Marcin Gerwin (Poland): For most heads of states, the prime minister of Poland included, the central point of economic policy is maintaining or increasing economic growth. The aim is to encourage people to consume more goods and services every year so that the Gross Domestic Product continues to grow. Do you think it’s a realistic approach?
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Whilst on a tour of the US, Permaculture teacher Geoff Lawton was giving a talk at Montpelier, Vermont, when a young man suggested we film his boss, compost maestro Karl Hammer and his amazing system of feeding compost to his flock of 100-plus chickens, and without feeding them any grain. Chickens live off the compost eating worms and biota and help in the composting process. Nobody thought it was possible, until now. An amazing story.
Go watch the full version here and see which chickens you should buy and what Geoff Lawton is planning to do with his own flock of birds. Watch a series of inspiring videos about how to live an abundant life. It’s all free. Read all the positive endorsements too. People love watching videos that inspire people to action.
Editor’s Note: As is often the case with the Earth Policy Institute (EPI), crucial solutions are largely missing from the article below. I personally believe India’s population is not the problem, but land mismanagement and the prioritising of extractive short-term economic policies. The author, Lester Brown, only touches on solutions (a surface-level mention of water harvesting), instead of bringing it, and a wholesale restoration of the hydrological cycle, to front and centre, along with a host of interconnected methods for improving soil quality, dietary diversity and mitigating climate change. But, I put the post up anyway, as the EPI is good at providing important stats which help us to see why the education and uptake and applicaton of systemic, holistic solutions is so urgent. See links at bottom for some solutions-based articles and videos.
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
India is now the world’s third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India’s grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India’s growing population.
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This is a very simple compost tea recipe which all plants I have used it on have responded very well to. It uses wild plants which are generally abundant throughout Europe, although I am not sure about the rest of the world; you’ll have to look around for yourself.
The ratio I used here is approximately 1kg of plants to 10 litres of water.
Since you may not have scales handy in your garden it might be easier to measure by eye. Two large buckets stuffed full of plants = around 1kg. Don’t worry too much about this, though; it doesn’t have to be exact!
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We wanted to create a natural building out of bamboo and mud on our site in Bangalore, India, as this project involved learning experiences too. However, our professional colleague who was to help us with building this structure couldn’t make it owing to personal preoccupations.
Thus began our experimentation in coming up with a plan to build a bamboo and mud teaching centre. We came up with a simple Mongolian yurt design. We drew pictures and made notes about its proposed structure. A yurt is a nomadic structure used by Mongolians for over 1000 years. They are now being built as permanent structures in Mongolia and other countries, due to its simplicity in design, and as they are inexpensive and fast to build with natural materials that are usually readily available.
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Editor’s Note: It’s hard to overstate the importance of fighting these behind-the-scenes actions by corporate lobbyists and lawyers. See Box 1 on this page to get a small idea of the big consequences of allowing the profit motive to be prioritised over the public good.
Politicians and officials are desperately seeking to justify their transatlantic assault on democracy.
by George Monbiot
Panic spreads through the European Commission like ferrets in a rabbit warren. Its plans to create a single market incorporating Europe and the United States, progressing so nicely when hardly anyone knew, have been blown wide open. All over Europe people are asking why this is happening; why we were not consulted; for whom it is being done.
They have good reason to ask. The Commission insists that its Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should include a toxic mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement. Where this has been forced into other trade agreements, it has allowed big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments(1).
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Publishing giant of fake pharmaceutical journals fame now retracting damning research findings against GMOs and Roundup herbicide on behalf of the biotech industry.
by Dr Mae-Wan Ho and Prof Peter Saunders
Giles-Eric Séralini, a professor of molecular biology at Caen University, led a toxicological study on GM maize and Roundup herbicide involving 200 rats over a period of two years; it found an alarming increase in early death, large tumours including cancers, and diseases of the liver and kidney. The study, published in 2012 by the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) , was by no means the first, nor the only one to show adverse health impacts from GM feed or Roundup herbicide (see  GM Cancer Warning Can No Longer Be Ignored, SiS 56; and ISIS report  Ban GMOs Now for a comprehensive review on the health and environmental hazards of GMOs). It was the latest warning — perhaps the most dramatic — and the most in-depth long-term toxicological study ever done. Significantly, many of the most damaging effects came after 90 days, the officially mandated period of feeding trials for regulatory approval of GMOs.
What followed was a concerted worldwide campaign to discredit the findings, including the appointment of ex-Monsanto scientist Richard Goodman to the newly created post of associate editor for biotechnology at FCT . Soon after Goodman’s appointment, a study by researchers in Brazil also finding potentially harmful effects from GMOs was withdrawn from FCT, but reappeared almost immediately in another journal.
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by Roger RB Leakey, Agroforestry and Novel Crops Unit, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia.
Photo 1: A multifunctional agriculture landscape in Viet Nam with many income-generating
tree-based production systems on hillsides surrounding an area of intensive food production
on the most fertile soils.
The shortage of new land for agriculture and the poverty of smallholder farmers in the tropics are serious constraints on the expansion of modern intensive agriculture to overcome the food crisis. Consequently, there is an urgent need for both the rehabilitation of degraded farmland and for the realization of new income-generating opportunities. This paper presents a tried and tested award-winning (Equator Prize) three-point action plan using biological nitrogen fixation and a “new wave” of crop domestication focusing on marketable and highly nutritious traditional foods. If widely adopted, this package could fill the yield gap of crops such as maize, thereby promoting new livestock enterprises and satisfying global food demand to 2050. It could also create new business and employment opportunities in diversified local rural economies and perhaps help expand agribusinesses.
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The uses and health benefits of Moringa are amazing; some even call it miraculous! It is truly a ‘jack of all trades’ tree that can be a food, fuel, medicine, and tonic! Even if you are not a salad lover, by drying and grinding the leaves it can be added to a traditional food like soups, beans or maybe a fancy cream cheese and spinach dip! You can get all nine essential amino acids (Yes! A complete protein!) and 38% protein! Check back soon for some recipes!!!
The Permaculture Research Institute Zaytuna Farm, Australia, is starting 2014 off with nothing less than a fully accredited Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course. Geoff Lawton will lead a line-up of Zaytuna Farm staff with a specialised 75-hour learning curriculum. It will run for two weeks from Monday the 6th to Friday the 17th of January. The course covers sustainable living systems for a wide variety of landscapes and climates. It includes the application of permaculture principles to food production, home design, construction, energy conservation and generation, and explores alternative economic structures and legal strategies supporting permaculture solutions. We still have a couple of seats available here, so there’s still a chance to get onto this very popular course if you move quick.
The next 10-Week Internship Program offered by Geoff will run concurrently to this PDC. It is a curriculum-based internship program, aimed at fast-tracking the development of permaculture-based knowledge in a wide range of specific subjects. Interns will begin their journey on the 20th of January. Note: This internship is already fully booked, but we have a wait list available for those that are interested. We can notify you if someone drops out before the course starts. Alternatively, some seats are still available on our July Internship Program.
For more information or to book a place please contact Bonnie education (at) permaculturenews.org or Tel. +61 (0)419 741 358.
The year 1999 was a busy one, with the potential of Y2K and “the end of world as we know it”, with the threat of computers failing as the clocks trip over the year 2000 at start of the new millennium. For part of the year I was working as the lead permaculture consultant with a team in Louisiana, USA, on an ex-army ammunition manufacturing plant re-design into an eco-industrial park. We taught many PDCs to locals.
For part of the year I was working in Macedonia after the Kosovo crisis as the lead permaculture consultant in a team to re-design the largest refugee camp in Europe since the Second World War — with 46,000 Muslim Kosovar refugees on 100 hectares — into a permaculture demonstration site and education center. We ended up putting more than 900 locals through PDCs.
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Compost bins can be made of repurposed materials, like these pallets.
Composting doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it require a strong back, large acreage, livestock waste or expensive bins. Even apartment-dwellers or those with physical limitations can put their kitchen waste to work. The following are composting techniques from the simplest to the most strenuous.
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