Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society.

Samuel Alexander (1), Simplicity Institute

Climate change is not ‘a problem’ waiting for ‘a solution’. It is an environmental, cultural, and political phenomenon which is reshaping the way we think about ourselves, our societies and humanity’s place on Earth. — Mike Hulme

1. Introduction

In recent years the notion of a ‘carbon budget’ has entered the lexicon of climate science (e.g. IPCC, 2013; Meinshausen et al, 2009). This concept refers to the estimated maximum amount of carbon emissions that can be released into the atmosphere in order to retain a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature levels below a 2°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. This is the global temperature threshold reaffirmed during the Copenhagen conference in 2009 but which many climate scientists argue should be revised downward (see, e.g., Jordan et al, 2013). Although the science underpinning the carbon budget is increasingly robust (see Le Quere et al, 2013), many scientists, politicians, and the broader public have been slow to recognise its radical socio-economic and political implications.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Housing, Bird Life, Fencing, Livestock, Urban Projects.

I started my journey with chickens with two lovely ex-battery hens who were so friendly and were real pets. However, they made short shrift of my garden and tended to wander everywhere into other people’s lawns. No matter how often I clipped their wings, they kept getting out. Although I really loved those two characters, they were causing problems for me and my neighbours. Sadly, they were subsequently stolen and so I decided to give Silkies a try.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Society, Village Development.

Imagine if Tom Vilsack (whose Wikipedia biography does not list any experience whatsoever with farming or farmers prior to his appointment as the United States Secretary of Agriculture) emerged from his offices to find a cow tethered on the street outside and protestors informing him that it was his task to milk her. This was exactly what happened in Norway during 2012 protests to changes in agricultural subsidies for Norwegian farmers. (1) The cow outside the council buildings sent the message that farmers and their unique sets of skills are vital to the health of our communities and food systems and are undervalued and underestimated in their complexity and import by citizens and politicians with little understanding of what farmers do.

Norwegian agricultural policy is interesting to consider because they have taken such a drastically different path from our own here in the USA. Historically, Norway has fought hard to preserve small farms, while America has focused on maximizing production, at any cost. In a 2003 report from the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Knut Hei writes,

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Compost, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Nurseries & Propogation, Seeds, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Trees.

When most people think about nurseries and plant propagation, they conjure up rows and rows of black pots and the smell of moist palettes of artificial fertilizer. But there is no natural law which dictates this to be the only, or even a preferable way in which to propagate plants.

While in-situ propagation from seed has been proven to be the healthiest and most energy efficient means of mass propagating most plants, sometimes you need to create sheltered controlled conditions for certain plants to get established.

If you are in a situation where plant pots are not available, if you cannot direct seed your plants, or you want to avoid the pots altogether, there are several other methods to get plants established.

Here I share a few ideas about natural, simple nursery establishment and protocols.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Demonstration Sites, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation.

Stolen leaves over yucca plants with banana circle backer

The first time I did it I did so on the sly. I needed some mulch for a piece of dried up clay I was hoping to convert into a forest floor upon which I planned to grow a food forest. The piece of land next door was thick with leaves, and having seen the groundskeeper over there laboring with a rake on prior occasions, I decided to give him a hand. One morning, I started collecting leaves on a tarp, dragging them to the spot I was working on. I did it several times that day, and several times the next until I’d covered a space of about twenty square meters ankle-deep in leaves.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, General.

Inside a spare hotel room, on one of the most northern places on earth, something magical is happening. Plants are growing, worms are composting waste, and people are feeling re-connected to food in a world of mining and monetary extraction.

Meet Benjamin Vidmar, Director of Polar Permaculture Solutions. Benjamin has been working on creating a permaculture system in Svalbard, part of a group of Islands in the Arctic Ocean. A maze of bureaucracy and complexity, with contested land use and a transient population, are some of the challenges he is facing.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Alternatives to Political Systems, Bio-regional Organisations, Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Networking Sites, People Systems, Village Development.

Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture

Andhra Pradesh in India has been called the pesticide capital of the world.  Pesticides cost farmers a lot of money.  To recover these costs the fruit and vegetables the farmers produced had to be expensive too.  This put them out of reach for many poor families.  Not only that, but farmers themselves had been hospitalised due to pesticide poisoning.  This is why Self Help Groups of poor rural women in 8033 villages decided to help farmers learn to reduce their costs by gradually reducing their dependence on pesticides.  Farmers can support one another, since many in a village change their farming techniques at the same time.  Some farmers have seen their profits increase by 100%, and the schemes have gained support from the state government.

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Posted by & filed under Conferences, Courses/Workshops, Social Gatherings.

“Honouring the Past, Transforming the Future: The Challenge to Permaculture”

What: 12th Australasian Permaculture Convergence
Northwest Environment Centre, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia
When: Monday, 9 March 2015 at 6:00pm — Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 10:00pm (AEDT)

Event details:

The concept of Permaculture was developed in Tasmania in the late 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, as a positive and proactive response to the many pressing social and ecological challenges of our time. From humble beginnings, Permaculture has spread to just about every corner of the globe, is being practiced in many different climates and applied in settings ranging from urbanised cites to rural communities. Permaculture is a holistic design system for creating sustainable human settlements and is based on ethics and principles that can be applied to all facets of our daily lives from food systems, the built environment, through to governance and economics.

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Posted by & filed under Insects.

An old queen (as evidenced by her tattered wings) surrounded by her attendants

Did you know that male honeybees have no father, but they do have a grandfather? That any fertilized egg can develop into a worker bee or a queen bee depending on what the hatched larva is fed? That bees feed their young a white, protein rich substance called “royal jelly” secreted from a gland in an adult bee’s head? (We would look pretty funny if our milk glands — our breasts — were on our heads!) Hungry for more? Here we go!

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

When in the graduation celebration of a PDC in 2009 with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, I made a promise to Bill to translate his Introduction to Permaculture book into Chinese and get it published in China, the most populous country in the world. After teaming up with Pingping Li, a professor of agriculture and ecology in China, the Chinese version of "Introduction To Permaculture" has finally been published by Jiangsu University Press. The book is in Simplified Chinese, to suit the mainland Chinese readers.

China, the place that was heavily featured in the book Farmers of Forty Centuries, the place that gave us the sage Laozi who believes in the "trinity" of heaven (climate), land and people, the place where hundreds of mullions of peasants live, who derive most of their life-supporting nutrition for the whole family from 1/4 acre small-holdings, with a surplus. During my seminars in China, brainstorming permaculture, I found that many concepts in permaculture are very easily delivered because they are viewed as "common-sense", and the techniques promoted by permaculture seem familiar to the people, or are recoverable in memory. They already had a community agriculture network, and now a permaculture farm. Most of the bits and pieces are there — what I found was missing is better integration. And this is where permaculture, as a design science, comes in. Thus I sincerely hope the publication of this book fill that gap.

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