Thursday, February 12, 2009


When I first saw the word "bioneer," I was amazed at how wonderfully a portmanteau of "biological" and "engineer" fit my lifelong hobby. Then I read on and discovered that it is actually a combination of "biological" and "PIOneer." Bummer. But I kept reading and found that it still described what I do.

The word "bioneer" was defined by Kenny Ausubel and, according to Wikipedia (by way of Utne Reader) means "a biological pioneer, an ecological inventor who's got an elegant and often simple set of solutions for environmental conundrums." While I would never be arrogant enough to describe my work as "pioneering," (I seek to fully understand what others already understand), the word also works as a portmanteau of "biological engineering" and engineering is, after all, the application of science.

First, a little about me. I had a fascination with life from an early age. I got my first pet at 5. By 3rd grade I had read every book my school library had on animals at least once. By my early teenage years, I had discovered that if I got pets that needed terrariums, I could work on matching habitats to animals and the experimentation began. My work with plants in the terrariums led to a love of plants and furthered my experiments. In my late twenties, I discovered the work of Paul Stamets, which led to my working with fungus and opened up a whole new dimension to my experiments.

To be clear here, my experiments with life are never cruel and never unethical. I experiment with interactions. I test how different combinations of plants, animals and fungus work together to improve each other, help each other, and accomplish work together. After all, that is what nature is all about, interactions. One organism doesn't make nature. Nature is composed of interacting ecosystems which are composed of interacting organisms. And those interactions are still more complicated than we fully understand.

My hobby has always been to try to understand how those interactions work, or more importantly, how they DON'T work. Nature has devised a system, field-tested and refined over millions of years. To fight against this system is to fight an uphill battle...forever. To use the system to your advantage is elegance defined.

So this blog will be thoughts, ideas, and hopefully discussion (via the comments) about bioneering, biomimicry, organic gardening and other such ways we can use the elegant operation of the natural world around us to solve our problems, both global and local.

And no, I don't promise to stay on topic. I also plan to use this blog as a repository for my other hair-brained ideas, thoughts and opinions. So just bear with me. Hopefully you'll get something useful out of all this.


  1. Finally! Thank you for giving me a fitting title for my husband; 'Obsessive Mycogardchef' just wasn't cutting it!


    "obsessive mycogardchef"...although, that works, too.

  3. This is fascinating stuff. I also ran across a talk by Paul Stamets and was blown away by how much there is to learn about interactions in the natural world. It grieves me that we are so cavalier about mangling the environment so disastrously without really understanding what we are destroying. I doubt man has yet got the ability to design anything so successfully and interactively complex as that we have surrounding us now. Hurrah for people who are learning how to help fix at least some of our mistakes .