Food Plants - Perennial, Material, Plant Systems, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier April 15, 2013
This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.
Though we rarely think of it, starch is the number two most used carbohydrate in industry, coming just after cellulose which is used in great quantities in papermaking. Unlike many industrial crop categories, there is no “synthetic starch” being made from fossil fuels. The situation, however, is not much better. All, or virtually all industrial starch comes from annual food crops, grown in conventional tillage systems. In fact, 17% of European grain goes to papermaking every year. So first we’re using annuals where perennials might fill the gap, and second we’re using food to make cardboard and drywall. This seems like a waste of food, and if we want to minimize the use of annuals we need to find another strategy. Efforts are also underway to genetically modify plants to produce particular starches useful to industry. Given the wide range of starch types available in nature, and the ingenuity of chemists, I think this is unnecessary and somewhat alarming.
Osage orange is a perennial inedible starch with excellent potential as a
feedstock for industrial products like cardboard and bioplastics.
It is cold- and drought-hardy. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Gabions, Land, Material, Roads, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland March 1, 2013
We previously published a report on the development of our site’s flood control and defense infrastructure in October 2010. This is an update on that which goes on to describe some of our plans for developing that infrastructure more in the future.
Just to recap on the basics of our situation: in times of rain, the run-off from the western part of Karat Konso Town (South Ethiopia) runs down the side of the road which heads uphill to the south of our site. This flash flood creates a temporary stream which impacts the south eastern corner of the site. The flash floods can be pretty intense.
Western town watershed, running past SE corner of SFEL site
Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Material, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Swales, Terraces, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 31, 2013
This excellent little 20-minute video does a great job of covering the basics of watershed management and landscape rehydration. You won’t hear the words ‘permaculture’ or ’swales’ once, but it’s clear that both are in use here, to great effect. If we can get these simple but profound concepts driven into social consciousness, and applied broadscale, we would see that investment in labour pay dividends, as many of our increasingly expensive natural disasters and resource limitations would simply disappear, as we reinstate nature’s own moderating capabilities.Comments (7)
Aid Projects, Earth Banks, Gabions, Land, Material, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Swales, Terraces — by Daniel Halsey November 29, 2012
This year I have been in Haiti after a downgraded hurricane, and then in New Jersey a week after Sandy. While in New Jersey two tornadoes passed by my old house. What do they have in common?
In each case water was being limited in its flow by developement or the removal of natural structures that diffuse its energy. While working in Haiti and trying to build large enough swales to catch water, it was instantly apparent after the first five-inch rain that what we needed to do was slow it down and catch the sediment.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Fencing, Irrigation, Land, Material, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Potable Water, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Swales, Trees, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water — by Alex McCausland October 25, 2012
Editor’s Note: Regular readers will have appreciated Alex McCausland’s regular and comprehensive reports from precariously positioned Ethiopia, and the great work he and his team have been doing on the ground. If you want to learn practical permaculture and gain real-world permaculture aid work experience in a location rich in agricultural history, then please consider taking Alex’s next PDC, to be held in southern Ethiopia between December 10 — 22, 2012. Your tuition fees directly support this important educational aid work.
The Hafto Solar Community Water Project site project is a solar powered water supply facility for the surrounding community of Hafto in the Hadiya Zone, South Ethiopia. The project was planned and implemented by a German NGO called DWC and is owned and run by a local NGO called SMART. The facility supplies water to about 1500 surrounding community members within an approximate 1km radius. There is a small charge for the water of about 0.01 Ethiopian Birr per liter (1$=18Birr) which covers the running costs of the project. The community members currently come to the site with donkeys to collect the water in jerry-cans which they take home for use.Comments (3)
Aquaculture, Compost, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Fungi, Irrigation, Land, Material, Potable Water, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Surveying, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Richard Perkins September 15, 2012
A reflection following a great time finding solutions for dryland water management in Portugal
I’m enjoying working on a job connecting up extensive irrigation in the mountains of Extremadura, Spain, and relaxing for a couple of days after a successful and effective Dryland Water Management intensive at the budding Permaculture Institute, Vale De Lama, near Lagos in the South of Portugal.
This week we have been looking at all aspects of water design, focusing mostly on this varied site where all manner of interventions are necessary to halt the onslaught of the desertification process and regenerate the diverse mixed polycultures and rich soils that had a biological diversity comparative to more tropical regions at one time.
Something that is clear after working so intensively with integrative and regenerative systems design around the globe in different climate zones is that most places I turn up at have been degraded heavily and the localized cultural approach and ecological understanding is often limited by familiarization with the current conditions and often destructive agricultural practices.Comments (7)
Aid Projects, Building, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Irrigation, Land, Material, Potable Water, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Juan Pablo Martinez September 13, 2012
To be sure, buying a nice piece of land requires a lot of effort and a few happy accidents. Things have to happen ‘just right’ in order for you to acquire a highly valuable property with little cash and a lot of complications, but, who said it was going to be easy?
As with everything in this life, when you overcome great complications, you feel like you’ve accomplished a great thing, and tend to think that things afterwards will be easier. Most of the time, things go the other way: once you’ve proved to yourself that you can do great things, you’ll probably find an even greater challenge lying ahead, so you can prove again that you have more capabilities than you ever thought you had.
So, this has been the case with La Angostura project.Comments (8)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Courses/Workshops, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Irrigation, Land, Material, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Robert Cork March 9, 2012
Just outside of Arusha, Tanzania, is ‘Kesho Leo’– a sustainable home for vulnerable women and children operated by FoodWaterShelter. The principles of permaculture underpin the daily lives of the Kesho Leo residents. It is currently the home of seven families, each headed by a Tanzanian mama who cares for up to five children, including orphans. In addition to the daily essentials, Kesho Leo provides the many other aspects that a ‘home’ needs; access to family and social support, access to education and health, and very importantly – access to community.
Permaculture meeting the needs of the Kesho Leo residents
Revolving around the community and education aspects of Kesho Leo are the permaculture systems that strive to provide all of the food, water and energy needs of the residents. Basic needs of water, sanitation and power are provided through rainwater harvesting, innovative batch compost toilet systems, and solar power.Comments (7)
Community Projects, Compost, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Material, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Urban Projects, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Vanessa Fernandes October 18, 2011
The creation of soil biology and composting and the generation of soil health and fertility as the foundation of regenerative agriculture is a major part of any organic or permaculture design gardening process. It is no different at the Gold Coast Permaculture site at 270 Ferry Road where the creation of soil is a major priority for the group as we expand our operations to include a large community garden and double the size of our urban agriculture demonstration block.
In order to achieve this, Gold Coast Permaculture has decided it really should walk the talk. So, some of our members with both the organisational and “do” capability have been out connecting with different businesses in the community and tapping into waste streams. As a result, over 40 cubic metres of compost has progressively been started over the last three months with the first five metres being ready for use by mid-October. This is no mean accomplishment given that the only inputs outside of the composting materials are minimal numbers of bodies and compost forks.
Two of the four compost windrows built solely from local waste streams
Conservation, DVDs/Books, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Limonia, Material, Natural Swimming, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Roads, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Surveying, Swales, Terraces, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Owen Hablutzel July 14, 2011
The volume reviewed below comes highly recommended for all Permaculturists working in or around any water channels, and particularly on the broad-acre. While the methods happen to apply most immediately in drylands, they will apply directly anywhere that erosion, down-cutting, rapid gully formation, and other forms of channel incision occur. Keep in mind that these techniques will also apply in ephemeral channels that only carry water during rare rain storms, and are otherwise ‘dry.’
Importantly, even if you are working more within mesic environments and do not see a lot of actively incising channels, just the knowledge you will gain about stream dynamics and working with various stream powers and flood-regimes will be applicable and invaluable to your work. These factors, such as the ‘bankfull’ flood, and the specific inter-relations and ratios of multiple stream variables remain the same as basic physics of water flow no matter what the environment. These physics will dictate exactly where and where not to place any kind of built structure within an active water channel, and enable you to predict results of your efforts with much greater precision. How many of us doing this kind of work have lost stream structures to a “gully-washer”? The knowledge and approach in this book could have saved many a headache, cash outlay, and enabled construction of more durable, persistent, and ultimately useful work.
Conservation, Dams, Earth Banks, Irrigation, Land, Material, Natural Swimming, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Gordon Williams April 7, 2011
On the 31st of January the Permaculture Earthworks course at Zaytuna Farm began with good weather and a group of enthusiastic students ready to see the process of laying the groundwork for functional rainwater harvesting features in landscapes. During the week a variety of works were conducted across the property, including a new dam and swale, swale pipe crossings, building site levelling and, to make everyone’s life a little bit easier, the excavator divided some clumping bamboo.
The first task for the 25-ton excavator was to construct a ridge point dam connected to the end of an existing swale, so as to increase catchment. If the dam were to be built independent of the swale it would not naturally fill. The primary purpose of this dam is to increase the volume of water stored on the property at a height where it can be gravity fed to areas below for use.Comments (16)
Land, Material — by Andrew Perlot
As the cold wind howled outside, I was rattling around the confines of my home, going a little stir crazy. The winter of 2009 had been long and cold in Connecticut. Although the snow had melted by late March, frost still regularly visited overnight and I knew my desire to get out, and plant, wouldn’t be realized for several months. But, even if my lettuce and spinach couldn’t survive outside right now, the idea of being productive and doing something in my garden had taken hold of me.
But what could I do?
A thought had been growing in the back of my mind for several days: build a raised bed garden. It would be simple enough to just toss soil between some wooden slats, but I had something more permanent and aesthetically pleasing in my mind.Comments (1)
Building, Eco-Villages, Energy Systems, Material, People Systems, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Rhamis Kent December 14, 2010
I’ve recently been doing research on Earthships after being formally introduced to them while talking to my friend Paul "Ringo" Kean. For those who don’t check this website often, Ringo is a professional earthmover who is one of our more skilled PC field operators, having worked with the likes of Darren Doherty – definitely one of our most valued, skilled, and experienced people.
Michael Reynolds is the gentleman credited with creating this concept and housing technology. It’s worth a look and is very "permaculture" in its functioning and outlook. Credit also goes to commenter Chloe Wolsey for previously introducing the topic of Earthships on this site:
Earthships 101 parts I & II:
Animal Forage, Earth Banks, Food Forests, Land, Material, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Structure, Swales, Terraces — by Jonathan Chan April 19, 2010
During my relatively short time in the Permaculture movement I have only heard Vetiver mentioned a few times. Could it be that this profoundly important pioneer is not getting the attention it deserves? Although commonly and extensively used in permaculture sites in some parts of the world, its uptake in Australia in particular seems to be slow. Why would this be happening? How could a plant with such beneficial qualities be so disregarded? My stay with John Champagne of the Bega Valley, NSW, ingrained the great importance of this plant and introduced me to a few of many possible applications of the grass.
Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Food Forests, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Material, Natural Swimming, Rehabilitation, Roads, Soil Conservation, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Kym Kruse January 9, 2010
The Mushroom Dam overlooking the beach area
It’s taken a while to find the time to sit down and report on Part B of our earthworks here at Rosella Waters, near Cairns in far North Queensland. Phase I Part A was documented whilst the process was taking place. This latest update however will rely on memory and hurried notes made during the process, together with numerous photos. Large excavations such as the two large dams we constructed in part A are considerably easier to direct and far less time consuming than the finer detail work using smaller machinery as we experienced in putting in Part B.Comments (6)