International Permaculture Day is approaching fast and it’s time to think about how you will celebrate it this year and help support and promote the event. International Permaculture Day (IPD) showcases the practices of permaculture to the public. Businesses, groups and individuals show permaculture in action – through markets, demonstrations, films, ‘open houses and gardens’, and local events in city and country. Last year we held the very first international day with some 125 events in 26 countries — take a look at the amazing diversity of celebrations that took place worldwide: www.permacultureday.org/eventcategory/australia/?etype=past
IPD 2013 promises to be an even bigger, bolder and better day this year and will have the theme of Grow Local! to highlight the benefits of going local, including growing your own food. As with last year, we’ll be interviewing leading permaculturalists and bioneers. Please add your events to the IPD calendar and sign up for regular updates on our website and social media channels:
Looking back to 2011, I recall the fond memories of our internship at PRI Australia. We had been volunteering and travelling round the world for four years looking for adventure, excitement and meaning. I have been reading about permaculture for some time, but so far it has only been an intellectual pursuit and fascination. But recently, Viktoria and I found ourselves at Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Research Institute in New South Wales, Australia. We were here for 3.5 months to study, work and live permaculture on one of his intensive internship programmes. Normally, the internships are booked out 6 months to a year in advance, but due to a last-minute cancellation, we were able to secure a place just a few days prior to commencement.
Paradise Dam at the Permaculture Research Institute
Very soon we realised that in this permaculture internship we are not just learning how to be farmers. This is a way of life. You can’t separate how food is grown from human existence. It is deeply intertwined with life itself. No, the more we learn about permaculture the more we realise that you must explore all areas of life to be truly sustainable: food systems, plants and animal systems, energy systems, people systems, ecological systems and not forgetting legal, financial and political systems. It’s a lot to learn. One should not try to be a specialist in everything, but rather a generalist that has a solid understanding of each discipline and integrates them together.
I attended the Community Gardens Conference in Canberra in 2010. Myles Bremner, CEO of Garden Organic, Europe’s main organic gardening organization, was speaking about how surprised he was that in Australia there was no unified network of Community Gardens. In fact in Australia no one even knows exactly how many there are. This highlighted for me the importance of building local networks to improve the credibility of local food growing and share experiences and resources.
I wanted to share my experience of The Moreland Food Gardens Network (MFGN) in Melbourne, Australia, to show how a local network can work. It began with a group of people all somehow involved in community gardens and there are now a wide range of organisations and individuals involved, such as horticulturalists, community members, local schools, community health organisations, local council and academics.
I have been waiting so long for Allan to get on Ted Talks! Now, here it is. Prepared to have your minds blown, ok?
I am sure you’re going to want to know more about HM in Australia and where to learn? The best training for HM comes out of InsideOutside Management. As it happens, they have a training beginning in April 2013. Although located in NSW they are able to travel across Australia to organise training, so get in touch! You will want to after seeing this.
Green Beat is happy to announce its third PDC, which will take place in Tulum, Mexico at our Permaculture Center.
The Green Beat Institute of Tulum opened its doors to the public in November 2012, with Green Beat’s second PDC. We have been working on this 4,000m2 plot of land since June 2012 with the aim to provide a center for local and Mayan peoples to receive training and education in fields such as organic bio-intensive agriculture, rainwater catchment systems, wastewater treatment, waste management, creating soil by composting and mulching, as well as business skills in order to sell their surplus in local co-ops and to local restaurants and hotels.
“Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” The current answer to Alexander Pope’s question is the power company Électricité de France (EDF). It is suing 21 climate change activists for £5m as a result of their week-long occupation of its power station at West Burton in Nottinghamshire.
In doing so it has made the biggest strategic mistake since McDonalds pursued two impoverished activists – and inflicted more damage on its brand than its critics had ever managed. The campaign against EDF’s vindictive bullying is snowballing with astonishing speed. During daylight hours yesterday, signatures on the petition against this lawsuit were coming in at the rate of 1,000 per hour.
Already the company’s customers are leaving in droves, and letting other people know why. And the backlash has scarcely begun. This, if EDF does not pull out, will turn into the biggest anti-corporate campaign in the UK for at least a decade.
A few months ago I shared a three minute video from John D. Liu of the EEMP about the work of SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) — an organisation that’s doing great work in Haiti to improve sanitation in a sustainable and affordable way, whilst simultaneously turning the problem (human waste) into a solution (improving agricultural production whilst reducing the incidence of diseases like cholera). John has just sent me the latest edit from his video work on the impoverished island nation, so below you’ll find an extended look at the work of SOIL, and its context. This video makes an excellent follow-up to the article we just posted a couple of days ago: Recycling Animal and Human Dung is the Key to Sustainable Farming.
We previously published a report on the development of our site’s flood control and defense infrastructure in October 2010. This is an update on that which goes on to describe some of our plans for developing that infrastructure more in the future.
Just to recap on the basics of our situation: in times of rain, the run-off from the western part of Karat Konso Town (South Ethiopia) runs down the side of the road which heads uphill to the south of our site. This flash flood creates a temporary stream which impacts the south eastern corner of the site. The flash floods can be pretty intense.
Western town watershed, running past SE corner of SFEL site
Flushing the water closet is handy, but it wreaks ecological havoc, deprives agricultural soils of essential nutrients and makes food production dependent on fossil fuels.
For 4,000 years, human excrements and urine were considered extremely valuable trade products in China, Korea and Japan. Human dung was transported over specially designed canal networks by boats.
Thanks to the application of human "waste" products as fertilizers to agricultural fields, the East managed to feed a large population without polluting their drinking water. Meanwhile, cities in medieval Europe turned into open sewers. The concept was modernized in late 19th century Holland, with Charles Liernur’s sophisticated vacuum sewer system.
For some years now we have been looking at minimising our energy consumption, and at alternative forms of energy creation in order to produce the energy we need. As we have animal systems in place here at PRI Sunshine Coast, we have a fair bit of manure on the property. As well as animal manure, we also have waterless (composting) toilets, so humanure is another resource on our property waiting to be used more efficiently than we currently are. After a lot of research over the past few years, Tom decided that a Biogas system would be the best way to go for us.
The energy game is rigged in favor of fossil fuels because we omit the environmental and health costs of burning coal, oil, and natural gas from their prices. Subsidies manipulate the game even further. According to conservative estimates from the Global Subsidies Initiative and the International Energy Agency (IEA), governments around the world spent more than $620 billion to subsidize fossil fuel energy in 2011: some $100 billion for production and $523 billion for consumption. This was 20 percent higher than in 2010, largely because of higher world oil prices. Of the $523 billion that supported consumption, $285 billion went to oil, $104 billion to natural gas, and $3 billion to coal; an additional $131 billion was divided among the three energy sources specifically for electricity use. Through these subsidies, governments cut the prices people paid for fossil energy by nearly a quarter—encouraging waste and hindering efforts to stabilize climate.
Without public protest, democracy is dead. Every successful challenge to excessive power begins outside the political chamber. When protest stops, politics sclerotises: it becomes a conversation between different factions of the elite.
But protest is of no democratic value unless it is effective. It must disturb and challenge those at whom it is aimed. It must arouse and motivate those who watch. The climate change campaigners trying to prevent a new dash for gas wrote to their MPs, emailed the power companies, marched and lobbied. They were ignored. So last year 17 of them climbed the chimney of the West Burton power station and occupied it for a week(1). Theirs was a demonstration in two senses of the word: they presented an issue to the public which should be at the front of our minds. Prompted to act by altruism and empathy, one day they will be remembered as we remember suffragettes and anti-slavery campaigners.
Last week the operator of the power station – EDF, which is largely owned by the French government – announced that it is suing these people, and four others, for £5m(2). It must know that, if it wins, they have no hope of paying. It must know that they would lose everything they own, now and for the rest of their lives. For these and other reasons, EDF’s action looks to me like a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation: a SLAPP around the ear of democracy.