Posted by & filed under Processing & Food Preservation.

There’s not much better on a cold winter’s morning than breakfasting on preserved summer fruits. But just how do you go about preserving that essence of summer sunshine?

A summer job that has just been completed here in my corner of Australia is that of preserving fruit. There are many ways to preserve fruit, but one of my favourites is bottling (also referred to as canning).

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

The PRI Maungaraeeda, Sunshine Coast, is preparing for what may come and showing others how to prepare.

As reports come in about record cold weather in the USA and as we just experienced record heat in our state of Queensland, Australia, and other states are seeing likewise, where apparently native bees have died and bats and flying foxes have fallen from the sky due to heatstroke, we at the PRI Maungaraeeda, Sunshine Coast are preparing for another busy year educating people to prepare for what may be coming.

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Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Annual, Plant Systems.

Some people will tell you that there is no place in permaculture for annual crops. I’m known as something of a perennials enthusiast myself. But permaculture is in part a design system that can be applied to many areas of our lives, and this certainly includes annual crop production. In 2002 I was privileged to spend the weekend interviewing a panel of highly experienced organic farmers through my work with the North East Organic Network (NEON).

At the time Dave Jacke and I were writing Edible Forest Gardens (see here and here) and I was absolutely amazed to see the parallels between the annual crop planning and rotation system and the permaculture design process. Even today that experience is one of the strongest influences on my own design practice. Though it took a few years, a book was finally published based on NEON’s work. It’s called Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual, and you can download it here for free. I co-wrote one of the chapters which is largely a transcript of the panel.

The introduction of the book states:

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Posted by & filed under Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Urban Projects, Waste Water, Water Conservation, Water Harvesting.

This past November (2013), Watershed Management Group’s Green Living Co-op installed a "Laundry to Landscape" greywater system at my house.

Enthusiastic co-op member ready to dig in!

The Green Living Co-op runs on a barn-raising principle — basically you earn ‘hours’ by participating in other members’ projects.  After you’ve earned a set amount of hours, you qualify to host a workshop at your house.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

Join economic and financial experts, permaculture designers, and sustainability entrepreneurs in designing regenerative business models that work for community resiliency!

We will address economic and ecological challenges of the 21st century as we design forward-looking businesses that optimize the local natural systems and human capacities to implement models of regenerative business and local resiliency.

Dates: March 10-14 2014, Miami Florida USA

Keynote Speakers: Eric Toensmeier, Judy Wicks, Gary Paul Nabhan, Elizabeth Ü

Permaculture Designers: Marisha Auerbach, Jono Neiger, Gregory Landua, Kim Walsh

Register with the code ET88 and get a discount.

Posted by & filed under Land, Plant Systems, Soil Conservation.

Geoff Lawton inside a protective wall of bamboo

Bamboo. A lot of people love it. A lot of people hate it. Where are you on the bamboo bandwagon? Are you a lover or a fighter?

Well, I remember my father making me cut out a line of running black bamboo with a blunt spade which had taken off down our suburban street and was on its way to engulfing our neighbour’s backyard when I was a young lad of fifteen. The plant had raced down the footpath and was on its way to cutting through our neighbor’s driveway, heading off on a carefree adventure. My job was to cut out the rhizomes and stop it in its tracks. For a young lad without muscles, this was a form of mental torture and child exploitation, working in summer in the hard clay pan soil. The rhizomes were like heavy steel. I never wanted to see bamboo in any incarnation again let alone cut through it again. That was my resolve.

Then I met Geoff Lawton who just loves the stuff, in all its many variations. He had a cunning plan to use this stuff creatively.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Eco-Villages, Education Centres, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society, Village Development.

After leaving the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub Waterways Reskilling gathering held on November 23, 2013 I realized that the practitioners who attended and spoke — the Transitioners and Permaculturists, the farmers, millwrights, boat builders, fishermen, engineers, woodworkers, and sail freighters — require a community, a physical location, a place to have re-skilling workshops, to teach classes, to hold gatherings, to take on apprentices, and to build real world solutions for the coming post carbon, Slow Tech era.

Slow Technology or “Slow Tech” has its roots in the ideological movement called “appropriate technology,” a term coined by E.F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful, first published in 1973. Slow Tech should be thoughtful about how devices shape our relationships to time, emotion, energy, and bioregional environment.

A vision for Wellbeing Farm

This concept is called Wellbeing Farm because well being is the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous. It will be a physical place where Permaculture, an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that reflect the natural world, and Transition, where these principles are applied to the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil, come together to address themes of energy production, health and wellness, education, economics, and food production and distribution at the community and local level.

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Posted by & filed under Demonstration Sites, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems.

The subject of ‘weeds’ has always seemed to me to incite far more controversy than it should.

The best description of a weed is, “a plant out of place”.

It seems to me that if you have a weed, then you have an available niche in your garden that an unwanted opportunistic plant has taken advantage of. To remove that unwanted, opportunistic plant, you have to perform the act of weeding and to me that feels like a waste of time. I’d much rather harvest useful plants instead!

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Mugove Walter Nyika

I grew up with my grandparents in a village 200 km south of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe. From an early age I learned from my Grandfather, who passed on when I was six, to plant trees, to collect seeds and seedlings and put them into the earth. There were many sacred sites, where it was a taboo to cut down any tree. When I fell asleep during the day, while accompanying my granny working on her land, she laid me under the shade of the trees, many of which bore fruits and were left standing on her cultivated land. When people were clearing land for farming, they always left the fruit trees standing even if they were in the middle of their gardens. When fencing their gardens they incorporated the existing trees into their fencing. The land was always covered, either with trees, grass, and leaf litter or with a large diversity of crops planted together.

My granny was a small-scale organic farmer, like most African women at that time. On her few acres of land many crop varieties grew: millet, maize, sweet potato, pumpkin, cucumber, cowpea, ground nut, round nut, fruits and all kinds of vegetables, many of which grew as weeds, such as cleome. She knew how to plant crops together such that they would support each other. I can’t remember ever being hungry as a child, and the same goes for my friends. We were also never sick from diseases of nutritional deficiency .

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Posted by & filed under Land, Urban Projects.

Photos by David Ashwanden

Readers requested more pictures to make it easier to understand the steps I took to create my terrace garden. Having scoured my photo collection for a more clarifying portrayal of what my terrace garden looked like, I can only find examples of another terrace garden, built on more or less the same principles but with a slightly different emphasis.

Below are the steps for how I made this one: you may note that they are very similar to the other. The only difference is that instead of starting from a high point and making a fence which is erected on a level below, you start from a low point (in this case the base of a tree) and build your ‘dam’ upwards.

With this additional information, I hope you will now feel adequately equipped to start making terraces.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Urban Projects, Village Development.

Store room and NAB sign logo

Nadia and I have known Rosemary Bdeir and her daughter Hala now for more than 10 years. Our original connection was through an invitation to consult on their family properties. It was obvious to Nadia and I that they understand the ethics of permaculture and the need for permaculture design in the broader landscape and community.

We were asked to gives talks to a group of their lady friends as they were going through the process of forming Nour Al Barakah (NAB) which translates as “the shining light of giving”. NAB is an NGO registered with the Ministry of Social Development. Once they had formed their organization, we consulted and presented at their first community garden/demonstration site whenever we could in our visits to Jordan. It was a very difficult site with awkward access and heavy shade from high buildings, but they persisted and got their first successful result.

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