Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The real revolution in America (book)

The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000 Mile Journey Through a New America

America faces huge challenges—climate change, social injustice, racist violence, economic insecurity. Journalist Sarah van Gelder suspected that there were solutions, and she went looking for them, off the beaten track, in rural communities, small towns, and neglected urban neighborhoods. She set off on a 12,000-mile journey through eighteen states, dozens of cities and towns, and five Indian reservations. van Gelder discovered people and communities who are remaking America. Join her as she meets the quirky and the committed, the local heroes and the healers who, under the mass media’s radar, are getting stuff done.

The benefits of a primary school garden in Kenya (#journal)

Enhanced community capital from primary school feeding and agroforestry program in Kenya

This case study examines the impact of the Bwaliro Primary School feeding and agroforestry program on the human, financial, natural, and social capitals of the surrounding Bwaliro community in western Kenya. Additional to the targeted improvements in attendance and educational performance, program spillover effects likely included enhanced child health, community agroforestry knowledge, increased tree planting and diversity of crops and trees, saved household income, and improved relations within the family unit and among community members. Participants suggested that increasing the community's capacity to contribute to and collaborate with the school is necessary for program sustenance and for further community development.

Permaculture-based wetland water treatment (journal)

The Brookside Farm Wetland Ecosystem Treatment (WET) System: A Low-Energy Methodology for Sewage Purification, Biomass Production (Yield), Flood Resilience and Biodiversity Enhancement

When permaculture principles are used in the creation of water purification and harvesting systems, there can be multiple environmental and economic benefits. The constructed wetland design presented here is a low-entropy system in which wastewater is harvested and transformed into lush and productive wetland, eliminating the requirement for non-renewable energy in water purification, and also maximising benefits: biodiversity, flood resilience and yield. In permaculture design, the high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds in sewage are viewed as valuable nutrients, resources to be harvested. Similarly, rainwater runoff is not viewed as a problem which can cause flooding, but as a potential resource to be harvested to provide a yield.

The permaculture movement in El Salvador (#journal)

“The right to food is nature too”: food justice and everyday environmental expertise in the Salvadoran permaculture movement

In El Salvador a growing permaculture movement attunes small-scale farming activities to principles of ecological observation. The premise is twofold: close-grained appreciation of already-interacting biophysical processes allows for the design of complementary social and agricultural systems requiring minimum energy inputs. Secondly, the insistence on campesino smallholders as actors in the design of sustainable food systems directly addresses decades of “top-down” developmental interventions. Permaculture connects food insecurity to the delegitimisation of smallholder innovation and insists that, through sharing simple techniques, campesino farmers can contribute towards environmental sustainability. This repositioning is brought about through the mobilisation of pedagogical techniques that legitimise the experiences and expertise of small-scale farmers, while standardising experimental methods for testing, evaluating and sharing agroecological practices.

Permaculture in business management (journal)

Sustainable management models: innovating through permaculture

Exploring the ways in which innovation can serve to create better and more integrated social, environmental, and economic enterprises is a key challenge.

How firms innovate and change depends strongly on their management models. permaculture concepts and principles could help the transition toward more sustainability.

This paper seeks to understand how management models could rely on permaculture principles to facilitate innovations and changes toward sustainability. Innovative management models built on the permaculture concepts, are a potential alternative to western “traditional” management models. They would give preference to long-term objectives, intrinsic motivation, emergent coordination, and collective wisdom in decision making.

The French Agroecolgy Action Plan (report)

Presentation on the French Agroecology Action Plan

On 11th May 2016 the All-Parliamentray Agroecology Group of the UK Parliament heard two interesting presentations on agro-ecology in north west Europe. Eric Giry, Agricultural Counsellor to the United Kingdom and Ireland from the French Embassy outlined how the French Agroecology Action Plan and 2015 Act came into being. Nic Lampkin, Executive Director, of the Organic Research Centre presented a review of agroecology in the UK and policy opportunities.

The benefits of agro-forestry in Europe (journal)

Do European agroforestry systems enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services? A meta-analysis

The available evidence for the societal benefits of agroforestry is fragmented. The authors extracted a total of 365 comparisons. Results revealed an overall positive effect of agroforestry over conventional agriculture and forestry. However there were differences among the types of agroforestry practices and ecosystems. Erosion control, biodiversity, and soil fertility are enhanced by agroforestry while there is no clear effect on provisioning services. The effect of agroforestry on biomass production is negative. Both silvopastoral and silvoarable systems increase ecosystem service provision and biodiversity. Mediterranean tree plantation systems should be targeted as soil erosion could be reduced while soil fertility increased. In conclusion, agroforestry can enhance biodiversity and ecosystem service provision relative to conventional agriculture and forestry in Europe.

Environmental change practice notes (online)

 Living With Environmental Change policy and practice notes

Lots of interdisciplinarity is written up in Newcastle University's Living With Environmental Change policy and practice note series - now complete.  There are 36 notes in total, and the topics covered are wide ranging, from building coastal resilience to sea level rise and storm surges, to the heritage value of public parks and gardens, and there is a whole sub series on pollinators drawing on evidence from the Insect Pollinators Initiative. 

A diverse future for world farming (report)

From Uniformity to Diversity

Input-intensive crop monocultures and industrial-scale feedlots must be consigned to the past in order to put global food systems onto sustainable footing, according to the world’s foremost experts on food security, agro-ecosystems and nutrition. The solution is to diversify agriculture and reorient it around ecological practices, whether the starting point is highly-industrialized agriculture or subsistence farming in the world’s poorest countries, the experts argue. The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), led by Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, released its findings in a new report.

UK Parliament briefing on rewilding (online)

 Rewilding and Ecosystem Services

This POSTnote explores the consequences of increasing the role of natural processes within landscapes. Evidence from the UK and abroad suggests that rewilding can benefit both wildlife and local people, but animal reintroductions could adversely affect some land-users.

Carbon farming (video)

Carbon Farming (Video) 

A new twist on an age-old practice. Some people farm corn. Some farm wheat. Some, like Connor Stedman, farm carbon. “There’s a really significant potential for carbon farming worldwide to play a role in reversing the climate crisis,” said Stedman, an agricultural consultant at AppleSeed Permaculture.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The problems of modern agriculture (online)

Modern agriculture cultivates climate change – we must nurture biodiversity 

A great article from Olivier De Schutter, the former UN special rapporteur on the right to food, and co-chair of iPES-Food and Emile Frison,  the former director general of Bioversity International. 'Crop-breeding innovations are merely a short-term solution for falling yields. Only agricultural diversity can ensure food security and resilience'. Read more

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Permaculture's dogma problem (online)

Permaculture's Dogma Problem

Not only does Rafter Sass Ferguson have a neat beard, he also has some serious smarts...and he's not afraid to say it like he sees it. This blog post of his opens up some big issues for permaculture researchers, and the permaculture community in general.

Not too long ago, two of our most internationally renowned permaculture teachers/consultants had some vigorous disagreement on social media. Hordes of commenters weighed in on either or neither side. The explicit topic of the disagreement was the value of contour ditches  – known in permaculture as ‘swales’ – for managing water in the landscape.... I was struck most by what wasn’t discussed. The unspoken limits of the discussion highlighted how much permaculture has to learn from agroecology – in particular, how to learn like agroecology. This debate over water harvesting serves as a window onto issues that run through the whole of permaculture. Read the rest

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Polyculture market garden study 2016 (online)

Balkan Ecology's Polyculture Market Garden Study - Results from Year 2 - 2016

Balkan Ecology Project have completed the  second year of their Market Garden Polyculture Study with some interesting results. This year they added a new polyculture to the trials and included a comparison between growing vegetables in a polyculture and growing them in more traditional blocks. On this website you can find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures they are growing, a description of what they record and the results from this year's study.

What works in conservation: the evidence (online)