Posted by & filed under Biological Cleaning, Food Plants - Annual, Plant Systems, Seeds, Village Development.

I figure this video will stimulate some potentially useful discussion. It features portions of an interesting WWII-era production, titled Hemp for Victory, made by the U.S. government to encourage U.S. farmers into the cultivation of hemp to fill the escalating demand for industrial fibre during the war. This was not too long after the U.S. had introduced, during the height of the Great Depression, the 1937 Marihuana tax, which had had the opposite effect. (It goes to show the power that government policies can wield in rapidly influencing social priorities.)

Some of you will know, and some of you will not, that hemp has been used since ancient times. Sails were made of it, ropes were made of it, clothes were made of it. People ate it (seed), wrote on it (paper), lit their homes with it (oil), and fed their animals with it (what was left!). Indeed, some say there’s very little you can’t make from it. As the video shows, Henry Ford even made cars and car parts out of it. Not only were they stronger and lighter than metal parts, but they were biodegradable too!

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Courses/Workshops.

Here at Mulloon Creek, our intern program is centred around learning by doing. We have a lot of development happening over the coming years within our ecological agricultural practices and, as we see it, an essential part of that work is the rehydration of the landscape and the planting of various productive agro-forestry systems to complement the farming practices. If you’re interested in the large-scale design and implementation side of landscape health within a productive farm environment, be sure to visit our website to find out more.

Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Livestock, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

Photo copyright © Craig Mackintosh

After the earth was created, soil formed slowly over geological time from the weathering of rocks. It began to support early plant life, which protected and enriched it until it became the topsoil that sustains the diversity of plants and animals we know today. Now the world’s ever-growing herds of cattle, sheep, and goats are converting vast stretches of grassland to desert.

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Financial Management, People Systems, Society.

Let us imagine a fictitious mountain village — or, for that matter, any other close-knit community — that has a high degree of economic independence at the community rather than individual level. Within this community, there is an on-going active exchange of favours, including goods and services. Naturally, there will be some sort of accounting mechanism that ensures everybody is providing roughly as much to the village as he is drawing from the village economy. Keeping a purely mental record of the entire history of such exchanges in mind may be too challenging, so let’s assume our villagers write little notes to keep track of exchanged favours. There is no intrinsic reason why some such approach should not work quite well.

Let us now assume that our villagers change their strategy, and decide to use legal tender money for this ‘bookkeeping of favours’ instead. In that case, they first have to obtain some of that money. But how? Evidently, one or more people from the village would have to climb down the mountain, visit the national bank, and take up credit. How does this work? Credit contracts come in many different flavours, but the basic rule of the game is that the credit taker has to promise to the bank to return a certain economic value to the bank in the future, plus added interest.

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Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Irrigation, Land, Urban Projects, Water Conservation.

by Rob Avis

Wicking beds are a unique and increasingly popular way to grow vegetables. They are self-contained raised beds with built-in reservoirs that supply water from the bottom up – changing how, and how much, you water your beds. In this article, we’ll talk about how wicking beds work and why we love them. We’ll also show you some great examples and leave you with ideas and instructions for creating your own.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Land.

by Gordon Williams

The Arts Factory backpackers resort in Byron Bay, New South Wales, has just been blitzed by an efficient team of Permaculturalists taking part in a five day course focusing on bringing permaculture designs from the page into the landscape.

The Arts Factory backpackers resort sees travellers from all over the globe come to relax and soak up the sun and surf. During their stays they chomp their way through countless meals consisting of food that might have travelled just as far as they did. In an initiative to reduce the impact of these food-consuming hordes of travellers the Permaculture Research Institute has provided a helping hand to set up a kitchen garden.

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Posted by & filed under Building, DVDs/Books, Eco-Villages, Society, Village Development.

by Øyvind Holmstad

The goal of permaculture is to reunite man with nature and man with man through design systems, and here patterns play an important role. Still, patterns can only reunite humans with natural systems and with each other, not with the geometry of the universe. Surely in what I like to call permatecture, better known as biophilic architecture, biotecture or neurotecture, patterns are crucial. But for the creation of wholeness and life we need a whole range of tools.

When “A Pattern Language” was first published in 1977, architects immediately assumed that it was a design manual, and used it to generate some very interesting buildings. Those buildings, despite their positive human qualities, lack an overall coherence, and people did not understand why this was happening. The reason is that the Patterns provide essential and necessary constraints, and not a design method in itself. The actual design algorithm was developed by Alexander, but only many years later.Twelve Lectures on Architecture, by Nikos A. Salingaros, page 106

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Posted by & filed under Energy Systems.

So far in the series, A Solar Powered Life, we’ve covered most of the components of a solar power system. To have a complete system though, you have to connect all of the separate components using wire and fuses. You wouldn’t think it, but the wire used is one of the most important (and potentially dangerous) components of the entire system. Some people may think that wire and fuses are pretty boring, so I’ve decided to spice it up a bit, myth busters style, by blowing some stuff up for your reading pleasure!

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Posted by & filed under Building, Consumerism, DVDs/Books, Eco-Villages, Land, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

by Øyvind Holmstad

This timeless book from Christopher Alexander was released back in the seventies, and it’s just as much a book on philosophy as on architecture. Still, the main purpose of the book is as an introduction to A Pattern Language.

Alexander’s architectural writings at the same time develop a philosophy of nature and life. He proposes a more profound connection between nature and the human mind than is presently allowed either in science, or in architecture. Alexander sees the universe as a coherent whole, encompassing feelings as well as inanimate matter. This strongly Taoist viewpoint was first developed in his book The Timeless Way of Building (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

To some readers, this is a book on architecture written in a philosophical style; to many others, it is a book on philosophy with architectural examples. A large number of people have embraced the philosophy of the Timeless Way of Building, finding in it universal truths on how man interacts with the world. Towards the end of his life, the philosopher and teacher J. Krishnamurti enjoyed having sections from the Timeless Way read to him each evening. – Nikos A. Salingaros

For this reason another name on the book could just as well have been The Timeless Way of Living.

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Posted by & filed under Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Storm Water, Trees, Urban Projects, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

A detailed account of the transition from a sparse and chemical dependent landscape to an ecologically diverse and resource efficient garden.

by Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper

Rope swing 2011Our rural 1/3 acre of land in Northern California has been our home and office as well as a continual experiment in ecological land care and permaculture for over 6 years. Our decision to relocate to the ‘city’ this month has us pondering just how much we’ve improved this particular piece of land in the short amount of time we’ve been here… so I decided to take a journey back in time.

Unbeknown to us in 2005, we moved into a chemical dependent neighborhood; neighbors who rely on pest control companies, Round Up and weed/feed for regular property maintenance. Within our own property we found enamel paint had been washed out on the back lawn and evidence of recent herbicide and pesticide spraying around our new house (pest company sticker in the garage with the date of application). Having gardened ecologically for a long time, we have learned a lot about how to make the transition from a chemical dependent landscape to an organic and biologically based one, and how to do it with little time and effort.

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

by Harry Byrne Wykman

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture is the work of a man of unique sensitivity and imagination. Holzer has combined a lifetime of practical experience with clarity of expression and intellect to produce a book which will satisfy a practically-minded farmer or gardener as well as the student of agroecological design. With gentle strength, Holzer would make designers and practitioners of us all and entrust to us neither task unless we join him in the school of nature.

He makes us want to join him in that school. He describes the techniques of what he calls "Holzer Permaculture" with surety born of concrete success and the observation of ecological health but without the urgency of someone trying to convince us that he is right. Any urgency the work possesses beckons us to join with the author in the "joy of cultivation" which comes from working together with nature.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Trees.

Winona paddock
Pasture cropped & time control grazed
Adjoining paddock
Traditional Crop and set stock grazed

When you are trying to decide which method of soil improvement to take, sometimes it seems like there are as many different approaches as there are bacteria in a teaspoon of healthy soil.

This isn’t necessarily a huge problem when you’re talking about a suburban backyard scale. It’s easy in that situation to: do some aerating with a broad fork; balance the Calcium:Magnesium ratio and whatever trace minerals your soil test says are missing; build and add compost and worm castings; brew up some compost tea; add some seaweed extract, a handful of basalt rock dust, a bit of Charlie carp and the humified eyeballs of some rare mountain lion to top it off.

But what about the farmer who is planting 1000 Ha of Wheat and Rye so the armchair permaculturalists of this world can munch their organic sourdough toast while checking the next important forum posting written by someone else sitting at a computer at 10.30am. That farmer would quickly go broke if they did all the things a backyard gardener can do. So how to decide?

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