Tim's Comfrey Project

By Tim

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Food,



NZ $3,145 pledged


55 people pledged


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Pledges will only be confirmed if the target is reached by: 10/04/2015 at 10:00 PM (NZST)

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About

Tim's Comfrey Project

Project 2015-02-08 13:53:28 +1300

Hi, I’m reaching out for support on a citizen science project I’ve just launched and need a bit of cash to run some experiments, if my hunch is right it could help allot of people around the planet.

There’s this ancient Russian herb called comfrey, the king of accumulators, that has some very beneficial characteristics.  It was much heralded back in the 1950’s as a bit of a miracle plant for agriculture but when the age of chemical fertiliser swept the planet it was forgotten about by most.

For subsistance farmers, where self resilience is of paramount importance , It can provide significant benefit, fertilising soil and crops by mining deep down soils, a vitamin B12 source, healing herb and a protein source for animals and people.

But there’s one big problem, comfrey harbours varying amounts of naturally occurring toxins called PA’s, similar to those you might find in green potatoes. They’re pretty nasty, so much so that comfrey as a protein source is currently off the table. 

There is a great deal of debate about PA’s, about how nasty they are and how much is nasty. My research avoids this debate by assuming PA’s are as nasty as they come. Rather I want to test a hypothesis posed back in the 1950’s that by simply wilting comfrey under certain conditions for a period of time these PA’s degrade, effectively removing them.  Back then to test this was quite problematic and expensive but with recent developments in testing technology it’s much easier.

Also some recent research in NZ has shown that PA’s in Ragwort, a common weed on farms, do degrade when handled in the way I’m proposing. So I want to run a few lab tests to determine the potential for this simple approach that may make comfrey usable. I have a test program ready to go and it’s going to cost around $3000. If these initial tests show promise then it will give me enough information to plan and seek funding for a full research program. All of my results will be published for everyone under creative commons license. 

If you could help with some spare cash and/or pass the word on I would be forever grateful.  And If you want to know more about comfrey, read this - http://piginthemud.com/comfrey

Comments

Updates 2

Tim's Comfrey Project - Research program update

30/08/2015 at 4:05 PM

Hi everyone, thanks again for your support of my project.  A quick update for you ...

A comfrey wilting experiment to degrade PA in the plants was carried out under controlled conditions with suitable controls. We have begun analysis at Cawthron Institute using liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (LCMS) to ascertain the base level of PA’s in a freshly harvested comfrey leaf. So far the methods routinely used there were unable to detect PA’s from our sample. This does not necessarily mean the PA’s aren’t there, rather it’s that the PA’s are of a type that have not been previously tested for at Cawthron in other plants. Cawthron scientist’s are now investigating development of a new method using reference standards specifically suitable for comfrey that will allow us to follow PA levels during the wilting experiment that has been performed. The samples from the experiments are safely desiccated in the freezer until the method has been validated.  I’ll be in touch with an update following this next phase in the program. 

Cheers,

Tim

You need to pledge to see this update.

    Pledgers 55

    Anonymous pledger
    2015-03-31 12:06:45 +1300
    Jo Davison
    2015-03-31 10:37:06 +1300

    "Really interesting project - good luck!"

    dave heads
    2015-03-31 09:19:06 +1300
    Brian Hart
    2015-03-31 08:33:07 +1300

    "Tim, great venture, all the best with your research"

    Mal Kelly
    2015-03-30 18:39:21 +1300

    "I'm a pig-in-the-mud sort of guy and share that in common with Tim :)"

    Tony Packer
    2015-03-29 12:34:28 +1300
    Sarah Jane Gredig
    2015-03-28 21:54:11 +1300

    "Good luck Tim it's awesome"

    Anonymous pledger
    2015-03-28 21:45:31 +1300
    Samuel Major
    2015-03-25 12:36:21 +1300
    marty
    2015-03-23 10:00:37 +1300

    "awesome work Tim"

    Emma Cowan
    2015-03-18 15:52:46 +1300
    Anna Butterfield
    2015-03-18 12:25:47 +1300
    Victor K
    2015-03-18 11:10:15 +1300
    Sally Boughtwood
    2015-03-18 10:51:02 +1300

    "Awesome Tim love a bit of comfrey in the garden - good luck!!"

    Jenine
    2015-03-17 13:14:16 +1300
    Adam & Tink
    2015-03-16 17:01:42 +1300

    "Good luck!"

    Petra Stephenson
    2015-03-16 15:08:33 +1300
    Sarah Adams
    2015-03-16 12:43:12 +1300
    Richard Self
    2015-03-16 12:35:10 +1300

    "This is a fantastic project with lots of potential!!"

    Anonymous pledger
    2015-03-16 10:38:47 +1300

    "Worth it. Wish I had more to give."

    Nikki Quinn
    2015-03-15 16:56:15 +1300
    Mikel Packer
    2015-03-15 10:11:53 +1300

    "Looks good Tim, good luck for sourcing funding for analysis. Your approach may make comfrey safely available for permaculture :) "

    Steve Williams
    2015-03-14 21:11:55 +1300
    Laura Dora
    2015-03-14 12:20:23 +1300
    Tim
    2015-03-14 12:15:50 +1300

    Tim's Comfrey Project

    Project 2015-02-08 13:53:28 +1300

    Hi, I’m reaching out for support on a citizen science project I’ve just launched and need a bit of cash to run some experiments, if my hunch is right it could help allot of people around the planet.

    There’s this ancient Russian herb called comfrey, the king of accumulators, that has some very beneficial characteristics.  It was much heralded back in the 1950’s as a bit of a miracle plant for agriculture but when the age of chemical fertiliser swept the planet it was forgotten about by most.

    For subsistance farmers, where self resilience is of paramount importance , It can provide significant benefit, fertilising soil and crops by mining deep down soils, a vitamin B12 source, healing herb and a protein source for animals and people.

    But there’s one big problem, comfrey harbours varying amounts of naturally occurring toxins called PA’s, similar to those you might find in green potatoes. They’re pretty nasty, so much so that comfrey as a protein source is currently off the table. 

    There is a great deal of debate about PA’s, about how nasty they are and how much is nasty. My research avoids this debate by assuming PA’s are as nasty as they come. Rather I want to test a hypothesis posed back in the 1950’s that by simply wilting comfrey under certain conditions for a period of time these PA’s degrade, effectively removing them.  Back then to test this was quite problematic and expensive but with recent developments in testing technology it’s much easier.

    Also some recent research in NZ has shown that PA’s in Ragwort, a common weed on farms, do degrade when handled in the way I’m proposing. So I want to run a few lab tests to determine the potential for this simple approach that may make comfrey usable. I have a test program ready to go and it’s going to cost around $3000. If these initial tests show promise then it will give me enough information to plan and seek funding for a full research program. All of my results will be published for everyone under creative commons license. 

    If you could help with some spare cash and/or pass the word on I would be forever grateful.  And If you want to know more about comfrey, read this - http://piginthemud.com/comfrey

    Comments

    Tim's Comfrey Project - Research program update

    30/08/2015 at 4:05 PM

    Hi everyone, thanks again for your support of my project.  A quick update for you ...

    A comfrey wilting experiment to degrade PA in the plants was carried out under controlled conditions with suitable controls. We have begun analysis at Cawthron Institute using liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (LCMS) to ascertain the base level of PA’s in a freshly harvested comfrey leaf. So far the methods routinely used there were unable to detect PA’s from our sample. This does not necessarily mean the PA’s aren’t there, rather it’s that the PA’s are of a type that have not been previously tested for at Cawthron in other plants. Cawthron scientist’s are now investigating development of a new method using reference standards specifically suitable for comfrey that will allow us to follow PA levels during the wilting experiment that has been performed. The samples from the experiments are safely desiccated in the freezer until the method has been validated.  I’ll be in touch with an update following this next phase in the program. 

    Cheers,

    Tim

    You need to pledge to see this update.

      Anonymous pledger
      2015-03-31 12:06:45 +1300
      Jo Davison
      2015-03-31 10:37:06 +1300

      "Really interesting project - good luck!"

      dave heads
      2015-03-31 09:19:06 +1300
      Brian Hart
      2015-03-31 08:33:07 +1300

      "Tim, great venture, all the best with your research"

      Mal Kelly
      2015-03-30 18:39:21 +1300

      "I'm a pig-in-the-mud sort of guy and share that in common with Tim :)"

      Tony Packer
      2015-03-29 12:34:28 +1300
      Sarah Jane Gredig
      2015-03-28 21:54:11 +1300

      "Good luck Tim it's awesome"

      Anonymous pledger
      2015-03-28 21:45:31 +1300
      Samuel Major
      2015-03-25 12:36:21 +1300
      marty
      2015-03-23 10:00:37 +1300

      "awesome work Tim"

      Emma Cowan
      2015-03-18 15:52:46 +1300
      Anna Butterfield
      2015-03-18 12:25:47 +1300
      Victor K
      2015-03-18 11:10:15 +1300
      Sally Boughtwood
      2015-03-18 10:51:02 +1300

      "Awesome Tim love a bit of comfrey in the garden - good luck!!"

      Jenine
      2015-03-17 13:14:16 +1300
      Adam & Tink
      2015-03-16 17:01:42 +1300

      "Good luck!"

      Petra Stephenson
      2015-03-16 15:08:33 +1300
      Sarah Adams
      2015-03-16 12:43:12 +1300
      Richard Self
      2015-03-16 12:35:10 +1300

      "This is a fantastic project with lots of potential!!"

      Anonymous pledger
      2015-03-16 10:38:47 +1300

      "Worth it. Wish I had more to give."

      Nikki Quinn
      2015-03-15 16:56:15 +1300
      Mikel Packer
      2015-03-15 10:11:53 +1300

      "Looks good Tim, good luck for sourcing funding for analysis. Your approach may make comfrey safely available for permaculture :) "

      Steve Williams
      2015-03-14 21:11:55 +1300
      Laura Dora
      2015-03-14 12:20:23 +1300
      Tim
      2015-03-14 12:15:50 +1300
      This campaign was successful and got its funding on 10/04/2015 at 10:00 PM.