Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Trees, Waste Systems & Recycling.

I purchased my portable sawmill four years ago to enable me to value add to my sustainable forestry business and take more control as a landholder of forest management techniques. I have certified timber grown and harvested under the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice.

The reason I could value add was due to the low cost of operation and low input costs while gaining high log recovery and gaining the ability to individually mill each piece of timber, giving greater satisfaction and accuracy to each piece, bringing out the characteristics of each piece.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Animal Housing, Biodiversity, Biological Cleaning, Bird Life, Building, Commercial Farm Projects, Compost, Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Fencing, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Irrigation, Land, Livestock, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Potable Water, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Trees, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

Paradise Dam, April 2012, from the now-climaxing food forest
Photos © Craig Mackintosh (unless otherwise indicated)

Zaytuna Farm Video Tour, duration 41 minutes
Note: Switch YouTube player to HD if your internet connection allows

Having spent the last few years seeking to establish and assist projects worldwide, and hearing some readers requesting more info on our own permaculture base site, I thought it high time I take a moment away from promoting other projects to shine a little light on our own work!

It had been a long time since I last visited Zaytuna Farm. Arriving in April 2012, more than two and a half years after my September 2009 visit, I was somewhat taken aback…. Back in 2009 the farm could somewhat be described as an unruly child — full of energy and enthusiasm, and flush with life, but not at all mature. Now, as I see Geoff Lawton’s vision for the property being played out more fully, we could compare the farm to more of a blossoming and beautiful teenager, still fresh in youth, but demonstrating a clearer sense of direction.

Geoff’s long term strategies are becoming evident, and it really is a sight, and site, to behold!

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change.

The government’s new energy bill puts a match to its climate change commitments.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.

Energy policy in the United Kingdom looks like a jam factory hit by a meteorite: a multi-coloured pool of gloop, studded with broken glass. Consider these two press releases, issued by the Department for Energy and Climate Change last week.

Tuesday: the government’s new energy bill will help the UK to “move away from high carbon technologies”(1). Wednesday: applications for new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea have “broken all previous records”. This is “tremendous news for industry and for the UK economy.”(2)

The government knows that these positions are irreconciliable. Natural gas is mainly used for producing electricity. The draft energy bill, launched last week, says that if the government’s legal obligation to cut 80% of greenhouse gases by 2050 is to be met, electricity plants “need to be largely decarbonised by the 2030s.”(3) (This is a subtle slippage from December’s Carbon Plan, which said 2030(4)). The only hope of reconciliation lies in the universal deployment of carbon capture and storage: technology which removes the carbon dioxide emanating from power stations and buries it. But the government has made it clear that it does not believe this is going to happen.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Compost, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

Four years ago


A few weeks ago we had our amazing interns prepare a soil sample to be sent off to the Soil Food Web Lab in Vulcan, Alberta. (See the blog, Testing Our Soil for a Nutrient Dense Garden). A few quick weeks later, our analysis came back, and we were told by the lab that our “sample’s biology numbers were one of the best we have seen for garden samples”.

We’ve been telling people for years now that compost is the most effective way to improve soil texture, nutrient density, tilth, carbon content and overall health, and now the results are in.

When we started our garden almost four years ago, growing anything in our backyard seemed hopeless. You can see (top right) what our soil looked like when we started. It was basically chunks of sand and clay with the consistency of concrete. Not a very welcoming home for new seeds.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Building.

The roof plays a primal role in our lives. The most primitive buildings are nothing but a roof. If the roof is hidden, if its presence cannot be felt around the building, or if it cannot be used, then people will lack a fundamental sense of shelter. – Christopher Alexander

Traditional farmhouse from Løten, Norway

So, the question is, why not? Why does this taboo exist? What is this funny business about having to prove you are a modem architect and having to do something other than a pitched roof? The simplest explanation is that you have to do these others to prove your membership in the fraternity of modern architecture. You have to do something more far out, otherwise people will think you are a simpleton. But I do not think that is the whole story. I think the more crucial explanation… is that the pitched roof contains a very, very primitive power of feeling. Not a low pitched, tract house roof, but a beautifully shaped, fully pitched roof. That kind of roof has a very primitive essence as a shape, which reaches into a very vulnerable part of you. But the version that is okay among the architectural fraternity is the one which does not have the feeling: the weird angle, the butterfly, the asymmetrically steep shed, etc. — all the shapes which look interesting but which lack feeling altogether. The roof issue is a simple example. But I do believe the history of architecture in the last few decades has been one of specifically and repeatedly trying to avoid any primitive feeling whatsoever. Why this has taken place, I don’t know. — Christopher Alexander

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Health & Disease.

Kay Baxter with seed from an old barley variety
Photo © Craig Mackintosh

As a life long gardener and permaculture garden designer, I have never seen a design for a food garden that actually takes into account the fats, minerals and vitamins human beings need for optimum health, according to science and history.

One of our research programs here at the Koanga Institute looks at relationships between human health, soil health, plant health, and animal health. We’ve concluded that if we wish to be eating food that nourishes our bodies and maintains our DNA for the long haul, we need to follow principles or ‘Laws of Nature’ around how energy becomes matter, how we grow and maintain health, and how our plants and animals grow and maintain their health.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Society.

In Nature, all things are interconnected to each other, and in permaculture we strive to understand the relationships that comprise the ecological web of life. Through understanding the relationships in an ecological system, we can model these to  build similarly sustainable systems.

Of all the ecological relationships we might encounter, possibly the most important (to us) is the relationship of humanity to the rest of Nature. One of the greatest realisations that come from studying permaculture is that we are not above Nature, we are part of it, an integral part of the system so to speak, and when we assume out rightful and proper place, our relationship to Nature changes profoundly.

The aim of this article is to examine humanity’s relationship to Nature, how it has changed over time, how we can reclaim our unique ecological niche, and the benefits gained from reclaiming our rightful place in the ecological scheme of things.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books, GMOs.

The Idiot Cycle – trailer

I am Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, the director of the award-winning documentary The Idiot Cycle that investigates the connections between the chemical, cancer and GMO industries (the film focuses on Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont, BASF and Astrazeneca).

I am contacting you because we have started a campaign to transfer The Idiot Cycle into the public domain, so anyone, anywhere can see the film.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants.

Climbing bean flowers have only one axis of symmetry

A practical thing botany teaches is too look at similarities and differences or patterns in plants. When growing vegetables you start to see resemblances between the plants and it can be useful to develop some general knowledge about how plant families are classified. I have found this knowledge particularly useful for:

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Building, Courses/Workshops, Trees.

Timber we all use it, so how do we get it? All but gone are our localized sawmills with which we could access sawn timber for construction with a reasonably low footprint. So it’s time we started to look at our timber/lumber security.

Darren Doherty, and great courses like the master tree growers and their excellent work with broad scale farm forestry, covers the regenerative side of forestry for timber use which we use in our homes and our lives in most of the world. Our ability to access building timber in an ethical way is no different from our food.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Consumerism, Dams, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Population, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Swales, Terraces, Trees, Village Development, Water Conservation, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting.

As most of our readers will know, John D. Liu caught a vision years ago, and, thankfully, he ran with it. We’ve shared John’s excellent media work before (see here and here), and today have the pleasure of doing so again….

This new video, Green Gold, was first aired last month on Dutch TV, and will be shared at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (to a captive audience of influential representative delegates during their dinner!), which is being held next month in Brazil (20-22 June 2012).

The video takes you to China, Jordan (more background on the PRI Jordan project here), Ethiopia, Rwanda and Bolivia, and features the PRI’s own Geoff Lawton (and a cameo appearance from Nadia!), who adds impetus and technical know-how to John’s impressive toolbox, as well as the ‘Permaculture Princess‘ (Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan), and others.

It’s the story of healing landscapes at scale, and, with it, restoring life, livelihoods, security and a future.

Read more »