Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Health & Disease.

Help us conduct important research to determine the nutrient value in organic and conventional foods. Make a donation today.

Rodale Institute (Kutztown, PA, USA) is looking for your support! This campaign will fund research comparing the nutrient density of organically and conventionally grown produce. But, we can’t do it without the backing of our friends and supporters!

Last year’s report out of Stanford University called into question the health benefits associated with organic and conventional foods. While this study revealed health benefits associated with eating organic foods we believe that more research needs to be completed to truly see how organic and conventional foods stack up.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

by Silke Helfrich

The market has always been with us. What’s new about life in the last three hundred years — and especially the last thirty — is that the buying and selling of goods is the overriding goal of human civilization. The market is seen not just as an efficient way to do some things — it’s increasingly heralded as the only way to organize our society. The market has become the ruling paradigm of the world, a way of life that is wiping out efficient, equitable and sustainable commons-based practices.

Silke Helfrich — a commons activist based in Jena, Germany — explores what we lose when the market is deployed as the solution to all our problems and answer to all our dreams. In this chart, she illustrates how radically different a market-based society operates compared to a commons-based society. This is excerpted from the book The Wealth of the Commons, which she edited with David Bollier. — Jay Walljasper

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change.

Buried in the Infrastructure Bill is an astonishing and hitherto-unnoticed contradiction.

Sometimes there’s nothing to do but sit there and laugh. That’s what happened last week while I was reading the Lords debate on the Infrastructure Bill, and stumbled across something so amazing that I had to go back over it three times to ensure I’d read it right.

The bill, as several peers complained, is an odd one: published before half the measures it will contain have been inserted. This is how democracy works these days: our unelected legislators are asked to debate something they have not yet been allowed to see. So the bombshell I came across isn’t in it yet. But Baroness Kramer, who introduced the legislation, casually dropped it into her preamble.

Before revealing what she said, here’s a little background.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Food Shortages, Society.

When you grow your own food, you know for a fact that every piece does not look as ‘perfect’ as those sold in stores. They are each unique, sometimes odd-looking, but taste delicious nonetheless.

In our industrial world, these so-called imperfect fruits and veggies go straight to the dumpster and contribute to a shocking amount of waste. Intermarché, a French supermarket, came up with a brilliant concept – The Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

Government sponsors research on how to transition to commoning and open networks.

by David Bollier

A child during a parade in Ecuador by mavik2007, Flickr Creative Commons

In 2013, the government of Ecuador launched a major strategic research project to “fundamentally re-imagine Ecuador” based on the principles of open networks, peer production and commoning.  Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation would be leading the research team for the next ten months, and seeking to “remake the roots of Ecuador’s economy, setting off a transition into a society of free and open knowledge.”

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Trees.

Last week I had the chance to visit the Bambra Agroforestry Farm and see a great example of tree growing for timber production in action. Rowan Reid, the owner and driving force behind the farm, has been planting a whole selection of different tree species on site for over 25 years — as shelter for stock animals that graze below the trees, to repair degraded land, for conservation purposes and as a harvestable product to mill high quality timber for craftsmen to build with.

One thing I hadn’t anticipated was the open spacious feeling beneath the trees. I had in my mind the suffocating feeling I get in an industrial pine plantation, but the trees on Bambra Farm are planted out at a decent distance and the branches are pruned as they grow so that the canopy casts dappled shade and grass can grow for the stock to graze.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Musical Interlude.

Here’s a funny and entertaining rap by Rowland and Craig (J1P) with an important message: Eradicate Ecocide.

Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

What: Study integrated ecological design with two of the foremost instructors and practitioners in permaculture.
When: Friday July 25-Sunday August 8th
Where: Woodbine Ecology Center, Colorado, USA

Longevity. Abundance. Regeneration. Oases. Beauty. Bounty. Plant the Rain. Garden Like a Forest. Design With Natural Patterns.

Learn water harvesting and earthworks techniques, and how to create edible forest gardens, for easier, more long-lasting, beautiful yields and resiliency. Through studying examples and hands-on work, this course will give participants an opportunity to delve into both basic and advanced permaculture techniques and develop a thorough understanding of ecological design, which would benefit one and all. This course will also focus on better preparing for climate change, carbon faming techniques and indigenous management practices.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems, Trees.

The Inspirational Stumpery by Jane-Ann Liddle

I’m crazy about hugelkultur. I love the concept of burying old fallen and felled trees to provide years of slow-release compost for crops to come. I love using waste material for something useful. I love not having to turn or move compost about. I love the chance to sculpt a really raised bed, something behemoth — hulking if you will — that makes a beautifully bountiful mound of vegetables. I love telling people about it, how it works, how by building it up and making it curve, all sorts of microclimates are created, how from the same square footage, hugelkultur makes it possible to grow so much more and to harvest without having to bend over all day to boot. Then, I found something that made me like it even more.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

Mosquitoes engineered with a jumping gene vector to express a DNA-cutting enzyme produce >95 % male offspring; unfortunately both enzyme and vector target genomes of diverse species from slime moulds to humans.

by Dr Mae Wan Ho

This commentary has been sent to the editors of the journal Nature Communications, inviting them and the researchers who have reported the creation of the new transgenic mosquitoes in the journal to reply.

A good trick but no consideration of risks

A team led by Andrea Crisanti at Imperial College London in the UK was widely reported to have made a breakthrough or even a ‘quantum leap’ in creating transgenic mosquitoes that could eradicate malaria [1]. Unfortunately, it is potentially the most hazardous genetically modified organism (GMO) to have been created, and should go no further from the laboratory. The researchers have not considered the risks involved, which would have been obvious from a casual review of existing literature.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Economics, Society.

Is the government preparing to dispose of our forests and other public land?

Planning laws inhibit prosperity. That’s what we’re told by almost everyone. Those long and tortuous negotiations over what should be built where are a brake on progress. All the major parties and most of the media believe that we would be better off with less regulation, less discussion and more speed. Try telling that to the people of Spain and Ireland.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, General, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

I believe that a revolution can begin from this one strand of straw. Seen at a glance, this rice straw may appear light and insignificant. Hardly anyone would believe that it could start a revolution. But I have come to realize the weight and power of this straw. For me, this revolution is very real. — Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution (1)

Under the guidance of Patrap C. Aggarwhal, the Friends’ Rural Centre (FRC) in India, part of a nationwide network of rural development co-operatives established over a century ago to support rural communities in a variety of ways, had experimented with revolutionary farming methods for approximately five years before their discovery of Fukuoka’s landmark work in 1983. Located outside Hoshangabad in Rasulia, Madhya Pradesh, for much of its long history the FRC had survived thanks to funding from abroad. By 1987, however, and for the first time in a century, the FRC was able to claim its independence from foreign aid. Consistently high levels of productivity coupled with drastic cuts in operating costs made for a decidedly viable concern. This, as Aggarwhal emphatically asserts, became possible as a direct result of implementing rishi kheti, or ‘natural farming of the sages’, as he dubbed the natural farming methods first reintroduced by Masanobu Fukuoka. “We practised rishi kheti at Rasulia for about eight years,” he writes. “I can state with full confidence that the community gained in every conceivable way.” (2)

Read more »