Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Plant Systems.

by Roger R.B. Leakey, Department of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia.


Shifting agriculture in the tropics has been replaced by sedentary smallholder farming on a few hectares of degraded land. To address low yields and low income both, the soil fertility, the agroecosystem functions, and the source of income can be restored by diversification with nitrogen-fixing trees and the cultivation of indigenous tree species that produce nutritious and marketable products. Biodiversity conservation studies indicate that mature cash crop systems, such as cacao and coffee with shade trees, provide wildlife habitat that supports natural predators, which, in turn, reduce the numbers of herbivores and pathogens. This review offers suggestions on how to examine these agroecological processes in more detail for the most effective rehabilitation of degraded land. Evidence from agroforestry indicates that in this way, productive and environmentally friendly farming systems that provide food and nutritional security, as well as poverty alleviation, can be achieved in harmony with wildlife.

Read the full report here (1mb PDF)

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, General.

Permaculture designers Mark Garrett and actress Daryl Hanna, Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Meeting Mark Garrett

I can always recall the moment I first meet someone, the impression they made.

But not Mark Garrett.

How many years since I met him? I just can’t say.

He’s one of those understated people, always chipping away at things in the background, just merging into the background of the Permaculture world like a blue heeler dog on a bluestone verandah.

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Plant Systems.

At Hill Top Farm the functions and dynamics of healthy natural ecosystems provide the framework and inspiration for our on-farm decision-making, as well as the structure and content of our Permaculture courses.

Nature has had millions of years to fine tune the process of designing sustainable self-maintaining ecosystems. Natural ecosystems, whether they are rainforests or desert scrublands, do not produce waste or pollution. Non-renewable resources are not part of the system. Natural ecosystems do not need anyone to spread mulch, fertilisers, control pests, weed or mow. They take care of these things themselves.

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Posted by & filed under General.

Usually people participating in a PDC have a land project which they would like to develop using the common sense design principles offered by permaculture. As a side effect, some might feel the urge to make sweeping changes to their life direction during or after doing a PDC. Often a PDC either creates the need for change, or it comes along at a time when people are open to change or indeed craving it.

If one felt the urge to change their career direction after doing a Permaculture Design Certificate course, I guess the most obvious direction would be to become a permaculture design consultant. In my case, I was already a gardener and landscaper so it was a logical and relatively seamless transition for me to move into doing permaculture-oriented garden designs. In fact I had already started this transition naturally, before doing a PDC, motivated by changes which I wanted to make in my working life, in order to have it fit with my own environmental ethics and way of life.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

The precision, complexity, and all-pervasiveness of natural genetic modification leave organisms and ecosystems particularly vulnerable to artificial genetic modification.

by Dr Mae-Wan Ho

Invited lecture at 1st Forum of Development and Environmental Safety, under the theme “Food Safety and Sustainable Agriculture 2014”, 25 – 26 July 2014, Beijing, China.

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here, or with the accompanying powerpoint presentation here.

The new genetics and natural genetic modification

Genetics has been turned upside down beginning the mid-1970s and especially since the human genome was announced in 2000. The tools of genetic manipulation have been advancing and improving in leaps and bounds. Today, geneticists can dissect and analyse the structure and function of genes and genomes in minute detail down to the base sequence of a nucleic acid in one single cell using ‘next generation deep sequencing’ (see Box 1 reproduced from [1]).

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Posted by & filed under Urban Projects.

All photos © Craig Mackintosh

This is not your usual drinking establishment. There’s no music, no dancing, no lights — not even any discussion. And, as the title of this article suggests, all the guests are — as is sometimes the case in drinking establishments — rather slippery characters. But, despite the general dinginess of the place, there are often even queues to get in!

In this article I want to share some successes with slug beer traps, and tell you how you can easily make a very effective trap — by simply repurposing the plastic 1.5 or 2 litre drink bottles that are always too easy to find.

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Posted by & filed under Urban Projects.

This is the first article I’ve written for PermacultureNews.Org, and I’d like to share some Urban Permaculture experiences from Córdoba, Argentina.

One of the most exciting things about Permaculture design principles is that they invite us to improve our environment no matter where we live. However, up until now, the predominant image of Permaculture in Argentina (possibly in many places) is “the countryside”. When I completed my PDC in a semi-rural location here in Argentina, one of the course instructors told us on our first day that we are all part of an “urban exodus”, a movement of city people back to the land. This was, in my view, a bad message for the first day of the course. Most of the course participants were city dwellers, and if the instructor had asked, he would have found that moving out of (or escaping from) the city was not a priority that everyone shared.

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Posted by & filed under Markets & Outlets, Village Development.

Imagine that your small farm or food hub just hired a new employee. Her name is Susan. But she’s not just any employee, she’s an electronic one.

Susan’s the best you’ve ever hired. She does exactly as instructed. She works 24×7, 365 days a year. She’s never grumpy, never calls in sick and never gets tired. She never takes shortcuts and her wage is only pennies per hour.

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Posted by & filed under General.

Photographer Alexey Kljatov takes incredible close-up photos of snowflakes in his backyard in Moscow.

I capture snowflakes on the open balcony of my house, mostly on glass surface, lighted by an LED flashlight from the opposite side of the glass, and sometimes in natural light, using dark woolen fabrics as background.

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

Not socialism, not capitalism… distributism seeks community power.

by Jay Walljasper, On the Commons

Conservatives, progressives and everyone else
likes farmers’ markets, local food,
mom-and-pop stores and other qualities of a
thriving community. Can they all connect
around the commons? (Photo of the Barberton,
Ohio, Downtown Farmers’ Market by the
Barberton Community Foundation under a
Creative Commons license.)

In the early-to-mid-20th Century the Distributists — led by English authors G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc — took a dim view of both socialism and corporate capitalism. As conservatives they did, however, believe in private property — so much they thought it should be “distributed” as widely as possible among the whole population.

At its root, the Distributist movement sought a practical, community-oriented alternative to the inequality of capitalism and the bureaucracy of socialism. To fulfill this vision, Distributists advocated for family farms, family-run businesses, a return to craftsmanship and community self-reliance. When large enterprises were inevitable, such as industrial factories, they advocated worker-run cooperatives to give people a greater share of ownership.

Chesterton noted, “There is less difference than many suppose between the ideal socialist system, in which the big businesses are run by the state, and the present capitalist system, in which the state is run by the big businesses. They are much nearer to each other than either is to my own ideal; of breaking up the big businesses into a multitude of small businesses.”

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