Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Presentations/Demonstrations.

When: Sunday July 1, 6:30-9pm, 2012
Where: Fe Bland Auditorium, Santa Barbara City College, West Campus
Cost: $10-$5 SBCC Students

Please join the Santa Barbara City College Center for Sustainability on Sunday, July 1, as we host Julious Piti, founding member of the Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT) in Zimbabwe, whose ecological design work in Tanzania has recently been featured in the award winning film From the Mara Soil.

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

How Natural England became the servant of the landed classes.

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

Listening to the National Farmers’ Union, the Countryside Alliance and the Country Land and Business Association, you could be forgiven for believing that the only people who live in the countryside are farmers and landowners.

In fact, there are 9.8 million people living in rural England (defined as settlements with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants). Of these, 140,000 people are full-time farmers, or the business partners, directors and spouses of full-time farmers. In other words, they constitute 1.4% of the rural population (and 0.3% of the total population).

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

The triangular shaped ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’ site,
a two-year comparison.

Photographs © Craig Mackintosh

The next Jordan PDC course run by the PRI starts on October 27, 2012 and runs for 14 days.

The next Jordan Internship starts 10 November, 2012 and runs for 27 days.

These courses run concurrently and are very special events as Geoff and Nadia Lawton will be teaching at the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (aka ‘Greening the Desert, the sequel’ site) for two weeks and directly following that the internship is an action packed 27 days.

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Posted by & filed under General.

Life at 61° N here in Sweden can offer some interesting challenges including nearly sunless days in winter to nearly darkless days in summer. Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton say that local site restrictions on a permaculture design make outside the box possibilities become available or brought into view. So while there are many challenges given us from nature and our environment there are an equal number of solutions and opportunities. In most northern areas villages have much smaller populations and so there is much more free and open land. We have plentiful hunting and fishing and more availability of the vast forest systems. I’ll be writing more about permaculture in other stories here in central Sweden but in this article I’d like to give you an overview of the seasons and life at 61° N.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Soil Conservation, Trees.

Originally published on

An Eco-Ola permaculture plot with yuca, beans, sacha inchi, bananas, charapitas,
herba luisa, and moringa in the Peruvian Amazon.

Communities living in and around tropical forests remain highly dependent on forest products, including nuts, resins, fruit and vegetables, oils, and medicinal plants. But relatively few of these products have been successfully commercialized in ways that generates sustained local benefits. When commercialization does happen, outsiders or a few well-placed insiders usually see the biggest windfall. Large-scale exploitation can also lead to resource depletion or conversion of forests for monoculture-based production. The ecosystem and local people lose.

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Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Land, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Soil Salination, Water Conservation, Water Contaminaton & Loss.


Currently, approximately 80% of the food crops grown in the world are annual plants, and it’s been this way for quite some time. Perennial plant food crops are pretty much in the minority in terms of how the human race derives its nutrition.

Permaculture strongly emphasises the importance of using perennial plants in our food production systems. When we consider the permanent agriculture aspect of permaculture, it should be apparent that we would need to utilise perennial plants to construct a permanent system,  rather than using  annual crops to create temporary systems, which are there one season, and return to bare earth the next.

The preference for perennial plants is stated explicitly in the seventh permaculture design principle — Small Scale Intensive Systems. It describes the use of perennial plants instead of annual plants as one of the features that differentiates permaculture small scale intensive systems from either conventional commercial or peasant farming systems.

To many people, the reason we use perennial plants is simply because they don’t need to be replanted each year, and don’t die down each year, saving us a lot of effort digging, sowing seeds, and cleaning up at the end of the season — and then they simply leave their understanding at that.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Energy Systems, Fungi, Livestock, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation, Waste Systems & Recycling.

Maya Mountain Research Farm (MMRF) is a small NGO and working farm located in southern Belize. The farm has about 20 acres of managed land, with the remaining 50 acres managed for limited extraction of timber, fuel wood and medicinals and as a wildlife corridor between the Columbia River Forest Reserve and the Columbia river. We are a working demonstration farm, focusing on agroforestry and the intersection between agriculture and ecology. One thing we have done is to provide a working example of an alternative to raising pigs with corn, which is a local practice amongst Kekchi and Mopan Maya farmers, and combine that with the making and applying of biochar while cooking the pig food.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Urban Projects.

An update on the FRESH project — the world’s wildest supermarket — underway here in Denmark. Urban farmers take over the world plot by plot.

Wow! Going money-free is the best decision ever. Everything is really free and laws of attraction really exist — how cool is that!

Instead of going to the giant May 1st party in the city park with candyfloss, Bacardi Breezers, and a bunch of politicians celebrating the international workers day, we arranged a May 1st international working day. D.I.T. (Do It Together).

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Society.

Rural policy is once again the preserve of the elite, and wildlife and people suffer as a result.

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

I might have solved a minor mystery. Last week, after a public outcry(1,2), the government dropped its proposal to spend our money on capturing buzzards and destroying their nests to help pheasant shoots(3). The scheme was championed by Richard Benyon, the minister charged, as one of David Cameron’s little jokes, with protecting wildlife and biodiversity. Benyon is the owner of a huge stately home called Englefield House, and the 20,000-acre walled estate that surrounds it(4). The estate employs gamekeepers to stock it with pheasants and kill the animals that might eat them.

The rationale for this proposal was the weakest I have ever seen. The government intended to find new ways of persecuting buzzards, on the grounds that “anecdotal evidence” suggests that their predation of pheasants “can be significant at the local site level.”(5) No reference was given. Research held by DEFRA shows that just 1-2% of young pheasants are taken by all birds of prey(6). So where did the “anecdotal evidence” come from?

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Education, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Nuclear, Peak Oil, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Editor’s Note: To follow, I think, is a very important look at Ted Trainer’s work — one that broaches an oft-avoided but critically essential conversation. I must confess to only having read a single article from Ted Trainer previously, which I posted here, but from that article, and the document below, I sense that similar thought processes in my own experience, and Ted’s, have led to the similar conclusions. Some of my thoughts along similar lines are evidenced here, here, here, here, here, here and here, as a few of many examples. In short, permaculture must be taken to mean ‘permanent culture’, and not just ‘permanent agriculture’ (as some would have it, as evidenced by the wrath I endure whenever we discuss economics and politics on this site…). And, for those interested, in regards to the ‘debate’ between Ted, Rob Hopkins and Brian Davey (see section 6), I empathise and agree with each perspective, as it happens. For me they’re all different sides of the same form, but none of the points raised eliminate the need for a systemic rework of socio-economic political systems. Rather, Rob and Brian’s perspective just emphasise how much work we have to do to get people on board and working to the same fruitful end. The final quoted passage from Theodore Roszak (bottom of article below) tells me we’ve come to similar conclusions, where he states the need for tangible living examples of happy low-tech implementations of how to live — the very purpose behind my work in creating the Worldwide Permaculture Network, to showcase and inspire people with what is possible, so permaculturists can share their own learning journey and insights into the how of it.

1. Ted Trainer and the Simpler Way

For several decades Ted Trainer has been developing and refining an important theory of societal change, which he calls The Simpler Way. His essential premise is that overconsumption in the most developed regions of the world is the root cause of our global predicament, and upon this premise he argues that a necessary part of any transition to a sustainable and just world involves those who are overconsuming accepting far more materially ‘simple’ lifestyles. That is the radical implication of our global predicament which most people, including most environmentalists, seem unwilling to acknowledge or accept, but which Trainer does not shy away from and, indeed, which he follows through to its logical conclusion. The Simpler Way is not about deprivation or sacrifice, however; it is about embracing what is sufficient to live well and creating social and economic systems on that basis. This essay presents an overview of Trainer’s position, drawing mainly on the most complete expression of it in his latest book, The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World, an analysis which is supplemented by some of his more recent essays. My review is designed in part to bring more attention to a theorist whose work has been greatly underappreciated, so the review is more expository than critical. But in places my analysis seeks to raise questions about Trainer’s position, and develop it where possible, in the hope of advancing the debate and deepening our understanding of the important issues under consideration. I begin by outlining the various elements of The Simpler Way and proceed to unpack them in more detail.

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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.

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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!

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