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

In my grandmother’s house you can always be sure to find the tastiest, crunchiest homemade dill pickles. "You have to choose the right cucumbers and they can only be found in the early cucumber season", she says. The right cucumbers are small and firm and slightly sweet. They are grown with very little irrigation, often irrigated only as seedlings. They are very different in flavor from the big European watery cucumbers and from the greenhouse grown cucumbers available year round. Their season is very short; early summer.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Fermenting, Health & Disease, Processing & Food Preservation.

Milking a cow in central Europe
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
(Other photos below: Salah Hammad)

Raw milk! Yes raw milk! For me, it was a first time! I grew up loving milk and milk products, but also grew up afraid of raw milk. We’ve always been taught that milk needs to be boiled. In University during my Food Technology courses we called it pasteurized and Ultra Heat Treated (UHT) milk.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems, Land, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling.

It was on the second week of the PermaNegev course that I arranged a visit to the small village of Herbaiet a Nabi in the south Hebron Hills. We were going to inspect the renewable energy installations put in place there by the Israeli NGO Comet-ME (, and to gain a better understanding of the politics of dispossession that form the ever-present background to the lives of the rural Arab communities of the Palestinian West Bank and the Israeli Negev. Since our focus for the week was ‘sustainable living: harvesting resources and managing wastes’, this fitted in well with the program, and was a great opportunity for students to see permaculture principles being applied on a number of levels, in a very challenging situation. As it turned out, the trip worked even better than I had originally planned, and gave much food for thought, some of which I am still digesting!

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

We will be offering another Permaculture Course at the Bustan EcoKhan this summer. Sign up now to study permaculture in the Negev Desert!

Intensive Permaculture, Arabic and Middle Eastern program at the Bedouin village of Qasr A-Sir.

The 6-week intensive permaculture course allows participants to work closely with the indigenous Bedouin community of Qasr A-Sir in a merging of ancient traditional practices with cutting-edge permaculture design. Practice natural building and organic agriculture, while learning Arabic, taking Middle Eastern studies, going on field trips throughout Israel, immersing in the Bedouin way of life. Come together with international participants in a collaborative effort that bridges cultural and religious schisms.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Join author and educator Eric Toensmeier and friends for a hands-on and fun-filled weekend of Edible Forest Gardening (EFG) – gardens which mimic the structures and functions of natural ecosystems while producing food and other products, with an emphasis on low-maintenance perennial crops. Our learning and design exercises will be informed by our site, a homestead rich in gardens, young food forests and a plant nursery specializing in native and permaculture species regeneratively grown.

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Posted by & filed under Developments, Energy Systems, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems, Trees.

by Philip A. Rutter, B L. Rutter-Daywater, and S.J. Wiegrefe, originally published on the Oil Drum.

In any attempt to comprehend a puzzle, or choose a new path forward, the first requirement is to see and comprehend each of the possibilities. We wish to bring to the attention of the energy community a potential food and biomass energy paradigm, previously unknown, to your considerations.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

A new front opens up in the war against nature.

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

I have long seen the Countryside Alliance as a neo-feudal organisation, run by the landowning class and resentful of the intrusions of democracy upon its traditional privileges.

The Alliance, whose board is populated by dukes, lords and baronesses, asserts the right of its members to kill what they want and how they want. When anyone objects, it characterises the objection as the oppression of rural people by urbanites. In reality, rural opinion on these and other matters is diverse and divided, while many of the most ardent killers (who spend a fortune on shooting grouse, stags and driven pheasants) make their money in the City and other parts of the urban economy. This is not a clash between rural and urban values, but a clash between aristocratic and democratic values.

Among its recent campaigns, the Countryside Alliance has supported the government’s proposal to persecute buzzards on behalf of pheasant shoots, defended people caught hunting illegally and lobbied (successfully) against the right to canoe and kayak in Welsh rivers. (So much for supporting the freedom to enjoy rural sports!). But for sheer pig-headed selfishness and wanton destruction, nothing beats the campaign to which it is now devoting much of its energy.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs.

by Richard Widows

The recent announcement that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have donated close to US$10 million to research what has been termed as ‘fertilizer free’ grain crops, whilst applaudable on the surface, only serves to distract us from the real solution to global hunger — agroecological (or natural farming) systems at the local level.

But first, let’s consider the concept of ‘fertilizer free’ food.  What is actually being referred to here is the concept of transferring the genes responsible for nitrogen fixation from legume plants into grain crops, such as wheat and rice. In theory this sounds great. The application of nitrogen fertilizers is one of the most unsustainable and damaging practices in agriculture; if all plants produced their own nitrogen life would be much easier.

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Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees.

The Apios Institute for Regenerative Perennial Agriculture has spent several years developing a user–generated resource on food forests. Users can add content on species, polycultures, and sites. This content ranges from videos, text, recipes, and photos, and emphasizes personal experience or direct observation of species in other gardens and the wild. Thus far we have focused on cold climates, but we are working on building our system to include (over time) all the world’s climates. We have pilot tested a version in Spanish for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.

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Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Urban Projects.

Now I will share with you my Beautiful Gardens with Little Work method, so you can enjoy a nice garden — and one that does not require your throwing a lot of chemicals, fertilizers and a ton of money at it in order for it to thrive.

Beautiful gardens are often created by designers and use exotic plants that need special soil and a lot of chemicals and fertilizers to look good. Without these inputs, if you are lucky enough for your exotic plants to survive at all, it will likely be little more than a green (or brownish) shrub, with few or no flowers.

Frequently, beautiful flowers only bloom because of chemicals. If you don’t add these to the soil (or leaves), plants will refuse to give you any bloom, and you will see only green, or the feared brown of an unhappy plant. Therefore, you will have to spend a lot, poison your soil and be aware at all times about the needs of your plants.

So, how can we get beautiful gardens without spending a lot of money, time and effort? Read on.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Developments.

Participation in Permaculture is a web survey designed to help us learn about who is doing permaculture, how we are participating, and how it’s affecting our lives and landscapes. It’s part of a emerging phenomenon: doing research to systematically track and assess our impacts.

Holmgren and Mollison broke up with institutional science back when they forged the permaculture perspective and birthed a movement. They had good reasons for doing so — in the 1970s, there was virtually no scientific research to support the practical proposals they were making. Science wasn’t ready.

For the past 34 years, permaculture has largely stayed on the track of an independent grassroots movement. If you search the massive databases of peer-reviewed scientific literature, there is almost (but not quite) zero mention of permaculture. That’s not a criticism of permaculture’s history — we’ve been busy growing a movement, project by project.

But the separation between permaculture and science is becoming more and more arbitrary and unnecessary. Over the past three decades, parallel disciplines to permaculture have emerged and matured within the scientific community: agroecology, agroforestry, ecological waste and water treatment, resilience science, participatory research methods, and much more. All of these approaches have accumulated an invaluable and impressive body of empirical research and theory. Science is ready. Now we need to show up.

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