Geoff Lawton talks “What you can do with Soil in a Desert“, supporting the Soil theme on this upcoming International Permaculture Day from The Greening the Desert Sequel Site in the Jordan Valley (PRI Jordan).
Introducing POTBOT irrigation – no it is not the name given to a tubby robot that does the mundane and time consuming task of watering. POTBOT is short for Plant Pot – Bottle dripper Irrigation. Batches of water are trickle released from the main water tank (for security) to batch storage then electronically released to fill in effect little water tanks all set at the same elevation around the garden. These pots drain out to each bottle that is charged and topped up to slowly release the water over several hours by transfer through soil inside the bottle. The moisture passes through the soil, through the holes in the underside of the bottle and out through the soil in the garden bed. The small vent hole squirts when the bottle is full so it is easy to check what might need unblocking soon after the pots are full. By the way, I did a search for “tubby robots” for a laugh and found this amazing Australian character that might be hired to “push some permaculture” and explain how easy it is to water your garden without feeling like a robot. http://www.tubbytherobot.com.au/
Sometimes there is no rule book and you don’t know where you are going to end up doing permaculture research. We think we have made some interesting discoveries along the way we would like to share with you. Who would have thought there were a number of permaculture modes to the operation of a water tank !
It would be great if we all had an acre or two, the time, and inclination to grow our own food, but the realities of the day are that the majority of people have moved into more confined, urban and suburban settings in order to be closer to jobs, entertainment, school districts, conveniences, and whatever else tickles our fancies. It’s the world as it is: Over half of us live in cities and suburbs.
While this can be a bit restricting when it comes to home food production, it certainly doesn’t spell the end to it. For every suburban lawn, there could be a beautiful herb spiral providing fresh, medicinal ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For every bathroom, kitchen window, or sunny corner of the living room, there could be productive, edible houseplants. Then, those small outdoor spaces like patios and balconies can be amazingly abundant as well.
In association with the Simplicity Institute, Jordan Osmond of Happen Films has recently produced a short film based on the ‘tiny house’ build, which is available for viewing above. Please share with your friends, family, and social networks.
Find Freedom in a Tiny House
What is a house? I feel this is a dangerous question, which holds within it the seeds of a disruptive innovation, so read on at your own risk.
Rethinking what a house is could change your life, and perhaps the world. Let me explain through my own experience.
I am writing from Italy, and my name is Ignazio although everybody calls me Iggy. My friend Marilena and I would like to tell you about how the encountering with Permaculture has changed our lives. For instance, watching the following short clip today, we can surely claim that Bill Mollison´s words are true and fitting. For once you attend a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course and get to know what permaculture is, you start giving things a brand new meaning and, in a certain sense, there is no turning back!
Ram pumps are fascinating because they achieve the seemingly impossible task of pumping water to a higher height than the water supplying the pump, and they do it with no added energy input. This is often misunderstood as needing no energy, but a casual lesson in the laws of thermodynamics tells us this is impossible. A ram pump harvests energy from a high volume of water as it flows through the pump from a low head source, with a low volume of water, to a higher head. Head is the height of the water relative to the pump.
Imagine water running through a pipe with an internal diameter of 100mm and length of 25m. The pipe would be carrying a water weight of 200kg, since one liter of water weighs 1kg. It is similar to an oil drum full of water.
As Albert Einstein famously said – “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” In my opinion, there is no area where this statement holds more relevance today than in relation to our tendency to view problems in isolation, to oversimplify complex discussions – reductionism.
There can be no doubting that reductionist approaches to science have helped us achieve a remarkable ability to influence and control the world around us. Unfortunately, these same approaches have also resulted in the situation where we have influenced the world around us to the extent that our own impact on the environment has begun threatening the very existence of humanity as we know it.
The pivotal problem of our time has become – how can we reverse the rapid destruction of the global environment to which we are so intrinsically linked, whilst at the same time learning to live in harmony as part of it? Viewed via the context of Einstein’s statement above – reductionism is the “kind of thinking” that we used to create this problem, it is not, therefore, the way we will solve it.
This essay represents an attempt to highlight a reductionist approach to science and the complexity inherent within it, via the case study of genetic engineering. Whilst genetic engineering is by no means the only area where reductionist science sits at the forefront of the mainstream view, it is perhaps one of the starkest examples – a proverbial house of cards, built on a series of outdated, reductionist principals and approaches.
Sustainable agriculture is by nature, an ethical industry. By definition it is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way (Permaculture Design Manual), and leads to farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare. Those of us who are drawn to practicing or supporting these techniques inherently know it is the right way to live in the world in which we dwell. The philosophy behind sustainable agriculture was a response, mostly by small family farmers, to over industrialized agriculture beginning in the early 1900’s. As time progressed the movement gained more and more followers and in the 1960’s it grew to include voices from the greater public with the emergence of the green and “back to the land” movements. It was at this time when people fled their urban and suburban lives both in an effort to debunk the societal “system” and to take part in caring for the earth and its people. This was a pivotal cultural time, however, more energy was given to everyday moments and fighting against current day injustices than was given to planning for the larger picture and finding solutions for a more sustainable future. Although major environmental and agricultural problems were identified and fought to overcome with organic farming in the 1960’s, a grounded system and cultural philosophy that made a long-standing difference would take more time to evolve.
This is precisely from where the permaculture philosophy was born. That is, seeing a need to find a lasting way forward and three ethical foundations set the stage for another movement. Let’s take a moment and revisit these ethics that are at the core of our mission as agriculturists.
Environmentalists, including one of the world’s most “powerful” women, have called on the United States Government to withdraw the award it has given to controversial “Golden Rice,” which is widely labelled a hoax.
Highly respected Indian scientist, physicist and ardent environmentalist, Dr. Vandana Shiva responded vehemently to the announcement that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) were to award the Golden Rice Project with the prestigious Patents for Humanity Award on Nutrition for 2015. The claim made by the three scientists who invented Golden Rice, which was patented in 2012, is that it provides a miracle cure for hunger and malnutrition, specifically in terms of vitamin A deficiency.
This Open Day has been canceled due to the extreme weather conditions expected over the weekend and for the safety and wellbeing of people attending.
Coinciding with International Permaculture Day, The Permaculture Research Institute will host a free tour of Zaytuna Farm on May 3rd, 2015. People who will be in northern NSW, Australia might want to make themselves available and make a truly International Permaculture Day of it!
-Extreme nutrient scarcity pushes plant roots in Australian kwongan bushlands to cook up ingenious strategies to survive
For a general onlooker, the Australian Outback is nothing more than a bland empty void with low scrubs and bushes. But the kwongan bushland found in the south-west Australia has an unusually rich biodiversity even though subsisting on some of the world’s most infertile soils. In fact, the soil is so barren, that it is impossible to practice agriculture without adding tons of fertilizer and manure to improve the soil fertility.
To adapt to the infertile soils, plants develop phosphorus efficient leaves, which are tough, lasting many years. But below-ground, the story is all together different. Plant roots have all the known adaptation tricks in the text book, to capture the phosphorous they need.