Aid Projects, Community Projects, Land, Rehabilitation, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 13, 2012
Those who watched The Man Who Stopped the Desert (trailer here), will want to follow up with this short video — What Yacouba did next….
Yacouba Sawadogo has learnt something we all need to realise — that we can be a positive element on this planet, through observation and working with natural systems. The methods Yacouba utilises could, if taken up with widespread enthusiasm, re-green the entire Sahel — and arid regions worldwide. These techniques are not complicated. Indeed, any permaculturist with a rudimentary understanding of soil science will appreciate the logic behind them. Only recently, after 30 years of stubborn perseverance, Yacouba is now getting some funding to enable him to train farmers in his local region. Let’s hope Yacouba finally reaches a tipping point in his soil-revitalising outreach.Comments (8)
Building, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Land, Population, Retrofitting, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by David Holmgren July 31, 2012
Introduction by Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute: I’m pleased to announce that David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, has just published a Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future."
Sometimes well-meaning ‘green’ people like to imagine that the eco-cities of the future are going to look either like some techno-utopia — like the Jetsons’ , perhaps, except environmentally friendly — or some agrarian village, where everyone is living in cob houses that they built themselves. The fact is, however, that over the next few critical decades, most people are going to find themselves in an urban environment that already exists — suburbia. In other words, the houses that already exist are, in most cases, going to be the very houses that ordinary people will be living in over the next few decades (in the developed regions of the world, at least). So while it is important to explore what role technology could play in building new houses in more resource and energy efficient ways, and while there is certainly a place for cob houses, etc., for those who have such alternatives as an option, the suburbs are still going to be here for the foreseeable future. We’re hardly going to knock them all down and start again. It is important to recognise this reality, and not get too carried away with eco fairy tales about some distant future (although there is still a place for such visions). Rather than dreaming of a radically new urban infrastructure, a more important and urgent task is to figure out how to make the best of the existing infrastructure — and that is precisely what David Holmgren does in his Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future." David has been at the forefront of the environmental movement for several decades now, both in Australia and worldwide, and this essay is another example of how he constantly pushes at the edge of the sustainability debate. He is a penetrating thinker that deserves our most serious attention.
Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future
(Simplicity Institute Report 12i, 2012)
1. Suburbia as Default Human HabitatComments (6)
Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems, Land, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alice Gray July 28, 2012
It was on the second week of the PermaNegev course that I arranged a visit to the small village of Herbaiet a Nabi in the south Hebron Hills. We were going to inspect the renewable energy installations put in place there by the Israeli NGO Comet-ME (www.comet-me.org), and to gain a better understanding of the politics of dispossession that form the ever-present background to the lives of the rural Arab communities of the Palestinian West Bank and the Israeli Negev. Since our focus for the week was ‘sustainable living: harvesting resources and managing wastes’, this fitted in well with the program, and was a great opportunity for students to see permaculture principles being applied on a number of levels, in a very challenging situation. As it turned out, the trip worked even better than I had originally planned, and gave much food for thought, some of which I am still digesting!Comments (5)
Developments, Energy Systems, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems, Trees — by Philip A. Rutter July 27, 2012
In any attempt to comprehend a puzzle, or choose a new path forward, the first requirement is to see and comprehend each of the possibilities. We wish to bring to the attention of the energy community a potential food and biomass energy paradigm, previously unknown, to your considerations.Comments (11)
Compost, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation — by Briana Lyon July 20, 2012
One of the first projects for anyone who wants to garden is building a garden bed. There are some pretty cost effective means for making a fast, aerated and high nutrient garden bed with no digging! This particular method I’d like to share with you has been practiced and written about by many, it is called ’sheet mulching’, and it is a very valuable tool.Comments (6)
Conservation, Dams, Irrigation, Land, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Andrew Millison July 19, 2012
Permaculture seed wizard Don Tipping takes us on a 10 minute animated tour of the epic Seven Seeds Farm in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon, USA. The farm was designed using permaculture principles and keyline patterning. We follow the water system from top to bottom, and then the amazing downstream effects are revealed. This video was produced by Andrew Millison as part of the course content for his online Advanced Permaculture Design Practicum, Hort 485, taught through the Horticulture department at Oregon State University’s Extended Campus.Comments (5)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Fencing, Land, Livestock, Working Animals — by Dan Palmer July 18, 2012
In late 2009 we were engaged to complete a design for a ¼ acre block in the Melbourne suburbs. It was for a family of four and the husband in particular was keen to grow lots of food.Comments (4)
Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Land, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alex McCausland July 17, 2012
Two hundred kilometers south of Addis we turn left at a little town called Achamo, and dive off the tarmac into a dusty, bumpy adventure somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the green rolling steppes of the south Ethiopian countryside. This is my first foray into Hadiyya country. We’ve just passed Siltie, my own tribe (by marriage). We’re en route into the deep south, but this little foray off the usual 14 hour slog down to Konso is going to be something different. The countryside is all populated. Open farmland, mostly beans and maize, dotted with little settlements. Donkeys, gangs of skinny cattle and groups of bearded men out on a Sunday morning stroll punctuate the forty minutes of grinding along the rough climes of the roadway, till we pull into the dusty market town of Bonosha. I call our contact, Tegene, and tell him we’ve arrived. He sends a couple of local lads to show us the way. They jump into the back of the car and direct us out of town. As it turns out, I’m off to do my very first commercial consultancy as a permaculturalist. It’s quite exciting really.Comments (8)
Building, Community Projects, Land, Society, Urban Projects — by Jay Walljasper July 13, 2012
Why we need parks, streetlife, squares, markets, trails, community gardens and other hang-outs more than ever.
by Jay Walljasper, On the Commons
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh
It’s a dark and wintry night in Copenhagen, and the streets are bustling. The temperature stands above freezing, but winds blow hard enough to knock down a good share of the bicycles parked all around. Scandinavians are notorious for their stolid reserve, but it’s all smiles and animated conversation here as people of many ages and affiliations stroll through the city center on a Thursday evening.
A knot of teenage boys, each outfitted with a slice of pizza, swagger down the main pedestrian street. Older women discreetly inspect shop windows for the coming spring fashions. An accomplished balalaika player draws a small crowd in a square as he jams with a very amateur guitarist. Earnest young people collect money for UNICEF relief efforts. Two African men pass by, pushing a piano. Candlelit restaurants and cafes beckon everyone inside.Comments (1)
Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Land, Livestock, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Joel Dunn June 30, 2012
Harvesting oats as green native perennial pasture
grows up between the cereal rows (Seis, 2006)
Pasture cropping is a farmer-initiated land management system that seamlessly integrates cropping with pasture production, and allows grain growing to function as part of a truly perennial agriculture. Annual winter growing (C3) cereal crops are direct drilled into living summer growing (C4) perennial pasture grasses as the pasture sward enters the dormant phase of its growth cycle, allowing year-round growth and eliminating fallow and bare ground. This cereal production for grain and fodder is integrated with an intensive time controlled grazing system. There are important sustainability benefits of maintaining more perennial plants across agricultural landscapes, and the low input costs and flexible nature of the system make it attractive to producers.
Pasture cropping has already captured the imagination of the permaculture community because of its potential to make grain cropping compatible with permanent, regenerative agriculture. This review provides an in depth discussion of the development of pasture cropping systems in the NSW Central West, techniques and strategies of the system, environmental and economic factors, the dissemination of the technology around the Australian cereal-livestock zone, and potential future development and adoption.Comments (9)
Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Courses/Workshops, Land, Rehabilitation, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Owen Hablutzel
The Keyline Contribution to Permaculture
Without Percival Alfred (P.A.) Yeomans and his Keyline concepts Permaculture as we know it would not exist. Bill Mollison is quick to tip his hat toward this debt in the very first paragraph of Permaculture Two: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture. Here, after making the claim that Permaculture is different from all other approaches to agriculture due to its use of “conscious design,” he respectfully qualifies, “with the notable exception of Keyline concepts.”
In fact, most of the major themes that were developed into the permaculture approach were exploratory trails originally blazed by the practical visionary, P.A. Yeomans.(1) His relentless experimentation, fearless ‘trial-and-error’ mistake-making, tireless reflection, ongoing adjustment, and ‘learning by doing,’ (as well as his unique set of skills and knowledge in hydrology and engineering) made him one of the most innovative ‘adaptive managers’ of agricultural history.
The Keyline process he developed was the first farm/ranch planning approach to:Comments (7)
Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Irrigation, Land, Water Harvesting — by Andrew Millison June 28, 2012
Permaculture Elder Tom Ward takes us on a 10-minute animated tour of Wolf Gulch Farm in Southern Oregon, USA. It was designed using permaculture principles and laid out using Keyline patterning. Tom’s narrated journey explores water supply and storage, soil building, wind and air drainage, cropping, and an enlightened perspective on the watershed and the future of farming in harmony with natural forces.Comments (6)
Compost, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Rehabilitation — by Mark Feineigle June 24, 2012
Over the last two years, here in South West Pennsylvania, a snow and wind storm knocked down a few trees in the back yard. This provided both resources and opened up a nice hole in the canopy where I could put those resources to use. The first thing I wanted to do was collect all of the yard refuse, both to see what I had to work with and to view the uncluttered land.
Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Land, Swales — by Zaia Kendall June 20, 2012
A swale dry rock wall built by WWOOFers and revamping some garden beds.
To further improve our kitchen garden swales, we have rock-walled a number of them. This stops erosion of the garden beds, since soil falls or is washed down into the swales. It also creates a beautiful frog and lizard habitat, and levels the garden bed, instead of having it on a slope.
By using the combined resources of WWOOFers and our creek rock, and PDC student Andrew’s experience in rock walling (he showed the WWOOFers how to build the dry rock wall), the swale rock wall took only three days to build. This included getting rock from our creek bed, sorting the rock and laying it. It has made the garden bed more functional and more productive, and as we build the soil and raise the garden beds we can add more rocks to the rock wall to keep all the beautiful soil where it belongs — in the garden bed.Comments (0)
Building, Energy Systems, Land, Retrofitting, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Bob Nekrasov June 14, 2012
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
It turns out that very few of those that do a PDC end up being consultants. It took me a while to actually become a paid consultant and I’ve only been doing it for a little while. I took so long to become one as I truly thought everyone who’d done a PDC would become a consultant and that I would just end up being ‘another consultant’. Wow, was I wrong! Of course, not everyone has to be one, many of us have other interests to pursue, but there are lots of us who do want to be consultants, but become defeated by things like a lack of knowledge, experience, confidence and other obligations (family, secure job, etc.).
What I decided to do for you my friend was to set myself up as an example of what is possible. So at the age of 33, with second child in wife’s belly, I decided to take the plunge and become a full time consultant. We had little money — nothing that would help establish a business. I did, well, jump into it head first. This could be bad advice as I am not into ruining lives! Well, maybe a little bit and for the best, wink wink.Comments (23)