The challenges of being a Jewish farmer
Agriburbia idea grows in residential subdivisions
Prepare for the Best

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Solutions & sustainability - Feb 16

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‘Eat The Suburbs’: a great short film on permablitzing

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
Here is a great film from Australia about ‘permablitzing’, and about edible backgardening. It features Asha Bee, who is currently working here with Transition Network doing a book about Transition in cities. Enjoy.

[YOUTUBE]

You can download a hi-res version for screenings in your local initiative here.
(10 February 2009)
Energy Bulletin founder Adam Grubb has been active in permablitzing. He describes it at Eat the Suburbs.


Film Review: “Establishing a Food Forest"

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
Geoff Lawton is a permaculturist’s permaculturist. As one of the first ‘wave’ of designers and teachers in Australia, he has been implementing and thinking about permaculture for many years, and has become internationally recognised as a repairer of landscapes, and a creator, even in the most unpromising ecosystems, of food forests and abundant, productive landscapes. For me as a permaculture teacher, he is one of the best role models there is. He continually breaks new ground, not just in his work, but also in communicating these ideas. A short online film about his work in Jordan became a viral internet phenomenon a couple of years ago. This new film offers an inspiring and enlightening immersion in his work and thinking, and also a moving look at just how productive permaculture systems can be if they are sufficiently well thought out and designed.

This 80 minute-long film starts with a class in forest ecology, structure and pattern, with the first 20 minutes or so of the film being Geoff talking in front of a whiteboard to a permaculture course, explaining how forests are layered, and why we need to think of establishing forests in terms of time, looking, as nature does, at the creation of a forest being something that happens through a series of ‘waves’ of plants, with initial short-lived ground covering nitrogen fixers, supported by slightly longer living nitrogen fixing shrubs, making way, over time, for larger trees and then for the final overstorey, the productive trees, whether they be fruit, nut, timber, fibre or whatever.
(11 February 2009)


The challenges of being a Jewish farmer

Sharon Astyk, Dallas Morning News
I am a small-farmer and a Jew, an unusual combination in our society. In a country where less than 2 percent of the population still farms, and most Jewish and many other ethnic populations live in dense cities, I’m often asked why it is important for members of a minority culture to do something as strange as take up agriculture.

... Historical factors are also a force driving Jewish urban identity. Throughout our history, Jews would settle on a farm, improve the land and, then, when the next round of anti-Semitic scapegoating came about, governments would displace Jews and take over their land and wealth. For thousands of years, Jews were taught by events that land ownership was tenuous, that other forms of more portable wealth were more valuable and secure, that the solution to hard times was a passport, a new and safer land. The difficulty with us is that a world climate and energy crisis can’t be escaped by moving.

My husband’s great-grandfather had a farm on the German-Danish border in the 1930s — taken from him by the Nazis. Thriving Jewish agrarian cultures all over the world have been systematically destroyed and, with it, the faith of Jews in their relationship with the land. Thus, most American Jews feel stronger ties to Israeli soil than they do to the soil that provides their food. (The deep irony and grief that some Jews are so willing to displace Palestinians by force and justify it with their history seems to me one of the saddest and most troubling results of our disrupted agrarian ties).We are not the only people who have lost their ties to soil — many refugees and minority cultures have been driven from their farms and pushed into cities and seen their food security suffer because of it.

So why be a “Jewish farmer” or, indeed, preserve the agricultural traditions of any faith or culture? We farm, despite the difficulties, because Judaism is, at its root, an agrarian religion, one that prescribes ways of living in relationship to the land. We believe those ways have a heightened importance in this time of environmental crisis. A sustainable agriculture isn’t just a good idea, it is integral to our faith. The integration of principles and practices by all people of faith is one of the most powerful tools we have to address the challenges of climate change and peak energy.
(6 February 2009)


Agriburbia idea grows in residential subdivisions

Steve Porter, Northern Colorado Business Report
Mathew "Quint" Redmond gets excited when he begins to describe the advantages of a residential lifestyle he calls "Agriburbia."

Redmond, owner of Golden-based real estate design company The TSR Group, sees Agriburbia, a concept he's trademarked, as the coming wave for residential development. Its essential design ingredient - blending a rural land use ethic into an urban setting - is the reason he's so pumped up on the idea.

"What we say is just having open space so people can see openings between houses is something we can't afford anymore," he said. "We're saying use the land more wisely."

Agriburbia aims to keep neighborhood open space and wildlife habitat included in residential development plans, but adds one or more agricultural components to the mix. Those components can range from individual vegetable garden spaces to community agriculture projects to full-scale agricultural enterprises, such as vineyards and a winery, within the same development.

The key feature of an Agriburbia development, Redmond said, is to allow residents to be more in touch with the land and the food that comes from it.
(7 November 2008)
Recommended by an EB reader. Website for Agriburbia: http://www.agriburbia.com/




Prepare for the Best

Paul Glover, Philadelphia citypaper
The Dark Season closes around Philadelphia. Wolves howl, "Tough times coming!" Young professionals with good jobs study budget cuts, watch stocks flail. Career bureaucrats are laid off; college students wonder who's hiring. Old-timers remember when Philadelphia staggered through the terrible Depression years without jobs or dollars, while crime and hunger rose. Some districts here never escaped that Depression — they're still choosing between heating and eating.

As usual, the future will be different. Philadelphia's responses to global warming and market cooling, high fuel and food prices, health unsurance, mortgages, student debt and war will decide whether our future here becomes vastly better or vastly worse. Whether we're the Next Great City or Next Great Medieval Village. Imagine Philadelphia with one-tenth the oil and natural gas.

But to hell with tragedy. Let's quit dreading news. Take the Rocky road. There are Philadelphia solutions for every Philadelphia problem.

Paul Glover teaches metropolitan ecology and green jobs at Temple University. He is founder of the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP), Ithaca HOURS local currency, Citizen Planners of Los Angeles and other groups. He is the author of Green Jobs Philly, Health Democracy and Hometown Money. More information at paulglover.org.
(28 January 2009)
Recommended by Jill Robin, who also recommended the Agriburbia article. Inspiring stuff! KS

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