Life at Zaytuna – PDC Students Given Design Brief


Yasaman surveys with the laser level
Photos © Craig Mackintosh

We’re halfway through our latest Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course, and the students appear to be learning a lot as well as having a lot of fun along the way.

Today their knowledge store was tested and stretched, by way of having their minds applied to making their own site design in a real-life consultation situation! For the rest of the course, along with continuing classes, the students will spend some of their time working together in groups on a design that will be presented to the landowner at the end of the week.

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Posted in Design, Permaculture, Photojournalism

Taking a Quick Peek at Djanbung Gardens

A couple of days ago I had opportunity to briefly visit Djanbung Gardens, which is just outside the infamous little village of Nimbin, in NSW’s Nothern Rivers region. I thought I’d tag along and so you guys can take a peek..

Djanbung Gardens is the host site for Erda Institute Incorporated, a Permaculture training centre. The site and training centre were established in 1993 by one of Australia’s best known Permaculturists, Robyn Francis. Robyn has worked hard to make Djanbung gardens a good example of Permaculture in action, and although I was visiting in the dead of Winter, and only stopped by for a couple of hours, the design aspects of the site spoke volumes. I’d like to visit again when I have more time – perhaps in the Spring or Summer, when the growth phase is in full swing.

Robyn was working internationally when I visited, but Janelle Schafer, Erda’s head tutor and administrator, kindly volunteered to show me around. Here are a few photos to give those who haven’t had opportunity to visit Djanbung Gardens a bit of a glimpse of the site.

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Posted in Demonstration Sites, Permaculture

The Dam Letter

Who says we’re not getting out of touch with nature? Well, I think we are, and read on to see a bit of a comedic look at this.

The following two letters are said to be the actual correspondence between a Mr. Price of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan and a Ryan DeVries of the same state (enjoy the letters first, then stay tuned for why I say ‘said to be’ at bottom — no peeking though):

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Posted in Comedy Break, Diversity

Monsanto Runs Into Wall. Yes!!


Say NO to Monsanto, GMOs,
and the patenting of life

The frustration about this company – Monsanto – and others like it has been running higher and higher over the last few years. (The free flow of information on the internet is a wonderful thing in this regard – corporate-bought media is no longer our only news option….) I think it may well be the most hated corporation on the web and on popular user-driven sites like Digg and Reddit. I would personally take great pleasure in seeing their buildings worldwide bulldozed and their fields razed – leaving behind only stone statue memorials that celebrate the greed and stupidity of man.

Today, however, I can share a beacon of hope. Read on!

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Posted in GMOs, Health

Rosina Buckman – Living Smart on the Sunshine Coast


Photos © Craig Mackintosh

Rosina Buckman tells me she’s 72 years old. She looks honest enough, so I’ll take her at her word, but her youthful spirit and energetic stride did give me a moment of pause. And more than that – her urban homestead was overflowing with clear evidence of passionate and fruitful labours that belie her age. I’m not the only one that’s impressed either, as the Sunshine Coast Council have just presented Rosina with one of their 2009 Living Smart awards – she’s their ‘Edible Landscape Winner’.

Rosina, a New Zealander by birth, lives in Tewantin, a small suburb on the fringes of Noosa – a tourist hot-spot on the Sunshine Coast in south-east Queensland. This is a land of ululant lorikeets and cackling kookaburras. The bird life in particular seem intoxicated with life, and nature in general seems jubilant – either optimistic, or just plain carefree, in the face of all we humans are throwing at it.

And we are throwing a lot at it.

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Posted in Demonstration Sites

Michael Jackson – Earth Song

One of the most expensive music videos ever made was Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’. Perhaps an appropriate listen today, since he’s now passed…. The rather dramatic footage was shot in four locations – the Amazon forest, a war zone of Croatia, Tanzania and New York.

Whatever people might say or think about Michael – he was part of the human family. His childhood and life is certainly one I would not wish to have and one I cannot imagine experiencing.

Posted in Musical Interlude

Life at Zaytuna – Rainy Days


Photos copyright © Craig Mackintosh

The area around Zaytuna Farm recently experienced the worst floods for many years (since 1974 they say) – then it dried out for a few weeks. And now, over the last five days, it’s been back to raining again….

When the floods were on, people commented to Geoff, asking how he was coping with the power outages. Geoff was blissfully unaware that there had been any (since Zaytuna runs off grid with solar).

The property is buffered in another way as well – the swales are great equalisers when it comes to water. They keep water flowing from the taps and keep the grass green long after a drought has hit and burnt off the neighbours’ fields, and they also ensure that when a flood strikes, the water is slowed down and sunk – thus avoiding rivers of water carrying away soil and more. To a great degree, the earthworks here not only drought-proof the land, but also flood-proof it as well.

These things are well worth considering with the promise of more and more droughts and floods in the coming years….

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Posted in Natural Building, Water

Home (Video)


‘Home’ trailer (watch the full documentary here)
Also available in Arabic, French, German, Russian and Spanish.

This documentary, ‘Home‘, is almost perfect.

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Posted in Deforestation, Energy, Food Shortages, Global Warming, Pollution, Water

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States


Download the full 13mb PDF

As a new report lands on Obama’s desk, we need a groundswell of energy, education and change from Permaculturists everywhere.

A 190-page report ‘Global Climate Change Impacts in The United States‘ has just been released. It is a ‘state of knowledge’ report from the US Global Change Research Program(1) that brings together the latest climate science information available and is intended to assist politicians in forming appropriate policy to help mitigate, and adapt to, the impacts of climate change. It is described as “the most up-to-date, comprehensive and authoritative assessment of climate change impacts on the United States”.

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Posted in Global Warming

Update on Shell Lawsuit

I know many of you will be wondering what happened in the Wiwa vs. Shell case I wrote about recently, as they were scheduled for a June 3 pre-trial conference, and that date has now long passed.

Well, Shell kept delaying and there were no reasons given. Now, however, we see what was going on behind the scenes – Shell was deliberating over an out of court settlement of 15.5 million dollars, which the plaintiffs ultimately accepted.

I’m torn over the outcome – jubilant in one respect, and feeling wholly dissatisfied in another. The good news is that Shell is being taken to task over its activities in the Niger Delta, and is having to cough up some cash to compensate. And, it’s great to see the power of democracy through the internet, as months ago Shell dismissed the plaintiffs as if they didn’t expect the case to go to trial or to gather any steam. With many bloggers picking up the scent, and bringing this issue to the greater public, pressure grew and grew until they realised this situation was not going to be easily swept under the mat. It’s great to see a revolution of typing bringing succour to the underdog.

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Posted in Energy, Geopolitics & Economics, Pollution