Posted by & filed under General, Society.

by Leanne Ejack (Alberta, Canada), PDC student, Jan/Feb 2014 at PRI Maungaraeeda, Sunshine Coast, Qld., Australia

I was bred, born and raised in the Western Canadian prairies, surrounded by massive cattle feedlots and kilometre-long stretches of monoculture grain crops. I always enjoyed the farming lifestyle, but I knew as a young teenager that the farming practices that I was surrounded by were inflicting long-term harm to the soil and environment. Spending a year after university working for a large agricultural company opened my eyes even further to how these large companies have spent years manipulating farmers into complete dependency upon their chemical inputs. Farmers are caught in a toxic and corrupt spiral of powerlessness. I was driven to start educating myself about a more sustainable way of food production that also placed the power back in the hands of farmers. I had heard about permaculture and, after researching it further, I knew I needed to become more immersed in it.

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Posted by & filed under Economics.

Patent granted on watermelons.

20 February 2014 Munich.

The company, H.M. Clause, which belongs to the French co-operative group, Limagrain was granted a European Patent on watermelons (EP 1816908). The patented watermelon plant is supposedly even more multibranching and smaller fruits than usual, but this cannot be an invented trait since it is part of naturally occurring biodiversity. The patent covers the seeds, the plants and the fruits.

The plants were created by crossing and selection, which are the usual standard methods used in plant breeding, and regarded as essentially biological processes which are excluded from patenting under the European Patent Convention. Last year the European Patent Office (EPO) announced — after wide public criticism — that it would stop granting such patents until cases involving broccoli and tomato were decided and legal precedents established. In this case, the EPO tried to prevent the patent from being granted, but failed due to a procedural error.

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Posted by & filed under Land, Swales, Water Harvesting.

by Dale Bunger

Just a quick update to show how I have been making swales with a small Kubota and front end loader.

First I start by laying out the path of the swale with my trusty A-frame level. I built this A-frame so the legs would be 5′ apart and I stick in a flag every time I move it across the ground. This allows me to easily measure the length of the swale by simply counting the flags.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Plant Systems, Urban Projects, Village Development.

You may have previously read about the work of FoodWaterShelter in Tanzania, East Africa, where they use permaculture solutions to provide the food, water and energy needs of the vulnerable women and children at the Kesho Leo children’s village. And you may have heard about the successful English and Kiswahili PDCs that they have hosted with almost 90 graduates. Well now read a story from one of the world’s first Kiswahili PDC graduates who began small to improve livelihoods. Mary Mbugua is based at the Jamii Learning Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and is working to improve food sovereignty of local famers in schools in her community.

When I came back to my country Kenya after the April 2013 PDC in Arusha, Tanzania, I was fully energized and looking forward to initiating a process that would make good use of my newly acquired skills in permaculture.

My organization being a new one, I thought the first beneficiaries of this learning would be my family, who were also eagerly anticipating hearing what I learnt in Tanzania. Everybody was very enthusiastic and ready to support me to achieve my dream of growing safe foods for the family and beyond. Permaculture has various principles and I applied one of them within one and half months of returning home: starting small. Bearing in mind the distance and size of our land back at our rural home I decided to figure out how I could start with a kitchen garden in an urban area set-up.

During the first week after the training I approached my eldest sister whom I knew too well where she used to buy vegetables and the price at which she used to get them. I managed to demonstrate to her how she could put up a kitchen garden at her homestead and how she would save time and energy going to the market all the time, as well as money. I showed her how to prepare manure from readily available products which were previously household waste — peelings of carrots, potatoes, vegetable leaves and ash.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Commercial Farm Projects, Compost, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Trees, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Sage of a minimalist farming system based on non-violence and all of nature’s biodiversity that produces in abundance with no chemical inputs.

by Bharat Mansata

Bhaskar Save, acclaimed ‘Gandhi of Natural Farming’, turned 92 on 27 January 2014, having inspired and mentored 3 generations of organic farmers. Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese natural farmer, visited Save’s farm in 1996, and described it as “the best in the world”, ahead of his own farm. In 2010, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) honoured Save with the ‘One World Award for Lifetime Achievement’.

Indeed, Save’s farm is a veritable food forest; a net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the local eco-system, instead of a net consumer. His way of farming and teachings are rooted in a deep understanding of the symbiotic relationships in nature, which he is ever happy to explain in simple, down-to-earth idioms to anyone interested.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Food Shortages.

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

Slim, healthy, happy bovines promote a ‘hip’ new McDonald’s meat based diet
to Chinese consumers from billboards across the country

Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006 — just eight years ago — China had a grain surplus and was exporting 10 million tons. What caused this dramatic shift?

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society.

Originally published on

It is a rare occurence that I disagree with David Holmgren. One of my heroes, and the co-founder of permaculture, I generally find his intellect formidable, his insights on permaculture revelatory, and his take on the wider patterns and scenarios unfolding around us to be deeply insightful. But while there is much insight in his most recent paper, Crash on Demand, it also raises many questions and issues that I’d like to explore here. I am troubled by his conclusions, and although I understand the logic behind them, I fear that they could prove a dangerous route to go down if left unchallenged.

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Posted by & filed under Conferences, Presentations/Demonstrations.

Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple. – Bill Mollison

Join Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzer, Brad Lancaster, Joel Salatin, Stacey Murphy, Janell Kapoor, Peter Bane and many others at the free online Whole Earth Summit, March 11-13, 2014. There will be 42 actionaries and visionaries envisioning a world that is regenerative, resilitient and reachable. Don’t miss this!

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity.

The results of a crowd-sourcing appeal prove that Discovery Channel engaged in fakery.

The photo of a whale carcass which Discovery claims to have “found”.

The suspicion that the Discovery Channel had abandoned its professed editorial standards was a powerful one. Its documentary claiming that the giant shark Carchardon megalodon still exists contained images which gave a strong impression of being faked; reports of incidents which don’t appear to have happened; and interviews with “marine biologists” no one has been able to trace.

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