal

A little Edgy and very Marginal.  This may be how Ann describes Gord at the best of times, but hopefully after reading this update, a bit more light is shed on the importance of being marginal.

DSC02860But first this advertisement from our sponsor (haha)…We have lots of perennial plants for sale here at Eco-Sense…everything from sweet potatoes to Goumi’s, figs, edible hosta’s, currants, grapes, NUTS, pears, plums, apples, apricots, sea berries, asparagus, edible day lily, saskatoons, and kiwi’s…just to name a few.  We even have some perennial vegetables and cover crops.


Daffodils – 3 weeks late

Next Open farm day:

Saturday April 8, 2017 from 10am-2pm

Eco-Sense homestead is open to walk around and/or buy perennial plants

See cob buildings, chickens/ducks, food forest, perennial and annual gardens

The Eco-Hut (example of a tiny home)

Raised garden beds including Galvalume and Concrete Curvy beds

Your questions answered!

Now back to the blog post:  Ann and I straddle an interesting intersection between the mainstream and the “other” stream, call it what you may.  For those of us straddling multiple realities, it’s “crazy making” and it’s tough to balance co-existing in both.  Anyone else have this same experience?  However, there is an energy that is derived from navigating these worlds simultaneously.  This energy inspires Ann’s seemingly endless rants (of which I bear the brunt of over morning coffee – yes we still drink coffee), as she observes the details of the parallel realities, accepts the feedback, and then neglects to self-regulate her responses.  (See last weeks post on Regulatory Feedback).

Edges of the economic system

Living a 3-Thirds lifestyle means we split our time;  volunteer 1/3rd, work for income 1/3rd, and follow our passions 1/3rd.  What this means is that we really don’t have the lifestyle to be a good employee and we definately do not maximize the financial earning potential of our education…or save $$$ for retirement.  We don’t fly, rarely eat out, don’t have a cell phone and we don’t embrace/support the growth economy (non-plant growth economy that is).  This places us at the edge of meeting our basic needs, but marginalizes us from those folks who have lots.  Yet the benefits of being on this edge allows us to maximize diversity and thrive.  This time allows us to think and process information and to be a bit more in control of our lives.  We are not slaves to the system.  Some of this is luck, some of this is our privilege, and some of this is hard work.  We have become really hard working generalists that can adapt, swoop and weave, and navigate a rapidly changing world and much of it we do on our own terms.

Edges of lifestyle choices

Do I dare say we don’t use soap anymore?  (For years now, really)  And dare Gord say that he brushes his teeth less?  Gross!  (If you don’t eat sugar or much starch, the mouth bacteria is VERY different).  This is an example where most folks would recoil in disgust without any knowledge of the science and benefits of having a natural ecosystem biome doing those tasks for us, and much better than the chemicals most of us slather our bodies in.  If you’re not completely grossed out…keep reading.  (Note we brush our teeth daily, but only about once per week with a natural toothpaste).

Soap kills and washes off both bad and good bacteria and nourishing oils.  When we wash and scrub our bodies with harsh soaps, we remove the bacteria that make our own lanolin, thus our skin dries out and voila we have more exczema, dermatitis, and slower wound healing.   Just like any ecosystem, the more biodiversity there is, the healthier it is… and next to Gord’s (non-stinky) armpits, nothing smells better, except perhaps some nicely aged compost.  The best way to “re-wild” ones body is to gradually wean yourself off of the soaps and other products and your skin will adjust to a NON-STINKY biome.  We found that in the beginning we still needed a bit of odour control and used coconut oil in the pits.  It’s still important to shower with warm water to gently exfoliate and clean the skin.  (2-3 times per week).  We consider ourselves clean and tidy people…but we are FREE of most of the chemical products.  (Ann still uses shampoo and conditioner).

There is a reason why this works and why the same science has been pushing for natural births, for the very purpose of populating the new born baby with an ecosystem.  Russian phage therapy (using beneficial bacteria to fight infection), has succesfully accomplishing this task by enhancing the biodiversity in the wound.  The issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a non-issue with this approach whereas in North America or Europe excessive antibiotic use has caused a huge issue.

Edges…everywhere.  This is where abundance happens.  There is simultaneously more sharing AND more competition, more movement of nutrients and ideas, more activity, more species, and in human culture, more fun.  Forest edges, intertidal zones, wetland edges, cropland edges, social edges, and ideas edges.  Life can be tough in these edges and they often require species/individuals adapted to rapidly changing conditions, harsher environments, and species that are often generalists.  This also applies to those of us living in ways that straddle different ideologies.  We have to be able to swim and thrive  in many different waters and when required, retreat to safety.


Edges of the gardens

Gardens are no different.  If you grow a mono-crop, your plants are more prone to pests and disease, especially as there is no community in the soil to share and swap nutrients… as they all compete for the same things.  Our gardens are wild and crazy, and healthy… and the edges even more so.  At this time of the year, Ann scavenges new starts of broccoli, kale, parsnip, chard, tomatillo, tomatoe, parsley, leek, and the list goes on.  These edges produce many of the new plants, rather than us having to sow seeds ourselves… a big time saver and guess what… these plants are superior to seeds we have started.  The reason, well that is another nerdy talk on epigenetics.

Edges of the forest:  I often think to how hominids evolved, they were on the edges of the forests and savannah.  They had opportunity in both, and stood up to the challenge.  (Hehehe).  The edges of forests offer more diversity, more pressures from competition, more opportunities, more varied climates and sunlight.  More varieties of bugs and birds exist, more varieties of soil types and soil life exists.

The Land here at Eco-Sense:  We straddle this concept in that we live on a previously impacted rocky knoll of land; land that has slopes on all sides (North, East, West, and South) giving rise to many different niches and microclimates.  This land has been burned in the past from forest fire and has road scars cut in from prior logging.   There are plenty of margins, and we are learning how to use and manage them AND to leave them alone to regenerate, and slowly experiment with increasing biodiversity.  One lesson that has stuck out for us is that book learning doesn’t come close to the learning from living on the land, observing the life, the soils, the wind, the water and letting the land teach us what we are willing to learn.

Seasonal Diets: Our internal gut micro-biome also thrives from diversity…and especially from a seasonal local diet.  Eating many different foods feeds many different species of bacteria resulting in more diversity.  However, if we just eat the same foods year round, eventually a small number of gut bacteria species will dominate and take over. This is why it’s critical to eat seasonal foods to keep our gut micro-biome on the edge.  Taking this one step further we can also see how eating bacteria and food from our home region also sets us up to have a more locally adapted micro-biome.  The study of gut micro-biomes is telling us that one of the primary drivers of overall health, disease resistance, neurological disorders, and immune function is the diversity of gut bacteria.

As above, So below, and even more so in between.  Our bodies ARE in between.

Food systems:  Ann’s list of 7 major contributors to poor gut health:

  1. The herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), found on most food (used on GMO crops AND as a pre-harvest desiccant).  Glyphosate is antibacterial.  http://sustainablepulse.com/2016/10/12/pesticide-experts-release-shocking-review-of-global-glyphosate-damage/#.WOf4OBiZORv
  2. Diets high in refined carbs (processed white flour, sugar, processed foods) feeds a mono culture that outcompetes good bacteria.
  3. Diets low in fibre.  Good bacteria need to eat fibre.
  4. High use of antibiotics (internally and externally).  Kills bacteria
  5. Low exposure to soil microbes (too sterile).  Eat some “clean” soil, play in the soil.
  6. Non seasonal diet.  variety of food changing through the year.
  7. AND non-vaginal births.  Nothing like a trip out the birth canal to coat the new baby in some healthy bacteria.

We could go on…and on…and on…but we better quit.

Ann and Gord



4 responses to “A Little Edgy, Very Marginal

  1. Pingback: A little edgy, Very Marginal – Rainwater Harvesting

  2. Thanks for your direct and fun writing about edgy and living differently. There are more like you than you know. Keep on being you…it inspires me to keep finding myself and living my own truth.

  3. Francis Kremler

    As usual a fun and informative read. i wonder if you are familiar with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap? I have been using it exclusively for many years,and find it very gentle yet invigorating.

  4. Pingback: Reality Check: Life on a Permaculture Homestead | Eco-Sense

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