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.
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.
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?
I remember when I first read Jacke & Toensmeier’s ‘Edible Forest Gardens‘. Above and beyond the immediate excitement I felt at getting involved in such projects myself was the vision proposed in the section ‘Gardening The Forest’, where the authors suggested that when European colonialisation occured the inhabitants of North America (in this case those inhabiting the broadleaf temperate forests of the East coast) were in fact cultivating the land in a multi-generational, hyper-broad scale — um… ‘agriculture’ — and were not the ‘hapless, noble savage at odds against a brutal wilderness’ that the social darwinist within us would like to think, or has assumed, for ages now….
It seems so obvious looking at it. Of course they’d have an encyclopedic knowledge of and intimacy with their environment. Of course they would cultivate the land… Of course!
What is WWOOFing? (Willing Workers On Organic Farms)
WWOOFing is a worldwide network of organizations, linking volunteers with organic farmers, and helping people share more sustainable ways of living.
WWOOFing is an exchange – in return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.
WWOOF organizations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.
The WWOOF program is a program that has been very beneficial to me. Even today, here in Sweden, permaculture is very much in its infancy. In 2008, when I started a permaculture center here, it was very hard to even find a PDC course in the country. The one I did find was in southern Sweden and over 700km away (it was cancelled for lack of interest). What I am trying to say is there was, and still is to some extent, little interest in, or knowledge of, permaculture, so finding local people interested in helping develop a permaculture center has been very difficult.
Pioneering is an essential function in the establishment of eco-systems. It refers to the initial colonisation of previously uninhabited habitat by a class of species (‘pioneers’) which are specially adapted to living in the harsh conditions of an otherwise uninhabited environment. Pioneers are generally short lived with small and abundant seed and have long range dispersal mechanisms suited to their ecology. Often the seeds are wind pollinated. In habitats which are maintained in a perpetual state of degradation by over-stocking and unregulated grazing, the pioneers tend to have seed which is dispersed by animals — it may be sticky, spiky or with velcro-like micro-hooks on it — so the animals spread them around. In this kind of environment the plants themselves also support defence mechanisms — e.g. spiky, obnoxious, bitter etc., and this is why referring to someone as “a pioneer” in permaculture terminology is a veiled way of saying they may seem ‘difficult’ (as in imbued with the kind of defence mechanisms that pioneer species utilise) but nevertheless they serve an important function – that of “getting the ball rolling” so that other more sociable, lusher, greener, more palatable and cooperative species can move into the system.
Old Bill himself has sometimes been referred to as a pioneer. Most of us are well acquainted with his charm and wit! So, on that basis, I will take having being referred to as a pioneer myself as a compliment! So the point is that pioneers may not be very fluffy, kind and sociable, but without these spiny, stubborn, bitter little plants there would be nothing at all, but with pioneers, we have a chance to get succession going.
As most of us know, grey water is a term used to refer to “waste” water that has been used once in any domestic system except for toilets (which is referred to as black water). However grey water from the kitchen may be considered as “dark grey” water on account of the fact that it tends to contain a lot more fats and protein from the grease and grime that comes off pots and pans than say shower outflow water which is quite dilute. If you let kitchen grey water sit around it quickly goes rancid and doesn’t smell a lot different from sewage. The grey water coming out of our kitchen also has some pretty nasty detergents in it (Ajax) and we can’t really get hold of anything more eco out here in Ethiopia. Initially we tried putting this grey water directly into an infiltration pit, but that didn’t work very well as it tended to fill up and start to reek and kill the surrounding plants, especially in the rainy season.
As permaculture-, environmental-, or philanthropic-based tourism is becoming increasingly promoted by the media, I often feel like I am being sold an idea, experience, or even indulgence for my unsustainable lifestyle. If I want to have an ‘experience’, as a tourist, I want to be introduced to new thought patterns that challenge me to notice what I notice, such as how I have been trained to seek validation through institionalization. This provocation is what I believe is inherent to permaculture, and is why I find it tricky to adequately explain ‘permaculture’ to someone for the first time. Even defining permaculture can feel counter-intuitive and unsatisfying. Because permaculture can take time, skilled wordsmithing, and visual examples to explain, permaculture-theory is increasingly over simplified, redundant, or sensationalized when adopted by the mainstream media, especially in film. Often, when watching a permaculture film, I find myself feeling as if like I have seen it already. However, One Day, Everything Will Be Free, a feature-length permaculture documentary about Sadhana Forest Haiti, released in Spring 2013, is different.
Freeing America from its dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world is an admirable goal, but many of the proposed solutions—including the push for more home-grown biofuels and for the construction of the new Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast—are harmful and simply unnecessary. Gasoline use in the United States is falling, and the trends already driving it down are likely to continue into the future, making both the mirage of beneficial biofuels and the construction of a new pipeline to import incredibly dirty oil seem ever more out of touch with reality.
Some of you may have noticed I’ve been a little intermittant in my (visible) work for you all of late…. I thought I’d better let you know I’m still alive and well, and that the reason for my tardiness in posting is due to travelling. I’m now, as the photo above indicates, at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm, working on an update to last year’s Zaytuna Farm Video Tour. (On that note, if you have particular aspects of the farm that you’d like to see, do let me know via comments below, and, if at all possible, I’ll try to work those aspects in — but be quick, as I won’t be here long!)
This is the mid-Summer post for the ongoing research project about perennial plants and self-perpetuating 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 the following month. All previous posts from this series can be found by clicking on my author name (Susan Kwong), just under the post title above.
Interview of Nikos Salingaros by Mumtaz Soogund on Defimedia, Mauritius, 8 March 2013.
Dr. Salingaros recently joined the CT (Centrale Thermique) Power debate in Mauritius, and in this light graciously agreed to share his views on the matter with the readers of News on Sunday.
MS: A coal-powered plant proves to be a massive investment in the long run, and people are talking more and more about renewable sources of energy. Are they viable and would they be equally efficient in Mauritius?