Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Permaculture national curriculum in Timor-Leste (online)

Permaculture/Agroecology system in Timor-Leste National School Curriculum for Basic Education

In 2013, the Ministry of Education of Timor-Leste decided to reform its national curriculum for Basic Education. Permaculture school gardens had been part of the discipline of Arts and Culture. The organization behind this movement is Permatil (Permaculture Timor-Leste), established in 2002. This school garden program now became part of formal education. 1415 schools have introduced school gardens, to help  students learn how to grow seasonal food crops that can contribute to the school feeding program, shifting from passive learning inside classrooms into activities outside the classroom, and providing beauty to the school landscaping. Students and communities learn how to copy the model into their home garden to improve health and nutrition of the wider family.

Africa can feed itself (video)

Africa can feed itself: its Potential for Agro-ecological Intensification

This video is posted in tribute to Sue Edwards, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development, who died in February. From the seminar 100% Agroecology Will Feed the World! Held in Stockholm, Sweden, April 2012.

Evidence library on sustainable food (online)

Evidence-based resources on sustainable food systems 
Foodsource is an open and expanding resource for information on sustainable food systems, led by the Food Climate Resource Centre at the University of Oxford. Its open-sourced resources are developed in collaboration with its partners and supporters. Foodsource's purpose is to build the foundations for this understanding and for change towards more sustainable food systems, by increasing food systems literacy. Their vision is for Foodsource to become the most comprehensive and trusted source of information on sustainable food systems available on the internet.

Permaculture in resilience research (journal)

Designing for resilience: permaculture as a transdisciplinary methodology in applied resilience research
This paper examines the relationship between resilience research and permaculture. Applying permaculture as a tool in research design can enable research to contribute more directly, immediately, and effectively to building community resilience. The author considers three case studies that involve permaculture as both research topic and methodology. Each provides evidence that research activities contribute to community resilience, and that this can be attributed to the application of permaculture principles and methods in research design. In particular, permaculture embeds iterative processes of action learning to enhance adaptive capacity within communities. The author suggests that this may be an instance of a general situation whereby research both incorporates and enhances existing learning processes that contribute to community resilience.

Local knowledge in permaculture design (online)

Permaculture Design: Linking Local Knowledge in Land Use Planning for House Compound

This study attempts to understand the knowledge of local people in planning and designing a permaculture system. In particular, this study identifies land use planning for permaculture zones, and design elements in permaculture zones. The results discussed that local people, regardless of their locations either urban or rural, tend to take into account the natural layout, interior architecture and internal activities in planning and designing the zones for their house compound. The zoning is not only beneficial for efficient energy use, but also sustainable both in environmental, social and economic aspects appropriate to the livelihood and culture of local people. Therefore, local knowledge should be considered when designing a permaculture system.

Permaculture's effect on soil carbon and fertility (online)

Permaculture practices effect on soil fertility and organic matter distribution in aggregate-size classes
In identical geopedoclimatic conditions, the authors compared Soil Organic Matter (SOM) allocation and soil fertility in a pasture under permaculture with a soil under conventional agriculture. Permaculture practices increased bioavailable nutrients Ca, Mg, K and P, total nitrogen concentrations and organic carbon stocks, which was explained by the very large manure inputs. Permaculture practices had little effect on soil aggregation. Permaculture practices may enhance soil fertility and SOM storage, but further research is needed. In addition, a carbon balance should be performed to determine if the additional OC storage corresponds to a net sink of CO2.

The real cost of cheap food (book)

The Real Cost of Cheap Food
This book critically examines the dominant food regime, by seriously asking whether we can afford cheap food and exploring what exactly cheap food affords us. The author argues that the social and environmental costs of cheap food will be paid for by future generations and examines international development, national security, health care, industrial meat production, organic farming, corporate responsibility, government subsidies, food aid and global commodity markets. The book concludes by suggesting ways forward, going beyond the usual solutions such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and community gardens.

Big potential for urban farming

 Big data suggests big potential for urban farming
This new study estimates that urban agriculture could produce 180 million tonnes of food each year. Urban agriculture could also provide other benefits worth $160 billion each year, globally, including energy savings through insulation of rooftops, reducing the urban heat-island effect by increasing vegetation cover, avoiding stormwater runoff, fixing nitrogen and controlling pests.

Soil carbon in Scotland (report)

Soil Carbon and Land Use in Scotland

This report considers the current state of knowledge on soil carbon and land use in Scotland, with a primary focus on rural land use in Scotland. It explores the types of soil in Scotland and their relative carbon content, how we understand the soil carbon abatement potential across the range of dominant land uses in Scotland. It also considers how we understand the carbon impact of different land management practices.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Only a paradigm shift will stop climate change (online)

Liberal philanthropy is dooming the planet to climate disaster

The Hewlett Fundation's philanthropic initiative to address climate change is set to fail, according to a strategy document setting out the initiative’s five-year plan, and commiting $600 million to address climate change. While the Hewlett strategy document is certainly not all bad, its avoidance of specific solutions like regenerative agro-ecology, radical de-fossilization of the economy and biochar is bizarre. Its core approach appears to be based on an inexplicable ignorance and obfuscation of some of the most relevant scientific findings. Real solutions are available, but they do not sit easily within the existing paradigm. They point to a radical paradigm shift, a new type of civilisation, and a new type of human for a truly sustainable and prosperous world.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Peppa Pig makes compost (video)

Peppa Pig - Compost Episode

Peppa and George take a bin of vegetable peelings to Grandpa Pig's compost heap. Worms inside the bin turn the peelings into compost, which Granny and Grandpa use to help their plants grow.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

We're all subsidising environmental destruction (online)

Two stumbling blocks on the road to regeneration: externalities and subsidies

 The prevailing opinion among today’s political and economic elites is that economic globalisation is in some sense inevitable. Rather than being inevitable, economic globalisation is, in fact, the result of a number of carefully chosen policies. Paradoxically many of these directly contradict the basic tenets of classical free market economic theory, from which the proponents of economic globalisation draw inspiration and authority. By understanding the key reasons why the global economy behaves as it does today, we will be in a better position to discern the core patterns underlying economic behaviour and to change them. Two key drivers of today’s global economy are externalities and subsidies.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Microgreen/mushroom permaculture (journal)

Expanding Herbal Microgreen-Mushroom Permaculture Can Be an Efficient Way toRecycle Agricultural Waste While Treating and Feeding the World

A sustainable cycle of substrate utilization is beginning to manifest with plant waste being used as mushroom substrate, and spent (used) mushroom substrate being used in place of traditional soil, for herbal microgreen growth. This approach to efficiency and conservation an example of permaculture, or the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

A vision for eco settlements (online)

A vision for Ecological Settlement Design (by Declan & Margrit Kennedy)

Margrit and Declan Kennedy spend their lives as activists, architects, academics and pioneers in the permaculture, ecovillage and alternative currency movements. This qualifies them as exemplary trans-disciplinary whole systems thinkers, designers, and doers. They are co-founders of the ecovillage Lebengarten in Germany, while working as professors of architecture and urban planning in Berlin, they also taught the first permaculture courses in Europe. Here is their whole systems vision of ecological design for sustainable communities.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

The urgency of climate action (online)

Three Things We Don’t Understand About Climate Change

Thinking about climate change is not something that comes natural to humans — or ‘consumers’ as we have been called for decades. It is not only emotionally unpleasant, but analytically extremely challenging. Most of us do not grasp how immediate this situation has become, how fast it is progressing and what the scale of change needed is. After individuals, nations and corporations understand the urgency and the rate, they should be honest about the scale of action needed in order to avoid collapse of the biosphere and thus civilisation.



Wednesday, 18 April 2018

UK farmers who meet the sustainability challenge (report)

New report with aim to investigate how the science of agroecology can play a central role in the way our green and pleasant land is managed in the future.

A new report commissioned by the Land Use Policy Group and funded by Scottish Natural Heritage has taken a unique approach to help UK farmers meet the sustainability challenge by using the experiences of farmers that have ‘redesigned’ their farming systems utilising natural resources, such as clover grass leys in the crop rotation, to secure a healthier future for the environment and their businesses.

The aim was to investigate how the science of agroecology can play a central role in the way our green and pleasant land is managed in the future.

Analysing the practical experiences of a group of farmers from Scotland, England and Wales the report aims to unravel farmer expectations, risks and opportunities to help form future policy in the UK based on agroecological farming practices.

The group of fourteen farmers involved in the study were quite diverse and wide ranging – from small scale to large commercial enterprises with on-farm approaches covering agroforestry, pasture-fed livestock systems, organic and integrated farming with direct drilling and/or integration of livestock in arable operations.

The report has recommendations for further action to support agroecology, including the need to develop a support programme to facilitate the transition towards more sustainable farming systems.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Key questions for restoring degraded ecosystems (journal)

One hundred priority questions for landscape restoration in Europe

Free open access until 3rd May 2018

Scientists and researchers outline the key questions that we need to answer to ensure restoration of marine and terrestrial landscapes in Europe is as effective as possible.

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting or allowing the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.  It is an increasingly important element in strategies aimed at reducing biodiversity loss and reversing declines. It is especially relevant in the intensively managed, farmed, urbanised and industrialised landscapes common in Europe.

The questions are usefully divided into eight sections:

  • conservation of biodiversity; 
  • connectivity, migration and translocations; 
  • delivering and evaluating restoration; 
  • natural processes; 
  • ecosystem services; 
  • social and cultural aspects of restoration; 
  • policy and governance; and economics

The growing research effort investigating larger-scale ecological processes and connectivity (such as the needs of migratory species, the impacts of climate change on species' ranges, and the need to restore ecosystem function) is increasingly focusing attention on large or landscape-scale conservation and restoration. The questions presented in this paper highlight areas where this research could usefully be focused, in order to ensure that restoration projects are carried out in the most appropriate locations, using the best methods and effectively including all stakeholders, in order to maximise their success.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Regen ag for profit and biodiversity (journal)

Regenerative agriculture: merging farming and natural resource conservation profitably

Most cropland in the United States is characterized by large monocultures, whose productivity is maintained through a strong reliance on costly tillage, external fertilizers, and pesticides. Despite this, farmers have developed a regenerative model of farm production that promotes soil health and biodiversity, while producing nutrient-dense farm products profitably. When evaluated, regenerative farming systems provided greater ecosystem services and profitability. Pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields, and although regenerative fields had 29% lower grain production they had 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Transition in Portugal

Transition in Portugal Study
A team led by Anabela Carvalho of Minho University have recently completed an important new study on the status and prospects of Transition in Portugal.

You can read a summary account of their work, which links to an open access version of the original paper, in a wonderful guest post they have contributed to the Transition Research Network blog.

Permaculture for refugees in camps (report)

Permaculture for Refugees in Camps

Rowe Morrow and her Permaculture and Refugees Working Group have developed a new booklet: 'Permaculture for Refugees in Camps'. The current migration situation is not unusual or temporary, and permaculture is well-placed to embrace an uncertain global future that includes the mass movement of people. Permaculture strategies can transform physical and social spaces into
supportive and restorative systems.

Natural processes to reduce flood risk (report)

Working with natural processes to reduce flood risk

The UK government has assembled a very thorough evidence base for working with natural processes to reduce flood risk. There has been much research on Working with Natural Processes, but it has never before been synthesised into one location. This has meant that it has been hard for flood risk managers to access up-to-date information on WWNP measures and to understand their potential benefits.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Free online course, all about soil (opportunity)

A short introduction to GROW - Sign up to Citizen Science: From Soil to Sky, Feb 2018

GROW is a European-wide project engaging thousands of growers, scientists and others passionate about the land. In this video find out how we are using simple tools to better manage soil, while contributing to vital scientific environmental monitoring. Watch this video to learn more. For more info:
And its still not too late to sign up for GROW's first free MOOC, From Soil to Sky; registration is open until 24th February.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement 690199

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Species richness linked to a healthy diet (journal)

Dietary species richness as a measure of food biodiversity and nutritional quality of diets

Biodiversity is key for human and environmental health. Available dietary and ecological indicators are not designed to assess the intricate relationship between food biodiversity and diet quality. The authors applied biodiversity indicators to dietary intake data and assessed associations with diet quality of women and young children. Data from 24-hour diet recalls of 6,226 participants (34% women) in rural areas from seven low- and middle-income countries were analyzed. A total of 234 different species were consumed, of which <30% were consumed in more than one country. Compared with Simpson’s index of diversity and functional diversity, species richness (SR) showed stronger associations and better diagnostic properties with micronutrient adequacy. For every additional species consumed, dietary nutrient adequacy increased by 0.03 (P < 0.001). Dietary SR is recommended as the most appropriate measure of food biodiversity in diets.

Forest farming youtube channel (videos)

Forest Farming Youtube Channel

A great youtube channel that showcases forest farming and gardening across the world, from the Appalachians to Cameroon and from foraging medicinal herbs to growing mushrooms. The channel already features over different 150 videos, with something for everyone!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Why we must keep carbon unburned (online)

We need to stay below 1.5 Degrees: Un-burnable Carbon overtakes Peak Oil

While the peak oil conversation has been very important in the first decade of the 21st Century, climate change has now almost eclipsed this issue. Now that there is increasing scientific certainty that to be safe humanity would be wise to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the issue is less whether and when we will run out of fossil fuels and much more how we will manage to agree on a global carbon budget and declare almost 80% of the remaining fossil fuel reserves as unburnable. While the potential fossil fuel reserves left might be twice as much as the current listed reserves, the carbon budget we have to stick to in order to have 50% chance to stay under 1.5 ÂșC of global average warming is less than a fifth of current fossil fuel reserves.

Coke CEO promises a world without waste (online)

Why a World Without Waste is Possible

Every hour, an estimated 900 metric tons of plastic waste entered our oceans. That’s the mass of nearly 600 mid-size sedans. That’s unacceptable. It’s also unsustainable. If left unchecked, plastic waste will slowly choke our oceans and waterways. That’s why Coca-Cola have announced a bold, ambitious goal: to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030. Regardless of where it comes from, we want every package to have more than one life. This is our vision for a World Without Waste.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Climate and tech: biggest global risks (online)

Climate and tech pose the biggest risks to our world in 2018

We live in an era of unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources. I remain optimistic about the future, yet the risks to our world are increasing not reducing. They are systemic in nature and require a collective will to address them. Unfortunately, this is happening at exactly the time that nationalism, protectionism and populism are rising, and rules-based multilateralism is declining. I fear we may squander the opportunity to move towards a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future. We must act together and we must act now.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

GMO food labelling laws in the USA (online)

The Laws of Labels: What You Need to Know about GMO
Many people are concerned about GMOs and tend to select food products with labels that are non-GMO certified in an effort to make healthier choices. If you are a food manufacturer or plan to sell your home-grown products to a mass market, you should be aware of the laws of labeling foods GMO or non-GMO in your country or state. If you work to produce certified organic food products, your products are already non-GMO. This is a result of certifications that require manufacturers to abstain from using any genetically modified ingredients. Manufacturers producing organic food can therefore use non-GMO labeling, such as:
· GMO free
· Made with non-GMO ingredients
· Always non-GMO
· Non-GMO certified
If you have a food business or are a manufacturer in the USA, there are other GMO labeling laws you should know to ensure that your products are marketed and sold to customers with correct, true information.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Anti-harrassment policies in permaculture

The World Needs an Anti-Harassment Movement: So Does Permaculture.

The past few weeks have been flooded with the news about Harvey Weinstein sexually harassing women he worked with. And millions of women have come forward to tell their stories of sexual harassment and sexual violence with the hashtag #metoo. Clearly, the implementation and enforcement of anti-harassment policies is overdue in the world. This is also true in permaculture. Here’s why... read the full article