Posted by & filed under Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

In this video agronomist Mark Scarpitti of USDA-NRCS Ohio state demonstrates the differences between tilled and no-till soils by doing two simple tests.

Slide test: In this test, a piece of soil is put in water to check how soil structure is held together. When water starts to rush into the porous spaces in the soil, tilled soil starts falling apart as there are nothing to hold the soil particles together. In no-till soil polysaccharides, glycogen and other matter produced by micro organisms binds the soil particle together and the soil structure is maintained.

Runoff test: In this test, mimicking the rain droplets, water is allowed to fall on the soil surface. As water hits the tilled soil surface, it does not infiltrate the soil, but instead it dissolves and seals off the top layer of soil, resulting in runoff.

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Posted by & filed under Social Gatherings, Village Development.

City Repair is an organization that uses permaculture, natural building and art to catalyze grassroots sustainable culture-building or ‘placemaking’. Placemaking inspires creativity. Inherently, architecture, landscape, and nourishment are interconnected and all needs are met for all on Earth. By reclaiming and creating common gathering spaces for neighborhood communities, a village is born. Isolation encouraged by the colonial urban grid and profit-driven real estate corporations is reversed and our social ecology begins to regenerate. People find connection, realize their power and work to create resilient communities. Together we build beautiful places for people and plants. City Repair has facilitated over 350 placemaking sites in the Portland Metro area. The majority of placemaking sites were designed and manifested during the annual 10-day spring festival — the Village Building Convergence.
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Posted by & filed under Bird Life, Courses/Workshops, Livestock.

Instructor Jim Adkins teaching the Hogan Principles of Production at Heritage Creek Farm

With the industrialization of agriculture, dual purpose heritage breed poultry have been all but eliminated from Australia with a small number of exhibition fanciers being their sole keepers. These historical normal birds with their amazing hardiness, foraging abilities, delectable flavor, and production qualities not to mention visual appeal have been replaced by a hybrid bird not capable of breeding true to type and without the thriftiness of our old school varieties. Admittedly, these new, hybridized breeds do achieve huge growth rates and enormous egg production but at what cost?

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Health & Disease, Seeds, Trees.

We need your help to save New Zealand’s largest organic heritage or heirloom seed and tree collection by June 6th 2014. We are asking for your support for this campaign to secure the land the New Zealand organic heritage seed collection grows on before we lose it.

Background: 30 years of organic heritage seed saving

The Koanga Institute, founded by Kay Baxter, has spent 30 years building up a living library comprising of hundreds of heritage fruit and vegetables that are in danger of extinction and being lost. These seeds are either from New Zealand or brought here from England, Scotland, Croatia, Germany, France, South Africa, the Pacific islands and other parts of the world with our ancestors when they settled in New Zealand. Some of the seed lines do not exist any more in their country of origin.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

It offers an appealing alternative to more stuff and more money, which drives environmental destruction today.

It’s easy to not think about the looming climate crisis. For one thing, it’s depressing to ponder the misery ahead if we don’t take drastic steps now to curb greenhouse emissions. It’s even more depressing when you consider that even the most modest steps to reduce carbon use in the US have been derailed by corporate lobbyists and ideological zealots.

And even when we do think about climate change, it feels abstract and distant. How can a few parts per million of an invisible gas pose a dire threat to our future, no matter how convincing the scientific evidence. That’s why the heroic work of grassroots organizations like to translate these facts into action steps is so critical.

I recently read another fresh perspective on climate change that really hit home. “Probably the most pressing need is to shut down the engines of productivity,” said David Graeber — an organizer of Occupy Wall Street and author of Debt: The First 5000 Years who now teaches anthropology at the London School of Economics — in The Nation.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Seeds, Trees.

The seed regulation proposal from the European Union (1, 2), which could have severely disrupted the biodiversity of the entire continent and ultimately the planet (3), was dismissed in March (4); recognised as the bad idea so many thought it was.

Regardless of your opinions on the EU, the fact that the act was proposed in the first place shows the power of a well-organised international network, and the significance of such networks in today’s political landscape.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Structure, Urban Projects.

All photos by David Ashwanden

A lot of permaculture involves utilising waste streams and turning problems into solutions, and I often bring these into practice by looking at what’s available around me and how I can use it effectively.

With this in mind, having come across some old bath tubs, I decided to create some raised beds, building up the soil using a layer mulch recipe rich in a mix of nutrients.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Courses/Workshops, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

Permaculturists everywhere are crazy about patterns. We are taught to “zen-out” so we can observe patterns in nature and society. But if patterns are the glue in permaculture, how do we begin to pick apart the patterns that we can’t even see with the naked eye?

Enter world renowned soil biologist Dr. Elaine Ingham and her rowdy band of critters known as the soil food web. Dr. Ingham has spent decades observing and unlocking the secret patterns of the soil food web. Through her work, we have a better understanding of the incredible diversity of organisms that make up this mysterious world. They range in size from the tiniest one-celled bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoa, to the more complex nematodes and micro-arthropods, and on to the visible earthworms, insects, small vertebrates and plants.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

Genetically modified crops and foods are neither safe nor necessary to feed the world, a new report by genetic engineers shows.

Click to download report (5.5mb PDF)

The second edition of GMO Myths and Truths, co-authored by genetic engineers Dr John Fagan and Dr Michael Antoniou and researcher Claire Robinson, was released on 19 May 2014 as a free online download by the sustainability and science policy platform Earth Open Source.

The second edition follows the publication two years ago of the first edition, which was downloaded 120,000 times just a few weeks after publication and was read online by several times that many visitors. At 330 pages, the new edition is nearly three times the length of the original and summarizes many new studies.

GMO debate is far from over

Author John Fagan said: “The GMO debate is far from being over, as some GMO proponents claim. Instead the evidence of risk and actual harm from GM foods and crops to health and the environment has grown in the two years since we brought out the first edition.

“The good news is that GMOs are not needed to feed the world. The report shows that there are far better ways of ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply.”

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Posted by & filed under Energy Systems, Processing & Food Preservation.

Sketch showing the solar tyre cooker

With relatively inexpensive materials and easy to construct, a solar tyre cooker can be a very useful device for many of the poor people in the world. In many African countries people walk long distances to collect firewood to cook their food, or spend up to 50% of their income buying wood or charcoal. The materials needed to make this solar oven are very cheap and fairly easy to get hold of, making this a great way to cook food that saves fuel wood and money. This can also be useful as an off the grid cooking device.

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

Permaculture Tools is putting together an instructional DVD on the use of hand tools.

The project is simple:

We, Permaculture Tools, are going to be working with Metta Media for the production of an instructional video on the use of hand tools.

We will also be showing how to use, sharpen and repair your tools, as well as some simple blacksmithing to show you how simple it is to make your own tools.

Some of the tools we will be covering in the DVD include:

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Posted by & filed under Society.

Many are the ways in which the powers that be obstruct and obscure our paths to knowledge.

by Dr Nancy Swanson

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here.

Say it in Latin for God

We need only look at the historical record to know that those who crave power have seized upon the belief system of the people in order to manipulate and control them. All good ideas start out well enough but, sometime after gaining wide acceptance, they inevitably become corrupted.

Those who ruled the Roman Catholic Church used it as a tool for absolute control of the masses. People who did not fall into line were threatened with excommunication, doomed to burn in hell forever. If they fell too far out of line, they were burned alive on the grounds of heresy.

One method of control was to use Latin for mass. The entire structure was formed around a language that the people did not speak, read or write. This forced people to have a go-between, a priest, to intervene with God on their behalf. Ostensibly God only understood Latin.

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