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This site has not been updated since 2014 and is being maintained as an archive for now. As time allows we'll be weeding out the dated material and presenting the many useful articles in a new format. We'd appreciate any feedback on what you find most useful on this site via our contact page.

Guest Writers

The No-Dig Allotmenteer

Notes from a no-dig plot

This article was prompted after telling friends how my new allotment plot looked entirely different to all its neighbours. It was brown and theirs were green. I’m glad to say that it was not mid summer, but early February - and the reason for this contrast was twofold: an unseasonably mild winter and extensive use of mulches.

The new allotments come to town

The Rhayader allotments were given by the council in March 2011. Each plot was 20x50 ft approx. The ground had previously been a grassed field which was roughly turned over to a shallow depth using heavy machinery. This left a dilemma as to how to proceed because the surface was a difficult combination of large half buried turfs compacted into the ground. A rotovator was hired and the majority of plot holders used this to break the soil down to a more manageable form.

Ploughing my own furrow

I decided not to rotovate because I thought it would :

-       spread grass seed to every square inch of the plot

-       break down the natural biological structure of the soil

-       further compact the deeper soil

Instead I began (at the southerly end) to remove the largest pieces of turf  by hand and place them face down into two heaps at opposite corners of the easterly edge of the plot. Larger stones were also removed. I slowly worked my way across about one third of the ground and decided that was quite enough of that for one season! I divided that section into three beds running east to west with the bank of raised turves approximately two feet high running along the easterly edge (afterwards planted with strawberries and geraniums). With a fork I loosened and levelled the surface and added a dressing of Cwm Harry soil improver.

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A new economic model for survival

Thoughts on the UN call for ‘revolutionary thinking and action to ensure an economic model for survival’

Wendy Talaro looks at how to make this happen

What is needed to take a global interconnected perspective on the issues and threats our planet is facing and start action? How can this gain traction and produce the desired effect?

The UN’s call for revolutionary thinking is a chicken-and-egg problem. Revolutions don’t start at the centre. Movement and change are at the dynamic edges, where the “establishment” patterns of thinking are tested by evolving reciprocal interactions at or just beyond permeable boundaries, whether those boundaries are physical as in cell membranes, political, social, economic or ecological. In ecology, this crossover zone where ecosystems meet is the ecotone and we stand to learn a lot from ecotones as models of flexibility and resilience in the midst of constant change, if we only collectively better understood the pattern language of nature. (As things are, I have had difficulty enough trying to teach ecological literacy and applied systems thinking to adults in my weekend workshops, which admittedly are too short to introduce new habits of perception and thinking, let alone reinforce them through practice).

The core of our problem as a species facing the interconnected immensity of the problems we have created for ourselves lies between the right ear and the left ear. The epistemological error of failing to recognize that economic prosperity is derived from and dependent upon ecospheric integrity has corollaries in other dysfunctional reductionism such as delimiting valuation to base economic terms and measuring progress by GNP growth (read “Epistemological Error and Converging Crises: A Whole Systems View” by Jody Joanna Boehnert, PhD.). As well-meaning as the call for change is, it’s still coming from the perception that if we only had the “right” economic model, our survival as a species would be ensured. Anyone who has lived life long enough truthfully knows that there are no guaranteed outcomes or failsafe buffers against uncertainty. Moreover, there is no “right” one-size-fits-all macroeconomic model since the expectation that the tenets and unspoken rules of a macroeconomic one-size-fits-all model should apply without exception or challenge has not only gone largely unquestioned but it has led us onto the crumbling economic precipice on which we have stranded ourselves.

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Real Farming for our Future

A CROSS-THE BOARD RE-THINK

Colin Tudge reflects on the 2012 Oxford Real Farming Conference

This year’s theme was “A Cross-the-board Re-think” – for nothing less will do. If we truly want agriculture that provides everyone in the world with good food without wrecking the rest we need to re-think farming itself – the husbandry, the underlying science, the structure; and the whole corresponding food chain that takes the food to the people; and this leads us into food culture because good farmers can’t thrive unless people appreciate what they do. Overall we need nothing less than “Agrarian Renaissance”.

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Financial Collapse and the Reversion to the Local

by Julian Rose

Read the daily news, even in a relatively mainstream newspaper, and you cannot fail to notice that an unprecedented event is unfolding in front of our very eyes; the simultaneous collapse of two of the World’s largest economies: the US and European Union.

Both appear to be teetering at the edge of a financial precipice and the great politico-bureaucratic machines that run the show – on both sides of the Atlantic – seem incapable of agreeing what economic medicine might keep this beast on the rails.

They, and we, are now learning that in a finite world no resource is infinite, least of all institutionalised financial wealth whose very existence is dependent upon interest payments made on capital lent to those who cannot sustain the levels of repayments demanded of them. In a ‘debt based’ economy (which ours is) all participants will ultimately land up losers.

We cannot know the exact timing surrounding the unhinging of a large sector of the global market place, but that some form of large scale collapse is imminent, there can be little doubt.

With this collapse will also ultimately go the entire foundation of modern day capitalism, and particularly the ‘perpetual growth’ based economic formulae that have driven this planet to the edge of ecocide and the mad growth machine perilously close to its own ultimate demise.

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This is Rubbish! highlights edible food waste

Feasting on Edible Food Waste.

We are living in a world where agriculture is estimated to contribute 12-14% of greenhouse gas emissions. This figure rises to 30% or more when costs beyond the farm gate and especially land conversion are added. (1)

The impact of agriculture does not solely affect greenhouse gas emissions, it also exhausts a range of other natural resources. For example, globally, agriculture currently consumes 70% of total global 'blue water' withdrawals from rivers and aquifers available to humankind.

Without change, the global food system will continue to degrade the environment and compromise the world's capacity to produce food in the future, as well as contributing to climate change and the destruction of biodiversity.

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