Posted by & filed under Conferences, Presentations/Demonstrations.

On March 31, in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Geoff Lawton gave a TEDx presentation. This has just been uploaded to YouTube:

For more background on some of the before/after images used, please see:

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

Onion going to seed

When I started to take an interest in permaculture, one of the first things I wanted to learn but had no reference to guide me on was seed saving. The idea of seed saving felt close to the core of a regenerative way of life: life loves to live, and regenerates itself, and this can be harnessed to provide for our needs. I felt that, like sunlight and rain, seed should come for free, letting the garden function with a natural life cycle.

To begin with, I bumbled through, with some successes but plenty of unexplained failures as I tried to propagate veggies from saved seeds. Then came a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at Michel and Jude Fanton’s Seedsavers garden and seed bank in Byron Bay, Australia. Six months of working a couple of days a week with these inspiring people in that inspiring environment was a turning point in my understanding of a lot of things about life in general… but also of the fact that seed saving is not difficult at all, and very rewarding. With a few basic understandings, you can make a good start with seed saving, and I reckon a lot of these basics can be distilled into quite a short read that I want to share with you in this article. I intend it to be the sort of easily digested starting point that I wish I had when I started out.

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Posted by & filed under Conferences, Consumerism, Society.

Leaving Rio de Janeiro, site of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we mulled the meaning of what we had witnessed, but could hardly put it any better than Charles Eisenstein in his excellent summary, Why Rio+20 Failed:

You know folks, I’m a bit worried about my 16-year-old son, Jimi. When he was 13, he grew three inches. When he was 14, he grew five inches. When he was 15 his growth slowed to three inches, and no matter how much I feed him, now he isn’t growing at all past his current six-one. Could someone please tell me how to achieve sustainable growth for my son, so that he can keep getting bigger forever?

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education, Education Centres.

Can the human race build an environmentally sustainable culture? Can we disprove the myth that humans are inherently destructive? Here at The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, myself and 18 others are a part of an intensive internship in an attempt to answer these big, big questions. We have asked ourselves, "If not now, when? If not us, then who?" It’s clear to us there is a way, this is the time and we are the people we have been waiting for.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

I thought I’d add to George Monbiot’s recent post highlighting moves to persevere with fossil fuels by sharing a little piece on how feeding our oil addiction is taking us to ever-dirtier lows.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Education, Waste Systems & Recycling.

Our Role as Facilitators

Having been a home educator for nearly 18 years, I have become aware of the value of hands-on experiences for helping children learn and really understand concepts — experiences that are relevant to their lives and help prepare them for a real future, in much more than just academic ways.
We as parents, or educators, can help children explore the concepts and skills they will need to develop to equip them for the very different future they will no doubt be facing. Often our role will just be to be there and help with materials and tips if needed. A lot of the value of these discoveries is in allowing children to experiment, make ‘mistakes’ now and then, and to find workable solutions. I think we should try to curb the natural desire to solve the problems which may occur, immediately, and give the children a chance to sort it out themselves first.

The activities in this article, and those in following parts of this series, are designed to get kids involved with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of creating a more resilient lifestyle and understanding how the things in our world connect and how we can all help these connections to flow naturally. In Part I we will look at various aspects of recycling.

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Posted by & filed under Bird Life, Food Plants - Perennial.

An easy trick for saving your strawberries from birds!

by Mari Korhonen

Here’s a little tip I learned last summer from a friend for saving your strawberries from getting munched by birds:

Early in the season, before the strawberries start turning red, pick some little strawberry-sized stones and paint them red. When you scatter these fake strawberries along your berry patch, the curious and hungry birds come to check them out with a feast on their mind. But once encountering these fairly boring imposter berries they soon lose their interest and leave the patch alone — even after the real ones start to ripen….

It’s also fun to do with kids, parents, grandparents, friends… anyone!

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society.

We were wrong about peak oil: there’s enough in the ground to deep-fry the planet.

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

The facts have changed, now we must change too. For the past ten years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Compost, Consumerism, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Medicinal Plants, Nurseries & Propogation, Peak Oil, Plant Systems, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes, Seeds, Soil Biology, Soil Rehabilitation, Trees, Urban Projects.

I doubt many would disagree that food is one of the most important things that we are going to need to become reconnected to, in times to come. Without a reliable food source, much hardship can be predicted and even potentially losses of life. In the future, food security will probably rely much more on sources of our own creation, by producing food ourselves and establishing networks with others in our community.

We will also need to acquire the knowledge to put these food systems into practice. It’s one thing to have wheat seeds to plant, but wheat doesn’t grow and become bread by itself. We have to know, and become proficient in, the processes involved in whatever we plan to produce — preferably before there is an urgent necessity to do so!

The activities below will introduce your children (and you!) to some of the principles and practices of creating food resilience.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Peak Oil, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

Below, Samuel Alexander summarises his new Simplicity Institute Report, which discusses ‘voluntary simplification’ in the context of Joseph Tainter’s theory of collapse.

The full report, ‘Resilience through Simplification,’ is available here (360kb PDF).

A society or other institution can be destroyed by the cost of sustaining itself. — Joseph Tainter

Joseph Tainter

In 1988 Joseph Tainter published his seminal work, The Collapse of Complex Societies, in which he presented an original theory of social complexity that he offered as the best explanation for the collapse of civilisations throughout history. Tainter’s theory essentially holds that human societies become more socially complex as they solve the problems they face, and while this complexity initially provides a net benefit to society, eventually the benefits derived from increasing complexity diminish and the relative costs begin to increase. There comes a point, Tainter argues, when all the energy and resources available to a society are required just to maintain the society, at which point further problems that arise cannot be solved and the society then enters a phase of deterioration or even rapid collapse. Not only is Tainter’s theory of historical interest, many believe it has implications for how we understand the world today.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Education, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

by Delvin Solkinson

Download the free, open source printable files for 3 placemaking worksheets here :

The Village Repair branch of Gaiacraft is a local grassroots initiative growing in the mossy cedar rainforests of Mt. Elphinstone, British Columbia, Canada. In the Heart Gardens and surrounding downtown core of our coastal village, a unique community comes together to build foundations for a regenerative future. Here we can see social permaculture vignettes intended to inspire creative placemaking in small towns and villages around the world. Village Repair focusses on creating relationships, gathering places and habitat that promotes healthy interactions between people, animals, birds, reptiles, insects, plants, fungi and all other living and non-living links in the ecological community. As an activated social permaculture program and transition initiative, Village Repair hopes to inspire communities to redesign their own neighbourhoods into thriving, abundant and diverse ecosystems which support the web of life for all living and non-living things. Visioned by Delvin and designed by Lunaya, this community media platform includes a team of visionaries and new thinkers, artists and activists, conscious businesses and cultural creatives. Gratitude to Mia Van Meter, Eddit Hooker, and Mark Lakeman of City Repair in Portland for creating the placemaking movement that has wholeheartedly inspired this media platform.

Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Land, Livestock, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Soil Salination, Structure.

Harvesting oats as green native perennial pasture
grows up between the cereal rows (Seis, 2006)

Pasture cropping is a farmer-initiated land management system that seamlessly integrates cropping with pasture production, and allows grain growing to function as part of a truly perennial agriculture. Annual winter growing (C3) cereal crops are direct drilled into living summer growing (C4) perennial pasture grasses as the pasture sward enters the dormant phase of its growth cycle, allowing year-round growth and eliminating fallow and bare ground. This cereal production for grain and fodder is integrated with an intensive time controlled grazing system. There are important sustainability benefits of maintaining more perennial plants across agricultural landscapes, and the low input costs and flexible nature of the system make it attractive to producers.

Pasture cropping has already captured the imagination of the permaculture community because of its potential to make grain cropping compatible with permanent, regenerative agriculture. This review provides an in depth discussion of the development of pasture cropping systems in the NSW Central West, techniques and strategies of the system, environmental and economic factors, the dissemination of the technology around the Australian cereal-livestock zone, and potential future development and adoption.

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