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.