Monday, December 17, 2007

Bamboo is Best for Carbon Sequestering & Humans' Role as Earth's Stewards

Hi Dakota!

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my idea of bamboo as a top carbon sequestering plant. My response:

Regarding the point that the article made about there becoming too many leaves adversely affecting plants and soils. To me this idea seems far fetched and only plausible if there was a huge change in leaf production to a large amount throughout the year, which I don't forsee. And don;t forget there is a large leaf drop each fall and this does not adversely harm plants. In fact plants rely on this nutrient recycling, and I see this process as the way that the nutrients of the soil are brought to the soil surface and made more available to the plants roots and soil microorganisms.

People have been adding mulches to soil surfaces with no adverse affects in the long term. Mulch is, in effect, a very dense form of leaf matter.

There may be a change in the soil structure and organisms living in it. But this is surely caused by humans through many means. For instance, the introduced European earthworms are taking over the US and greatlly altering the soils' fertility and structure and thus changing the plant compositions of many forests.

Regarding bamboo. I think Bamboo is a great plant for purifying the air, puttin gout more oxygen than most plants, through most of the year. Running Bamboo can be contained with root barriers, or is easier to contain in urban settings with bldg. walls, concrete sidewalks, etc. In rural settings we could grow large stands of running bamboo without much worry since there is room. Here it can be contained if nec. through mowing. I have seen such stands in rural Maryland.

Also there are beautiful Clumping forms of Bamboo as well that do NOT run and stay in one clump that slowly expands to form a wonderful clump. My father has been designing gardens and included these clumps bamboo to great effect. One can also see them in many botanic gardens in Europe. The best genus, Fargesia, works well in small gardens too.

I think it is a great idea to include more plants in our urban environments, and more variety in our suburban environments in addition to the ubiquitous lawn. Adding more plants, esp. bamboo, wil limprove our air quality and lower CO2. But I also believe we humans should be investing much time and money on lowernig our emissions of all kinds to as low as possible levels as technology allows. We should be stewards of the earth, not destoyers, as we currently are.

That is why I do ecotours to Germany to show how this country is effectively striving toward a more sustainable future through increasing renewable energy use, great mass transit, great urban planning, wonderful green spaces, roofgardens, widespread bike paths, cutting edge architecture, etc. See I am currently planning future tours which will be up soon.


Roland Oehme
Green Harmony Design

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Adventure Ecotour of Germany 2007: Discovering Saxony's Secret Green Architecture and Gardens: Why Germany?

Annoucing Green Harmony Tours':

Adventure Ecotour of Germany 2007: Discovering Saxony's Secret Green Architecture and Gardens

V. Why Germany?

Thank you for your interest in our unique regenerative design tour of Middle Germany highlighting a forgotten area of Germany with its many beautiful gardens, parks, and landscapes, but also the ecological designs found in all aspects of the larger society including agriculture, architecture, arts, brownfield reuse, design heritage, industrial design, industry, renewable energy, technology, transportation, and so on.

While Germany is perhaps more known for its old world charm, today the country has undertaken a leadership role in all facets of sustainable and ecological living. Germany recycles the most paper of any country in the world, has the world largest solar power plant, is committed to phasing out nuclear power, the federal government is actively promoting the use of renewable resources produced from agricultural crops, such as hemp and flax, global warming is being dealt with directly by joining the Kyoto Protocol and whole towns and cities are focused on phasing out fossil fuels and increasing their use of renewable energy, the precedent setting federal law requiring product manufacturers to take back their packaging for reuse or recycling thereby reducing waste, roofgardens are required in some cities to improve the air quality and beauty of the surroundings, the automobile’s presence is being lessened in inner cities and towns so its citizens may enjoy a better and safer living environment with less noise, pollution, and more room for pedestrians, architects are designing buildings that creative and less detrimental to the environment, and landscape architects design memorable and natural gardens and parks.

All of this green thinking and living is admirable, but in Germany it permeates to a larger consciousness of living in harmony with the Earth. This ideology has shown itself recently as the country passed the first animal rights law giving animals the same rights as humans. Germans also enjoy very much being in their gardens and in nature, and place a high priority on having plants all around them, even in urban environments. Freie Koerper Kultur (free body culture) or public displays of nudity was popularized in Germany many years ago and is still enjoyed today, as can be seen in downtown Berlin in its many public parks. Instead of relying on harsh chemicals at swimming pools, Germany has started what are called “swimming ponds” that recreate the natural cleansing processes that take place in ponds in a larger size to allow safe and nontoxic swimming with frogs and fish.

In Germany there exists a gardening culture where people actually live with their gardens providing food, aesthetic beauty, a place for physical activity, and stress relief. Furthermore a natural, ecological garden style, with a certain degree of a wild aesthetic, prevails where people grow perennials and grasses, generally don’t mind some wild plants, and allow the garden to grow to its full exuberance, or as we call this in the US, “to become overgrown”. This natural garden aesthetic allows humans to derive some use of the space, but also is crucial to humans feeling one with nature, and furthermore, is vital to wildlife’s health and continued survival. In this scenario, nature is not seen as a force to be combated, but to be enjoyed and brought into our lives. Examples abound of this strong horticultural ethic from the “Schrebergaerten” or community gardens found in every city where apartment dwellers spend their free time growing fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers organized in orderly rectangular grids, to the bountiful flowers proudly displayed around many houses and buildings in towns and cities, to richly planted school gardens, to the intensively planted and well maintained burial sites in cemeteries that people visit often and function as public parks, to the use of dry stacked natural stone retaining walls, and to the “Obstwiese” or orchard meadow.

One of the most important examples of Germany’s strong garden culture is the one of its kind “Bundesgartenschau” (BUGA) or Federal Garden Show, hosted in a different German city every two years. The garden show is the Olympics of the landscape architecture and horticulture professions with a large budget from federal, state, and city funding. There are design competitions for the master plan and each of the various concept areas. Millions of visitors typically visit the show which runs from spring to fall and thereafter continues as a public, urban park. The garden show typically includes large planting areas, a conference building, various dining facilities, music performances, seating areas, recreational facilities for all ages, landscape artworks, cemetery space, agricultural fields, a sustainable natural resources exhibit where hemp is prominent, and wildlife habitat. Serious investments in infrastructure include new roads, trains, busses, and pedestrian facilities. These innovative garden shows were started over fifty years ago to help rebuild war ruined cities and continues to this day. Over the past decade, several shows have taken place in eastern Germany greatly improving cities with new infrastructure and healthier, green living spaces.

The “Landesgartenschau” (LAGA) or State Garden Show, while not as big as the federal show, gives one a more intimate flavor of the local region and is hosted every year in different towns and cities in Germany.

Adventure Ecotours of Germany was developed and is under the authority of Green Harmony Tours, a tour company promoting cultural and ideas exchange between Americans and Germans of progressive, green, environmentally friendly, sustainable, and socially equitable concepts with the goal of helping humanity live in harmony with Nature and each other. To learn more about our tours, please visit our website at

No portion of this document may be reproduced without the express written consent of the Green Harmony Tours’ director, Roland Oehme. Opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily endorsed by Green Harmony Tours’ officers or staff. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 30, 2007

How Important Are Omega 3s & Do We Need to Eat Fish to Get It?

Hi Green World

A friend of mine sent me an email with an attached publication written by some group extolling the importance of humans getting enough Omega 3s in our diet. I have read about the importance of Omega 3s since I used to eat hemp seeds and it is advertised as being a rich source of these healthy fats. Which reminds me, it is time to order some more hempseed!!! I love the taste of hempseed and it is easy to use in many foods.

I don;t believe one needs to eat fish in order to get Omega 3s, as repeatedly written in the article, after all the fish is getting the Omega 3s not from itself but from plants, ie from algae and other water growing plants!!! I just love how these typical medical or organization publications write these supposedly helpful information writings and write that a person has to eat animal products to be healthy. Well what about all of the vegan animals out there that are doing just fine, in fact, thriving on their purely plant diets??? That is exactly how humans are designed to thrive too, on a vegan diet.

I know Purslane, in fact it grows as a weed here, and I know it is healthy and rich in Omega 3s too. However, it does have the same oxalic acid that is found in Spianch I believe and as such is not recommended to be eaten too often since this acid can deplete minerals from thebody or such. I think today there is a lot of hoopla about this or that nutirnet we must get...blah blah blah. While it may be true that we need certain nutrients I think advertisers try to scare into eating their products or such. Look at all of the animals out there doing just fine eating what they find in the wild, including vegan animals. Soooooo, that's why I think it is very valuable, even essential for every person to grow their own food and to not wash their food unless they have to. Our overly clean society washes much of the nutrients off of the food. Yes if we just grazed in our vegetable gardens on all of the planted and wild greens their we would get a more complete diet. To me this seems to be the easiest and closest way for us humans to replicate the wild, healthy diet our bodies were designed to consume. That's what my dad taught me and that's why you see me grazing in the vegetable garden or anywhere else I see a healthy dandelion growing!

Boy, I wrote a lot! Anyways, for the record, I do eat purslane from time to time. It is good in a salad since it is fresh tasting (slightly acidic) and crunchy. Now where do I order my hempseeds??...



Saturday, March 10, 2007

RO's Intro & What is the Best Global Warming FIghting Plant

Hello Everyone!

This is my first post to my new blog, Roland's Green World. I intend to communicate ways of living a more sustainable life and to marvel at the beauty of nature. The goal is to wake people up from our destructive path of consuming all of the earth's resources until there is nothing left. Only by respecting our natural world can we lead a positive, fulfilling life.

Recently my father told me that he thinks that bamboo is the best plant to fight global warming since it is evergreen and has many leaves with a large surface area. So this would enable bamboo to put out more oxygen than any other plant the thinking would go. More plantings of bamboo would certainly release more oxygen during the winter months when most of the trees here in the east coast are leafless. So are mass plantings of bamboo in order as an at least partial soltion to the ominous effects of global warming? Has anyone done research into which plants release the most oxygen and consume the most carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases?