Bees are under threat worldwide. As we urbanise our environments we remove bees’ natural habitat – we create flowerless landscapes when we substitute concrete and lawn for flowering trees and shrubs. And agricultural practices, such as monoculture, remove the variety of floral resources bees need for good health. Add to these the increasing use of pesticides in crop management and domestic landscapes, and the future for bees looks bleak.
Co-operatives are re-emerging as a global movement, as workers around the world – faced with rising unemployment and a slow transition to a sustainable economy – employ themselves in jobs they would rather be doing. Co-op laws provide a flexible framework for members to organise alternative ways to buy, sell, and manage work and pay. While companies benefit shareholders, co-ops serve their members, who participate in the business as suppliers, buyers, workers and/or owners.
Permaculture theory and design are concepts traditionally communicated in an adult forum. Children may pick up snippets of information living within and around a permaculture system, perhaps learning more as they grow older. However, children can reveal themselves to be very adept at taking on permaculture concepts when they are presented to them at an early age, or adopted as part of the family vernacular.
Earthbag building (or ‘super adobe’) is a technique credited to Nader Khalili, an Iranian-born architect and humanitarian. The technique uses polypropylene bag (the kind of bag your chook food comes in, before it is cut into lengths) as a continuous, flexible form to hold courses of earth, building up a structure layer by layer. Rendering weatherproofs the structure, and is the final binding mechanism holding the bags together.
How does permaculture tie in with our understanding of health? Can it realistically be seen as a ‘health promoting movement’?
I did my PDC with Bill in 1983 in Stanley, Tasmania, when I was thirty. Everyone loved the course. I was studying Environmental Science at Murdoch Uni at the time, and had the opportunity to explore permaculture in one of my units. I kept studying until it got in the way of permaculture.
Bee Winfield and her partner Stewart Seesink have transformed their eleven hectare property, at Nannup in the south-west of Western Australia, by building soil. Bee’s been obsessed with compost since she was a teenager, and is still making it forty years later. After courses on permaculture, holistic management, earthworks for water harvesting, soil biology and life in the soil, Bee was ready to improve her soil; she and Stewart are so focused on life below ground that their son describes them as ‘turd nerds’ – Bee prefers ‘soil life coach’.
Resilience means the ability to adapt and respond positively to challenge and change. Small villages have been the most enduring form of human settlement across continents and across centuries and presumably will continue to be so in a future filled with uncertainty around issues such as climate change, rising energy prices, food supply and job security.
All terrestrial life depends on soil, directly or indirectly. Although our understanding of topsoil has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decades, we are still losing this invaluable resource at a frightening pace.
a rosette of rough-toothed leaves from a single taproot. A ‘true dandelion’ produces yellow flowers each of which sit on a single hollow stem, and that helps to identify it from lookalikes hawksbeard (Crepis species) and flatweed or catsear (Hypochaeris species), which have multiple flowers shooting from solid stems.