Posted by & filed under Building, Community, Community Projects, Design, Development & Property Trusts, Energy Systems.

Geoff’s new video on Annualized Geo-Solar, see the full version on Geofflawton.com

Imagine if you could trap the energy of the sun, shining on you on a warm summers day and store it, in a bank, for future use when you needed it in the winter? Sounds fanciful right? Well, that’s the principle of Annualized Geo-Solar. A fancy name, but a clever way of storing the heat in the ground and using it to warm your greenhouse when its needed in the cold winter months.

Recently Geoff Lawton visited a massive community glasshouse in the mountains of Invermere, British Columbia in Canada where they are using this method to keep their glasshouse warm over winter.

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Posted by & filed under Food & Food Support Systems, General, Processing & Food Preservation.

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Ginkgo biloba, commonly known as the maidenhair tree or just plain ginkgo, has got to be one of the most distinctive, and in my mind interesting and captivating, plants in the world. Believed to be truly indigenous to only a single province in China , this 270 million year old species belongs to an ancient lineage of species that have since disappeared for one reason or another over the past few millennia, making Ginkgo biloba (known as a ‘living fossil’) the sole extant representative of what was once a vast and diverse group of organisms. In fact, the ginkgo tree is so unlike any other living plant species that this tree has it’s own genus, family, order, class and division. To put this into terms that may be easier to conceptualize: the only thing that ginkgo trees have in common with other plants is they are also plants. This means that pretty much everything about their genetic make-up, physiology, general behavior, reproductive strategies (including their mobile sperm; a trait particular to ferns, cycads and algae) and even their ability to photosynthesize is anywhere between slightly-off to fundamentally different from any other living plant. Oh, and you can eat it’s seeds.

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Posted by & filed under Community, General, Population, Society, Village Development.

Daimen Hardie & Sebastian Manchester of www.forestsinternational.org – 7/01/2015

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First light – residents of Kokota islet enjoy first night with electric light provided by portable microgrid (Photo: Jeff Schnurr)

The problem . . .

The rise of renewable energy has to be one of the most inspiring revolutions of our time. It offers hope for transitioning to a low-carbon future – a future in which humanity rises out of the smog of fossil fuel dependence to put out a centuriesold fire that is now cooking our planet.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community, General, Permaculture Projects, Why Permaculture?.

Permaculture emphasizes the use of native plants or those that are well adapted to your local area. It aims at a site that sustains itself and the gardener. Its ultimate purpose is to develop a site until it meets all the needs of its inhabitants, including food, shelter, fuel and other benefits.

Permaculture enthusiasts love plants for their beauty and fragrance, but they seek out plants that offer practical benefits along with aesthetic satisfaction.

Sunflower

Photo: Ingrid Pullen

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Posted by & filed under Community, Food & Food Support Systems, General, Plant Systems, Plants.

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Last week I joined one of the final (for now) in a series of trips between France and England in order to promote biodiversity, preservation of cultural heritage, and, some might say crucially, the joys of eating and growing high-quality food. The exchanges, which are a part of the project Orchards without Borders (Vergers Sans Frontiers) (1), were organised by a mix of British and French organisations with help from Interreg (2), an EU programme designed to stimulate cooperation between EU countries, in order to “promote the use of orchards as part of a sustainable food system” (1).

The visit in which I participated was arranged by Evelyne Ramon of the CPIE (Union Nationale des Centres Permanents D’Intiative pour L’Environment) (3) in Normandy, and Anne-Marie Bur of the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership (4) and Brighton Permaculture Trust (5).

During the trip I learned a lot about how sustainable food systems are already being nurtured, as well as some exciting ways in which we can develop our food systems more sustainably, whether in France, England, or further afield.

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Posted by & filed under Bio-regional Organisations, Community, Development & Property Trusts, General.

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Photo of an open source cover crop roller from Farm Hack

If you want to succeed in farming today, be prepared to spend your time not outside in the field, but behind a panel of computer screens. So says Quentin Hardy’s recent article in the New York Times (“Working the Land and the Data,” November 30, 2014).

Hardy claims that the future of our farms here in America lies in scaling up – that automation and data management technologies owned by the biggest agricultural corporations in the world (Monsanto, John Deere, DuPont Pioneer) make or break farmers today. He promotes a top-down, big-data argument that follows the logic of monopoly. Farmers must adopt the technology and methodology of the big players as the only pathway to success in a big-boy business with ever-tighter profit margins.

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Posted by & filed under Bio-regional Organisations, Community, General, Population, Society.

Joel Orchard and Anais Gschwind sowed the first seeds for the Future Feeders movement in the early stages of 2014. Since then with the collective ideas of a vibrant group, Future Feeders has established its first 1.5 acre urban market garden at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens and begun to develop a platform for a broader collective of young farmers and food activists.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Animals, Commercial Farm Projects, Design, Development & Property Trusts, Financial Management, Food & Food Support Systems, Livestock, People Systems, Trees, Working Animals.

How one man transformed his farm from Monoculture to Permaculture.

When Warren Brush bought a run down orchard near Ventura, California, he knew he was in for the ride of his life transforming it into a Permaculture farm. From an original monoculture persimmon, apple and avocado orchard, it’s a risky challenge to turn all this around and announce you are now also running a creamery and a heritage pig system and a farm stall and then there are the walnuts and the orchards and… well, you get the idea. There are a lot of things happening here and you are not to sure what you are looking at when you walk around Casitas Valley Farm.

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Posted by & filed under Community, Education, General, News, Social Gatherings, Society.

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At a time when many children are over-policed and over-protected, even parents who are open to the idea of rewilding may wonder what would happen if young ones were allowed to truly run rampant.

Contrary to the descent into savagery envisioned in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, one primary school is proving that when children are given the space and permission to self organise the results are extremely encouraging.

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