Posted by & filed under General, Peak Oil.

There will be oil, but at what price? – Chris Nelder and Gregor Macdonald




Samuel Alexander – is a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs and research fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI), University of Melbourne. He also co-directs the Simplicity Institute. The author would like to thank MSSI for supporting the writing of this article, and Josh Floyd, Matt Mushalik, and Jonathan Rutherford for very helpful comments on an earlier draft. Any errors are the responsibility of the author.


 It would be fair to say that the timing of the sudden drop in the price of oil since June 2014 took energy and financial analysts by surprise. After averaging around US$110 per barrel since 2011 (IEA, 2013: 6), suggesting a ‘new normal’, the last six months have seen the price of oil fall to around US$50 per barrel (as of February 2015). But although the timing of this price drop was not forecast by analysts with any precision, there are economic, geological, and geopolitical dynamics at play in light of which the price volatility we are seeing is not actually that surprising.

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Posted by & filed under Animals.


Fungus-growing termites from the genus Odontotermes. Photo by Robert Pringle, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

What outwardly looks like thousands of termites forming a complex system of tunnels, are, in fact, also creating an oasis for life to survive, sustain and thrive. Unknown to them their mounds prevent the advancement of deserts into drylands and semi-arid regions and make the land more resilient to climate change.

Termite mounds act as a store-house of nutrients and moisture and through tunnel complexes they help for better seepage of water into the soil. As a result, vegetation thrives on and around mounds in an environment which otherwise would have degenerated to a desert.

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Posted by & filed under Animals, General.


A tractor trailer dropped off a pallet of organic feed onto my tiny dock. This cost me $800 and would only last 3 months. I had organized a feed co-op to save a $2 a Bag. That brought my 50 pound bag of organic feed to $34. That was the fall of 2013 and it ended up being the last time I ever bought commercial feed for my flock.

I’ll Show You How It’s Done.

I’ll show you how I weaned myself off of commercial chicken feed and replaced it with free compost and kitchen scraps.

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Posted by & filed under General.

By Cheri-Lynn McCabe and Sandra Bartram


The extreme air pollution in Beijing, China was among the leading environmental news stories for the week of January 20, 2015. The smog-causing small particulate matter, PM2.5, reached twenty times the allowable World Health Organization limit as reported in the online edition of the Guardian. Although the Chinese government had committed to reducing PM2.5 by 2015, the current data suggests that efforts to date have been, for the most part, largely ineffective. These particles are small enough to lodge in the respiratory tract causing an increase in health-related respiratory conditions. One of the major contributors of PM2.5 is coal-fired factories that are supported by the world’s over-consumption of material goods.

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Posted by & filed under Design, General.


This became a favorite spot for our daily hike, after a morning’s work, lunch settling in our bellies as we scuttled across the rocks of the Rio Chico under the afternoon sun.

I’ve always liked the idea that, once a permaculture system is in place, the largely perennial garden will not merely survive but actually thrive without you. My wife and I have started this year volunteering on farms in Spain, and at our second post, we got to witness this very aspect of permaculture—self-sustaining, expansive longevity—in all its fleshy greenness.

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Posted by & filed under General.


Photography by Keveen Gabet

My wife thinks I’m hilarious. That’s a good thing I suppose. She also secretly gets annoyed with my fascination with permaculture – I know deep inside it’s a rather healthy obsession. Before I knew of the term, I was using an exotic array of self-made vocabulary, but now, all my practices and ideas fit nicely under one generic term. She gets the best of it though – I spend hours reading, watching, experimenting and researching and in turn, she gets the crème de la crème. I translate my findings into cute stories and it seems she now knows as much as me without ever reading a thing.

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Posted by & filed under Food Plants - Perennial, General, Plants.

Canna edulis is a perennial root crop also known as Achira or here in Australia as Queensland Arrowroot. I’m not sure where the Queensland bit came from because they originated from South America. They are quite stunning plants popular with ornamental growers, although the ornamental varieties produce smaller crops with flashier flowers. They can grow up to 2 meters plus in full sun or part shade in damp soils and it spreads underground via rhizomes to form large clumps even in poor soils.

It is commonly used in Permaculture designs as a windbreak, as chop and drop biomass, as fodder for pigs and possibly chickens and it can also be planted to form a suntrap. The rhizomes form large starchy tubers that are a great substitute for potatoes and the immature seeds and young shoots can be eaten as well.

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Posted by & filed under Demonstration Sites, General, Permaculture Projects, Why Permaculture?.


When I was younger, maybe 10 or so, I had this thing for frogs. I wanted frogs, and ponds with frogs. Lots of frogs.

At an abandoned gravel quarry by my house, in the unlikely place of the city of Athens, I would find tadpoles, hundreds of them, in rain puddles every spring. I also learned, weeks later, from the dry deflated specimens etched in the dirt, that when the puddles dried, the tadpoles died. So I decided to save them. I dug a small pond in our backyard, lined it with plastic, and started re-homing tadpoles.

I don’t know how many of them reached adulthood. As soon (or even before) they grew out all their legs they usually disappeared, and I suspect I fed the local birds more than raised amphibians. But through it all I learned. I learned things about frogs (they may have been toads) and ponds and birds that I would not have learned in school books. And I learned things in a way I could not have been taught by a teacher, because I discovered it by exploring on my own.

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Posted by & filed under Earthworks & Earth Resources, Education, Food & Food Support Systems, General, Plants, Soil, Soil Biology, Soil Composition.


This is Part one of a series of Articles, that critically discuss’s the Nottinghill Forest Garden Project from Analysis – to Implementation – to Future Idea’s.

Fall 2010: Initial Site Analysis & Goal Setting

An initial site analysis for our property was much easier than at others due to a variety of factors:

a) we have lived and observed (albeit with less attention to detail than now) the property throughout the past decade,

b) the yard is mowed and trimmed regularly, making line of sight observation straightforward, and

c) due to its location, high quality satellite imagery could be coupled with accurate climate data for meta data gathering.

From my perspective, it is beneficial to begin observation from afar- gathering information about the region in general before assessing details. This method allows the forces which interact with the property on a larger scale to be internalized into your thinking about the place before becoming wedded to any one potential future, only to realize later that due to outside factors, that vision is inviable.

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Posted by & filed under Earthworks & Earth Resources, Swales, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water.

Part One

Phil Williams of takes you through a two-part video of him installing a grey water and silt pond project he has. He explains some of the issues and he talks through resolutions to making it work.

Phil was a conventional landscape contractor and designer for twelve years. He learned quite a bit about how to run equipment and how to manage a job, but the lack of sustainability of the industry was too much and he walked away.

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Posted by & filed under General.

Photos © Ingrid Pullen


Though we are less than three months into 2015, already the year has seen some momentous occasions in the sphere of changing attitudes towards food and agriculture. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (1) has designated this year the ‘Year of Soils’ (2): a positive sign, perhaps, that soil is becoming recognised by international organisations, although the time designation does seem to beg the question of whether or not they plan to continue caring for soils next year as well.

New ways becoming more popular?

The ‘Year of Soils’ at least shows that soil-care is permeating into ‘mainstream’ thinking; even governments and corporations are recognising that when we care for our natural systems, it’s better for everyone. Some current examples of people coming together to do this are the International Conference on Natural Resource Management for Food and Rural Livelihoods (3), which is being held in New Delhi, India, this week and is sponsored by the Indian government; and next month’s International Ecological Forum (4) in Marbella, Spain which will bring together “entrepreneurs, government officials, top managers of banks, state corporations [and] international investors” to:

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