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.

Motivation in the transition movement (report)

In Pursuit of Transition: Some aspects of the role of passion and motivation in the Transition Movement

This paper explores participation in the Transition Movement: Is passion a strong motivator for active participation and continued involvement? Do members find that they derive satisfaction, motivation and fulfilment from Transition Initiatives? The study’s results show that an individual’s level or type of passion is not the most important contributor to continued participation in the Transition Movement. Intrinsic motivation for a high quality of life is the strongest predictor of high participation levels. Furthermore, interview findings indicate that there is no single type of person nor a single motivating factor that draws people to the Transition Movement. In fact, there may be an advantage to having a balance of interests and personality types within an Initiative to encourage diversity of ideas and active working groups.

Two initiatives for urban sustainability (#journal)

Transition Towns and EcoDistricts: Local Sustainable Initiatives

The Transition Town movement was motivated by the need to assist towns to transition to a new future. A 12 Step Programme has been developed to help groups identify key sectors of transitioning, such as reducing energy use and providing more local food supplies and employment. A parallel movement of creating more sustainable development through local action is spreading through the United States. The EcoDistrict organization communicates its ideas through a website, annual meetings and the development of university course linkages. These two examples of grass-roots activism provide an important addition to the ways in which urban places can become more sustainable and locally resilient.

Europe's largest permaculture community starts (online)

Work Starts on Europe's Largest Urban Permaculture Passivhaus Eco-Community

Work is starting on the largest permaculture-based, Passivhaus urban eco-community in Europe, in Leicester, England. When finished, the settlement will contain 68 homes for rent at affordable rates for essential workers. At the edge of the site will be a permaculture farm, on which residents will grow their own fruit, vegetables, other foodstuffs and supplies. When finished it will provide an urban oasis. The field pond will be refreshed, and hedgerows reinstated to connect a wildlife corridor and planting 800 new trees, many of which will be fruit trees, on the site.

New wiki on soil improvement (online)

SoilHack Wiki 
We have, according to various recent studies, 60-100 years before there is no topsoil left globally, so we might do well to play a part in advancing the understanding of how to build soils! SoilHack is an open group created to facilitate the collaborative investigation of soil health and the development of tools and techniques for soil improvement. Those wishing to deepen our understanding of soils can do so more effectively if we share what we're learning with each other. The wiki is the homepage for SoilHack. You will be able to access everything else from here.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Martin Crawford's forest garden (film)

Living with the Land 1) Forest Gardening 

This is the first in a series of 9 films called Living with the Land. Martin Crawford of the Agroforesty Research Trust introduces us to his 2.1 acre Forest Garden in South Devon. Centred around an interview with Martin the film uses drone shots for never seen before vantage points of his Forest Garden. What once stood as a flat field in 1994, is today a multi-layered ecosystem of trees, shrubs and ground covers, producing fruits, nuts, and medicinal products.  Narrated by Sir Tim Smit, creator of The Eden Project.