Monday, September 27, 2010

Going with the flow


Sunday 17th October Green Drinks Malta will be holding a tea-time & afters event called

Permaculture Propagation – A going with the flow experience

between 4pm and 8pm

at the wonderful oasis Dar Frate Jacoba, Triq Wied iż-Żiju, M’Scala


This event should not be missed by those who are still wondering what the hell is Permaculture?, like the idea and want to implement it, enjoy green gatherings, are looking for an alternative afternoon out or just want to be invited to a unique spot in the South of Malta. Whatever your reason, you will have to apply by sending an email to Natalie: info@greendrinksmalta.org. The maximum number of people for this event is 60.

The event is free (well partly funded by EUPU this time round) but a donation to Dar Frate Jacoba once you’re there will be appreciated by the wonderful and hard working team who run the place.


What to expect: Fair-trade beverages to welcome you, a short intro about Permaculture & the completed training programme and an interactive info fair. All this will be topped off with wholesome hors d'oeuvres & wine in the company of lovely people.


Booking is open.


... by the way, Green Drinks Malta together with the Permaculture Research Foundation & Bahrija Oasis, is commemorating the World Day for the Eradication of Poverty and reiterates that Permaculture is a meaningful process to eradicate poverty. Peppi Gauci had the following to say “Permaculture is actual practical work which involves action to eradicate poverty on many levels, financial, environmental, ecological, physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological”. This is how Peppi explains it:

An insight about Permaculture and its link to Eradication of Poverty

In our modern world, globalization has become a factor of major influence in the way we live. Technology has changed the way humans interact with each other and the planet drastically over these last fifty years. In the western world, civilization has engaged in systems which by now are completely dependent on globalization. What does this mean? This means that virtually everything, from the food we eat to the fuel we use to get from one place to the other, from the tools we use, to the fabrics of our shelters, is dependent on globalisation.


Although, many comforts are owed to this factor in the west, much of the real price of this system is being paid in other parts of the planet to the detriment of other people and the planet itself. Globalisation is dependant on a capitalist system which means that in order for it to function, consumption of energy and materials need to be maintained.

However, not only there is not enough energy and resources to supply the entire world's population with the trend we are used in the west, but since the consumption rates are greater than the natural supply ability our system is generating the phenomenon of poverty. Poverty in the west is linked to the absence of material acquisitions for example money and property. However, poverty goes much further. The inability for us to respect our environment, observe the natural patterns and maintain enhanced growth of our natural resources is a type of poverty which is presently being cushioned by globalization. Poverty in our society is everywhere. We have become nations which are suffering from poverty, be it physical, spiritual, environmental, psychological, communal or cultural. Yet, we fail to see this as the messages in our media and modern life projects otherwise.


However, it is only a matter of time, until we will be forced to see that what we are being led to believe is only an illusion created by a system which is running out of time. It is only a matter of time.


Permaculture and permaculturists around the world are working along the realisation that our planet needs our attention in order to sustain a balanced humanity. The main ethoses are Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Once these are cultivated, than we are able to once again be in the abundant state of the planet's capability. Permaculture focuses on symbiotic relationships which foster stronger and resilient communities both in the human aspect and the natural world. Hence, Permaculture is gaining the attention of millions of people who have understood its validity for the survival of the human kind within healthy ecosystems and have joined their potential to cultivate themselves as part of the solution to present problems. To conclude on this I would like to phrase Bill Mollison (one of the founders of Permaculture 1976) and say ''The problem is the solution” and “Everything gardens''.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Documentary feature on Permaculture in Malta

In the production of a documentary entitled 'These Green Thumbs' the director is trying to discover the challenges and potential solutions Maltese agriculture is currently facing. The documentary features strong active personalities from the alternative holistic scene on the Maltese Islands. These personalities include Peppi Gauci the Permaculturalist from the Bahrija Oasis, Shirley Cauchi a Macrobiotic Counselor and Joe Borg a local Organic Farmer.

A comprehensive portrayal of alternative agriculture in Malta and its impact on human health.


Peppi Gauci, a Maltese permaculturist, talks about Malta’s land, the soil and the climate elements affecting agriculture.


Technology has helped the farmer keep up with the demand for food, however agriculture is facing a lot of challenges in this unfriendly ecological climate.


Is Malta steering away from the self sufficiency of traditional farming?


Permaculture as a reparative tool to create a natural microclimate where organic life will flourish again.



For the remaining documentary clips visit:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Permaculture

Out of all sustainable farming practices, permaculture is probably the most holistic and ambitious approach. Permaculture is a coined term phrased from “permanence’ and ‘agriculture’.

This approach is based on a design science which involves human input as stewards and constructors of benign and healthy ecosystems made up of trees, water, perennial plants and the production of food and raw materials for human beings. As its name implies, permaculture does not focus on short term gains, but rather long term self sustaining methods of growth, including resource management and soil and water restorative systems which are also ideal microclimates for biodiversity enrichment.

This approach has been a slow catch for conventional farmers, partly because it requires more training and knowledge and partly because it relies on an unusual diversification of land use and crops with limited markets.

However, permaculture is governed by three imperative ethics( listed below) for safeguarding a better future civilization;

Earth care, People care and Fair share (share and return of surplus).

Permaculture is aimed at providing solutions for communities to empower their relationships with themselves, their neighbors and their environment. It has the potential of providing thinking skills whereby problems become solutions and collective efforts work for a more just and equitable future.

For more information on the subject, please visit www.bahrijaoasis@blogspot.com Or write to permaculture.malta@gmail.com for the upcoming courses and events.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Organic Farming

The next phase of agricultural transition is already taking place around the world. The organic farming revolution is the most important element of this transformation, possibly the most sustainably promising factor and least discussed element of future farming.

It is not a small element either, recently, conversion of farmland from conventional to organic production has been happening at the rate of several million acres a year.

Organic agriculture uses less fossil fuels than conventional agriculture, because it needs no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, while producing equivalent yields. Thus organic produce is grown through processes which are more natural, ecologically viable, and with the protection of bio-diversity in mind.

Ecological benefits aside, it also has a simple economic advantage since it does not require paying for expensive chemical fertilizers.

As raw materials for the chemical industries become scarce with the peak-oil scenario, the equation will be harder to ignore. At the same time, the infrastructure and knowledge base necessary for organic farming on a commercial scale is already being used and expanding worldwide.

In Malta organic farming is in its infantile stages, however, a growing demand for this kind of produce is steady and most of this can be attributed to a number of organizations working in this field. A number of local farmers and growers have already demonstrated some successful methods, however further investment in education and more research are necessary to increase this growing market.

Consumers have a role to play. Understanding that organic produce is better for one’s self and the environment, it is important to share this education and further its demand in order to establish an ethical demand controlling supply scenario.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sustainable Farming

Farming has played an important role in the evolution of mankind all over the planet for thousands of years. Although there has been an element of evolution in farming methods, crop choices, seed varieties, irrigation systems and land management, agriculture has only changed dramatically over the last four decades. This change can be mostly attributed to the events which were shaped by the ‘Green revolution’. In brief, ‘The Green Revolution’ was an accelerated growth of mainly initially developing countries grain production together with the introduction of a different agricultural input such as input of petro-chemical fertilizers, synthetic herbicides and pesticide applications, controlled irrigation and a severe change in landscape management. Once such a system was adapted it became reliant on all herewith mentioned factors and if one had to eliminate any single factor, such adopted crop success will surely fail.

Studies are increasingly showing that conventional agriculture needs severe changes. In order to sustain itself, other forms of fertilizers rather than synthetic ones need to be sourced and applied, while soil and water conservation methods need to be thought and incentivized in order to maximize their biological and social long term benefits.

Since conventional agriculture practice is facing multiple challenges such as inadequate clean water supplies, changes in weather patterns, pest management, and an increase in the carbon footprint, further research and investment is needed in the forms of pilot projects pioneering alternative agricultural methods.

Such methods like agro-forestry, bio-intensive organic farming and permaculture have already marked major improvements worldwide. These farming methods share a common goal:

To produce fresh healthy products, without compromising the natural ecology and bio-diversity which are prime factors to sustainability.

It is important here to mention that sustainability means the ability to sustain, and thus an element of long term planning and resource buildup tied with ethical consumption is needed. This element will be entirely dependent on cyclical patterns of cycling nutrients and energy just like for example a natural forest sustains itself.

“Governments and international agencies urgently need to boost ecological farming techniques to increase food production and save the climate,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, in BRUSSELS (22 June 2010) – while presenting the findings at an international meeting on agroecology held in Brussels on the 21st and 22nd June.

Therefore, in order for farming to be sustainable, it will need to assess its current impacts, and reverse these by alternative systems mentioned above. However; such a feat will involve a spectrum of stake holders including consumers who need to be aware of the products they demand, consume and recycle. Sustainable farming practices are an evolutionary process which will bring in massive ethical behavior changes to our civilization in the face of climate change.
(By Peppi)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Agro-Food Product Quality

Agriculture today is facing multi faceted challenges. The energy crisis known as peak-oil is hard hitting all areas of modern civilization and agriculture is at no mercy. Furthermore the changes in land-use bring even harder challenges with controversies such as; urban sprawl, bio-fuels and GMO’s.

When we talk about the quality of a product we are not just talking about how good that product looks, how it has been packed or how well it’s doing in the market. Agricultural products are much more than that. They encompass living materials which are directly linked to our well being, however, on the broader picture our well being is also dependant on the well being of our planet.

Agricultural product quality in our modern world needs to be evaluated against a genuine measure based on the points below:

  • Concern for the soil it has been grown in and its living micro-nutrients

  • Least impact on the immediate environment and biodiversity

  • Fair share of water uses which are not damaging or degrading to the eco-system

  • Integrated in the local informed market demand rather than competed for a global market. ( Local Farmers markets are generally more sustainable than imported foods)

  • Minimal energy inputs, maximum efficiency and low food miles

  • Care of the environment and animal welfare

  • Freshness and nutrient value

  • Fair traded and preferably grown organically

These points allow us to have a broader picture as to what product quality needs to address in our changing climate scenario. Like other products, agriculture needs to address climate challenges while dealing with food issues.

Food is an essential element for the survival of all living beings and the issues that have to do with food security need to be assessed when one talks about agro-food product quality.

Food security is the ability for a culture to support its citizen’s with a sustainable amount of nutritious food, and as the topic suggests, it needs to be of a good quality. Deeper in the subject, one learns to evaluate what are the nutrients from food that one needs to keep healthy and how do we get these from seed to product. Thus diet is an essential part of the subject. A nutritionist will tell you that you need a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, etc for a healthy diet. Studies have also shown that not only a balanced diet is good for you, but it also is the only way forward for our planet to be able to supply us sustainably. There are big debates on plant based diets being more sustainable than meat diets. This brings our subject to another level.

Do we grow food locally and sustainably from seed to product to consumer? Or do we grow seed to product, to transport to other parts of the world, to feed industrial bred animals, which are later transported to slaughter houses and further transported to be packed and frozen until they finally reach the consumer? Not only involving a much bigger quantity of energy, but also inefficient conversions of seed, water and photosynthesis to protein and nutrients which can be provided much better, easier, with less demand of land, increase in bio-diversity, less industrial farmed animals and a healthier, safer product thus ensuring a better agro-food product quality all-round.

This is mainly done by growing a nutrient, protein and vitamin rich selection of grains and crops which are used directly as human feed rather than animal fodder and thus reducing the food chain process and its impacts on the ecology.

























In a nut shell, agro-food product quality needs to encompass a magnitude of challenges. Consumer behavior has a role to play, and thus an aware consumer understands more what he or she is looking for in a product in order to make an ethical choice. Demand and supply will only stand as long as a healthy planet can support them. Keeping this in mind, we need to demand what is ethical and appropriate for the long term sustainable cycles of our civilization and not what is a quick profit driven economy fix. Thus we all have a role to play, let us be informed.
(By Peppi)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mapped, Featured and Enriched

Mapped with other Permacultural sites

After being engaged by an independent initiative to create a map of Permaculture projects around the world we submitted our details and mapped ourselves on the 'Permaculture Map'.

Its a very positive initiative which aims at making the best use of the internet as we know it. A very simple Google Earth layer showing all submitted sites related to permaculture. This creates numerous opportunities for isolated projects and even the large scale ones from responsible tourism to simply exchanging experiences on how it works in different environments.

To join the network in this ongoing project one can easily do it through this link: http://www.permaculturemap.com/


Facing the Nature Crunch - Permaculturalist style

We would also link to thank Mahira for organizing a very successful event which featured 3 permaculturalists including Peppi Gauci from Bahrija Oasis at 'Facing the Nature Crunch'.


New species at the site - the growing biodiversity

Thats it for now,
To close this blog post here are 2 new residents at the Bahrija Oasis.

A Chameleon visiting Peppi
First generation frog in the pond area found on site

Friday, February 26, 2010

PermaCulture, Thank You!

If somebody asked me why bother with permaculture. What would I reply?

The best way explain is by giving the account of my personal experience
And later with the use of
testimonials

Experiencing permaculture.
There is something exquisite in practising permaculture on a regular basis. I have been lucky to get on board the Permaculture Research Foundation project funded through the YiA
. This way I have guaranteed myself a front seat to an experience which is at least a year long. Though after this project finishes I am sure we will manage to build the community which any permacultural design requires.
I go in for this expereince, for the fun of it, for the curiousity and much more on those lines... But, certainly not for the belief! I was and most probably still am the sceptic of holistic living. Being a student of economics I had many reservations to how I percieved permaculture as a concpet.
Everything turned around the moment I went into the design and started hearing the wealth of knowledge being gathered through this project and seeing the social value created in the project and hearing of other similar local projects
. Things are starting to tie up in my mind over the loose strands which once characterised permaculture in my mind.
Right now I can say permaculture has thought me how to appreciate. In the future I can't tell what I will say with regards to the permacultural experience on the island of Malta. But, certainly permaculture has become a reference point to my self-development.

Reviewing Testimonals
I would also like to bring together the testimonials of all the people in the past invovled in permaculture at the Bahrija Oasis. Hoepfully in a more tangible manner then as I did with my account. This is critical as community building is at the centre of any permacultural design and the Bahrija Oasis is no short of that.
For this blog I extracted a video made by Tobias a German friend whom I met in a Green Drinks Malta
permacultural woprkshop at the Bahrija Oasis. Enjoy his video make over a weekend workshop.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Living Roof.Why not?


The idea of a living roof is pretty simple. Basically using the roof area as a growing medium for plants. Simple.
A living roof provides a colorful alternative to the grey urban landscape where the drab concrete is replaced by the ever changing mixes of greens. Flowers provide additional splashes of colors ,brightening up our grey boxes.
But apart from the aesthetic value a green roof provides other advantages. One can grow a small kitchen garden and herbs ( some would do quite well in our climate) There is nothing like eating fresh vegetables you grew your self. Also a green roof provides excellent insulation against cold winters and the backing hot summer sun. In fact green roofs have been used for centuries in northern countries.
Here is a few ideas abroad. Imagine looking from ones roof on a sea of green roof tops. Think about the cleaner air we would be breathing.
So way don't we see them here? The implementation is not so difficult. One could start with a small patch, a few pots with plants. So , go on. Have a go.


Ian

There was an error in this gadget