Sunday, 31 July 2016

Editors wanted for new journal

Editors required for new permaculture journal 

As part of The Permaculture International Research Network, we are developing a new online journal, Permaculture Research.  It will be an interdisciplinary, peer reviewed journal that publishes high quality research on all aspects of permaculture. To strengthen our editorial team, we are seeking Assistant Editors from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Follow the link to find out more.

Concrete decay destroys infrastructure (online)

How industrial civilisation is (literally) built on a foundation with an expiry date

The main issue is simple: putting in steel reinforcing bars lowers the cost and weight of installing reinforced concrete, but at the severe expense of reducing its lifespan. In other words, literally everything you see today that’s made of concrete will need to be replaced within a hundred years of its installation.
Our reinforced concrete infrastructure sends a dire warning.

'Organic Revolutionary' book review

Organic Revolutionary: A Memoir of the Movement for Real Food, Planetary Healing, and Human Liberation
A book review submitted to The Digest by Graham Bell; thanks Graham! All readers are most welcome to submit Digest content to

I recommend this book to anyone interested in setting standards.  Grace delineates her progress from hippy farmer to state legislator in great detail.  In the process she describes the challenge of setting standards for organic production in the US.  Because the book took fifteen years to write there are great changes in mood.  For those similarly challenged with 'What is a good standard' (a debate raging in various permaculture circles right now) it clearly states the different positions people will take: purist and enabler would be the extremes.  It points out very perceptively the advantages and disadvantages of these polar opposites.

Personally I would like to have heard more about Grace the person.  Whilst in some respects she is very open about her life, loves and relationships, I feel a little more of these aspects of her story would have helped me appreciate her journey.

 Meanwhile a very worthwhile read.  I particularly like the section: Soil is anything but pure.  Quote: 'the reductionist model of nutrition gives no indication of the vital, living quality of a food product.', 'Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made' Mark Twain (AKA Sam Clements) and lastly: 'Yet in fact the push for higher standards actually made it easier for the large, professional business organisations than for smaller owner-operators.  They were simply better equipped to deal with the increasingly finicky and paperwork heavy demands of organic certification.' A salutary lesson for us all.

Urban gardens grow food and biodiversity (online)

Civic pride 'can help sustain urban biodiversity'

The establishment of community gardens in inner city areas can boost social and ecological sustainability, suggest researchers. A study found those that produced food were the ones most likely to deliver "win-win" scenarios. Urban green spaces managed by local people were more likely to be preserved for future generations, they added. Research has shown that green urban sites such as allotments, community garden, or cemeteries, can make a major contribution to sustaining urban biodiversity. They offer insect-friendly habitats, which improves pollination for plant species, and attract predators such as birds. This biological diversity also makes the space more appealing for people.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Building your eco-home (book)

The Eco-Home Design Guide: Principles and practice for new-build and retrofit

Designing an eco home is much more about working with your house's place and situation than relying in intrusive technology and hi-tech materials. In this book, Christopher Day draws on his extensive experience to explain the key principles of eco-home design, using common-sense methods to create a pleasant, comfortable and healthy home. With beautifully simple hand-drawn illustrations, he takes you through: using the local topography, combined with landscaping, to improve your home's micro-climate, designing to keep your home dry and warm in the winter, and cool in the summer, minimizing hidden environmental impact, making the house safe and healthy, both emotionally and physically.

Green energy futures (book)

Green Energy Futures: A Big Change for the Good

What will replace fossil fuel? Is there a way forward using renewable energy sources while avoiding nuclear power? This book argues that nuclear is unlikely to have much of a role in future, and shows that the nuclear debate has absorbed too much time and energy, to the detriment of a more relevant and urgent debate over what sort of renewable/efficiency mix we need. This book engages in that debate, exploring the implications of shifting to greener, cleaner energy sources. It argues there is no one green future, but a range of possible options: we need to choose amongst them. This book offers an overview of the technical, economic and environmental issues to help scholars, professionals and policy makers involved in discussing those options.

Vested interests versus renewable energy (book)

Renewable Energy Transformation or Fossil Fuel Backlash? Vested Interests in the Political Economy

Renewable energy is rising within an energy system dominated by powerful vested energy interests in fossil fuels, nuclear and electric utilities. Analyzing renewables in six very different countries, the author argues that it is the extent to which states have controlled these vested interests that determines the success or failure of renewables.

2050: a low carbon society (book)

Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050

Combining theory, case studies and speculative fiction, a range of contributors, from leading UK academics to pioneering renewable activists, create a compelling picture of the potential perks and pitfalls of a low carbon future.

The global politics of climate change (book)

Climate Change in World Politics

A multi-faceted view of climate change from an International Relations, global governance, justice, sustainable development and national identity perspective. John Vogler examines the international politics of climate change, with a focus on the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC). He considers how the international system treats the problem of climate change, analysing the ways in which this has been defined by the international community and the interests and alignments of state governments.

Permaculture your life (book)

How to Permaculture Your Life: Strategies, Skills and Techniques for the Transition to a Greener World by Ross Mars 

This book is a great resource for everyone interested in Transition, permaculture and more self-reliant and satisfying lifestyles. It is packed with information on permaculture design principles, soil building, nutrient-dense food growing, including top plant and tree selections for all climatic zones. Coverage extends to rainwater harvesting and irrigation, human waste management, and strategies for rural properties plus a unique focus on applying permaculture to small urban spaces. Also covered are hand tools, food preservation, energy production, and low-carbon housing and a plethora of nearly forgotten skills such as soap making, basket weaving, seed saving, and rope and candle making, and more

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Time lapse film of woodland plants (video)

 Time-lapse of woodland plant emergence

Just for fun - and to remind you of the wonder of nature- from BBC's 'Private Life of Plants' (1.5 mins)

Critquing the green economy (book)

Inside The Green Economy: Promises and Pitfalls

The economic and ecological bases of a general prosperity are in danger, the gap between rich and poor is widening. The concept of the Green Economy offers a new model, based primarily on large-scale technological solutions. But the Green Economy cares little about politics, barely registers human rights, does not recognize social actors and suggests the possibility of reform without conflict. It suggests that the world as we know it can continue with green growth.
But can efficiency be a solution if it results in even more consumption? Is it possible to save nature by putting a price on the services it provides? Should we rely on magical technological solutions to save us? This book puts the Green Economy to the test, discusses its promises, describes actual consequences and names its blind spots. It is an invitation to embrace radical optimism to find transformative strategies for a livable future.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Securing affordable farm land in the UK (video)

The Ecological Land Cooperative

The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) was set up to address the lack of affordable sites for ecological land based livelihoods in England. This short film introduces you to the ELC staff and the smallholders at their first project site, Greenham Reach, in Devon, UK.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Agriculture and aquaculture combat rising sea levels (news report)

Bangladesh agriculture adapts to sea-level rise 

A continuous influx of sea water is threatening agriculture and food security in vast coastal areas of Bangladesh, but farmers are finding ways to adapt, like cultivating fish and crops at the same time.
The coastal and offshore areas of this low-lying, densely populated country include tidal estuaries and river floodplains in the south along the Bay of Bengal. Here the arable land is about 30 percent of the total available in the country.
According to salinity survey findings, about one million hectares, or about 70 percent of cultivated lands of the southern coastal areas of Bangladesh, are affected by various degrees of soil salinity.
It is already predicted that if the current trend of climate change continues, rice production could fall by 10 percent and wheat by 30 percent.
 Coastal Integrated Technology Extension Programme (CITEP) encourages farmers to use the Sarjan model of long raised rows of soil about one metre wide and 90 cm high for cultivating varieties of vegetables. The trenches between the rows are filled with water into which various types of fish are released for maturing. The water for irrigating the plants comes from nearby lakes filled with freshwater drawn from the Meghna River.
The advantage of using Sarjan model is that it protects cropland from inundation during storm surges, tidal waves and flash flooding and avoids high salinity.
The new farming practice has turned out to be very popular in Char Fasson, where over 9,000 farmers are now using the model. Many farmers have also formed self-help groups where members benefit from sharing each others’ experiences.

Is this a permaculture-allied solution?  Could it be used elsewhere? 
Are you doing permaculture in this region?  If so, we'd love to hear more about it. Please get in touch with Naomi on

African Union Research Grants (Funding proposals)

Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Africa - funding call

Would be great if we could have a permaculture response to this!  Details and criteria on the website (link via title above). 

The Specific objective of this Call for Proposals is to award grants to finance research projects that aim to Eradicate Hunger and Ensure Food and nutrition security. It is highly envisaged that the deployment and the improvement of science and technology research in this challenging area will effectively contribute to Africa’s poverty reduction strategies, economic growth and social development efforts.

The Work programme of the African Union Research Grants will distinctly focus on thematic continental priorities aimed to contribute to attainment of socio economic objectives of Africa as highlighted within the Africa’s Science Technology and Innovation Strategy -2024  which addresses aspirations identified under the Agenda 2063 and EU-Africa Priority area 3 on Human development in which the High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on science, technology and innovation is the key platform in the JAES for priority-setting and implementation design for STI. For the 2016 call, the selected thematic area directly addresses key African challenges by providing sustainable scientific solutions to address Sustainable Agricultural Intensification, within the broader theme of Food, Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA);

The African Union Commission as Delegated Regional Authority will allocate an amount of 9,000,000 USD for the AURG-II call of proposals (2016) for research to address Sustainable Agricultural Intensification, within the broader theme of Food, Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA).