Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Nurseries & Propogation.

CERES plant propagation brings back some memories. I volunteered for a day when it was first launched. The CERES team was prepping the site for the first polytunnel and I spent the day potting on dozens of herbs with a handful of other volunteers.

Five years later and the propagation enterprise has grown steadily. They now have a dedicated propagation area, sheltered from the elements with benches at the perfect height so you’re not hunched over and messing up your back. They’ve built two more polytunnels and have a shade house to harden off the seedlings before planting out on the farm.

They rely on volunteers to help prepare the seedling trays, plant the seeds and pot on the seedlings but CERES propagation is never short on volunteers! Trading work hours to learn the ins and outs of plant propagation is a pretty good deal — I’d know, I spent six months volunteering there.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

New findings in genetics show that evolution happens by precisely targeted natural genetic engineering and not by the natural selection of random mutations, says leading molecular biologist James Shapiro, but what are the implications for the safety of GMOs and social policies?

by Dr Mae Wan Ho

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and otherwise available for download here.

Cut and splice vs random accidents

I have been awaiting his latest papers for years ever since he first introduced the concept of ‘natural genetic engineering’ in 1997 [1], referring to organisms themselves using ‘cut and splice’ techniques to meet environmental challenges, same as those used by human genetic engineers in the lab. It was a major inspiration for my book [2] Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? (ISIS publication) warning of dangers from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) released into the environment.

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Posted by & filed under Society.

Colombia is home to Nashira, an Ecovillage located in Palmira, which is 19 miles east of the main city of Cali. Ecoaldea Nashira is centered around the idea of having women, who are often heads of family as is the case in most of Latin America, create their own "housing solutions, production centers and workplaces" within sustainable and self-sufficient frameworks. As the video (sorry, Spanish only) explains, Nashira hosts 88 women and their families, and all of the community building has sustainability as a starting point, which has allowed for fertile and productive land, delving into appropriate technology, and alternative economies. Take a look at the gallery on their website for a glimpse into their work.

Now, check out this video (English subtitles), centered around Colombian farmers and fishing communities defending their right to food security and autonomy.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Education, Peak Oil, Population, Society.

I’m a reasonably even tempered sort of a bloke, but recently I’ve been feeling a bit, well, shall we say, unsettled.

The feelings began after reading David Holmgren’s essay Crash on demand. It was no less than a moral call for action. At first the article really irritated me and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. It wasn’t even that I reckon calls for action based on morals don’t seem to be particularly effective (abstinence and temperance anyone?)

It was a thoughtful and beautifully written essay and that it made it worse for me, because I felt very negative towards it.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Insects, Soil Rehabilitation.

The spoils of Kesho Leo’s permaculture garden beds (Arusha, Tanzania)

Healthy plants in healthy soil shouldn’t generally suffer from serious insect infestations or diseases (see here, here and here for more on this). So if you’re having severe problems with either, look for reasons that your plants may already be stressed, and therefore more vulnerable to disease or insect attack. Spraying for pests should really be a last resort….

Ask yourself the following questions:

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Posted by & filed under Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Soil Biology.

There are many ways to propagate plants, which can be broadly divided into sexual and asexual. Taking cuttings is an asexual method, as your new plants will be clones of the mother. The method is simply to cut a new shoot from an existing plant and encourage it to take root itself. Information abounds about which plants are best to take cuttings from, and how to go about the process, but not all of it agrees, so I decided to make my own experiment.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Shortages, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

The Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean — one half of Isla La Hispaniola, along with Haiti. The Dominican Republic Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Environment can inform us of some of the environmental challenges Dominicana faces, such as increasing deforestation and soil erosion (15% of the country’s soil is overused). Many of these issues are shared with their immediate neighbor, Haiti, which is significantly more deforested. Nathan C. McClintock points out (PDF) that “soil erosion and deforestation are endemic in Haiti due to centuries of agricultural exploitation, first under the colonial plantation system — intensive monocropping… and later by the widespread harvest of timber for export markets.” It seems that, now that most of Haiti’s resources have been depleted, deforestation is becoming a serious problem in the Dominican Republic as well, and for similar issues.

Check out the following video for a creative, permaculture solution for the region’s depleted and deforested soils, with footage from Taino Farm, a “permaculture, agro-tourism and alternative education site” that, while seemingly mostly white operated and owned, does some soil restoration work and bed-making in the Dominican Republic that is worth noting. I wasn’t able to find much more on permaculture (at least by that name) in the region.

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Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes.

We knew it was coming. Hell, we were excited about the fact that it was coming. We were returning to Panama just in time for mango season, taking the reigns of a piece of property with five or six large mango trees, and beyond those, we knew some of the neighbors let hundreds of fruits rot on the ground every year. Well, that wasn’t going to happen on our watch. We love(d) mangoes. We were going to utilize every one of them.

Then, it started happening. While we were lying in bed, a thunderous crash would awaken us in the night. And, a few minutes later, another one. Outside, the skies were clear, but the trees were raining mangoes. The first mornings were slow: a bag of 30, 40, 50 off the ground. Then, as the season progressed, it was two bags then three bags — we easily collected a 100 or more mangoes a day. It was too much for two people. When volunteers started arriving, it was too much for five people.

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Posted by & filed under Biofuels, Building.

by Mo Lohre and Will Redwine

Geoff Lawton, Rumi, poisonous berries, student activists, NASA lunar/Martian construction and breaking a vow…. The next leg of the Creating the Alternative Tour (see more here) is pretty legendary. Part of the reason we started this tour was because one of our team members, Mo Lohre, was speaking on student leadership at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) National Conference in Los Angeles. As we pointed out in our last article, we took a vow not to use petroleum earlier that year, so flying from Portland to L.A. was not an option. We sought out vehicles that would align with the regenerative lifestyle we were designing. By the time we found the SolTrekker and harvested/canned enough food we only had time to make one stop on the way down to the Solar Living Institute (SLI,) in Hopland, CA.

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