Courses/Workshops, Fermenting, Processing & Food Preservation — by Albert Bates May 7, 2013
by Albert Bates
Sandor Katz lives a couple hours across Tennessee from us, so on a delightful April weekend we decided to spend four days attending his Wild Fermentation Intensive. Sandor is quite the celebrity these days — after profiles in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked, Sandor’s own encyclopedia, The Art of Fermentation, still in hardcover, has galloped through several printings for Chelsea Green. Readers of Resilience will find scores of references to Sandor over the past few years, as sustainability bloggers have come to recognize the importance of fermentation to sustainability.Comments (2)
Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees — by Albert Bates December 21, 2012
As we approach the winter solstice and the end of one long count and the beginning of another, our understanding of the Mayan world is rapidly being transformed by new knowledge.
The traditional Mayan narrative in western literature is perhaps best exemplified by the writings of Jared Diamond and Joseph Tainter, who ascribe the collapse of the Classic Period to an over-exploitation of resources, and in particular, a deforestation of the lowlands that exacerbated climate swings, leading to extreme drought, fire and famine. Some now-familiar scenes in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto were of lime-quarry workers, dusted head-to-toe in white powder, slaking lime to make renders for buildings and pyramids. These images resonate with our stereotypes of tone-deaf ruling classes directing their work-slaves to perform catastrophically civilization-destructive activity.
There is another story of Mesoamerica that is emerging through the work of biologists, botanists, and ethno-agronomists exploring and attempting to replicate the ancient systems that produced traditional foods. One example now familiar to permaculturists can be seen the chinampas of Xochlimilco, near modern-day Mexico City, which combined urban waste-disposal, canal dredging, and plant and animal production from both aquatic and terrestrial horticultural complexes. The Aztec’s elegantly interconnected system, which was not confined to just that society or to the tropics, produces more food per hectare than any system discovered before or since, and it does it by cooperating with nature.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Plant Systems, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Albert Bates October 19, 2012
A.Eisenstaedt, Oklahoma Farmer 1942, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Forest gardening is about as close as any strategy comes to addressing all of the most pressing needs of humans in one great sweep. Climate change, peak oil, poverty, extinction, and civil strife– all are rooted in the ground, and in most cases, those roots belong to trees.Comments (1)
Conferences, Consumerism, Society — by Albert Bates July 6, 2012
Leaving Rio de Janeiro, site of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we mulled the meaning of what we had witnessed, but could hardly put it any better than Charles Eisenstein in his excellent summary, Why Rio+20 Failed:
You know folks, I’m a bit worried about my 16-year-old son, Jimi. When he was 13, he grew three inches. When he was 14, he grew five inches. When he was 15 his growth slowed to three inches, and no matter how much I feed him, now he isn’t growing at all past his current six-one. Could someone please tell me how to achieve sustainable growth for my son, so that he can keep getting bigger forever?
Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Conferences, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, People Systems, Population, Presentations/Demonstrations, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Albert Bates June 21, 2012
It is the start of Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and the Global Ecovillage Network has a strong contingent here from all over the world. We have erected a dome at the People’s Summit in Cupala dos Povos (Flamingo Park) and are providing a “Speaker’s Corner” for ecovillages, Transition Towns, Occupy, and others to strut their stuff. So what is it that ecovillages and permaculture bring to this discussion?
The late philosopher Ivan Illich, in his 1974 book, Energy and Equity, observed that conventional wisdom would have it that “the well-being of a society can be measured by the number of years its members have gone to school and by the number of energy slaves they have thereby learned to command.” This conventional wisdom would seem to be now widely shared by both non-governmental organizations and UN intergovernmental agencies working on issues such as education, the rights of women and minorities, and indigenous peoples. Illich challenged it.
“The energy crisis focuses concern on the scarcity of fodder for these slaves,” he said. “I prefer to ask whether free men need them.”Comments (3)
Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Eco-Villages, Education Centres, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Albert Bates January 13, 2012
Former stockbroker Brian Bankston now calls himself the “Keyline Cowboy” after a carbon farming course at The Farm’s Ecovillage Training Center transformed his life. He quit his job, bought a keyline plow and compost tea brewer, and moved to The Farm.
For the past 10 years or so, the land management decisions of The Farm (a 40-year-old intentional community on 1750 acres in rural Tennessee, pop. ~200) have been informed by permaculture. Permaculture was influential in the design and early curricula of The Farm’s Ecovillage Training Center in 1994, and since many, if not all, of the community’s residents have now been exposed to it, it is not surprising to learn that a number of people serving on various village committees, as well some in public office in the surrounding county, have Permaculture Design certificates.
Our relationship with permaculture traces back to our connection to Bill Mollison, one of permaculture’s founders, who received the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in the year after we did. RLA winners are a gregarious lot and gather from time to time to swap tales, so we have been fortunate to share such meetings with Bill over the past 30 years. We are also fortunate to have had the influence of an erstwhile neighbor, Peter Bane, who for many years published the quarterly Permaculture Activist from his former home in Primm Springs, Tennessee.
Today, as a permaculture instructor, I travel to many of the convergences of the movement and have come to know many practitioners. Our Farm team has taught permaculture courses on six continents and in 27 countries now, so it would only be surprising if The Farm did not have permaculture going on.Comments (5)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, Markets & Outlets, Society, Village Development — by Albert Bates January 11, 2012
Even in backward mining communities, as late as the sixteenth century more than half the recorded days were holidays; while for Europe as a whole, the total number of holidays, including Sunday, came to 189, a number even greater than those enjoyed by Imperial Rome. Nothing more clearly indicates a surplus of food and human energy, if not material goods. Modern labor-saving devices have as yet done no better. — Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine : Technics and Human Development, 1967.
Maya Mountain 7th Annual Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and Advanced Design Courses (Belize, Feb-Mar 2012)
Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course:
Where: Maya Mountain Research Farm, Belize
When: Feb 20 – Mar 2, 2012
Instructors: Albert Bates, Andrew Leslie Phillips, Cliff Davis, Chris Nesbitt
Cost: US$1250 (including food and accommodation)
Advanced Design Course:
Where: Maya Mountain Research Farm, Belize
When: Mar 4 – 10, 2012
Instructors: Jono Neiger, Eric Toensmeier and Chris Nesbitt
Cost: US$700 (including food and accommodation)
More Info: www.mmrfbz.org or info(at)mmrfbz.orgComments (0)
Courses/Workshops — by Albert Bates February 9, 2011
What: 6th Annual Permaculture Design Course
Where: Maya Mountain Research Farm, San Pedro Columbia, Belize
When: March 5th through 18th, 2011
Instructors: Albert Bates, Andrew Goodheart Brown, Andrew Leslie Phillips, Maria Ros, Christopher Nesbitt & local guest instructors.Comments (1)
Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Global Warming/Climate Change, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Trees — by Albert Bates
by Albert Bates
Getting to the Maya Mountain Research Farm in southern Belize is its own wild side adventure. You can fly or bus to Punta Gorda Town on the coast and then bus or taxi up to San Pedro Columbia, a little village in the highlands of the Maya Mountains that is a jumping off point for river travel.
Toledo, with a population of 27,000, is the least globalized and most rustic district in Belize. The pyramid city of Lubaantun, near San Pedro Colombia, is a late classic Mayan ceremonial and commerce center where the famous crystal skull was found by the teenage daughter of archaeologist F.A. Mitchell-Hedges in 1926. The many small villages scattered at the edges of forests and along rivers look nearly the same today as they looked in 1926, 1826, or 1726.
From San Pedro, a boy with a dugout “dory” cedar canoe poles you up river past Lubaantun for two miles until you reach the shallow bend with the tall stands of bamboo on the starboard shore.Comments (3)