The roof plays a primal role in our lives. The most primitive buildings are nothing but a roof. If the roof is hidden, if its presence cannot be felt around the building, or if it cannot be used, then people will lack a fundamental sense of shelter. – Christopher Alexander
Traditional farmhouse from Løten, Norway
So, the question is, why not? Why does this taboo exist? What is this funny business about having to prove you are a modem architect and having to do something other than a pitched roof? The simplest explanation is that you have to do these others to prove your membership in the fraternity of modern architecture. You have to do something more far out, otherwise people will think you are a simpleton. But I do not think that is the whole story. I think the more crucial explanation… is that the pitched roof contains a very, very primitive power of feeling. Not a low pitched, tract house roof, but a beautifully shaped, fully pitched roof. That kind of roof has a very primitive essence as a shape, which reaches into a very vulnerable part of you. But the version that is okay among the architectural fraternity is the one which does not have the feeling: the weird angle, the butterfly, the asymmetrically steep shed, etc. — all the shapes which look interesting but which lack feeling altogether. The roof issue is a simple example. But I do believe the history of architecture in the last few decades has been one of specifically and repeatedly trying to avoid any primitive feeling whatsoever. Why this has taken place, I don’t know. — Christopher Alexander
As a life long gardener and permaculture garden designer, I have never seen a design for a food garden that actually takes into account the fats, minerals and vitamins human beings need for optimum health, according to science and history.
One of our research programs here at the Koanga Institute looks at relationships between human health, soil health, plant health, and animal health. We’ve concluded that if we wish to be eating food that nourishes our bodies and maintains our DNA for the long haul, we need to follow principles or ‘Laws of Nature’ around how energy becomes matter, how we grow and maintain health, and how our plants and animals grow and maintain their health.
I love having interns around. The flush of new energy and enthusiasm onto the property is always fun. Having been involved with a number of similar programs in the past, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve found valuable along the way.
In Nature, all things are interconnected to each other, and in permaculture we strive to understand the relationships that comprise the ecological web of life. Through understanding the relationships in an ecological system, we can model these to build similarly sustainable systems.
Of all the ecological relationships we might encounter, possibly the most important (to us) is the relationship of humanity to the rest of Nature. One of the greatest realisations that come from studying permaculture is that we are not above Nature, we are part of it, an integral part of the system so to speak, and when we assume out rightful and proper place, our relationship to Nature changes profoundly.
The aim of this article is to examine humanity’s relationship to Nature, how it has changed over time, how we can reclaim our unique ecological niche, and the benefits gained from reclaiming our rightful place in the ecological scheme of things.
I am Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, the director of the award-winning documentary The Idiot Cycle that investigates the connections between the chemical, cancer and GMO industries (the film focuses on Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont, BASF and Astrazeneca).
I am contacting you because we have started a campaign to transfer The Idiot Cycle into the public domain, so anyone, anywhere can see the film.
Climbing bean flowers have only one axis of symmetry
A practical thing botany teaches is too look at similarities and differences or patterns in plants. When growing vegetables you start to see resemblances between the plants and it can be useful to develop some general knowledge about how plant families are classified. I have found this knowledge particularly useful for:
Timber we all use it, so how do we get it? All but gone are our localized sawmills with which we could access sawn timber for construction with a reasonably low footprint. So it’s time we started to look at our timber/lumber security.
Darren Doherty, and great courses like the master tree growers and their excellent work with broad scale farm forestry, covers the regenerative side of forestry for timber use which we use in our homes and our lives in most of the world. Our ability to access building timber in an ethical way is no different from our food.
As most of our readers will know, John D. Liu caught a vision years ago, and, thankfully, he ran with it. We’ve shared John’s excellent media work before (see here and here), and today have the pleasure of doing so again….
The video takes you to China, Jordan (more background on the PRI Jordan project here), Ethiopia, Rwanda and Bolivia, and features the PRI’s own Geoff Lawton (and a cameo appearance from Nadia!), who adds impetus and technical know-how to John’s impressive toolbox, as well as the ‘Permaculture Princess‘ (Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan), and others.
It’s the story of healing landscapes at scale, and, with it, restoring life, livelihoods, security and a future.
A month into our epic family global film trip and we arrive at the beautiful and incredible La Ferme biologique du Bec Hellouin, an experimental organic farm being adapted according to permaculture principles.
Bec Hellouin is home to Charles and Perrine Herve-Gruyer. Farmyard buildings are mostly newly built, however with such sympathy for the traditional styles and materials that you might never guess. The original house is mimicked with its timber framing and cob wall infills, and thatched roofs are elegantly planted along the top. It is an incredibly beautiful farm and a lot of care has gone into the details of the infrastructure. Walking out through the yard down into the growing spaces I can see this is a very efficient place, with water carefully and magically carried through the landscape, creating productive islands and growing spaces where I can see immediately how multiple and diverse microclimates have been created. It’s breathtaking here.
On May 5, 2012, Japan shut down its Tomari 3 nuclear reactor on the northern island of Hokkaido for inspection, marking the first time in over 40 years that the country had not a single nuclear power plant generating electricity. The March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown shattered public confidence in atomic energy, thus far making it politically impossible to restart any of the reactors taken offline. And the disaster’s legacy has spread far beyond Japan. Some European countries have decided to phase out their nuclear programs entirely. In other countries, nuclear plans are proceeding with caution. But with the world’s fleet of reactors aging, and with new plants suffering construction delays and cost increases, it is possible that world nuclear electricity generation has peaked and begun a long-term decline.
Inspiring our children to develop an enthusiasm for gardening is a wonderful gift we, as parents or caregivers, can give them. This theme revolves around using the garden and its produce as an outlet for creativity. The following ideas will hopefully help give you some starting points for helping your children make the most of the garden in a myriad of ways. Use just one idea, combine several, or come up with your own ideas.
Children are often fascinated by mazes. They can create their own living mazes, either on a miniature scale with low growing plants, or a full-scale hedge maze, if you have the room and can afford the plants. Get your kids to create a simple maze design on paper first (graph paper might be handy) and then lay it out on the ground using tent pegs or stakes and string. Alternatively, they could lay little stones or sticks out to mark the design.
We are now a month into our epic global family film journey documenting active and replicable solutions in all areas of permaculture design. Our recent trip to the Plukrijp community has left a strong impression on us, an account we feel moved to share. Situated in Schriek, Belgium, this small farm has developed into a thriving community hub over the last few years, and offers solutions in various aspects of permaculture design, but most notable is the way this community lives at vertically no cost. Around 4000 people pass through here a year in addition to a 15-strong community, and the whole thing is run on a simple magic hat. The running costs have been reduced to gas for cooking and water rates!