Posted by & filed under Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Trees.

Writing the article series about Food Forests has made me aware of how much interest there is in them and how they can vary from region to region, but it also highlighted to me just how difficult it may be for people to actually visit a food forest.

However, thanks to the wonders of the internet and YouTube, people have the opportunity to take a virtual tour of a food forest and see how it progresses over time without leaving their chair!

To this end, I’ll post semi regular updates with video here. The updates will be warts and all, meaning that I’ll discuss the things that are working as well as those that aren’t. It should be an interesting journey and I welcome dialogue, constructive questions and observations about the developing food forest and other activities here.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Global Warming/Climate Change, Nuclear, Peak Oil, Society.

Editor’s Note: I’m sure a few of you will be tempted, at first glance, to pounce on me due to this piece — since it has the name ‘George Monbiot’ and the word ‘nuclear’ in the same post. But, I would ask you to read it through first…. I put this up, not because of George’s present stand, but solely due to the very articulate and lucid response from Theo Simon in this fascinating email conversation. Indeed, having George’s name and ‘nuclear’ in the same post will likely cause a flurry of reading by those eager to find fault, and in this case I’m happy about that, as it will ensure that Theo’s message gets read. Theo ably challenges George’s position, and does so from a position worthy of respect — that being that he’s been occupying the site of the proposed Hinkley C nuclear power plant in the UK, and thus has an on-the-ground view of the machinations that are resulting from the marriage of Big Government and Big Nuclear. This is a long but very interesting read, and one worthy of our attention and consideration. In my own post on nuclear, in March last year, I raised, in a more concise fashion, many of the main points that Theo makes — notably in regards to the ability of future generations to contain and maintain in a safe state the resulting nuclear waste, and the danger of assuming they will live in a society with enough excess energy, water, time, money and knowhow to do so, and the ethically bankrupt, diabolical selfishness of lumbering them with this ongoing burden — on top of the many great challenges they will surely face — when they will have absolutely no benefits from that obligation (since the power plant will have long since ended its useful life). I’d like to congratulate Theo for his reasoned response, and thank him deeply for his commitment to values that permaculturists enshrine as essential. It’s clear that rather than merely surrendering to grass roots apathy in the face of the present economic and political momentum in madness (a tempting thing to do, I admit), he clings to the hope that we can build a social movement which connects all the dots in our present dilemma (i.e. that seeks to find a successful marriage between economics and biological/ecological reality) and that works to address them all — adjusting our lifestyles as necessary to facilitate that. Where George seems to be trying to choose between the lesser of two evils, Theo, as permaculturists seek to do, is trying to eliminate the evils, whilst asking society to deal with their problems holistically, today, rather than kick them down the road.

Aerial photograph of Hinkley Point.
Photo – Hinkley Point C: Initial Proposals and Options Summary Document.

This is by far the most interesting and challenging debate about nuclear power I have had to date.

By George Monbiot and Theo Simon, over the course of eight months.

George’s note: This debate began with an email I sent to Theo, which I did not intend to publish. Theo wrote a powerful response and posted the correspondence on his site. I then replied, and Theo has now answered my second letter. Here is the whole debate.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change.

by Emily E. Adams and Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute

The North Pole is losing its ice cap. Comparing recent melt seasons with historical records spanning more than 1,400 years shows summer Arctic sea ice in free fall. Many scientists believe that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summertime within the next decade or two, and some say that this could occur as early as 2016. The last time the Arctic was completely free of ice may have been 125,000 years ago.

Late Summer Arctic Sea Ice Extent, 563-2012

Between March 20 and September 16, 2012, the Arctic lost ice covering 11.8 million square kilometers—an area larger than the United States and Mexico together, and more than in any year since satellite measurements began in 1979. At its lowest point, Arctic sea ice coverage dropped to 3.4 million square kilometers, just half the average minimum between 1979 and 2000. The 2012 minimum was 18 percent smaller than the previous record low of 2007, a drop akin to beating the world marathon record by more than 20 minutes—an extraordinary feat.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Rehabilitation, Storm Water, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

Article and diagrams copyright © Cam Wilson

At the top end of the Marshalls’ property on the Southern Tablelands, NSW, Australia, the creek is bone dry. This spot, fed by 1250 Ha of native forest, has been that way for 10 weeks now.

Meanwhile, 1.2 km downstream at the base of their property, flowing past the fodder poplars, the bamboo and the ferns and dense native revegetation (where only blackberry stood twelve years ago), is one and a half megalitres of the crystal clear water you see in the photo above; every day. Since the creek dried up at the top of their property, 120 megalitres is a conservative estimate of the base flow that ‘the sponge’ that is ‘Sunningdale’ has continued to release to the landscape below. This is despite a catchment increase between the two sites of only 8% and five out of the last six months of rainfall being well below the average.

What’s the catch? If you’d like a bit of background on how a property like Peter and Kate Marshall’s, which has reinstated the original floodplain hydrological processes, is able to store and then slowly release water, check out the simple diagrams below.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Seeds, Trees.

This is the first monthly post for the research project about perennial plants and perennialising annual plants providing food in temperate climate Australia. The original article introducing this project, stating its aims, and providing participant instructions, can be found here. Growers are sending me information on a month by month basis, then this information is collated and published early the following month.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change, GMOs.

Editor’s Note: I’m sorry I can’t put the images up that accompany this piece, but I understand the need for I-SIS to encourage subscription to their site so as to support their important work. I am an I-SIS member, so was able to see the images (Figures 1 and 2), and the photographs show quite stark contrast between the GM and non-GM crops. This is yet another report showing that GM crops do not perform as they promise — they actually perform worse in drought, not better — and that genetic modification of plants actually depresses plant function and productivity. I can foresee another 2008-like food crisis about to occur — within 3 – 10 months I estimate — and considering the world’s current acute state of vulnerability, it’s clear that utilising diverse crop varieties developed locally for regional climate variability has got to be the safest way forward.

Non-GM varieties are more drought resistant, yet agritech giants ensure farmers are unable to access them, by Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

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

The United States is suffering the worst drought in 50 years. But crop damage may well have been avoided if high quality non-GM varieties were available to farmers. Further evidence is emerging that glyphosate-tolerant crops are ill-equipped to deal with drought, while high quality non-GM varieties are flourishing. Monopoly of the seed industry has left farmers unable to get non-GM varieties, despite the drought having global repercussions including steep rises of cereal prices and reduced meat production in many countries.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Society.

Imperialism did almost as much harm to the ruling nations as it did to their subject peoples.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

Mau Mau suspects are held in Nairobi at a Special Effort Camp in 1952.

Over the gates of Auschwitz were the words “Work Makes You Free”. Over the gates of the Solovetsky camp in Lenin’s gulag: “Through Labour – Freedom!”. Over the gates of the Ngenya detention camp, run by the British in Kenya: “Labour and Freedom”(1). Dehumanisation appears to follow an almost inexorable course.

Last week, three elderly Kenyans established the right to sue the British government for the torture they suffered – castration, beating and rape – in the Kikuyu detention camps it ran in the 1950s(2).

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, People Systems, Society.

With the presidential race in full swing in the U.S., I thought this graphic would make a good ‘cartoon of the week’, highlighting the futility of thinking that changing from one corporate-run government to another corporate run government will make much of a difference.

Click for larger version

Oh, and for those who are thinking to do their posterior a favour, by switching from the left boot to try out the impact of the right boot, this article is also rather illuminating….

A poem from Wendell Berry, the farmer, poet, writer and philosopher, is appropriate in this context, I think:

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Animal Housing, Bird Life, Livestock, Working Animals.

by Frank Gapinski

Here’s a great idea for a chicken coop built to fit the dimensions of straw bales. A simple four post construction with a raised floor and tin roof is all you need. Both sides of the chicken coop have temporary straw-bale walls that keeps the coop warm in winter and cool in summer. Chickens lay their eggs and roost in the center of the coop. In the springtime you replace the straw with fresh material. You don’t need to build any extra timber walls as the straw bales will keep the elements from entering the coop and keep the chickens nice and cosy.

The discarded bales can be either used as mulch bedding for the garden or used as deep litter for the chickens to scratch through and fertilize the material. Either way, its an efficient way to build your coop and keep the chickens happy.

Read more »