It was a typical October day on Molokai — 82 degrees, sunny and breezy. I had just arrived at my favorite tiny airport on a nine-passenger Cessna turbo prop-plane from Honolulu. I came from the Big Island to help my Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) USA colleagues facilitate a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) already in progress. The PDC was part of a four-course series we were doing to train a local group made up of key players working to promote sustainability on the Island.
When my ride told me that the class would be starting the day at the Keawanui fish pond, I was both excited and nervous. Much like the time I had gotten an All-Access V.I.P. Guest Pass to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, I would soon be in the presence of celebrities I admired. I was not only about to meet the Rittes, but they were students in our PDC.
In a country that labels everything from cosmetics to cleaning agents, it’s surprising that there are no laws in the U.S. requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods.
The FDA undertakes no GMO safety testing on its own. Instead, they allow companies like Monsanto, who told us that their DDT, PCBs, and Agent Orange was safe, to determine if their GMOs are safe. Internal FDA documents revealed that the agency’s own scientists warned of serious health risks, and urged long-term testing–but were denied. Now many doctors prescribe non-GMO diets, citing serious health disorders in lab animals fed GMOs. Don’t be a lab animal!
There are many reasons why Americans want labeling of genetically engineered foods. Whatever the reason is that brought you here, what unites us all is that we all want to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families. We have a right to know if what we are eating has been genetically engineered.
After an unintentionally extended lunch break during the IPC10 conference day (dragging 130 hungry people away from their stimulating lunchtime conversations is not an easy task!), Geoff kindly cut his post-lunch talk short so as to put subsequent speakers back on schedule. In the short time left for him, Geoff talked about the great need for training an army of permaculture warriors who can help set up self-replicating permaculture demonstration and education sites worldwide, and shared some of our efforts to help facilitate this. Included in the talk was mention of www.permacultureglobal.com (the Worldwide Permaculture Network), which enables permaculturists to literally put themselves on the map, and network and support each other in many ways — including attracting students and consultancies, donations (for aid projects) and which facilitates and encourages knowledge (and even seed!) transfers between people and sites worldwide. It’s a system that effectively levels the playing field, empowering a new generation of permaculture teachers and consultants to come up through the older growth, break through the canopy, and help us drive permaculture concepts deep into the minds of mainstream citizenry.
Tony Rinaudo’s IPC10 conference presentation was one of the highlights of the event for three good reasons — 1) because of the scale of impact his Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) work has achieved (more than 30,000 km² of re-greened, regenerated land to date); 2) the utter simplicity — and thus doability — of this work (it requires no financial investment or out-of-reach technologies, only a little educational guidance and community collaboration), and 3) the speed at which this regeneration can occur and lives can improve.
… and now I have the great pleasure of being able to share Tony’s IPC10 conference talk in high definition video (at top). Note: If you want to see the slides in higher quality, you can download Tony’s presentation (9mb Powerpoint) and click through it in a different window as Tony talks if you like.
One of the highlights of the tenth International Permaculture Convergence was meeting Tony Rinaudo of World Vision Australia. Tony is a living example of the posture required for the development of truly regenerative systems. Tony has come to see patterns of people, plants and landscape which allow deserts to grow trees again. He does this by opening himself to the voice of the land.
While working in Niger, Tony noticed that what appeared to be small shrubs were in fact trees which had been coppiced by continuous grazing pressure, firewood harvesting and the impulse of farmers to keep crop land free of trees. Tony calls these trees ‘the underground forest.’
by Monika Goforth and Terry Leahy, University of Newcastle, Australia
To use permaculture lingo, Chikukwa can be described as a real edge, both in terms of ecology, culture and language, and the edge effect has certainly produced something rich. The community here has a sense of being both somewhat innocent and progressive at the same time. It is as if they skipped the industrialized phase and went straight into becoming a sustainable community. — Lindhagen 2010
This shot shows how the Chikukwa lands looked in the early nineties,
bare hillsides and soil erosion, with the consequence in poor nutrition.
This picture shows a small section of the Chikukwa clan lands as they are now.
The houses nestled among orchards, the bunds with vetiver grass in the
cropping fields and the extensive woodlots are all typical of this design strategy.
The Chikukwa Ecological Land Trust (CELUCT) is a unique community permaculture organisation in the Chimanimani district of Zimbabwe. Set in the highlands bordering Mozambique, the region is heavily populated and has suffered from deforestation, serious erosion and soil degradation since the area was named a Tribal Trust Land in the colonial era. In this setting, the Chikukwa community has developed a successful permaculture program involving around 8,000 farmers in what Chan (2010) calls “one of the largest and relatively unknown permaculture sites in the world.” So, how did a remote Zimbabwean farming community learn and implement permaculture techniques? What have been the effects?
With spring coming along steadily we thought it might be time to diversify our beehives into a more natural and sustainable medium. There are a number of designs available, but we wanted something simple and as natural as possible.
Beekeeper working a typical Langstroth apiary
Traditionally, the Langstroth design is a popular one, used mostly in commercial beekeeping. It has a bottom to top vertical arrangement, meaning the queen is in the bottom box and the extra boxes, or supers, are added on top. It also has removable rectangular frames making them easy to inspect and handle. The boxes can be stacked easily and loaded on trucks or pallets for long distances. Boxes can come in different depths, which make lifting a full box of honey much easier. The frames, which can come 8 or 10 to a box, are usually wired and have a wax foundation sheet attached. This begins to resemble more of an industrial agriculture system than a natural hive but can be productive, nonetheless. This is currently the design we use, but we’re curious about other alternatives.
What with the ongoing occupation of New York’s financial district, and City traders coming out from under their gilded rocks in full candour (see below) — Frank thought it about time to break out the D-locks and superglue again.
What if global hunger, poverty and disease could be solved with resources already at our disposal?
A film directed by Steve Schrenzel
It was a pleasure to meet Tara Blasco and Lyn Hebenstreit at the Tenth International Permaculture Conference (IPC10) in Jordan this month. Tara and Lyn have been deeply involved in a Tanzanian success story that you’ll quickly become immersed in via the excellent new documentary above.
The “free market thinktanks” and their secret funders are a threat to democracy.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Nadine Dorries won’t answer it. Lord Lawson won’t answer it. Michael Gove won’t answer it. But it’s a simple question, and if they don’t know it’s because they don’t want to. Where does the money come from? All are connected to groups whose purpose is to change the direction of public life. None will reveal who funds them.
When she attempted to restrict abortion counselling, Nadine Dorries MP was supported by a group called Right to Know. When other MPs asked her who funds it, she claimed she didn’t know(1,2). Lord Lawson is chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which casts doubt on climate science. It demands “openness and transparency” from scientists(3). Yet he refuses to say who pays, on the grounds that the donors “do not wish to be publicly engaged in controversy.”(4) Michael Gove was chairman of Policy Exchange, an influential conservative thinktank. When I asked who funded Policy Exchange when he ran it, his office told me “he doesn’t have that information and he won’t be able to help you.”(5)
Warren Brush, Permaculture Designer and educator talks with us about his work in Africa, the power of storytelling, and why children need us to be part of the solution. Brush, co-founder of Quail Springs Learning Oasis and Permaculture Farm, has mentored youth and educated adults around the world teaching them Permaculture and other practical life skills.
Curious what goes on at the PRI Zaytuna Farm? If you live close to the farm, or are passing by, you're welcome to book yourself on a farm tour (Wednesdays at 11am only). Contact the farm manager and we'll see you soon.
We will take a minimum of 3 people at $35 p/p (groups of less than 3 adults are $50 p/p). Large groups please call to discuss pricing (at least 48 hours prior required).