Ancient Earth Bamboo as a Natural Building Presenter and Demonstrator at The 2017 Mother Earth News Fair– Asheville, NC

“Bamboo is extremely useful, and we need to start using it and valuing it in this country.” – Aaron McCarty

Article by: Wendy McCarty

Ancient Earth Bamboo (AEB) was honored to be asked to attend the 2017 Mother Earth News Festival (#MENF) as a presenter, early this May.  Professional Natural builders are apparently hard to come by.  AEB was asked to attend because of our passion and knowledge for all things bamboo.  Ancient Earth Bamboo owner, Aaron McCarty, gave two separate hour long courses about bamboo to a decent group of interested festival-goers over the weekend.

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The festival began on Saturday, May 6th.  We won’t sugar-coat our experience with the weather that day… it was COLD, rainy, windy and a bit miserable to be outside all day from 8 AM-5 PM.  When we pulled through the festival gates, we saw numerous vendors fighting with their pop up tents (which had attempted to take flight), chasing their wares across parking lots (LOTS of wind!) and bundled up against each other in their coats and hats.  The rain came and went in itty bitty, big ol’ fat,  light, heavy, sideways, from above and below forms… all Forrest Gump in the jungle style.

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Luckily we brought extra clothing for our two young sons, who were both in little boy bliss.  They played in the rain, under the tent, around the tent, on the natural building speaker’s stage and in the dirt, mud, straw and cob.  What a day it was!  Nevertheless, Ancient Earth Landscaping was still happy to be at the festival, and was able to spread knowledge about bamboo growth, maintenance, control and building techniques to those fair-goers who braved the harsh weather that Mother Nature dished out for us at the Mother Earth News Festival.  We huddled under our 10×10′, bright yellow canopy with our fellow Earthworking friends, and made coffee– cowboy style– on our traveling propane tank fueled camp stove from inside our bright red enclosed trailer.  We fueled up our cast iron, coal burning stove using bamboo energy.  It was truly a bonding experience.

We set up a few tables with crafts, trinkets and oddities we have collected and created over the years from bamboo.  People came by and picked up our “Specimen” (The underground part of a bamboo cane floating inside a mason jar full of olive oil), bamboo bracelets, necklaces, spoons, a hand-woven basket and more.

We also brought a chicken nest box, which Aaron constructed entirely from bamboo, screws and cordage.  I placed a stuffed chicken and rooster into the nest box for laughs.  The hen sat on six brown eggs atop a bed of bamboo leaves and stems.

We also brought along a door, woven entirely from bamboo.  It is another of Aaron’s creations.  We attached it to one of the tent posts for support and a windbreak.  This is the door we attached to my “Secret Garden” in our back yard in Boiling Springs, SC.  Aaron and I wove a bamboo privacy fence around this garden.  We detached it so that it might travel as a demonstration of bamboo’s usefulness at the Fair.

When it came time for Aaron’s speech on Saturday, we decided to set up under the covered natural building stage.  We placed straw bales and fold up chairs on the stage for those who came to listen to the presentation.  Aaron was “wired” for the first time in his career– with a wireless headset microphone.  He wore his cowboy hat, socks with Crocs (lol) and a Japanese apron that was given to him by his mentor, Keiji Oshima of Haiku Bamboo Nursery.  I giggled about how funny his style was– not typical attire for a big, tall, hairy Anglo-Saxon male.  We don’t often come across this sight in America.  I suppose this is the beginning of a trademark style 🙂

We weren’t expecting to have as big of a turn-out as we did for Saturday’s speech about bamboo.  As you might understand, bamboo in America has sort of a bad-wrap…

“It’s Invasive!”

“You don’t want Bamboo, it will take over!”

“It will destroy your yard AND your house!”

Sound familiar?

Aaron has come to understand, love and appreciate bamboo.  He has spent almost three years interning with his mentor.  He has learned how bamboo thinks, feels and reacts to its environment. (I call it an alien). Aaron has harvested and removed canes from well developed bamboo groves, created field divisions, learned  the characteristics of each different species and interacted with bamboo from the “ground-up.”  He has also grown to learn how to craft with bamboo and use it to create music.  He opened up his presentation at the fair by playing shakuhachi flute. We joked that he was luring people to the stage like the pied-piper of bamboo.  Shakuhachi Flute has been featured in numerous songs from popular bands, such as:

1985 Tears for Fears Head Over Heels (single) When in Love with a Blind Man” (b-side) [0:44-0:54, 1:32-1:36, 1:45-1:56]
1986 Peter Gabriel So Sledgehammer” [0:00–0:16, 3:16–3:34]
1990 Enigma MCMXC a.D. “Knocking on Forbidden Doors” [1:13 and throughout]
1993 Naughty by Nature 19 Naughty III “Hip Hop Hooray” [0:02–0:08]
2001 Incubus Morning View “Aqueous Transmission” and “Circles”

Shakuhachi are also often used in modern film scores, such as: The Karate Kid parts II and III , Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, Jurassic Park , The Last Samurai and Memoirs of a Geisha.  After he had lured enough people to the stage, Aaron gave a bamboo splitting demonstration.  He used a traditional Japanese Blade to split a full cane of bamboo down to what he calls a “Bamboo hair.”

After wowing the crowd with this unique, rare talent, he went on to explain the anatomy of bamboo.  He showed a type of bamboo called Moso, which still had a part of the rhizome from which it came attached to the bottom.  He also showed the crowd what looked like a spinal column with nerves attached, which was later explained to be the underground root and rhizome system from which bamboo emerges.

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The people listening to all of this bamboo talk were intrigued.  Many asked questions and “Oohs and Aaaahs” were heard throughout the presentation.  People even clapped after Aaron split a whole cane of bamboo into eight pieces using a metal splitter he purchased from Amazon. Here’s a short video, which was shot near the end of Saturday’s speech:

Despite the surprising, yet challenging weather, fun was had by all on Saturday.  We formed relationships with other natural builders, whom we can now call friends– including Kelley Adair (Painting and building with cob and dirt) Uncle Mud (building with cob, mud and more) and David Reed (building with Pallets).  Click on the links to view the websites of each of  these amazing artists!!!

At the end of the day, just as we prepared to pack up our booth contents, Mother Nature thanked us for our endurance in the natural world, and for working for “the greater good” with a beautiful rainbow.

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MANY thank you’s to Le Bon Cafe’ for giving the Natural Building crowd FREE coffee on a cold, difficult day outdoors.  The rainbow touching their little coffee caravan is no surprise.  They were our pot of gold for the day!!!

 

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