Maintaining the soil
Safeguarding our soils
You are invited to sign and pass on the petition Safeguard our Soils, Mr. Pickles!, launched in the New Year following advice from the CPRE and Soil Association, the full text of which is below.
Why is agricultural land, described in one planning application as 'a mixture of 80% Grade 2 (very good quality) and 20% Subgrade 3b (good quality)', being developed? We need change before any more agricultural land is offered to/bought up by developers.
South Wales under threat from new gas extraction licences
Communities across South Wales threatened by new wave of onshore gas extraction
Licenses have been sold from Cardiff to the Gower Peninsula to companies seeking to extract unconventional-gas. The licenses sold by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) permit companies to extract gas from coal seams inaccessible via conventional mining methods.
The License holders are proposing two main processes for extracting gas; Coal-bed Methane, which involves drilling down to, de-watering and often hydraulically fracturing the coal seam and Underground Coal Gasification, whereby coal seams are set-alight underground in an effort to produce and collect synthetic gas which can be burnt at the surface.
Both technologies have attracted controversy in the US and Australia where the industry has been associated with water contamination and environmental degradation.
Communities across South Wales are organising in response to the threat posed by these new technologies. Throughout July the Frack Free Wales coalition , in conjunction with Swansea-based campaign group Safe Energy Wales, will be holding a series of public meetings in threatened areas.
Small is beautiful in Poland
A model envisioned in "Small Is Beautiful" is possible in reality - welcome to the Polish countryside.
In the early 1970s, Fritz Schumacher wrote the book'Small Is Beautiful' and proposed small scale, flexible and ecologically sensitive developments as the long term solution for preserving the planet and the quality of life of its populace. Three decades on, we seem to be no nearer to applying the wisdom inherent in Schumacher's work.
Fortunately there are still some relatively undistorted examples that we can draw from when searching for models for rebuilding our lives: in Poland there are around 1.5 million self-sufficient, small peasant farms, averaging approximately 10 ha. We run a small demonstration centre, based on a peasant farm, called Ecocentre ICPPC, with clay/straw buildings, solar energy production, and a household recycling clean water system. Organic fruit and vegetable production and herb garden are part of this centre. For accommodation we cooperate with Potoczek smallholding and other small farms near us. We have been showing that the model envisioned in "Small Is Beautiful" is possible in reality. Join us!
Potoczek and Ecocentre ICPPC are located in the traditional village Stryszow, 45 km from Krakow, in the Province of Malopolska (south Poland). It is a great place to visit if you are in Krakow or for a holiday in the Polish countryside. You can stay in the comfortable farmhouse Potoczek, and, if you wish, join in one of the ecological workshops:
Put perennials on your plate and beat the hungry gap
Extreme weather, short growing season, climate change? Get the low down on how perennials can solve some of the problems with putting a square meal on the table, especially during the 'hungry gap' before annual crops are ready to harvest.
Read the Magic Gardener's latest at:
GM wheat escape in Oregon
A trial version of GM wheat was recently found growing in Oregon, even though the trials ended in 2005 and Monsanto withdrew their application to grow the wheat. It is not known how the wheat escaped, or whether it has been cross-pollinating since 2005.
A Kansas farmer is suing Monsanto on the basis that his income will suffer as Monsanto's blunder has already caused Japan to suspend some imports of US wheat and consequently the price of US wheat is under threat.
More GM news: over the weekend the Connecticut Senate voted 34 to 0 to pass an amendment to HB 6527 to label GMOs in Connecticut and 2 days later, the CT House passed the bill 134 to 3.
It appears that Connecticut might wish to move towards GM food labelling, but they won't do it alone because reportedly Monsanto has threatened to sue any state that passes a stand-alone GMO labeling bill.
Leaders in the Connecticut House, Senate and Governor's office reached a compromise that says GMO labeling will go into effect in Connecticut once four other states pass mandatory GMO labeling.
According to the provision, which is meant to insulate the state of Connecticut from an expensive lawsuit, one state must be touching the Connecticut border (New York, Massachusetts or Rhode Island) and that the states in the North East region have a population totaling 20 million.
Maine, Massachusetts, Pennslyvania, New Jersey and New York all have GMO labeling bills in the current session and could follow Connecticut in a matter of weeks.
Already 26 states have introduced GMO labeling bills this year, with Vermont passing a version, and Maine close to passing one now.
A situation could arise where there is not enough GM-free wheat on the world market to satisfy demand, causing a price hike. Politicians will likely try to use this to make the case that GM wheat is perfectly fine and shouldn't be rejected 'on emotional grounds'.