“The idea literally went around the world and back again in less than a year and I knew we were onto something. The growth wasn’t something we could rush, just like an organic garden, it has taken patience, vision and persistence and we seem to have hit some kind of tipping point which is very exciting.”–John VanDeusen Edwards, founder of Food is Free
Interview with Food is Free Project Founder Discussing New Farm, The Project’s Growth, and How to Start a Project in Your Community.
I’m a firm believer that food is a universal human right which speaks in a universal tongue, and is indeed the foundation of human culture–a facet of daily life that, when utilized as a force for change, can move mountains. I interviewed John VanDeusen Edwards, the founder of Food is Free, an inspirational permaculture project with local and global influence, to gain some insight into how exactly this mountain–moving takes place.
But First, What Exactly is The Food is Free Project?
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With English Subtitles
Chai Jing’s daughter had a benign tumor, that was discovered while Chai was pregnant. Following her daughter’s birth, Chai undertook a self funded year-long investigation into China’s environmental problems, specifically the air pollution. The result is this documentary called Under the Dome. It was released online on March 1, 2015 and by March 3, 2015 it had been viewed more than 150 million times.
The video runs for just under an hour and forty-five minutes and is compelling viewing
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Greening the Desert II, Dead Sea Valley, Jordan
Photos: Rawan Risheq
October-November 2014, at the end of a long dry summer before the winter rains.
You can also download the whole pdf here
From its very inception, a natural system is involved in a continuous evolution, an ongoing succession of different stages toward increasing diversity and complexity, toward increasing stability, fertility and productivity until, eventually, the system reaches its climax – a final stage of relative stability where most of the energy is no longer used for growth but for maintenance and where the species composition remains relatively unchanged until a disturbance occurs, from a lightning that blows down a single tree to a catastrophic fire to human intervention.
When designing for a food forest, we are harmonizing with the succession that naturally occurs in nature, speeding up that process that leads to an increase in biomass and biological activity, an increase in the energy and nutrients that get harvested, stored and cycled and, eventually, an increase in the quantity and quality – structure and fertility – of the soil itself.
The great difference between a natural system and a designed human-managed system is that, in nature, only a tiny part of the global yields is directly available to us, since we are only a tiny part of the whole natural species assembly, while in a human-managed system almost every species is selected to provide us with some form of direct or indirect yield. We call “support species” those plants whose primary function is to support the growth of our main productive species, performing a key role in regulating the incoming energies of sun, wind and water, hydrating the soil and stabilizing the water cycle, harvesting nutrients from the air (i.e. nitrogen-fixation) and from different soil depths, creating new niches to welcome a diversity of living organisms both above and under the ground and, generally, putting the ecosystem back into function.
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Permaculture (permanent agriculture but also permanent culture) is a system of design aimed at creating “productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way“. It is a working with, rather than against, nature: what species, what natural elements can we partner with to meet all our needs while benefiting life in all its forms? How can we transform degraded ecosystems into lush edible landscapes?
A PDC is an intensive 72-hour Permaculture Design Course that will lead to an accredited Permaculture Design Certificate. The course will be based on, but not limited to, Bill Mollison’s A Designers’ Manual:
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Everyone is at least somewhat familiar with the plant kingdom but the fungi kingdom is very little known and understood and yet the more we look into mushrooms the more they seem to offer. Some mushroom species have the ability to clean up serious toxins in our environment and some offer valuable medicine. They all play a part in the decomposition process by pulling apart lignin and cellulose in fallen trees and woodchips in our garden.
Growing mushrooms is both an art and a science. At times they can be tricky and uncooperative and other times when you’re just about ready to give up on them they’ll surprise you with the biggest, tastiest crop you’ve ever seen.
For a while I was making mushroom kits so that people could grow gourmet mushrooms at home. It was a fun job and really pushed my education in mushroom cultivation forward but it never felt all that rewarding. I much prefer teaching people the process so that they have the skills to grow gourmet mushrooms from scratch. Teach a person to fish right?
It all starts with mycelium. The more mycelium you grow the more mushrooms you grow so the process of mushroom growing can be seen as different steps to expand your mushroom mycelium. Mushroom cultivator their own method. I like to keep it simple and straightforward. You can start the mycelium growing process in a number of different ways but the most tried and true method is growing them on petri dishes.
Growing Mushroom Cultures on Petri Dishes
First I mix the media that I use to pour into my petri dishes. You can use a handful of different ingredients but I prefer to use malt extract powder, agar agar and a pinch of yeast.
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“Your Potty is a Wonderland”
With only three more days to fund the Kickstarter “Poo to Peaches – a Composting Toilet Book”, we need your help! We are still about $3,800 shy of our goal. We hope this video, a spoof on John Mayers’ “Your Body is a Wonderland”, will inspire you to drop a little nutrient on us and help us with this last big push to realize our goal. We’re relying on our permaculture community to help us make low-cost, permittable composting toilets a reality.
We hope you enjoy the goofiness of “Your Potty is a Wonderland” .
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Please click above to watch the Trailer
INHABIT – A Permaculture Perspective
Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise behind permaculture: a design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature. INHABIT explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design lens of permaculture. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.
This is Part two of a series of Articles, that critically discuss’s the Nottinghill Forest Garden Project from Analysis – to Implementation – to Future Idea’s.
Part one can be found here
Site Preparation Discussion
Although observation and basic design began in 2010, we did not commence the garden in earnest until January of 2011. After analyzing our site’s conditions and forming a basic long-term vision for the garden, I had to figure out a path to get us there.
The most pressing matters to begin solving fall under what Geoff Lawton likes to call “mainframe design.” Water, access, and soil are fundamentals that need to be examined before moving onto finer details; getting these right (or close to it) from the start will make the rest much easier. Before examining how these were designed, let us look at the overall strategy for each.
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A short video showing animal and people systems in place at “Maungaraeeda”, home of the Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast. Permaculture educator Tom Kendall talks about how PRI Master Plan sites like Maungaraeeda are able to empower people.
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2014 was a busy year at Sugarloaf Permaculture. Half way through we started teaching our first PDC that was held at the local community gardens over 14 Sundays. After finishing at the end of November, I was relieved as my evenings were less pressured without the constant preparation and some Sundays were ours again. After some days, while out in the garden, I reflected on the huge number of hours that went into preparing the content for presentation. Yes, I am somewhat of perfectionist and wanted to create a resource that students could keep and refer back to any time (a
collection of PowerPoints). But, I wondered how many potential teachers out there were put off by the amount of preparation needed? Anyhow, the thoughts of sharing this resource set emerged and so I decided to go back through the presentations again to improve them further and to ask permission of others who had contributed.
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Launched in January 2013, the City of Vancouver’s Food Strategy represents the culmination of over ten years of policy, planning and community organizing towards the creation of a healthy, just and sustainable food system.
None of this would be possible without the creativity and dedication of countless individuals, community groups, and local businesses. This video highlights some key areas that have made a big impact in Vancouver. To get involved, visit http://vancouver.ca/foodpolicy
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Introduction: Resilience through Diversity
Nature is most abundant on the edge. The interface between two or more ecosystems, organisms, or cultures is often where the most valuable, diverse and productive elements of a system emerge. Like the diversity of a healthy ecosystem, diverse educational communities are more resilient, socially efficient, and sustainable. In the face of global environmental and economic challenges, English as Second Language (ESL) and Multicultural educators have the opportunity to facilitate the interpretation of scientific knowledge for diverse communities of international stakeholders. By teaching language through context and applying Permaculture design to curriculum design, urban educators can facilitate the exchange of ecological wisdom in an international context.
Permaculture in Context: The International High School at Lafayette
The International High School at Lafayette (IHSL) is a public school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn that serves 350 late-entry English Language Learners (ELLs) speaking 50 different languages. The Internationals Model of ESL Education focuses on language development through context, heterogeneous grouping, project-based learning, and autonomous decision making. Learn more about IHSL by watching the MacArthur foundation-funded documentary “I Learn America,”
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