Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Village Development.

Actual view from Mountain View Eco Farm site

As some readers may remember, I wrote an article last August outlining my experience at the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program of Nepal, and of the farm manager’s (Govinda Paudel) dream of establishing his own permaculture inspired education and demonstration farm.

Well, at long last, Govinda has managed to buy a small plot of land near Pokhara, overlooking Begnes Lake and the mighty Annapurna Range of the Himalaya, to establish Mountain View Eco Farm. Govinda has worked tirelessly to make his dream a reality – setting up a fantastic website, networking extensively and seeking out the land to build his dream. In December of last year, his parents sold some of their land in Bardiya, near the border of India, to help Govinda make his dream a reality. They plan to sell the rest of their land soon and move to Pokhara to help Govinda with the running and management of the farm in the not too distant future. Although Govinda now owns some land from which to begin developing Mountain View Eco Farm, more land is needed along with farm animals and items to make sure that Mountain View Eco Farm can become self sufficient and sustainable in the long run.

Govinda’s plan for the farm is inspiring. The objectives of Mountain View Eco Farm are basically three fold. They include:

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

When sustainable agriculture superstar Joel Salatin agreed to come teach for us, we knew we had to make it count. Joel’s message of reclaiming farming and food production has been so influential to us, and to like-minded people around the world, that we knew his three days of workshops in Alberta, Canada weren’t going to be enough.

So we decided to offer up his dirt-under-the-fingernails wisdom and lunatic farmer passion beyond the classroom – opening the doors to students 50 or 5,000 miles away with his first-ever live-streamed appearance.

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Posted by & filed under Building, Energy Systems.

Four DVDs will be created: "Fire Science", "Sneaky Heat", "Boom Squish" and "Hot Rocket" – showing the most sustainable way to heat.

I pointed the video camera at all the cool stuff at the workshop, just like I said I said I would. Now it is time for you all to pony up for the DVDs. Once funded, the raw footage will be massaged into stuff that will fit into DVD-like thing-a-ma-jigs.

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

Billionaires are hiding behind a network of “independent” groups, who manipulate politics on their behalf.

by George Monbiot

Conspiracies against the public don’t get much uglier than this. As the Guardian revealed last week, two secretive organisations working for US billionaires have spent $118m to ensure that no action is taken to prevent manmade climate change(1). While inflicting untold suffering on the world’s people, their funders have used these opaque structures to ensure that their identities are never exposed.

The two organisations – the Donors’ Trust and the Donors’ Capital Fund – were set up as political funding channels for people handing over $1m or more. They have financed 102 organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action. The large number of recipients creates the impression that there are many independent voices challenging climate science. These groups, working through the media, mobilising gullible voters and lobbying politicians, helped to derail Obama’s cap and trade bill and the climate talks at Copenhagen. Now they’re seeking to prevent the US president from trying again(2).

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops.

Foodwatershelter’s 2012 Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course in Arusha, Tanzania was a great success. In 2013 you have two opportunities to join the growing number of people around the world who are improving their self-reliance and learning concepts for sustainable living through permaculture techniques. Join us for our first ever Kiswahili PDC between the 8th to 19th April 2013, or between 17th to 28th June 2013 for our English PDC.

Based on the response and changes to people’s lives from the 2012 course, you can expect both these courses to fill up quickly; so don’t delay in applying for a position. Hear what others had to say before committing to two weeks of intensive learning, an incredible networking opportunity, and an internationally recognised qualification.

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Posted by & filed under General, Podcasts.

Geoff Lawton at the Zaytuna Farm entrance
Photo © Craig Mackintosh

This is Part B of 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 80 minutes with us, sharing from his wealth of experience in permaculture teaching and consulting in dozens of countries worldwide.

Click play below to hear the podcast!

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Posted by & filed under Building.

Coldframes Manhattan, New York

At the beginning of the 1900s, many modern cities were growing vegetables under glass during the winter months. Truck farmers in these cities, including Manhattan in the USA, and Paris in France, were able to grow significant amounts of food in simple cold frames. I’ve heard stories that some New England states were even shipping fresh winter vegetables to Florida during this period!

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

I’m announcing the release of the Gardening with Perennial Vegetables DVD, the companion to my Perennial Vegetables book. Almost three hours long, the DVD visits my own cold-climate garden, Las Canadas in the Mexican cloud forest, and ECHO in subtropical Florida. Many species are covered, as well as practical techniques and gardening ideas.

You can order the DVD from Chelsea Green or your local supplier. It’s a great DVD to have to show PDC students on a rainy day!

Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change.

by Janet Larson, Earth Policy Institute

Photo © Craig Mackintosh

In recent years weather events have whiplashed between the extremes of heat and cold, flooding and drought. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — largely from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas — have loaded up in the atmosphere, heating the planet and pushing humanity onto a climatic seesaw of weather irregularities. High-temperature records in many places are already being broken with startling frequency, and hotter temperatures are in store. Without a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel use, we will veer even further away from the “normal” temperatures and weather patterns that civilization is adapted to.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems.

In rural Africa it’s pretty hard to come by fuel sources which are a good alternative to wood. Gas is too expensive. Kerosene is also pretty expensive and quite a dirty fuel anyway. Wood also has the advantage that it burns quite slowly so that you can slow cook over a fire for several hours just feeding it occasionally. If you did this with gas it would cost a fortune. In a place like Ethiopia you can also have a local worker leave a valve open overnight and come down to find an empty canister in the morning. So like most people around here, we still cook with wood. One day we may get a biogas set up going and be able to produce our own methane gas on a continual basis (see ‘Biogas’ section at bottom of this article for an example). That would really be true sustainability but we have not yet reached a capacity to be able to develop that scale of infrastructure at this stage.

The problem we are faced with is that this area is getting badly deforested. Women trudge past our site on the road day in, day out, carrying piles of firewood back to their villages or to peddle at the market — literally carrying away the forest on their backs. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. So as a permaculture demonstration site in this area, what have we got to showcase as an alternative? Well, there are two strategies we employ: 1) get as much utility as possible out of any unit of wood fuel – so reducing the overall consumption, 2) use the parts of the plant/tree which can re-grow quickly (coppice) and hence can be harvested at a sustainable rate.

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Posted by & filed under Land, Livestock, Plant Systems.

Occam’s Grazer provides an introduction to Holistic Management and holistic grazing as well as many powerful insights, philosophies, and useful ideas from people who are using the framework and practices every day. This video is a must for anyone who wants to learn more about taking a holistic approach to grazing in their ranch business, how it works, and the potential benefits. It was designed to be a resource for ranchers, potential ranchers, environmentalists, and educators, but is also being well received by the general public.

Further Reading/Watching: