Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Courses/Workshops, Health & Disease, Soil Biology.

Kay Baxter
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh

The more I learn about living simply, about permaculture design, about seeds and gardening, about food, nutrition, animals and about health and the regeneration of our soils and our own DNA, and about epigenetics, the more I realise our challenge is all about "stepping back into that circle of coevolution".

We are beginning to understand how the life in the soil communicates with, and helps to grow, strong and healthy plants and animals. We are beginning to understand how nutritionally dense food (plants and animals) communicates with human DNA to create healthy people. We are starting to get a glimpse of how healthy people can have the ability to complete the circle and communicate with their own environment in a way that benefits and strengthens the whole.

We are an expression of the sum total of all the energy transactions we are, and have been connected to. We are an expression of our very own environment!

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Posted by & filed under Nuclear.

UK Parliament’s decision to authorise the construction of 10 new nuclear power plants was taken on the basis of misleading evidence

by Prof. Peter Saunders

UK’s commitment to nuclear

In early May 2012, Japan shut down its last nuclear power station for routine maintenance in a safety drive since the Fukushima meltdown, leaving the country nuclear free for the first time in more than 40 years [1]. Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan got 30% of its power from nuclear energy. Hundreds marched through Tokyo to celebrate what they hope will be the end of nuclear power in Japan.

Most other countries are having second thoughts about nuclear power; some like Germany and Italy have already decided to do without it and others like Japan may follow [2] (Fukushima Fallout  (SiS 51), but the UK government is still determined to go ahead with the construction of at least 10 new reactors. This is the only way we can fulfil our future energy needs and still meet our commitment to reduce carbon emissions, so we are told; besides, nuclear is the cheapest alternative to fossil fuels and is safer than coal. Every one of those claims is contradicted by evidence, as we have shown in numerous reports.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Enclosure and dispossession have driven us, like John Clare, all a little mad.

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

The land around Helpston, just to the north of Peterborough in Northamptonshire, now ranks among the most dismal and regularised tracts of countryside in Europe. But when the poet John Clare was born this coming Friday in 1793, it swarmed with life. Clare describes species whose presence there is almost unimaginable today. Corncrakes hid among the crops(1), ravens nested in a giant oak(2), nightjars circled the heath(3), the meadows sparkled with glow worms(4). Wrynecks still bred in old woodpecker holes(5). In the woods and brakes the last wildcats clung on(6).

The land was densely peopled. While life was hard and spare, it was also, he records, joyful and thrilling. The meadows resounded with children pranking and frolicking and gathering cowslips for their May Day games(7); the woods were alive with catcalls and laughter(8); around the shepherds’ fires, people sang ballads and told tales(9). We rightly remark the poverty and injustice of rural labour at that time; we also forget its wealth of fellowship.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Seeds, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Current evidence indicates that New Zealand may well be "the youngest country on earth". Possible fellow competitors for this claim are Greenland, Iceland and Madagascar. All of these landscapes were so isolated they managed to avoid human settlement until relatively recent times. But these entrants in the competition look to be a couple of centuries behind — all being settled prior to 1000AD, unlike New Zealand, which is believed to have had no human presence prior to 1200AD.

With campaigns and videos like the one at top, New Zealand has managed to generate a kind of green aura around itself. Stunning Lord of the Rings landscapes, pristine snow-capped mountain ranges, dripping forests, clean rivers and an outdoor lifestyle to kill for, all spring to mind amongst millions of people worldwide who have never been there, but dream of going. It is a gorgeous country, to be sure, but that’s not the whole story….

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Posted by & filed under Conferences, Presentations/Demonstrations.

On March 31, in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Geoff Lawton gave a TEDx presentation. This has just been uploaded to YouTube:

For more background on some of the before/after images used, please see:

Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Nurseries & Propogation, Seeds.

Onion going to seed

When I started to take an interest in permaculture, one of the first things I wanted to learn but had no reference to guide me on was seed saving. The idea of seed saving felt close to the core of a regenerative way of life: life loves to live, and regenerates itself, and this can be harnessed to provide for our needs. I felt that, like sunlight and rain, seed should come for free, letting the garden function with a natural life cycle.

To begin with, I bumbled through, with some successes but plenty of unexplained failures as I tried to propagate veggies from saved seeds. Then came a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at Michel and Jude Fanton’s Seedsavers garden and seed bank in Byron Bay, Australia. Six months of working a couple of days a week with these inspiring people in that inspiring environment was a turning point in my understanding of a lot of things about life in general… but also of the fact that seed saving is not difficult at all, and very rewarding. With a few basic understandings, you can make a good start with seed saving, and I reckon a lot of these basics can be distilled into quite a short read that I want to share with you in this article. I intend it to be the sort of easily digested starting point that I wish I had when I started out.

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Posted by & filed under Conferences, Consumerism, Society.

Leaving Rio de Janeiro, site of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we mulled the meaning of what we had witnessed, but could hardly put it any better than Charles Eisenstein in his excellent summary, Why Rio+20 Failed:

You know folks, I’m a bit worried about my 16-year-old son, Jimi. When he was 13, he grew three inches. When he was 14, he grew five inches. When he was 15 his growth slowed to three inches, and no matter how much I feed him, now he isn’t growing at all past his current six-one. Could someone please tell me how to achieve sustainable growth for my son, so that he can keep getting bigger forever?

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education, Education Centres.

Can the human race build an environmentally sustainable culture? Can we disprove the myth that humans are inherently destructive? Here at The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, myself and 18 others are a part of an intensive internship in an attempt to answer these big, big questions. We have asked ourselves, "If not now, when? If not us, then who?" It’s clear to us there is a way, this is the time and we are the people we have been waiting for.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Education, Waste Systems & Recycling.

Our Role as Facilitators

Having been a home educator for nearly 18 years, I have become aware of the value of hands-on experiences for helping children learn and really understand concepts — experiences that are relevant to their lives and help prepare them for a real future, in much more than just academic ways.
We as parents, or educators, can help children explore the concepts and skills they will need to develop to equip them for the very different future they will no doubt be facing. Often our role will just be to be there and help with materials and tips if needed. A lot of the value of these discoveries is in allowing children to experiment, make ‘mistakes’ now and then, and to find workable solutions. I think we should try to curb the natural desire to solve the problems which may occur, immediately, and give the children a chance to sort it out themselves first.

The activities in this article, and those in following parts of this series, are designed to get kids involved with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of creating a more resilient lifestyle and understanding how the things in our world connect and how we can all help these connections to flow naturally. In Part I we will look at various aspects of recycling.

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Posted by & filed under Bird Life, Food Plants - Perennial.

An easy trick for saving your strawberries from birds!

by Mari Korhonen

Here’s a little tip I learned last summer from a friend for saving your strawberries from getting munched by birds:

Early in the season, before the strawberries start turning red, pick some little strawberry-sized stones and paint them red. When you scatter these fake strawberries along your berry patch, the curious and hungry birds come to check them out with a feast on their mind. But once encountering these fairly boring imposter berries they soon lose their interest and leave the patch alone — even after the real ones start to ripen….

It’s also fun to do with kids, parents, grandparents, friends… anyone!

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

We were wrong about peak oil: there’s enough in the ground to deep-fry the planet.

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

The facts have changed, now we must change too. For the past ten years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike.

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