Scott Gallant

Making Microbes: Fungal vs Bacterial Soil Life

Fungal vs Bacterial Soil Life feat

Organic gardeners and farmers understand the need to cultivate and protect soil microorganism life. The strategies to do this involve mulching, composting, and avoiding soil disturbance as much as possible. We know that these strategies, in addition to many others, encourage a healthy soil-food-web. The soil-food-web is the interconnected matrix of invisible (fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes) and visible (earthworms, beetles, arthropods) creatures that have a whole host of functions which […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Food, Familiar Stranger

Green Chilis preserved in oil

When I was a teenager thumbing rides around Mexico, I quickly realized my vegetarianism would not survive. If my friend Valente and I got in some dusty car with a family that brought us back to a tin-roofed house and gave us chicken soup, we ate that soup. The kindness of strangers humbled my big picture ideas of right and wrong.

Wherever food comes from, as soon as it touches human hands, human mouths, it transforms into an intimate thing, a thing we all need, a thing we all want. As soon as it’s prepared, or shared, or savored, it carries with it something beyond itself, a new richness. A new complexity.

Read More >
Shares Comments

Transition Ethics: The Art of Compromise

Transition Ethics feat

This article originally appears in the NuMundo Transformational Times Blog. The Ranch was recently named a NuMundo Impact Center. Permaculture Design is many things to many people, but one of its pillars is a set of three ethics. These as originally laid out by Bill Mollison are • Care of the Earth • Care of People • Redistribution of the Surplus These are our primary directives for how to act […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Tropical Orchard Establishment Practices and Concepts: Part 3 of 3

Pili - feat

I’m building an agroforest. An orchard of tropical fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, tubers and vines. And this is how it is happening. This is the final piece on the tropical orchard establishment patterns we use at Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center in Costa Rica. Part 1, found here, looked in depth at our site goals, layout patterns, and water management. Part 2 continued this succession of thought into […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Tropical Orchard Establishment Practices and Concepts: Part 2 of 3

feat Coppice 2 -

I’m building an agroforest. An orchard of tropical fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, tubers and vines. And this is how it is happening. This article continues the examination of the tropical orchard establishment patterns and techniques practiced at Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center in Costa Rica. Part 1, found here, examined the goals of our site, the alley cropping layout pattern, and how we manage water. Part 2, below, […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Tropical Orchard Establishment Practices and Concepts: Part 1 of 3

Scene from above - feat

As I land back in the rural town of Mastatal, Costa Rica after my yearly rainy season sojourn to the states, I can’t help but step back and marvel at the sheer growth of biomass that has occurred on our farm. Even with the drought-inducing effects of El Niño at play, the ample rain and sun in this humid tropic pre-montane region combined with our strategic planning for soil and […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Patterns for Experiential Learning

pl05Plaster

Co-Authored by Laura Killingbeck How do we learn? When we engage with new information, what enhances or inhibits our ability to move it from our short-term working memory to our long-term reference memory? Each individual learns in different ways: visual, auditory, tactile, etc, but at the heart of all these mechanisms lie a few shared roots. The power to tap into these roots of learning is what makes it possible […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

The Art and Practice of Tadelakt

The art of Tadelakt has for centuries been steeped in mystic and wonder. Few who leave the fantastic halls of the Marrakesh palaces or the beautifully reconstructed Riads will fail to notice the glimmering monolithic plaster that twinkles in the light as it seamlessly extends over these proud buildings. Tadelakt is a plaster finishing technique historically used in north Africa to protect earthen structures. It is specifically valued for its […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Permaculture Site Establishment: Phases of Abundance

An abundance of jackfruit at Project Bonafide in Nicaragua Five years ago I had the opportunity to join a land-based project (Rancho Mastatal Sustainable Education Center in Costa Rica) already eight years into operation. At my arrival I found a site that had focused on infrastructure and program building over its initial life span. This was an important leverage point in building a financial base as an education center, but […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Advice for Developing a Permaculture Internship Program

Timber-frame raisings have become an annual intern group experience There is no better way to gain hands on experience in permaculture than by spending time on an established (or establishing) site and learning what the work entails day-in and day-out. Interning on a site should provide an equal exchange of one’s labor for the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills. This is a risk mitigation strategy: it allows interns to […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Rancho Mastatal: A Permaculture Site Overview (Costa Rica)

A view of Rancho Mastatal through the Zone 1 gardens I’ve had the opportunity to become of one the co-directors for the Rancho Mastatal Sustainable Education Center in Costa Rica over the last five years. It is now my primary home and where I practice and teach permaculture design. The site and all that it encompasses present an established model for groups and individuals interested in building permaculture-based education/demonstration centers. […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Make Use of the USDA’s Unofficial Support of Permaculture

VersaLand fields: Tree shelters protect an emerging 145 acre permaculture farm Even though they do not know it, the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supporting permaculture. You won’t find this word brandied within any official publications, and most extension agents would give you a quizzical look if you brought up a concept such as zonation, yet there exists a language and support system for many of the most […]

Read More >
Shares Comments