Posted by & filed under Education, Society.

by Nelson Lebo, Centre for Science and Technology Education Research, University of Waikato, New Zealand


The profound lack of sustainable systems on our planet is of great concern to environmentalists, some of who are environmental educators and some of who are permaculturists. It can be argued that many of the problems facing the Earth and its inhabitants are caused by a lack of ecological literacy among much of the human population. Ecological literacy includes an understanding of the scientific principles of ecology, including the recognition of limits and possibilities. It also includes an attitude of care toward the environment and a commitment to act. Finally, it includes the ability to recognize interconnectedness; what some people call systems thinking.

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

by Tamara Griffiths and Delvin Solkinson

The ultimate compliment to a teacher is when your students make you redundant. — Geoff Lawton.

Day 5

The day started with storytelling. With twists and turns, laughs and
straight faces, Geoff tells us a bit about the origin of permaculture,
steeping us in a history rich with challenges and successes.

It was a wonderful yet exhausting last day. We all were to do 10 minute presentations but with 27 students and transition time this ended up taking more than 6 hours. A storm was brewing outside while the day stretched on, building a climatic climax to the experience here at Zaytuna.

It was 11:11:11 that day so at 11:11 am we joined people across the planet and meditated for peace and sustainability, praying that permaculture be empowered to do its work in the world.

It was amazing to see how many of us had been empowered and supported to grow through this dense week of training. Truly the people coming out of the course were not the same ones that went in. We had been upgraded and tooled to go back to all our different communities and to travel to places of need to help contribute in whatever way we could to advance permaculture education and practice.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Land, Urban Projects, Village Development.

The Urban Consultancy and Design Course experience at the Permaculture Research Institute.

Imagine, you’re perusing the Sunday paper, thumbing through various articles, world news, sports, opinion pieces… yea, we’ve all been there. What feelings arise for you as the images pass by your eyes? Article after article, world news and local… everything seems so dismal.

In disgust and with a freshly drained world view, you fold the paper up and drop it back down on the table. Just before looking away and try to forget the morning sorrow a small advertisement catches your eye.


Free garden? Sounds too good to be true. But it’s about the only positive thing you’ve seen this morning. What have you got to lose?

What you don’t know is that, behind the scenes, there are 20 knowledge-hungry permaculture students waiting to get out of the classroom and get their hands dirty in your very own backyard!

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Urban Projects.

Original asphalt

It began with a large area of asphalt and a dream of expanding our community garden. Mulberry Gardens is in Glenroy, Melbourne, Australia and operates entirely as a communal space. All members share in the upkeep and harvest the produce — which is mostly shared amongst attendees at the Saturday morning communal sessions. The number of fast food and alcohol shops vastly outweighs fresh food outlets in the area so a community garden was established to help give locals access to fresh organic produce and share the skills of growing produce.

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Village Development.

Charles Eisenstein, the author of Sacred Economics, gave this inspiring talk to Occupy Wall Street, which is actually about growing “the bright side of the force”. This Star Wars inspired theme I couple with “the handicap principle“, which has a “bright” and a “dark” side; the selfish and the cooperative. Animals generally use just one of these forces in gathering acceptance and status, while humans are capable to use both or choose one. Or they don’t actually choose, they use the part of the force which is easiest to achieve within the current design of our societies. Unfortunately we have chosen to grow “the dark side of the force”, today growing these evil powers mainly through the ideologies of modernism and capitalism. As a result, community is almost gone.

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Posted by & filed under General.

by Michael Pilarski, Friends of the Trees Society

So what is permaculture? What makes it different from: organic gardening? organic farming? sustainable agriculture? ecological agriculture? bio-dynamic farming? regeneration farming? forest gardening? Holistic Resource Management HRM? ecosystem restoration? sustainability? or natural building?

Permaculture is unique, yet at the same time includes all of the above. Permaculture is the design of sustainable human settlement. One of the most important things about permaculture is that it’s a synthesis of agriculture, ecology, and forestry. Permaculture is inter-disciplinary as will be outlined in this article.

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Posted by & filed under Building, Energy Systems, Urban Projects.

by Jessica Ryall

You don’t need a super-fantastic-amazing funny-looking low energy house to cut down your home energy use if you know what you’re looking for. Not every house in suburbia is a low energy house. You have probably noticed it yourself. Some homes are just naturally bright and sunny. They’re always nice to be in and mysteriously toasty warm in winter. During the summer, all the owner has to do is open the back door and a cool breeze magically flows through the house. Other homes are the exact opposite. In winter, the sun never seems to come into the windows. The cold breeze rattles the floorboards underfoot. And that state-of-the-art gas heater only seems to warm the few inches of air around it. In summer the heat is oppressive and no matter what you try, even with the air conditioning turned up all the way, it is always more comfortable under the tree outside.

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Posted by & filed under Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Regional Water Cycle, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Salination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting.

This excellent little video, put together by Anselm Ibing, introduces a new series on sustainable land use in Jordan. It kicks off with a concise look at historical aspects relating to Jordan’s present ecological situation. I’m now left looking forward to Part II….

Further Reading:

Posted by & filed under Building, Consumerism, Economics, Society, Village Development.

Interview by James Kalb of The Philidelphia Society, August 2011

Home sweet home?

Nikos Salingaros, the mathematician and architectural theorist, recently published a new book, Twelve Lectures on Architecture: Algorithmic Sustainable Design (ISI Distributed Titles, 2010). It’s a somewhat expanded set of notes for a series of lectures he gave a couple of years ago on architecture and urbanism. As such, it gives a clear if rather spare presentation of ideas he’s presented before.

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

Intelligence? Talent? No, the ultra-rich got to where they are through luck and brutality.

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

If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves – that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive – are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. This means crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren’t responsible. Many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

by Tamara Griffiths and Delvin Solkinson

Delvin and Tamara have condensed a few days of class into one blog for you, this one is about the substance of the course and the design of the farm (with some cool bug pics thrown in!).

Day Two

The second day of our Zaytuna Farm adventure began with the traditional Halal killing of an 8-month old calf, but we were nestled in the dreamtime for hours after this was long complete.

If we eat meat we have a responsibility to know where that meat comes from and to know that it has had an ethical life and the best death we can give it. It was in stark contrast to what was exposed on the Four Corners program earlier this year – where cattle exported to Indonesia watched while the cow in front of them was slaughtered, without stunning, with their throats cut and other horrific violence. The live export trade ceased briefly due to public outcry after this but it was resumed with new rules that are designed to supposedly protect the cattle from this experience. It wont be long before live export is banned altogether.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Rehabilitation, Soil Salination, Storm Water, Swales, Terraces, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

An aerial view of the site

Although the landscape here could be seen as a model for scarcity, what there is an abundance of is rocks. The baked dusty earth barely passes for soil and during the summer there isn’t rain here for over six months. With valuable agricultural resources seemingly at a minimum, rocks can be incredibly valuable in the design of a sustainable human settlement. In the case of the Permaculture Research Institute of Jordan’s site (PRIJ), rocks have formed the main building blocks of the swales that form the back bones of this small farm. They surround the heavily mulched planting pits for the many varieties of trees here and they also can be used for another useful function which litres of my sweat has been testament to! They make up the substrate of the grey water system into which reeds are planted that feed on the water flowing through from the sinks and showers in the washing block.

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