Phytoremediation: ARCAM installation
The Urbaniahoeve approach to pollution: the shipwreck contains the ship

From the Ancient Greek phyto, for plant, and the Latin, remedium, to restore balance, phytoremediation bridles the natural properties and chemical dynamics of specific plant families to repair polluted sites and soils. Used properly, it is considerably less expensive, less dangerous to the environment, and ultimately more effective than the practice of digging out ground material and resituating it from one site to another.

Certain plant characteristics can restore soil health over time by generating enzyme fields that spawn flurries of microbial activity around their roots. Two techniques used to repair polluted ground with living plants are: phytoextraction and phytostabilisation. Urbaniahoeve contributes a new technique to this list, which we have named, ‘the shipwreck contains the ship’, in which we recontextualise the problem of ground pollution as a means to its solution. What all three of these methods have in common is a focus on biotope repair. Soil void of chemical transformation and microbial activity, is dead.

Urbaniahoeve on ‘the shipwreck contains the ship’:
A complex web of interconnected traits and characteristics ensures that that the stationary chemical factories that we call plants, get what they need where they are. While some plants excel at accumulation, others do not. Distributing toxic metals from their roots up to their fruit is not what fruit trees do. One urban agriculture solution to heavy metal contamination could be to heavily plant orchards and thoroughly carpet their beds with nectar carrying groundcovers.

Though there are numerous solutions to pollution borne out of ‘living inside the problem’, introducing planting schemes whose crop is not edible, however biotope enhancing it may be, may be one such approach. Some flowers and other non-food plants can be safely grown on contaminated soils without risk of uptake. Exposure to subsurface contaminants can be further mitigated if the surface is neither touched nor broken. Both permaculture and no-till agriculture advocate a minimal human-t0-dirt contact. Combine no-till methodology with a thick, nectar producing vegetal mat of e.g. clovers, and a polluted site may begin to display positive qualities, both on environmental and aesthetic levels. Fruit trees, flowers, and permaculture as urban agriculture: the shipwreck contains the ship.
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