Friday, 22 January 2016

A review of urban agriculture (#journal)

Urban versus conventional agriculture, taxonomy of resource profiles: a review

This article reviews urban agriculture’s comparative performance relative to conventional food production. The main findings are: (1) benefits, such as reduced embodied greenhouse gases, urban heat island reduction, and storm water mitigation, have strong support in current literature. (2) Other benefits such as food waste minimization and ecological footprint reduction require further exploration. (3) Urban agriculture benefits to both food supply chains and urban ecosystems vary considerably with system type. The authors therefore propose a taxonomy which can aid future research on the intersection of urban food production and the larger material and energy regimes of cities.

50 innovative solutions for the planet (book)

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet: 50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech, Nature-Based Practices for Combatting Hunger, Drought, and Climate Change

This book profiles fifty innovative practices that soak up carbon dioxide, reduce energy use, sustainably intensify food production, and increase water quality. The “two percent” refers to the amount of new carbon in the soil needed to reap great benefits, the percentage of the nation’s population who are farmers, and the GDP that is needed to get this work done. The book includes holistic grazing, edible forests, biochar, weed-eating livestock, food co-ops, keyline ploughing, restoration agriculture, bioenergy, aquaponics, animal power, Farm Hack, bees, bears, wildlife corridors, rainwater harvesting and native seeds. These short, engaging success stories will inspire readers energized by the news that solutions abound.

The forest garden greenhouse (book)

The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis.

In this groundbreaking book, Jerome Osentowski, one of North America’s most accomplished permaculture designers, shows how bringing the forest garden indoors is doable on unlikely terrain and in cold climates, using near-net-zero technology. This book advocates for an indoor agriculture using permaculture design concepts—integration, multi-functions, perennials, and polycultures—that take season extension into new and important territory. With detailed design drawings, photos, and profiles of successful greenhouse projects on all scales, this inspirational manual will considerably change the conversation about greenhouse design.

Systems thinking for social change (book)

Systems Thinking For Social Change

This book enables readers to contribute more effectively to society by helping them understand what systems thinking is and why it is so important in their work. It also gives concrete guidance on how to incorporate systems thinking in problem solving, decision making, and strategic planning without becoming a technical expert. The result is a highly readable, effective guide to understanding systems and using that knowledge to get the results you want.

Backyard orchards (book)

The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden

This expanded and updated edition offers even more hands-on horticulture. Horticultural fundamentals are simplified into practical techniques for ongoing care and maintenance of a thriving orchard. Gain understanding of soil biology, master how to prune with precision, water with confidence. The pests and disease sections are extensively illustrated to help with identification. Harvest hints, use, and storage recommendations help you enjoy your fruit at its peak flavour or preserve it for the off-season.

Horse-powered farming (book)

Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century: A Complete Guide to Equipment, Methods, and Management for Organic Growers

Now is a time of exciting new developments for live animal power, as ecologically minded farmers are developing efficient horse-drawn systems, and equipment manufacturers in small shops all are coming forth with new innovations in ground-drive technology that have us poised on the cusp of another agricultural revolution — with horses and oxen at the heart of it. This book is focused on the tools and methods required to successfully manage the horse-powered market garden. This is a manual that presents a range of options and approaches, illustrated with insightful reports from over sixty draft animal-powered farmers from across North America and Europe.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

UK conservationists propose charter for trees (online)

Campaigners call for new British charter for trees

Conservation groups want a new national charter to save trees and woods from the threat of development, disease and climate change and trees risk being “neglected, undervalued and forgotten”. Community groups, clubs, councils and committees are being encouraged to help build the charter. To kickstart the campaign, people across the UK are being urged to share their stories of treasured or significant moments involving trees.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Permaculture design for ecovillages (book)

Permaculture A Student's Guide to the Theory and Practice of Ecovillage Design

Permaculture design has been the bedrock of the worldwide network of Ecovillages since the mid 1990s. This book takes as its basis the well-known Permaculture Design Course, bringing together everything students on such courses need to know about Ecovillage design. Starting with a historical survey of the tradition of intentional community, the book covers topics ranging from the size of community, gardening and farming, building and technology, to economics, and tools for helping communities to grow and develop. Additionally, the book features a number of richly observed Ecovillage case-studies with photographs, alongside lots of tips for facilitators and self-study groups.

Assessment of a permaculture project in Nepal (#journal)

Impact Assessment of Integrated Community Development Project in Mid Western Hill Region, Nepal

This paper analyzes the effectiveness of the Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) in Mid Western hilly region, supported by Action Aid Nepal (AAN) and implemented by Jajorkot Permaculture Program (JPP). Qualitative techniques were used to point out the overall outcome of the project. Evaluation found positive impacts in terms of benefits to project participants, achievement of outputs and success in reaching the targeted goals. The project has made efficient use of its inputs and has established itself as an innovative organization to implement the integrated rural resource base community development. However, some lacking have been observed in terms of ensuring people's participation for the conservation and management of natural resources like land water and forest.

Deterring land abandonment in Portugal (#journal)

Converging for deterring land abandonment: a systematization of experiences of a rural grassroots innovation

The paper asks whether rural socially innovative initiatives in Portugal can be considered sources of adaptability and increased resilience to land abandonment and land degradation in a vulnerable region to climatic changes. The article considers grassroots innovation in the Alentejo region. Elaborating on the lessons learned by the participants, the discussion reflects on the sources of social and ecological resilience created. These include facilitating new modes of participatory governance, a shared vision for a sustainable village, building up social capital and the steady collection of memories of traditional land use and resource management practices.

Cultivating urban green transformations (#journal)

‘One city block at a time’: Researching and cultivating green transformations

 A growing interest in environmental issues has seen suburban backyards, streets, houses and curbsides become sites of experimentation around sustainable lifestyle practices in Melbourne. Green suburban lifestyle initiatives such as ‘permablitzes’ are transformational in a number of ways and embody, materialize and perform broader sets of changes in people’s lives as they seek to switch from practices of consumption to a focus on self-sufficiency and making do. Video-ethnography and photography are some of the ways which capture such enactments and such combined media methods can enable researchers to both document and participate. The article concludes with a discussion of how such a participatory research agenda might be translated into an environmental planning and policy approach for community-led green practices.

Improved cook stove developed for Africa (journal)

In most Africa countries, cooking is a dirty and time-consuming job that involves fuel such as wood, charcoal, or coal for a fire. Globally, some 500 million households, with more than 70% in Africa, depend on burning solid fuel to meet their cooking, heating and lighting needs. There is an urgent need to investigate more efficient cook stove technologies that have very minimal or no impact on the environment and households. In this study, an improved mud-brick cook stove was designed and tested in a typical family house in Cameroon. To ensure the acceptability and sustainability of the technology, the rural dwellers were involved in the design and implementation. The performance of the stove was compared with that of traditional 3-stone fireside. The mud-brick cook stove construction materials are available in communities that have clay soil and can be made using limited tools.

Post-doc opportunity at Surrey Uni

Post-Doc opportunity to study community bio-gas at Surrey University

Surrey University are looking for someone for a 3 year post doc on an EU project - Enhancing Sustainable Biogas Communities through Social Innovation.

It involves working with stakeholders in the Humber region UK to promote community innovation for sustainable biogas production. Collaborating with local bioeconomy and social innovation NGOs and SMEs in the Humber and with projects in Greece and Germany. It needs someone who can get the job done on the ground working with stakeholders, who is into community innovation and renewables/bio-economy and who is a whole systems thinker and able and interested in using new tools from complexity science, participatory modelling and social media-based collaborative platforms.  Although permaculture is not mentioned by name, a permaculturalist with a suitable academic background would be ideal.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Support or sponsor The Digest for 2016!

Support or sponsor The Digest for 2016!

Why not make supporting the Permaculutre Research Digest your New Year resolution for 2016? The Digest currently receives no external financial support of any kind. If it is to survive and thrive in 2016 it needs whatever support you can give. Please donate by clicking on the green bar above. If you are interested in sponsoring The Digest, please email to discuss the possibilities.

Climate change artists wanted (online)

Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios

The organisation Culture and Climate Change are seeking three artists to take part in a new form of arts residency, offering access to a network of climate change researchers across the UK. Each residency includes an award of £10,000. They welcome applications from individuals and collectives from any artform to work on new creative projects engaging with scenarios of climate change. APPLY NOW to be artist in residence.

Solve the UK floods with permaculture (online)

The permanent solution to UK flood risk, which will increase productivity for the farmers whilst restoring the environment 

Two years in a row, the UK has seen dramatic flooding across the country. The solution has been proposed in recent articles – put more trees in the uplands, and slow down the runoff. This solution is great, but what about the farmers, who currently earn their income from upland sheep rather than trees? There is a solution for them too, and it has been tried and tested for quite a while now, with results matching and surpassing those of the current business as usual. We can have the trees, we can have the sheep, and the farmers can have more money for their hard work, whilst helping us downstream keep our shirts dry.

Analysis of participation in permaculture (journal)

Grassroots engagement with transition to sustainability: diversity and modes of participation in the international permaculture movement

This article analyzes an international survey of 731 permaculture participants, and assesses the socio-demographic characteristics of the movement.  The survey examined self-identified roles of permaculture participants and explored the relationships between those roles and socio-demographic factors race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Results showed the participation of women at or above parity (53%), while participation by race showed a white supermajority (96%). Multivariate regression demonstrated that race, gender, and socioeconomic status are shaping participation in distinct ways and that each interact with structural factors. Results point toward a theoretical framework that identifies multiple levels and sites through which socio-demographic factors shape participation in grassroots environmental action, and the outlines of such a framework are discussed.

Permaculture: regenerative, not just sustainable (journal)

Permaculture: regenerative, not merely sustainable

Permaculture has a value-added factor that extends beyond what might be merely maintained or sustained, which is the quality of 'regeneration'. All sustainable solutions are unsustainable over the longer term, if they are not also intrinsically regenerative. The word “regenerative” means “the capacity to bring into existence again”; hence, if an item or system is regenerative, it has the inherent capacity to bring itself into existence once more. To achieve this for a completely artificial system is a challenge. Nature offers the ultimate example of a design that is both sustainable and regenerative, and it is logical to appeal to natural principles for solutions to many of our current problems. Within a broader perspective of regenerative design, permaculture identifies the elements of sustainable living which are harmonious with nature.