Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Permaculture and utopian romanticism (online)

Permaculture grew out of an opposition to industrial farming techniques and preference for traditional (indigenous) land management and spread across the world with 400,000 projects in 120 countries. This paper provides an analysis of the key principles of Permaculture and its affinities with Romantic thought. The author explains the Permaculture movement and its principles followed by an examination of Romanticism from a political and socio-cultural focus. This leads into a discussion of prior links between political ecology and Romantic conservatism. The following sections expand upon Permaculture’s vision of society as expressed by David Holmgren and identify affinities to Romantic thought.

A call for regeneration (#journal)

Sustainability is not enough: A call for regeneration

We are privileged to be alive at a pivotal moment in human history when all the settled assumptions of the last two centuries are up for renegotiation. New economic, political and social paradigms are evolving right now in response to the converging crises of climate change, energy insecurity and global economic instability. While undoubtedly alarming, the realities of our historic moment also present a window of opportunity. As educators, we can play an important role in preparing our students to play a constructive part in this regenerative project.

Can renewables power the world? (journal)

Substitutability of Electricity and Renewable Materials for Fossil Fuels in a Post-Carbon Economy

One way to avoid the risk of energy decline and climate change is to build a 100% renewable global energy mix. However, a globally electrified economy cannot grow above 12 electric terawatts. Can 12 TW of electricity and 1 TW of biomass fuel a future post-carbon economy? The principle economic processes can be replaced with sustainable alternatives based on electricity, charcoal, biogas and hydrogen. Furthermore, those services that cannot be replaced are not crucial. Even so, land transport and aviation are at the limit of what is sustainable, outdoor work should be reorganized, mineral production should be based on recycling, the petrochemical industry should shrink to its 1985 size, and agriculture may require organic farming methods.

The permaculture city (book)

The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience

The Permaculture City provides a new way of thinking about urban living, with practical examples for creating abundant food, energy security, close-knit communities, local and meaningful livelihoods, and sustainable policies in our cities and towns. This important book documents the rise of a new sophistication, depth, and diversity in the approaches and thinking of permaculture designers and practitioners. Understanding nature can do more than improve how we grow, make, or consume things; it can also teach us how to cooperate, make decisions, and arrive at good solutions.

The Permaculture City

Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience

- See more at:

Ecological literacy and permaculture (#journal)

Feed Your Mind: Cultivating Ecological Community Literacies with Permaculture

This article proposes permaculture as a way to design first-year composition and community literacy classes. First, the paper connects permaculture with post-humanism to describe ecological community literacies—the type of knowledge that ecological theorists say we need to navigate the end of the anthropocene. Next, it describes assignments that can lead college students to this knowledge, and finally, it describes actual community literacy projects where college students can lead elementary students through assignments to gain this knowledge.

Foraging fruit in cities is healthy (video)

Urban Food Foraging Looks Fruitful

This short podcast from Scientific American shows that fruits growing wild in urban areas are more healthful than store bought fruit and contain lower levels of lead than what's considered safe in drinking water. The scientists involved thus conclude that it’s safe and healthy to eat fruit from most urban trees. Just make sure that peach does not belong to somebody else before you pick it!

Securing soil health (online)

Securing UK Soil Health - briefing for UK MPs
2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soils. Soils underpin the global food system and regulate water, carbon and nitrogen cycles but are subject to pressures from population growth and climate change. In England & Wales, soil degradation costs around £1bn per year. This POSTnote outlines the evidence for measures that sustain soils and existing policies affecting soil health.

Transforming our local food system (report)

A key element in the transformation of the food system is how we share and create new knowledge that supports this transition. This paper describes an experience of Participative Action Research with students at Cardiff University as they establish a local ‘food hub’ and engage with a vegetable box delivery scheme. The authors reflect how this generated value for students, organisations and the faculty, and the challenges we face; ultimately highlighting how PAR can be part of academia’s commitment to changing the food system.

Food poverty in the UK (report)

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE: The final report of Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty

The Commission has uncovered a crisis of food access for many households in the UK. There are multiple cases of parents – usually mothers  – going hungry to feed their children or having to prioritise calories over nutrients to afford their weekly food. The Commission defines this as ‘household food insecurity’: the inability to acquire a sufficient quantity of food, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so. But a lack of official measurement means nobody can be clear how many people are affected. Reducing and eventually ending household food insecurity needs an active approach from government, and the Commission have produced a 14 point plan.

Forests and orchards for the 21st century (book)

The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the Twenty-First Century

In 1664 John Evelyn presented his work Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty’s Dominions to the Royal Society. Its publication marked the commencement of the modern science of forestry. The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the Twenty-First Century, is a wholly original work, but faithful to the spirit of the original. The authors strive “to present the art, practice and science of forestry and arborculture to a general public audience.” The book is strikingly beautiful. Pen and ink drawings trace gracefully across the book’s thick pages, depicting an expansive forest scene here, an elegantly twisting branch there. The New Sylva offers an insightful survey of forestry, of forests, and of the diverse ecosystems that call them home.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Market gardening without motorization (online)

Can an organic market garden without motorization be viable through holistic thinking? The case of a permaculture farm

In industrialized countries, innovative farmers inspired by permaculture claim to design market gardens only based on manual labor. A case study shows that these market gardeners implemented a wide range of strategies embracing ecological, technical and commercial dimensions to increase their production and its value. On a cultivated acreage of 1061m2, they created a monthly net income between 882€ and 2058€. These incomes were generated with an average workload of 43h per week. Such economic performances demonstrated that these initiatives can be viable. Further investigation should be carried out about the way manual and motorized market gardeners can collaborate to build together a satisfying commercial offer.

Permaculture and strategic management (#journal)

Permaculture approach: linking ecological sustainability to businesses strategies

This paper discusses the concept of ecological sustainability in the global business community as the neoclassical approach continues to fail. There is now an emerging need to explore new approaches towards balancing ecological and economic returns. The paper extends the philosophy of Permaculture into business domain and explores its compatibility to be integrated with strategic management perspectives.The study primarily conducts a review of Permaculture and Strategic Management domains and uncovers the compatibility between the two, while arguing that the integration of Permaculture philosophy in business strategy would achieve sustainability.

How local is 'local' food? (#journal)

How local is local? Determining the boundaries of local food in practice

This paper addresses the question of how local can be defined in practice. A dataset of locally oriented farm and food-related establishments in southern New England is used to identify how far local food travels in this region and how interconnected local food establishments are with one another. These two aspects (how far food travels and the number of connections with other local food entities) not only are connected to each other in a complex dynamic, but also are bound up with other structural factors as well (such as size, type of operation, and proximity to an urban center).

Food sovereignty and decolonisation (#journal)

Food sovereignty as decolonization: some contributions from Indigenous movements to food system and development politics

Food sovereignty is centrally about groups of people making their own decisions about the food system. Since people are different, we should expect decisions about food sovereignty to be different in different contexts. This paper looks at the analytical points of friction in applying ideas of food sovereignty within the context of Indigenous struggles in North America. This helps to clarify one of the central themes in food sovereignty: that it is a continuation of anti-colonial struggles, even in post-colonial contexts. Such an examination has dividends both for scholars of food sovereignty and for those of Indigenous politics.

Food banks and local food growing (#journal)

From commodity surplus to food justice: food banks and local agriculture in the United States

Food banks across the United States have increasingly engaged in diverse gleaning, gardening, and farming activities. Some gardening programs seek to build poor communities’ capacity to meet more of their own food needs, signalling new roles for food banks. This article reports the results of a national survey and in-depth case studies of the ways in which food banks are engaging in local agriculture and how this influences food banks’ roles in community food systems. The patterns it reveals reflect broader tensions in debates about hunger relief and food security.

Labour conditions and the alternative food movement (#journal)

Food labor, economic inequality, and the imperfect politics of process in the alternative food movement

There is a growing commitment by different parts of the alternative food movement (AFM) to improve labor conditions for food chain workers, and to develop economically fair alternatives. This article asks what accounts for the variation in AFM labor commitments across different contexts. It then appraises a range of activist perspectives, practices, and organizational approaches. It seems that commitment to fair labor standards varies due to differences in organizational capacity, the degree of dedication to ending economic inequality in local activist culture, and the openness of local political and economic institutions to working class struggles. The article concludes with a discussion of how these findings inform our understanding of the process of cooperation and division in the AFM.

Biosolids on fields increase carbon storage (#journal)

Biosolids amendment dramatically increases sequestration of crop residue-carbon in agricultural soils in western Illinois

In agricultural soils, a large portion of C in crop residues (i.e. non-harvested plant parts) is annually lost to the atmosphere due to the low C use metabolism of soil microorganisms suffering C and N imbalance. In this study  biosolids (treated sewage sludge)  were applied for 13 years (1972–1984). The sequestration rate of crop residue-C in the soils was measured over 34 years (1972–2006), revealing dramatically greater sequestration rate in biosolids-amended soil (32.5% of total crop residue-C) versus unamended soil (11.8%). The study concludes use of biosolids is a valid approach to transform agricultural soils from current C-neutral status to a C sink.

Organic maize/fava bean intercropping (#journal)

Effects of intercropping on yield, weed incidence, forage quality and soil residual N in organically grown forage maize (Zea maysL.) and faba bean (Vicia faba L.)

This study investigated the effects of intercropping organically grown maize and faba bean in Sweden on yield, forage quality, soil mineral nitrogen (N) after harvest and weed incidence.  The land equivalent ratio was 1.10–1.21. The mean crude protein concentration  increased from 63 g kg−1, in monocropped maize, to 107 g kg−1, in intercropped maize. Intercropping had lower N balances compared with monocropped maize and reduced mineral N in the soil after harvest. Weed incidence was slightly reduced by intercropping. Intercropping can thus increase the sustainability of forage production.

Benefits of soya/sunfower intercropping (#journal)

Intercropping sunflower and soybean in intensive farming systems: Evaluating yield advantage and effect on weed and insect assemblages

Researchers assessed yields of sunflower/soybean intercrops in the Southern Pampas (Argentina), and evaluated the composition, richness, and abundance of weeds and insects. Sunflower/soybean sole crops and intercrops were sown during two consecutive years.  Yield advantage of intercropping was indicated by land equivalent ratios higher than 1, indicating that intercrops were more productive than sole crops. Weed and insect species were more diverse in intercrops than in sole crops, though actual numbers were similar. Intercropping warm-season crops can therefore promote biodiversity and yield in conventional cropping systems in temperate regions.

Permaculture and Climate Change (book)

Permaculture and Climate Change Adaptation

For decades, permaculture practitioners have devised creative responses to changes in local climatic conditions. This book seeks to bring this expertise from the margins into the centre of policy debates and mainstream action. It describes in broad terms how permaculture’s underlying philosophy and perspective on climate change complements those of formal science and indigenous knowledge, provides detailed descriptions of practical applications drawing on case studies from around the world, and considers how global responses can most effectively draw upon the unique contributions permaculture has to make.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

World Soil Day, 5th December (Celebration!)

Celebrate World Soil Saturday, 5th December 2015

World Soil Day celebrates the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to the human commonwealth through its contribution to food, water and energy security and as a mitigator of biodiversity loss and climate change. Many events will focus on increasing the public awareness of soil and its contribution to humanity and the environment. This year's theme is 'Soil, a solid ground for life'.

Beautiful ways to manage stormwater (book)

Artful Rainwater Design: Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater

Stormwater management as art? Absolutely. Rain is a resource that should be valued and celebrated, and yet traditional stormwater treatment methods range from ugly to forgettable. Artful Rainwater Design shows that it's possible to effectively manage runoff while also creating inviting, attractive landscapes. A must-have resource for landscape architects, urban designers, civil engineers, and architects who won't let stormwater regulations cramp their style, and who understand that for a design to truly be sustainable, people must appreciate and love it. It is a tool for creating landscapes that celebrate rain for the life-giving resource it is—and contribute to more sustainable, healthy, and even fun, built environments.

State of the World Report 2015 (book)

In State of the World 2015, experts explore hidden threats to sustainability and how to address them. How will nations deal with migration as climate change refugees cross borders in order to escape flooding, drought, or other extreme weather events? What will happen to the price and availability of fossil energy as these resources oscillate between surplus and scarcity? If perpetual economic growth on a finite planet is impossible, what are the alternatives? Can national governments manage the transition? Eight key issues are addressed in depth, along with the central question of how we can develop resilience to these and other shocks.

The end of automobile dependence (book)

The End of Automobile Dependence: How Cities are Moving Beyond Car-Based Planning
Cities will continue to accommodate the automobile, but when cities are built around them, the quality of human and natural life declines. Current trends show great promise for future urban mobility systems that enable freedom and connection, but not dependence. We are experiencing the phenomenon of peak car use in many global cities. We are thus in a new era: the end of automobile dependence. In The End of Automobile Dependence, Newman and Kenworthy look at how we can accelerate a planning approach to designing urban environments that can function reliably and conveniently on alternative modes, with a refined and more civilized automobile playing a very much reduced and manageable role in urban transportation.

Seeking wildness in the modern age (book)

Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man
With this book you will travel beyond the bright lights and certainties of our cities to seek wildness wherever it survives. These expeditions to the edges of civilization's grid show us that, although our notions of pristine nature may be shattering, the mystery of the wild still exists — and in fact, it is more crucial than ever. But wildness is wily as a coyote: you have to be willing to track it to understand the least thing about it. Satellites in the High Country is an epic journey on the trail of the wild, a poetic and incisive exploration of its meaning and enduring power in our Human Age.

Desigining resilient businesses (book)

Resilient by Design: Creating Businesses That Adapt andFlourish in a Changing World

As managers grapple with the challenges of climate change and volatility in a hyper-connected, global economy, they are paying increasing attention to their organization’s resilience—its capacity to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of turbulent change. Resilient by Design provides business executives with a comprehensive approach to achieving consistent success in a changing world. Resilient enterprises adapt successfully to turbulence by anticipating disruptive changes, recognizing new business opportunities, building strong relationships, and designing resilient assets, products, and processes.

Restoring health to your land (book)

The first practical guidebook to give those with no scientific training the “how to” information they need to plan and implement ecological restoration. The book sets forth a step-by-step process for developing, implementing, monitoring, and refining restoration projects that is applicable to a wide range of landscapes and ecosystems. No other ecological restoration book leads by example and first-hand experience like this one. The authors encourage readers to champion restoration of ecosystems close to where they live . . . at home, on farms and ranches, in parks and preserves. It provides an essential bridge for people from all walks of life and all levels of experience, a unique contribution to the literature on restoration.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Perma/culture: Alternatives in an Age of Crisis (call for papers)

Perma/Culture: Imagining Alternatives in an Age of Crisis

We are seeking proposals for an interdisciplinary anthology, tentatively titled “Perma/Culture: Imagining Alternatives in an Age of Crisis,” that will treat cultural production and practices related to “alternatives” that challenge the unjust and unsustainable systems that dominate at present. Myriad social and cultural practices—from Transition towns to slow economies; permaculture design courses to CSAs—have offered examples for how to live differently, and these practices have, in turn, inspired artists and writers. We are looking for contributions that, presuming the background of crisis (economic, ecological, social, and cultural), turn critical and creative attention to what could be or, in some cases, is, in order to address the question of the effectiveness of alternatives. We imagine the “cultural production” under consideration in the book to be broad, including anything from actual practices in the environment (like gardening) to blog posts; poetry, fiction, drama, essay; media (film, television); music; (performance) art; etc. Essays treating the history of “alternatives” are also welcome. And while we envision this as a scholarly book, we are open to the idea of including creative nonfiction, short fiction, and poetry as well. Please send proposals of approximately 500 words for essays of 7000-8000 words to and by February 1, 2016.

Economic Valuation of Nature: A critique (online)


Economic valuation of nature is not new. In fact, it has been a companion of capital accumulation for centuries. Yet, despite the long history of valuing select portions of nature economically, there seems to be a new quality to current approaches. This paper explores where the recent initiatives aimed at 'ending the economic invisibility of nature' differ from previous approaches to economic valuation of nature.
We have invited a number of scientists, academics and environmentalists to provide different views and starting points for the discussion. Their reviews of the paper will successively be uploaded here to fuel the debate.

Carbon metrics: potential solution or another problem? (online)

The environmental crisis is real, urgent, and of global reach and significance. Climate change is framed as the largest threat. But this threat is seen almost exclusively as a problem of too much CO2 emissions. Is climate change more important and more urgent than the loss of biodiversity, the degradation of arable soils, or the depletion of fresh water? Can any of these phenomena even be considered in isolation from each other? This paper argues that the way we describe and frame a problem very much predetermines the kinds of solutions and answers we seek, e.g. carbon-centric mode creates and even destroys knowledge at the same time. The authors of this essay invite the readers to take a step back and brush climate policy against the nap.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The value of elaeagnus in permaculture (#journal)

Plant genus Elaeagnus: underutilized lycopene and linoleic acid reserve with permaculture potential

Elaeagnus is a genus found wild or as ornamental plants with dense shrub-like structure, fragrant blossoms and silvery foliage. The tiny oblong fruit, with red flesh and pericarp speckled with gold and silvery spots, are edible, with rich antioxidants, phenolic acids and flavonoids. The health benefits of the fruit are blood alcohol removal, pain alleviation, wound healing, cancer prevention, antimicrobial and expectorant etc. Despite this immense food and medicinal potential, the fruit of this genus are languishing in obscurity, and yet to reach mainstream market.

Sustainable land management (report)

The value of land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management

The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is an international collaboration that provides a global assessment of the economics of land degradation, and highlights the benefits of sustainable land management. Working with a team of scientists, practitioners, policy-/decisionmakers, and all interested stakeholders, the Initiative endeavours to provide a scientifically robust, politically relevant, and socio-economically considerate approach that is economically viable and rewarding.

Living with the Land 9) Foraging (video)

Living With The Land | Part 9 | 21st Century Foraging

Wild food experimentalist Fergus Drennan has been foraging for over 25 years. By following the traditions of foraging for wild foods, medicinals and building materials, we can reconnect with our landscapes, learning to live in tune with nature. Fergus brings this tradition into the modern world through his experimental techniques such as making paper from bracket mushrooms and syrups from bullrushes. Fergus shows some common, yet wonderful plants that are not only edible, but are tasty and healthy. Introduced by Bruce Parry, presenter of the BBC series 'Tribe'.

Terraced farming in the Andes (online)

Terrace Farming – an Ancient Indigenous Model for Food Security 

Terrace farming as practiced from time immemorial by native peoples in the Andes mountains contributes to food security as a strategy of adaptation in an environment where the geography and other conditions make the production of nutritional foods a complex undertaking.

Monday, 26 October 2015

8 principles of IPM (#journal)

Eight principles of integrated pest management

There is a need to design cropping systems less dependent on synthetic pesticides. Consequently, the European Union requires the application of eight principles of Integrated Pest Management. Here, we propose to farmers, advisors, and researchers a dynamic and flexible approach that accounts for the diversity of farming situations and the complexities of agroecosystems and that can improve the resilience of cropping systems and our capacity to adapt crop protection to local realities.

Roof top gardens in Italy (#journal)

Techniques and crops for efficient rooftop gardens in Bologna, Italy

Urban rooftop farming favours local food production. Although rooftop farming is perceived as a sustainable system, there is a lack of quantitative studies. Researchers in a community rooftop garden in Bologna, Italy, grew lettuce, tomato, chilli pepper, eggplant, melon and watermelon. Data was analysed by life cycle assessment for environmental and economic performance. Eggplants and tomatoes showed the best environmental performances of about 74 g CO2 per kg. Eggplant production in soil was cheapest at 0.13 € per kg.

Agricultural instensifcation - what does it mean? (#journal)

The blurred boundaries of ecological, sustainable, and agroecological intensification: a review

It is neither clear nor agreed upon what is meant by agricultural  intensification. This article compares the three major uses, ‘ecological intensification’, ‘sustainable intensification’ and ‘agroecological intensification’, by analysing their various definitions, principles and practices.  Confusion is still predominant in the use of these terms, contributing to their use for justifying many different kinds of practices and interventions. Greater precision in defining the terms and the respective practices proposed would indicate more clearly what authors are aiming at with the proposed intensification.

Biodiversity can feed the world (#journal)

Using our agrobiodiversity: plant-based solutions to feed the world

How can we provide an increasing world population with an adequate, reliable and nutritious food supply? This can best be achieved through the utilization of biodiversity and the inclusion of marginal arable lands for agricultural production, while maintaining a broad gene pool to secure the potential for future plant production and supporting rural agricultural communities. The potential for approaches based on the preservation and development of existing agrobiodiversity has not been given sufficient attention in the current scientific and political debates concerning the best strategy to keep pace with global population growth.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Syrian conflict caused by over-grazing (online)

Over-grazing and desertification in the Syrian steppe are the root causes of war

Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe - a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a 'rural intifada' of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

Invasive worms in N. America (online)

Paper on Invasive European Worms 

In response to a question raised during my IPC talk on soil, Dan Halsey has confirmed that European earthworms are indeed invasive and damaging to forest eco-systems in North America. To those of us (Europeans) obsessed with worms as an indicator of good soil health, this comes as quite a shock. You can read Dan's enlightening paper on the subject here. Thanks for the submission Dan.


Community initiatives tackling climate change (online)

TESS is a European research project which aims to illustrate the role of community based initiatives in creating a sustainable, low-carbon Europe. It is supporting policy makers by contributing to a better understanding of how initiatives can become more successful. TESS is also helping initiatives to monitor and report on their environmental impacts, including carbon reduction. It aims to develop a measurement method, which is comparable across Europe.

Monday, 12 October 2015

A cartoon! (online)

The very first cartoon to be featured in The Digest!

I saw this carton by Wilbur Dawbam in a recent issue of the British satirical magazine Private Eye and loved it, it says so much about the world we live in, and permaculture's alternative vision.

IPC Conference keynote talks (video)

IPC Conference keynote talks now available

The IPC media team has started to segment the long streamed video from the IPC conference into individual talks. Currently you can see keynote talks by: David Holmgren, Geoff Lawton, Cathy Debenham, Jonathon Porritt, John Nzira and Pandora Thomas, plus the conference poem by Siobhan MacMahon.Visiting the IPC Conference programme page will show YouTube icons next to the keynote talks that are now online. More of those videos will appear over the coming days.

Geurrilla Cartography (online)

Guerrilla Cartography is a loose band of cartographers, researchers, and designers intent on widely promoting the cartographic arts and facilitating an expansion of the art, methods, and thematic scope of cartography, through collaborative projects and disruptive publishing.

Free access to climate change journals (journal)

To mark the final year of the Millennium Development Goals programme, Taylor & Francis are offering free access to select research related to the MDGs. Of particular interest is Millennium Development Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability. Thirty articles related to The Ozone Layer & Emissions are available to read with free access until the end of October. You can also get free access to all content published in Volumes 1 to 6 of Climate and Development for 14 days until the end of October. 

Better data to fight poverty and climate change (online)

 The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

On September 27th 2015, world leaders committed to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. On September 28, 2015 The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data officially launched. We are an unprecedented multi-stakeholder group consisting of governments, civil society, private sector, international organizations, academic, statistical and data communities and networks who represent all sectors of society, dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Together we will modernize the data driving the world’s sustainable development efforts so that by 2030, every child born of this earth will count, giving us all a better chance at a thriving world that leaves no one behind.

Species diversity means healthy grassland (online)

 Diversity Breeds Healthy Grassland

A French study looking at the diversity of crop species in grasslands has revealed that genetic diversity breeds healthier, more resilient environments. Researchers from the French state agricultural research institute (INRA) revealed that, not only does a mix of species of crop benefit grassland systems, but different varieties - and so a larger range of genetic diversity - within species also improves health. For optimal production of forage in grasslands it is best to plant several species and a genetically diverse range of each. They reached this conclusion by studying grasslands’ response to drought.


Global food system special issue (journal)

Special Journal Issue on Mapping the Global Food Landscape

The Canadian Food Studies journal has a special issue on 'Mapping the global food landscape' with all the articles available free online. Contains over 50 different articles, with topics including food sovereignty, the commons, genetic resources, sustainable food systems, the right to food and land grabs.  

Agro-forestry in Brazil (videos)

Six Films Demonstrating Agro-forestry in Brazil

The Swiss Ernst Götsch is a farmer and researcher who migrated to Brazil in the early 80's and settled on a farm in the cocoa zone of southern Bahia. Since then, he's developed soil recovery techniques through planting methods that mimic the natural regeneration of forests. Götsch developed a set of principles and techniques that enable integrating food production with natural regeneration of forests, which he has termed Sintropic Agriculture. This site shows a series of high quality videos of some of these agro-forestry techniques, subtitled in English.

Living wth the Land 8) Education (video)

Living with the Land Part 8) Education

Education is key to a more sustainable future. Learning can be far more fun than just sitting in a classroom. Rather than being passive, all of us, at whatever age, can become lifelong learners by doing. This is learning by immersion and it is transformative! Narrated by campaigner, writer and amateur naturalist Brigit Strawbridge.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Digest is taking a break this month

Sorry for the lack of new posts recently. The Digest is taking a break this month while Chris organises the International Permaculture Conference in London (8th and 9th September), helps run the International Permaculture Convergence (10th to 15th September) and then has some holidays. Normal service will be resumed in October.

Live streaming from the IPC Conference

Live streaming from the 12th IPC

The International Permaculture Conference runs from 8th to 9th September in London. Over 600 passionate permaculture practitioners from 70 countries are attending. Watch live streaming of the keynote speakers and a selection of great talks.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Forests for recreation (report)

Forests for Recreation and Nature Tourism

Traditionally the main function of forests in Europe has been wood production.  However, the recreation and tourism functions of forests and woodlands are becoming more important, with benefits for economic development, health and quality of life. There is however a lack of information on both the benefits and costs related to recreation and nature tourism. This EU research project aimed to provide a European focus to forest recreation and tourism research to bring together existing knowledge on these activities and in particular the benefits they can deliver, but also how those benefits might be provided in a way which reduces the economic, social and environmental costs of delivery.

Eco-agriculture, a new landscape paradigm (journal)

Biodiversity conservation and agricultural sustainability: towards a new paradigm of ‘ecoagriculture’ landscapes

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment confirmed that agriculture has dramatically increased its ecological footprint. Fortunately, agricultural landscapes can be managed to host wild biodiversity, with neutral or even positive effects on agricultural production. Innovative practitioners, scientists and indigenous land managers are designing ‘ecoagriculture’ landscapes to generate positive co-benefits for production, biodiversity and local people. We assess the potentials and limitations for successful conservation of biodiversity in productive agricultural landscapes, the feasibility of making such approaches financially viable, and the organizational, governance and policy frameworks needed to enable ecoagriculture at a globally significant scale.

Living with Land 7) Off Grid Living (video)

 Pat Bowcock explains how she left her 9-5 lifestyle to live in tune with the land, creating her own five acre permaculture smallholding, that is her home, her work and her life. Pat's smallholding, Ourganics Evolving Systems, features a large polytunnel, a flood garden and a forest garden, all of which she harvests and sells to the local community. The local spring is used to water the crops which then joins the River Bride and a small caravan and yurt offer a place to stay, providing extra income. Narrated by international lawyer and author of 'Eradicating Ecocide', Polly Higgins.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Living with the Land 6) Animal free farming (video)

Animal Free Farming

A pioneer in plant-based agriculture, Iain Tolhurst has been a practising organic vegetable producer since 1976, on 18 acres of land in Oxfordshire. Specialising in a "systems approach” to farming, Tolhurst, has developed a stockfree approach to farming — the use of green manures, crop rotations & sustainable practices without recourse to inputs such as animal manures or animal by-products. Narrated by the poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Last chance to buy early bird tickets for IPC Conference

IPC Conference, last chance to buy early bird tickets

The IPC Conference programme has now been finalised, with over 100 amazing speakers including Geoff Lawton, Rosemary Morrow, Ben Law, Graham Bell, Pandora Thomas and Maddy Harland. Nearly 500 tickets have now been sold, with participants coming from 50 countries. Early bird tickets remain available until midnight (GMT) on Saturday 9th August.

Living with the Land 5) No dig gardening (video)

Living with the Land 5) No Dig Gardening

Growing organic vegetables commercially for over 30 years, Charles Dowding has developed a no-dig method of cultivation for temperate climate gardening. Charles introduces us to Homeacres, his 1/4 acre market garden. Learn as Charles explains the ideas behind no-dig growing, (replicating nature through mulching and minimal soil disturbance), from his various experimental raised beds, as well as the importance of soil. Narrated by Jekka McVicar, broadcaster, author and master herbalist.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Living with the Land 4) Permablitz (video)

Living with the Land 4: Urban Permablitz

The London Permablitz team is working hard to spread permaculture across the city, transforming community spaces and individual gardens into wildlife-friendly, edible havens. A Permablitz is the creation of a garden according to a permaculture design over the course of a single day. A group of people meet and set to work transforming neglected spaces into homes for creatures big and small. Narrated by Jonathon Porrit, author, broadcaster & Founder Director of Forum for the Future.

Documentary on growing food in schools (online)

Growing Schools, a new film for permaculture teachers, parents and kids

'Growing Schools' is a 4-part documentary series which showcases empowered children involved in transforming their school grounds into abundant food gardens and nature havens. It explores the proven benefits of gardening and nature connection for children’s motivation, academic achievement, health and wellbeing. These stories exemplify how the wider community can play a vital part in supporting and sustaining a school garden programme, for the benefit of all. Made for teachers, parents, policy-makers, environmental educators and permaculture facilitators - but engaging for kids too…

Do you know any permaculture-friendly academics? (Help needed)

Searching for Permaculture Friendly Academics

Caroline Smith, co-organiser of the Australian Permaculture Convergence, is putting together a list of permaculture-friendly academics from all over the world. This will be used to further research collaborations, promote networking, and for potential post-graduate students to find supervisors. It will be publicized on this digest, on various websites and at the International Permaculture Conference. If you are a permaculture-friendly academic, or if you know one, please contact Caroline with your details, institution, country and research interests:

Farmed landscapes cause species loss (#journal)

Response of avian diversity to habitat modification can be predicted from life-history traits and ecological attributes

Research has found a substantial reduction in bird species living in cultivated mango orchards compared to natural habitats in Southern Africa. The scientists were aiming to ascertain whether agriculture could add novel habitat elements and thereby support additional bird species complementary to those already present in the natural areas – but found that in contrast, there was a loss of 35% of the bird species within the farmed land. The researchers say farmland is a poor substitute for natural areas but simple improvements could make a difference to biodiversity conservation.


Living with the Land 3) Regenerative Agriculture (video)

Living with the Land 3: Building Soil with Regenerative Agriculture
Village Farm in Devon is a living example of regenerative agriculture. A little over a year ago, Rebecca Hosking and business partner Tim Green - makers of the BBC2 documentary 'A Farm for The Future' - became tenants of 175 acres of exhausted soils. Turning a windswept, misused, coastal farm into an abundant landscape working with nature is their goal; their approach - holistic planned grazing. Farming with nature, Village Farm is one of the many and inspiring examples of an agriculture working to build soils and providing good food for everyone without damage to the natural world. Narrated by Colin Tudge, biologist, writer, and co-founder of The Campaign for Real Food.

Agroecology and permaculture (journal)

Agroecology and Permaculture: Addressing Key Ecological Problems by Rethinking and Redesigning Agricultural Systems 

Agroecology presents an alternative paradigm of production based on ecological principles such as recycling wastes, minimizing energy and water use, maximizing genetic diversity, regenerating soil and increasing its carbon content, integrating livestock and crops into a holistic system, and promoting other beneficial biological synergies. Moreover, agroecological methods have the potential to actually boost production and farm incomes, particularly in the global South. Permaculture, perhaps the most widely practiced form of agroecology, also provides an ethical framework and principles that serve as a basis for discerning actions that enable the design of diverse, sustainable systems suited to a wide variety of cultural and ecological contexts.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Living with the Land 2) Natural building

Kevin McCloud, a Channel 4 presenter well known for the TV series Grand Designs, introduces part 2 of Living with the Land - 'Natural Building'. Natural buildings are an ancient tradition with a modern appeal. Creating healthy, beautiful homes from natural materials such as earth, straw and timber, building naturally is the ultimate expression of ecological design. Building isn’t ‘done' to us – it can be done by us. The skills and techniques used in natural building are hands-on and accessible, enabling us all to design our own healthy living spaces bringing people and the elements together. The UK has a rich tradition of natural building and natural architecture that is seeing a renewed interest. Building naturally is one such response to Living With The Land.

Rabindranath Tagore and modern utopia (#journal)

Towards a Tagorean Utopia: From Rural Reconstruction to Transition Towns

In his essays, the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore describes the form of local and global community he envisaged and tried to bring into being. That vision is compatible with the aims and development of the Transition Movement, which is motivated by a recognition that the capitalist machine is running out of control, to the detriment of planet and people. This reading of Tagore reveals that, in effect, he advocated a withdrawal from the capitalist system, ‘back to the future’, not to a rustic existence bound by rigid cultural constraints, but to local cooperative farming and industry, progressive education and renewed culture and creativity.