Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

What is a Weed?

When we look at the ecological definition of a weed; we are looking at something that is a pest, reproduces rapidly, grows very quickly, an opportunistic kind of organism, it produces a huge number of offspring. In the case of a weed, we are looking at something that grows best in a soil that lacks oxygen and structure and is often compacted.

If we don’t have structure in our soil and we are preventing those roots from growing deep, and now the weed and some other plant is competing with each other, the weed wins.

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Posted by & filed under General, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

With global food prices rising (see for example 1), concerns over climate change causing major disruptions in the food supply system (see for example 2), and the dubious nature of many food additives or products (see for example 3), it is no surprise that there appears to be a growing trend towards foraging for wild food. But how can we be sure that what we pick is good to eat? Indeed, doesn’t this apply to food wherever we get it — whether it is picked from the hedgerow or the supermarket shelf?

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Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books.

After eight years of work that enlisted a small army of contributors, Sustainable [R]evolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide, is finally in print!

Urban gardeners. Native seed-saving collectives. Ecovillage developments. What is the connection between these seemingly disparate groups? The ecological design system of permaculture is the common thread that weaves them into a powerful, potentially revolutionary — or reevolutionary — movement.

Permaculture is a philosophy based on common ethics of sustainable cultures throughout history that have designed settlements according to nature’s patterns and lived within its bounds. It is taking form as a growing network of sites developed with the intention of regenerating local ecologies and economies. Permaculture strategies can be used by individuals, groups or nations to address basic human needs such as food, water, energy, and housing, and the movement has been building momentum exponentially for the past 40 years. As a species, humans are being called forth to evolve, using our collective intelligence to meet the challenges of the future. Yet if we are to survive our collective planetary crisis, we need to revisit history, integrating successful systems from sustainable cultures. To boldly confront our position on the brink of the earth’s carrying capacity and make change that incorporates the wisdom of the past is truly revolutionary.

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Posted by & filed under General, Society, Village Development.

Sharing is the path to a greener, more peaceful world.

by Ruth Wilson

Human decisions and human activities are imposing enormous costs on the life-support systems of planet Earth. Left unchecked, the results will be catastrophic for all living things, including humans. Some of the damage to life and the systems that support life is irreversible. Fortunately, the message is out there to “save the environment.”

What may be equally important is a message about the need to save ourselves from repeating the kind of decisions and actions that brought us to the environmental crisis in the first place. In the framing of this message, we might critique a theory proposed by Garrett Hardin in an essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation.

This short article is a chapter from my book “Fertilizer for Free: How to make the most from Biological Nitrogen Fixation”.

One important question permaculture designers should ask themselves:

Is there anything you can do to increase the rate of biological nitrogen fixation?

The benefits of having more nitrogen rich organic matter in the soil are myriad. Starting with:

  • higher general productivity
  • richer and more diverse soil life
  • more available phosphorus
  • higher availability of various other nutrients
  • higher capacity to hold nutrients

Fortunately there’s actually quite a lot you can do to make sure your plants are growing the fastest and they fix the most nitrogen! Here are nine methods you can use in your permaculture design to make sure your nitrogen-fixing plants are giving you and the whole ecosystem more benefits.

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Posted by & filed under Health & Disease, Nuclear.

All 23 districts of Tokyo contaminated with radiation, worse than at Chernobyl after the accident, and blood cells of children under ten are showing worrying changes; the WHO, the IAEA & the Japanese government cannot be trusted.

by Susie Greaves

In July 2014 Dr Shigeru Mita wrote a letter to his fellow doctors to explain his decision to move his practice from Tokyo to Okayama city in the West of Japan [1]. In it, he appeals to their sense of duty to answer the anxieties of parents in Japan who do not believe the information coming from the authorities. He says “I must state that the policies of the WHO, the IAEA or the Japanese government cannot be trusted.” and “if the power to save our citizens and future generations exists somewhere, it does not lie within the government or any academic association, but in the hands of individual clinical doctors ourselves.”

Mita claims that all 23 districts of Tokyo are contaminated, with the eastern area worst affected — up to 4 000 Bq/kg. (The becquerel is a unit of radioactivity. One Bq is the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second.) These findings confirm what the nuclear physicist Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Nuclear Education found in 2012, when he picked up five random soil samples in Tokyo from between paving stones, in parks and playgrounds. The levels of contamination were up to 7 000 Bq/kg; in the US, anything registering these levels would be considered nuclear waste [2].

While practising in Tokyo, Mita also discovered changes in the white blood cells of children under 10.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development.

Marcin Gerwin: You used to work as an architect for a large company. How did you come to be involved in permaculture?

Mark Lakeman: I was working for a large firm in 1988 and I wasn’t exposed to permaculture while working in a corporate career, which was very typical. But fortunately for me there was a day in my firm when there was a huge toxic waste cover-up that I learned about. It was very upsetting because there was a big toxic concentration on our site and government inspectors were being paid to bury the information, to not report it. It was the biggest architecture company in the city and the biggest contractor in the state of Oregon. Everybody was just laughing about how they were getting away with covering up this problem. I was so angry and upset that I quit that day. I yelled gently at my boss for something like three hours and just quit. Then I went travelling for about seven years.

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Posted by & filed under Food Shortages, General, GMOs, Health & Disease.


Photo © Craig Mackintosh

People keep telling me that gardens and micro farms are cost inefficient and fail to feed society. Sometimes this information is delivered loudly and firmly with great emphasis on profit, and great personal attachment to the idea of its being true. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how modern chemical agriculture feeds the world. This is to be expected because so few people are even beginning to understand the complexity of the relationships between bacteria, fungi, and plants that create living soil. Less than 1% of the organisms in living soil have been identified and named let alone given any study for us to begin to grasp their roles. This frontier is just opening up in science right now. The reason it wasn’t studied earlier was the myth that NPK — Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium — were all that was needed to grow plants. Modern agriculture is based entirely on this myth. You can grow plants that way for a number of years, so long as you can afford the fossil fuels to do it and you don’t mind the lack of nutrients in your food, however, there are two catches.

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Posted by & filed under Insects.


African honey bee and workers

In 1978 something changed with honey bees in Colombia, South America. Beekeepers began to notice that their nice and well behaved European honey bees (Apis mellifera mellifera, Apis mellifera ligustica, Apis mellifera carnica and Apis mellifera caucasica and the combinations between these species) started to have terrible mood swings! They began to sting repeatedly, and swarming and absconding (abandoning the hive) phenomena were too common (1) (2).

How could that be possible? What happened with the bees? Did the bees get upset because people were taking care of them and using their honey, pollen and propolis?

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