Thursday, 24 January 2013

Hare Krishnas adopt permaculture worldwide (#journal)

Krishna's Cows: ISKCON's Animal Theology and Practice

King, Journal of Animal Ethics Vol. 2, No. 2 (Fall 2012), pp. 179-204

This article contributes to discussions of animal ethics by drawing on Hindu principles of non-violence to all life as practised by the worldwide Hare Krishna community, including cruelty-free permaculture.

Permaculture in radical teacher training (journal)

Developing Justice-Oriented Teachers: Reciprocal Mentoring in Marginalized Communities

Armon and Grassi, Jesuit Higher Education Vol 1:2

Making trainee teachers aware of injustices in the communities where they teach is an important part of teacher training. When they work in permaculture gardens they can become aware of issues of food justice and food sovereignty, and this can lead to the development of justice-oriented teachers.

Human organising based on permaculture (#journal)

Sustainable Organizing: A Multiparadigm Perspective of Organizational Development and Permaculture Gardening

Mannen et al, Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies vol. 19 no. 3 355-368

The authors propose that each of Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles has direct application to human systems and that, when consistently applied, these 12 principles will lead to resilient organizations that provide opportunities for emergence.

Permaculture as mental health therapy (# journal)

Nature as therapist: Integrating permaculture with mindfulness- and acceptance-based therapy in the Danish Healing Forest Garden Nacadia

Corazon et al. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling Vol14:4

Describes the ten week programme of treatment for those suffering mental ill health at a Forest Garden in Denmark which integrates mindfulness techniques with permaculture approaches.

Permaculture and the Phillipine Food Crisis (journal)

Permaculture as Alternative Agriculture

Peeters. Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 2011 26 (1–2): 422-434

Shortage of food has been a serious problem in the Philippines for many years. This article considers the role permaculture could play in the production of food, using one permaculture project as an example.

Effect of ecological forestry on timber yields (#journal)

Ecological forestry in an uneven-aged, late-successional forest: Simulated effects of contrasting treatments on structure and yield

Hanson et al Volume 270, pp94-107

Considers seven ecological forestry practices and analyses their effect on timber yields. Overall, a forest with an integrated ecological management system is likely to yield around 30% less timber than a conventionally managed forest. However several of the techniques were successful in preserving the forest's key ecosystem characteristics.

Biodiversity-productivty relationships in plantations (#journal)

Biodiversity–productivity relationships in small-scale mixed-species plantations using native species in Leyte province, Philippines

Nguyen et al Forest Ecology and Management Volume 274

Looks at the relationship between tree species diversity, biodiversity and productivity in plantations. Concludes that management practices and species selection are crucial in determining biodiversity and productivity; simply planting mixed species is not beneficial to either.

No-till large scale wheat farming (#journal)

Farm-level economic impact of no-till farming in the Fort Cobb Reservoir Watershed

Osei et al Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 67(2)

Considers the economic impact of switching to no-till farming methods for wheat growing on large farms.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Spending our water and soils for food security

Editorial: Spending our water and soils for food security

W. Busscher Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 67(3)

Considers the coming crisis in global food security and the ways we can best use our soil and water resources to see us through it.

No-till farming replenishes soil carbon (#journal)

Soil organic carbon replenishment through long-term no-till on a Brazilian family farm

Lollato et al Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 67(3)

Deforestation and subsequent cultivation lead to losses in soil carbon and overall fertility, particularly in tropical areas.

This article shows that the long-term use of soil conservation practices can restore soil fertility to near-native levels and can halt soil erosion.

Permaculture redefines the term 'ecology' (#journal)

When science goes feral

F.A. Morris NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 59: 1–2
Argues that ecology has moved from being an academic discipline to being a life philosophy or source of spiritual guidance. Sees permaculture as typifying this shift, originally firmly rooted in the science of ecology but now 'gone wild', with its own research and methods outside of the academic world.

Organic cultivation needs new crop varieties (#journal)

The need to breed crop varieties suitable for organic farming, using wheat, tomato and broccoli as examples: A review

Lammerts von Bueren et al Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 58:3-4, 193-205

95% of varieties currently grown organically were in fact bred for conventional production. They therefore lack many of the key characteristics that are needed for organic cultivation techniques, and may have lower disease resistance and nutritional value. New varieties should therefore be developed.

Organic food may improve human health (#journal)

Organic food and impact on human health: Assessing the status quo and prospects of research

Huber et al, Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 58:3-4, 103-9

Recent research suggests an organic diet may lead to fewer allergies, and shows that organic food does have better nutritional value. However, it has been hard to prove that this results in better overall human health, and more research is therefore required in this area.

Carbon offsetting is a waste of time (journal)

Carbon offsetting is a waste of time

Nature columnist and climate scientist Kevin Anderson argues that so-called ‘carbon offsetting’ is actually worse than doing nothing.

High noise levels disrupt ecosystems (#journal)

High noise levels disrupt ecosystems

Are noise levels a permaculture issue? An article in Nature suggests they should be, showing that noise disrupts bird migration routes and resulting seed dispersal patterns.

Garden plants boost local biodiversity (#journal)

Garden plants boost local biodiversity

An article in Nature stressed the importance of garden plants in creating local biodiversity.

Decreasing contact with nature linked to allergies

Decreasing contact with nature leads to more allergies

Nature reports that decreasing contact with the natural environment is leading to an increase in allergies.

Evolution of cooperation: Special issue (#journal)

Journal of Theoretical Biology

Volume 299, Pages 1-188 (21 April 2012)

Special issue on the Evolution of Cooperation

The best fava beans for autumn sowing (#journal)

Fava bean adaptation to autumn sowing under European climates

Fernando Flores, Salvador Nadal, Ignacio Solis, Johana Winkler and Olaf Sass, et al.
Fava beans are widely grown in Europe but are generally sown in spring. These trials tested autumn sown varieties. Cultivars Clipper, Castel, Target, Wizard, and Gabl-107 performed well in the oceanic mega-environment, whereas cultivars Castel, HIX, and Target performed well in the continental mega-environment. None of the studied cultivars were suited to Mediterranean environments. Wizard and Gabl-107 were the highest yielding cultivars.

Biodegradable mulches for tomato growing (#journal)

Biodegradable mulch instead of polyethylene for weed control of processing tomato production

Alicia Cirujeda, Joaquin Aibar, Álvaro Anzalone, Lluís Martín-Closas and Ramón Meco, et al.
Black plastic is widely used in Spanish tomato growing, proving effective at weed control but creating a serious waste problem. This study looked at various biodegradable mulching alternatives over a three year trial. Paper and biodegradable plastic proved as effective as traditional plastic in controlling weeds, but were more expensive. Barley straw was less effective. Hand-weeding without mulch also proved viable where weeds were few. Prohibition of black plastic is suggested as the way to change practice.

Seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity (#journal)

Seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity conservation. A review

Agrobiodiversity, the diversity of agricultural systems from genes to varieties and crop species, from farming methods to landscape composition, is part of humanity’s cultural heritage. The circulation of seed among farmers is central to agrobiodiversity, but this is only just emerging as an area of study. The available literature suggests that there is insufficient knowledge about how seed exchange networks will cope with changes in climates, socio-economic factors, and family structures that have supported seed exchange systems to date. More research is therefore suggested.

Benefits of Swiss GM crops are marginal (#journal)

Sustainability assessment of GM crops in a Swiss agricultural context

Bernhard Speiser, Matthias Stolze, Bernadette Oehen, Cesare Gessler and Franco P. Weibel, et al.
In-depth theoretical assessments of GM crops in Switzerland concluded that they had only marginal ecological and socio-economic benefits, although the economic benefits were greater in organic production systems.

Review of cereal landraces in gene banks (#journal)

Cereal landraces genetic resources in worldwide GeneBanks. A review

Miguel A. A. Pinheiro de Carvalho, Penelope J. Bebeli, Eliseu Bettencourt, Graça Costa and Sonia Dias, et al.
Modern cereal varieties have replaced landrace cereals, which formed the back-bone of agricultural production for four millennia. Many landraces now face extinction. However, they are vital for genetic diversity when developing cereals that counteract climate change effects. This article reviews landrace genebanks around the world. Close to a million landrace varieties are held, but information on them is not easily available. Moreover, landraces need to be cultivated on actual farms if they are to survive.

Plant biodiversity enhances insect pollinators (#journal)

Plant biodiversity enhances bees and other insect pollinators in agroecosystems. A review

Clara I. Nicholls and Miguel A. Altieri

Agronomy for Sustainable Development

Volume 32
Urgent action is required to support bee communities in their vital role as plant pollinators in the US. This article reviews the growing evidence that the best way to do this is by creating rich floral diversity within and around crop fields. This means reducing pesticide use, tolerating some weed species, maintaining uncultivated patches of land, restoring hedgerows, and managing non-crop areas to support pollinators. It advocates further research on the best ways to do this without reducing overall crop yields.

No-till systems improve soil in Laos (#journal)

No-till and cover crops shift soil microbial abundance and diversity in Laos tropical grasslands

Pascal Lienhard, Florent Tivet, André Chabanne, Samuel Dequiedt and Mélanie Lelièvre, et al.

Agronomy for Sustainable Development

Volume 32
Tested a three year rotation of rice, corn and soybean in a no- till system with a variety of cover crops on newly cultivated land. The no-till systems produced better soil physiochemcial characteristics and more soil microbial activity than were found in either a conventionally tilled system or in non cultivated land. The study recommends no-till systems to improve the physical, chemical, and microbial properties of tropical acid soils to contribute to the sustainability of agriculture in these ecosystems.

The agro-recreational movement in Turkey (journal)

The Importance of Urban Agro-Recreation in the Formation of a Sustainable Integral Rural-Urban Environment in Gaziantep City-Turkey

International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies 3:3
Cemal Inceruha*

The author argues that unemployment and early retirement are leading people to use urban space for food growing in a way which is both economically important and recreational. The local authority has released extensive amounts of land for local people to grow their own food. It has also created a new interest in the places where urban and rural life meet.

Revitalising the inner city with permaculture (on-line)

From hometown to grow town: a study of permaculture-based neighborhood revitalization strategies for Muncie, Indiana  Katie Lynn Chase

An interesting study of how permaculture approaches can inspire food production in areas of post-industrial urban decay and abandonment. Includes five case studies of exemplary urban food growing projects from around the US, and plenty of inspiration for anyone starting a similar project.

Subtropical Mulch Plants for Permaculture (on-line)

Subtropical Mulch Plants for Permaculture and Agroforestry Jason Long 

A short practical guide to perennial plants that can survive in poor sub-tropical soils and can be 'cut and dropped' to create mulch.

Polyculture trials reveal high yields (report)

Mixed Vegetable Polyculture Trials reveal very high veg yields

A joint investigation by the Permaculture Association and Cumbria University discovered that mixed vegetable polyculutres produce slightly more productive yield than monoculture. However, the really surprising result was the amount of vegetables gardeners produced from a very small area.

UK Ecosystems Knowledge Network launched (report)

The Ecosystems Knowledge Network is a resource for anyone wanting to share knowledge or learn about the practical benefits of an ecosystems approach to landscape management. This approach is much more holistic than previous government landscape policy approaches. It produces a quarterly newsletter.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Science discussions from Rio 2012 (report)

Rio Summit Science and Technology Forum

The Rio summit produced some very interesting discussions of the role of science, technology and innovation in global sustainability. You can read the outcomes of these discussions on their website. The sessions on food security and indigenous knowledge make especially interesting reading for permaculture practitioners.

UN Global Environmental Outlook 2012 (report)

United Nations Global Environmental Outlook Report 5

Published in advance of the Rio +20 summit, this report assesses progress on 90 environmental targets agreed by governments. It shows that significant progress has only been made in four areas, including clean water supplies and a reduction in ozone damaging chemicals. 24 areas show little or no progress, including action on fish stocks and global warming. Global CO2 output has increased 40% since 1992.

OECD predicts a bleak future (report)

OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction

This extremely thorough report models the environmental future to 2050 if current demographic trends and economic policies continue. It also suggests policies that can make a difference. It focuses on four 'red light' areas requiring urgent attention: climate change, biodiversity, freshwater and the health impacts of pollution. Unsurprisingly, its conclusions do not make happy reading.

WWF report on endangered species 2012 (report)


WorldWildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2012

A sobering survey of the threat humans are posing to thousands of species of animals around the world, and to our own future. The report, which measures the health of 9,014 populations of more than 2,600 species, reveals a 30% decline in the health of species since 1970, and shows that we’re consuming 50% more natural resources globally than our planet can sustainably produce. The report is published every two years in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.

Annual EU update on environmental indicators (report)

European Union Environmental Indicator Report 2012

An indispensable source for key European environmental data, including climatic temperature change, output of various pollutants, power consumption, water usage, urban land use, transport volumes, waste production and disposal, conservation of at-risk species and habitats and renewable energy production.

Demolishing the myths about GMOs (report)


GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops

Earth Open Source. Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson, and John Fagan

This robust report exposes a series of myths about GMOs, including many of the claims set out by the GMO industry. It shows that there is little evidence for the safety of GMOs in the environment or in the food chain, highlights potential dangers to the environment and to human health, and argues that GMOS are both under-researched and under-regulated.

UN report calls for local, sustainable farming (report)

The International Climate Food Commission Final Report 

This report was issued in March 2012, clearly setting out the massive challenges our food supply faces due to a combination of climate change, population growth and global inequality. The report's conclusions draw on a huge body of scientific evidence, and come remarkably close to advocating a permaculture-based model of future agricultural production.

Insecticide regulators ignoring risk to bees (report)

Insecticide regulators ignoring risk to bees, say UK MPs

The safety of the world's most widely used insecticide has been questioned by a parliamentary inquiry, with MPs accusing regulators of "turning a blind eye" to the risk for bees.

Economic Impact of Community Food Sector (report)

Real economic impact of community food sector
The real economic impact of the community food enterprise sector has been revealed for the first time in a series of reports. The research, conducted for Making Local Food Work, finds the total economic value of community food enterprises to be an estimated £150 million per year.

Resilience Practice (book)

Resilience Practice: Engaging the Sources of Our Sustainability Brian Walker and David Salt $55.00

In 2006, Resilience Thinking addressed an essential question: As the natural systems that sustain us are subjected to shock after shock, how much can they take and still deliver the services we need from them? In Resilience Practice, authors Brian Walker and David Salt take the notion of resilience one step further, applying resilience thinking to real-world situations and exploring how systems can be managed to promote and sustain resilience.

The Permaculture Handbook (book)

The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country By Peter Bane $45

A step-by-step, beautifully illustrated guide to creating resilient and prosperous households, complemented by case studies of four successful farmsteads. Includes a new concept in permaculture, a pattern language for gardening. Focusses on North America but still useful for practitioners in the UK.

Parenting to Change the World (book)

Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting to Change the World! Anna Campbell $17.95

Including more than 300 practical ideas and activities, it comes with two priceless benefits: it helps you prepare your children for an uncertain tomorrow, and also helps you shift to a better family life for today.

Comprehensive home fermentation guide (book)

The Art of Fermentation Sandor Elix Katz $39.95

The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to home fermentation ever published. It presents processes in ways simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater insight for experienced practitioners.

Business Advice for Organic Farmers (book)

BusinessAdvice for Organic Farmers Set: Book & DVD by Richard Wiswall $49.95

Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. Farmer Richard Wiswall shares his story, and offers advice on how to manage your employees and finances, and turn a profit. 

Seed saving is radical politics (book)

The Seed Underground by Janisse Ray $13.46
A journey to the front lines of food sovereignty and the quiet revolution to secure our food supply—one seed at a time.

Fukuoka’s 'Sowing Seeds in the Desert' (book)

Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka, edited by Larry Korn $22.50

Fukuoka’s last work — and perhaps his most important. He spent years working with people around the world to prove that you could grow food with very little irrigation in the most desolate places. This revolutionary book presents Fukuoka’s plan to rehabilitate the world's deserts using natural farming.

Peeking at Peak Oil (book)

Peeking at Peak Oil

Peak Oil is not the end of oil but tells us the end is in sight. Anyone interested in food production, climate change or global security needs to understand this new reality. If you want to know the real story about energy today, then you need to be Peeking at Peak Oil.

Children, Citizenship and Environment (book)

Children,Citizenship and Environment

Children are confronted by four intersecting challenges: environmental change, weakening democracies, growing inequality, and mass youth unemployment. Yet everywhere there is also a strong, youthful energy for change. This book sets out an inspiring agenda for citizenship and environmental education.

The Global Food Crisis (book)

Provides a critical assessment of the contemporary global food system in light of the current food crisis. The book gives insight into current challenges to feeding the world, especially neo-liberal policy failures, as well as alternative strategies for creating a just and moral food system.

Twenty years on from Rio 1992 (book)

Only One Earth: TheLong Road via Rio to Sustainable Development 

This book will enable a broad readership to understand what has been achieved since the 1992 Rio Summit and what hasn’t. It reminds us of the planetary boundaries we must all live within and and what needs to be addressed for democracy, equity and fairness to survive.

Green Cities of Europe (book)

Green Cities of Europe: Global Lessons on Green Urbanism 

In the absence of federal leadership, localities are stepping forward to address critical  problems like climate change, urban sprawl, and polluted water and air. Green Cities of Europe draws on the world's best examples of sustainability to show how cities can become greener and more liveable.

Fundamentals of Sustainable Dwellings (book)

Professionals need reliable information about how to construct or retrofit livable, sustainable, and economical homes. Avi Friedman delivers an illustrated, accessible guide for architects, developers, home builders, codes officials, and students of architecture and green design.

Aesthetics in green design (book)

Does going green change the face of design or only its content? The first book to outline principles for the aesthetics of sustainable design, The Shape of Green argues that beauty is inherent to sustainability, for how things look and feel is as important as how they’re made.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

People and Permaculture (book)

People and Permaculture: caring and designing for ourselves, each other and the planet

The first book to focus on the use of permaculture for people. It widens the scope of permaculture taking it into the heart of our lives, our relationships and our society. It is full of ideas, exercises, knowledge, methods and quotes to inspire and enlighten.

Permaculture Design by Aranya (book)

Permaculture Design

This book gives you everything you need to apply permaculture garden design. It links theory to practice and places the ethics, philosophies, tools and techniques directly into the context of the design process itself. The book is based on Aranya's own teaching resources for the Permaculture Design Course and provides a clear, easy to use manual for the entire garden design process.

A global roadmap for economic reform (book)

An incisive description of the global financial practices that have driven economies to the brink of collapse, it puts forth a compelling plan to let nations regain control of their economies, reorganise human trade, and create institutions that uphold human rights and respect environmental standards.