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Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Village Development — by Dimitri Devyatkin January 30, 2013
Lebensgarten — Garden of Life — is a community located in Lower Saxony, Germany. Built on the site of a former Nazi arms factory, the community has 62 houses. Lebensgarten has a large permaculture park, in which agriculture and human settlements are modeled after nature. This video features interviews with Declan Kennedy, Roland Wolf and others. The video is by Dimitri Devyatkin, 29 minutes, in English.Comments (0)
Fungi — by Samuel Alexander
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
I’ve been experimenting recently with growing my own oyster mushrooms, and as you can see from the photos, I’ve met with some success. I was motivated to explore mushroom cultivation partly because I’m a vegetarian and want to produce my own high-protein alternatives to meat; but I was also interested in using so-called ‘dead space’ to grow food (either inside or down the shady side of the house). Oyster mushrooms tick both these boxes, and they are also ridiculously tasty. Seriously.
Not only that, oyster mushrooms are extremely expensive when purchased from a supermarket, so it makes sense to grow them yourself. Currently in Melbourne they are going for $34 per kilo.Comments (6)
Building — by Geoff Lawton
After Pakistan was devastated by an earthquake in 2005, Darcey Donovan, an engineer in California, pursued designs for quake-resistant homes using local materials. The result was a straw-bale building. It withstood substantial shaking in tests at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Building, Eco-Villages, Energy Systems, Land, Retrofitting, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Marcin Gerwin
Marcin Gerwin: In many cities there are problems with traffic jams. The streets are clogged with cars and as a response mayors build new roads or widen the streets. Old buildings are demolished to make way for new lanes so that a highway running through the middle of the city could be built. Would you say that this is the right way forward?Comments (0)
As 2012, “The Year of the Farmer”, came to a close, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest insights into the country’s ageing farming population tells an urgent and cautionary tale that was largely overlooked.
Critical Human Succession
Today the average Australian farmer is 53 years old (with 25% over 65) and the issue of ‘structural aging’ (Barr, 2012) confirms that the next five to ten years will be critical in terms of the succession planning that determines who will manage and control the production of Australia’s domestic food supply as well as the $32.5 billion farm export market that has contributed so significantly to the economy.
With farm businesses becoming increasingly more complex, moving away from traditional farming practices toward business management, and with the worldwide need for farm outputs to grow by an estimated 70% by 2050, these farming businesses face significant challenges in ensuring that the current generation will want to succeed them.Comments (2)
Education, Society — by George Monbiot
The way we are governed is inexplicable – until you understand the upbringing of the elite.
Those whom the gods love die young: are they trying to tell me something? Due to an inexplicable discontinuity in space-time, on Sunday I turned 50. I have petitioned the relevant authorities, but there’s nothing they can do.
So I will use the occasion to try to explain the alien world from which I came. To understand how and why we are now governed as we are, you need to know something of that strange place.Comments (0)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Village Development — by Lesley Byrne January 29, 2013
Fishing boats on Rasinga Island, Kenya
I was invited by PRI Kenya to teach a special PDC course in December 2012, tailored to small rural farmers — 50% women, 50% men — on Rusinga Island, Kenya. The entire course was taught in English and Luo, the native language on Rusinga. One of the biggest challenges was to keep it simple and still adhere to the most essential elements of permaculture principles and methods that are relevant to their lives, while not lecturing with big words or overwhelming the farmers with too much information, as we as Westerners, however good our intentions, often tend to do. There was no fancy equipment, no slide shows, no electricity, just the basic blackboards and large pieces of paper and markers and lots of hands-on exercises.Comments (6)
GMOs, Health & Disease — by I-SIS January 28, 2013
ISIS has warned against the CaMV 35S promoter and called for all affected GM crops to be withdrawn since 1999 while damning evidence on its safety continues to emerge
How to bury a bombshell
Cauliflower Mosaic Virus
A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientist has just discovered that major GM crops and products the regulatory agency has been approving for commercial release over the past 20 years contain a potentially dangerous virus gene. The gene – Gene VI – overlaps with the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter. The CaMV 35S promoter is the commonest, most widely used regulatory sequence for driving gene expression in GM crops. This momentous discovery was published in a little known journal during the holiday season at the end of 2012 , and would have passed unnoticed had it not caught the attention of Jonathan Latham and Alison Wilson of Independent Science News. They described the finding and carried out a proper retrospective risk assessment on the Gene VI fragment in a report posted on their website . This attracted so much public attention that EFSA and its counterpart Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) are said  to have jointly “shredded” the scientific paper on which Latham and Wilson’s report is based.Comments (1)
by Rob Avis
Crystel Vultier is a true local food purveyor for her home town of Canmore, AB. Over the past several years she has been instrumental in creating the Canmore Community Garden which now provides plots for over 100 gardeners in the city and area. She has also created a project called Farm Box which sources local and organic food directly from farmers in Alberta and BC, and distributes it to 130 families in a weekly CSA program, as well as making the abundance of healthy produce available to the whole city through a booth at the local farmers’ market. Watch how one person’s potential to create positive change is realized through hard work and permaculture tools, and see how quickly the ripples have spread to effect her entire community.Comments (0)
Editor’s Note: Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has just said that the entire country of Australia is being "challenged by nature". I think it’s a sad way of looking at what we’re facing — it’s as if we’re the innocent victims. Rather, I think nature is being challenged by us. Nature is having a hard time ‘keeping it together’ in the face of all we’re throwing at it. We are entering an age of potential runaway feedback loops that can render all our good work redundant, and yet at the just-ended World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the key focus was still, predictably, about stimulating more economic growth. I don’t for a minute expect corporate-bought political systems to react appropriately, but I think a massive turn-out for a rally like the one below can at least give some hope for discussion on the issues that matter — an opportunity for systemic solutions to get their day in the sun.
On Monday during the inauguration, President Obama opened his term with a clarion call for action on climate change. Our response?
Time to organize.
President Obama said, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
These are great words, in a big speech. But pardon us if we’re not sitting on our hands basking in the glow of a job well done. We’ve seen good talk before, and the President’s talk – while very good in this case – is not the same as action.Comments (1)
Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Recipes — by Susan Kwong January 25, 2013
Ripe Solanum muricatum (Pepino, Pepino Dulce, Melon Pear)
This is the first monthly post for Summer in the ongoing research project about perennial plants and perennialising annual plants that provide 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. The first monthly posts can be found by clicking on my author name (Susan Kwong), just under the post title above.Comments (0)
by Rob Avis
Nestled deep in the forested mountains of the Slocan Valley in British Columbia, ex-urbanite Shawna Teare and her family have applied skills from their former lives in business and carpentry, along with gifted and innovative craftmanship to create a leading edge permaculture homestead complete with chickens, rabbits, interns and more! See how they have up-cycled materials en masse, created a diverse and plentiful organic garden, put their on-site resources to productive use, and networked within their community to create a truly resilient, sustainable, and enjoyable lifestyle.Comments (5)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease — by Gerald Anderson
This is a good summary of what Vandana Shiva talks about lately. Even if you think you’ve heard it all before, I think this is a excellent one to watch and share.
Forbes Magazine called Vandana Shiva one of the seven most influential women in the world. A noted philosopher, scientist and author, Dr. Shiva addressed a full house at Coady International Institute at StFX University on the theme of food justice. — YouTube
Further watching:Comments (3)
Continuing from my last post, after cleaning up our yard and several neighbors’ yards from another unusually strong storm here in south western Pennsylvania, I had a cache of branches to utilize in my garden construction. Our summers here have been getting hotter and drier so I wanted to take advantage of wood’s ability to help retain moisture, coupled of course with a blanket of straw to further retard evaporation.
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Breeds, Food Forests, Insects, Livestock, Plant Systems, Working Animals — by Eric Toensmeier January 24, 2013
Cattle grazing under alder in silvopasture system
at Las Canadas, Huatusco, Mexico
Integrating livestock seems to be the best way to have a larger-scale food forest (anything over one hectare or a couple of acres). If done properly, livestock integration can greatly reduce labor and fossil fuel needs. It can create the conditions for happy and healthy livestock. Done poorly, it can ruin soils and destroy crops. Here are a few things that I’ve been learning as I travel around and view this aspect of permaculture in action (plus some important tidbits from reading).Comments (30)