This summer I have been focused on #ProjectMartian and accelerating and amending compost to recreate the growing conditions of a forest floor. The key to this system has been the balanced approach of biomass (green and brown) ethanol, caffeine, sucrose, ammonia, and water. All in sufficient volume to encourage microbial life and accelerate the decomposition. The first four test cases I perfected a series of steps and processes. Each time, getting better and perfecting the technology.

A 1,000L IBC compost bioreactor. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

The system I have been perfecting this summer is the #BioLEGO Project. A 1,000L bioreactor that is filled with 20L of biomass and 20L of water and accelerant. After every other application later a layer of 20L of manure and 20L of shredded paper seeded with ammonia, bone meal, blood meal, calcium, phosphorus and trace amounts of acid, magnesium, and a little bit more glucose. Then start with the next layer. 10 times. Then close the bioreactor and let it oxidize for 20 days. Start the next bioreactor.

Samples of 20L BioLEGO Bins containing shredded greens and browns. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Three 1,000L bioreactors will create 12 1 cubic meter garden beds. These will grow enough diverse food to support two adult humans, 8 poultry, 4 rabbits and with sufficient access to water and land, 50 fish, two goats or two cows. This is not taking into account all the microbial, bacterial, fungal, insect, and small predators life requires in a balanced ecosystem.

A quick morning harvest. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Living on Mars will require converting the living, dead, and inert materials into life again. Understanding that web of life will be critical! We take it for granted here – as most of this is hidden to us. It is a critical requirement on this planet as well, but the systems are more sophisticated and nuanced. The Earth’s ecosystems are far more developed and interdependent. This is NOT all we will need to support life on Mars, but it is a good start. What else will we need? A lot. But this is a manageable start.

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