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Green houses

September 7, 2018

POÉM

The green got lost in houses and gases.

Now it is global, severely affected, growing, changing, additional, and scarce.

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Agriculture alone

September 7, 2018

POÉM

Exec summaryHi there, this is an experiment. In my day job as a forester and environmental scientist, I write reports amongst other things. Technical reports. Boring reports. About important topics nevertheless. Like for example how we can change agriculture to become a solution instead of a problem for our global environment.

In order to make these reports emotionally more accessible to a wider audience, I wrote a poetic summary of my latest publication, Potentials for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in Agriculture.

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News from my <10m value chain: hazelnuts

September 3, 2018

There are two hazelnut bushes in my courtyard and the nuts are ready super early this year due to the crazy record-breaking hot summer.

Hazelnut production is one of the agri-industries most affected by climate change. This is because 70% of global supply comes from Turkey’s Black Sea region, where temperature and rain patterns are becoming unfavorable for our favorite Nutella ingredient.

So I thought: now or never! Start picking them before it’s too late! In Germany, you can find hazelnut bushes planted in many parks and along streets. Naturally, they grow on the forest edges. If you don’t know what they look like, google it.

The fallen, ripe nuts are dark brown (hazel color!) on the inside and can be eaten raw, straight from the ground if you have a nutcracker at hand. What I found out though, is that they are even yummier when roasted and peeled.

You crack the nuts, heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius and roast them for about 15 minutes on a sheet with baking paper. Move them every once in a while. Then take them out, dump onto a kitchen cloth and rub fiercely until the thin dark skins come off. This can take a while and not all will come off. After this rubbing I put them back in the oven for another five minutes to get a light roast. The bitter taste of the skins is gone and our little friends smell like the most intense hazelnut gelato 🙂

The final product.

Sustainability lessons from a gardener: Soil carbon

September 2, 2018

What do African smallholder farmers and the tomatoes on my balcony have in common? The need for soil carbon!

Let me explain.

When I first heard the term soil carbon I honestly thought it was a scam. You must know I’m a trained forester and environmentalist at PhD level. Still, the idea that with certain agricultural practices you can increase the carbon content of soils and claim that as fighting climate change, seemed a bit far fetched to say the least. But it works.

If you have a very poor, degraded soil, like many African farmers do for example, simple things can dramatically improve your soil. Composting or always covering the earth with leftover leaves or other plants (cover crops), can increase the carbon content of your soil, meaning your soil becomes healthier and simply better.

Why am I telling you this? Because you can do the same at home in your garden or even on your balcony. I had an aha- moment just yesterday coming back from a weeklong business trip. Despite my worst fears, all the plants on my balcony survived without watering! This wasn’t “thank God”. It was due to my habit of using the tomato beet as my bio waste deposite.

This is a healthy soil cover. Humidity stays in longer, texture is added and all kinds of microorganisms get a home. And the plants love it! Seriously, this is climate change mitigation in practice: you need less mineral fertilizer or none at all, organic waste is recycled back into the earth, without losing nutrients and carbon to landfills or even worse, burning.

I think it would even be better to compost and I might start that soon. But if like me you just have a few pots and beets on your terrace or garden, you can add organic matter directly as ground cover. Be bold, go wild.

Punkt in der Nacht

May 26, 2018

Ein Punkt bewegt sich

über das Nachtfirmament.

Ein fallender Stern?

.

Ein Punkt bewegt sich

über das Nachtfirmament.

Blinkende Daten.

..

A dot is moving

across the night canopy.

A falling star?

.

A dot is moving

across the night canopy.

Twinkling data.

Der Salbei blüht

May 22, 2018

Der Salbei blüht.

Ich war Jahre weg und er –

blüht.

Bei Freunden am See.

Stubborn Souvenirs

May 17, 2018
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The longest lasting, most stubborn souvenir I got from my long trip from Fiji to Fuji is a newsletter from Tiket.com, an Indonesian booking site. So annoying. Everything, including the small print, is in Bahasa Indonesia. Unsubscribing is not an option.

What is a good souvenir?

Usually not the stubborn ones. Diseases, scars, injuries tend to stick with me sometimes just like the Indonesian newsletter. The other day we reminisced with friends about Hong Kong. I bought a nose spray there. It helped to cure my other stubborn souvenir I acquired while diving in Raja Ampat: an ear infection. I will never forget this nose spray, although I forgot to take a picture: 100% herbal, actually with a yummy aroma, recommended by the lady professionally trained in traditional Chinese medicine. The 20 bucks seemed to be a fortune after months in Southeast Asia, but it was well worth it. It replced the ear infection souvenir with a nice olfactory memory. To anyone going to Hong Kong I would recommend stocking up on herbal remedies for all imaginable diseases – you just can’t get this variety elsewhere and people speak English.

So what is a good souvenir?

What I really wanted to talk about is my Balinese straw hat. I didn’t think it would make it. A burmese mototaxi driver damaged it in an attempt to tie it to my backpack. I almost left it at Angkor Wat. From Thailand to Japan, it received a lot of attention and trade offers. It was a two dollar investment that turned out to be a connector to people, a conversation starter. Only in Northern Laos did I see similarly nice and elaborate ones, but they were not the same, you know. Now it hangs over my bed in Berlin and reminds me of all these moments, people and connections every time I look at it.

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What is a good souvenir for you?