Posted by & filed under Compost, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Structure, Urban Projects.

All photos by David Ashwanden

A lot of permaculture involves utilising waste streams and turning problems into solutions, and I often bring these into practice by looking at what’s available around me and how I can use it effectively.

With this in mind, having come across some old bath tubs, I decided to create some raised beds, building up the soil using a layer mulch recipe rich in a mix of nutrients.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Courses/Workshops, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

Permaculturists everywhere are crazy about patterns. We are taught to “zen-out” so we can observe patterns in nature and society. But if patterns are the glue in permaculture, how do we begin to pick apart the patterns that we can’t even see with the naked eye?

Enter world renowned soil biologist Dr. Elaine Ingham and her rowdy band of critters known as the soil food web. Dr. Ingham has spent decades observing and unlocking the secret patterns of the soil food web. Through her work, we have a better understanding of the incredible diversity of organisms that make up this mysterious world. They range in size from the tiniest one-celled bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoa, to the more complex nematodes and micro-arthropods, and on to the visible earthworms, insects, small vertebrates and plants.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

Genetically modified crops and foods are neither safe nor necessary to feed the world, a new report by genetic engineers shows.

Click to download report (5.5mb PDF)

The second edition of GMO Myths and Truths, co-authored by genetic engineers Dr John Fagan and Dr Michael Antoniou and researcher Claire Robinson, was released on 19 May 2014 as a free online download by the sustainability and science policy platform Earth Open Source.

The second edition follows the publication two years ago of the first edition, which was downloaded 120,000 times just a few weeks after publication and was read online by several times that many visitors. At 330 pages, the new edition is nearly three times the length of the original and summarizes many new studies.

GMO debate is far from over

Author John Fagan said: “The GMO debate is far from being over, as some GMO proponents claim. Instead the evidence of risk and actual harm from GM foods and crops to health and the environment has grown in the two years since we brought out the first edition.

“The good news is that GMOs are not needed to feed the world. The report shows that there are far better ways of ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply.”

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Posted by & filed under Energy Systems, Processing & Food Preservation.

Sketch showing the solar tyre cooker

With relatively inexpensive materials and easy to construct, a solar tyre cooker can be a very useful device for many of the poor people in the world. In many African countries people walk long distances to collect firewood to cook their food, or spend up to 50% of their income buying wood or charcoal. The materials needed to make this solar oven are very cheap and fairly easy to get hold of, making this a great way to cook food that saves fuel wood and money. This can also be useful as an off the grid cooking device.

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

Permaculture Tools is putting together an instructional DVD on the use of hand tools.

The project is simple:

We, Permaculture Tools, are going to be working with Metta Media for the production of an instructional video on the use of hand tools.

We will also be showing how to use, sharpen and repair your tools, as well as some simple blacksmithing to show you how simple it is to make your own tools.

Some of the tools we will be covering in the DVD include:

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Posted by & filed under Society.

Many are the ways in which the powers that be obstruct and obscure our paths to knowledge.

by Dr Nancy Swanson

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here.

Say it in Latin for God

We need only look at the historical record to know that those who crave power have seized upon the belief system of the people in order to manipulate and control them. All good ideas start out well enough but, sometime after gaining wide acceptance, they inevitably become corrupted.

Those who ruled the Roman Catholic Church used it as a tool for absolute control of the masses. People who did not fall into line were threatened with excommunication, doomed to burn in hell forever. If they fell too far out of line, they were burned alive on the grounds of heresy.

One method of control was to use Latin for mass. The entire structure was formed around a language that the people did not speak, read or write. This forced people to have a go-between, a priest, to intervene with God on their behalf. Ostensibly God only understood Latin.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, General.

Over the past few years, I have had the honor of being able to teach at least eight permaculture courses a year at home and all over the world. These learning and sharing journeys have weaved my story with others from places in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the USA.

A few years ago, while facilitating a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course in Germany, a question came to my mind to ask the students. It was a simple question that came from understanding the basics of systems theory stating that “All new energy enters a system from its edges.” This simple understanding is clearly postulated in Permaculture’s “methods of design” and is firmly rooted in its core principles.

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Posted by & filed under Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes.

One of the biggest challenges in permaculture is working out how to catch and store energy, especially when it comes to preserving food. I have been busy saving jars throughout the winter this year and I’m determined to find new ways of keeping food beyond the main growing season. I’m especially keen to learn about plants that have natural preservative properties so that I can avoid using sugar. Jams just don’t do it for me and there is only so much pickle one can eat.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Society.

The more we consume, the less we care about the living planet.

That didn’t take long. The public interest in the state of the natural world stimulated by the winter floods receded almost as quickly as the waters did. A YouGov poll showed that the number of respondents placing the environment among their top three issues of concern rose from 6% in mid-January to 23% in mid-February. By early April – though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had just published two massive and horrifying reports – the proportion had fallen back to 11%.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Fish.

At Kesho Leo we have tilapia, a freshwater fish species that is hardy and easy to farm in relatively small ponds. This makes it a perfect choice for farming families in our area. Tilapia are omnivorous, but the species we are farming (Oreochromis nyloticus, Nile tilapia) feeds primarily on phytoplankton and algae.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Time has almost run out for you to register for Foodwatershelter’s fifth Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course between 26th May to 6th June 2014. Course spaces are almost full and we don’t want you to miss out, so get your application (Word doc) in now to join us in Arusha, Tanzania, to become part of the growing number of people around the world who are improving their self-reliance and learning concepts for sustainable living through permaculture techniques.

Already students have registered from throughout East Africa, the USA, the Congo, Algeria and many other countries to join USA-based instructor Steve Whitman and a team of local teachers to study their PDC in English.

Based on the feedback and life changes from previous participants, you can expect this course to fill up quickly; so don’t delay in applying for a position. Hear what others had to say before committing to two weeks of intensive learning, and an incredible networking opportunity:

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Dr. Don Huber is an award-winning, international scientist and professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University. Today he spoke with Food Integrity about the dangers of GMOs and Glyphosate (Roundup). Dr. Huber’s 50+ years of research and expertise in the area of plant pathology with a focus on epidemiology and control of soil-borne pathogens gives him much credibility in discussing the science behind GMOs and Glyphoshate. He spoke about Glyphosate, which is the most widely used herbicide in the world, being many times more toxic than DDT. He explained how Glyphosate, a mineral chelator, herbicide and patented antibiotic, affects our human body as well as the environment and the inherent dangers associated with this chronic toxin.

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