Posted by & filed under Energy Systems.

As an Eco-Lodge, showers are obviously an important facility which guests have certain expectations about. Our lodging facilities are comprised of local thatched circular huts which are wooden framed with mud rendered walls. We had originally planned to put showers inside the rooms. However, we changed our minds about this due to the potential problems of having a regular water source inside a grass, wood and mud house in our environment, relating to dampness, smells and decay, the latter being greatly accelerated by the presence of termites, where moisture is available in moderate amounts.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Fish, Food Shortages.

by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute

The fish near the bottom of the aquatic food chain are often overlooked, but they are vital to healthy oceans and estuaries. Collectively known as forage fish, these species—including sardines, anchovies, herrings, and shrimp-like crustaceans called krill—feed on plankton and become food themselves for larger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Historically, people have eaten many of these fish, too, of course. But as demand for animal protein has soared over the last half-century, more and more forage fish have been caught to feed livestock and farmed fish instead of being eaten by people directly. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that current fishing levels are dangerously high—both for the forage fish themselves and for the predators and industries that depend on them.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Fish, Food Shortages.

Ladbroke’s is offering odds on fish populations collapsing; the government is shortening them.

by George Monbiot

I’ve come across some odd ways to make a living, but few as strange as this. The gambling company Ladbrokes has been offering odds on the conservation status of various fish species. Until last night it was taking bets on mackerel; recently it has encouraged people to punt on the survival prospects of stocks of yellow fin tuna, swordfish and haddock. You can, if you wish, gamble on extinction.

It’ll be a while before I put my money on the recovery of any species in British waters.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Shortages, Peak Oil, Population.

The linkage is this tight:

In this graph "grain" is the world’s annual production of rice, wheat and corn, "oil" is the global production of all petroleum liquids, and people are people. I normalized the numbers so that they all start off from an index of 100 in 1985. This is a standard technique that makes the relationship between the three elements visible.

It’s obvious at a glance that food, oil and population are tightly related, but the nature of their relationship is open to interpretation. If you were an economist you could say that as the number of people grows, we go out and grow more food and find more oil to meet our growing needs. Conversely if you were an ecologist you might say that increasing supplies of oil and food allow our population to grow. Or you could say (as I do) that they all exist in a complex feedback loop.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under General, Podcasts.

This is the fourth installment in our popular Q&A series. In case you didn’t catch it on previous occasions, we added a new sub-forum titled ‘Put Your Questions to the Experts!‘, where our forum members put their questions to experienced permaculturists we’ll approach over the weeks and months ahead. First up to be the target of our combined curiosities and the salve of our perplexities, is the PRI’s own Geoff Lawton. Geoff, currently teaching at Zaytuna Farm in NSW, Australia, spends 60 minutes with us, sharing from his wealth of experience in permaculture teaching and consulting in dozens of countries worldwide.

Note: In this episode you’ll find the answers to only the first five questions in Round 4. Geoff was called away in the middle, so we’ll attend to the rest of the questions in a subsequent video.

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

Editor’s Note: The PRI Sunshine Coast starts their next Internship on February 11, 2013. Get in quick!

After being flooded in again recently (an at least once a year occurrence), this time with PDC students and volunteers on the property, we are very happy we are somewhat prepared….

by PRI Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Our road floods on both sides of our property

Disaster is a word that strikes fear into most people. We usually believe disaster is out of our control. The actual happening of the disaster may be out of our control, but how we deal with it and how we come out the other end, is fully in our control. Last weekend we had a major rain event here, from an ex-tropical cyclone swooping through the region. Wind pushed trees over and there was major flooding in this and other areas. We were flooded in for two days.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres.

There are those points in life where it’s all up-hill struggle, when you know there’s so much to be done that it’s not even worth contemplating it all, you just have to keep your eyes on the ground in front of you and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Then there are those times when you seem to be drifting, there’s no challenge and no real satisfaction, you just roll along the path in front of you passing what goes by. Then, very occasionally, are those fantastic moments when you reach the top, the peak of a mountain, or, perhaps the foot-hill of a mountain, when you are able to stop, take a breath and admire the views of this fantastic spectacle we call life and feel a bit of satisfaction that you have achieved something, got to the peak of the challenge you were set. And that is really what makes it all worth-while. It’s those moments which we strive for, and its knowing that such moments lie ahead which keep us going, through the challenges, toil and even drudgery of every-day life.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Biological Cleaning, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Material, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Storm Water, Swales, Terraces, Water Conservation, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting.

This excellent little 20-minute video does a great job of covering the basics of watershed management and landscape rehydration. You won’t hear the words ‘permaculture’ or ‘swales’ once, but it’s clear that both are in use here, to great effect. If we can get these simple but profound concepts driven into social consciousness, and applied broadscale, we would see that investment in labour pay dividends, as many of our increasingly expensive natural disasters and resource limitations would simply disappear, as we reinstate nature’s own moderating capabilities.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Village Development.

Lebensgarten — Garden of Life — is a community located in Lower Saxony, Germany. Built on the site of a former Nazi arms factory, the community has 62 houses. Lebensgarten has a large permaculture park, in which agriculture and human settlements are modeled after nature. This video features interviews with Declan Kennedy, Roland Wolf and others. The video is by Dimitri Devyatkin, 29 minutes, in English.

Posted by & filed under Fungi.

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.

I’ve been experimenting recently with growing my own oyster mushrooms, and as you can see from the photos, I’ve met with some success. I was motivated to explore mushroom cultivation partly because I’m a vegetarian and want to produce my own high-protein alternatives to meat; but I was also interested in using so-called ‘dead space’ to grow food (either inside or down the shady side of the house). Oyster mushrooms tick both these boxes, and they are also ridiculously tasty. Seriously.

Not only that, oyster mushrooms are extremely expensive when purchased from a supermarket, so it makes sense to grow them yourself. Currently in Melbourne they are going for $34 per kilo.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Building.

After Pakistan was devastated by an earthquake in 2005, Darcey Donovan, an engineer in California, pursued designs for quake-resistant homes using local materials. The result was a straw-bale building. It withstood substantial shaking in tests at the University of Nevada, Reno.