Posted by & filed under Design, Earthworks & Earth Resources, Education, General, Land, Storm Water, Surveying, Swales, Water, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

Digging-Swales-Warren

Digging our well-surveyed swales.

I woke up this morning, put on my gum-boots and went out for a walk around our family farm in the rain. This in itself might not seem to be anything special to many folks, yet this was a 2”/5cm rainfall after several intense years of drought here in Southern California. I cannot express how exciting this morning has been for me as I was thinking of our entire thirsty state getting an average 2-6 inches/5-15cm of rain during the past 48 hours. I was also exuberant this morning as today marked our fifth-day after completing an epic and highly successful “Earthworks for Resiliency” course for an area of our farm that was transformed into using earth structures to harvest water for our market garden area.

During the course we installed three large swales (one of them integrated with 150 feet of hugelkultur growing bed), a Zuni Bowl diversion structure, some key drains with associated stone and urbanite “armor,” some one-rock dams/gabions, and we used a keyline plow in the interstitial spaces between the swales for our main crop gardens. We then mulched and cover-cropped all of the sites disturbed by our excavator, tractors, and shovels. It was amazing to see how much was learned and accomplished by the 18 students who participated.

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Posted by & filed under Education, General, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Society.

Being a product of the 1990s British state education system, I grew up with a very ‘conventional’ western mind-set towards science and medicine. I have always been naturally sceptic of medicine applied through plants, even while hearing the tales my grandmother had told me of Camomile lotion helping rashes, and ginger helping a bad stomach. But these were always remedies you purchased in bottles and packets, carefully tested and scrutinised by the infallible knowledge of the modern pharmaceutical scientist. Believing that plants could be used to help alleviate or cure medical problems? That was pure witchcraft, akin to dancing under a full moon on a Tuesday to help a sprained ankle, or rubbing crystals on your eyelids for the flu. To think that only a few decades later, I was putting aside the advice of registered doctors, and getting my medicine from my modest balcony garden.

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Posted by & filed under Design, Earthworks & Earth Resources, General, Land, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Swales.

5 Tufted Romans, 6 American Buffs and one mixed breed when they were about a week old.

It all started with the geese. That’s not to say that they were fault, just that their habits started me on a new line of thinking.

The geese were a gift to myself for my birthday one year. I don’t usually do that but I wanted them and it made a good excuse. Since the hatchery had a minimum of ten goslings, and they sent two extras, I ended up with about seven more than I needed. The trouble was that they were so cute and engaging, that I didn’t want to part with any. That was one of my first mistakes.

Did you know that generally speaking, domestic geese reach their full height within eight weeks of hatching? I did not know that at the time and found it a completely amazing feed conversion rate. What’s even more amazing is that they can do it on good pasture alone.

To say that geese love grass is an understatement. Geese LOVE grass. They love it to the extent that they will pull the roots from the ground to get enough. Obviously this would not be a problem with adequate pasturage for twelve geese. This was yet another reason why we should have culled more than half of our flock early on.

Until that first goose summer, our back hill was well covered by a thick layer of Bermuda grass. I used to cut and dry it like hay to bed the hens and ducks over the winter. The grass kept up until the geese were full-sized. Then it became a losing battle.

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Posted by & filed under Animals, Compost, Design, Energy Systems, Irrigation, Land, Permaculture Projects, Plants, Storm Water, Swales, Water, Working Animals.

Trailer Only – See the full length video here

Every now and then you come across climate that is not so user friendly. It’s in the High, Dry and Cold and Windy desert environment of Nevada’s high country near Reno. A place with many challenges. Sagebrush and horse trails dot the landscape. It is cowboy country.

So what on earth is a Permaculture teacher doing in such a windswept environment?

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Posted by & filed under Community, Economics, Education, General, Why Permaculture?.

Jonathon-and-Jack-fruit

Author: Jonathon Engels

Like many, my introduction to permaculture came in the form of food production. It changed the way I viewed farming, shifting my practice from being one of waging war with nature—constantly tilling, weeding and wasting—to one that teamed up with the plants, soil and even buildings around me. I was already an advocate for organic practices, but this was something altogether different.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Soil, Soil Biology, Working Animals.

Photos © Ingrid Pullen

Worms are an essential part of a permanent agricultural system. At Zaytuna Farm worm farming has been developed into a very productive system. The feed stock we use is the contents of composting toilets and animal manures. The worm farm product is included in the potting mix for the plants grown in the plant nursery of the farm, producing very healthy and productive plants.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community, Community Projects, Development & Property Trusts, Food & Food Support Systems, Food Forests, Permaculture Projects, Plant Systems, Plants, Village Development.

Group-Plant-guilds

Volunteers and community members on site during the training.

“To know is power” Let us then use our brains with every good intent that at the end we come with tired eyes and give to nature more than what she lent”. (Cheire)

I was motivated to learn Permaculture after a one week training on Natural medicines which changed my eating habits. When I learned that permaculture has non rigid guidelines that can meet different needs at different times to achieve a green planet. I got the explanation that permaculture uses simple practical solutions which are achievable by ordinary people. Energy efficiency, organic growing, community finances; making do with the resources one has. Thus permaculture reduces the need to earn.

My initial permaculture experiences led to my involvement in a project to develop a food forest at Umoja Orphanage in Diani Kenya after training in April 2014.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Animal Housing, Building, Energy Systems, General, Permaculture Projects.

This will all make a lot more sense if you’ve read part 1 of this article. But anyway, to cut a long story short, it is about designing a PC demo site and training centre in a little market town called Bonosha, in the south Ethiopian ethnic zone of Hadiya. This is to be the nerve centre of a network of solar-powered community-serving water, WASH and Permaculture projects spanning the surrounding countryside of Shashogo Woreda, like a spiders-web of eco-powered basic living amenities that neither the government nor the private sector have been able to provide for the rural population. I presented a brief history of the organisation, this project and its place in that history in Part 1, as well as the site survey information for the project site. Now we will go over the site design.

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Posted by & filed under Events, Resources & News, Food & Food Support Systems, General, Plant Systems.

All the members of Artist as Family ready to hit the road.

After attending a very interesting edible weeds talk a few months ago I was left with the question of whether the popularisation of such edibles would be detrimental or beneficial to an Australian landscape. Would the harvest of invasive plants help to control their spread, or encourage it? How would promoting the benefits of adding weeds to your diet impact Australians’ attitudes toward the prevalence of introduced species? Does the opportunity to forage for wild plants come with certain responsibilities?

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Posted by & filed under Community, Demonstration Sites, Design, Development & Property Trusts, Earthworks & Earth Resources, General, Permaculture Projects, Swales, Water, Water Harvesting.

Bulldozer Digging Swales from Midwest Permaculture.

The Design

We had been invited by a family in Southern Missouri to assist with the design of a 320-acre farm. They want to transition the land into a Permaculture landscape capable of producing a wide range of perennial foods (nuts, vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc.) as well as livestock (beef and goats).

Over generations, rain has slowly degraded this sloping landscape with a loss of nutrients and topsoil. It is not uncommon for a million gallons of water to wash off this landscape with 1-inch of rain.

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Posted by & filed under Food & Food Support Systems, General, GMOs, News.

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Gardener holding handful of Parisienne Carrots, which are a variety of heirloom carrot. (Photo: Chiot’s Run)

In 2013, the United Nations announced that the world’s agricultural needs can be met with localized organic farms. That’s right, we do not need giant monocultures that pour, spray and coat our produce with massive amounts of poisons, only to create mutant pests and weeds while decimating pollinators and harming human health. Don’t believe the hype: We do not need genetically modified foods “to feed the world.”

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