Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Markets & Outlets, Urban Projects.

In previous parts of the Start Growing! series, we’ve talked about how to buy a farm debt-free, even without money, and how we should value our time if we’re going to be financially sustainable.

Did you know that’s what SPIN Farming is about?

When I first heard of it I falsely assumed it was something like square-foot gardening with a twist.

Nope. Not even close.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Energy Systems.

Top in investment, installed capacity and generation, and moving away from fossil fuels; in contrast to the USA.

by Dr Mae-Wan Ho


Photo Credit: Greenpeace/Xuan Canxiong

Overtakes US in investment

For the second year, the annual Pew Charitable Trusts report, “Who’s winning the clean energy race?” shows China leads in clean energy investment with $54 billion in 2013, well above total US investment of $ 36.7 bn, with Japan in third place at 28.6 bn, and UK a distant fourth at $12.4 bn [1]. But globally investment has been declining for two straight years. Investment totalled $254 bn, a drop of 11 % from 2012, and 20 % from 2011 when investments peaked at $318 bn.

China installed 14 GW electricity generation capacity from wind and 12 GW from solar in 2013, the US installed less than 1 GW wind power after a tax incentive for wind expired, but installed a record 4.3 GW solar generation capacity.

Another important finding is that for the first time, solar power installations eclipsed wind farm construction globally in 2013. One-third of all solar power on the planet was installed during the year, according to Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean energy program.

But much more is afoot in China.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Bird Life, Breeds, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Land, Plant Systems, Soil Rehabilitation, Working Animals.

by James Reid, PRI Tap o’ Noth

You don’t have a slug problem, you have a duck deficiency. — Bill Mollison

It was reading the above quote that made us want to acquire some ducks here at PRI Tap o’ Noth in North East Scotland. The idea of using the natural foraging instinct of the duck to rid our kitchen garden of slugs and snails, by encouraging them to browse through our garden systems, was very appealing.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.


Geoff Lawton above Zaytuna Farm
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh

General information

The Permaculture Research Institute Zaytuna Farm is now offering practical hands on learning, in the field experience. This Certificate is replacing the 10-week Internship Program.

A total of 24 successful applicants will learn on the job within their chosen section for 4 weeks starting on the 1st Monday of every month (beginning Monday 5 January, 2015).

The Specialised Work Experience Certificate positions and number of people per month are as follows (click the links for more info on each):

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

“Mechanized labour” in the form of earthmoving equipment, tractors, and the myriad attachments that may be utilized in conjunction with their use provide us with an amazing opportunity to perform a great deal of beneficial work. They help in rapidly establishing efforts to reverse land degradation and desertification on a grand scale. It’s an immense job requiring considerable work input. Given the urgent importance of undertaking this activity, finding the right tools becomes hugely critical.

Many of us who spend lots of time thinking about this topic are always trying to identify methods, techniques, and strategies to advance the earth repair/ecosystem restoration/regenerative design agenda as broadly and effectively as possible. There were a couple of ideas I wanted to quickly mention here which have piqued my interest and may prove to be useful to others working in a similar vein.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects.

Where and how to get free labor, what to expect from volunteers, and why it’s totally worth it.


A table full of happy volunteers

It was less than a year ago that my wife Emma and I set out on journey through Central and South America, our plan being to volunteer on farms the whole way. We’d toyed with gardening here and there, spent some time running the hotel side of an avocado farm called Earth Lodge, but our interests in growing our own food, becoming more sustainable people, and living less job-oriented lives had reached a pinnacle. We wanted something different, and gardening seem to make sense.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Building, Compost, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

I just read a post on composting toilets here on the PRI site and remembered that I never posted about the composting toilets I made last year (for various projects) based on a similar principles, but a distinct design. Below I offer a few words of introduction and then post photos of the building process with instructions.

As part of various projects that I’ve helped organise over the last six months, I self-appointed myself the maker of composting toilets. Some people might have been happy to delegate such a job to others, but I wasn’t that generous to my collaborators. I wanted the job for myself, and in this post I briefly describe the process with pictures and a few notes.

Before getting to the building process, let me tell you why I find composting toilets interesting and important. First of all, in a world where two and half billion people still lack regular access to clean drinking water, defecating into drinking quality water strikes me as the height of insanity. Obviously, most of us have no existing alternative. But that doesn’t change the insanity of our current system. Composting toilets provide an alternative. Not only do they avoid the need to defecate into drinking quality water, they require almost no water at all.

Read more »