Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Education, Society, Village Development.

We can teach philosophy by teaching gardening, but we cannot teach gardening by teaching philosophy. – Bill Mollison

The place of philosophy in Permaculture has always been a contentious subject and for very good reasons. The very identity and credibility of the design system of permaculture rests on its sound scientific underpinnings and foundations.

Through the definition of strict boundaries of what can and cannot be added to the body of the permaculture syllabus, it has managed to retain its intended focus, and therefore its effectiveness as a scientific design discipline.

If the relationship and connection of permaculture to philosophy is not clearly understood, we run the very real risk of destroying the integrity of the discipline of permaculture, by making inappropriate additions in the misguided endeavour to ‘make it all things to all people’.

So, the best way to tackle any contention about this subject is to examine the nature of permaculture itself as well as the nature of what we loosely define as philosophy, and the relationship between them. And that’s precisely what we’ll do!

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Energy Systems, Markets & Outlets, Society, Village Development.

Wandering tortillas

Even in backward mining communities, as late as the sixteenth century more than half the recorded days were holidays; while for Europe as a whole, the total number of holidays, including Sunday, came to 189, a number even greater than those enjoyed by Imperial Rome. Nothing more clearly indicates a surplus of food and human energy, if not material goods. Modern labor-saving devices have as yet done no better. — Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine : Technics and Human Development, 1967.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course:

Where: Maya Mountain Research Farm, Belize
When: Feb 20 – Mar 2, 2012
Instructors: Albert Bates, Andrew Leslie Phillips, Cliff Davis, Chris Nesbitt
Cost: US$1250 (including food and accommodation)

Advanced Design Course:

Where: Maya Mountain Research Farm, Belize
When: Mar 4 – 10, 2012
Jono Neiger, Eric Toensmeier and Chris Nesbitt
Cost: US$700 (including food and accommodation)

More Info: or info(at)

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

This PDC will take place in Konso, south Ethiopia, from 13th – 25th February 2011, at Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge. It will have a special focus on the application of Permaculture to communities in the developing world and low tech solutions to food establishment in rural and urban schools and communities drawing inspiration from established projects in a range of locations and climate zones around the country.

Facilitators: Tichafa Makovere and Alex McCausland
Dates: February 13th – 25th, 2012
Location: Konso, South Ethiopia
Venue: Strawberry Fields Eco Lodge
Cost: US$650 ($500 for Ethiopians)
Includes: course fees, food and accommodation for the period of the course
Excludes: Transport, accommodation in Addis, travel insurance etc.

Documents You Will Need

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Nurseries & Propogation, Seeds.

When you consider how seeds germinate in nature, it makes sense to sow our own seeds the same way.

In late summer, left to their own devices, seeds fall into the ground. They slowly get covered with leaves and other natural material ready to begin their long winter hibernation in the soil.

As the cold weather sets in and snow covers the ground, the seed toughens up and as spring sets in that little seed will emerge in its own good time, when conditions are perfect for it to start peeking above ground.

July through August (or, in the northern hemisphere, from December through January) is generally a ‘rest time’ for the annual gardener, so if you’re anxious to be ‘out there’ doing something, winter sowing is a perfect way to keep your green fingers active!

Read more »

Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

Some years ago Graham Burnett produced Permaculture: A Beginner’s Guide. It’s a nice 76-page introductory look a permaculture — a very readable booklet to get you looking at the world, and your garden, through the permaculture lens. It’s in no way a substantial, technical how-to type manual, but rather a good inspirational dose of permaculture principles with a broad smattering of practical examples of how to apply them. In short, it’s a great tool to get one started on the permaculture pathway.

One personal observation on a possible downside to this otherwise excellent perma-intro is that the illustrations tend to leave one thinking permaculture is only for a sub-culture of people: the hand-drawn illustrations are populated with unshaven punks, sloganned t-shirt anarchists, dreadlock-wearing ethnic minorities and suchlike. Even the cartoon guy demonstrating the composting toilet has to be stark naked. The December 2008 update of this book would have done well to replace these images with ones that didn’t tend to leave one feeling permaculture was just for the fringe elements of society. But it didn’t. Perhaps next time.

Anyway, I thought I’d provide a link to a freely available 24-page extract (3mb PDF) of the book that could be useful for those trying to explain permaculture to friends, family and colleagues.

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Seeds, Society, Trees, Urban Projects, Village Development.

by Bob Nekrasov

I hear you comrade. ‘I want those acres and to start my food forest and have a permaculture demonstration Eden – but alas, I am a humble renter with big bloody dreams and typically uncreative landlords’.

As us ‘renters’ forlornly scan open fields and acres — seeing real estate listings of eroded soils sitting below beautiful key points — we are designing lush, abundant landscape in our minds and whinging about the price and how we could easily ‘turn this place into a self-sustaining paradise’. Well, at least I am! But, we can get caught in the dream trap — thinking we will start the big permaculture project when we get that dream plot of land. But it is really a void that needs to be filled. When you know how much good you can do you do feel a little crippled by renting a place where you feel you cannot do much. Having this deluded mindset a few years back I set out to figure out what I can do. Hooray!

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Compost, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Trees, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

What is it?

Hugelkultur is a composting method that uses large pieces of rotting wood as the centerpiece for long term humus building decomposition. The decomposition process takes place below the ground, while at the same time allowing you to cultivate the raised, or sunken, hugelkultur bed. This allows the plants to take advantage of nutrients released during decomposition. Hugelkultur, in its infinite variations, has been developed and practiced by key permaculture proponents such as Sepp Holzer and Masanobu Fukuoka for decades.

Photo: Cricketbread

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Perennial, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Nuclear, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Most of us know about pine needle tea as a rich source of Vitamin C, but now white pine pollen is to being promoted as a highly nutritious superfood powder. But who needs to buy it when you can pick your own?

Arthur Haines shows you how and when to harvest pine pollen with strategies for gathering sufficient to make tinctures or use as food. Haines also goes into detail about the nutritional chemistry of pine pollen which is rich in non-enzymatic anti-oxidants like pro vitamin A, B Complex, C, D and E plus a host of minerals and amino acids. Apparently pine pollen is also a great defence against radioactive Cesium that is appearing in dairy and other foods in the US.

Part I

Read more »

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

How weather forecasts became a political issue.

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

“Brrr-ace yourselves! Britain to shiver in -20°C in WEEKS as councils stockpile extra grit”(1). So the Mail on Sunday warned us in October. Blizzards, snowdrifts, locusts with the faces of men and the teeth of lions: we would become, it cheerfully assured us, prey to every nightmare nature could devise.

Last week the story flipped. “December has sprung! Spring blooms arrive early and autumn blossom lingers… so what happened to our winter?”(2) I scoured the text but could find no mention that the Mail had forecast the polar opposite.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Building, Courses/Workshops, Village Development.

The view flying into Tarim

The country of Yemen has not been featured much on the PRI blog page. It has only been mentioned briefly in some articles discussing water shortages in the region and it has made the list of exotic destinations to apply knowledge gained in a PRI Aid Workers course. I think this is about to change.

The last days in Tarim, Yemen have uncovered a real treasure of permaculture potential. I anticipate that natural building techniques, still widely used in Yemen, will no longer be the only reason for Yemen to be on the permaculture map.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Building.

by Nikos A. Salingaros, The University of Texas at San Antonio (This article first appeared in Meandering Through Mathematics, 2 September 2011.)

Conjectures on combinatorial complexity

When applying mathematics to interpret our world we invariably run into formidable difficulties. Explaining human perception of our surroundings and our reactions to the environment requires that we know the mechanisms of our interaction with the world. Unfortunately, we don’t — not yet. Thus, explanations of why we react to different forms in our environment tend to be conjectural.

We know from observation that human beings crave structured variation and complex spatial rhythms around them, but not randomness. Monotonous regularity is perceived as alien, with reactions ranging from boredom to alarm. Traditional architecture focuses on producing structured variation within a multiplicity of symmetries. Contemporary architecture, on the other hand, advocates and builds structures at those two extremes: either random forms, or monotonously repetitive ones. Let us explore why human beings find the latter unappealing, and propose what they do like instead, with the ultimate aim of characterizing that mathematically.

Read more »