10 Oct 2018

Digest This! Living in the Biosphere with Mark Nelson & a Tasting from Synergia Ranch’s Organic Farm by Deborah Parrish Snyder

Oct 10, 2018 At Marlene Nathan Meyerson Auditorium

Mark Nelson and Deborah Parrish Snyder

$10 general admission/ $5 members, students

Biosphere 2 is the world’s first man-made mini-world and is one of world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues.  Mark Nelson, one of the eight crew members locked in the Biosphere, during the 1991–1993 experiment, offers a compelling insider’s view.

Located 30 minutes from the center of historic Santa Fe, the Synergia Ranch is home to individuals who were the original inventors, creators, designers and managers of the Biosphere 2 project in Oracle, Arizona, until 1994. Today, these and other residents at the ranch collaborate in ecotechnic and artistic enterprises all over the world and locally, as well as continuing biospheric research and development.

Deborah Parish Snyder will provide samples of apple cider from the orchards at Synergia Ranch.


Biosphere 2’s farm (which crew members called the Intensive Agricultural Biome) had to be compatible with a very tightly sealed mini-biosphere. So it went beyond organic standards in not using anything which might pollute the air, water or food crops. Since it was aimed at producing a complete diet, the farm included over 40 crops including grains, fruits, vegetables and root crops and fodder for the domestic animals (African pygmy goats and chickens) also raised inside. Water from irrigation was collected and recycled as was all waste product through composting of inedible crop residues and animal manure and constructed wetland treatment of all sewage and other wastewater.

The half acre farm produced 83% of the dietary needs of the eight people in the first 2-year closure and, with system improvements, the complete diet for the crew of the second closure experiment. There are important lessons that Biosphere 2’s farm hold for better integration of world agriculture with our planetary biosphere: high productivity is possible without chemicals; nutrient retention to prevent pollution; mixed agriculture using many crops (polyculture rather than monoculture); use of Integrated Pest Management approaches for insect control. The crew, faced with caloric restrictions, became much better farmers: we had our version of Victory Gardens. There was also immense satisfaction in growing and eating from such a healthy, ecological system.

Mark Nelson, Ph.D., is the Chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics (US/UK). He was a member of the biospherian crew inside Biosphere 2 for its first two-year closure experiment (1991-1993) and has just published Pushing our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2 (2018, University of Arizona Press). Mark has worked for several decades in ecological restoration, organic farming/orchardry, ecological treatment of wastewater and closed ecological system research and serves  as an associate editor of Life Sciences in Space Research. Other of his books include The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time (2014, Synergetic Press) and Life Under Glass: the Inside Story of Biosphere 2 (1993, Biosphere Press).


2018-10-10 0:00:00 2018-10-10 12:00:00 America/Denver Digest This! Living in the Biosphere with Mark Nelson & a Tasting from Synergia Ranch’s Organic Farm by Deborah Parrish Snyder Another amazing event at SITE Santa Fe Marlene Nathan Meyerson Auditorium SITE Santa Fe info@sitesantafe.org