Stichting Sol Nascente is een ecologisch initiatief met als doel om de vaak gescheiden werelden van agrobosbouw en natuurbehoud met elkaar te verbinden. Wij streven de transformatie na van aangetaste landschappen naar productieve op gemeenschap gebaseerde bosecologie.
Sol Nascente is a regenerative initiative that longs to reforest the north of Portugal and Spain by proving that a forest can be ecologically sound as well as wildly productive.
Our mission is to take degraded lands and transform them into flourishing forest communities. To acquire lands weakened by generations of neglect, manage them with regenerative agroforestry to build soil and resist wildfire. And in the same space, nest several forest productions which we then process into goods with a high added value. Simultaneously yielding natural beauty, carbon credits, conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the very forest models which tie them together.
Through diversified yields, we catalyze a new trend in which people don’t simply return to rural life, but embark on a new form of country living where healthy forests are synonymous with a healthy rural economy. We demonstrate a clear alternative forestry, capable of reinvigorating local communities and incentivizing a lifestyle in which people manage and protect forests. In the end, the only thing capable of preventing wildfire is human action. It’s community participation that can directly reverse the underlying cause of wildfire: systemic abandonment of the countryside (Quercus).
In our region, where a single hectare might have a dozen different owners and there are millions of hectares, reforestation initiatives are limited by the number of people they can work with. So, we offer our models for free as open-source for others to replicate. Our goal isn't merely to reforest the region ourselves, but to teach and inspire others to regenerate the land while turning a profit. To see our small-scale forest models widely adopted, creating a network of true bottom-up large-scale reforestation that reinvigorates the bioregion.
We create forests using organic inputs and composts made from locally available waste materials and native microorganisms. We design based on symbiotic interdependence between species and imitate the layers of a natural forest to optimally use sunlight to overlap productions in the same space. In this way, we increase both output and resilience, creating highly productive forest ecosystems that resist fire and form the center of a new economy which supports new rural communities.
Combining ecologic and economic resilience is the key to our approach. We target four independent sources of income, working in synergy but allowing any one to falter.
There’s a growing market for organic non-timber forest-based products, such as fruit, nuts and mushrooms. But there are currently no biodiverse models proving commercial viability. Because of this, very few people are planting fruit and nut trees, despite our region being the perfect environment for growing them.
If we’re going to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change, reforestation is by far the most effective technology (Source). A healthy forest can sequester carbon, inhibit wildfires and provide ecosystem services such as clean air, water, biodiversity and proven health benefits (Source). There are already projects receiving funding for either ecological or productivity goals (Source, Source, Source). We unite them, aggregating income from both sources.
As most profits are made higher up the value chain, we can increase our yields and create local jobs by processing and conserving our goods on site. We can further increase our yields by establishing a brand with an online store and distributing directly to wealthier markets, such as cities in the region and in Northern Europe.
An increasing amount of young creatives and freelancers are no longer dependent on their location for income. As such, the countryside is a desirable alternative to the city. It lowers the cost-of-living, while residing in community and nature provides health and safety benefits and an increased sense of meaning. Hosting creatives as part of our community provides a much-needed intellectual and artistic input while their incomes and investments provide a boost to the local forest economy.
In order to manage complexity and risk we will validate various assumptions in 3 phases launching at 5 year intervals. With each independent pilot lasting 15 years, the time it takes for our forests to mature, the aggregate of all 3 phases will take 25 years to complete.
The first phase will validate the forest design and the practises for collaboration and community self-organisation. The second phase will validate the market potential for processed forest-based products. And the third phase will validate learning curves, demonstrating increased efficiency and large-scale collaboration between communities.
For phase 1 and 2, we rely on a combination of private investments by participants, crowd funded donations (for reforestation, carbon sequestration and community reinvigoration) and subsidies. Having demonstrated viability, in the third phase we finance entirely through private investments and (crowd)loans.
Serial entrepreneur, physicist and philosopher, part of the hacker and Open Source software communities since his early teens, Mathijs chose Portugal to realise his vision of a more sustainable, graceful and autonomous life in nature and community.
Diego Reymondez - forest designer
Anneke Koning - finance
Rui - subsidies
Frido Emans - startup coaching
Veronika Nad - non-profit coaching
Luis Tiago - legal structure
Guy Miklos (?) - forest ecology
All documents related to Sol Nascente, in order of most recently edited.
Experimental - To validate ecology (forest design) and community (collaboration construction and deliberation)
Experimental - To validate economy (value chain integration) and community (larger population)
Validate scaling (inter-community collaboration and learning curves)
Not fully profitable
Direct and crowd-funded donations. Subsidies. Sales from compost and nursery. Ecosystem services. Small store.
DIrect and crowd-funded donations. Subsidies. Ecosystem services. Carbon sequestration. Sales from compost and nursery. Small store.
Self-funding, crowd-loans, pay it forward loans. Subsidies. Ecosystem services. Carbon sequestration. Sales from compost and nursery. Store.
Investment per householdneeded per person
Funding and Approach
we've done what we can do on an individual level and need more.
The innovation is considerable and needs a pilot phase.
Up to this point, we’ve done what we can to self-fund our research efforts into community, ecology, and economy and the results have been enriching. However, to move onto the next stage in the development of this research, it will take years establish and maintain a forest before it can begin to pay for itself.
Due to the complexity and innovation of the project, that is, the coordination , and interrelation between the creation of community and forests, we will move through 3 phases in succession, each one beginning 5 years after the previous, to reach a place in which we may assure profitability.
Phase 1 - Ecology and CommunityPilot
The first forest and community we construct will be the embodiment of all we’ve learned until now. It will operate primarily as ecologic research into demonstrating the ecologic and productive fundamentals that will be necessary to create the later economy.
Phase 2 - Economic Viability and Full Community
The second phase will be sFrom the lessons we learn in phase 1 we will create a second forest and community with an evolved design. Slightly larger, we will have a single rural community fully self-sustained by a forest economy.
Phase 3 - Scaling Out
Once we have demonstrated the validity of our economy, ecology and community, we will begin to actively begin to scale through the region. We will create a network of cooperating hamlets, pockets of trees and people, which generate and provide resilience and solidarity.
Market Landscape points
Demand for authentic organic food is greater than supply.
There is space in the market
Growing availability to source it directly from supplier.
At the same time, there are new demands for ecologic services, which are discrete activities in separate locations.
Forests can supply all demands, - we can create efficient forest
Local integration of the economy makes us profitable.
We can attract people to a new lifestyle
Using trees! You plant them once, and they stay put.
We need nature (=forests) to survive.
Survival implies carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
We use capital to allocate resources.
Resources will be allocated for survival.
Resources will be allocated to regenerate nature/forests.
We need nature (=forests)for carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
We use the increasing capital allocated to ecologic purposes to regenerate nature/forests.
Rather than to have a single pilot, we intend to unroll the initiative in three phases, each of which to validate different components of the overall model.
The text below should be moved to the n-pager. I think each phase can be summarily described here in about 2 sentences, such that all phases add up to a single paragraph for the goals and a single paragraph for the funding.
The first phase will validate the ecological model (the forest design) and its productivity, as well as the efficacy of self-management practises. As such, we don’t expect to make a profit, rather a loss. However, we do intend to create what could possibly be the most sustainable neighbourhood in Portugal, in terms of construction, energy usage, waste management, ecology and circular economy. Moreover, we intend to do this in a way where all stakeholders, including original inhabitants, neighbours and their offspring, are explicitly invited to get actively involved from the start. Even while they’re not, they should profit from each and every investment we make.
The second phase will validate the market potential of local forest products and, predominantly, their derivatives (i.e. honey, soups, compotes and nut butters). We will focus specifically on products with a high added value and will try to eliminate as much of the value chain as possible between consumers and producers. We would sell directly to consumers or to consumer cooperatives or directly to stores, minimizing overhead. In order to further increase our gains, we will focus primarily on urban and foreign markets, where demands for authentic natural products, as well the spending power, is high.
The third phase will validate the scaling characteristics and replicability. Having validated the ecological, social and economical feasibility of this concept, this would be the moment to optimise the process. To integrate learned lessons to make a more free and natural life accessible to many precarious city dwellers and to kick off large scale rehabilitation of abandoned communities. Moreover, this would allow to demonstrate the potential for regional integration of these types of communities, creating a network to promote efficiencies by knowledge transfer and resource sharing, as well as creating networks for solidarity.
For each of these phases it would take about 15 years to validate and/or correct our assumptions. Each of them would involve regenerating a single (near) abandoned hamlet and its surrounding lands. We focus on communities of 12-15 people. Each of them would produce invaluable new types of business models and has the potential to spark a local, regenerative, economy. Realistically, we hope to be able to start these projects about 5 years a part, so the project as a whole would take about 25 years.
As for financing: in the first phase, we expect those intending to be residents to invest about 50k per family, for both the (re)construction of a house as well as regenerating the land. More over, we will try to raise as many subsidies (research, SME/rural development, climate adaptation) as we can and we wish to attempt crowdfunding (mostly to harbour involvement) as well as acquire donations from wealthy individuals and personal friends. In order to keep this phase accessible, we intend to create a social credit system, allowing some without the required funds to take part in the project. As we might not break even within a reasonable time scale, some of the people moving in will have to generate their income elsewhere, i.e. working remotely or performing seasonal labour.
In the second phase, we hope to break even after about 15 years. Moreover, we will have a much better idea of our economic situation, lowering the required entry fee and reducing the dependency on different types of donors. However, as there are still many uncertainties, and as in practise we expect to start many SME’s, we would hope for significant contributions through rural development subsidies.
In the third phase, ideally, we would aim to have lowered the (minimal) entry fee to about 25k. This should allow determined people from most urban backgrounds to participate in such a project (i.e. through working abroad while saving for some years). As we have a good idea of the financials, we might take on crowdloans with market-interest - especially since banks don’t give meaningful interests on savings anymore, and many (particularly in Northern Europe) are actively searching for ways to (responsibly) invest their money. It is also in this phase where we might be able to implement a new type of natural resource-backed currency, to scale up the potential for implementation. But I’ll refrain from detailing on that now.
All three phases will feature attempts for accredition of sequestered carbon and ecosystem services rendered.
To provoke a deep change in regional forest management so thatlarge swathes of the region will shift from the current destructive monocultures toecologic polycultures. In so doing we will feed a deep cultural shift that understands how the value of the natural world includes not only goods and food but carbon sinks, clean water, clean air, as well as biodiversity of fauna and flora. As a result of this large-scale migration, we will see a new regional ecological character capable of resisting wide-scale forest fire and that is more in tune with our natural relationship to the biosphere.
Diego RBocashi is an artisan composting, of a fast elaboration compared to normal composting, which regenerates the fertility of the soil and enhances the immune system of the plant itself. This frees us from farming, chemistry, and creates a fertile and fertile soil.
It's the health of the soil. And while our health also comes from what we eat, bocashi is our health. Chemistry and tillage keep the soil inert and sick in order to function. And that's why the food that is bought in the supermarket that is nourished by this inert and sick soil keeps us that way.
It works mainly by enhancing the soil in 3 ways.
While conventional agriculture is sold primarily nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, there are dozens of minerals that the plants need to be built. The bocashi makes it available to everyone.
2.Sube el nivel de materia orgánica
Organic matter increases the ability to retain moisture, harbor life, move minerals, and protect themselves from damage in their environment.
The microorganisms help to prepare the soil for the plant, crush the organic matter and produce hormones that stimulate the growth of roots.
If composting is bread, the bocashi is pizza. It loves the ground.
It is a composting in which a greater number of ingredients is added to imitate the sound forest floor. Each ingredient adds functionality and creates the ideal habitat for the plants with which it is planted. For example in the bocashi when you add local soil and yeast we are inoculating the specialized microorganisms in the conditions that your plants live. A permanent niche for these microorganisms in the coal is also added. Coal has an impressive porosity (There is more space in a gram of coal ____). Then the molasses feeds microorganisms and helps accelerate the decomposition process.
In creating a bocashi, fertility is enhanced by accelerating the natural processes of the forest. Just remember that aerospace engineering is not the first step in creating a bocashi is to gather all the ingredients. We are making a pizza. And with the laws of the kitchen, we will put together the ingredients that we can access, and we will change what we need to change. It's a recipe, it's not a formula.
How to make it
When you have all the materials, put them together on a compact or cement floor. In this space should not give direct light because direct sunlight radiation kills almost all soil microorganisms.
Bocashi is capable of creating its own heat, and as it is piled up it is better able to isolate itself and use that heat to conduct the high-heat biological processes. We only talk about proportions between materials, but using those proportions can be done a cubic meter or twenty. Trying to get to a cubic meter we will help you keep your compost warm.
Before mixing them, it is interesting to make everything as small as possible. That is, if you are using straw instead of rice husk, you can put it in a controlled space with a brushcutter and shred it. Here the maximum possible surface is sought to help the microorganisms. In the same way that it gets (example of surface) the microorganisms can do their work more efficiently when they have more spaces to get into.
With a pitchfork, the compost will be turned over, mixing all the ingredients and the greatest contact between them. The homogeneity helps the water transport everything you need from the nearest sites and will promote the biological actions. They will help microorganisms digest manure! It is advisable to mix it 3 times. But if you mix very well at the beginning you can only do 2.
At the end should be stacked as close to 1 meter and 20 centimeters high as possible, so when the water evaporates, drag the minerals and microorganisms through the pile and continue the mixture.
To know if you have enough water in the mixture, we use what is called the fist test which is to take a bit of the mixture and squeeze it with your hand. When it maintains its shape alone but does not drip, the water level is perfect.
Tipos de Bacteria
-5 – 20 C
Bacterias que actúan en el frio.
Organismos vegetales y microorganismos que desarrollan en condiciones de mediana temperatura.
Suben el pH a 8.5.
You will see that in the first days the temperature will rise. In the same way that we heat ourselves up to 37 degrees because of the heat generated by our internal bacteria, the temperatures of the bocashi rise. The difference is that if you leave the bocashi you can go up to 80 degrees.
The problem is that when we go up to 68 degrees, we begin to pasteurize and kill the microorganisms that are helping us.
Because of this, it is important in these days that it is transforming to turn the mixture around. Repeating the turning with a fork, the compost will be turned taking care that it mixes well, with the outer parts moving to the center. This is repeated twice a day during the first days when the process is maintained between 50-60 degrees, and once a day when it stays between 20-40 degrees.
This process does two things. Lower the temperature and introduce oxygen to nourish the biological processes of the microorganisms.
The whole process usually takes between 10-15 days until the temperature drops to the ambient temperature, and it dries.
The bocashi when done, will not have manure, but a semi-decomposed fertilizer. It will be a black soil, fertile, and mineralized.
What we look for when using the bocashi is not to give all the possible fertility to the plants, but the adequate fertility. We do not plant directly in bocashi, unless it is left to rest for a few months. You do not eat only vitamins, you need a variety of minerals, vitamins, calories, and fats. The plants are the same. This is why the bocashi mixes with the local soil where the roots can find it.
You can also leave bocashi on the surface of the land, in terraces or surrounding trees with a little padding, be it straw, ferns or any organic material that you have available to protect it from the direct sun. When mulching with the bocashi the microorganisms begin to colonize the soil below, and when it rains the minerals permeate the soil and passively feed the roots. Quilting a plant suffering with a bit of bocashi, and you will see that in a very short time your mood changes.
Plants that have bocashi are happy. Powerful. And land used for years, when you do not step on or move the land, are terrains of a spongy soil where, without chemistry and without tilling the land, creates healthy food. In these areas if you can ignore the father of medicine, Hippocrates, who said
"Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food."
Information related to different types of legal bodies.
Types of non-profit organisations
Two, cooperativa and associação. Then each one can have its particularities, but fundamentally these are the two approaches.
Non-profit here means that the organisation as a whole does not distribute profits by its members as companies do. There is a particular thing for cooperativas, but I'll try to explain that a bit below.
Advantages of all or particular types of organisations
As far as I know regarding donations I don0't think people get tax cuts. There are however some organisations that can donate part of their taxes to some organisations but to get there its a long process and only for organisations with a long history already.
Regarding special subsidies, they might exist from time to time, yes. But it is clear that associações have specific subsidies, while cooperativas are I believe in the middle of getting subsidies for non-profits and for companies.
Technically a cooperativa is an SME - that is because it's a collective of let's say "freelancers", which are cooperativa members, selling their products / services as one and each freelancer makes a profit according to the amount they sell. So its the person who makes a profit, not the cooperativa as a whole. Think of agricultural cooperativas where each producer is selling fruit from their field for example. The profit for the member is proportional to the amount of what it's selling and he gets paid eactly that. It's a similar thinking to shareholders.
While an associação doesn't intend to sell the products / services of its members. Here an associação usually provides services / products for its members (it's kinda the other way around) - think of an sports associação that provides the footbal field and coach to its team members.
So here lies some of the questions I still need to clarify with some funding offices: cooperativas can surely apply for SME funding, I'm just not sure if it's given the same freedom to apply as a non-profit. That is because funding for non-profits in Portugal does not usually say its for "non-profits" but clearly states its for an "associação". I have to check this in detail, but wanted to give you part of the rationale so you can all think together on possibilities and limitations for the type of organisation you want to create.
And funding rates for SME are usually lower then for associações which usually gor for 80 to 100% funding rate.
Limitations, like, can they sell products, hire people, own real estate?
Despite those fine differences to be clarified, both a cooperativa and associação can sell products / services (the exact terms are regulated - need to check that), they can also hire staff and own goods.
Please note that being a member of an associação or a cooperativa does not mean you can incurr your costs as personall if a funding project is funding staff costs. Staff costs are only funded when someone has an actual work contract. While a freelancer is not have a work contract per se.