The Permaculture Podcast

    Veggie Caching: A Game of Food. By Bradley Jones

    Life is my currency. The soil is my bank.

    I want to liberate food from the coffin that our culture has placed it in. I have an idea for how to start.

    My idea in a nutshell: the gamification of massively distributed horticulture, using cell-phones and perennial vegetables.

    Even as everything constantly seems so precipitous and headed for disaster, our society at the moment has a number of really useful elements to work with. First, distributed computing and communication platforms. Second, a whole lot of people jonesing (craving) for real change, in the world and in their lives. Third, we can buy anything from anywhere over the Internet. Fourth, we can access more or less the entire knowledge of humanity at will.

    This includes horticultural knowledge. Almost everything ever grown for food still exists somewhere, despite the best efforts of agribusiness. Many of these plants are varieties of delicious, transient delicate delicacies like tomatoes and melons that require a certain amount of pampering to thrive. Others, however, are bloody-knuckled fighters in the street brawl for sunlight and nutrients. There’s food out there that it’s actually hard to kill.

    In a decorative manicured Victorian garden, this is a problem. To the 3 billion people on earth who live on under $2.50/day, this is abundance manifest. We put our imaginary currency in imaginary institutions and imagine that it “grows,” but when I plant a pound of sunchoke, a year later I have 15 pounds. This is the archetype of abundance.

    So what’s the plan? 3 quick steps.

    Step 1: Plant aggressive, resilient food in public spaces

    Step 2: Map what’s planted where, along with other public forage opportunities, like fruit and nut trees.

    Step 3: Develop a smartphone app that lets people know what’s where, helps you recognize what you’re looking at, when it’s ready for harvest, when it needs weeding or fertilizing, and then gives you points for care, for harvest, and for replanting, while letting everyone know who’s doing what. Leaderboards for best weeder, best fertilizer, bonus seeds or starts, the possibilities are endless.

    But how does this help those in poverty, who don’t have a cellphone? To get to that point takes an awareness change, for anyone untrained, to start again seeing the world as feeding them. But, it takes the first crucial step: to take our food deserts and start peppering them with tiny food oases. That will grow. The app is aimed at those with a little more leisure, the time to learn and to play, who want to create a more resilient environment. Green-leaning soccer-moms, effectively.

    In practice, just this app can turn hopeful urbanites into active permaculturalists, while sequestering resilience, and building abundance to share.

    At least hypothetically.

    But, practically, the pieces are all there. While we don’t have all the pieces worked out, it’s not beyond the capacity of the technology, the plants, or the people.

    If you would like to find out more, you can join the conversation here:

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