This workshop will bring to you the home handywoman’s answer to excruciatingly expensive bee keeping, showing equipment put together by Syd Richards, the bee keeping mentor to Gold Coast Permaculture. Syd has a range of home-made equipment he would like to introduce to you including heated comb cutters, wiring and frame construction equipment and a honey extractor. This equipment will be on display at the workshop.
The industrial revolution, coupled with its move towards privatisation of land and resources and its focus on capitalisation, has had effects which can be somewhat imperceptible when viewed over only a decade or so, but which become pronounced and dramatic when viewed since its inception until now. While the industrial revolution has brought not a few benefits — to some at least — it has also brought a host of significant negatives. The most obvious of these negatives, of course, is that the human race is, rather efficiently, bringing itself face to face with a potential complete meltdown of planetary biological systems, or, at least, with dangerously abrupt changes to them. But looking deeper at the problems of environmental collapse, we should quickly discern that our crisis is less about environmental systems than it is about people systems — the invisible structures that frame and facilitate the fulfillment of our needs, our ambitions and the form, and subsequent result, of the economic activity that comes from these.
In other words, our myriad crises find their source in a crisis of culture.
At the recent Australasian Permaculture Conference (APC11) held in Turangi, New Zealand, one of the highlights for me was hearing Toru Sakawa’s tale of permaculture aid work in very unusual circumstances. I say unusual, as the triple woes of having an earthquake and tsunami followed by a nuclear disaster is somewhat unprecedented. Some parts of Japan were suddenly left without food, fuel, water and many other supports that we generally take (a little too much) for granted, and efforts to help oneself were restricted for many by the need to stay inside, out of radioactive harms way.
It was inspiring to hear Toru share how he and his peers did their best to help people in coastal areas, and how permaculture played some part in enabling them to do so. Toru and his friends, with fuel supplies cut, made their own biofuels from waste oil, and used it to transport their permaculture produce, and other supplies, to the people who needed it. They also brought people back to care for them, and to give them time away from the more radioactive areas.
It should help remind us what permaculture is really about; that being to not only create permanence, but also resiliency against abrupt shocks to the system, and the compassionate care of the people around us.
Editor’s Note: Besides making a mean Saturday morning breakfast, Tom and Zaia make a formidable team to learn from as well. It’s not too late to jump onto their next PDC, starting in just a few days… (May 20).
Saturday is a special day for us: it is our only day off in the week and we like it being a family day. That is why I like making a nice pancake breakfast on Saturdays. This week our breakfast was made with mainly homegrown or locally grown ingredients.
Michelle, Rowen and I were driving home from a vacation in the mountains when we passed by a swale on a farmer’s field in the middle of Alberta cattle country. Naturally, it piqued my curiosity and I had to stop the car to investigate. It was such a great example of how this simple technique can catch and store water on a large scale, we decided to make a short video about it….
What’s a Swale?
Rob walking along a swale after a huge rain
event at the Permaculture Research Institute
Simply put, swales are water-harvesting ditches, built on the contour of a landscape. Most ditches are designed to move water away from an area, so the bottom of the ditch is built on a modest slope, usually between 200:1 to 400:1.
Swales, however, are flat on the bottom because they’re designed to do the opposite; they slow water down to a standstill, eliminate erosion, infiltrate the surrounding area with water, and recharge the groundwater table. When water moves along the flat bottom of a swale, it fills it up like a bathtub — that is, all parts of the bath tub fill at the same rate. The water in a swale is therefore passive; it doesn’t flow the way it would on a slope.
Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. Photo: Edgar Barany/Flickr
I was recently struck by photographs of energy-efficient houses that were described as ‘sustainable’ — built mostly with natural or recycled materials and even finished with environmentally friendly paint — however, they looked like regular modernist buildings. Can modernist architecture be called sustainable, if only ecological techniques are used? Or, is there still something missing?
The Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa make up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet they take in more than 20 percent of the world’s grain exports. Imports to the region have jumped from 30 million tons of grain in 1990 to nearly 70 million tons in 2011. Now imported grain accounts for nearly 60 percent of regional grain consumption. With water scarce, arable land limited, and production stagnating, grain imports are likely to continue rising.
You may remember reading about the work of FoodWaterShelter to develop a sustainable home for vulnerable women and children in Tanzania. And you may recall their innovative approach to water storage. Well here’s another innovative use for old tyres — and one that may alleviate some potential concerns of unwittingly contaminating the environment through alternative uses of tyres.
Dan Palmer, of VeryEdibleGardens (VEG), gives an interesting look at the basis of Regenerative Agriculture, and how it applies in practice — sharing his experiences consulting for a 10-acre property about 2.5 hours northeast of Melbourne, Victoria.