Posted by & filed under Soil, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Rehabilitation.

The world’s leading soil scientist and creator of the Soil Food Web, Dr Elaine Ingham, sits down to a fun and down to earth interview with Nicholas Burtner where she answers many questions of how she got to be where she is today, plus many other GMO and soil goodies.

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Posted by & filed under Community, Education, Events, Resources & News, General, Why Permaculture?.

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Celebrating International Year of Soils

Healthy soil makes for healthy people, animals and plants; it provides the foundation for all life on land. Soil gives us food, clean water, clean air, medicine, fibre and fuel, it’s also a climate regulator and buffer. All these vital services depend on a dynamic web of billions of organisms, which break down organic matter; this activity renews the soil and keeps it fertile and resilient.

But soil is under threat. Millennia of agriculture and other human activities have robbed our soils of life; from simple ploughing and overgrazing, to chemically based monocultures; to logging, mining and other consequences of urban and industrial growth. Today almost one third of the planet’s surface is classed as desert and a quarter of all agricultural soils have been lost. The remaining topsoil is depleted and could vanish within 60 years. The threat is therefore critical. Interconnected crises in climate, water, energy and the economy only add to the problem. We need holistic soil solutions now.

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Posted by & filed under Animals, Demonstration Sites, Design, Education Centres, Energy Systems, General, Livestock, Urban Projects, Why Permaculture?.

Tom Kendall from the Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast describes the process after the cow manure goes through the biodigester. The biodigester compost pits and reed bed are shown and how he generates soil fertility through the cycling process is discussed.

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Posted by & filed under Community, Conferences, Events, Resources & News, General, Permaculture Projects, Social Gatherings.

The International Permaculture Convergence (IPCUK) in September will bring together practitioners from across the globe to share ideas and solutions that can be used to transform our futures. Can you help bring these global practitioners to the convergence?

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In September this year, the International Permaculture Convergence – IPCUK – will bring together permaculture practitioners from around the globe. From ‘the front lines in climate change’, hopeful scholarship applicants tell us their stories of how permaculture transforms landscapes and communities.

Can you help these people attend IPCUK? The Permaculture Association are aiming to send as many scholarship applicants to IPCUK as possible, can you donate to help them attend? Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ipcuk-scholarships for more information. Closing date is 17th April 2015.

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Posted by & filed under Community, Conferences, Events, Resources & News, General, Social Gatherings.

You can visit the Crowd Funding Page here.

Help us build up a scholarship fund so that we can support permaculture practitioners from across the world to attend the international permaculture conference and convergence this September in London and Essex (IPCUK).

Geoff Lawton has already donated in excess of three thousand pounds and sponsored two places, as scholarships, for this up coming event.

Everyone that pledges between £10 and £250 will be entered into a prize draw to win an IPCUK Convergence catered camping ticket (travel not included).

We’ve had over 60 amazing applications for scholarships from permaculture practitioners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Cameroon, Malawi, Gambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba, Argentina, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India. We want to support as many of them as we can, and we need your help.

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Posted by & filed under Demonstration Sites, Design, Education Centres, Land, Permaculture Projects, Plant Systems, Plants.

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Finca Quijote is located in one of the wettest places on earth. We get 6 meters of rainfall per year on average. Our elevation is 800 meters above sea level to 1100 meters on the highest “cero” or mountain top.

The 517 hectares of Quijote consists mostly of forest, some pristine old growth in the mountains, secondary forest where logging occurred years ago and some open land near the rivers where sugar cane and coffee were grown. The town of la Esperanza (The Hope), was at the center of our farm with a school, houses, sawmill, cantina and trampiche (sugar mill) on the relatively flat land portion. December 1957 is etched in the concrete of the trampiche. This area was also the most abused land, where sugar cane was grown on the “flat” land and coffee on the slopes. In the 70’s and 80’s it was the world’s most profitable coffee farm! Actually it was a money laundering operation. Garbage was burned and/or buried; sewage was dumped in a pit. We are still finding clothing fragments, shoe soles and other detritus of life.

The previous absentee owner had purchased the land from the government at auction after the money launderers went to jail. Coffee bushes were left over much of the land. Land thieves set up crude housing, harvested the coffee and tried to claim the land as their own, so the rightful owner had the coffee bulldozed along with most of the topsoil. The resident caretaker family was allowed to eke out a living with sugar cane, wood from the river and off farm jobs. All things considered, the place was perfect.

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Posted by & filed under Design, General.

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Somewhere near the early 2000’s I was co-founder of an architectural rendering firm that specialized in creating 3D renderings for architects using a computer graphic software called 3D Studio Viz. This was a specialized 3D animation software that was geared specifically to the architectural industry and was offered around the time that software giant Autodesk (who owns autocad) bought the 3D Studio company and started marketing 3D Studio under the Autodesk brand. Viz was essentially 3D Studio Max missing many of the robust features. I do not believe they make Viz any longer.

I spent the next decade or so diving deep into graphic design and 3D rendering. I am sure that has something to do with my preference of hand renderings over computer aided design. Before I go a little deeper into my thoughts on the pros and cons of both, it is wise to state that the advances of 3D computer software is outright amazing and the ease of access obtaining it is a reality the home user can seriously pursue. One of the key features to computer aided software for permaculture is the ability to give walk through animations of farms or homesteads before they are built.

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Posted by & filed under Design, General, Land, Soil, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure.

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Download the complete Home Garden Soil Health Assessment document here

Growing food in a home garden is sensational.

The most obvious sensation is the taste. If you don’t know how much better home grown fruit and veggies can taste, then ask an old person what tomatoes used to taste like.

But the sight of a productive garden can be inspiring as well. It takes a shift from the modern urban view of gardens as neat and constructed, but the constant change and promise of fruitfulness can be very exciting.

Many of the plants and blossoms in a veggie garden or orchard have smells to match the well-known scented flowers. And as for healthy soil….. it has a fabulous aroma.

There are lots of things to touch in a veggie garden because there is plenty to do: digging, planting, pruning and harvesting.

Your garden might sound like silence…. broken sometimes by the snap of green beans that are not going to make it to the kitchen.

This is what the Chinese proverb means:

You have to be in the garden to know from your sensory experience how things are going and what is needed. You get a feel for it.

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Posted by & filed under Animals.

In this episode, the ducks find their temporary home for the next few weeks. Jack covers the heater, the feeder, the water situation and more..

Jack Spirko has made and shared on his Youtube Channel, The Duck Chronicles. This series is all about his moving from chickens to ducks as poultry to work his property.

Jack illustrates in this series, how to over come hurdles he encounters, how he has the ducks work on his property and answers questions people ask of him.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Design, Earthworks & Earth Resources, Education Centres, General, Networking Sites, People Systems, Permaculture Projects, Project Positions.

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View from the wonderful pond with forest view

I have been traveling around the world for the last 5 years working on permaculture projects and communities in several countries. I shared my nomadic journey in 2 articles which you can see here and here . I decided to settle down for a while and bring my knowledge and experience in managing permaculture systems to the next step.

I got the chance to participate in the Practical Permaculture Diploma offered by the Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast here in Australia on a scholarship basis. The practical approach , being able to learn practically valuable self-reliance and life skills attracted plus the accessibility me to join this program.

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Posted by & filed under General, Soil, Soil Conservation.

By Cheri‐Lynn McCabe and Sandra Bartram

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Photograph courtesy of Lexicon of Sustainability (http://www.lexiconofsustainability.com)

“If we as human beings are to continue to live on this planet we have to stop destroying her.” –Dr. Elaine Ingham Montreal 2015

Historically, soils have not received the respect nor the attention they deserve. Mechanical and biological processes have not been as well understood as they need to be because the green revolution has masked the severity of the crisis. Ironically, the green revolution was the period of time in the twentieth century during which crop yields were dramatically increased through the use of chemicals and high‐yield cropping. In addition, the degradation of soils through nutrient loss, infertility, increased salinity, erosion and desertification has been identified by the United Nations as one of the most serious threats facing humanity today. Healthy soils are as essential as clean air and water, and protecting these basic elements should be the foundation of all sustainability policies. Globally, plants provide, either directly or indirectly, 99.7% of all food calories for the planet.1 Soil conservation and management should be the top priority of all nations, and appropriately the UN has designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils.

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