I recently completed postgraduate research on urban food production. The research area was limited to within a 70km radius of Melbourne CBD. The data collection period ran from July 2012 to July 2013. This was deliberately designed to capture inter-seasonal yield. In all, 15 households took part in the research and each participant contributed 12 weeks’ worth of data.
The collective plot size was 1,096 square metres, with a total yield of 388.73 kg worth of fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey and meat. A total of 1,015 eggs were also recorded. The study found that backyard food production was capable of producing a great diversity of edibles from common kitchen garden herbs to less commonly cultivated fruits and vegetables, as well as less commercially available varieties like amaranth, apple cucumber, acorn squash, butter squash, babaco, cape gooseberry, edible canna, elderflower, gem squash, loganberry, nettle, oca, orache, purslane, rat-tailed radish, viola flower, warrigal green, white mulberry and yacon. In total, 101 different types of nuts, fruits and vegetables were generated during the study period.
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They are finally here — the dates of the 2014 PDCs hosted by FoodWaterShelter in Tanzania. We look forward to welcoming English and Kiswahili speakers alike to our 2014 courses. And for the first time we’ll be offering a PDC outside Arusha (Tanzania) with a Kiswahili PDC in Morogoro (Tanzania) in September.
See the poster (right) for further details of our three courses, that include:
- Kiswahili PDC; 5th to 16th of May 2014, Arusha Tanzania.
- English PDC; 26th May to 6th June 2014, Arusha Tanzania.
- Kiswahili PDC; 8th to 19th September, Morogoro Tanzania.
Application forms and further details for each course are available at our website at www.foodwatershelter.org.au/pdc.aspx
Please distribute this information to your networks, and don’t hesitate to contact pdc (at) foodwatershelter.org.au for further information or to express your interest.
Looking forward to having many of you join us.
by Leanne Ejack (Alberta, Canada), PDC student, Jan/Feb 2014 at PRI Maungaraeeda, Sunshine Coast, Qld., Australia
I was bred, born and raised in the Western Canadian prairies, surrounded by massive cattle feedlots and kilometre-long stretches of monoculture grain crops. I always enjoyed the farming lifestyle, but I knew as a young teenager that the farming practices that I was surrounded by were inflicting long-term harm to the soil and environment. Spending a year after university working for a large agricultural company opened my eyes even further to how these large companies have spent years manipulating farmers into complete dependency upon their chemical inputs. Farmers are caught in a toxic and corrupt spiral of powerlessness. I was driven to start educating myself about a more sustainable way of food production that also placed the power back in the hands of farmers. I had heard about permaculture and, after researching it further, I knew I needed to become more immersed in it.
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Patent granted on watermelons.
20 February 2014 Munich.
The company, H.M. Clause, which belongs to the French co-operative group, Limagrain was granted a European Patent on watermelons (EP 1816908). The patented watermelon plant is supposedly even more multibranching and smaller fruits than usual, but this cannot be an invented trait since it is part of naturally occurring biodiversity. The patent covers the seeds, the plants and the fruits.
The plants were created by crossing and selection, which are the usual standard methods used in plant breeding, and regarded as essentially biological processes which are excluded from patenting under the European Patent Convention. Last year the European Patent Office (EPO) announced — after wide public criticism — that it would stop granting such patents until cases involving broccoli and tomato were decided and legal precedents established. In this case, the EPO tried to prevent the patent from being granted, but failed due to a procedural error.
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by Dale Bunger
Just a quick update to show how I have been making swales with a small Kubota and front end loader.
First I start by laying out the path of the swale with my trusty A-frame level. I built this A-frame so the legs would be 5′ apart and I stick in a flag every time I move it across the ground. This allows me to easily measure the length of the swale by simply counting the flags.
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You may have previously read about the work of FoodWaterShelter in Tanzania, East Africa, where they use permaculture solutions to provide the food, water and energy needs of the vulnerable women and children at the Kesho Leo children’s village. And you may have heard about the successful English and Kiswahili PDCs that they have hosted with almost 90 graduates. Well now read a story from one of the world’s first Kiswahili PDC graduates who began small to improve livelihoods. Mary Mbugua is based at the Jamii Learning Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and is working to improve food sovereignty of local famers in schools in her community.
When I came back to my country Kenya after the April 2013 PDC in Arusha, Tanzania, I was fully energized and looking forward to initiating a process that would make good use of my newly acquired skills in permaculture.
My organization being a new one, I thought the first beneficiaries of this learning would be my family, who were also eagerly anticipating hearing what I learnt in Tanzania. Everybody was very enthusiastic and ready to support me to achieve my dream of growing safe foods for the family and beyond. Permaculture has various principles and I applied one of them within one and half months of returning home: starting small. Bearing in mind the distance and size of our land back at our rural home I decided to figure out how I could start with a kitchen garden in an urban area set-up.
During the first week after the training I approached my eldest sister whom I knew too well where she used to buy vegetables and the price at which she used to get them. I managed to demonstrate to her how she could put up a kitchen garden at her homestead and how she would save time and energy going to the market all the time, as well as money. I showed her how to prepare manure from readily available products which were previously household waste — peelings of carrots, potatoes, vegetable leaves and ash.
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Sage of a minimalist farming system based on non-violence and all of nature’s biodiversity that produces in abundance with no chemical inputs.
by Bharat Mansata
Bhaskar Save, acclaimed ‘Gandhi of Natural Farming’, turned 92 on 27 January 2014, having inspired and mentored 3 generations of organic farmers. Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese natural farmer, visited Save’s farm in 1996, and described it as “the best in the world”, ahead of his own farm. In 2010, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) honoured Save with the ‘One World Award for Lifetime Achievement’.
Indeed, Save’s farm is a veritable food forest; a net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the local eco-system, instead of a net consumer. His way of farming and teachings are rooted in a deep understanding of the symbiotic relationships in nature, which he is ever happy to explain in simple, down-to-earth idioms to anyone interested.
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by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Slim, healthy, happy bovines promote a ‘hip’ new McDonald’s meat based diet
to Chinese consumers from billboards across the country
Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006 — just eight years ago — China had a grain surplus and was exporting 10 million tons. What caused this dramatic shift?
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Originally published on TransitionNetwork.org
It is a rare occurence that I disagree with David Holmgren. One of my heroes, and the co-founder of permaculture, I generally find his intellect formidable, his insights on permaculture revelatory, and his take on the wider patterns and scenarios unfolding around us to be deeply insightful. But while there is much insight in his most recent paper, Crash on Demand, it also raises many questions and issues that I’d like to explore here. I am troubled by his conclusions, and although I understand the logic behind them, I fear that they could prove a dangerous route to go down if left unchallenged.
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Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple. – Bill Mollison
Join Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzer, Brad Lancaster, Joel Salatin, Stacey Murphy, Janell Kapoor, Peter Bane and many others at the free online Whole Earth Summit, March 11-13, 2014. There will be 42 actionaries and visionaries envisioning a world that is regenerative, resilitient and reachable. Don’t miss this!
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