Permaculture or Spermaculture?

Confronting patriarchy in permaculture (Photo - TMoyles)

For Halena Seiferling, a master’s of policy studies student at Simon Fraser University, it’s a question generated not from facts or statistics, but from one of the most essential principles of permaculture: observation. “I started to wonder about some of the voices, typically male, that were leading the conversation about …

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Planting Edmonton on the Urban Agriculture Map

Travis Kennedy of Lactuca urban farm, cold frames extend urban farmer's growing season in Edmonton (Photo - TMoyles)

As May approaches, Edmonton’s community of gardeners, green thumbs and food enthusiasts aren’t the only ones planting and planning for the season: the city itself is getting one step closer to amending a bylaw that would make it easier for urban agriculture to take root and thrive. It could result …

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Las Guajiras de Cuba

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I’m soon en route to Cuba, the alligator shaped island only miles south of the Florida Keyes, the tiny island that could – viva! and couldn’t – coño! The place where mangos are considered tantalizing fruits and good looking guys and gals. Where art flows like water, most people are university educated, child health indicators are …

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16 Ways to Say “Banana”

Atayo carring "matooke" -food bananas, from the garden.

When I first came to Kabale, a small town-centre tucked away in the south-western corner of Uganda, I was determined to learn Rukiga, a dialect belonging to the Bakiga ethnic group. I remember flipping through a copy of a friend’s English-Rukiga dictionary and scouring the pages for agricultural related words …

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On Becoming a Bird Watcher

Be like the (yellow vented) bulbul - stop, observe and listen...

When I was a child, it wasn’t at all an uncommon experience to come home from school and find a wounded owl in the basement. The other kids in our neighbourhood in Lower West Peace were pretty sure my parents were running a zoo out of our small home. In …

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Un poco de todo agriculture

Diversity is key: evident in the garden and the harvest.

A little bit of everything equals diversity. Diversity, say agroecologists worldwide, is key to resilience. And resilience, as we all know, is what’s required to cope with and adapt to changing weather patterns. Large-scale agriculture, mechanized agriculture, industrial agriculture, modern agriculture, Monsanto inspired agriculture; however you wanna call it, I’m talking …

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The Cocoa Connection in Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

(Photo Credit - KJ Dakin)

What I recently learned from las campesinas (women farmers) living in the lush rainforest region of the Rio San Juan department of southern Nicaragua tasted pretty sweet. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but chocolate sure does. The raw form of chocolate, anyways. In the Rio San Juan department, women and their husbands …

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Compost Philosophy

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Everyone, of course, wants to eat from the garden — but not everyone is prepared to bend under the hot sun and (re)build the soil that gives birth to human sustenance. I write loosely, referring to love and community and food systems and social equality, in the same breath, the …

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Vertical Growing – DIY Pallet Garden Project

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Inspired by last week’s kitchen garden project with the school kids in Rubira, I’ve been motivated to continue experimenting with vertical growing projects in our garden in Kabale, so we see what works and pass along the technologies to youth, too. I’ve always been a fan of using waste materials …

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Kids in the Garden – Cultivating Creativity in Rubira

The kids and Atayo making raised beds for vegetable production.

The garden is a good place to observe, learn and experiment. It’s also a great space for inspiring creativity in people of all ages, though particularly for children and youth. In the Fall of 2013, I facilitated my first composting workshop with my wonderful friend, Christina, who was teaching grade …

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Loving Your Rabbits and Eating Them, Too

Cute as a bunny.

One of my greatest learning lessons over the past twelve months has been breeding and raising rabbits for food security purposes. When I arrived in Uganda over a year ago, my first assignment with KIHEFO was to research and write a proposal on the benefits of raising rabbits as a low-cost …

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Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Indigenous seed saving in Tuixcajchis (Photo by KJ Dakin)

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds …

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Humble Lessons from Landslides & Everything Permaculture is Not

The earth moves in miraculous, frustrating ways.

Last week I wrote about African proverbs, garden wisdom and the power of patience and confidence against what we can’t predict in life, including the rain and sun and whatever other element Mother Nature casts our way (or doesn’t). Oddly enough, all of the above manifested with extremity since I …

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I Dreamed Of [Second Encounters with Permaculture] in Cuba

La Maravillosa, Cuba

This year’s International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) provided a chance to gather with people around the world to discuss good work and inspiring projects relating to permaculture. A dear friend, Halena Seiferling and I had spent time in Cuba participating in a permaculture internship in 2011 and 2012, and so the …

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Permaculture Ethics & Practice in Sub-Saharan Africa

How is agroforestry playing a role in improving soil conservation in southwestern Uganda?

When people think about Sub-Saharan Africa, they tend to conjure up images of dry, dusty landscapes – flat, hot and bare – with field upon field of thirsty maize crops. In several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Karamoja District in northern Uganda, those stock images aren’t so far from …

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I Dreamed of [Painting Permaculture] in Cuba

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What do you see? An old white-painted shack with the rust seething through? A storage unit? A fence? If you mentioned any of the above, you’re clearly, rationally, correct. But if you, instead, engage the irrational you may open your mind to invite in other solutions to the question of reality – and see …

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On Wildness, Saskatoon Berries and Prairie Identity

Photo - Kay Niedermeyer

This summer, in an effort to “permaculture-out” my mom’s yard and build a fruit forest at the back of her property, we planted saskatoon bushes. This is really neat for many reasons – not only does it pays homage to the prairies surrounding her home, but it also provides her with one …

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My Three Sisters – Outliers Against Conventional Agriculture

Mural in Managua, Nicaragua.

My good luck last week came with the rain. It had been bone dry in Kabale for over three weeks. The sun had baked the clay soil hard as a hockey puck. My garden was thirsty. And I was thirsty (and exhausted) from hauling water up the steep concrete steps that led …

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I Dreamed of [Death By Mangoes] in Cuba

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Two summers ago, on the map maker’s spec of a Caribbean island called Cuba, I dreamt of bicycles, turkeys, death by mangoes and murals (and not necessarily in that order) – amongst other magical symbols and sensations. I close my eyes and move through memory… …coasting backwards…pedaling my bicycle along the skinny …

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Negotiating Nature’s Edge – Swamp & Safari Land vs. Small-Scale Farming

Guide at community-run Bigodi Swamp.

I was standing at the end of a wetland sanctuary, and the beginning of a farmer’s field of sweet potato and maize. I was at the edge of ecosystem. In the “interface between two mediums”…stepping through the space that permaculturalists describe as “interesting and beautiful” and even “more productive” (Mollison, …

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