It seems whatever the question is in nature, mycelium is the answer. For the past 12 years, a duo of mycologists has singularly focused on replicating the wonders of mycelium in a way that can benefit the environment in every forest, field and yard.
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Called mycelium orbs, the treatments can roughly double the amount of carbon captured by America’s lawns. It’s easy to use by simply adding the orb to a watering can or spray applicator. A single application can last at least 10 years. It can be used anywhere, from a commercial farming operation to a simple backyard lawn. The treatments rejuvenate the soil and help plants thrive. Treated plants can capture one ton of carbon per year or 10 tons per application. That’s an estimated 20% increase in carbon reduction. Additionally, the mycelium orbs are pet and human friendly and require zero maintenance.
NetZero, the company behind the orbs, began in 2008 when two scientists came up with a blend that boosts the carbon absorption of all living plants. The innovation was based on the historic symbiotic relationship between fungi and surrounding plants. Not only does mycelium act as an underground communication system throughout the forest floor, but it has also been shown to increase the land’s resilience and health. This helps trees and plants readily absorb water and nutrients.
Four years after the initial development phase, following field tests at over a dozen parks, farms, and rooftop gardens, current U.S. Executive Director Joseph Kelly, bought the IP rights to NetZero and hired a dozen scientists to continue the work. The result was an improved blend that won several awards for sustainability, especially for the focus on lowering carbon footprints.
NetZero initially focused on commercial clients, but during the pandemic of 2020 saw a new opportunity to quickly and efficiently facilitate carbon reduction — America’s lawns. Through a Kickstarter campaign, the project has raised over $150,000. The NetZero mycelium orbs are now available at the retail level, so everyone can help with the cause.
Even with the amazing innovations already in place, NetZero has bigger, global goals. This took shape in 2017 when the company launched the Sacred Rivers Climate Project (SRCP), an initiative that focuses on preserving biodiversity and habitat, cleaning up air, water, and plastic pollution, and empowering women in the developing world. These are not just goals of SRCP, but represent the United Nation’s 2030 development goals.
To this end, groups around the world are now planting food forests inoculated with the mycelium orbs. In 2019, the project planted a forest in Nepal, and this work continues with developments in Bali and Uganda. Each of these locations provided jobs and purpose for local women. Now, SRCP has a growing list of communities requesting forests.
COVID threw a wrench in the project’s expansion, causing issues with funding and site access. However, SRCP continues to overcome obstacles to achieve its goals, currently launching new sites in Costa Rica, Israel and Bhutan.
Images via SRCP