Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Permanent Agriculture: Past, Present and Future

by Chris Marsh

The story of how agriculture began seems very familiar. We know about the Neolithic Revolution,1 a profound change which took place when prehistoric people were already skilled at making stone tools, but before they discovered how to work metals or even fire pottery. They domesticated plants and animals, and domesticated themselves too by making permanent settlements, with the social structures and cultural practices which sustained living closely together. This revolution became possible because of the amelioration of the climate around 12,000 years ago, after the peak of the last glaciation, in the early Holocene, with its relatively stable warm conditions. Agriculture was discovered between 11000 bp and 3000 bp. There were probably multiple primary origins, in the Middle East, central Africa, China, New Guinea, Mesoamerica, and the northern Andes, and then the farming way of life dispersed to cover and dominate more and more of the world.

The old agricultural revolution involved the domestication of remarkably few species of plants and animals: some large-seeded annual grass species, several important legumes, and the major meat sources: cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. These all originated in western Asia, the area which has the world’s earliest evidence for food production. Other regions where agriculture began contributed fewer domesticated species of such importance to the world today (Bellwood 2013 127). Given that agriculture today depends very largely on these same species, domesticated thousands of years ago, we must surely agree that the old revolution brought in a ‘permanent agriculture’.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Hull Greenshare Conference: Organising the Hull Permaculture Network

by Lausanne Tranter
 Member of the Permaculture Association

The Hull Greenshare Conference  was held on the 19th of March at the Guildhall in Hull. An impressive 90 people attended to listen to a varied array of speakers, including Joe Atkinson who gave a presentation on the principles of Permaculture and their relevance today.

Other speakers were:

Cllr. Mancey (Portfolio holder): Energy City
Simon Bowens (FoE): Energy in UK
Kate Macdonald, Lisa Bovill: Timebanks & Alternative exchange mechanisms
Joanna Bevan (City University New York): Community Resilience
Mick Marston (UK Fed. City farms & Community gardens)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Stainless Steel, a Permaculture Material?

by Tony Martin

It has to be mined, processed, melted and - shipped all of which causes environmental damage and requires lots of energy.

So how can such a material be considered acceptable to permaculturists? The answer is of course in the “perma” part of permaculture. Stainless steel is a lot like Captain Scarlet, nearly indestructible (unless you are using particularly strong chemicals or high temperatures)

There are a number of different grades of stainless which are made from iron with varying amounts of other metals, including chromium, nickel, manganese and molybdenum.

Type 316 which is more expensive but has good resistance to corrosion and heat and is often used in making insulated twin wall flues for wood burners. Cheaper grades such as type 304 (AKA type 18-8) are used for items like sinks where heat and corrosion resistance is not so important.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The LAND Project Goes Global

by Louise Cartwright 
former LAND network coordinator at the Permaculture Association 

The success of the Learning and Demonstration Network (LAND) project in England has seen interest from other European countries in replicating the LAND model. Permakultur Danmark is the first European country to proactively adopt the LAND concept and as such has received a year’s revenue funding from the Danish Ministry of Environment through the Puljen for Grønne Ildsjæle project. The intention is to create a fomalised permaculture network made up of ‘LAND Centres’ and ‘LAND Starters’. This year the Network Coordinator Cathrine (Cat) Dolleris and the Permakultur Danmark Board of Trustees aim to launch the LAND network with 3 LAND Centres or Starters, an online map of permaculture projects, an active group visit scheme as well as host a variety of events and gatherings across Denmark. Cat currently works part-time and the Danish Permaculture Association consists of several committed volunteers. As the Network Coordinator for the LAND project during the initial phase I was contacted by the Permaculture Association to help launch the LAND project in Denmark, I literally jumped at the chance to see the LAND project go global!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Weather Extremes and Smallholding Resilience

by Adrian Patch
Like many smallholders, I had been waiting for the seemingly non-stop chain of winter storms to end, and have welcomed the last couple of warm and rainless weeks that have allowed the land to finally dry out and become workable. This last fortnight has been a time to play catch-up with tasks such as vegetable bed preparation and planting of trees and soft-fruit. The wettest winter since records began, though, is just one of several periods of extreme weather that we have suffered over recent years; the big-freeze and snow, drought, rain, last spring's long spell of cold easterly winds, more rain, storms, more rain – all have had a significant impact for those working on the land.

My Diploma Journey

by Claire Wise

The beginning of my permaculture diploma journey!
Tomorrow is a big day for me! On Saturday  the 15th March 2014 at Ourganics, I deliver a presentation of my work, before celebrating with friends, peer group members and my tutor on completion of my Diploma in Applied Permaculture.

When I began the diploma I imagined that my designs would be predominantly land based, as that was how I understood permaculture. As part of my diploma, I designed gardens for my friends and family. I love to be outside and have a passion both for growing things and for nature. However, using the permaculture principles and ethics throughout my pathway, I realised that permaculture's applications are far greater than that!  During the two years, I learned how to apply permaculture to fulfil my own needs and those of precious family and friends, guided by my improved observational skills.