Design science is at the root of any definition of permaculture or put simply, permaculture is design science. — Bill Mollison
Permaculture is a design/holistic/integrative science, whereas the mainstream/academic science is reductionist — that is, to understand how things work, scientists break a system and study the tiny parts.
Nevertheless, permaculture can benefit from reductionist science, to find relevant knowledge and new design ideas, but above all to gain some academic arguments to demonstrate the validity and legitimacy of its principles and techniques.
This is an article which shows some of the links I’ve found between scientific articles published in national and international journals, while searching facts and numbers to help me design my property. During the process, some ideas just popped, so I included them to make the article a “live performance” of the usefulness of lurking in the scientific jungle sometimes.
Over a period of less than 10 years, James and Mary Kniskern transformed their sod-based lawn into a vibrant, blooming habitat that not only reduces their impact on the land but also rewards them with a bounty of edible plants as well as honey-producing bees.
The fifth of an acre where James and Mary Kniskern live in Arnold [Maryland, USA] was about what you’d expect for a suburban dwelling: grass, azaleas, daffodils in the spring, pachysandras year-round. As you’d expect, it required the drone of a mower and sweat non-equity to keep it in shape.
“I didn’t like to mow,” says James.
But what was the alternative?
Less than a decade later, the Kniskerns are living the alternative. Their yard is like none other on their block. It’s the eco-gardener’s version of The Limbo Song. The how low can you go? part involves occasional weeding, plenty of harvesting… and no mowing.
Before the Kniskerns headed down the wood-chipped path to zero grass, they considered buying into an eco-village, so they visited several throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Each had its quirks, but what they really didn’t care for was the landscaping, which was not as tidy as what they were used to.
“It looked ugly,” James says.
But their desire to reduce their impact on the land propelled them.
YouTube is full of ‘how-to’ videos but only a few give clear instructions with professional presentation, good sound and really clear visuals. This is why I give top marks to the series of three fruit tree grafting videos from Dave Wilson Nurseries which have comprehensive instructions, good camera close-ups and a very knowledgeable presenter.
In this 9-minute video (above), the presenter explains how to graft 3 different varieties of nectarine onto one nectarine tree. The two videos below are follow-ups showing the grafting after two and six months. You can find lots more at this channel including info on grape growing and a tour round their gorgeous elevated display garden with a definite permaculture flavor.
Open to 10 persons (only) with PDC in hand that are keen to learn & assist in the design and planning of a kitchen garden, main-crop and animal system design for a young family in the beautiful town of Bangalow, Northern NSW, Australia, as a preamble to the Permaculture Urban Landscape Design course starting the following day. Click on the link here to book for the Urban Permaculture Landscape Design Course running from 13th February 2012.
Come and get hands on design, client interaction and design delivery experience in a tight time frame of 7 hours — or 77 person hours including me — in the process of site assessment, set out of earthworks and garden design and development.
In this and other nations, there are groups of children who can be abused with impunity.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Texas is a largely-Christian state that appears to believe in neither forgiveness nor redemption. Last week the Guardian revealed the extent to which it has criminalised its children(1). Police now patrol the schools, arresting and charging pupils as young as six for breaches of discipline.
Among the villainies for which they have been apprehended are throwing paper aeroplanes, using perfume in class, cheeking the teacher, wearing the wrong clothes and arriving late for school. A 12 year-old boy with attention deficit disorder was imprisoned for turning over a desk; six years later, he’s still inside. Children convicted of these enormities – 300,000 such tickets were issued by Texas police in 2010 – acquire a criminal record. This makes them ineligible for federal aid at university and for much subsequent employment.
Yet most of them have committed no recognised crime. As one of the judges who hears their cases explained to the Guardian, “if any adult did it it’s not going to be a violation.”(2)
How exactly did I get here? When did I embark on this journey of abundance? Here I am looking back on my life, and seeing how it all started….
Raised on 75 acres of subsistence farm I was an unlikely candidate to moving to the big city of Montreal at age 20. After five years studying the discouraging field of Environmental Science and Human Environment, I found myself at a loss for solutions. Academia only paralyzed me in face of environmental challenges, and with my employment with Environment Canada preaching contorted, underwhelming solutions and finger wagging, it was all taking its toll. My studies and career where failing me greatly.
Rarely have I read an essay that knits together some very different commons with such wisdom and depth. Joline Blais’ 2006 essay, “Indigenous Domain: Pilgrims, Permaculture and Perl,” is a wonderfully insightful analysis that reveals the underlying unity and logic of commons principles. Her piece appeared in Intelligent Agent (vol. 6, no. 2), published by the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts.
Blais’ essay is valuable because it speaks to the rift that is said to separate commons based on natural resources and those of cyberspace. The segregation of those two classes of commons has always bothered me. There are of course significant differences between managing depletable natural resources and managing cheap and limitless stores of digital information. Yet it has always struck me that the two great tribes of commoners have much more in common than not, and should be in closer consultation with each other.
Join John Hardy on a tour of the Green School, his off-the-grid school in Bali that teaches kids how to build, garden, create (and get into college). The centerpiece of campus is the spiraling Heart of School, perhaps the world’s largest freestanding bamboo building. — Ted.com
I’d love to take this course myself, but alas, I’m unable to make it. Those of you who’re itching to get started, or to do better, with your urban patch (or with someone else’s urban patch!), should seriously consider jumping on this course.
During this intensive 5-day Permaculture Urban Landscape Design course, students will learn the fundamentals of running a professional permaculture design and consultancy business. This is a hands-on learning experience, from the ground up. You will be able to manage contractor bidding and installation of the design on behalf of the client, able to produce concepts and plans for urban, rural and aid projects, learn about proper selection of plants, softscaping, hardscaping, costing and estimation, and have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of design, implementation and execution in several real life environments.
The course will be run at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm, under the expert hands of Nick Huggins. See Nick’s author profile here, and his WPN profile here.
The advent of peak oil means we should prepare for a downscaling of our highly energy and resource-intensive lifestyles.
What is peak oil and why does it matter? And what effect will it have on the Western lifestyles we take for granted? These are not questions that many people are asking themselves yet, but this decade is going to change everything. Peak oil is upon us.
Peak oil does not mean that the world is about it run out of oil. It refers to the point at which the supply of oil can no longer increase. There is lots of the stuff left; it’s just getting much more difficult to find and extract, which means it is getting very hard, and perhaps impossible, to increase the overall ”flow” of oil out of the ground. When the flow can no longer increase, that is peak oil. Supply will then plateau for a time and eventually enter terminal decline. This is the future that awaits us, because oil is a finite, non-renewable resource.
Western-style consumer lifestyles are highly resource and energy intensive. This paper examines the energy intensity of these consumer lifestyles and considers whether such lifestyles could be sustained in a future with declining energy supplies and much higher energy prices. The rise of consumer societies since the industrial revolution has only been possible due to the abundant supply of cheap fossil fuels – most notably, oil – and the persistence of consumer societies depend upon continued supply, for reasons that will be explained. But recently there has been growing concern that the world is reaching, or has already reached, its peak in oil production, despite demand for oil still expected to grow considerably. Put more directly, many analysts believe that demand for oil is very soon expected to outstrip supply, with a recent study by the US military reporting that, globally, spare productive capacity could entirely dry up by 2012 and by 2015 demand for oil could outstrip supply by almost 10 million barrels per day. What this means – even allowing for some uncertainty in timing and extent – is that the world is soon to face a situation where economic and geopolitical competition escalates over access to increasingly scarce oil supplies. One consequence of this (a consequence already playing out) is that oil will get more expensive. Since oil is the ultimate foundation of industrial economies, when it gets more expensive, all commodities get more expensive, and this dynamic will have pervasive implications on the globalised economy and the high consumption lifestyles that fully depend on that economy.
Former stockbroker Brian Bankston now calls himself the “Keyline Cowboy” after a carbon farming course at The Farm’s Ecovillage Training Center transformed his life. He quit his job, bought a keyline plow and compost tea brewer, and moved to The Farm.
For the past 10 years or so, the land management decisions of The Farm (a 40-year-old intentional community on 1750 acres in rural Tennessee, pop. ~200) have been informed by permaculture. Permaculture was influential in the design and early curricula of The Farm’s Ecovillage Training Center in 1994, and since many, if not all, of the community’s residents have now been exposed to it, it is not surprising to learn that a number of people serving on various village committees, as well some in public office in the surrounding county, have Permaculture Design certificates.
Our relationship with permaculture traces back to our connection to Bill Mollison, one of permaculture’s founders, who received the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in the year after we did. RLA winners are a gregarious lot and gather from time to time to swap tales, so we have been fortunate to share such meetings with Bill over the past 30 years. We are also fortunate to have had the influence of an erstwhile neighbor, Peter Bane, who for many years published the quarterly Permaculture Activist from his former home in Primm Springs, Tennessee.
Today, as a permaculture instructor, I travel to many of the convergences of the movement and have come to know many practitioners. Our Farm team has taught permaculture courses on six continents and in 27 countries now, so it would only be surprising if The Farm did not have permaculture going on.
Curious what goes on at the PRI Zaytuna Farm? If you live close to the farm, or are passing by, you're welcome to book yourself on a farm tour (Wednesdays at 11am only). Contact the farm manager and we'll see you soon.
We will take a minimum of 3 people at $35 p/p (groups of less than 3 adults are $50 p/p). Large groups please call to discuss pricing (at least 48 hours prior required).