Posted by & filed under Compost, Soil Rehabilitation, Urban Projects, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals.

Worms may not have a backbone, but they are the backbone of our soil. In a suburban garden with no manure-providing animals, being able to dig into your composting worm farm for a handful of black gold is a real cost saver and loop closer. So giving some thought to how that worm farm fits into your overall Zone 1 system — as a time, effort and space-saving soil fertility provider — is time well spent.

This low cost worm farm tractor, or stand-alone worm farm set up, relies on a sturdy container that can be moved comfortably by one person, and remain intact while you do so. This is because you often have to move it in areas that are ‘standing room only’ in the confines of your urban plot. I now have four of the following worm farms, but the worms are breeding so fast on one family’s kitchen and garden scraps, cardboard, paper, and coffee grounds, that I’ll be adding another unit to my tractor soon.

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Posted by & filed under Society.

We have expanded our right to live on the earth to an entitlement to conquer the earth, yet conquerors of nature always lose. To accumulate wealth, power, or land beyond one’s needs in a limited world is to be truly immoral, be it as an individual, an institution, or a nation state… it is our children’s world which is being destroyed. It is therefore our only possible decision to withhold support for destructive systems, and to cease to invest our lives in our own annihilation. Cooperation, not competition, is the very basis of existing life systems and of future survival. – Bill Mollison, from Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual

When talking to children and teens, I’ve been known to describe adults as kids with bigger shoes (and hopefully better hair). They laugh at this, but are surprised at the comment. After all, we teach young people to look up to adults with respect, because of our knowledge, experience and the care that we give to our children. But the question is: at what point does a child turn into an adult? It is a process that takes place over hundreds of decisions, of learning how to do things for ourselves, being responsible for our actions, and hopefully maturing after making mistakes. I’m in the process of raising a teenager, which is almost as interesting as raising a toddler, when a human first starts to interact with the world around them. The difference is that with a teenager their awareness relates to relationships and figuring out the rules of society. Since many of those rules are contradictory, the process is complicated. As a society, we prize individualism above cooperation and personal gratification over giving; children and teens see this reality, despite being told otherwise.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, People Systems, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development.

Too often, people feel checked out of politics — even at the level of their own city. But urban activist Alessandra Orofino thinks that can change, using a mix of tech and old-fashioned human connection. Sharing examples from her hometown of Rio, she says: "It is up to us to decide whether we want schools or parking lots, recycling projects or construction sites, cars or buses, loneliness or solidarity."

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Land, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Conservation, Swales, Water Harvesting.

This (unfortunately low-res) video shares the clear, practical benefits of bringing sensible low-tech Permaculture water harvesting techniques such as swales to our landscapes. In Maharashtra, India, swales are restoring the hydrological cycle, bringing dried up wells and springs back to life, and stopping erosion of the precious soils that subsistence farmers depend on.

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees.


Trailer only – watch full video here

34 Years ago Dano Gorsich asked his old permaculture teacher, Bill Mollison, what he should do with his land on the island of Molokai in Hawaii?

Bill explained how he should design his tropical house, how it should face to capture the sea breezes, the sun angles, slope and orientation. Bill also suggested that Dano could earn a living by growing fruit and vegetables and then selling them to his neighbours. Dano literally took this advice to heart and set out to follow it to the letter. Bill Mollison visited Dano over the years afterwards and featured his small garden in his definitive book Permaculture — A Designers’ Manual.

Dano fell off the Permaculture radar for some years, concentrating on selling boxes of fruit and vegetables to his loyal neighbours. This system allowed him to educate his four daughters and put them through university.

Geoff Lawton recently met Dano on the Island of Maui whilst teaching an Earthworks Course and learning of Dano’s 34 Year old Food Forest system.

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Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Seeds.


Saving wildflower seeds can be a great way to spread biodiversity
– like this selection harvested by Josie Jeffrey

Having learned some background knowledge on why you would want to save seeds in the first place (see Part I), you may now be wondering how to go about doing it.

There are many ways to do this, and though it can be as simple as keeping a few leftover tomato seeds from your salad, you can gain a lot more success in growing and certainty of what you are actually saving if you understand a few basic practical techniques.

Thanks to the Heritage Seed Library (1), run by Garden Organic (2), UK, I now feel equipped to share these basics in a guide which hopefully will help you to preserve biodiversity and encourage more plant growing.

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Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants.

In this intriguing talk, biologist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim introduces us to rare plant species from isolated islands and regions of Africa. Meet the shape-shifting benjoin; the baume de l’ile plate, which might offer a new treatment for asthma; and the iconic baobab tree, which could hold the key to the future of food. Plus: monkey apples.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

The PRI Maungaraeeda, Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) will be running Permaculture Certificate and Diploma courses. These career courses are not government accredited, but are fully sponsored by PRI Maungaraeeda.

In 2015 we will start our inaugural Certificate and Diploma courses. These courses are:

  • The Certificate of Permaculture Farm Leading Hand
  • The Diploma of Permaculture Demonstration, Teaching and Consulting.

These are targeted career courses, only for people who wish to make a career out of Permaculture. The objective of the courses are to train people to run a Permaculture Demonstration and Training site (Certificate) and to set up a PRI Master Plan site, be a confident consultant on other people’s properties and to be able to apply to become a PRI accredited teacher (Diploma).

The Certificate is a 12-month program. The Diploma is a 24-month program, with the Certificate program taking up the first 12 months of the Diploma. We have decided to offer these courses on a scholarship basis, as part of our return of surplus. This means there is no monetary cost for participants (food and board are included), but we do require a time commitment. These courses are not for the faint hearted! We expect total commitment for your nominated time (12 or 24 months). The days will be long and you will be learning new things every day.

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

Our visions of the future are defined, like the film Interstellar, by technological optimism and political defeatism.


Yawn: "Hey, we can make it out here!"

“It’s like we’ve forgotten who we are,” the hero of Interstellar complains. “Explorers, pioneers, not caretakers…. We’re not meant to save the world. We’re meant to leave it.” It could be the epigraph of our age.

Don’t get me wrong. Interstellar is a magnificent film, true to the richest traditions of science fiction, visually and auditorally astounding. See past the necessary silliness and you will find a moving exploration of parenthood, separation and ageing. It is also a classic exposition of two of the great themes of our age: technological optimism and political defeatism.

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Posted by & filed under Health & Disease.

Frequent use of mobile and cordless phone link to malignant brain tumour confirmed in new comprehensive analysis based on the largest number of cases in Sweden; 3G phones more damaging than 2G, and children more at risk; “current guidelines for exposure should be urgently revised”.

by Dr Mae-Wan Ho

The latest analysis includes pooled data from two case-control studies of malignant brain tumours in Sweden diagnosed during 1997-2003 and 2007-2009 compared with controls matched on age and gender. Mobile phone use increased the risk of glioma (the most common form of malignant brain tumour) up to 3 fold with a latency period of >25 years from first exposure. Cordless phone use increased the risk of glioma up to 1.4 fold in the >15-25 year latency group. The highest risks were found for tumours on the same side of the brain that the phone is used and on the temporal lobe next to the phone [1]. In addition, 3G phones appear more damaging in increasing the risk more than 4-fold with latency period >5-10 years. And people who began using mobile phones before the age of 20 are at higher risk than older age groups.

These findings do not come as a surprise. They confirm a string of previous studies (see [2] Wireless Phones and Brain Cancer and other articles in the series, SiS 51). The principal investigator Lennart Hardell, a professor of oncology at University of Örebro in Sweden first warned of the link between mobile phones and brain tumours in a paper published in 1999 [3].

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects.

Communities are often built like forests – without a master plan. It all starts with one seed. Artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn create community art by painting entire neighborhoods. The first colorful seed was planted in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and ended up spreading throughout the world. Their success lies in involving those who live there, and throwing barbecues! Throughout their talk, you will be able to see most of the permaculture principles being put to use, almost step by step. They observed and interacted, accepted feedback, integrated rather tan segregated, found slow solutions, and valued the marginal amongst other things. For more about this inspiring project, check out Favela Painting.

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