Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

by Peter Greg

The idea of how Permaculture parallels with politics has been a question that has been stuck in my mind for weeks now, and I’ve been fascinated with the idea of how we can use Permaculture to recover some of our political power. The more you look into politics in the modern day with an open mind, the more it starts to resemble a ‘mutated’ eco-system of sorts, and what better teacher than nature and its associated design science — Permaculture — to help us rebuild this important ecology to good health. As Geoff Lawton says “Let’s get to the core of the problem. Let’s get down to the mainframe of the issue,”and it struck me like a paradigm hammering my brain, as I was pondering how niches in an eco-system apply to political systems.

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

A silk tree in my garden, serving as living trellis to arctic kiwifruit; also shade provider for
shade crops including currant, mayapple, fuki, and edible hosta. Also fixes nitrogen.

Rafter Ferguson’s recent excellent article “Permaculture for Agroecology” (PDF) challenges the permaculture movement to read up on what’s happening in related fields like agroecology and agroforestry. I’m particularly interested in learning from the well-established agroforestry practices of the tropics to see what might be applied in cold climates. I’ve been learning a lot about what species are used in cold-climate agroforestry as I research the book I’m writing. Here are some species being used on farms for practices like alley cropping, contour hedgerows, living fences, wind breaks, living trellises, and shade for crops. They serve as our alternative to multipurpose tropical trees like Leucaena and Gliricidia.

Many more species could be used for these purposes and undoubtedly are. I’m focusing here on species that are reported in the literature and those that I have personally used or witness to be used for these purposes. My primary sources are Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, Participatory Agroforestry Development in DPR Korea (PDF), and Agro-Ecological Farming Systems in China. Please share your successes, failures, and observations — and set up some formal trials!

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Butternut, hazel, sunchoke and elderberry: nuts, fruits, tubers, and beneficial insects!

What: Forest Gardens and Commercial Food Forestry Workshop
Where: Huntington, VT, USA

Want to learn about edible forest gardens, agroforestry, and commercial food forest business development for cold, humid climates? This is the workshop for you! Choose from an introductory weekend and an advanced six-day intensive. For more information or to register click here.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Shicana Allen

On March 13, 2014, the nonprofit Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit against the USDA, demanding the release of nearly 1200 federal documents from its Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The official pages would detail the agency’s decision-making process in a very puzzling change of heart on genetically engineered alfalfa. For several years, the Center has sought to uncover the true reasons for the USDA’s abrupt, unexplained abandonment of its negative position regarding this fourth most widely grown crop in the United States, third in terms of value, and key feedstock for the dairy industry. Alfalfa is also widely used in nutritional and herbal supplements and medicines for humans.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

The oil age allowed us to do the wrong things with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Oil is an almost ideal energy source. It is relatively easy to extract (until recently) requires little refining, and has an extremely high energy density. The only problem is that there’s not an endless supply of it. To get an idea of just how huge of an impact this has, consider if we were to attempt to replace all the ‘work’ done by oil with human labor: 1 barrel of oil is equivalent to 12 men working full time for an entire year. That’s 25,000 man hours for just the $100 or whatever is the going rate of a barrel of oil. (That’s $.004/hour which is effectively slaverysource and calculation details.)

Now perhaps you can understand the leverage this gives any people who wield this power, not unlike the ancient pharaohs with their armies of slaves building the pyramids. The entire modern economic and agricultural model hinges on cheap oil to fuel all the trucks and ships moving products around the globe, to power the combines and tractors, to provide the fuel for our cars to get us all to work and to the stores every day, etc. The average American uses 60+ barrels of oil per year — that’s an equivalent of each person having 720 full-time slaves!

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Posted by & filed under GMOs.

Image source: RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid

Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Trees.

Global Resource Alliance was recently honored to plant the 5 millionth tree sponsored by the Belgium NGO, WeForest, in Kinesi Village, Tanzania. WeForest sponsors reforestation projects around the globe, and has worked with GRA over the past three years to plant 250,000 trees in Rorya District, Tanzania.

On very short notice our Kinesi projects coordinator, Owino, organized a big event and invited the Commissioner of Rorya District to plant the landmark 5 millionth tree.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Please take one minute to send an email to protect our national food-bowl, the Liverpool Plains, and the rich groundwater supplies it depends on.

This is an urgent request. BHP are planning on digging the largest underground coal mine in the world under our very best farmlands, on the Liverpool Plains in north-west NSW. Submissions on the groundwater assessment for this mine are due on the 23rd February — that is just 6 days away. Can you help?

The Namoi Alluvial Aquifer that the mine will impact is a high-yielding and heavily-used water source that is needed for irrigation, stock and domestic and town water supplies.

The Liverpool Plains is so important and unique because it combines exceptionally fertile volcanic soils with high output aquifers and reliable summer and winter rainfall.

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Posted by & filed under Education, People Systems, Village Development.

Marcin Gerwin: It seems almost natural that when children reach the age of six or seven they go to school. The idea of compulsory schools seems obvious and it is rarely questioned. However, one may start to wonder if forcing children to learn is an effective way to provide education at all. We learn easier when we want to do it rather than when we are told to. Is it really necessary to make going to school obligatory by law?

Peter Gray: Compulsory schooling is not a good idea for education. It’s been a norm in most countries for more than a century (in some countries for more than two centuries), so everybody has been doing it for at least two or three generations. And when that happens you begin to think – well, that must be absolutely essential for development. We hardly know people who have developed without compulsory schooling and those people that we do know may be homeless for example and are unable to support themselves. Therefore we develop a cultural view that it must be essential for healthy development, for getting a job. But I think that’s mistaken and I have a lot of reasons for thinking that.

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