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

In the Urban Permaculture design work that we’re doing here in Córdoba, Argentina, one of the recurring themes that we’re exploring is how to use climbing, edible plants not just for their fruits, but for their ability to resolve microclimate and livability issues such as privacy, windbreak and passive cooling.

In this article, I’d like to share a few examples of how we’re using edible climbers as an important piece of urban design gear.

First, let’s take a look at an example of an inner patio and walkway that we covered up with a hanging organic roof of pumpkin and passion fruit that grows over a trellis system of wall mounted hooks and wire. It’s extremely low-tech and extremely functional.

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BEFORE

This patio is solar facing and normally gets quite hot during the summer, due to the stone tile flooring.

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Posted by & filed under General, Medicinal Plants, Plants.

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Photo: Healing noni and it equally medicinal leaves

One of the many things I’ve learned thus far gardening in Central and South America is just how many plants are edible and medicinal, most of which people generally don’t use, that we in fact never even think to harvest. Of course, many of us who frequent a site such as Permaculture News have soft spot for multiple-purpose plants, especially those with nutritious attributes, but until recently, I’d never approached it as much more than a curiosity, a sort of fun quirk of growing certain plants. I wasn’t making nearly enough of the forest around me, and wasn’t that foolish!

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Posted by & filed under Community, Events, Resources & News, General, Population, Society.

Want-V-Needs

When my son was younger, I spent considerable time trying to make sure he understood ‘wants’ versus ‘needs’. Fortunately, whatever he needed was available: food, water, a place to sleep, clothes to wear, family who loved him. But what he wanted, well, that’s a different story. We battled with wanting every Lego set possible, staying up late even when tired, eating ten cookies instead of two. Imagine a toddler being allowed to do whatever they wanted: chaos would soon reign, with sleep deprivation and sugar overload. Temporary pleasure quickly turns to unhappiness when there’s excess. Perhaps part of that is because we don’t appreciate things as much when they are in constant abundance right in front of us.

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Posted by & filed under Education, General.

Gloves

Photo: Cleaning Shouldn’t Require Protective Gear

A while back, my wife Emma and I made the switch to DIY hygiene products. We were trying to avoid toxic stuff like fluoride, formaldehyde, and many a varied assortment of unsavory uglies found in toothpastes, deodorants, shampoos, and so on. We started this because we didn’t want to damage our health by taking a shower or brushing our teeth. The move also made sense because we were volunteering on eco-farms, many of which asked visitors not to use chemical soaps and such. It seemed another good reason to change. We didn’t want to harm the environment either.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Housing, Animals, Design, Fencing, General.

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Our deer-proof fence is easy to install and doubles as a poultry fence and triples as a trellis on the inside the entire way around!

Prince of Wales Island is known, among other things, for it’s Sitka Black-tailed Deer population. The deer are extremely naive and often wander by as we are having coffee on the beach or working outside. When we bought the place it came with Lucy the pet deer. Everyday she would come up onto the deck for her piece of bread and a scratch behind the ears. Over the years her fawns had fawns, which had fawns. . . which all considered our place their home ground. The family resemblance in the photo is only coincidental!

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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.

beauty-orchard-Haworth

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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