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

Many have heard of EM mixtures, sold worldwide with cultures of effective microorganisms, that due to their symbiotic relationships with each other can benefit the microorganisms’ ecosystem in our soils, compost piles and toilets. They are known to boost yield and speed the composting process and are sold worldwide for their positive effect.

You can read more about the commercial brands of EM and the process of their discovery by Dr.Teruo Higa from Japan in Wikipedia.

There are three types of microbial life that come together to form the mixture. It is not a certain strain of microbes that holds the key, but rather the combination of the different groups that gives the positive effect we are looking for.

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

Mashing cooked soybeans

It is now the middle of winter here in Japan and time again to make another year’s supply of miso. The deep flavour of miso soup (misoshiru) remains for many in Japan a daily dish. Traditionally the first meal of the day consisted of a steaming bowl of miso soup, a bowl of rice, and a selection of pickled vegetables. It is an excellent breakfast that will likely see a resurgence with the demise of industrialized agriculture and global food transportation.

The current trend for bread breakfasts (fluffy, sweet, white bread), the wheat for which is mostly imported, is occurring at a time when Japanese farmers are receiving subsidies to grow less rice! The health cost of this dietary shift will, no doubt, also soon become apparent. The simple diet of whole grains, fermented beans – in the form of miso, shoyu (soy sauce) and natto – vegetables, seaweeds, fish and very small quantities of meat has served the Japanese well for hundreds of years. The Japanese have the longest life expectancy of any nation in the world and, most importantly, in general remain in good health well into their final years.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, DVDs/Books.

As an offering to the planetary permaculture movement we have created a workbook of permaculture worksheets. This educational tool kit will help support your learning and teaching practice.

In the spirit of a genuine love for permaculture education and in gratitude to the world community, this new learning tool is intended to help heal and empower our relationship with ourselves, the Earth and each other. The Gaiacraft Permaculture Workbook shares a collection of universal handouts which string together a larger body of teachings from Bill Mollison, Rosemary Morrow, Geoff Lawton, David Holmgren and Toby Hemenway. It’s edited in collaboration by the Gaiacraft team; Delvin Solkinson, Lunaya Shekinah, Jacob Aman, Tamara Griffiths and Ali Ma. This is a unique and practical addition to your understanding and practice of permaculture.

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Posted by & filed under Land, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

Carbon pirates bury black gold… so future generations will be richer. – John Rogers

Biochar is being promoted as the soil saving miracle of the century promising outrageously high yields of crops as well as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The first video ‘The Promise of Biochar’ explains what biochar is, how valuable it is and how the Amazonian Indians used it to enhance fertility of the soil and promote carbon sequestration.

200 year old Brazilian soil [Terra Preta] which has been treated in this way was found to be ultra fertile and bio-diverse even centuries later. Also shown is an in-field experiment comparing the vast increase in crop production through using biochar techniques versus slash/burn or mineral fertilizer methods.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

The Bedouin of the Negev are an ancient people whose cultural history spans centuries, if not millennia. Historically, the Bedouin have been semi-nomadic pastoralists, who made the desert their own through a combination of dry-land farming of forage crops and cereals, rainwater harvesting and seasonal mobility: rotating their presence between their winter and summer grazing grounds. When water and forage ran short, they would move on to another place where they knew they could find what they needed – a cistern that would probably be full, an area where small shrubs would be abundant.

Like all people, everywhere, they created a complex cultural landscape through their activities: modifying the environment they lived in to suit their needs. Like all people, everywhere, they developed their own codes of conduct for sharing the resources upon which they depended among themselves, between different families and tribal groups. Grazing rights, water rights and rights of safe-passage were enshrined in cultural codes, tribal territories were known and respected (or disrespected at the peril of transgressors).

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Project Positions.

Bustan Qaraaqa is a community permaculture project in the Palestinian West Bank. The project consists of an experimental permaculture farm in the town of Beit Sahour close to the historic city of Bethlehem, and several community projects where staff and volunteers work together with Palestinian community groups and individuals to implement permaculture initiatives that have been tried and tested at the farm.

The project has been in operation for almost 4 years now, and as well as building a functioning and attractive permaculture centre for staff and volunteers to live in, we have built up a great network of local partners and become a local landmark in our host town.

In fact, things are going so well that we are feeling the need to extend our team to cope with the workload that we now have. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a cutting edge permaculture project in a fascinating country – ideal for anyone who wants to build up their practical experience.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Courses/Workshops.

What: Extended Permaculture Design Course
When: The itinerary is based on weeks of 5 days where the weekends are free for advancing individual projects, rest or travel in Israel. Program starts on the 11th of March and ends on 15th of August 2012.
Where: The course and accommodations will take place at the Eco khan of Qasr A-Sir, a Bedouin village next to Dimona, Israel.

Vision for Bustan course:

This is going to be a very special permaculture course, that goes way beyond the remit of the normal 2 week intensive Permaculture Design Certificate. In the course of their 5 month stay in Qasr A-Sir, the participants will live and breathe permaculture; have time to absorb, process and discuss the information they are receiving; delve into the historic cultural journey of the human race; see examples of how ancient cultures dealt with their environmental problems and engage in the struggle of contemporary people to deal with theirs; and eventually actually design and implement some permaculture projects, leaving behind a legacy of enhanced sustainability and access to resources that will improve peoples’ quality of life in the host community, and gaining practical experience and know-how that they can take with them when they leave. This will not be just any course – this will be a life-changing experience.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Demonstration Sites.

I was visiting Byron Bay on my last Sunday off in conditions where we have had a large amount of rain and some very unsettled weather with lots of storms. With the winds from the north, the surf conditions where very messy and unfavorable, as also were the fishing conditions, the sea was really unsettled and a lot of fresh water was flowing into the ocean.

So, I instead took the opportunity to visit some of our project work and was fortunate to visit the Arts Factory Backpackers’ garden. This was installed during a permaculture urban landscape course, reference the links below:

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Posted by & filed under Education, Society.

This presentation makes a radical departure from many previous approaches to permaculture education in schools. It does not include gardens or design principles. Instead it considers the main purpose of schools — students learning — and the main factor that influences that purpose: the teacher. Most teachers feel overworked and are reluctant to add anything to what they consider an over-crowded curriculum. Most teachers have low ecological literacy and lack confidence to incorporate sustainability issues into their practice. For them, permaculture is just another multi-syllable, unfamiliar concept. It is the rare teacher who will embrace permaculture and run with it. Good on them!

But for the vast majority of teachers, more nuanced approaches are required for them to want to embrace some of the ideas surrounding permaculture. Those ideas include ethical decision making, applied science, sustainable living, and systems thinking. One strategy is to use permaculture design as the process for engaging teachers and students, not as a desired outcome. This presentation reports on two projects in which holistic, multi-layered approaches to permaculture were used to engage teachers and students in New Zealand Schools.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Society.

When a PDC turns from a certificate course into a journey of change.

When I first registered for my PDC there was a sense of excitement in what I would potentially learn and the new skills I would gain and be able to apply. As time got closer, the focus then turned to the final details of getting there and getting home afterwards. For me the trip there consisted of:

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Society.

Drone warfare can be used to thwart democratic movements, anywhere.

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

The ancient Greeks, unlike the Jews or the Christians, invested their gods with human failings. Divine judgement, they believed, was neither flawless nor dispassionate; it was warped by lust, vengeance and self-interest. In the hands of Zeus, the thunderbolt was both an instrument of justice and a weapon of jealousy and revenge(1).

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Energy Systems, Potable Water.

We built a solar oven made out of cardboard, and showed the pygmies how to purify water through a solar disinfection unit (the SODIS System). We also showed them how to make a filter with a bucket full of sand, gravel and active carbon.

by Xavier Fux

Who said last days weren’t productive? Before leaving, we wanted to provide the pygmies with some very useful tools that can greatly simplify things for them:

  • Simple, easy-to-build solar ovens (to reduce the need for firewood and all the negative implications that come with it)
  • Sand-gravel-charcoal water filter (to clean the water from the 20,000L pond in order to use it for washing and other uses)
  • Solar disinfection system for water (to purify water from the 1000L tank)

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