Nantucket Portraits

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Alden Lenhart

Rob Smith

What are your dreams for Nantucket?

"To see edible forest-gardens all over. The island needs to be reforested. I'd like to see the town start to take a stance and develop a plan for reinstituting a climax ecosystem. I see our community as incredibly dependent on the tourist industry, more and more so as time goes by, but in the meanwhile we're destroying our ecosystem, or what's left of it. A lot of people don't understand the history of Nantucket's ecology, and it's really important to understand that in order to move forward.
We use an economic system that relies on destroying virtually every ecosystem on the planet. We could and should be nurturing our local ecologies to produce more biomass, and more biodiversity, which would mean more (local) food. So I'd like to see more fruit trees and edible plants on public land. No more lawns. The concept for the modern lawn dates back to the early 17th century. The English gentry wanted to demonstrate that they could afford to own land, and yet do nothing with it. It was just a status-symbol. They didn't need to make money off their land. Normally, if you saw anything like that, it was on a working person's land used for grazing animals, or food production of some sort."

You're into mycology (the study of fungus). Can you tell us about how mycoremediation can help Nantucket?

"The issue of groundwater quality hasn't really been talked about that much. But the surface-water quality issues have come up a lot lately. Part of the problem is that there's just sand between our feet and the water-table which feeds into the harbor and ponds. Fungi can take most nutrients and chemical pollutants, and break them down into their basic elements. There's no one species that can do it all. It would require a whole lot of species to be present, especially mycorrhizal fungi, which are attached to the roots of trees and other plants, and grow 100 to 1000 times faster than the plant itself, aquire nutrients and water, and bring them to the trees in exchange for simple sugars. Those will be able to absorb and break down chemical toxins and heavy metals, rendering them inert. Fungi on Nantucket could help clean our groundwater, and help to recycle the biomass created by trees, as well as organic human refuse. Another obvious way to utilize fungus would be for food."

Do you have any advice you'd like to give?

"Learn about permaculture. People need to know how to take care of fruit trees, nut trees, berry bushes, leaf and salad crops, fungi... we need to be able to feed ourselves off of these things, and create agricultural systems that have an entropy to them. Our land needs to be able to carry the human species on a local level, so that we don't need to take advantage of other countries for food and other natural resources. Also, eat a high-fiber, low-glycemic diet."

Subject: Alden Lenhart
Location: Boatyard Farm
Date: February 28th, 2016

Humans of Nantucket, modeled after the famous Humans of New York, intends to portray various members of the island community who share with us their lives, dreams and hopes.

Robert Smith is a local landscape and portrait photographer. He will soon begin building a website to feature his work, and will also shortly provide links to his Flickr and Instagram accounts. He can be reached at 508-221-6926