How to Turn Astringent Persimmons into Enchanting Natural Confections, Japanese Style

by Cecilia Macaulay This week I’m shopping for a persimmon tree for the Edible Japanese Garden I’m creating. Of course I will be planting a sweet, rather than an astringent, or ‘shibui’* persimmon. The sweet ones, such as Fuyu, are squat-shaped, and can be eaten either crunchy or yielding. The long-shaped Hachiya variety, the ones Aussies first planted before we knew better (sorry Hachiya), are awfully ‘shibui’. You have to […]

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An Industrial Revolution Like No Other

French illustrator and printmaker Gustave Doré shows the squalid conditions in London, England created for the urban labouring classes by the Industrial Revolution From the very beginning proponents of the industrial revolution looked upon nature as a pirate might look upon a defenseless gold-laden ship – as easy pickings. A long term view of stewardship gave way to the short term mindset of a plunderer.

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Obama’s Organic Example Sets Cat Amongst Corporate Pigeons

Recently I shared how Michelle Obama was planning to plant a garden on the White House lawn – thrilling the many people that lobbied for them to do exactly that. Later we learned that, as we dearly hoped, the garden would be organic. On top of this, the First Lady also named chef Sam Kass to head the White House Food Initiative. Mr Kass happens to have a good understanding […]

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Calling for Volunteers for IPC9 and the Permaculture Centre, Malawi, Africa

The ninth International Permaculture Conference (IPC) and Convergence is inching closer. Previous conferences have been held in Australia, USA, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Nepal, Croatia and Brazil. This time it will run from November 2-6 in Malawi, Africa (Kumbali Village, Lilongwe), and will include site tours of Permaculture projects in Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The theme for IPC9 is "Plan Africa – Food & Empowerment". There are a few volunteer […]

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The Global Spread of GMO Crops

By Peter Montague of Rachel’s Democracy & Health News Felix Ballarin spent 15 years of his life developing a special organically-grown variety of red corn. It would bring a high price on the market because local chicken farmers said the red color lent a rosy hue to the meat and eggs from their corn-fed chickens. But when the corn emerged from the ground last year, yellow kernels were mixed with […]

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Cross Your Fingers and Carry On

by George Monbiot – journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist Here’s how the British government describes the risk of a smallpox outbreak. “We are currently at alert level 0. Smallpox remains eradicated. No credible threat of a smallpox release.”(1) So, in response to this non-existent threat, it has published 122 pages of central plans(2,3). Each of the nine English regions maintains a Smallpox Diagnosis and Response Group, which […]

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Wonder Weeds

PIJ #63, June-Aug 1997 by Linda Woodrow How to harvest weeds for their best nutrients Sometimes gardening seems to me like alchemy. Organic material that is of no value to us is converted into organic material of high value, and, like alchemy, the process seems almost magic. Soil micro-organisms and plants do the converting, but they can’t do it without something to convert. The role of humans is to set […]

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Maldivian Homegardens – A stable farming system in a fragile environment

PIJ #58, Mar – May 1996 By Dr Danny Hunter Editor’s Note: This decade-old article spotlights local indigenous knowledge found in the Maldives – a land today threatened by rising seas. The Maldive Islands have the unfortunate title of having the lowest highest point in the world – only 2.3 metres. The atolls of the Maldives represent a delicate and unique ecosystem that is highly sensitive to changes resulting from […]

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The Gospel of Consumption

It’s with a degree of dark fascination I watch as the current financial crisis brings substantial funding to the same people who’ve been instrumental in bringing it upon us – and who’ve single handedly manipulated and destroyed the local economies of dozens of countries (see this backgrounder on the food crisis for example). The cartoon featured here is one of my favourites from the wizard enviro-cartoonist Marc Roberts, and works […]

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Drumstick Tree

by Isabell Shipard. For more plant info, check out Isabell’s excellent books in our book section. Photo credit: Melanie Brown Also known as Horseradish Tree, Marango Tree, Murunga, Kelor, Shobhanjan, Ben Tree and Moringa Tree. Moringa oleifera syn. M. pterygosperma F. Moringaceae Description: A handsome, multi-purpose, small legume tree, 3-8 metres tall, fast growing and drought hardy, with a shady, leaf canopy of very attractive tripinnate ferny foliage, making its […]

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Plastic Fetish

by George Monbiot – journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist Do you remember that unspeakably naff designer accessory, I’m Not A Plastic Bag? The “design”, by Anya Hindmarch, involved thinking up the gauchest slogan ever contrived then printing it on a white shopping bag of the kind old ladies used in the 1960s. Tens of thousands were sold, at mind-boggling prices. More to the point, does anyone still […]

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