Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Plant Systems.


SRI-grown rice in China

The world record yield for paddy rice production is not held by an agricultural research station or by a large-scale farmer from the United States, but by Sumant Kumar who has a farm of just two hectares in Darveshpura village in the state of Bihar in Northern India. His record yield of 22.4 tons per hectare, from a one-acre plot, was achieved with what is known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). To put his achievement in perspective, the average paddy yield worldwide is about 4 tons per hectare. Even with the use of fertilizer, average yields are usually not more than 8 tons.

Sumant Kumar’s success was not a fluke. Four of his neighbors, using SRI methods, and all for the first time, matched or exceeded the previous world record from China, 19 tons per hectare. Moreover, they used only modest amounts of inorganic fertilizer and did not need chemical crop protection.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Building.


The inaugural use of the clay oven

If you are into permaculture, eco-construction and/or just cool garden projects, then building your own pizza oven has undoubtedly made a blip on the radar at some point. For me, I first encountered them on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua, where it seemed every other hostel, hotel or farm was hosting a weekly pizza night. I was volunteering at a small permaculture project (Totoco Farm), and we were no different — for all the volunteers, Wednesday night was pizza night.

At that point, I was still relatively new on the scene, and while I had done some eco-construction with earthbags, I had never taken on my own project. So, when the farm’s owner Martijn told me about the building process, I noted it but didn’t really think I’d be building my own within the year. My, how times change. Just a couple of months after leaving Totoco, I took a job in Panama with the idea of putting organic gardening and permaculture practices into play on a small piece of vacation property. Building a pizza oven immediately came to mind.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Compost, Deforestation, Fungi, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

In this documentary a legendary civilization thought to be too good to be true on the basis of the stories told by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana, is found to be a real part of history. We can separate fact from fiction here, in that the golden riverbanks the Spaniard told of were not golden with precious metal strewn along them, but with something far more precious — crops!

Posted by & filed under Economics, Food Shortages, General, News, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Editor’s Note: On Monday The Independent published an article titled "Britain has only 100 harvests left in its farm soil as scientists warn of growing ‘agricultural crisis’". We are all too aware of why Britain’s (and other nations’) soils are becoming so depleted (if not, please see here and here, for example), and with the Western world standing on the precipice in regards to its food supply, it is insane for us to repeat the same mistakes on healthy soils elsewhere. And yet, that is exactly what we’re doing — financed by ‘investments’ and ‘offset mechanisms’ that empower the rich to extract and destroy ever more efficiently, behind the veil of distance. The colour-by-numbers kind of agriculture that has depleted soils and health in the North, is being aggressively, forcefully and rapidly applied to precious living soils in Africa, and elsewhere — and in too many cases also turning the poor residents of those lands into serfs at the same time. The sensible — and humane — thing to do, is to make a rapid transition to the kind of agriculture we continually write about…. Grow your own food people, and support your local growers, and you will not be contributing to this inhumane, biologically impossible madness.

Plight of Kenya’s indigenous Sengwer shows carbon offsets are empowering corporate recolonisation of the South.

Originally published July 3, 2014

Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 500 million acres of land in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was acquired or negotiated under deals brokered on behalf of foreign governments or transnational corporations.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Economics, Food Shortages, Seeds.

New and existing legislations and treaties are increasingly restricting people’s food rights and eroding agricultural biodiversity in favour of a handful of big seed corporations that are already monopolizing the world’s seeds.

by Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

The UK hosted a festival across the country to celebrate and honour the humble seed. In London, the Lambeth Garden Museum hosted farmers, growers, food sovereignty campaigners, artists and chefs for 2 days of workshops, talks, storytelling sessions, artists, games and film screenings. The festival acknowledged the importance of seeds and our responsibility to protect all their biodiversity from corporate theft if we are to protect the health of our children and the planet. The event rightfully acknowledged the growing community of small farmers and gardeners who are safeguarding thousands of years of knowledge in food production and seed saving still vital in feeding the world today. As stated in the recent UN Commission of Trade and Development report, small holder farming is what is needed to feed the growing global population, not industrial systems [1].

October is Food Sovereignty month, and October 16 was World Food Day, both coming at a time when recognising the importance of the seed is more critical than ever.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Urban Projects.

In his fantastic book Complete Book Of Fruit Growing in Australia Louis Glowinski wrote that "the banana is the most important fruit crop of the wet tropics, and may have been the first fruit cultivated by man".

That first caught my eye when I first read through the book, but living in Melbourne, Australia, a warm temperate climate, bananas weren’t the highest priority for me to grow. Having recently moved to the subtropics I see them everywhere!

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Society.

How our governments now talk about human beings.

To blot people out of existence first you must blot them from your mind. Then you can persuade yourself that what you are doing is moral and necessary. Today, this isn’t difficult. Those who act without compassion can draw upon a system of thought and language whose purpose is to shield them – and blind us – to the consequences.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation.


The great Amazon rainforest.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Bones. Charcoal. Ash. Blood. Feces. Food waste. Pottery shards. Before I began my journey into permaculture and regenerative ecology, if you asked me why someone would gather and bury these things together, I would have guessed at some kind of disgusting voodoo magic ritual. But for those initiated into the alchemy of composting and soil generation, this is actually a recipe for the most nutrient-dense, hyper-fertile soil on the planet — terra preta, or “black earth”.

The story of how terra preta was used by ancient amazonian peoples, rediscovered in modern times, and how it subsequently revolutionized our concept of the Amazon jungle and inhabitants, is a fascinating one, and it carries many lessons for us in modern times as we learn how to “leave no trace” (or even better, leave a regenerative trace) and develop a sustainable lifestyle and culture.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Here at Zaytuna Farm we have a gallery of permaculture earthworks — 17 dams, kilometres of contour swales, roads, pads, gabions, cross pipes, and all sorts of different installations that involved some sort of machinery!

It’s one thing to be the artist designing this sort of gallery, but I always wondered how it feels to be the artist/craftsman moving all this earth. It is an art form of some sort — the subtleties, the details, the eye for curves and contours, are all as impressive as any piece of art in any gallery. The difference is that the Zaytuna permaculture gallery is producing food, building fertility, soaking water and rehabilitating land, working with nature to create an example of an abundant system that can be replicated.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Village Development.

Are you a passionate and knowledgeable permaculturalist? Would you like to live in a developing ecovillage for a year ‘rent free’ as part of a documentary project? Do you want to explore a life of frugal abundance? If so, read on!

Over the last 12 months the Simplicity Institute has been involved in the development of an ecovillage permaculture farm out near Moe, Victoria, Australia (about 1 hour 45 mins from Melbourne). To date the communities involved have built a small Earthship, a beautiful cob cabin, and last week we made great progress on an earthbag dome and a pizza oven. There are bees buzzing, beers brewing, water tanks collecting, and communities forming. We’ve also planted 40 odd fruit trees and have established some large vegetable gardens, with more to come. The 20-acre property has a large dam, a large shed, a large greenhouse and chicken coop, as well as a more conventional house.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Health & Disease, Land, Medicinal Plants, Soil Rehabilitation, Trees, Urban Projects, Village Development, Water Harvesting.


A gnome (the author) in the Communal Garden

Make no mistake, the war is on. The commodity is food, the source needs to be sustainable, and the community needs to know about it. If you are already into permaculture, or just gaining an interest, then congratulations and welcome to the peace-loving yet active front lines. We call it guerilla gardening.

Read more »