Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Swales, Urban Projects, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Nicola Chatham January 19, 2011
Editor’s Note: This article was written in mid-December, when Queensland’s rains were nothing like that witnessed of late, and which have caused the catastrophic flooding in many towns and cities across the state. I mention this to ensure people realise Nicola was not being insensitive with timing of a Queensland- and water-based article. Our thoughts go out to all who have suffered in the recent deluges.
Pit-falls, projects and laughs from our Permaculture journey
If women knew diggers looked this good I think swales would pop up like weeds
around the globe. Gee whiz. Beats a four-tonne excavator in my books
– even if it had a swivel bucket.
Chris woke up the other day and declared, “I think I can dig those swales by hand.”
“Super,” I said, “go for it!”Comments (13)
Commercial Farm Projects, Compost, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Structure, Trees — by Jonathan Chan December 22, 2010
Jonathon (Joni) is writing from his volunteer Permaculture position with the Social Policy Ecology Research Institute (SPERI), based at their Farmer Field School, Human Ecology Practice Area (HEPA), located in the Huong Son District, Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam.
Mr Chau and Mr Phuoc
Leaving the lush rain forest setting of HEPA and heading south for two hours, we arrive at Quang Binh Province, the site of another SPERI Farmer Field School (FFS), the Centre of Community Capacity Development (CCCD). Dave and I were on our first field trip as new members of the SPERI community, guided by the fantastic Mr Chau, and fellow Australian permaculturalist Robert Gray. CCCD was to be our base for the next few days as we visited a couple of ‘key farmers’ in the area – farmers who demonstrate what is referred to as ‘eco-farming’ in Vietnam. The first was Mr Phuoc, located in Quan Binh Province. We were told that all permaculturalists who visit Mr Phuoc’s farm get very excited when they see the work he is doing. But I can say that even with this in mind, the experience far outweighed my expectations.Comments (4)
Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Rehabilitation, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland December 18, 2010
We recently submitted a short report on our hot-fast-composting system, which gave some detail on the theory and practice of producing compost in as short a time as 21 days. But Permaculture principals tell us that we should always be looking to yield as many useful products and functions from any process or element as possible and it is obvious that one bi-product of hot-composting is heat. If you get it really right, a heap should reach 80°C, which is literally too hot to touch. Feeling is believing. Once we were getting to that stage with our compost competency I began pondering how we could effectively catch and store some of that heat so that it can be used for a hot shower.
I finally realised that lots of mucking about with coils and heat exchange loops, lagging and insulation etc. could be avoided if we simply have the hot water tank inside the compost heap. Jean Pain, the old French Roi de Compost did something like this in his place, but took it a lot further, even to the point of having a biogas digester inside a cooling jacket inside a giant compost heap. He was able to heat his house and get compost and biogas all out of the one system. Ours is simpler, but the good thing about that is that you don’t have to be a practical genius to do it.Comments Off
Conservation, Irrigation, Land, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Campbell Wilson December 15, 2010
This article talks about some of the design issues you’ll face when constructing a back-flooding swale, the signature of Mr Geoff “Reconstructive Earth Surgeon” Lawton.
It’s a great idea and provides a few additional beneficial functions to a standard valley dam, namely increasing the catchment by whatever length the contour trench wraps around the landscape, as well as utilising any dam overflow quite effectively by spreading it around the landscape and infiltrating it into the soil reserves.
However, water’s erosive potential must be respected and hopefully, as well as making it easier and less daunting for people implementing Earthworks for the first time, my aim in writing this article is to help them avoid some potentially embarrassing, destructive and very expensive mistakes.Comments (33)
Conservation, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 25, 2010
Gabions are one of the crucial feature elements of dry land landscape water harvesting design. A gabion is a leaky rock dam wall built in a wadi, valley canyon or water flow, at a point where there would be a reasonable amount of water caught if there was a dam wall in the same position, but the gabion instead leaks through the rocks, slowly releasing a steady flow of water and retained moisture over time. As the water is slowed down by a gabion, it drops its sediments, organic materials, behind the rock wall. Desert catchments are often large and feature very infrequent rainfall events, and are an actively eroding landscape that is continually being blown away, with sediments either eroded or deposited by the wind if there are wind traps like desert tree systems and forests, but also by water flows which are usually strong and can carry large amounts of organic material and sediments away with them.Comments (9)
Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Building, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Irrigation, Urban Projects, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Geoff Lawton November 17, 2010
The Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (aka ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’) in Al Jawaseri in the Dead Sea Valley (lowest place on earth), continues to develop as we gradually fund the project into action with our own permaculture education programs, volunteers and funding from Muslim Aid Australia and Kids are Sweet of Wisconsin, USA. The male and female shower and compost toilet block is now reaching completion using a basic faralone design system (PDF, with others composting toilet resources here, here, here, here and here). A reed bed has just been built as part of the shower block waste water system so that we can demonstrate grey-water reuse for garden crops. A small nursery has been funded by one of the volunteers involved in this project, Damien McAnany, and it is now producing a selection of vegetable, fruit and tree seedlings. Damien organized his own fund-raising initiatives in the USA then volunteered for a few weeks on site. Other volunteers Jesse and Tanya Lemieux, Eric Seider, Wade Tait, Dave Spicer have all put in time and work to help push the project along. The trees planted on the site have just survived one of the hottest summers on record and are still growing well. The lower areas of the site now have quite extensive vegetable gardens which are coming into their first winter production.Comments (8)
Conservation, Earth Banks, Irrigation, Land, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Swales, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 13, 2010
Permaculture is a connecting system between disciplines and elements in a matrix of design, and swales are a mainframe element. The efficiency of swales is that they can interrupt water surface flow high in a landscape where it is then infiltrated relatively quickly, on contour, and moves incredibly slowly through the landscape soil and subsoil profiles. This becomes a great advantage to the potential productivity of any property, especially a property that is designed to be diverse and interactive with many ecosystem elements. When you design a property this way, a mainframe approach as a consultant designer is:Comments (2)
Conservation, Consumerism, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 12, 2010
As the 21st Century begins as the Age of Drought, we look at three places–Florida, China, and Nevada–where dryness has gone big. In Florida, the world’s most famous swamp, the Everglades, has been turning into a salt flat. In China, vast problems with water pollution have been compounded in some areas by problems of having no water. And Nevada’s Lake Mead, once the largest reservoir in the world, now is given a 50% chance of drying up completely in the next dozen years.
Biological Cleaning, Compost, Conservation, Potable Water, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute November 4, 2010
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once noted that "civilized people ought to know how to dispose of the sewage in some other way than putting it into the drinking water."
The one-time use of water to disperse human and industrial wastes is an outmoded practice, made obsolete by new technologies and water shortages. Yet it is still common around much of the world. Water enters a city, becomes contaminated with human and industrial wastes, and leaves the city dangerously polluted. Toxic industrial wastes discharged into rivers and lakes or into wells also permeate aquifers, making water—both surface and underground—unsafe for drinking.Comments (3)
Conservation, Irrigation, Land, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Samantha Downing October 25, 2010
One of the major assets of our property in Central Victoria is a storm water culvert which brings storm water runoff from a number of roads nearby. Water begins to flow through the culvert whenever we have rainfall of more than 8mm. After 25 years of water pouring onto the property, a large gully has been washed away, and this is one of the places in which Gorse (Ulex europeaus) has found a niche.
This satellite pic shows the course the gully runs and the growth of gorse around it. The main swale bisects the water course and now directs water across the property on contour.Comments (8)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Roads, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Terraces, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland October 8, 2010
One of the biggest challenges of doing Permaculture in a semi-arid place like Konso is the drought-flood hydrology besets in degraded dry-lands. The whole of south Ethiopia has now been so deforested, added to the fact that the global climate is getting completely messed up, that rainfall is now completely unpredictable. The old folks are always talking about it here – “you can’t tell when it will rain any-more, it’s not like the old days….” That makes planning plantings much harder for one thing. The other thing is that when it does rain, it pours.
Our site at Strawberry Fields is placed (purposefully) at the bottom of a watershed and at the junction of this watershed and a larger watershed which carries run-off down the main road from the town.
Rough Topographic sketch of the site at SFEL. Shows approximate
positions of the 3 ridges (R1,R2, R3 and 3 primary gulleys G1, G2 and G3
as well as the Main Gulley on as well as the 2 main flows of run-off
effecting the site.
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor October 1, 2010
Remember the A Call to Large Scale Earth Healing and Lessons from the Loess Plateau post? It was an uber-encouraging look into one of the world’s largest, fastest and most successful earth healing implementations I’ve ever seen. Via the video below (more watchable than the one shared in the previous article) you can take another look, and also learn about similar projects happening in Ethiopia and Rwanda.
To watch a lower-bandwidth version of the film, de-select the “HD” button on right-hand side of the playbar.Comments (8)
Biological Cleaning, Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Gabions, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Nick Huggins September 28, 2010
Story by Nick Huggins.
Video by Patrick Blampied.
For the past month I have been in and out of airports and driving from one end of the Australian continent consulting and talking Permaculture, and one topic that is of great interest to me – the repair of the Australian Landscape.Comments (22)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alex McCausland September 23, 2010
Prior to July 2010 we had been over-using water at Strawberry Fields. This disturbed me for a number of reasons. One was that it was a poor example to the local community who do not have a limitless water supply to spray all over the place. The second was the huge water bills we were receiving. The third was the un-sustainability of using huge amounts of ground-water in a semi-arid area. As project director I had not been in charge of operations on the ground, and I was not able to attack this issue myself, other than by trying to encourage the focusing of the zone 1 irrigated beds into as small an area as possible, with limited success. In July I took over the running of the Permaculture project on the ground and the first thing I did was to begin installing the drip system I had been dreaming of for almost 2 years.Comments (4)
Community Projects, Conservation, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Global Warming/Climate Change, Livestock, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 21, 2010
Some of you will remember the excellent Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration article provided by Tony Rinaudo of World Vision. It shared a rapid and highly effective way to reforest degraded landscapes by simply letting the ‘underground forest’ (the seeds, roots and shoots already existing in the landscape) do what it already wants to do: that being to just grow! Instead of expensive projects with imported seed, nurseries, propagation, watering, etc., Niger has seen net afforestation on a massive scale (over 5 million hectares in Niger alone) by simply educating locals in protecting and pruning the plants already at their feet.Comments (4)