Posted by & filed under Animal Processing, Animals, Bird Life, General.

Photo: Ingrid Pullen

Chickens are sometimes described as a gateway domestic animal. Meaning the first domestic animal that people, new to keeping domestic animals, start with. Once successful and satisfied with the results they then feel more confident to move onto other domestic animal systems. Chickens have been intensively and extensively integrated into most human cultures from their wild origin ancestors in the tropical forests of the South East, where the wild jungle fowl still roam, out to the driest hot deserts, to the deep snows of the cold temperate regions. Where ever there are people with some remnants of food self reliance there are roosters crowing at dawn. In fact, if you wake at dawn to the sound of a whole capital city of garden chicken flock roosters crowing, you are in an interesting place and you can be sure there is also quite at lot of good local food being grown there too.

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books, Plants, Seeds.

The recent UN Climate Change Summit, the marches in New York and around the world, once again brought into our collective consciousness the need for real change. As did the shocking news of the global loss of species. The vital need to protect our ecosystems is part of a cry that embraces the whole earth, from the smallest creature to the vast oceans. And in the midst of this call to cease our globally self-destructive behavior is a story that touches each of us, every day.

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Trees.

Trailer only – watch the full video here!

Imagine you owned your own farm planted full of apple trees. You used no herbicides, no fungicides, no pesticides and no industrial fertilizers. Instead, the trees were treated with Sheer Total Utter Neglect, and still bore copious amount of fruit.

Sounds crazy, right?

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Posted by & filed under Economics, General.

About a week ago, my son and I worked out in the garden, preparing for fall – pulling up old plants and spreading seeds for a cover crop to help enrich the soil with nitrogen before winter approaches. We also dug up our first ever potato crop which gave us about 3-4 ice cream pails full of potatoes (I probably should have left more of them in the ground to mature longer, but we got excited when we saw the creamy skins peeking out of the soil).

Later that day I went to the local grocery store and the first thing I see is a big display of potatoes: 99 cents on sale (regular price $3.99). Even at $3.99 the price is ridiculously low, but at 99 cents, nobody is even breaking even with their costs. The farmer/landowner, field workers, grocery store/distributor/transportation all need to be paid… from a dollar?

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Posted by & filed under Demonstration Sites, Peak Oil, Urban Projects.

KrisCan visits Eric Toensmeier in his Holyoke, Massachusetts home garden that was transformed from a bleakly barren backyard into a thriving oasis of year-round, productive perennial fruits and vegetables. Eric talks about how waste heat from factories and power plants can be utilized for greenhouse gardening; urban food security and self-reliance in the face of diminishing petroleum supplies; edible forest gardens and how they mimic the patterns and designs of ecosystems to create productive perennial polycultures.

Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Plant Systems.

by Priscilla Nzamalu, Kenya, East Africa

This article is part of an initiative by FoodWaterShelter to promote permaculture networks in East Africa, and to support the hosting of PDCs in Tanzania. This and other articles are written by PDC students in exchange for PDC scholarships.

“To know is power” — let us then be wise, and use our brains with every good intent, that at the end we come with tired eyes and give to nature more than what she lent. — Cheiro

I was motivated to learn Permaculture after a one week training in natural medicines which changed my eating habits, after which I learned that permaculture has non rigid guidelines that can meet different needs at different times to achieve a green planet. I got the explanation that permaculture uses simple, practical solutions which are achievable by ordinary people. Energy efficiency, organic growing, community finances; making do with the resources one has. Thus permaculture reduces the need to earn.

My initial permaculture experiences led to my involvement in a project to develop a food forest at Umoja Orphanage in Diani Kenya after a training in April 2014.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

FoodWaterShelter (FWS) is very happy to offer you our first Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in 2015. We’d love to have you join us in Arusha Tanzania from January 25 thorough February 5, 2015 as we host our fifth PDC!

This is an incredible two week course that provides you with concepts and skills for improving self-reliance and sustainably. Our courses have been attended by over 100 students from all over the world; from East Africa to Europe, India to Chile, the USA to Australia. Whether you’re a gardener or small scale farmer, live in a city or in the country, support your family or a whole community, this course offers so much.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, General.

The Gates Foundation is spending half a billion dollars a year to ‘feed the world’, most of it aimed at Africa. But as GRAIN discovers, it is imposing a model of high-tech, high-input ‘green revolution’ farming, complete with GMOs, agro-chemicals and a pro-business neoliberal agenda, all in an alliance with corporate agriculture.

A business advisor for TechnoServe discusses farming techniques with a Ugandan
farmer. Technoserve is the NGO receiving the most funds from the Gates Foundation
— a US-based NGO that develops ‘business solutions to poverty’.

Listening to farmers and addressing their specific needs. We talk to farmers about the crops they want to grow and eat, as well as the unique challenges they face. We partner with organizations that understand and are equipped to address these challenges, and we invest in research to identify relevant and affordable solutions that farmers want and will use. — The first guiding principle of the Gates Foundation’s work on agriculture (1)

At some point in June this year, the total amount given as grants to food and agriculture projects by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation surpassed the US$3 billion mark.

It marked quite a milestone. From nowhere on the agricultural scene less than a decade ago, the Gates Foundation has emerged as one of the world’s major donors to agricultural research and development.

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Posted by & filed under Health & Disease, Processing & Food Preservation.

Olives ripe on the tree. Photos: Aisha Abdelhamid

For those fortunate folks living in the northern hemisphere, now is the right time to find fresh organic olives at your local market. For an extra special treat that carries the sunshine of summer into the late days of winter, start your olive brining in the autumn. Doing it yourself is easy, and the advantages are many, not the least of which is the great, naturally tart and meaty flavor of the beloved olive.

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Posted by & filed under Biological Cleaning, Irrigation, Land, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Swales, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

The jungle garden

I am not Bill Mollison or Geoff Lawton, they will both happily report; rather, I am but a humble novice when it comes to permaculture, experimenting my way through ideas, mimicking when I can, improvising when research falls short. And, it was somewhere in between mimicry and improvisation that I came up with what I’m calling overflowing circles and slow-flow swales.

I wanted to catch water, of course. That was the number one objective. In Panama, the rains seem to come in mad fits — bursts of hurricane-like downpours that would rip through the garden and food forest, streaming into the nearby lake and leaving nothing but debris behind. Panama is a country of two seasons, which are referred to as summer (dry, November through April) and winter (wet, May through October). Knowing summer would eventually come made watching all that winter water rush away even harder. What a waste!

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Posted by & filed under Compost, General, Urban Projects.

I am always observing and making decisions on the run, doing a sequence of brief tasks and changing mid stream from what I had previously planned. Multi-tasking is the norm in a self-reliant way of life, so different from the specialisation and repetitive focus that characterises work in the conventional economy. When performing a long sequence of small tasks in a diverse and integrated permaculture system, [one] needs many different tools. – David Holmgren, ‘Permaculture Pocket Knives’ article, April 2012

I have a confession to make. I’m not really very good at growing things. That’s a problem when you start delving into permaculture, which, after all, means ‘permanent agriculture’. And there are so many areas to consider: water and soil, space and seeds, companion and sequential planting, harvesting and storing… None of these are skills I grew up with. My family had a vegetable garden and they composted, but I never paid much attention. You cannot study one area without overlapping into another and while that is an interesting, interconnected process, it also means there is a lot to learn, particularly if you are trying to minimize inputs when growing food. I find that when you are enthusiastic and new at something, it can be irritating to others who have developed skills over many years and feel that you are stepping into their field of expertise. A fair point as permaculturalists seem to have something to say on virtually every topic, including those they may not actually know much about. But hopefully it’s better to be learning, asking for advice from others and making those connections rather than sitting on the sidelines feeling overwhelmed and end up doing nothing.

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