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

This is the late 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.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Perennial, Material, Plant Systems, Trees.

This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.

Though we rarely think of it, starch is the number two most used carbohydrate in industry, coming just after cellulose which is used in great quantities in papermaking. Unlike many industrial crop categories, there is no “synthetic starch” being made from fossil fuels. The situation, however, is not much better. All, or virtually all industrial starch comes from annual food crops, grown in conventional tillage systems. In fact, 17% of European grain goes to papermaking every year. So first we’re using annuals where perennials might fill the gap, and second we’re using food to make cardboard and drywall. This seems like a waste of food, and if we want to minimize the use of annuals we need to find another strategy. Efforts are also underway to genetically modify plants to produce particular starches useful to industry. Given the wide range of starch types available in nature, and the ingenuity of chemists, I think this is unnecessary and somewhat alarming.


Osage orange is a perennial inedible starch with excellent potential as a
feedstock for industrial products like cardboard and bioplastics.
It is cold- and drought-hardy. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Read more »

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

We have offshored both our consumption and our perceptions

by George Monbiot

Every society has topics it does not discuss. These are the issues which challenge its comfortable assumptions. They are the ones that remind us of mortality, which threaten the continuity we anticipate, which expose our various beliefs as irreconcilable.

Among them are the facts which sink the cosy assertion, that (in David Cameron’s words) “there need not be a tension between green and growth.”

At a reception in London recently I met an extremely rich woman, who lives, as most people with similar levels of wealth do, in an almost comically unsustainable fashion: jetting between various homes and resorts in one long turbo-charged holiday. When I told her what I did, she responded, “oh I agree, the environment is so important. I’m crazy about recycling.” But the real problem, she explained, was “people breeding too much”.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Land.

A free series of permaculture design videos by Geoff Lawton, world renowned permaculture designer, teacher and consultant, reveals how to not only survive the coming crisis with permaculture design but how to build abundance on your land. How to have all the water you will ever need. How to have all the fish you will ever want. How to have your own food forest and grow all your own food. Where to start. How to understand your land. How to work with it. How to design it, Naturally. Abundance is no accident.

Just enter your email into the website and Geoff Lawton will keep you updated as he releases future videos in the series.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Energy Systems, Land, Trees.

This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.


Coppiced firewood species trial at ECHO

These firewood species grow rapidly, fix nitrogen, and re-sprout (coppice) quickly after cutting. All have high-quality firewood. They are thus a productive, self-fertilizing and perennial firewood source. Intensive blocks of these species can produce a tropical family’s cooking fuel needs on 0.15ha (0.37 acres; according to interviews with staff at both Las Cañadas and ECHO). Use of rocket stoves and other conservation technologies can reduce the area even further.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Energy Systems.

On the 18th of March we started our biogas project. This project involves making a bio-digester which will turn manure into methane gas for cooking and other energy needs.

An update on a previous post, by Zaia Kendall


Outline of the bio-digester

Tom had to re-do some fencing and clear the site for the bio-digester. He calculated that with the amount of manure we are getting (around 30kg per day), we need a 5 cubic metre bio-digester, which will give us around 1 1/2 cubic metres of gas per day.

Lead up time to get the gas going will be around 60 days once we start filling the bio-digester. But we are not there yet, and here I have documented the start of the project.

Read more »

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?

Read more »

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

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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%.

Read more »