Permaculturists everywhere are crazy about their compost teas and extracts. They have turned building compost tea brewers into a science and concocting the perfect tea recipe into an art. We love our compost brews too, and since we’re always getting questions about the compost tea process, we thought it was time to sit down and write a post about it. In this article we’ll explain the difference between a tea and an extract, discuss the best ingredients and recipes, and give you the step-by-step how-to for making your own compost tea brewer.
Chris Evans, who co-created the invaluable Farmers’ Handbook, has lived and worked in Nepal since 1985, co-founding the Jajarkot Permaculture Project, which successfully spread new ideas in line with existing cultural traditions. Chris started his career as a VSO volunteer in a community forestry programme in Nepal after graduating in Forestry in the UK.
Based in the remote western district of Jajarkot, he quickly realised the shortfalls of international development and so in 1988, when he came across the concept of permaculture, he embarked on an ambitious alternative. Starting with a local friend, £500 and an acre of degraded farmland in the district centre of Jajarkot he founded a demonstration and training centre which grew organically into the Jajarkot Permaculture Programme (JPP) — a diverse array of projects spanning 4 districts, 65 villages, 8 resource centres (working farms), 120 staff and volunteers, and a membership of 12,000 farmers.
The more I learn about living simply, about permaculture design, about seeds and gardening, about food, nutrition, animals and about health and the regeneration of our soils and our own DNA, and about epigenetics, the more I realise our challenge is all about "stepping back into that circle of coevolution".
We are beginning to understand how the life in the soil communicates with, and helps to grow, strong and healthy plants and animals. We are beginning to understand how nutritionally dense food (plants and animals) communicates with human DNA to create healthy people. We are starting to get a glimpse of how healthy people can have the ability to complete the circle and communicate with their own environment in a way that benefits and strengthens the whole.
We are an expression of the sum total of all the energy transactions we are, and have been connected to. We are an expression of our very own environment!
In early May 2012, Japan shut down its last nuclear power station for routine maintenance in a safety drive since the Fukushima meltdown, leaving the country nuclear free for the first time in more than 40 years . Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan got 30% of its power from nuclear energy. Hundreds marched through Tokyo to celebrate what they hope will be the end of nuclear power in Japan.
Most other countries are having second thoughts about nuclear power; some like Germany and Italy have already decided to do without it and others like Japan may follow  (Fukushima Fallout (SiS 51), but the UK government is still determined to go ahead with the construction of at least 10 new reactors. This is the only way we can fulfil our future energy needs and still meet our commitment to reduce carbon emissions, so we are told; besides, nuclear is the cheapest alternative to fossil fuels and is safer than coal. Every one of those claims is contradicted by evidence, as we have shown in numerous reports.
Enclosure and dispossession have driven us, like John Clare, all a little mad.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
The land around Helpston, just to the north of Peterborough in Northamptonshire, now ranks among the most dismal and regularised tracts of countryside in Europe. But when the poet John Clare was born this coming Friday in 1793, it swarmed with life. Clare describes species whose presence there is almost unimaginable today. Corncrakes hid among the crops(1), ravens nested in a giant oak(2), nightjars circled the heath(3), the meadows sparkled with glow worms(4). Wrynecks still bred in old woodpecker holes(5). In the woods and brakes the last wildcats clung on(6).
The land was densely peopled. While life was hard and spare, it was also, he records, joyful and thrilling. The meadows resounded with children pranking and frolicking and gathering cowslips for their May Day games(7); the woods were alive with catcalls and laughter(8); around the shepherds’ fires, people sang ballads and told tales(9). We rightly remark the poverty and injustice of rural labour at that time; we also forget its wealth of fellowship.
Current evidence indicates that New Zealand may well be "the youngest country on earth". Possible fellow competitors for this claim are Greenland, Iceland and Madagascar. All of these landscapes were so isolated they managed to avoid human settlement until relatively recent times. But these entrants in the competition look to be a couple of centuries behind — all being settled prior to 1000AD, unlike New Zealand, which is believed to have had no human presence prior to 1200AD.
With campaigns and videos like the one at top, New Zealand has managed to generate a kind of green aura around itself. Stunning Lord of the Rings landscapes, pristine snow-capped mountain ranges, dripping forests, clean rivers and an outdoor lifestyle to kill for, all spring to mind amongst millions of people worldwide who have never been there, but dream of going. It is a gorgeous country, to be sure, but that’s not the whole story….
When I started to take an interest in permaculture, one of the first things I wanted to learn but had no reference to guide me on was seed saving. The idea of seed saving felt close to the core of a regenerative way of life: life loves to live, and regenerates itself, and this can be harnessed to provide for our needs. I felt that, like sunlight and rain, seed should come for free, letting the garden function with a natural life cycle.
To begin with, I bumbled through, with some successes but plenty of unexplained failures as I tried to propagate veggies from saved seeds. Then came a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at Michel and Jude Fanton’s Seedsavers garden and seed bank in Byron Bay, Australia. Six months of working a couple of days a week with these inspiring people in that inspiring environment was a turning point in my understanding of a lot of things about life in general… but also of the fact that seed saving is not difficult at all, and very rewarding. With a few basic understandings, you can make a good start with seed saving, and I reckon a lot of these basics can be distilled into quite a short read that I want to share with you in this article. I intend it to be the sort of easily digested starting point that I wish I had when I started out.
Leaving Rio de Janeiro, site of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we mulled the meaning of what we had witnessed, but could hardly put it any better than Charles Eisenstein in his excellent summary, Why Rio+20 Failed:
You know folks, I’m a bit worried about my 16-year-old son, Jimi. When he was 13, he grew three inches. When he was 14, he grew five inches. When he was 15 his growth slowed to three inches, and no matter how much I feed him, now he isn’t growing at all past his current six-one. Could someone please tell me how to achieve sustainable growth for my son, so that he can keep getting bigger forever?
Can the human race build an environmentally sustainable culture? Can we disprove the myth that humans are inherently destructive? Here at The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, myself and 18 others are a part of an intensive internship in an attempt to answer these big, big questions. We have asked ourselves, "If not now, when? If not us, then who?" It’s clear to us there is a way, this is the time and we are the people we have been waiting for.
Curious what goes on at the PRI Zaytuna Farm? If you live close to the farm, or are passing by, you're welcome to book yourself on a farm tour (Wednesdays at 11am only). Contact the farm manager and we'll see you soon.
We will take a minimum of 3 people at $35 p/p (groups of less than 3 adults are $50 p/p). Large groups please call to discuss pricing (at least 48 hours prior required).