Category Archives: Conservation

Permaculture Basics For Gardeners

Earth Care. People Care. Fair Share. The three ethics of Permaculture can be used in your garden to make your plants and soil thrive. Permaculture design is based on the observation of nature and when applied in your garden can increase crop yields, improve plant and soil health and lessen your work load.

To learn  how to apply Permaculture design in the garden, I spoke with Christopher Shein, a Permaculture teacher, seed saver, gardener and activist. Christopher is the author of the Vegetable Gardener’s Guide To Permaculture: Creating An Edible Ecosystem.

Christopher Shein

Christopher Shein

Click here to listen to my interview with Christopher on Sustainable World Radio.

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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Environment, Ethnobotany, food, Gardening, Green Living, Organics, Permaculture

The Monsanto-Permaculture Alliance: Committed To Sustainable Agriculture

Monsanto recently announced the formation of a new MPCA or Monsanto Permaculture Alliance. The MPCA was formed to transition Monsanto from an herbicide and GMO manufacturer into a leader in the organic agriculture movement. The MPCA plans to “turn Monsanto’s liabilities into assets” using Permaculture principles.

As one company executive stated, “After attending our first PDC or Permaculture Design Course, Monsanto realized that the problem is the solution… And that we are the problem.”

Permaculture, a natural design system with roots in Australia, was created by founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren  in the 1970’s.  There are now thousands of Permaculture projects around the globe that demonstrate how Permaculture principles can be used to design resilient, sustainable and diverse landscapes and human settlements.

While some have applauded Monsanto’s efforts, many industry observers have wondered whether it’s possible to transform what has been a GMO-producing, seed patenting, farmer-suing and herbicide manufacturing behemoth into a proponent of organic agriculture?  According to Monsanto, the answer is not only that’s it’s possible, but that it’s already happening.  As one representative for the company said, “We have the brains. We have the technology. We have the resources. The only thing missing is the knowledge and that’s why hundreds of Permaculture teachers are already on their way to Monsanto locations around the globe to teach our staff  how to work with nature, instead of against her.”

Started in 1901 Monsanto prospered after convincing the world that it was wise and necessary to poison its food supply with toxins. In 1969, Monsanto began its rise to the top with the best-selling herbicide Lasso and since then has dominated the world herbicide market with RoundUp.

Despite grossing million of dollars last year, not all has been rosy for the GMO giant lately.  New studies showing that RoundUp is much more damaging to human and ecosystem health than previously believed, heated debates over the safety and labeling of GMO food and negative press about their litigious habit of suing farmers have all made Monsanto a controversial company.

Monsanto will continue to work with farmers and crops, but in a more holistic way.  “After decades of study we have sadly concluded that Nature knows more than Monsanto. We hate to admit it, but research shows that organic regenerative agriculture modeled on natural systems is the best way to safely and efficiently feed our hungry world.”

What prompted the largest producer of patented seeds to turn to Permaculture? Like many great endeavors, it started with a dream. One of Monsanto’s top executives explains, “I had a nightmare where I had to arrest my own grandfather for saving seeds. If he was alive today, he probably would be sued by Monsanto- he was a farmer.  After the dream, which was really a nightmare, I sat up in bed and thought, ‘What the f*** are we doing?’  I couldn’t sleep, so I turned my computer on and started Googling terms like seed saving, organic farming and nature. That’s when I first saw the term Permaculture. After reading about the two week  Permaculture Design Course,  I was nervous- especially about the talent show, but  I signed up and and was the first in the company to complete my PDC.  At Monsanto, we claim to be committed to sustainable agriculture,  but after the course I realized what sustainable really means. Agriculture has to be regenerative or else it’s harmful. Who knew the soil was alive? Monsanto didn’t, but apparently a lot of other people did and that’s why we’ve formed our new board .”

The  MPCA Advisory Board will guide Monsanto in its transition from a conventional corporation to an organic one.

President- Wendell Berry

Vice PresidentVandana Shiva

Integrated Pest Management Coordinator- Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

Soil Health Consultant- Dr. Elaine Ingham, Doug Weatherbee

Organic Agriculture Advisors-  Joel Salatin, Wes JacksonDarren DohertyRonnie Cummins

Livestock and Climate Change- Allan Savory, Abe Collins, Julious Piti, Peter Donovan

Clean Water Experts- Brock Dolman, Brad Lancaster

Permaculture Advisors- Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Geoff Lawton, Penny LivingstonToby Hemenway and Larry Santoyo

Press- Michael Pollan

Monsanto also has a new Seven Point Plan based on the Permaculture Ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.
1.) Retribution– Monsanto will publicly apologize to the world for its previous rampant disregard for ecosystem, human and animal health and dedicate its vast resources to cleaning up the planet.
2.) Reimbursement– Farmers who were sued by Monsanto will be paid back in full, plus damages and interest.
3.) Toxic Waste Clean Ups– GM fields and adjoining waterways will be treated for contamination and restored using mycoremediation,  phytoremediation, bioremediation and permaculture.
4.) Organic Regenerative Farming-  Monsanto will study, promote and offer free trainings in the following land stewardship methods including, but not limited to: cover cropping, integrated pest management, low or no till plowing, composting, nontoxic weed control, aquaponics, biodynamic farming and rangeland management.
5.) Seed Bank– All of Monsanto’s seeds will be organically grown with all patents removed. Monsanto will donate money to organic seed banks around the world.
6.) GMO Free Zone Monsanto will no longer research, use or sell genetically modified organisms. The microscopes previously used for GM research will be re-purposed and used for studying microbes in the Soil Food Web.
7.) Zero Waste– Monsanto will be a zero waste company.

Now that Monsanto is convinced that regenerative organic agriculture is the best way to feed a hungry world, will other ag giants like Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta and Bayer follow?  Thanks to Permaculture and the newly formed MPCA, Monsanto’s claim to be “Committed to Sustainable Agriculture” will soon prove to be true.

Note: This is a satirical piece that I wrote about possibilities. This is not true.  It’s my vision of what could happen if bio-tech agriculture and Permaculture came together. In my experience Permaculture offers a new and more holistic way of seeing the world. I imagined what would happen if a Monsanto executive took a Permaculture course, had an epiphany about natural systems and became instrumental in changing the company’s direction. It wasn’t intended to mislead anyone about Monsanto, but was an attempt to use humor to help envision a better world.

 

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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Environment, food, Green Living, Humor, Organics, Permaculture, Uncategorized

The Monsanto-Permaculture Alliance: Committed To Sustainable Agriculture

Monsanto recently announced the formation of a new MPCA or Monsanto Permaculture Alliance. The MPCA was formed to transition Monsanto from an herbicide and GMO manufacturer into a leader in the organic agriculture movement. The MPCA plans to “turn Monsanto’s liabilities into assets” using Permaculture principles.

As one company executive stated, “After attending our first PDC or Permaculture Design Course, Monsanto realized that the problem is the solution… And that we are the problem.”

Permaculture, a natural design system with roots in Australia, was created by founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren  in the 1970’s.  There are now thousands of Permaculture projects around the globe that demonstrate how Permaculture principles can be used to design resilient, sustainable and diverse landscapes and human settlements.

While some have applauded Monsanto’s efforts, many industry observers have wondered whether it’s possible to transform what has been a GMO-producing, seed patenting, farmer-suing and herbicide manufacturing behemoth into a proponent of organic agriculture?  According to Monsanto, the answer is not only that’s it’s possible, but that it’s already happening.  As one representative for the company said, “We have the brains. We have the technology. We have the resources. The only thing missing is the knowledge and that’s why hundreds of Permaculture teachers are already on their way to Monsanto locations around the globe to teach our staff  how to work with nature, instead of against her.”

Started in 1901 Monsanto prospered after convincing the world that it was wise and necessary to poison its food supply with toxins. In 1969, Monsanto began its rise to the top with the best-selling herbicide Lasso and since then has dominated the world herbicide market with RoundUp.

Despite grossing million of dollars last year, not all has been rosy for the GMO giant lately.  New studies showing that RoundUp is much more damaging to human and ecosystem health than previously believed, heated debates over the safety and labeling of GMO food and negative press about their litigious habit of suing farmers have all made Monsanto a controversial company.

Monsanto will continue to work with farmers and crops, but in a more holistic way.  “After decades of study we have sadly concluded that Nature knows more than Monsanto. We hate to admit it, but research shows that organic regenerative agriculture modeled on natural systems is the best way to safely and efficiently feed our hungry world.”

What prompted the largest producer of patented seeds to turn to Permaculture? Like many great endeavors, it started with a dream. One of Monsanto’s top executives explains, “I had a nightmare where I had to arrest my own grandfather for saving seeds. If he was alive today, he probably would be sued by Monsanto- he was a farmer.  After the dream, which was really a nightmare, I sat up in bed and thought, ‘What the f*** are we doing?’  I couldn’t sleep, so I turned my computer on and started Googling terms like seed saving, organic farming and nature. That’s when I first saw the term Permaculture. After reading about the two week  Permaculture Design Course,  I was nervous- especially about the talent show, but  I signed up and and was the first in the company to complete my PDC.  At Monsanto, we claim to be committed to sustainable agriculture,  but after the course I realized what sustainable really means. Agriculture has to be regenerative or else it’s harmful. Who knew the soil was alive? Monsanto didn’t, but apparently a lot of other people did and that’s why we’ve formed our new board .”

The  MPCA Advisory Board will guide Monsanto in its transition from a conventional corporation to an organic one.

President- Wendell Berry

Vice PresidentVandana Shiva

Integrated Pest Management Coordinator- Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

Soil Health Consultant- Dr. Elaine Ingham, Doug Weatherbee

Organic Agriculture Advisors-  Joel Salatin, Wes JacksonDarren DohertyRonnie Cummins

Livestock and Climate Change- Allan Savory, Abe Collins, Julious Piti, Peter Donovan

Clean Water Experts- Brock Dolman, Brad Lancaster

Permaculture Advisors- Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Geoff Lawton, Penny LivingstonToby Hemenway and Larry Santoyo

Press- Michael Pollan

Monsanto also has a new Seven Point Plan based on the Permaculture Ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.
1.) Retribution– Monsanto will publicly apologize to the world for its previous rampant disregard for ecosystem, human and animal health and dedicate its vast resources to cleaning up the planet.
2.) Reimbursement– Farmers who were sued by Monsanto will be paid back in full, plus damages and interest.
3.) Toxic Waste Clean Ups– GM fields and adjoining waterways will be treated for contamination and restored using mycoremediation,  phytoremediation, bioremediation and permaculture.
4.) Organic Regenerative Farming-  Monsanto will study, promote and offer free trainings in the following land stewardship methods including, but not limited to: cover cropping, integrated pest management, low or no till plowing, composting, nontoxic weed control, aquaponics, biodynamic farming and rangeland management.
5.) Seed Bank– All of Monsanto’s seeds will be organically grown with all patents removed. Monsanto will donate money to organic seed banks around the world.
6.) GMO Free Zone Monsanto will no longer research, use or sell genetically modified organisms. The microscopes previously used for GM research will be re-purposed and used for studying microbes in the Soil Food Web.
7.) Zero Waste– Monsanto will be a zero waste company.

Now that Monsanto is convinced that regenerative organic agriculture is the best way to feed a hungry world, will other ag giants like Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta and Bayer follow?  Thanks to Permaculture and the newly formed MPCA, Monsanto’s claim to be “Committed to Sustainable Agriculture” will soon prove to be true.

Note: This is a satirical piece that I wrote about possibilities. This is not true.  It’s my vision of what could happen if bio-tech agriculture and Permaculture came together. In my experience Permaculture offers a new and more holistic way of seeing the world. I imagined what would happen if a Monsanto executive took a Permaculture course, had an epiphany about natural systems and became instrumental in changing the company’s direction. It wasn’t intended to mislead anyone about Monsanto, but was an attempt to use humor to help envision a better world.

 

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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Environment, food, Green Living, Humor, Organics, Permaculture, Uncategorized

The Universe Beneath Your Feet

Soil is alive.  It’s a complex web of macro (that which we can see with our eyes), and micro (those we mostly cannot see) organisms.  One tablespoon of soil contains over six  billion bacteria and countless other species that contribute to a medium teeming with life.   We depend on this life to sustain us.  In soil, we grow the plants that provide us with oxygen, food, clothing and shelter.  In  soil, the water cycle is regulated and water purified.  In this soil universe, sometimes disparagingly called “dirt,”  live the creatures that decompose all dead organic matter on Earth; turning waste into value.   Soil is the meeting place of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.  Like most places where “edges” of different worlds meet, the soil is a dynamic interface.   Fertile soil is alive with the biodiversity of a thriving forest; complex ecosystems connecting, growing,  living, co-existing, dying.

The Universe Beneath Our Feet

Soil is Alive

In many places of the world topsoil, (where most soil life is found), is being lost at an unprecedented rate.   Our lives depend on saving, cultivating, and regenerating soil life.  Increasing soil fertility has a positive domino effect and the act of making soil more alive holds answers to some of the most vexing environmental challenges that we face today; including water quality, eco-system and human health issues, and global climate change. Continue reading

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The Reality

My car had broken down for the last time. I waved goodbye as the AAA truck towed my rusting 1993 Pontiac away, one hazard light blinking a jerky farewell.

“I don’t care if it’s crushed into a can. I’ve had it. It’s going to the dump,” I vowed to myself as I stood uncertainly in the waning light outside Bruce’s Auto Maintenance. I had made him rich in the past few years. However, our relationship was about to end, for I had just heard the 14 most horrible words any car owner can hear; “It would be more expensive to fix this car than to buy another one.”

I was still in shock. I stared down at my feet standing on the black asphalt. How was I going to get home? It had been so long since I had walked in the city. I was used to being in my car.

I knew I had to buy another one. Quickly. Cars have always represented freedom to me. Like most Americans, I eat, drink, listen to music, sing, hug, and kiss in cars. When I have a car, I feel independent. My car had been my second home. It was interior decorated with seat covers, pendants hanging from the mirror, air fresheners, and back rests. On the outside, it wore bumper stickers that told people what my opinions were. After my car’s demise, I felt like I was missing a part of my body. How was I going to get to work on Monday? Or to the gym on Tuesday? I began to panic. I started walking down the street vaguely recalling that there was a bus system in this town. That meant there had to be a bus stop somewhere. I wandered past stores I had never looked at before. Traveling at 40 miles an hour doesn’t give you much time to notice what is on either side of the road.  Continue reading

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A New Dream for Naples on the Gaviota Coast

Foreclosure is not a joyful word and usually conjures up images of struggling homeowners trying to hold onto their most prized possession.  But, to see the word foreclosure paired with the proposed development site at Naples on the Gaviota Coast was a cause for celebration for many in the environmental and ecology movements.

A biological hot spot, where Northern and Southern Mediterranean plant communities meet, Naples is the last stretch of undeveloped coastline in Southern California.  For years this beautiful site has been a battleground between environmentalists who believe in preservation of the land and developers who want to turn nature into dollar bills. Continue reading

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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Economics, Environment, Green Living, Humor, Organics, Permaculture