My property has been behaving itself since my last City Kids update. Without the tropical downpours and flooding Queensland suffered last summer, it’s been much easier to manage. The slope down under the house no longer hosts a makeshift waterfall, and the gravel driveway has stopped flowing like a river and getting washed down the storm water drain. I’ve learnt where the potholes are, filled most of them with gravel, and the remaining ones are easy to dodge once you know how.
My absolute delight this season, though, hasn’t been the orchard or the veggie patch, although they have made great progress, it’s been the five young ducklings whose parents honoured me by choosing my property to raise their precious offspring.
Recently Nick gave a talk at TEDx Canberra. He talked about stewarding nutrients, how we can solve the problem of peak phosphorous (See ‘Phosphorous Matters’ Parts I & II here and here), and about how to grow the best cumquats ever.
Yes, Nick was talking about why taking responsibility for our poo and our wee — our most basic waste streams — is so crucial to our future. For a long time, a mark of superiority in some cultures has been how far you can get your shit away from you. But now, we need it back.
Who would have thought a seminar on the economy could have passion and run the audience through a gamut of emotions, all in a couple of hours? But this was so much more than an economics lecture, even though the future of economies and financial systems were the basis for it.
Nicole Foss, a Canadian woman with a warm smile and engaging personality, took us on a journey through what we can expect in our economic future, how it all relates to other areas, such as our growing energy problems, and branched out into widespread practical ideas for what we can do to make our passage through it less painful.
Think like an ecosystem, and you just might save the world
Gradually it’s dawned on me: We humans are creatures of the mind. We perceive the world according to our core, often unacknowledged, assumptions. They determine, literally, what we can see and what we cannot. Nothing so wrong with that, perhaps — except that, in this crucial do-or-die moment, we’re stuck with a mental map that is life-destroying.
And the premise of this map is lack — not enough of anything, from energy to food to parking spots; not enough goods and not enough goodness. In such a world, we come to believe, it’s compete or die. The popular British writer Philip Pullman says, “we evolved to suit a way of life which is acquisitive, territorial, and combative” and that “we have to overcome millions of years of evolution” to make the changes we need to avoid global catastrophe.
If I believed that, I’d feel utterly hopeless. How can we align with the needs of the natural world if we first have to change basic human nature?
Rusinga Island is situated in Lake Victoria in the Western parts of Kenya. It is known for its prehistoric findings of primate fossils dating from 17 million years ago and for being the birthplace of the famously assassinated Kenyan politician, Tom Mboya, whose scholarship fund enabled Barack Obama’s father to study abroad. Not too many years ago it was still known to be a beautiful forested island, rich in unique bird species and with access to great fishing. Today the island is considered a vulnerable ecosystem with marginal agricultural land, leading one author to call it ‘one of the driest and most environmentally marginal agricultural zones in the region’(1).
Rapid population growth in the 1980s led to intensified pressure on natural resources such as trees and fish. At the same time, other communities started coming into Rusinga’s fishing waters to exploit the fish resources. Fish stocks started declining and the fishermen of Rusinga were forced to start looking for other ways of making an income. Many turned to agriculture but the Luo’s on Rusinga were traditionally fishermen, not farmers. Trees were cut down to make houses for a growing population, firewood to feed an increasing number of hungry stomachs and charcoal to make an income. Within a generation, what was once a richly forested island had become bare — suffering increasing droughts, soil erosion and crop failures due to the loss of trees.
Taranaki Farm shows you how to move a herd of cows, a flock of laying hens, some sheep and a stowaway frog in only 20 minutes… and in the process, heal farmland and local community.
Autumn Rain & Keyline Earthworks
Pairing Keyline Design farm layout to Polyface Farming methods makes Taranaki Farm genuinely unique in the world of sustainable/regenerative agriculture. Now with ten interlinked keyline dams and catchment road, drains and irrigation features, Taranaki Farm continues its investment in keyline design as a strategy for dryland water management which supports direct marketed, salad bar beef, pigerator pork and pastured chicken and egg enterprises.
Geoff Lawton and others will be participating in a short forum in Nerang, close to Brisbane, on Saturday March 10. Come along if you can!
What: Glocal Transition Forum Where: Nerang Bicentennial Community Centre,
833 Southport – Nerang Road,
Nerang, QLD When: Saturday March 10, 2012 — from 2pm-5:30pm Cost: $20 online, or $25 at the door (unless sold out)
The Glocals Forum is a platform for local, social, health & environmental leaders presenting practical approaches & solutions that can be measured & witnessed. We call them Glocals. They come from all walks of life and disciplines with one thing in common; they’re out there actualising transformative ideas that have the capacity to regenterate both society & the environment we live in. Each Glocal has an opportunity to give the essence of their transformational idea for our bioregion in 20 minutes & closes with a 2 minute practical “Transition Request” that you can action & contribute to glocal change.
This video is hands down the best I’ve seen yet at covering all the bases of our present converging dilemmas in one quick (35 minute) hit. Over the years I’ve presented all of the issues covered in this video — hitting them from various angles and in different ways to try to drive the point home — but it’s excruciatingly difficult to cover each element sufficiently whilst giving the casual or intermittant reader a full overview simultaneously. The excellent use of imagery has enabled the creators of this little video to touch on each subject whilst joining up all those dots into the fuller picture.
I’d encourage you to watch, and share widely. When sharing, you might want to do it by way of linking to this blog post, as I’ll put below a smattering of articles on these topics which some may look to for more details after watching:
Flinders Ranges, South Australia, Adnyamathanha Yarta
The old Adnyamathanha man places another log on the fire before sitting back down beside me. Uncle, as we will call him in the traditional Adnyamathanha way, stares into the flames for a minute, then begins to speak.
My partner and I have recently bought a house in Melbourne. I’m proud to say that we have deliberately avoided any pressure to buy a large house; our entire property is 170 square metres, and at least half of that is garden. I realise that’s not tiny, but it’s plenty smaller than places owned by a number of my friends and family. One of my cousins has recently built a house on a block of land, and his house alone would swallow our entire property three times over.
But as proud as I am of our small house mentality, I’ve started to realise that this does put some serious constraints on our ability to be independent and self-sufficient. Personally I’ve never been that committed to the dream of being self-sufficient on a good sized, rural block; I’d much rather be community-sufficient within a city suburb. But I don’t want to be vulnerable to crises and shocks, and growing food, fibre and fuel yourself is a big part of reducing that vulnerability.
What: Advanced Permaculture Design with Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens with Dave Jacke When: May 18 – 23, 2012 Where: Hosted by Earth Learning in Homestead, FL Instructor: Eric Toensmeier
You will learn how to design and plant a food forest, hands-on!
Edible forest gardens produce delicious food while imitating natural forest ecosystems. Trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, groundcovers and fungi can combine to form healthy edible ecosystems. Design and plant selection help provide fertility, control of weeds and pests, and more.
How can you design an edible garden that works like a healthy ecosystem? Learn simple guidelines, based on real experience, for designing mixed-species polycultures of useful perennials. Small-group design exercises will give you the tools to create productive harvests and positive relationships between plants in your forest garden.
Farmer Faces Possible 3-year Prison Term for Feeding Community — Customers and Other Supporters Stand with Farmer
Baraboo, WI—Food sovereignty activists from around North America will meet at this tiny town on March 2 to support Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger and food sovereignty. Hershberger, who has a court hearing that day, is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could land him in prison for three years with fines of over $10,000. The Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) targeted Hershberger for supplying a private buying club with fresh milk and other farm products.
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).