Buckminster’s Quote of the Day

“I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuity. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.”
― Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Continuous cover forestry (CCF) – alternative forest management

Time for some GOOD NEWS !..Let’s hope this type of forestry becomes the norm rather than the exception in the coming years.

ProSilva Ireland

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ProSilva Ireland is delighted to reprint an article from the Irish Farmers Journal by Donal Magner. Donal reviewed in detail the recent ProSilva Ireland and the Society of Irish Forester’s field day at Ballyhooly forest in North Cork, managed by Coillte. Our thanks to Donal Magner and the Irish Farmers Journal.

Continuous cover forestry (CCF) – alternative forest management
by Donal Magner

Lesson one. The ways to propagate a tree are many.
Some take root on their own, with no one’s help,
and put themselves about theplace…

From Georgics by Virgil (29BC). Translated by PeterFallon (2006).

In Georgics,Virgil described six ways to propagate trees. He began with three types of natural regeneration or ‘Nature’s way for each and every tree in woods and sacred groves to thrive and flourish’.

These were followed by three ‘other ways, found out by trial and error’; in other words, where man intervenes to…

View original post 1,200 more words

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BACKGARDENFARMIN’ – A collective of growers using empty back gardens to produce food for their local community.

Vision: To form a co-operative of young urban farmers, “renting” back gardens within a local district, growing salad, veg and herbs for sale to local community.

If you were to examine a satellite image of most cities, you would notice a certain amount of green spaces, be it parkland, sports-fields, waste-land or back gardens. Dublin is a city with a particularly large proportion of these green spaces, by virtue of original town-planning guidelines, which stipulated low-density housing in our now leafy suburbs.. approx. 20 dwellings per hectare on average. This translates to a huge amount of available land for growing crops. Granted, most of this available land is in the form of large back gardens.. but there is evidence to suggest that a lot of these gardens are mostly unused and sometimes completely overgrown. There is a common instance of elderly home-owners living in urban or suburban neighbourhoods, with a half-acre garden full of weeds and overgrown trees. Maintaining these spaces is too much work for the inhabitants, hiring someone is unaffordable.. Even in newer, more outlying suburbs, there can be quite substantial gardens which can be a headache for those who are not interested in gardening or spending their weekends walking behind a lawnmower.

On the other hand, we have a number of burning social challenges in these same neighbourhoods. Unemployment is the obvious one, anti-social behaviour, crime, drug-use, loneliness, absence of amenities and good-quality food [which leads to ill-health & malnutrition] are all common ailments. It all points to degradation or erosion in the fabric of community. Neighbours are less likely to look out for each other, children are frustrated, feeling trapped..they lash out at society. The elderly are afraid to go outside the door. Local businesses are dying, due to lack of loyalty from local consumers [the large multiples have a role to play in this of course].. The bottom line is that there seems to be a general decline in social cohesion across the board.. which is not limited to urban areas, but is more acute there.

Now.. consider a scenario. A handful of locals band together and start growing food in otherwise neglected back gardens.. or any vacant spaces for that matter. They may have experience or they may enlist an experienced grower to train them up.

The essence of this enterprise is to find a number of local home-owners in the area who would be willing to allow crops to be grown in their back garden, in return for a share in the harvest, or a share in the profits if preferable. The bulk of the produce can then be sold to residents in the local vicinity.

The team of growers would also require a base to meet in the mornings, store tools and other materials, pack the produce and perhaps use as a distribution point. This space could be a garage or shed in one of the gardens, or a space in a local community centre, school or leased unit if necessary. The location of this base would ideally be in a central location to the gardens being used.

In my opinion, the most suitable legal structure for this type of venture would be a social enterprise – where all members are entitled to an equal share in the profits, with any surplus re-invested into the enterprise. The benefit of this model is that members can agree to all receive a reduced wage in the initial stages, allowing the business to survive financially while it is getting established. In later stages, the surplus income can be distributed among members until a fair wage is reached, at which point, any surplus income can be used to expand operations, invest in machinery or put to whatever use is deemed highest priority.

There are several ways that the produce could be distributed, whether it’s delivered or picked up at central points, the ideal customers would be local residents, reducing time spent in distribution.

The socio-economic benefits of this type of scheme are infinite.
Most importantly, the links between members of community, the interaction between neighbours, a source of local employment , the personal contact with otherwise lonely and isolated older residents, greater access to organic fresh produce within the neighbourhood, environmental benefits in lowering food miles and increasing biodiversity.. to name a few.

There are many other extensions to this type of enterprise too. In some established schemes, it may be viable to keep chickens for eggs and meat. Bee hives could be installed at suitable sites. Poly-tunnels could be erected where the owners of gardens approve. Fruit trees and soft fruit bushes could be planted or put in containers.

The training angle could also be optimised, partnerships with schools [transition year students], or local training centres, mentor-ship programs, therapy programs for the mentally ill and overly-stressed. [There is plenty of evidence to suggest horticulture can be a powerful form of therapy for these groups, for obvious reasons].

The expertise could come from several sources. Graduates from horticultural colleges, local green-fingered allotmenteers {GIY}, local farmers looking to expand or diversify. If one such scheme was started, it could be used as a training ground in itself, spawning similar ventures in neighbouring districts. The training could be funded by vocational schemes and would provide an extra income for established groups.

The possibility of accessing support from local government and non-government organisations is another option. There are several such organisations here in Ireland with aims which line up closely with the above issues. For example, there is more than one governmental program to help long-term unemployed, including training grants and work-placement.

I would be very interested to learn about similar projects internationally. I have found one in the US, with a slightly different approach, it still embodies the same general principles and is evidence that this kind of system can work. Here is the link;

http://www.yourbackyardfarmer.com

There is also a related enterprise in existence in Todmorden, England, called “Incredible Edibles”. This group has achieved tremendous success in very little time, with almost no venture capital and minimum experience. It has grown from a town-wide initiative which has become a template for towns all over the UK, and internationlly. It is well worth investigating, the “Incredible Edibles” website and a link to Pam Warhurst’s inspiring TEDTALK about what they have achieved are listed below..

http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/

http://www.ted.com/talks/pam_warhurst_how_we_can_eat_our_landscapes.html”

My intention is to put out some feelers to see if there is anyone in the Dublin area interested in establishing a pilot program. I have the horticultural experience and am willing to train up a team, but at the moment I don’t have the time to recruit or to canvas neighbourhoods in search of prospective gardens. Perhaps there is someone out there who would like to try it. If so, they can count on every ounce of help I can provide.

Feel free to contact me for further information, questions, comments, constructive criticism or advice..

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Wheatgrass strikes again!!

http://naturalsociety.com/true-story-74-year-old-weeks-live-beats-cancer-wheatgrass/

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moneyless manifesto

visit this website

http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org

to find out more about the gift economy, alternative forms of currency, social economics and re-connecting with your local community through co-sufficiency

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Fat Chance-Fructose 2.0

This lecture reveals some very interesting statistics connecting sugar intake with nearly every modern disease.

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Transition Year Programme Proposal

This is a rough outline of a programme I have proposed for Transition Year students in Irish schools.

Basically, the idea would be to introduce the concepts and principles of permaculture to transition year students across as many schools as possible, perhaps starting in one as a pilot scheme.

The suggested content would include;

Basic introduction to the principles of Permaculture, using books by co-creators David Holmgren and Bill Mollison.

Looking at working examples of Permaculture in action from various projects internationally.

Application of theory within the school or local community [using the design tools to come up with solutions to problems the students can identify within their environment]

Site visits to local farms and projects where living examples can be demonstrated and studied.

Creation of a space within the school where students can develop their own Permaculture projects.

The skills developed within this programme would benefit students in the following areas;

problem-solving [the basis of permaculture is turning problems into solutions, i.e. using food waste from a canteen to feed a worm farm]

social economics – looking at how business and monetary systems affect society in general, but specifically the local economy. These insights are critically important for young people to realise, if we are to build a more resilient and sustainable economy in the future.

practical/manual skills – learning how to use tools, materials and plans/drawings to build basic apparatus, structures, etc. [e.g. poly-tunnel]

creative design- given the right set of design tools, students will be capable of coming up with their own designs.

entrepreneurial spirit – this programme would introduce students to a whole range of business opportunities and career paths that might not other-wise appear on their radar. Examples include; aquaponics, gourmet mushroom production, urban farming, alternative technology, artesian cottage industry [bakery, raw foods, juicing, herb production, niche restaurants]

A real-life example of the above would be the brothers who founded “The Happy Pear” in Greystones. They run a very successful vegetarian cafe, where they also sell fresh local organic produce, sprouts and wheat-grass.

Another possible avenue to explore would be co-ordinating with local community groups and businesses to develop specific projects, such as a community garden/orchard, a playground, a wild-life santuary or a social space.

Examples of such groups would be; GIY, Transition Towns [combining two types of transition here], tidy towns, men’s sheds, local farms [Macra na Feirme], An Taisce Green communities program, Bord Bia, Parks and Wildlife department, etc..

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mushrooms at Loughcrew

 

Continue reading

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Hungry Fungi Workers Co-op

Good news on the mycellium we call http://www.. there is a new enterprise budding in Leeds called “Hungry Fungi”, proposing to run workshops in mushroom cultivation, produce spores and grow kits, etc.. check em out @

http://www.facebook.com/hungryfungi

website still under construction..http://www.fungi.coop/

complete this survey to avail of discount on workshops/ products

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MPBLPBV

Yet another brilliant initiative spawned from the inspiring book by Paul Stamets –

” Mycellium Running”

p.s; St. Georges mushrooms this week in my back garden.. keep your eyes peeled!

for identification.. http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/calocybe-gambosa.php

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food for thought..not for the bin!

http://www.tristramstuart.co.uk/titleBlog.aspx

‘The monkey speaks his mind: …

‘That man descended from our noble race –

The very idea is a big disgrace.

… you will never see –

A monkey build a fence around a coconut tree,

And let all the coconuts go to waste

Forbidding all other monkeys to come and taste.

Why, if I put a fence around this tree

Starvation will force you to steal from me.’

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