Al on March 29th, 2015
Where has time flown by to… and I’m not just talking about the hour we lost last night! OK so it’s yet a couple of days before April commences, and we appear to have come through the recent sun-flares, total eclipse and super-moon without undue harm (yet who really knows?) We’ve had some glorious days […]
joao pedro goncalves on March 27th, 2015
Uma introdução à Permacultura

O conceito "permacultura", exposto pela primeira vez em livro em 1978 na Austrália por Bill Mollison e David Holmgren (à época, o primeiro, professor na universidade e o segundo, estudante de design ambiental), uniu os termos "permanente" e "agricultura". Designava um novo sistema interdisciplinar de design / planeamento ético, ecológico e funcional, para a escala humana e local. No cerne estavam os imperativos éticos de consciência e de responsabilidade pessoal perante a exploração e destruição da Terra, resumidos na seguinte interrogação: "Os nossos filhos e netos vão herdar um planeta em melhor estado do que aquele que nós encontrámos?". Reflecte uma atitude que rejeita a organização económica apenas orientada para a maximização do lucro financeiro.

A permacultura integra alternativas aos sistemas produtivos de escala industrial, que dependem do transporte de quantidades massivas de energia e de “matéria-prima” de um continente para outro. A evolução do sistema de produção permaculturaltem como sustento o ritmo da fotossíntese e do crescimento dos diversificados elementos biológicos, em vez de estar dependente da insustentável, ineficiente e poluente indústria do petróleo e dos seus derivados combustíveis, fertilizantes e pesticidas.

Conceptualmente centrada na regeneração da terra e na gestão ecológica e multi-funcional dos elementos vivos e materiais de um território, durante os anos 80, a permacultura passou abranger os sistemas que satisfazem outras necessidades humanas básicas numa dada bio-região: saúde, educação, finanças, economia, organização comunitária, jurisdição e política. Permacultura passou a significar um sistema de planeamento que visa uma "cultura-permanente", além de uma "agricultura-permanente".

A abordagem sistémica permeia todas as fases do processo de planeamento. Os métodos e valores centrais implicados são: observar extensa e perspicazmente; identificar padrões naturais e trabalhar com eles e não contra eles; ampliar as vias de retro-alimentação para constante ajustamento; integrar e relacionar os elementos que suprimem as necessidades uns dos outros; maximizar a re-utilização e a multi-funcionalidade de cada elemento; diversificar a origem de cada bem essencial; cooperar, actuar e pensar globalmente e localmente; valorizar processos marginais; não produzir desperdício; criar sistemas que tendem para a auto-regulação; obter o máximo rendimento com a mínima intervenção; assistir às necessidades urgentes e básicas das pessoas e das comunidades; transformar problemas em soluções; eco-literacia, entre outros.

O efeito em rede, iniciado pelas ligações entre permacultoresnos anos 80, é amplificado para a escala planetária na era da Internet. Os desafios para a permacultura também são desta escala e não param de aumentar: perda de biodiversidade, desertificação, acesso à água e contaminação dos rios e lençóis freáticos, alterações climáticas e maior frequência de fenómenos meteorológicos extremos, aumento da toxicidade na cadeia alimentar, pico do petróleo, crescimento demográfico e do desemprego, injustiça ecológica e social.

João Gonçalves
Chão Sobral

19 Março 2015
Andrea on March 24th, 2015

In the manner of goats everywhere, Kylie has again surprised us. Horny and Misty have been wandering around like overstuffed sofas for weeks and weeks, but Kylie just started looking a little more solid than normal about ten days ago. I’d realised she was pregnant, obviously, but not appreciated quite how far along she was. So the two little goat kids found in the shed on Sunday morning were a bit of a shock!

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Here they are at just a couple of hours old. For the uninitiated, the one with the big ears is a rabbit! The little white kid had me quite worried as she was struggling to stand on one of her back legs, but within no time the ligaments has tightened up and now she is bouncing around with her brother.

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What a difference a day makes! And now I realise why it’s said that photographers should avoid working with animals!

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Don’t forget that we’re running Permaculture Design Courses here at the farm this summer. Join us!

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Andrea on March 18th, 2015

PDC

So our summer schedule of courses is now live, and we’re taking bookings. This year we’re offering a choice of three Permaculture Design Courses, all certified by the UK Permaculture Association and taught by Josh Gomez. They’re differing lengths, so there should be one to suit everyone.

This year, for the first time and at the suggestion of previous participants, we’re offering a PDC spread over a month. Josh will be joining us for taught sessions, and we’ll be doing lots of practical work and demonstrations in between.

And of course, we’re offering two shorter options for those who are shorter of time. Full details and prices are on our courses page.

We’ll look forward to welcoming you to Casalinho :)

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Andrea on March 13th, 2015

 

Billy goat

 

This handsome young chap is our new Billy goat. He’s been with us for about three weeks, and he’s just now starting to settle in and hold his own with the ladies.  He’s terribly nervous of me, but when he first arrived I housed him with our least threatening goat, Branquinha, who he’s become very close to, and as he’ll follow her anywhere it’s not a problem and he can learn to trust me in his own time.

He’s still lacking a name though, and as we can’t call him Boy Goat forever, I’m looking for suggestions. Any ideas?

 

He’s still lacking a name though. Any suggestions?

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Mónica Barbosa on March 11th, 2015



Vamos plantar 34 abacateiros na Quinta da Queijeira em Azeitão nos dias 26 e 27 de março numa parceria com a Filipa raposo e o seu filho Ricardo Ribeiro Couto, nossos amigos, também :)

Gostávamos de reunir os nossos amigos (e amigos dos amigos) para o arranque deste "investimento" em agro floresta.

Estar convosco e matar saudades é sempre refrescante mas se for à volta de uma plantação, é ouro sobre azul.

A ideia é trabalharmos e comermos juntos.
Cada um leva o seu almoço e fazemos um pic nic.

Não precisam de poder vir os 2 dias, podem vir só um ou só parte do dia.
Quem quiser pode trazer tenda e pernoitar por lá.

As crianças também são benvindas!

Precisam de trazer enxadas ou pás (se tiverem) chapéu de sol e protector, água para beber, mantas para a sesta e boa disposição.

No dia seguinte, 28 de março (sábado) vai haver uma oficina sobre agroecologia, floresta alimentar e plantação de abacateiros.
joao pedro goncalves on March 10th, 2015

Imagem retirada do sítio:
http://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/event/free-rammed-earth-tire-wall-skillshare-workshop/2014-05-29/


Estamos a construir um socalco, ou terraço, para criar uma zona de cultivo com irrigação por inundação, em sistema agroecológico, que vai incluir as seguintes plantas:
- Abacateiros
- Nespereira
- Videiras
- Lúcia lima
- Óregãos
- Sálvia
- Fava
- Ervilha
- Alho
- Viveiro de cebola e plantas aromáticas

Plantas de suporte e fixação de azoto
- Tremocilha e tremoço
- Giesta amarela para poda anual
Plantas indicadoras do micro-clima
- Leucaena
- Tomarilho

Cada dia tem 2 sessões de trabalho, 3 horas da parte da manhã e 3 horas da parte da tarde.


Para mais informações e inscrições contactar pelo email
joaovox @ gmail.com ou pelo telemóvel 96 96 80 009
e ver atualizações no blog Casa Verde.
Mónica Barbosa on March 4th, 2015
Um projecto de qualidade!
Recomendamos a sua "proliferação".

www.academiadaopetiz.pt

o vídeo de apresentação da Academia Dão Petiz!

Uma iniciativa do Município de Viseu
Andrea on March 3rd, 2015

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This photo was taken inside our animal shed, looking down through their outside run towards the veg garden. I picked it out to write about individually as I thought it illustrated our composting system in operation so eloquently.

As I’ve written about elsewhere, our composting system starts off in this outside run. All our household and garden compost is combined here with excess animal food, mucky bedding and anything else organic that we can find. The goats and chickens add their own special contributions to it and the chickens mix it up whilst scratching for the worms and insects who come to inhabit the thick layer that builds up.

In this photo we had just finished clearing out the first stage compost. We’d started recovering the area with deciduous leaves, but the rain stopped work. Behind the enclosure you can see the pile of compost we removed. From here it will only travel downhill.

We use a RAM pump to supply the animals’ drinking water, and in the summer months I keep the overflow dampening down this area to encourage decomposition otherwise it just dries out in the summer sun. Next to the fence you can see the remains of the pumpkin and squash plants that had been taking advantage of the nutrients and water that seep out of the run. We made the most of the tender greens and flowers all summer, the mature fruits went into storage for winter use, and the remaining tougher greens were fed to the goats. Nothing wasted!

 

 

 

 

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magnus wolfe murray on March 2nd, 2015
This is Sabina, who I met during one of about 30 field trips I made in Sindh, Pakistan during my time working there, chatting with Mustafa from the local NGO, HANDS

Mustafa and Sabina.  I think they were talking abotu that solar light she's been using every night for over a year.  And the price of vegetables on the market if I remember rightly.  She said she can afford to buy veg only twice a month and grows none around her house.  She could absolutely grow food in raised beds outside her window.  That has to be (already is) the next addition to the way we work...

HANDS had found Sabina's family and community, displaced and in desperate need of help, after major flooding in September 2012. They brought it to the attention of DFID - the British agency for international development - for whom I was working as a humanitarian advisor.

Getting access to these communities is just invaluable.  It's so important, in fact vital to see if we’re supporting people with the right kind of thing.  I always learn so much from people like Sabina, when we take the time to just chat about things, outside of the scope of the project.  About life, like what kind of food they prepare – or rather how much food she can afford, which isn’t much; how life was like before the floods; what happens at night when there’s no power; the cost and distance from a functioning school or health clinic, stuff like that.  These conversations form the basis for my “advice” to DFID and eventually the design of how we spend humanitarian funds – which is basically tax from people like Sabina over in the UK: taxpayers who struggle to make ends meet. 

Taken by Joon, Norwegian Embassy (with the VIPs that managed to get a seat on the helicopter to view the extent of damage by air). Helps to understand how it was that almost 3m people lost their homes in this one flood, from 5 days rain in September 2012. 

Another of Joon's shots: see how easily those houses dissolve
underwater...


These had been rebuilt after the 2010 floods by another agency / donor
(who will remain unamed!). Point is: by using bricks and cement these cost a lot of money
  and are not necessarily flood resistant, as we see right here. 

 Like about three million others Sabina lost all her stuff, half her animals and her entire house when the monsoon-heavy sky literally opened up for five days in mid-September 2012. 
Fired brick homes didn't necessarily stand up any better than
adobe / mud.  
We might refer to these days as torrential rain that goes on and on (it seems to be like this in Scotland for weeks in Spring!).  But this was different, it was referred to as  an “extreme cloud outburst” by climatologists and sounds very much like an extreme weather event brought on by global warming, a symptom of climate change.  I find it hard to imagine: rain that’s so intense it destroys your whole village, and thousands like it all around.  For hundreds of miles: about 3 million people’s villages.  

Their whole village is down that road somewhere behind this guy.
No insurance company will give these people cover.
So all his savings... Gone. 

From Rajanpur, in Southern Punjab, which was also seriously affected in 2012.
This was taken in March - six months after the floods! Very few families
had the money to rebuild.  Now living in tents or makeshift shelters.
Much more vulnerable to future floods. And so the cycle goes.






Sabina told me that when they saw their houses crumbling and the waters rising they packed what little they could carry and made their way to safer, higher ground.  Sindh is pretty much a massive flat plain so there aren’t many raised areas, but there are quite a few rural roads, raised up to some degree.  They took refuge there where they met some of HANDS’ teams when they were reaching out to people devastated by this flood – the third major flood is as many years. 

The scale of these climate disasters is so massive that it’s impossible for NGOs, Government or UN agencies to reach everyone.  HANDS had been working with DFID funds in response to the 2011 floods a year earlier so like a couple of our other partners they were able to respond quickly, and we (DFID) provided a  “top up” of £2m to reach 26,000 families like Sabina’s with some basic emergency shelter and support. 

Having been down the whole emergency response road quite a few times before (and having spoken to folks like Sabina who’d been washed out of their homes in the previous floods we had a fair idea of what would be useful to give out.  If indeed you give anything out: there’s a big push globally to just go for cash: find some way to transfer a useful amount of cash, like $100, to the disaster affected and they’ll figure out the best thing to buy, be it food, medicines, a bus ticket for the whole family to go to the city? But I have spent years visiting hundreds of communities hit by floods in these areas and I always ask this question: would you prefer cash or the equivalent value of this cash in shelter materials and they almost always chose the latter (well, with a laugh they add that they’d really rather have both!).

Stuff it was to be then, £2m of shelter bits and some other items. That’s about £75 per family.  Let’s look at exactly what’s included and what difference it makes. 


This very orange photo shows more or less what’s included in this kit: a steel girder, 20 really long bamboo poles, a couple of big pieces of plastic, a water filter and a solar light.  This “roofing kit” as it came to be known was originally HANDS idea: give out an emergency kit that can be used upon return to build a reasonably permanent shelter as well. I have always liked this approach because it invests in lots of phases of return, it assumes that things can be re-used so demands good quality.  And it’s just so much better value than a tent costing three times more but providing less than half the flexibility and longevity. 

The solar lights are something  I’ve been encouraging with all our partners for years because before working in Pakistan my family and I were re-building a ruin in a small village in Portugal and I spent a lot of time wandering around at night stubbing toes and falling over rocks when I lost my torch. 

picture courtesy of IOM - our other long term partner
in Pakistan, who have also done great work
with lights, communities, shelter.
I realised that most folk here had no light when they left their homes and were really vulnerable (not just to stubbed toes but to violence, intimidation, sexual abuse, the stuff of nightmares).  So lights were a must (and we’ve distributed way over 100,000 already..).  Also, people really value having light after sun-down and will spend between $3 and $10 a month on candles, kerosene or torches.  These Mandarin lights I found from Illumination cost about $8 and last for years, so again, better economics.  Other such solar lights that have been good and robust come from Toughstuff and D-Light, but both are just a little more expensive, so most partners have gone for the Mandarins.

The materials from the HANDS roofing kit, being used as
a temporary shelter ( you could call it transitional). How much
better is this than a tent!? And.. they will be used again for the fully
reconstructed house.  
By the time I met Sabina she had already moved home and had used these shelter materials to construct a fairly solid roof over the basic walls made from local earth.  This meant that she wouldn’t have to live in a tiny tent or an adapted cow shed, which is where most people live for years after these floods. In fact this is what happens in the absence of humanitarian aid: people just suffer – For Years!   Living out in the virtual open air, with temperatures over 50 degrees in summer and below 5 degrees in winter. 

By now we had received approval from London to initiate a post-emergency programme of recovery support for those people worst affected by the 2012 floods.  This is how humanitarian aid often works: emergency assistance quickly for the first 1 to 6 months, then separate funding for longer term recovery efforts that help people rebuild their lives to at least what they had before.   DFID / the UK responded amazingly to our pitch and agreed to support over 50,000 families to rebuild durable, flood-resistant homes. In addition to this, to reach a further 80,000 more families with agriculture and other livelihood inputs to help restart their incomes and overcome debt; support almost half a million people to rebuild broken water pumps and systems and to encourage them to build toilets and improve their hygiene and sanitation situation (long story, for another blog!).  Overall we received approval for just over £21m for this whole recovery programme which carries on through April 2015.

For Sabina, this meant that HANDS could now start supporting her and others to build homes that would not collapse under the heavy rains.  And so we enter the world of lime, clay and local materials.  More on that in the next episode…

OK to finish, a few more photos because I can't not share these! 


Too bright to forget. Despite the amazing levels of damage and poverty, I'm constantly amazed by how happy and bright and positive these people are.  I think of urban poverty in Scotland... Don't think I see such happy and friendly people... Yet behind these wonderful eyes and smiles there's serious malnutrition (around 23% severe / acute to be precise) and about 10% female literacy. Go figure...




Sabina and family - with Waqar DFID driver and long time friend, colleague, philosopher and political commentator making a guest showing!



This is from another village where IOM has completed this permanent shelter, on the left. I like this photo because you see the "before and after" - this shack on the left is basically how people live, for many years, if a shelter programme doesn't reach them.  This is the impact of our work.