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Agriculture was the great leap forward for humanity, or so we’ve been told. but is it true? Toby Hemenway, in this compelling talk Redesigning Civilisation – with Permaculture, lays out a different picture and dispels the myths of agriculture as the great liberator from a life we are told was brutish and short.
At this point I feel compelled to assure you, this is not a casual criticism of agriculture or farmers. I have been one and I hold a deep respect for that culture, so if you are reading this article and have a background in rural activities, thank you for reading this far, and I welcome you to take this journey of discovery with me.
The essence of agriculture, which the origin of the word points to, is the cutting of trees to make way for open fields – to then grow large areas of a small number crops, or grass for animals. Given this suggestion the term sustainable agriculture, must surely be an oxymoron, as there are few if any areas of the earth where agriculture has been practiced for long periods of time, which do not show signs of degradation and loss of soil, water and human health. The origins of this open field approach can be traced back to the ‘fertile crescent‘ in the Middle East - where years of grain agriculture has turned the land to desert and the soil to salt-laden sand.
Last year I was teaching social media to a group of Graduate students at The Centre for Sustainable Practice, one of the Otago Polytechnic schools, based in Wanaka. That's where I met Andy Cambeis, who's major project was to establish a food forest on public land in Hawea Flat. What I didn't realise until the end of the year, was that he was documenting the process in a way that others could benefit from.
When I read the first draft of his "Manual for creating a Food Forest on Public Land" I was delighted and excited. Here was a paint-by-numbers process, written in a beautifully summary form, with links to every detail one could possibly want, and all very relevant to the New Zealand situation. I knew this was my project for 2013 - to establish the first public access Waiheke Food Forest.
But what's been happening in the last few weeks has been quite astounding... beginning two weeks ago, as I prepared for presenting our Waiheke Food Forest project to the Waiheke Local Board, I learnt of three new Food Forest projects across Aotearoa, and this was a hint that there was some real movement in this space.
Four days later I received a persistant phone call – on the third ring I finally answered it, and I'm glad I did. A polite and well spoken man was wanting to know if I was using www.foodforest.co.nz, because if not he wanted it.
I was clear that I wasn't about to hand this over but suggested we meet. Over a coffee two days later, as we shared our stories, it was clear, we both saw Aotearoa abundant with forests of food. This proud Manawatu farmer shared his vision of 10 acre food forests, up and down the country, in those highly visible locations some farms are blessed with. We’ll be meeting up again soon – with time to flesh out some details and explore possibilities.
Permaculture Question - gowing fruit nut trees near Auckland's West Coast - are there any hardies that can manage?Submitted by broadmed on 29 March 2013 - 1:04am | Blog entry
The 2013 National Permaculture Hui will be held in Taranaki on March 9-11.
The kaupapa or theme of the hui is "Upskilling", with an emphasis on practical workshops, Matauranga Maori, connecting, and sharing.
Have you got a skill or knowledge to share?
Can you help develop the capacity of people and communities to live sustainably?
Two permitted dwellings on just over 2.5 north facing acres. Plenty of water. There is also an enormous barn big enough to convert to Wwoofer accommodation but still provide a very large workshop. » Read more
The 11th Australasian Permaculture Convergence, April 11 – 15th, will see more than 500 people involved in planning, designing and creating a resilient future. With peak oil, climate change and an unsustainable monetary system impacting us from all directions this event comes at a time when we need it most. » Read more
Return to Aotearoa: Writer / Naturalist / Retreat Center Leader / Permaculture Landscape Designer seeks Nature SanctuarySubmitted by Catrina on 15 January 2012 - 6:55am | Blog entry
It seems strange to write this as a blog, yet makes sense in many ways.
I am seeking a lovely, peaceful home sanctuary that I can housesit, caretake, manage or oversee for a family, a couple or an individual. I am a peaceful, gentle soul with abundant vitality for co-creating sacred sanctuary retreats, either as part of an eco-village, or transition town community. » Read more
Koanga is now accepting applications for Summer 2011-12 Garden Interns.
The Position: Koanga Garden Intern
Date of Internship: December 1st 2011 – March 30th 2012
Application form: http://www.koanga.org.nz/application-summer-internship-2011-12 » Read more