Tuesday, 15th May 2018
The Oxford Real Farming Conference has become a regular fixture in my calendar. Now bigger than the ‘other’ (National Farmer’s Union) conference taking place in the same city at the same time, it is the go-to event for farmers, smallholders, policy makers, horticulturists, experimenters, environmentalists, campaigners, academics, mainstream... more
Wednesday, 28th March 2018
As children, we were taught to see patterns and rhythms in two or perhaps three dimensions. Our solar system was portrayed as a collection of planets circling around a central sun and, if we were lucky, we might have seen a 3D version of this at a planetarium. Yet how far from the truth is this old style harmony of the spheres?
We now know... more
Friday, 15th December 2017
In November 2017, I was given one of the greatest of honours: to welcome India's foremost spiritual leader, Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) to the UK on the 30th anniversary of her first visit and in the company of the Indian ambassador, Dinesh K. Patnaik (second left), and the renown film director and artist, Shekhar Kapur (far right).
Friday, 1st December 2017
St Ethelburga's Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in London says spiritual ecology “...is about sticking our hands in the soil – feeling into the roots of social and environmental issues – cultivating a deeper relationship with life that reflects the interconnectedness of all life.”
They list four principles:
Reverence for... more
Monday, 20th November 2017
What elements of design in permaculture can be linked to agroecological practices and to what extent are they functional in terms of sustainable or regenerative farm productivity and in what context?
Agroecology works well with permaculture design: it uses stacking to create multi-functional yields, microclimates, greater edges, biodiversity,... more
Friday, 17th November 2017
What distinguishes permaculture from other holistic design or growing methods is that it aims to create more than a system of sustainable agriculture or organic horticulture; it uses (eco) systems thinking to explore the drivers and ideas behind more lasting, permanent cultures. Its ethics and principles can be applied to living systems (gardens,... more
Thursday, 26th October 2017
Drawdown is a fascinating book and the project itself is exactly what we need in a world divided by climate change scepticism and inaction. As explained on page 56, in 2013 Paul Hawken gathered 70 scientists and policy makers from 22 countries to research climate solutions and winnow their list down to 100 of the most effective ways to reduce... more
Wednesday, 25th October 2017
Being a permaculture practitioner, I recently visited Sattva Land, a tropical food forest and the Maya Mountain Research Farm (MMRF), both in Belize to learn more about how permaculture design works in tropical climates. Both the projects were built on lands where conventional farming techniques had been used, causing exhausted soils, erosion and... more
Tuesday, 10th October 2017
I am fascinated by natural springs. They are a result of surface water seeping into the Earth and filling a recharge area like a cave or aquifer (a geologic layer of porous and permeable material such as sand and gravel, limestone, or sandstone, through which water flows and is stored). When an aquifer is confined by impermeable rock layers in... more
Wednesday, 14th June 2017
Earlier this year, I attended the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC), two days of inspiration, information and practical sharing of regenerative agriculture, horticulture, food sovereignty and policy. Started as an alternative to the ‘other’ industrial ag conference run by the NFU, it is one of the best and most holistic events I have been to... more
Tuesday, 7th February 2017
In these times of great upheaval and moral depravity, we aspiring sons and daughters of the soil need some encouragement to navigate the veggie growing year with a well thought out plan so we don't miss out on any delicious harvests. Charles Dowding, No Dig expert and organic fruit and veg master, has provided exactly this: a week by week dairy to... more
Monday, 30th January 2017
What does permaculture have to do with politics? The original contraction of permanent agriculture to permaculture is also the contraction of permanent culture. Having identified perennial systems (treecrops and agroforestry, for example) as vital techniques to restore ecosystems, co-orginators, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, quickly turned... more
Friday, 2nd December 2016
Last February, Charles Dowding gave me some pieces of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) from one of his crowns and advised me to pot them up and plant them outside in late Spring. I have always wanted to grow yacon so I went home and did just that.
About Yacon - why it is good for you
Yacon is South American tuber, much bigger than Oca which I... more
Wednesday, 23rd November 2016
Oca is a South American tuber with a lemony taste and pretty leaves. In warm climates Oxalis tuberosa (Oxalidaceae) is a perennial herbaceous plant and can overwinter as underground stem tubers known as uqa in Quechua. The plant is tradionally cultivated in the central and southern Andes for its tubers, which are used as a root vegetable.
In New... more
Tuesday, 1st November 2016
Yesterday I published Albert Bates' Commonwealth post about an unprecedented event: a group of the world's most innovative, practical thinkers, researchers and activists were invited to the Commonwealth Offices to brainstorm about ways in which to restore our global climate. The Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland (she prefers to be... more