What I'm up to now

I’ve recently finished a couple of scanning projects, one of which was a massive undertaking. From 1975-2007, my father ran the West Australian Nut & Tree Crop Association and published a quarterly publication called Quandong Magazine. Before the internet existed, it was a useful source of information for people in WA who were interested in growing fruit and nut trees. The task that took the longest was OCRing all the scanned pages. With AI, we’ll probably get far closer to 100% accuracy in the coming years, but at the moment, the accuracy of automated OCR is probably only 98%. This sounds good, but it means you’ll need to fix a couple of characters and words on each page. I found using ABBYY Fine PDF Reader the best option for this task; visually, it’s very easy to use and correct data. I tried a number of other open-source tools, but in terms of speed, Fine PDF Reader was the best.

Arco de Santa Catalina, Antigua

The other document that I scanned was a Spanish lesson book from Sevilla Spanish Academy that my teacher Oscar in Antigua, Guatemala, photocopied for me while I was studying there. It’s from a school that no longer exists, but he still uses it at his new school. I mostly did it so that he can easily pass on the manual to his students, as it’s expensive and time-consuming to get a copy made of the manual.

I’ve become interested in Syntropic Agriculture, a methodology developed by Ernst Götsch in Brazil. It essentially comes down to selecting the correct trees for your climate and having a succession plan. A succession plan means that you’ll choose hardy (weedy) plants at different strata (heights) with the intention of replacing these plants with more productive ones over time. The focus is on creating large amounts of biomass (leaves, branches) to feed back to the soil to reduce the amount of work and external inputs required. I’ve watched all the videos over at Syntropia run by Scott Hall; if you’re into any type of productive tree growing, I think you’ll get a lot out of learning about the methodology. There’s a channel on YouTube called Byron Grows that is very approachable. He’s converted a citrus orchard in New Zealand to one that follows Syntropic-style farming that’s worth watching.

As we come into the driest autumn in recorded history in Perth, we should be planting as many trees as possible. Having a large number of trees creates an atmospheric moisture pump that allows rains to make it further inland. I donate to Trillion Trees (previously Men of the Trees) and will be helping with planting sessions. If you’re in Perth, WA, you should come along to one.