Future food, sustainability and bees

by Flow Hive 4 min read

Joost Bakker joined Cedar for today’s harvest. They discussed his future food project in Fed square in Melbourne and how bees fit into this fantastic system.

 

 

Cedar:

Today we have Joost Bakker here, a very special guest.


Joost:

I'm excited to be here.


Cedar:

I went down to check out his work, where he's basically designed a future food system for humans to live in. In fact, it doesn't even work without the humans, right? The humans are an integral part of the system, which then creates food from our waste. Is that right?


Joost:

Yep. It's mimicking nature, really. So every single element is crucial to make it all work. And if you're not there then the steam from the shower and the residue from the hot water service means that the mushrooms die. And if you don't create nutrients from the toilet in the organic waste, that means that the worms die and the worms feed the fish and yabbies, and then the nutrients from the fish feed the plant. So it's all reliant on human tenants.


Cedar:

That's amazing. I loved watching you pick that massive lion's mane mushroom, just right out of your what you called your mushroom.


Joost:

Got to have a bathroom, a bedroom and a mushroom. I love that idea. That a living room is actually a space that's just filled with life.


Cedar:

Totally. You know, and everywhere were plants, including the bedroom. 


You've got some Flow Hives as part of your future food system, right?


Joost:

Yeah. And we have them on our farm where we live at our home and I've always had them kind of up away from the house. So when the one that was at Fed square, I've actually moved and put right next to my kitchen because I just got so excited by a future food system. Just being able to go out and get honey, whenever you need it.


Cedar:

And there's all sorts of ways that you can actually deal with waste and actually turn it into food. Even styrofoam was being digested by mealworms.


Joost:

Yeah, they're an Australian native species actually, from far north Queensland. They use it as food and they turn it into this organic material, which ultimately if they run out of food, they even go back through what's left, then take out everything. So there's a lot of research going on, especially in the UK using these mealworms as an alternative to clean up our plastic pollution.


Cedar:

And what are you left with? Can you grow something in what you're left with?


Joost:

Well it is a fertiliser. It's really a manure alternative. But the thing that was so crazy was that we got all of our white goods from Mila and they said, "oh, we'll take all the styrofoam off because you've got the zero waste project and we'll take it." And I said, no, no. I want you to deliver the stuff with the styrofoam on. And so we filled up this incredible container with all the styrofoam that came from around the dishwasher and the washing machine and the fridge. And as soon as it started to warm up in Melbourne in January, February, all the styrofoam was gone. They just devoured it, which makes sense because the species is from far north Queensland. So they love that hot weather. But what shocked us was the rate that it happened. I remember walking around Federation square, looking through rubbish bins trying to find styrofoam to feed the mealworms. I didn't want them to die and run out of food, which was crazy.


Cedar:

Wow. That is incredible.


How do bees fit into the future food system? And have you noticed any improvement in your produce?

Joost:

Well in Melbourne, you can't really grow sugar cane. Although somebody came on a tour and gave me a cutting of sugar cane and said he lived in Richmond. And so I couldn't believe that in Richmond, he said, I've been growing sugar cane in Richmond for 30 years. You'll be able to grow it here. And it did grow really well, but our only really source of sweetness were tiger nuts and honey. And so for us, it was really important to have honey, but then again, it was also really important from a pollination point of view. I've been growing food my whole life, pretty much with my dad growing up. And then, you know, I've always grown food myself. I have to say that I was completely shocked at Fed square and how productive everything was, how the yield that we got off everything. It was like a little microclimate there. And we were protected from harsh winds. And as soon as the sun came up, everything warmed up. And so it just created this perfect environment for bees to hang around and pollinate things and a huge amount of apples on each on each one as well. So we had dwarf apples where every single flower was pollinated and, you had to actually thin the apples.


Cedar:

That's incredible, because there's places in the world that don't actually have an environment where pollinators can live anymore, it's so toxic there. So there are people climbing up the apple trees with pollen and feathers, self-pollinating. Isn't that bizarre? But that is the extreme end of where we are really in trouble.


Joost:

Well, if this hive alone pollinates 50 million flowers, how many humans would you need?


Cedar:

We're gonna be busy pollinating, if we don't look after our world.


Joost:

Zero waste is inevitable. If we don't embrace it, we're doomed.


Cedar:

The very definition of sustainability is something that we can go on doing forever. And if we can't go on doing it forever, then we're not sustainable. So it's obvious what we need to do in order to sustain ourselves.


Joost:

And restore, I'm big believer in restoration and repair.



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