Pure Hop-iness

When you hear the word hops, you may think of beer or bunnies. While I love the ever-bouncy bunny, I’m referring to the plant version of hops, aka Humulus lupulus. Hops, which are the female flowers/cones of this dioecious perennial, have a distinct aroma and flavor and are best known in the beer brewing world as a stability agent and for the bitter taste, they impart that balances out the […]

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The Benefits of a Natural Pool

Nothing is better than having a pool in the backyard, they’re great during the summer, make your backyard look better, and raise the value of your property. On the other hand, they require quite a bit of maintenance to care for. The pH levels have to be carefully monitored, expensive and dangerous chemicals needed to be added, and their filtration systems need to be regularly cleaned out. There is a […]

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Calendula

Butterfly landing on a calendula flower

Calendula is a bright little member of the Asteraceae Family, which includes stevia, sunflowers, and even lettuces. The name Calendula is actually the genus name for around 20 species of herbaceous plants. The most often recognized and utilized species is the Calendula officinalis (English or pot marigold) and is edible. This is not the same as the French marigold from the Tagetes genus. Calendula is often grown in polyculture gardens […]

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Cosmic Carambola

Carambola in the palm of a hand.

Carambola (Averrhoa carambola), often called starfruit, does seem like a fruit that is out of this world. This beauty is a member of the Oxalidaceae family, and is considered a slow growing, fast producing tree with evergreen foliage. The foliage is light sensitive and most often folds in upon itself as the sun goes down. The carambola is thought to have originated in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, but is also […]

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The Charm of Cabbage

Large purple cabbage

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitate) is a cool season vegetable that comes in both purple and green and is related to other vegetables such as broccoli, romanesco, horseradish, and cauliflower. This Mediterranean native has been around for over 4,000 years and was used medicinally by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Cabbage was brought to Europe around 600 B.C.E., and around 200 B.C.E. the Celts began using it to make sauerkraut. Later […]

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From Big City Kuala Lumpur to Rural Kampung, Chalin Food Forest

Malaysia might not be a country that is known for permaculture, but many of the tropical ancestral practices of our forefathers reveal wisdom and the interconnection of humans and nature. Who would have thought the supposedly simple act of daily burning of excess leaf litter with branches in front of the ‘kampung’ or village house, actually helps fumigate the whole compound off mosquitoes and pests. The burning is done by […]

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Amazing Apples

Amazing Apples

These days when we hear the term apple we sometimes have thoughts of the latest iPhone or what the hottest album on iTunes is. Perhaps if you’re a 90’s fan, the line Matt Damon delivers in Good Will Hunting “How do you like them apples?” is what pops into your head. However, at the core of it all (pun intended) is the delicious, bright, crunchy, crisp fruit that hails from […]

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Remarkable Rhubarb

Eat the stalks, not the leaves! Wise words to adhere to when you’re going for the over-the-top tart perennial known as rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum). This member of the Polygonaceae family has perfectly edible stalks that look similar to celery, but has leaves that are quite poisonous. Rhubarb leaves contain some seriously high levels of oxalic acid, which is a nephrotoxin and can lead to kidney damage, and even potentially death […]

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15 Productive Plants That Are Evergreen and Suited for the Temperate Climate

For me, this year has been full of exciting information about the temperate climate. Having spent most of my permaculture life in Central America, moving to North Carolina has had me say goodbye to many old favorites and marvel at a host of new possibilities. It wasn’t until November, however, that I realized just how naked the forest and garden would be due to the cold. I’ve spent quite a […]

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Permaculture and Community Part 2: Using the Moral Imagination in Permaculture

In part 1 of this article (1) I explored how permaculture is very much linked to practices of peacebuilding and in particular to the use of our “moral imagination” (2). As a holistic lens through which to view the world, which encourages curiosity and creativity and includes the possibility of stepping outside of societal or cultural norms, permaculture has many similarities to the moral imagination as described by John Paul […]

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Thoughts on a Permaculture Kitchen

For Emma and me, our permaculture fantasies involve building our own home, growing 90-plus percent of our food (I guess it’s 100% if we are going full-blown fantasy), and living largely in whatever space we can find for ourselves. We hope for at least a couple of acres, one of which has already been cleared because we don’t want to cut down existing forest. We envision a “natural” swimming hole […]

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Principles for Designing a Holistic Food System

Most people have an unconscious feeling that we can´t continue down the path we´re currently on. The supposed abundance witnessed on the shelves of our local grocery store might seem promising, but deep down we know that we can´t continue to outsource our need for food to a system that is so deeply indebted to the quickly depleting reserves of oil and other fossil fuels. We know that something needs […]

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