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

They’re a staple in stews, a flavor in fried foods, and that ‘sting’ in salads. The sharp, savory taste and juicy crunch give them versatility in the kitchen cooked and uncooked — but they really deserve a place in your permaculture medicine cabinet.

That’s right–the ordinary onion.

I’d never have believed it either, but one day, in the agony of an ear infection, I read that an onion sliver could help quell the infection and calm the pain. My ear ached so badly I would have tried almost anything short of shooting the Queen of England, so I heated a tiny onion ring and slipped it into my ear for a while. We had some extremely potent, weep-your-eyes-out young yellow onions; I could actually feel the fumes moving around in my ear. Ear pain like that usually continues for days for me, but repeated applications of onion cleared everything up within about half a day. It helped that my infection had just started, but still, the results aroused curiosity. Does the onion really have antibiotic effects, or did the potent fumes just clear up a painful pressure inside my ear? More importantly, can you lasso the power of this plant to heal you, too?

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Posted by & filed under Biofuels, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change.

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity. Over the last decade, world grain reserves have fallen by one third. World food prices have more than doubled, triggering a worldwide land rush and ushering in a new geopolitics of food. Food is the new oil. Land is the new gold. 1

The abrupt rise in world grain prices between 2007 and 2008 left more people hungry than at any time in history. It also spawned numerous food protests and riots. In Thailand, rice was so valuable that farmers took to guarding their ripened fields at night. In Egypt, fights in the long lines for state-subsidized bread led to six deaths. In poverty-stricken Haiti, days of rioting left five people dead and forced the Prime Minister to resign. In Mexico, the government was alarmed when huge crowds of tortilla protestors took to the streets. 2

After the doubling of world grain prices between 2007 and mid-2008, prices dropped somewhat during the recession, but this was short-lived. Three years later, high food prices helped fuel the Arab Spring. 3

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Posted by & filed under Food Forests.

Click to download (5.8mb PDF)

This guide is geared towards starting a new forest garden from scratch. It is geared to the west coast of Canada — temperate / cold climate — where my business, Hatchet & Seed Contracting is primarily based.

I hope it can be used to help propagate both more food forests and more food foresters! It is also geared towards Do-It-Yourselfers, on a relatively low budget. Commercial installs do require a much more thorough design planning process. But for those just wanting to get started, I sure hope it helps navigate through the plethora of information out there.

Posted by & filed under Education.

by Nelson Lebo, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Some people describe permaculture as a system of science and ethics. While ethics guide permaculturists, it is the use of science to design and develop sustainable and regenerative systems that places them in a position to contribute to the improvement of science teaching and learning worldwide. Over the last four years, I have been researching a permaculture approach to junior secondary (years 9 and 10 in New Zealand) science, but my findings can be applied to all levels of schooling. Through the research process, I have identified five characteristics of permaculture that can be employed to engage students in transformative, relevant, and local learning experiences. Those characteristics are: permaculture thinking; permaculture techniques; permaculture properties; permaculture practitioners; and, the transformative nature of permaculture. This article explains the five characteristics and provides examples of how practicing permaculturists can partner with local science teachers in symbiotic relationships.

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Posted by & filed under Society.

Why are 97% of our rivers shut to the public? A millionaire minister’s amazing conflicts of interest give you a clue.

by George Monbiot

Nowhere in Britain is power more concentrated than in the countryside. Some people claim we have the second lowest distribution of land in the world, after Brazil.

Because (thanks to the resistance of the landlords) there is no comprehensive record of who owns what, we can’t be completely sure. But in 2002 Kevin Cahill’s book Who Owns Britain and Ireland estimated that 69% of the land is owned by 0.6% of the population. It has intensified since then: government figures show that between 2005 and 2011 the number of landholdings in England has fallen by 10%, while the average size of holding has risen by 12%.

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Posted by & filed under General.

A little (no more than 2cms long!) tree frog adds to the diversity of Zaytuna Farm
Photos © Craig Mackintosh

It’s been a rewarding time here at Zaytuna Farm. I’ve been busy taking footage, and a few photos too (like our little friend above — and thanks to eagle-eyed Geoff for spotting him). Thanks for your patience over the last few weeks, while postings have been a little more intermittant than usual. (And I know some can get a little grumpy if they don’t get their regular dose of permaculturenews fare!) Hopefully you’ll find it all worth it, after I’ve had a chance to put some articles together and edit the video for you all.

Tomorrow I make my way back home, so you’ll need to give me a few more days yet before this blog’s life returns to normal.

Posted by & filed under Land, Terraces.

Every geographic area has a resource waiting to be used. I want to talk about areas that have stone easily accessible. Rocks can seem to be a huge obstacle to design and productivity, but there are some valuable advantages that come with having usable stone. Some advantages to using stone in a design can be: freeing the soil of obstacles to plant growth, being able to use that removed stone for retaining walls or other structures, using land far beyond what common ideology says it is worth, using otherwise unused material and simple beauty. Rocky landscapes can be very advantageous to a permaculture designer.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics.

Click here for more details

Most folks familiar with permaculture understand how zones are used in the design of a piece of property. Depending on slope, contour, house placement, hydrology, and functional use, amongst other criteria, zones are never created as concentric circles like a bulls-eye or dart board. Use of the land, and the flow of activities, becomes a primary driver of the shape of a zone.

As it turns out, money has its own flow as well. This series of maps show how dollar bills move about or flow between humans during commerce in the US. You will notice the dollar bills ignore State lines, rivers and major highways that people travel on regularly. I feel this map can be used as a fantastic tool assisting in creating hub areas for evaluating goods and services, the creation of local currencies and a myriad of other transition focal points.

The ideas are endless. The ‘all seeing eye’ on ol’ George has opened my eyes with a new perspective on local money.

Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

I’m writing "Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices"

To save the planet we may need to turn it into an edible paradise… help me write the book that explains how and why.

Perennial crops and regenerative farming practices can help stabilize the climate by sequestering carbon. How does it work? Plants use photosynthesis to turn atmospheric carbon dioxide into carbohydrates in their tissues. In perennial plants (like trees) this carbon is stored or "fixed" in their woody parts and below-ground roots. But there’s more: in no-till systems where the soil is not turned over, substantial quantities of carbon can be stored as organic matter in the soil. This book focuses on non-destructively harvested perennial crops that can provide staple foods and other essential products, and on no-till or reduced-tillage farming systems that help soil hold carbon.

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, General, Land.

The original look of the property immediately around the house

The intention with this property in Alstonville, NSW, Australia, is to reduce lawn and landscaping management by using the space and effort to produce organic food for the owner’s consumption as well as to produce an excess for the local Farmers’ Market.

The system will be developed using specific opportunities for appropriate design to develop select areas over about 5 acres of a 40-acre property. Much of the property on the outer zones is forest, environmental management and grazing.

The first part of the project is to turn lawn and landscape areas immediately around the house into long term productive systems. This will include raised bed areas for vegetables and annual production and multiple mini food forest areas that will include fruit trees, ground covers, in-ground crops, shrubs and support species.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

17 years, and the phone companies still haven’t sorted out the issue of conflict minerals.

by George Monbiot

If you are too well connected, you stop thinking. The clamour, the immediacy, the tendency to absorb other people’s thoughts, interrupt the deep abstraction required to find your own way. This is one of the reasons why I have not yet bought a smartphone.

But the technology is becoming ever harder to resist. Perhaps this year I will have to succumb. So I have asked a simple question: can I buy an ethical smartphone?

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