Thursday, 21 May 2015

A permaculture approach to science education (#journal)

Cultivating Attitudes and Trellising Learning: A Permaculture Approach to Science and Sustainability Education

This article reports on an inquiry that used permaculture design thinking to create a science and sustainability education intervention for a secondary science class. The aims were to cultivate student attitudes towards science, towards learning science in school, and towards the environment, and to trellis learning of science and sustainability. As a context for learning, local permaculture food production projects, as experienced through field trips in the intervention, appear to promote the relevance of science and sustainability learning and the ability to engage students. Science and sustainability learning outcomes appeared to vary among students, although nearly all of them reported they enjoyed learning science with a focus on the environment, including one group of students who reported they did not generally enjoy learning science in school.

Practical permaculture (book)

Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth

Permaculture's principles are simple: take care of the earth, and the earth will take care of you. Ecological landscape designer Jessi Bloom and permaculture expert Dave Boehnlein provide all the tools you need for this holistic approach to living that leads to healthy food, a healthy home, and renewable resources. The book covers the basic principles of permaculture, showing the entire design process, and offers detailed information on the plants, water, waste, energy, shelter, food, animals, and structures that make up the garden. Filled with real-life examples from all over the world, this invaluable resource will help you turn your home garden into a sustainable ecosystem.


Landscape design for therapy in a Palestinian school (thesis)

Physiosocial landscape interventions for the Holy Child Program, a school for children with behavioral difficulties in Beit Sahour, Palestine

My studies in Landscape Architecture have shown that our surroundings can powerfully influence our behavior, and so through this thesis I seek to bring about healthful behavioral change through interventions in the built environment. The site where I propose these environmental interventions is The Holy Child Program, in the West Bank, Palestine, a program aimed at educating young people with emotional and behavioral difficulties. I propose a site design and implementation that is holistic in a way that suits the gravity of life in this region. The framework is Permaculture, and it focuses efforts on collaboration with the land, pairing human ingenuity with existing resources to draw abundance from the land. My assertion is that active engagement with natural processes will help bring healing, respite, and delight to the Holy Child Program community, through the act of observing and working with natural cycles.

Agroecology and permaculture (journal)

Agroecology and permaculture: addressing key ecological problems by rethinking and redesigning agricultural systems

This paper explores how industrial agriculture is a key contributor to many ecological problems and how redesigning agricultural systems using agroecological principles could address many of these problems.  Agroecological methods have the potential to 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. Widespread adoption of agroecological methods and permaculture principles could significantly reduce energy, pesticide, and freshwater usage while simultaneously restoring degraded soil, sequestering carbon, creating more biodiverse agricultural systems, and satisfying human needs for healthy, nutritious food.

Intro to Permaculture - in Samoa (online)

Introduction to Permaculture

Matuaileoo Environmental Trust Incorporated (METI) in Samoa has developed an introductory manual on Permaculture. This manual has been prepared as a self-instructional course for Taiala (front-line education and sustainable development workers) to enable them to teach people in their communities about permaculture. The Manual provides an opportunity for Taiala to learn about and be able to teach permaculture. Unit 1: Philosophy and Ethics of Permaculture // Unit 2A: Managing the Environment Naturally // Unit 2B: Managing the Environment Scientifically // Unit 3: Design and Practice /

Permaculture gardening guide for schools (online)

Permaculture food gardening guide for schools

This booklet was developed for teachers, learners and community members who would like to learn more about food gardening. It documents the gardening process so that other schools can learn from it and be inspired to start their own garden based on permaculture principles. If you create a food garden based on ways found in nature, by listening and watching carefully how nature works, you will be playing an important role in repairing the earth.

Food forestry on the US West Coast (online book)

West Coast Food Forestry

Forest gardening is a central practice of Permaculture, an ecological design strategy for sustainable living. In a typical Permaculture forest garden, you are likely to find plantsfor all uses. However, in very limited space, a ‘food forest’ may be the best choice. A food forest is a garden with at least three layers of food plants. The main focus of this book is on plants that can be included in food forests on the West Coast of North America, primarily the areas west of the Cascades and Sierras. The plants listed in this book are suited for this region (usually for USDA Zones 8 and 9, unless otherwise noted),though many of them can be grown throughout North America and other temperate region.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Creating and sustaining environmental networks (journal)

What’s the story? Creating and sustaining environmental networks

Networks have been embraced as appropriate means for environmental governance because of their inclusivity, flexibility, resilience, and ability to comprehend multiple values. Analysis of networks, however, falls short of accounting for the emergence and persistence of these innovative and complex modes of governance. This article offers a framework for using narrative to understand and evaluate networks. Using a case study of the development of alternative agriculture in the United States, we provide a methodology for investigating ‘narrative-networks’ that affords deeper explanations of how and why emergent, often informal and unlikely, environmental networks endure over time.

14 days free access to Journal of Environmental Planning

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 

In support of Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals, (to ensure environmental sustainability) Taylor and Francis are offering free access to all content published from 1997 to 2014 in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management for 14 days until the end of June.

Detailed local climate data for the UK (on-line)

UK climate - Climate stations map

The climate station map shows around 300 stations across the UK for which 1981-2010 averages are available. These stations provide an even coverage across the UK and include six mountain stations (above 500 masl) in Scotland and northern England. For each station, 30 year averages of max and min temperatures, days of frost, sunshine hours, rainfall, days without rain and wind speed are available. To get the data for your location, click a climate station on the map, then select a tab from above the map to see the detailed monthly data.


Organic outperforms conventional on all measures (online)

Organic Trumps Conventional Across the Board: Highlights from The Rodale Institute’s 30-Year Report

After a 30-year side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agricultural systems, the Rodale Institute reports that organic systems match, or even outperform, conventional systems in terms of yield, profitability, and energy efficiency, while having positive effects on soil health, water quality, and rural communities. The report concludes “organic farming is far superior to conventional systems when it comes to building, maintaining and replenishing the health of the soil. When one also considers yields, economic viability, energy usage, and human health, it’s clear that organic farming is sustainable, while current conventional practices are not.”

UN launches study of bodiversity and farming (online)

Ecosystems and agricultural & food systems are typically evaluated in isolation from one another. However, ecosystems are the ecological home in which crop and livestock systems thrive and produce food for humans, and in turn agricultural practices, food production, distribution and consumption impose several unquantified externalities. A ‘TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ study, led by the UNEP TEEB Office, will bring together economists, business leaders, agriculturalists and experts in biodiversity to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of the ‘eco-agri-food systems’ complex, and demonstrate that the economic environment in which farmers operate is distorted by a lack of awareness of dependency on natural capital. A “double-whammy” of economic invisibility of impacts from both ecosystems and agricultural/food systems is a root cause of increased fragility and lower resilience to shocks in both ecological and human systems.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Award winning sustainable energy technologies (online)

Sustainable technologies - Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy

This site has some great examples of small-scale sustainable energy technologies which have won Ashden Awards in the past. The winners harness a broad range of renewable technologies, from solar power to biogas. Find out more about how each of these different technologies works, and their benefits for people and planet.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Forests and food security (report)

Forests and food security

Fighting global hunger is high on the global political agenda and, evidence indicates that conventional agricultural strategies fall short of eliminating global hunger. A new report is now highlighting the important role of forests and tree-based systems in building up food security particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable, including women. More than 60 renowned scientists from around the world collaborated on the peer-reviewed publication "Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition".


Special issue: Food sovereignty in the Global South (journal)

Special Issue: Food Sovereignty: convergence and contradictions, condition and challenges 

This special collection aims to deepen academic discussions on food sovereignty. There are four key themes that contribute to further advancing the conversation around food sovereignty: (1) dynamics within and between social groups in rural and urban, global North–South contexts; (2) flex crops and commodities, market insertion and long-distance trade; (3) territorial restructuring, land and food sovereignty; and (4) the localisation problematique. The collection discusses the future research challenges at international, national and local scales, as well as at the links between them, while emphasising the need for a critical dialogue between food sovereignty activists and scholars.

Exploring local foodways (report)

           In the face of recurring environmental crises, interest in local food systems has evolved from a fringe trend to a full-fledged social movement. This volume of RCC Perspectives offers insights into the motivations, benefits, and limitations of local food systems. Includes 8 articles: The Popularization of Food Localization, How Local is Slow Food?, Critical Urban Gardening, The Ecological Sustainability of Local Food Systems, Revisiting Forgotten Foods, Linking Ourselves More Directly to the Land, Food Sovereignty and Autonomous Local Systems, What Should We Eat?

Simple method to estimate soil quality (#journal)

A Rapid, Farmer-Friendly Agroecological Method to Estimate Soil Quality and Crop Health in Vineyard Sy

We describe a practical methodology to rapidly assess the soil  quality  and  crop health  of   vineyard using  simple indicators chosen, applied and interpreted jointly by farmers and researchers. Field measurements are made on agroecosystem properties that reflect soil quality and plant health.      The  results allow farmers to monitor  the evolution of the same agroecosystem along a timeline, or make comparisons between farms.        By applying the methodology simultaneously to several farms it is possible to visualize which farms exhibit low or high values of sustainability. With some modifications, this methodology is applicable to a broad range of agroecosystems in various eco-regions.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Are perennial grains the future of farming? (journal)

The Strong Perennial Vision: A Critical Review

The Strong Perennial Vision: a Response  

In the March issue of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, permaculture practitioner Chris Smaje and perennial grain breeders Timothy Crews and Lee DeHaan debate what Stephen Gliessman calls 'one of the big issues in agroecology today', the role of perennial grains. A “strong perennial vision” of a domestic prairie made up of a diverse mix of perennial grains, legumes, and other species, versus a “weak perennial vision” that includes more diverse agroecological strategies such as agroforestry, crop mixtures, and rotations. Both articles are free to download.