Here’s a little tip I learned last summer from a friend for saving your strawberries from getting munched by birds:
Early in the season, before the strawberries start turning red, pick some little strawberry-sized stones and paint them red. When you scatter these fake strawberries along your berry patch, the curious and hungry birds come to check them out with a feast on their mind. But once encountering these fairly boring imposter berries they soon lose their interest and leave the patch alone — even after the real ones start to ripen….
It’s also fun to do with kids, parents, grandparents, friends… anyone!
We were wrong about peak oil: there’s enough in the ground to deep-fry the planet.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
The facts have changed, now we must change too. For the past ten years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike.
I doubt many would disagree that food is one of the most important things that we are going to need to become reconnected to, in times to come. Without a reliable food source, much hardship can be predicted and even potentially losses of life. In the future, food security will probably rely much more on sources of our own creation, by producing food ourselves and establishing networks with others in our community.
We will also need to acquire the knowledge to put these food systems into practice. It’s one thing to have wheat seeds to plant, but wheat doesn’t grow and become bread by itself. We have to know, and become proficient in, the processes involved in whatever we plan to produce — preferably before there is an urgent necessity to do so!
The activities below will introduce your children (and you!) to some of the principles and practices of creating food resilience.
Below, Samuel Alexander summarises his new Simplicity Institute Report, which discusses ‘voluntary simplification’ in the context of Joseph Tainter’s theory of collapse.
The full report, ‘Resilience through Simplification,’ is available here (360kb PDF).
A society or other institution can be destroyed by the cost of sustaining itself. — Joseph Tainter
In 1988 Joseph Tainter published his seminal work, The Collapse of Complex Societies, in which he presented an original theory of social complexity that he offered as the best explanation for the collapse of civilisations throughout history. Tainter’s theory essentially holds that human societies become more socially complex as they solve the problems they face, and while this complexity initially provides a net benefit to society, eventually the benefits derived from increasing complexity diminish and the relative costs begin to increase. There comes a point, Tainter argues, when all the energy and resources available to a society are required just to maintain the society, at which point further problems that arise cannot be solved and the society then enters a phase of deterioration or even rapid collapse. Not only is Tainter’s theory of historical interest, many believe it has implications for how we understand the world today.
The Village Repair branch of Gaiacraft is a local grassroots initiative growing in the mossy cedar rainforests of Mt. Elphinstone, British Columbia, Canada. In the Heart Gardens and surrounding downtown core of our coastal village, a unique community comes together to build foundations for a regenerative future. Here we can see social permaculture vignettes intended to inspire creative placemaking in small towns and villages around the world. Village Repair focusses on creating relationships, gathering places and habitat that promotes healthy interactions between people, animals, birds, reptiles, insects, plants, fungi and all other living and non-living links in the ecological community. As an activated social permaculture program and transition initiative, Village Repair hopes to inspire communities to redesign their own neighbourhoods into thriving, abundant and diverse ecosystems which support the web of life for all living and non-living things. Visioned by Delvin and designed by Lunaya, this community media platform includes a team of visionaries and new thinkers, artists and activists, conscious businesses and cultural creatives. Gratitude to Mia Van Meter, Eddit Hooker, and Mark Lakeman of City Repair in Portland for creating the placemaking movement that has wholeheartedly inspired this media platform.
Harvesting oats as green native perennial pasture
grows up between the cereal rows (Seis, 2006)
Pasture cropping is a farmer-initiated land management system that seamlessly integrates cropping with pasture production, and allows grain growing to function as part of a truly perennial agriculture. Annual winter growing (C3) cereal crops are direct drilled into living summer growing (C4) perennial pasture grasses as the pasture sward enters the dormant phase of its growth cycle, allowing year-round growth and eliminating fallow and bare ground. This cereal production for grain and fodder is integrated with an intensive time controlled grazing system. There are important sustainability benefits of maintaining more perennial plants across agricultural landscapes, and the low input costs and flexible nature of the system make it attractive to producers.
Pasture cropping has already captured the imagination of the permaculture community because of its potential to make grain cropping compatible with permanent, regenerative agriculture. This review provides an in depth discussion of the development of pasture cropping systems in the NSW Central West, techniques and strategies of the system, environmental and economic factors, the dissemination of the technology around the Australian cereal-livestock zone, and potential future development and adoption.
Without Percival Alfred (P.A.) Yeomans and his Keyline concepts Permaculture as we know it would not exist. Bill Mollison is quick to tip his hat toward this debt in the very first paragraph of Permaculture Two: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture. Here, after making the claim that Permaculture is different from all other approaches to agriculture due to its use of “conscious design,” he respectfully qualifies, “with the notable exception of Keyline concepts.”
In fact, most of the major themes that were developed into the permaculture approach were exploratory trails originally blazed by the practical visionary, P.A. Yeomans.(1) His relentless experimentation, fearless ‘trial-and-error’ mistake-making, tireless reflection, ongoing adjustment, and ‘learning by doing,’ (as well as his unique set of skills and knowledge in hydrology and engineering) made him one of the most innovative ‘adaptive managers’ of agricultural history.
The Keyline process he developed was the first farm/ranch planning approach to:
Permaculture in New Zealand (PiNZ) have put out their latest newsletter, and this one gives a good report on the activities and outcomes of the 11th Australasian Permaculture Conference (APC11) held in Turangi, in New Zealand’s North Island.
For the past year, I have been circumnavigating the world as a curious observer, student, and wwoofer. After undergraduate studies, I wanted to balance the Darwinian culture of academia with a paradigm that encouraged humility and knowledge sharing within a global civil society. I took my first PDC at Occidental Arts and Ecology in California and continued on to Strawberry Fields Eco-lodge in Ethiopia (PDC with Rhamis Kent), the PRI of Australia (soil biology and aid worker course), Thailand (interned at Rak Tamachat and studied with Sangob, Fair Earth Farm, Pun Pun, and Tacomepai), and returned back to Quail Springs Permaculture in California (natural building apprenticeship and an International Development Professionals PDC).
As giving and receiving are one in the same, I want to give back to the permaculture movement by suggesting how permaculture can improve its theoretical diversity in order to be transparent and accountable to its tenet of fair share. Although the permaculture movement has inspired me, I am still grappling with its legitimacy within the world order. To promote the agency of its students and nurture the development of a global civil society, PDC curricula needs to increase its diversity.
Permaculture Elder Tom Ward takes us on a 10-minute animated tour of Wolf Gulch Farm in Southern Oregon, USA. It was designed using permaculture principles and laid out using Keyline patterning. Tom’s narrated journey explores water supply and storage, soil building, wind and air drainage, cropping, and an enlightened perspective on the watershed and the future of farming in harmony with natural forces.
Rio+20 has been and gone, and, in the big scheme of things, has achieved little, or worse. With this post I’d like to take the opportunity to jot down some thoughts, and images, that might help us shake off disappointment, disillusionment and despair, and give us something we can all consider, adjust and rally around. Our ‘leaders’ are taking us ‘down the garden path’, but, unfortunately, in the proverbial, rather than literal, sense. It’s truly time to forge new beginnings, create new economies, and to prioritise natural and social capital with the goal of restoring ecological and social health.
No previous civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural supports. Nor will ours. Yet economists look at the future through a different lens. Relying heavily on economic data to measure progress, they see the near 10-fold growth in the world economy since 1950 and the associated gains in living standards as the crowning achievement of our modern civilization. During this period, income per person worldwide climbed nearly fourfold, boosting living standards to previously unimaginable levels. A century ago, annual growth in the world economy was measured in the billions of dollars. Today, it is measured in the trillions. In the eyes of mainstream economists, our present economic system has not only an illustrious past but also a promising future.