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Land rejuvenating

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  • sm303lemk4
    I ve have 40 acres of rather hard land in a low rain fall area of Victoria Australia which I have now owned for just over a year. I intend to use only a small
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 31, 2004
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      I've have 40 acres of rather hard land in a low rain fall area of
      Victoria Australia which I have now owned for just over a year. I
      intend to use only a small part of the land for producing enough
      product to supply my needs and leave the rest to nature but in a
      better condition than its in now.
      Over that time most of the advice given to me on making the land
      more productive has been to deep rip the earth and then bring in
      truck loads of top soil ,river sand ,and manure. This attitude has
      never felt right to me and seems a quick fix solution to a long term
      problem. After looking for alternative ways to improve the land I
      came across "The One Straw Revolution" and a set of ideas that I
      feel more comfortable with and finally this group. I am wondering if
      anyone has used these methods to bring new life to a depleated part
      of the land.
      A quick rundown on the area. The land I own lies on the edge of a
      quarts reef. Over the last 1 hundred years the area has been mined,
      striped of the vegitation for timber and heaverly grazed with no
      improvements done. The 2 main plants on my land are the Golden
      Wattle and Malley Gum.Grasses and weeds are the main forms of
      seasonal ground gover. The soil is lacking in organic material with
      good runoff ability but poor drainage once you get the water in.To
      dig any holes throughout the year a crow bar is essential or some
      form of mechanical device is needed. Rain fall is 400mm on average.
      I have found that if you dont replace the soil when putting in
      plants then in a matter of days the newly dug up ground has set hard
      again and water penitration is difficult. Sorry for the non
      technical description.
      Any useful comments or ideas would be most welcome.

      Ernie.
    • Gloria C. Baikauskas
      When you plant something are you putting straw, or some other plant material on top of the soil where you planted? If so.....how thick a layer are we talking
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 31, 2004
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        When you plant something are you putting straw, or some other plant
        material on top of the soil where you planted? If so.....how thick a
        layer are we talking about?

        I moved here 7 years ago to dead soil....not even weeds would grow
        here in any number. The black gumbo soil dries harder than
        cement....but it will feel like baby food in my hand when it is wet
        enough. One important thing is that it must be covered with a good
        layer of mulch of some kind. Here in Texas we have a rainy season,
        but we often go long periods of time without any rain in the hot,
        baking sun. My problem was that extreme chemical farming had been
        done here before we bought the land.

        In New Mexico there was similar hard-baked land in which daikon
        radishes were planted....ala natural farming...left in the soil
        rather than harvested for two successive planting years. The third
        year the soil was good, loose healthy soil in which the daikons from
        that year were healthy, and large.....and could be harvested. You
        could use other root vegetable crops rather than daikons, but they do
        work well. Have you considered trying that? The tops of the daikons
        are cut at soil level and left on top of the soil when they are not
        harvested those first two years.

        You will notice as time passes that the weeds and native plants will
        change as the soil begins to heal. I was rather surprised to see
        that. It seems each weed has a job to do in the process. When it
        its job is done it does not reappear. When it does start to come
        together, if you pay attention, you will find beneficial insects (for
        me the coming of dragon flies last summer was the point of my
        awakening), as well as different bird species making their
        appearances. The obvious of worms becoming noticeable in the soil is
        a good indication, if you are digging. I do think it helps to have
        something grazing on the land....like chickens....later in the
        process.

        You need not plow open the soil and add all that that you were told.
        It will be necessary to any garden you plan right now, though. Even
        Fukuoka added some things to the soil the first year only.

        Remember that plants take 95% of their nutrients from the air....not
        the soil. What they do need/take from the soil is from the top
        couple of inches. You could try putting some dry molasses on the
        soil to help with the moisture...and the microbial activity below the
        soil level. It has the ability to grab moisture from the air...and
        it feeds the soil critters that are beneficial. They may not be
        there in the beginning....but they will show up. I know it is an
        amendment....but at least it is a product of the soil. I use kitchen
        scraps on my soil....sheet composting. We don't produce many of
        them, but every little bit helps in the garden itself.

        Gloria
      • Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry
        ... just keep in mind that plants are making the soil while they live and when they die ,they support microbial activity , you can activate the process on a
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 31, 2004
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          > I've have 40 acres of rather hard land in a low rain fall area of
          > Victoria Australia which I have now owned for just over a year. I
          > intend to use only a small part of the land for producing enough
          > product to supply my needs and leave the rest to nature but in a
          > better condition than its in now.
          > Over that time most of the advice given to me on making the land
          > more productive has been to deep rip the earth and then bring in
          > truck loads of top soil ,river sand ,and manure. This attitude has
          > never felt right to me and seems a quick fix solution to a long term
          > problem. After looking for alternative ways to improve the land I
          > came across "The One Straw Revolution" and a set of ideas that I
          > feel more comfortable with and finally this group. I am wondering if
          > anyone has used these methods to bring new life to a depleated part
          > of the land.
          > A quick rundown on the area. The land I own lies on the edge of a
          > quarts reef. Over the last 1 hundred years the area has been mined,
          > striped of the vegitation for timber and heaverly grazed with no
          > improvements done. The 2 main plants on my land are the Golden
          > Wattle and Malley Gum.Grasses and weeds are the main forms of
          > seasonal ground gover. The soil is lacking in organic material with
          > good runoff ability but poor drainage once you get the water in.To
          > dig any holes throughout the year a crow bar is essential or some
          > form of mechanical device is needed. Rain fall is 400mm on average.
          > I have found that if you dont replace the soil when putting in
          > plants then in a matter of days the newly dug up ground has set hard
          > again and water penitration is difficult. Sorry for the non
          > technical description.
          > Any useful comments or ideas would be most welcome.
          >
          > Ernie.


          just keep in mind that plants are making the soil while they live and when
          they die ,they support microbial activity , you can activate the process on
          a small surface by bringing in organic matter from the outside and sow seeds
          of many plants for short term result , some microbial rich soils can be used
          to inseminate your dying soil .
          on a big surface just let the plants you bring do the work in a long term ,
          maximise the total biomass by planting multi layered vegetation from canopy
          trees to ground .cover .atrack birds and other small animals to add their
          manure by making habitat for them .
          i am not against the idea of sprinkling rock powders on top of dead organic
          matter to speed up the decomposition of it .
          when masanobu started his orchard it was red clay without humus ,his idea
          was to bring organic matter in the form of tree trunc from the top of the
          mountain til he realise that growing on the spot this organic matter was way
          more efficient .

          mechanical work of the soil is great in the short term but you pay the price
          later on very much , letting the plants by living and dying do the job is
          slower but way better for many different reasons .
          acting as a pump between underground water and atmostheric water
          being food and shelter for many species of microrganisms ( who like to not
          be disturbed )
          making deep long air canals
          favorise bio diversity
          just more beautiful to see....

          jean-claude
        • Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry
          ... it depends of the type of plants planted some plants could not come thru a mulch too thick or too coarse ,i use some fine material like left over from
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 31, 2004
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            > When you plant something are you putting straw, or some other plant
            > material on top of the soil where you planted? If so.....how thick a
            > layer are we talking about?
            >
            it depends of the type of plants planted some plants could not come thru a
            mulch too thick or too coarse ,i use some fine material like left over from
            seed cleaning or shreded leaves and use just enough for the soil to not look
            bare .seeing bare soil just hurt me i don't like to see the soil drying out
            because of the sun or splashing away with the rain falling .
            jean-claude
          • Adam Carter
            Hi Ernie, One thing that you should look into is the edibility of any of the weeds that currently grow in your land. I ve been really surprised about how many
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
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              Hi Ernie,

              One thing that you should look into is the edibility of any of the
              weeds that currently grow in your land. I've been really surprised
              about how many weeds we have growing here that are edible and now make
              up a fair part of our diet. A great book containing common edible weeds
              is 'In Touch with the Earth - Useful Weeds at our Doorstep' by Pat
              Collins. Pat lives in the Hunter Valley but I have found her book
              extremely useful down here in Tasmania. The book is available from
              Green Patch Seeds http://www.greenpatchseeds.com.au/herbsremedies.html
              I have taken a number of my weeds to the local Herbarium (part of the
              University) for positive identification (although they refused to
              comment on edibility - I needed the book for that but the internet is
              useful too once you know what you've got).

              Gloria mentioned daikon radish. Should you go down this path, I have
              found Green Patch to be the most economical place to buy daikon seeds
              from in quantity at $120 for 1kg (another company quoted me $900 for
              1kg!). I'll be sowing my daikon in another month or so.

              Cheers,

              Adam
              Tasmania
            • Sergio Montinola
              Dear Adam, I received and read your email on edible weeds . Very interesting and valuable to all natural farmers. I would kike to get hold of the book too. I
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 3, 2004
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                Dear Adam,

                I received and read your email on "edible weeds".

                Very interesting and valuable to all natural farmers.
                I would kike to get hold of the book too.

                I am in the Philippines. we have all kinds of weeds.
                Daikon seeds is not that expensive over here. Maybe we
                can help those that need it too.

                We use our weeds as herbal and medicinal plants most
                of the time.

                Regards,

                Sergio J. Montinola




                --- Adam Carter <accarter@...> wrote:
                > Hi Ernie,
                >
                > One thing that you should look into is the edibility
                > of any of the
                > weeds that currently grow in your land. I've been
                > really surprised
                > about how many weeds we have growing here that are
                > edible and now make
                > up a fair part of our diet. A great book containing
                > common edible weeds
                > is 'In Touch with the Earth - Useful Weeds at our
                > Doorstep' by Pat
                > Collins. Pat lives in the Hunter Valley but I have
                > found her book
                > extremely useful down here in Tasmania. The book is
                > available from
                > Green Patch Seeds
                > http://www.greenpatchseeds.com.au/herbsremedies.html
                >
                > I have taken a number of my weeds to the local
                > Herbarium (part of the
                > University) for positive identification (although
                > they refused to
                > comment on edibility - I needed the book for that
                > but the internet is
                > useful too once you know what you've got).
                >
                > Gloria mentioned daikon radish. Should you go down
                > this path, I have
                > found Green Patch to be the most economical place to
                > buy daikon seeds
                > from in quantity at $120 for 1kg (another company
                > quoted me $900 for
                > 1kg!). I'll be sowing my daikon in another month or
                > so.
                >
                > Cheers,
                >
                > Adam
                > Tasmania
                >
                >


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              • Sergio Montinola
                Dear Adam, I received and read your email on edible weeds . Very interesting and valuable to all natural farmers. I would kike to get hold of the book too. I
                Message 7 of 10 , Feb 3, 2004
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                  Dear Adam,

                  I received and read your email on "edible weeds".

                  Very interesting and valuable to all natural farmers.
                  I would kike to get hold of the book too.

                  I am in the Philippines. we have all kinds of weeds.
                  Daikon seeds is not that expensive over here. Maybe we
                  can help those that need it too.

                  We use our weeds as herbal and medicinal plants most
                  of the time.

                  Regards,

                  Sergio J. Montinola




                  --- Adam Carter <accarter@...> wrote:
                  > Hi Ernie,
                  >
                  > One thing that you should look into is the edibility
                  > of any of the
                  > weeds that currently grow in your land. I've been
                  > really surprised
                  > about how many weeds we have growing here that are
                  > edible and now make
                  > up a fair part of our diet. A great book containing
                  > common edible weeds
                  > is 'In Touch with the Earth - Useful Weeds at our
                  > Doorstep' by Pat
                  > Collins. Pat lives in the Hunter Valley but I have
                  > found her book
                  > extremely useful down here in Tasmania. The book is
                  > available from
                  > Green Patch Seeds
                  > http://www.greenpatchseeds.com.au/herbsremedies.html
                  >
                  > I have taken a number of my weeds to the local
                  > Herbarium (part of the
                  > University) for positive identification (although
                  > they refused to
                  > comment on edibility - I needed the book for that
                  > but the internet is
                  > useful too once you know what you've got).
                  >
                  > Gloria mentioned daikon radish. Should you go down
                  > this path, I have
                  > found Green Patch to be the most economical place to
                  > buy daikon seeds
                  > from in quantity at $120 for 1kg (another company
                  > quoted me $900 for
                  > 1kg!). I'll be sowing my daikon in another month or
                  > so.
                  >
                  > Cheers,
                  >
                  > Adam
                  > Tasmania
                  >
                  >


                  __________________________________
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                  Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free web site building tool. Try it!
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                • Adam Carter
                  Hi Sergio, Assuming that you know what weeds you have (and don t need the book to help with identification) then the best book to obtain is Cornucopia II - A
                  Message 8 of 10 , Feb 3, 2004
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                    Hi Sergio,

                    Assuming that you know what weeds you have (and don't need the book to
                    help with identification) then the best book to obtain is "Cornucopia
                    II - A source book of Edible Plants" by Stephen Facciola. This book is
                    encyclopedic and includes of 3000 species and 7000 varieties of food
                    plants and their uses by presenting habitat and growing requirements,
                    the part of the plant used and traditional uses. The only thing it
                    doesn't do is help with identification. This book is available from
                    Green Harvest Seeds and you could send them an email at
                    inquiries@... to get a quote on sending the book to the
                    Philippines. Unfortunately the book is not cheap at AUD $95. A quick
                    search on the internet comes up with a prices of USD $40 so you could
                    explore obtaining it elsewhere.

                    The other book that I mentioned, In Touch with the Earth - Useful Weeds
                    at our Doorstep' by Pat Collins, is a lot cheaper at AUD $19.95 but it
                    does focus on weeds common in temperate Australia and I would be
                    concerned that it may not be of much use to you in the Philippines. The
                    email address for ordering this book is
                    enquiries@...

                    Then again, unlike most of us in the 'West', your knowledge of uses for
                    local 'weeds' is probably very strong already.

                    Regards,

                    Adam.

                    On 04/02/2004, at 9:02 AM, Sergio Montinola wrote:

                    > Dear Adam,
                    >
                    > I received and read your email on "edible weeds".
                    >
                    > Very interesting and valuable to all natural farmers.
                    > I would kike to get hold of the book too.
                    >
                    > I am in the Philippines. we have all kinds of weeds.
                    > Daikon seeds is not that expensive over here. Maybe we
                    > can help those that need it too.
                    >
                    > We use our weeds as herbal and medicinal plants most
                    > of the time.
                    >
                    > Regards,
                    >
                    > Sergio J. Montinola
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > --- Adam Carter <accarter@...> wrote:
                    >> Hi Ernie,
                    >>
                    >> One thing that you should look into is the edibility
                    >> of any of the
                    >> weeds that currently grow in your land. I've been
                    >> really surprised
                    >> about how many weeds we have growing here that are
                    >> edible and now make
                    >> up a fair part of our diet. A great book containing
                    >> common edible weeds
                    >> is 'In Touch with the Earth - Useful Weeds at our
                    >> Doorstep' by Pat
                    >> Collins. Pat lives in the Hunter Valley but I have
                    >> found her book
                    >> extremely useful down here in Tasmania. The book is
                    >> available from
                    >> Green Patch Seeds
                    >> http://www.greenpatchseeds.com.au/herbsremedies.html
                    >>
                    >> I have taken a number of my weeds to the local
                    >> Herbarium (part of the
                    >> University) for positive identification (although
                    >> they refused to
                    >> comment on edibility - I needed the book for that
                    >> but the internet is
                    >> useful too once you know what you've got).
                    >>
                    >> Gloria mentioned daikon radish. Should you go down
                    >> this path, I have
                    >> found Green Patch to be the most economical place to
                    >> buy daikon seeds
                    >> from in quantity at $120 for 1kg (another company
                    >> quoted me $900 for
                    >> 1kg!). I'll be sowing my daikon in another month or
                    >> so.
                    >>
                    >> Cheers,
                    >>
                    >> Adam
                    >> Tasmania
                    >>
                    >>
                    >
                    >
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                  • animaphile
                    G day Ernie, It s great to read of your good intentions sympathetic with Fukuoka s goals, as an additional person to me in Victoria, Oz, and also some people
                    Message 9 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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                      G'day Ernie,
                      It's great to read of your good intentions sympathetic with
                      Fukuoka's goals, as an additional person to me in Victoria, Oz, and
                      also some people previosly on this group such as Elizabeth Denk and
                      so on.

                      On this map of the bioregions of Victoria -see
                      (
                      http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/web/root/Domino/vro/maps.nsf/pages/\
                      vic_bioregions?Opendocument
                      )
                      I'm am in the East Gippsland Lowlands region of Victoria's (Oz)
                      bioregions and am also on the border, more or less, of (the State)
                      New South Wales. Here is country that the Maap (indigenous) people
                      come from. I have lived and worked in Melbourne for many years and
                      worked in nature restoration (also called ecological restoration,
                      bush regeneration) and in flora and fauna surveying and with
                      indigenous peoples all over victoria, including flora & fauna
                      surveys in Western Victoria in the Grampians, in Mallee country and
                      mallee heathlands, some goldfields work, etc., which are somewhere
                      around your area. I hope i may be able to help you with your place,
                      with many helpful contact people i can put you in touch with in your
                      area - at present i'm in East Gippsland about 600-1000 kms east -
                      with much information sources, and with hopefully for you some
                      answers or ideas directly from me.

                      Firstly which bioregion on the above map would you be in? i could
                      picture better in my mind what your place is like in detail if i
                      know this, also do you know which type(s) of mallee gum you have,
                      golden wattle - the Oz floral emblem - is well known, you can roast
                      and eat the seeds of golden wattle and most Victorian wattle trees,
                      they are great tasting food, rich in protein and energy in their
                      oils, there is much literature and some people and groups i can
                      point you to on how to prepare and eat foods such as victorian
                      native wattles and many more foods.

                      The books mentioned on edible weeds above are good advice, i can add
                      my support from experience of eating such species as sow thistles
                      etc. Also, for you and Adam and anyone else from Oz, Tim Low also
                      wrote a book called "Wild herbs of Australia and New Zealand"
                      there's now a 1991 revised edition, (ISBN 0207170010, published in
                      1991 by Angus and Robertson, colour and b&w, soft cover, 160 pages
                      Price $A19.95 plus $A10 postage within Australia or $A30 overseas
                      airmail). Tim Low is the author also of one some better bush food
                      books in Oz by 'whitefullahs'.
                      see ( http://www.weedinfo.com.au/bk_main2f.html )

                      There are also many understory plants aswell as shrubs and trees -
                      edible, medicinal, for tool making, nitrogen fixing such as the
                      great nitrogen fixers the wattles like your golden wattle.
                      Do you have a creek or stream on your place? - this changes what
                      types of plants that can grow, naturally, and may give more food
                      varieties.

                      Mining obviously does alot of damage to soil, but if there are
                      broken up rocks or mullock heaps from the mining over the last 100
                      years, that would erode the rocks more and weather out their
                      phophorus and maybe nitrogen to likely provide at least a little
                      more plant soil nutrient than plain rocks before hand. Even mining
                      has its minor, i stress minor upsides, even though obviously the
                      soil structure is better without it.

                      Would you have a digital photo of your place, perhaps i could
                      further perceive your situation and perhaps come up with some
                      detailed opportunities that you have in the context of your place,
                      it must be quite different to where i am know in Victoria, but quite
                      similar to places where my natural farming friends are such as
                      Castlemaine, Wartook/Laharum area of the Grampians, etc. I must get
                      a photo or two of my place online soon.

                      Thanks for the enjoyment of sharing our not so far away,
                      geographically and ecosystematically, natural farming propositions.
                      Not so far as North America or Europe at least.

                      Beauty to all,
                      Jason Stewart


                      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "sm303lemk4" <ernie@g...>
                      wrote:
                      > I've have 40 acres of rather hard land in a low rain fall area of
                      Victoria Australia which I have now owned for just over a year. I
                      intend to use only a small part of the land for producing enough
                      product to supply my needs and leave the rest to nature but in a
                      better condition than its in now.
                      > Over that time most of the advice given to me on making the land
                      more productive has been to deep rip the earth and then bring in
                      truck loads of top soil ,river sand ,and manure. This attitude has
                      never felt right to me and seems a quick fix solution to a long term
                      problem. After looking for alternative ways to improve the land I
                      came across "The One Straw Revolution" and a set of ideas that I
                      feel more comfortable with and finally this group. I am wondering if
                      anyone has used these methods to bring new life to a depleated part
                      of the land.
                      > A quick rundown on the area. The land I own lies on the edge of a
                      quarts reef. Over the last 1 hundred years the area has been mined,
                      striped of the vegitation for timber and heaverly grazed with no
                      improvements done. The 2 main plants on my land are the Golden
                      Wattle and Malley Gum.Grasses and weeds are the main forms of
                      seasonal ground gover. The soil is lacking in organic material with
                      good runoff ability but poor drainage once you get the water in. To
                      dig any holes throughout the year a crow bar is essential or some
                      form of mechanical device is needed. Rain fall is 400mm on average.
                      I have found that if you dont replace the soil when putting in
                      plants then in a matter of days the newly dug up ground has set hard
                      again and water penitration is difficult. Sorry for the non
                      technical description.
                      > Any useful comments or ideas would be most welcome.

                      > Ernie.
                    • penny_wia
                      Thanks for that info, Adam - I shall check out the local library for the book by Pat Collins, as well as Tim Low s book, mentioned in a later post. I spent a
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 18, 2004
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                        Thanks for that info, Adam - I shall check out the local library for
                        the book by Pat Collins, as well as Tim Low's book, mentioned in a
                        later post.
                        I spent a few hours searching the Internet for info about edible
                        weeds in North Queensland a few weeks ago, but came up with nothing,
                        so I will try books next.
                        Flo

                        --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Adam Carter <accarter@i...>
                        wrote:
                        > Hi Ernie,
                        >
                        > One thing that you should look into is the edibility of any of the
                        > weeds that currently grow in your land. I've been really surprised
                        > about how many weeds we have growing here that are edible and now
                        make
                        > up a fair part of our diet. A great book containing common edible
                        weeds
                        > is 'In Touch with the Earth - Useful Weeds at our Doorstep' by Pat
                        > Collins. Pat lives in the Hunter Valley but I have found her book
                        > extremely useful down here in Tasmania. The book is available from
                        > Green Patch Seeds
                        http://www.greenpatchseeds.com.au/herbsremedies.html
                        > I have taken a number of my weeds to the local Herbarium (part of
                        the
                        > University) for positive identification (although they refused to
                        > comment on edibility - I needed the book for that but the internet
                        is
                        > useful too once you know what you've got).
                        >
                        > Gloria mentioned daikon radish. Should you go down this path, I
                        have
                        > found Green Patch to be the most economical place to buy daikon
                        seeds
                        > from in quantity at $120 for 1kg (another company quoted me $900
                        for
                        > 1kg!). I'll be sowing my daikon in another month or so.
                        >
                        > Cheers,
                        >
                        > Adam
                        > Tasmania
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