Workshop >
Gardening as Electricity Making
> 24 June 2023 > at Varia Rotterdam

𖡼Timm and Sunjoo organised the workshop to collectively discover the possibilities of the electricity generating cells made with mud.

What happened? >>>

  • A presentation to introduce the project Tree-001
  • We collectively made mud cells (Earth batteries)
  • Did a fruitful brainstorming session talking about ‘Gardening as electricity making’     
      - about the value of a garden being an electricity generator,
      - the value of labour and ecological knowledge that goes into maintaining it
      - harvesting small amounts of electricity over time and the ways of using the slow flow of electricity.
  • Some tinkering with radios and the mud cells.

𖡼Dennis brought his radios, including a self made one from home and started tinkering with them. At the end his self made radio worked, by transmitting a music track using the power from the mud cells!

✶Special thanks to Varia and the participating members: Danny, Luke and Dennis!

Some notes from the group conversation:

  • Tree itself becoming an antenna for the mud radio; the tree will grow and will have more reach!
  • Are we taking nutrients from the soil? (In the context of microbial fuel cells)
    - electrons are by-products of bacteria digesting food
    - not as invasive to nature when the process of electricity generation is ‘slow’.
  • “everything” in the world is solar powered.
  • What can this mud battery serve that is other than electricity generating? -> it can be a garden! It can also be an edible garden, think about aquaponics (because of wet mud) basil, coriander...
  • What is positive about the garden mud cells are that it is a garden, not a big field covered with solar cells. The garden lets other things happen, whereas solar cell fields are plates taking up space, taking the sun. (Danny)
  • What I liked about it is that smelling the mud, feeling the mud, getting hands dirty, is a lot of inspiration. (Luke)
  • It is so simple to make!
  • What is nice about this garden is that it is very easily repaired. All the materials (used for electricity generation) in this garden is easily serviced. (Ko)
  • What can we measure from a tree, to send out as signal that can be representing the tree?
  • What does it mean to take electricity from soil?
  • Since this method of generating electricity is so slow that nature has enough time to recover from humans taking something from it.

  • If you work with more descreet components, you have much less power consumption, instead of ic chips.
  • Sending morse code form the tree is possible!
  • What would you power, other than arduino, with the mud cells? -> it is so hard to think about, since we are so used to our demands, for the high amount of energy that we require for all our daily use of electronics.
  • maybe this is useful for very remote applications where there is no ways of getting electricity. Just bring some electrodes and make mud cells.
  • It would be ridiculous to think of powering just any normal electronics with mud. You need something that really fits the way mud cells work.
  • Why stream the tree on a website? It is a very inefficient way of sending data. Maybe just an email would be good, if you want to send a sensor data from the tree.
  • (about tree-001) You can make everything analog meaure humidity of the tree, and send that over by analog radio signals.
  • The website does not always have to be ready to serve. It can also only operate when someone requests it. and the next person also needs to wait for a while because the mud needs to charge the battery for a while. There should be a timer.
  • would be nice to have a switch that does not consume electricity. That also can keep the timer going. -> like water getting filled by rainwater.... A way to store energy... lifting up weight, lifting up water...