“There’s a glowing appreciation for the rarity and value of truly fertile soil”
- Film Journal International, Chris Barsanti
In honor of the International Year of the Soils and the global effort to create soil consciousness, Symphony of the Soil, are allowing us to share their streaming Symphony of the Soil for the week of April 20 – 26 in English with French subtitles for free (The DVD is available in English with subtitles in seven languages – English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish). You can watch directly from our site above or it can be embedded and shared. You can support the film and the International Year of the Soils by holding a public screening, giving an educational collection to your local library or school, or giving a DVDs to friends. Enjoy and happy International Year of the Soils!
This is a great watch and we appreciate Symphony of the Soil for allowing us to share this with you. If you enjoy the film, please do visit their site and purchase a copy to keep.
Learning and Farming plays a very critical role in life of individual as well as society says Claude Alvares.
He claims that though they seem separate, in reality, they are deeply interconnected.
Claude laments the fact that the way multinational corporations, for their vested interest, are destroying native agricultural practices. He also grieves over how modern educational institutions have destroyed innate learning capacities of students. He emphasize how by returning back to soil (and manual work) will enhance overall education.
Water management in rural areas has always been an issue of great interest. On the one hand, water for human, stock and crop use is critical to living and producing. It is also a major factor in the very visible degradation of streams, the creation of gullies and changes to the natural flora and fauna associated with streams.
The common farm-scale actions of clearing, road construction, ploughing, (over) grazing and draining combine to have catchment-scale impacts. These impacts flow from the greater quantity and speed of runoff water which results in soil erosion (involving sediment and nutrient export) and scouring of stream channels which had developed to accommodate a regime of lower stream flows. Downstream impacts on other waterways can also be important: the 2011 floods in South East Queensland were estimated to have dumped 3 million cubic metres of sediment into the aquatic habitat of Moreton Bay.
In many regions, one of the first responses to increasing environmental concerns has been the rehabilitation of rural streams and catchments. In Australia, many Landcare projects in the 1980-90s related to some element of catchment or stream degradation, and Rivercare type programs flourished in the early part of the 21st century.
Initial earthworks for an orphanage in Kenya with poor soils in an arid climate.
By Warren Brush of Quail Springs Permaculture and Casitas Valley Farm and Creamery
With rapidly changing climactic and social conditions, we are witnessing instability in many human support systems around the world. Systems that are heavily dependent on centralized infrastructure and globalization for their basic needs of shelter, water, energy and food are the most susceptible to shocks and eventual collapse. Good science along with social and economic feedback tell us that there is a interdependent relationship between how far a resource is from our direct stewardship and how resilient and stable our system will be.
THE CURRENT STATE OF CALIFORNIA’S UNPRECEDENTED DROUGHT
California is currently in its fourth year of a severe drought. The United States Drought Monitor estimates that over 90 percent of California is currently experiencing “severe” to “exceptional” drought conditions. For farmers, the increasing scarcity of water has been devastating. According to the American Farmland Trust, California is home to 27 million acres of cropland. Nine million of those acres are irrigated farmlands, requiring a steady water supply. Crops typically requiring regular irrigation include vegetables (1.1 million acres), orchards and vineyards (3.1 million acres), and forage crops (1.7 million acres). Roughly 7 out of 10 irrigated farms in California depend entirely, or at least in part, on surface water allocated from state and federal projects. In 2014, farmers received zero water allocations from federal projects and only one-fifth of the water that they would normally receive from state water projects.
The shortage of water for agriculture has forced many farmers to fallow thousands of acres of their land in order to allocate what little water they receive to producing a successful harvest. Some reports estimate that in 2014 alone nearly half a million acres of California farmland were fallowed as a result of the water shortage. Other farmers have chosen to switch their crops to more drought-friendly varieties, including GMO seed varieties designed to thrive in soil with lower moisture content.
One of the first permaculture projects I did was building an herb spiral, and to be honest, the design has never ceased to delight me. Undoubtedly, that one and the few spirals that followed are amongst the most beautiful garden beds I’ve made. More importantly, they are also amazingly productive and a great way of getting into the mindset choosing the right spot to plant stuff, both in the sense of permaculture zoning and climatic considerations.
These are some of reasons why everyone who can should have an herb spiral, and there are many more. Herbs make meals more flavorful, used for creating sauces and marinades, infusing oils, or simply sprinkling them freshly julienned over virtually anything. Culinary herbs also have heaps of medicinal benefits, both for preventing and treating chronic conditions like heart disease and dealing with everyday ailments like headaches. They are also amongst the easiest and quickest things to grow, something that can almost instantly end up in the kitchen.
For those looking to get into permaculture, an herb spiral can be a fantastic first project. For those already in the know but still developing their plot, the spiral will undoubtedly be a feature to include for its beauty, practicality and ease. Or, for those with well-established zone ones, abundant with plant life, herbs included, the spiral can be an eye-opening way to demonstrate principles to interested friends, family and neighbors, a fun project to help them get into the idea.
ARCAH is an NGO that helps homeless people in the form of social farm programs like Therapeutic Communities (CT). In 2014, ARCAH formed a partnership with CT, together offering even more opportunities. These included a permaculture design of the farm, it’s first year application, and weekly permaculture lectures.
For example, one of the scholars who applied is the chairman of the Permaculture Research Institute Kenya, and founder of the Drylands Natural Resources Centre. He is doing great work for communities and landscapes across Kenya. He is working to develop a self-sustaining village for 1000 orphans and their grandparents, plus supporting over 400 farmers and schools to establish food forests.
What an inspiration!
You can make a huge difference to him and people like this from South America, Africa and Asia. Help bring inspiring scholars to the international permaculture convergence so we can learn, share, and plan together.
Come join us June 14-27 2015 for our Permaculture Design Course.
Adam Woodman author of Gabions for Gully Erosion Peru and Contour Beds Peru is co-teaching in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a place that is rich with history and where you will see the native cultures (Quechua speaking) working the land as they have for centuries
This Bi-lingual (English and Spanish) Two-Week Intensive Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beautiful gardens of Sach’a Munay eco retreat with delicious food and a creative learning environment with internationally renowned permaculture teacher Penny Livingston-Stark, permaculture practicioner Adam Woodman, and special guests including indigenous farmers who will share with us their own permanent agriculture techniques.
This training provides multiple ways of presenting information from presentation and slide shows to storytelling and interactive group process. This course include hands-on experiential learning opportunities provided by experienced instructors.
This course is a powerful way to have a transformational experience, be nurtured with delicious meals while learning powerful tools to create resilient environments on all scales.
Working on a project in the Sacred Valley Peru, I came across an opportunity to install Gabions to reduce soil erosion on a steep slope. A Gabion is a porous dam wall made from rock and small stones free standing or packed into a wire basket. They combat soil erosion by slowing the flow of water and dropping sediment and organic material behind the rock wall as water slowly leaks through it. They can also be used as retaining walls and in drylands used as a water harvesting feature, see Geoff Lawton’s article here http://permaculturenews.org/2010/11/25/gabions-water-soaks-in-the-desert/
To the left of a steep (35-40 degree) area planted to food forest is a growing erosion gully caused by water erosion during the wet season. This was probably initiated by disturbing the natural slope when paths were cut in, creating conditions for a large flow of water to spill out over the path above the point of the gully. In some cases the erosion is back to bear rock, and furthers rains threatened to erode the edges of the newly planted food forest.