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Applying Food Forest Growing to Farms

Food Forest Farm

Applying Food Forest Growing to Farms

Beyond Garden Scale

Gardeners know too well the feeling of overwhelm when facing a new landscape. The seemingly infinite possibilities brings up the question, “Where do I start?”. Fortunately, there is a process we can use to answer that, it’s called permaculture design.

From Food Forest to Farming Dreams

Some of you might remember a special place in Holyoke Massachusetts called Paradise Lot.  This garden is still one of my favourite places in the world!  That’s right, Paradise Lot continues to attract visitors who enjoy the explosion of perennial vegetables, rare and unusual fruits, a unique story, and backyard scale permaculture in action.

Along with Eric Toensmeier, and many other friends, Paradise Lot was my first big garden design challenge. The question of “Where to start” defined our early process. Thank goodness, at the time, Eric and Dave Jacke were writing a book called “Edible Forest Gardens”, and our garden became the case study.  The garden is where I learned many key design strategies: The Problem is the Solution; Constraints Focus the Design; What Was, Plus What Is, Could Be; Watch Out for the Red Gazebo and many other principles.

I lived, breathed and ate that garden for thirteen years. During that time a new thought seed was planted. The beginnings of a vision of what a garden like this could be beyond one-tenth of an acre. This idea didn’t hold my thoughts very strongly, but it did take root. Then, by around 2012, when my wife was pregnant, and we enjoyed the bounty and success of a thriving food forest, global climate change impacted our lives.

How Long Will It Take For The US To Collapse?

How Long Will It Take For The US To Collapse?

Friday, 03 January 2020 05:11 Brandon Smith

There are a multitude of false assumptions out there on what the collapse of a nation or “empire” looks like. Modern day Americans have never experienced this type of event, only peripheral crises and crashes. Thanks to Hollywood, many in the public are under the delusion that a collapse is an overnight affair. They think that such a thing is impossible in their lifetimes, and if it did happen, it would happen as it does in the movies – They would simply wake up one morning and find the world on fire. Historically speaking, this is not how it works. The collapse of an empire is a process, not an event.

This is not to say that there are not moments of shock and awe; there certainly are. As we witnessed during the Great Depression, or in 2008, the system can only be propped up artificially for so long before the bubble pops. In past instances of central bank intervention, the window for manipulation is around ten years between events, give or take a couple of years. For the average person, a decade might seem like a long time. For the banking elites behind the degradation of our society and economy, a decade is a blink of an eye.

In the meantime, danger signals abound as those analysts aware of the situation try to warn the populace of the underlying decay of the system and where it will inevitably lead. Economists like Ludwig Von Mises foresaw the collapse of the German Mark and predicted the Great Depression; almost no one listened until it was too late. Multiple alternative economists predicted the credit crisis and derivatives crash of 2008; and almost no one listened until it was too late. People refused to listen because their normalcy bias took control of their ability to reason and accept the facts in front of them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Collapse of the Modern Western Empire. What Future for Humankind?

The Collapse of the Modern Western Empire. What Future for Humankind?

These notes are not supposed to disparage nor to exalt an entity that has a history that goes back to at least a couple of millennia ago. Like all Empires, past and present, the Modern World Empire went through its parable of growth and glory and it is now starting its decline. There is not much that we can do about it, we have to accept that this is the way the universe works. On this subject, see also a previous post of mine “Why Europe Conquered the World 

For everything that exists, there is a reason and that’s true also for that gigantic thing that we call sometimes “The West” or perhaps “The American Empire,” or maybe “Globalization.” To find that reason, we may go back to the very origins of the modern empire. We can find them in an older, but already very advanced, empire: the Roman one.

As someone might have said (and maybe someone did, but it might be an original concept of mine), “geography is the mother of Empires.” Empires are built on the availability of natural resources and on the ability to transport them. So, the Romans exploited the geography of the Mediterranean basin to build an empire based on maritime transportation. Rome was the center of a hub of commerce that outcompeted every other state in the Western region of Eurasia and North Africa. This transportation system was so important that it was even deified under the name of the Goddess Annona. It was kept together by a financial system based on coinage, Latin as lingua franca, a large military system, and a legal system very advanced for the time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Epistemological divide: How we live in two different worlds of understanding

Epistemological divide: How we live in two different worlds of understanding

Epistemology is the study of how we know things. All of us cycle between two main ways of knowing in our modern culture: 1) the rational, reductionist way and 2) the holistic, relational, intuitive way. By far the most dominant way is the rational, reductionist way and our institutions, scientific, economic, financial and organizational are governed by this way of thinking.

For the reductionist thinker, everything in the universe is made up of parts. If we can understand the parts, we can understand the whole. Depending on the field, the physical world is nothing but atoms and molecules and the social world is nothing but self-maximizing, rational actors. The reductionist view is very powerful and filled with “nothing but” statements. It never occurs to the thoroughgoing reductionist that the idea of “parts” is merely a mental construct.

In our everyday relationships with friends and family, in our nonrational pursuits in music and the arts, in our religious lives, we tend toward the second way of thinking, holistic, relational and intuitive.

We cycle back and forth between these ways of knowing almost effortlessly and for the most part unconsciously. That seems to work well for us as individuals—except when we miscalculate or misperceive a situation and bad consequences follow. Mostly, we regroup and recover and go on, adjusting for what we have learned.

Can the same be said of society as a whole? Yes and no. Global human society can be likened to a superorganism that has its own logic and modes of action. Each of us is strongly influenced by its trajectory and constrained in our actions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Looted grocery store in San Cristobal, Venezuela

Preface. Venezuela is experiencing a double whammy of drought and low oil prices, which has lead to blackouts and inability to import food, ultimately due to their oil production peaking in 1997.  The same fate awaits the U.S. someday when oil declines.

Related posts:

And Mexico may be the next to collapse, as you can read here.

***

2019. Venezuela’s Water System is Collapsing. New York Times.

In Venezuela, a crumbling economy and the collapse of even basic state infrastructure means water comes irregularly — and drinking it is an increasingly risky gamble. Scientists found that about a million residents were exposed to contaminated supplies. This puts them at risk of contracting waterborne viruses that could sicken them and threatens the lives of children and the most vulnerable.

The risks posed by poor water quality are particularly threatening for a population weakened by food and medication shortages. 

Electrical breakdowns and lack of maintenance have gradually stripped the city’s complex water system to a minimum. Water pumps, treatment plants, chlorine injection stations and entire reservoirs have been abandoned as the state ran out of money and skilled workers

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How The Cold Can Be Bad For Your Health, & What You Can Do About It

How The Cold Can Be Bad For Your Health, & What You Can Do About It

Winter comes with some extremely cold temperatures for parts of the country, and as such, brings the potential for health problems too. There are a few things to look out for, and ways to prepare yourself if you have to be outside when temperatures begin to dip in the negative numbers.

How The Cold Can Be Bad For Your Health, & What You Can Do About It

Winter comes with some extremely cold temperatures for parts of the country, and as such, brings the potential for health problems too. There are a few things to look out for, and ways to prepare yourself if you have to be outside when temperatures begin to dip in the negative numbers.

Obviously, if you can stay inside when it starts to get extremely cold, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.  Having some kind of a backup source of heat for your home will also help keep you comfortable if the power ever goes out and that’s our first suggestion for anyone living with this potential. A woodburning stove is an excellent option  While not cheap, the benefits for some will certainly outweigh the costs.

10 Awesome Tips You Never Knew About Using Wood Stoves That May Change Your Life

What To Look Out For If Exposed To The Cold:

  1. Hypothermia. This condition occurs when your body temperature drops below 95˚F (35˚C). This results from your body losing more heat than it can make, such as when you are exposed to cold or water. Hypothermia can show up as shivering, clumsiness, confusion, tiredness, or urinating more than usual. If not treated quickly, hypothermia can cause severe health problems, including death.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Staple Food Revolution: Bringing Beans and Grains to Local Markets

The Staple Food Revolution: Bringing Beans and Grains to Local Markets

Contributing Author: Emily Payne

Brandon Jaeger and Michelle Ajamian say they were driven by existential anxiety to open Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, Ohio. Their facility produces Ohio-grown, Certified Organic dry beans and freshly milled grains to help create a local staple food market. During the #CropsInColor in Appalachia tour, they share with Food Tank and The Crop Trust about the challenges of starting a small grain mill and why they’re not aiming to be in every kitchen in the United States. 

Before opening Shagbark, Jaeger and Ajamian traveled the country visiting farmers’ markets and noticed that, despite growth in local food systems, staple foods were not represented at a local level. “All of our protein comes from [beans and grains] and a lot of nutrients, and they aren’t available locally,” Ajamian says.

“I went to the farmers’ market to get my eggs, cheese, and leafy greens, but then I went home and grabbed my cans of beans, rice, crackers, and pasta from the pantry,” Jaeger explains. “I can buy locally baked bread, but I don’t know where the flour is coming from, just like how I don’t know where all those other beans and grains come from.” And after some research, Ajamian found that even black beans in organic co-ops, for example, were often coming to Ohio from China. 

The pair received a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant in 2008 to test high-nutrient staple crop plots for Appalachian farmers. “We looked at all of the empty fields in Appalachia and realized they aren’t really geared to the kind of ag that’s in the corn belt. We have small, irregular plots and thin soil,” Ajamian says. Nuts and other perennials, however, grow well in the region’s unique topography and climate.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Humanity’s Salvation Will Necessarily Look Like A Leap Into The Unknown

Humanity’s Salvation Will Necessarily Look Like A Leap Into The Unknown

If humanity is to turn away from its murderous, omnicidal, ecocidal, oppressive and exploitative trajectory, it will necessarily involve a sharp, drastic deviation from all its previous patterning.

You would think that this would go without saying; obviously a drastic change in behavior will look drastically different from the behavior which preceded it. This is self-evident. Yet when you look at the arguments that people are making today, there’s almost universally a built-in assumption that humankind’s salvation will in some way involve a continuation of its previous patterning.

Most people with an ear to the ground understand to some extent that the collective behavior of our species is unsustainable. Where they differ in opinion is on what should be done to address this problem. Where they unify in opinion is on the assumption that the solution will look like their own personal ideology winning out over all the others. Capitalists believe that capitalism will provide technological solutions to the problems that capitalism has created, and that this will happen more quickly and efficiently if the fetters on capitalism are removed. Socialists believe that socialism will solve the problems that socialism has been powerless to provide this entire time, if only this consistent pattern of socialism’s inability to obtain dominance is magically deviated from somehow. And so on.

But if you really think honestly about it, how can that possibly be? How can any preexisting ideological pattern possibly create a deviation in patterning? Any ideology you are bringing to the table will almost certainly be one which has been a part of humanity’s collective patterning for generations, and probably for centuries. How can an ideology which has been promoted in more or less the same patterns for generation possibly lead to a pattern deviation?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Helena Norberg-Hodge — Is Localization a Solution to the Crisis of Capitalism? (In Conversation)

Helena Norberg-Hodge — Is Localization a Solution to the Crisis of Capitalism? (In Conversation)

It’s often said that the economic system is rigged. The truth, however, is that the system is working exactly as it was designed to. Those in power, whether they hold public office or whether they sit in the boardroom of a multi-billion dollar international corporation, have taken great lengths to set up a system of rules that benefit them and maintain the status quo.

Helena Norberg-Hodge, a pioneer of the New Economics movement, has spent many years studying the driving forces behind why our economies are failing us, and what we can do about it. Helena’s perspectives are informed by a systems thinking and colored by the many years she spent in Ladakh, part of the larger region of Kashmir, where she watched global capital completely transform entire communities.

Helena Norberg Hodge is the Founder and Director of Local Futures, producer and co-director of the documentary films The Economics of Happiness and Ancient Futures: Lessons from Ladakh and Right Livelihood Award Laureate. We spoke with her in her home in Devon in the U.K.

Scientific Models and Myths: What Is the Difference?

Scientific Models and Myths: What Is the Difference?

Most people seem to think, “The difference between models and myths is that models are scientific, and myths are the conjectures of primitive people who do not have access to scientific thinking and computers. With scientific models, we have moved far beyond myths.” It seems to me that the truth is quite different from this.

History shows a repeated pattern of overshoot and collapse. William Catton wrote about this issue in his highly acclaimed 1980 book, Overshoot.

Figure 1. Depiction of Overshoot and Collapse by Paul Chefurka

What politicians, economists, and academic book publishers would like us to believe is that the world is full of limitless possibilities. World population can continue to rise. World leaders are in charge. Our big problem, if we believe today’s models, is that humans are consuming fossil fuel at too high a rate. If we cannot quickly transition to a low carbon economy, perhaps based on wind, solar and hydroelectric, the climate will change uncontrollably. The problem will then be all our fault. The story, supposedly based on scientific models, has almost become a new religion.

Recent Attempted Shifts to Wind, Solar and Hydroelectric Are Working Poorly

Of course, if we check to see what has happened when economies have actually attempted to switch to wind, water and hydroelectric, we see one bad outcome after another.

[1] Australia’s attempt to put renewable electricity on the grid has sent electricity prices skyrocketing and resulted in increased blackouts. It has been said that intermittent electricity has “wrecked the grid” in Australia.

[2] California, with all of its renewables, has badly neglected its grid, leading to many damaging wildfires.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dennis Meadows: The Limits To Growth

Dennis Meadows: The Limits To Growth

Revisiting one of the most seminal studies of our era

Fifty years ago, an international team of researchers was commissioned by the Club of Rome to build a computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth on a finite planet.

In 1971, its findings were first released in Moscow and Rio de Janeiro, and later published in 1972 under the title The Limits To Growth. The report concluded:

  1. Given business as usual, i.e., no changes to historical growth trends, the limits to growth on earth would become evident by 2072, leading to “sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity”. This includes the following:
    • Global Industrial output per capita reaches a peak around 2008, followed by a rapid decline
    • Global Food per capita reaches a peak around 2020, followed by a rapid decline
    • Global Services per capita reaches a peak around 2020, followed by a rapid decline
    • Global population reaches a peak in 2030, followed by a rapid decline
  2. Growth trends existing in 1972 could be altered so that sustainable ecological and economic stability could be achieved.
  3. The sooner the world’s people start striving for the second outcome above, the better the chance of achieving it.

Few reports have generated as much debate, discussion and disagreement. Though it’s hard to argue that its forecasts made back in the early 1970s have proved eerily accurate over the ensuing decades.

But most of its warnings have been largely ignored by policymakers hoping (blindly?) for a rosier future.

One of the original seventeen researchers involved in The Limits To Growth study, Dennis Meadows, joins us for the podcast this week. Fifty years later, what does he foresee ahead?

Decline is now inevitable.

We’re without any question moving into the remainder of a century which is going to see, by the end of these decades, a much smaller population, much lower level of energy and material consumption and so forth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Solar Dehydrator: A Very Appropriate Technology

Solar Dehydrator: A Very Appropriate Technology

Some of our modern tech is inappropriate. Rude. Too gaseous for the air, too messy for the planet.

But some technologies are easy on the Earth by nature, leveraging the existing energy flows that surround us. Personally, it’s the hand tools, the solar tools and the things that work all by themselves that bring the most value to my life. There’s no substitute for a mattock and a couple of good shovels, which leverage human effort into great effects with a negligible environmental impact. I love the wood stove, the solar shower, the solar oven, the laundry rack, the ceiling fans and most especially, my new solar dehydrator.

The best tool isn’t one that just promises to make a job easier or faster, it’s one that makes a job possible, where before it was impossible. It’s so humid here even in drought conditions that I have a terrible time getting my home-grown hibiscus tea, hops and corn dry enough so they won’t mold in storage. The solar oven works too well for dehydration; it just cooks stuff. How on earth was I going to dry apple rings or tomatoes?

I could get an electric dehydrator for a hundred bucks, pay to run it, and then pay for extra AC to cool the house back down. No thanks.

It turns out, two of my homeschooling/homesteading friends were having similar thoughts. We got together with these free plans from Appalachian State and made our dehydration dreams a reality. Working together is wonderful partly because it’s fun, partly because teenagers provide built-in babysitting, and partly because you can pool your extras.

The plans specify about $300 worth of materials, but I think we spent about $200 total to build three dehydrators. Somebody had some plywood and hinges lying around.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Collapse is not always a bad thing: the New Book by Ugo Bardi

Why Collapse is not always a bad thing: the New Book by Ugo Bardi

If you wish to receive a review copy or want to interview the author, please contact: 
Elizabeth Hawkins | Springer Nature | Communications 
tel +49 6221 487 8130 | elizabeth.hawkins@springer.com

PRESS RELEASEWhy collapse is not always a bad thingNew book provides an analysis of the process of failure and collapse, and outlines principles that help us manage these challenges in our lives Heidelberg | New York, 12 December 2019Image: © Springer Nature 

Everyone experiences collapse in their lives: you may lose your job, get sick, or a close friend or family member may die. Collapse also happens to structures such as buildings, and on a larger scale affects whole systems like companies, communities or even civilisations. In his latest book, Before the Collapse: A Guide to the Other Side of Growth, Ugo Bardi sets out an approach for facing failure and collapse on all scales. He calls his method the “Seneca Strategy” based on the teachings of the ancient Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Bardi draws on Seneca’s philosophy to explain why collapse is a necessary part of our lives and the world, and why trying to avoid it may lead to bigger problems later on. Seneca recognised that growth is slow but ruin is rapid, yet sudden collapse does not have to take us by surprise. In six concise chapters, Bardi outlines the science behind the collapse of complex systems, how the future can be modelled, and gives numerous examples of past and possible future collapses. Some of the cases Bardi lists include natural disasters, like Florence’s Great Flood, the collapse of a business such as the bankruptcy of the video rental service Blockbuster, as well as famines, epidemics and depopulation. As Seneca famously said: “Nothing that exists today is not the result of past collapse.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Moving towards low-carbon lifestyles: a question of collective action

Moving towards low-carbon lifestyles: a question of collective action

Our way of life must change if we want to avoid climate breakdown—but how much can we do as individuals? Ahead of the upcoming ICTA-UAB Conference on Low-Carbon Lifestyle Changes, Joël Foramitti, Lorraine Whitmarsh and Angela Druckman are outlining a roadmap.

*****

CC-BY 2.0 :: Mark Gillow / Flickr

Recent news about the state of our planet is alarming. Scientists warn about an “existential threat to civilization”, as we might already be crossing a series of climate tipping points that could lead to the irreversible loss of, for example, the West Antarctic ice sheet and the Amazon rain forest. Thanks to social movements, awareness of this problem has risen considerably. But we are currently failing to take the necessary actions, and greenhouse gas levels continue to rise. We are trapped in a culture that seeks status and fun through consumerism, in a political debate that is manipulated by vested interests of the fossil fuel industry, and in an economic system that is perceived to become unstable if there is a lack of economic growth.

In this commentary we discuss some promising ways to move towards low-carbon lifestyles – a topic that is the subject of the upcoming ICTA-UAB Conference on Low-Carbon Lifestyle Changes. Before going further, we need to make it clear that our arguments apply mostly to Western cultures, as these are where most emissions are caused and where changes towards low-carbon lifestyles are most necessary. Furthermore, the choices discussed here do not generally apply to people on low incomes, as they tend to have lower carbon footprints and less financial freedom to choose.

Our central argument is that the emissions of our economy are deeply connected to the way we live: the goals we pursue, the values and practices we share, the stuff we buy, and the jobs in which we work.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Living On Borrowed Time

Living On Borrowed Time

How soon until the consequences of our excesses catch up with us?

The laws of physics are governed by cause and effect. But there can exist a time lag between the two.

For instance:

Note how the speed of both the bullet and the retracting latex far exceed that of the shockwave or gravity on the water contained inside each balloon.

There’s an observable time lag during which the globe of previously-contained water momentarily hangs there in space.

Then, a beat later, it’s obliterated.

Living On Borrowed Time

I’m unusually focused on time these days as we’re updating Peak Prosperity’s crown jewel, The Crash Coursevideo series.

Originally created in 2008 and updated in 2014, it lays out the macro forces driving the economy and our way of living, explaining why most of them are unsustainable and headed for trouble. That then opens the door to an avalanche of critical questioning about what the future will bring.

Updating the parade of charts and data has been eye-opening for me. When I last did this (early 2014), the S&P had just returned to the same price level that served as the apex for both the 2001 and 2008 market bubbles.

I remember how concerned I was then. How could we have returned to such reckless exuberance so quickly after the pain caused by the Dot-com bust and the Great Financial Crisis? Did we learn nothing from our previous (and recent!) excess?

Clearly not only did we not learn; we didn’t give a crap. With a “hold my beer, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” bravado, we proceeded to DOUBLE the S&P above the previous bubble highs.

Here at PeakProsperity.com, my co-founder Chris Martenson and I have spilled a lot of ink in the ensuing years, warning how QE (aka central bank money printing), stock buybacks, and record low interest rates have pushed the degree of systemic unsustainability to Bizzaro-world levels. For our most recent analysis, click herehere and here.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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