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Grass, Soil, Hope- Solutions to Climate Change

Courtney White is the author of the new book Grass, Soil, Hope- A Journey through Carbon CountryA former activist and archaeologist, Courtney co-founded the Quivira Coaltion, a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between ranchers, conservationists and environmentalists.

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In this interview Courtney talks with Jill Cloutier about the soil beneath our feet and how soil, plants, and the carbon cycle may be the most viable solution to climate change that we have. By implementing land management strategies that create the conditions for longterm atmospheric CO2 sequestration in our soils, we can participate in the carbon cycle in a beneficial way. Climate-friendly agriculture and grazing has the potential to create a healthier planet for all, with more nutritious food, improved ecosystem services, habitat protection, increased food production, water conservation and a remineralization of our soils and bodies.

Listen to Grass, Soil, Hope Podcast Episode Here

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Learn about how you can become a carbon caretaker. Let’s all work together to create healthy soil!

After listening to this episode you will gain a new appreciation for wetlands, bogs, grasslands and beavers!

If you’d like to see Courtney White in our documentary The Soil Solution To Climate Change click here. 

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Watch The Soil Solution Online

Sustainable World Media

The Soil Solution is now on Amazon and available as a rental and instant download. You can also purchase the DVD. The Soil Solution is our first film and we’re proud that we were some of the initial filmmakers that documented the potential that soil may hold in reversing climate change.

Why should you watch The Soil Solution? We made the film because we felt that it’s time to offer some solutions to the climate change crisis and to educate viewers about the relationship between soil and carbon.  After researching the many ways to build healthy soil, we decided to focus on grazing and livestock, because of the huge and mostly detrimental impact they have on soil fertility and carbon sequestration. We included regenerative farming in the first cut of the film, but decided to edit that section out since we wanted the film to be short and easily…

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Agriculture As Art- PA Yeomans Exhibition Opens In Sydney

If you’re in Sydney, Australia don’t miss this agriculture as art exhibition.

Sustainable World Media

The Yeomans Project opens on November 28th at the Art Gallery of NSW. The exhibition highlights the work of Australian farmer and engineer PA Yeomans whose work is now used on farms throughout the world. Yeomans developed the Keyline System- an agricultural method that increases soil fertility, conserves water and regenerates land.

Ian Milliss and Lucas Ihlein, curators of the exhibition have gathered images, writing, films and educational videos as part of the exhibition.

We are delighted to announce that our five-part Keyline Design At The Beach Video Series with Permaculture Designer and Keyline expert Darren Doherty will be included in The Yeomans Project.

The exhibition will also feature an old Yeomans Plow, books and artifacts lent by PA Yeomans’ daughters, a large chalk map of one of Yeomans’ properties, live discussions and a Field Trip to an early Yeomans experimental farm outside of Sydney (free, but bookings required).

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Wake Up And Smell The…Spruce?!

Black Spruce, Latin name Picea mariana, is my new BFF.  I’ve never met a Black Spruce in person, but I’ve been spending my mornings with its essential oil and I think it’s making me a better person.

Native to North America,  Black Spruce is a coniferous evergreen and slow-growing tree that grows up to 25m tall. The needles (and sometimes the twigs) of the tree are used to make its essential oil. Essential oils are concentrated liquids extracted from plants. Black Spruce oil has an uplifting, clearing and purifying fragrance that seems to wake me up and calm me down at the same time. I learned about Black Spruce essential oil at an Aromatherapy seminar that I recently attended in San Rafael, California taught by Kurt Schnaubelt and Monika Haas of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy (PIA).

The seminar was a fragrance lovers’ dream. Oils would be introduced, pictures of the plant would be shown and then, for the pièce de résistance, smell strips would be passed out and enjoyed. (Mostly enjoyed, a few of the oils weren’t as pleasant to smell.) We learned and talked about over 50 oils, including some I’d never heard of in my long decades of using these amazing plant extracts including Cape Chamomile, which smells like Spring and Hyssop decumbens, so light and friendly an oil, that I now count it as a favorite.  Continue reading

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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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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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When We Feed The Soil, We Feed Ourselves

Any time that we place compostable food scraps in the trash we are throwing away valuable natural resources. In Santa Barbara County, an estimated 700 tons of trash a day goes to our landfill and of that, about 40% is considered compostable. What happens to food scraps in the landfill? After being buried under layers of trash and dirt, food scraps begin to slowly decompose and emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and methane- a potent climate change causing gas.

Food Scraps On Their Way To A Worm Bin

Food Scraps- Landfill or Compost?

What to do? Compost!  Composting your food scraps turns your trash into treasure, saves you money on gardening inputs, and helps you become part of the solution to climate change.  Composting is easy, doesn’t require a lot of space, tools or materials and offers you a crash course in observing decomposition- a much maligned and feared natural process.  Finished compost is an excellent soil amendment. When you feed the soil with compost, you are improving soil tilth and providing plants with beneficial nutrients and microbes.

Composting Educator Bill Palmisano

Composting Educator Bill Palmisano

Here are four ways to get started on your journey of feeding the soil.  By creating the conditions for compost to happen you are calling in theFBI- fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates to do the composting work for you.

1.) Compost Piles– These require the most land area, at least 3’x3’x3′.  By layering dry sticks, cardboard and leaves (carbon) with food scraps, grass, and yard waste (nitrogen) you create a rich haven for composting bacteria to thrive. When your pile heats up, you’re on your way to creating your first batch of “black gold.” Be sure to keep your pile well aerated by turning it and watering it in dry climates.

2.) Compost Bins– Some people like to place their food scraps in a reclosable bin and let them decompose slowly. Sometimes this method can get a bit smelly (anaerobic), but it’s easy and convenient. The drawback is that anaerobic compost emits methane gas.

3.) Worms To The Rescue- Remember ant farms? Worm bins are worm farms where you can watch nature working for you.  A fun and fascinating way to quickly and efficiently create compost, opening the lid to your worm bin is like opening the door to another world.

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A Climate of Change- Time For Solutions

Our film The Soil Solution is now on tour.

Sustainable World Media

The Soil Solution is one of thirteen films that have been selected to tour with the A Climate of Change program sponsored by the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, 350.org, and The TRUST Campaign. This climate-only film festival program is already on the road.  Organizers of the tour have produced a Climate Action Handbook created to inspire and motivate viewers to take action in their communities.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour works with groups of all kinds across the country who host the festival to raise awareness for their campaigns, recruit new activists, raise funds and bring global and regional issues to the local level. To hold the festival in your town  click here. Thanks to Patagonia, there are grants available for college or university organizations who host A Climate of Change event and partner with a local environmental group.

 

 

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