NW Permaculture Institute

Earth Care, People Care, Future Care


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Salem Free Film Event, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, October 8th @ 4pm, presented at, “Peace with Justice Film Series” – Salem Friends Meeting

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. Cuba rebuilt its quality of life following that energy crisis. This fascinating and empowering film shows how communities pulled together, created solutions, and ultimately thrived in spite of their decreased dependence on imported energy. Film 53 minutes.

Presented by the NW Permaculture Institute and The Peace with Justice Film Series.  490 19th NE, (19th and Breyman) Salem Friends Meeting.  October 8th @ 4pm.  Everyone is welcome.  Accessible.  No charge.  For more info email bennyanddiane at gmail dot com

 

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Voices of Transition documentary & Kris Hikari with Friends of Trees, Free Film and Lecture in Salem, February 25th @ 6:30pm

Logo-VoicesOfTransitionSmall

Voices of Transition presents innovative, inspirational – and concrete – solutions to the food security challenges we humans increasingly face. It explores agroforestry models in France, permaculture and TRANSITION TOWN initiatives in England and the organic farming revolution in Cuba.
By focusing on immediate profit and ignoring millennia of experience in agronomy, agroindustry is responsible for the unprecedented erosion of soils now occurring around the world. Add climate change and dwindling natural resources to the picture, and it would appear that even societies in the Global North are no longer safe from famines. Voices of Transition is a film which is optimistic but clear-sighted. It makes clear that these current and impending crises are, in fact, positive challenges!  65 minutes.

 
After the film, Kris Hikari will share how Friends of Trees is working in Salem to build a sense of community through the simple act of planting trees together. She will touch on the many values of the “urban forest” and what we can all contribute to the growth and health of this commonly overlooked natural resource. Kris will also share upcoming opportunities to plant with Friends of Trees, and additional resources to get involved with the stewardship of Salem’s urban forest.

Friends of Trees is the northwest’s biggest and longest standing community forestry non-profit that plants trees with local volunteers throughout the Willamette Valley and into Vancouver, Washington. Our mission is to bring people together to plant and care for city trees and green spaces across the northwest. Over the course of the past 26 years, we have planted over a half a million trees and native shrubs with the help of tens of thousands of community members. FOT currently plants in over 20 municipalities, and is in it’s 4th planting season in Salem. Our efforts are largely driven by water quality goals, but also aim to increase shade and natural beauty in the city, reduce the urban “heat island effect”, and to improve urban livability overall.

Kris Hikari is a passionate steward of urban environments for the well-being of both people and wildlife. As Regional Programs Manager with Friends of Trees, she helps establish tree planting programs in new communities throughout the Willamette Valley. Kris is an ISA-certified arborist and has worked in the natural area restoration and urban forestry fields for over seven years. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Oregon, and previously studied geography of the Pacific Northwest at Portland State University. In her free time, Kris is an avid gardener, birder, naturalist, and bike builder.

 

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share: Free Film and Lecture Series
Held in Salem every 4th Thursday @ 6:30pm (except November and December)

Salem 4th Thursday events include potluck & discussion
@ Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, 5090 Center Street. NE, Salem
For more information: 503-449-8077

This event is made possible by support from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, LifeSource Natural Foods, and private donations from people in our community. Thank you for your support!

 

 

 


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How can we successfully continue to feed the world?

You cannot effectively discuss GMOs without discussing the “Green Revolution” and industrial agriculture. I teach people how to maintain and increase soil fertility, so the GMO issue, as well as debates about how to make nutrient rich food available to everyone on the planet, cross my desk many times daily. I was recently asked, “How can we successfully continue to feed the world?”

Gardens and Micro Farms are Cost Inefficient and Fail to Feed Society
by Lichen June

People keep telling me that gardens and micro farms are cost inefficient and fail to feed society. Sometimes this information is delivered loudly and firmly with great emphasis on profit, and great personal attachment to the idea of its being true. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how modern chemical agriculture feeds the world. This is to be expected because so few people are even beginning to understand the complexity of the relationships between bacteria, fungi, and plants that create living soil. Less than 1% of the organisms in living soil have been identified and named let alone given any study for us to begin to grasp their roles. This frontier is just opening up in science right now. The reason it wasn’t studied earlier was the myth that NPK: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, were all that was needed to grow plants. Modern agriculture is balanced entirely on this myth. You can grow plants that way for a number of years, so long as you can afford the fossil fuels to do it and you don’t mind the lack of nutrients in your food, however, there are two catches.

The first catch is that the N, P, and K are stabilized in salt and watered into the soil. A normal plant in healthy soil chooses which nutrients it needs from a long, long list and does starch exchanges at the hair root level with the bacteria and fungi who are dealing in that necessary nutrient. Plants have no choice but to drink water. So, when NPK based fertilizers are applied to the big mono crops, the plants are force fed those fertilizers through salt and watering until they become so bloated (more pounds = more money) that they are like beacons for pests, fungus, and weeds.

Then comes the second catch. The farmers must throw on massive amounts of pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide to try and help their very weak but large crops survive what would have been their natural demise. Think about that for a minute… The companies that are creating and profiting from crops that attract pests, fungus and weeds, are also profiting from the sale of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides to manage those problems that they exacerbate. All of these poisons kill the living organisms in the soil. Those living organisms were there ready to not only feed current plants, but also to continue doing the exchanges that would create the food for future plants. (Not to mention all that living soil does for us in carbon sequestration.) Nutrients in the soil are finite when the soil is dying/dead. In fact even with nutrient rich soil, if you don’t have the right pH and combination of living organisms to do the exchanges with the plants, those nutrients are as unavailable to the plants as if they were locked away in a safe. So, eventually, the only way to yield a crop is by moving to new ecosystems and fresh living soil somewhere else that hasn’t yet been depleted and killed. Well, that is the only way other than growing your crops in ways that encourage rather than kill that soil life, in ways that help plants grow strong, healthy, and nutrient dense year upon year.

Fossil fuel issues aside, modern farming can only move over to the next field so long before all the soil is dead. Game over. Big chemical agriculture and GMOs can only continue so long as more and more cash is thrown in and more and more soil is killed. So the problem is not that chemical agriculture is just unsustainable from an eco friendly perspective, it is literally unsustainable, and leaves us with soil unable to grow food without high inputs. It is magical thinking to assume that science even has the time to solve this collapse of billions upon billions of different living relationships in the soil that have barely begun to be studied.

When Cuba lost access to fossil fuels in the early 1990s people began to starve. In desperation, everyone, everywhere began growing food. They survived precisely because of the emergence of gardens and small farms. This story is detailed in the documentary film, “The Power of Community, How Cuba Survived Peak Oil,” directed by Faith Morgan. The reality is that gardening and small farms which build living soil are the only way humanity will be able to continue to feed themselves and the sooner we switch over, the more likely more people will survive when modern chemical agriculture reaches its end game.

The idea that third world people need the innovations of modern agriculture in order to eat is also a myth. First, there is more than enough food in the world, made unavailable by markets and profits, not scarcity. For more info on this read, “Hope’s Edge, the Next Diet for a Small Planet,” by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe. Second, a lot of those starving poor became so as western chemical agriculture and corporate interests colonized and pushed peoples off of their land where they were previously feeding themselves just fine from living soil ecosystems and home gardens. This shift was graphically documented in the book, “Ancient Futures, Lessons from Ladakh for a Globalizing World,” by Helena Norberg-Hodge. Also, it is impossible to ignore the tens of thousands of third world farmers who have committed suicide because of the high costs and subsequent failures of GMO crops and other farming practices based on killing the soil. They often commit suicide by drinking the same poisons that killed their soil and destroyed their families ability to grow a diverse and nutritious diet. On the heels of these sort of tragedies, and deficiencies in access to nutrients, 1st world solutions like Golden Rice are an offensive and blind gesture. If their soil was still alive they could grow crops that were far more nutrient dense and available locally. But then that would cut out the corporate middle man, and point out that “The Green Revolution” of chemical agriculture and depleted soil is actually what is depriving people of nutrients in their food supply. But Westerners keep making themselves feel better offering poor people modified rice. Kind of like offering a crippled person a flimsy cane while continuing to kick them down hill.

Gardening and micro farming are only inefficient when your priority is profits for the few big agro corporations, rather than many local family farmers making profit off of many separate smaller acreages. Micro farms can make well over $1,000 per acre, while big chemical agriculture makes about $25 per acre. If you start to look at the pounds of food per square foot, and nutrient density in food grown in living soil, industrial agriculture comes up shamefully inefficient. Not only are big agro business and GMO farming inefficient at the amount of nutrient produced per acre, they are also the most inefficient of all at creating the soil life that will guaranty that we can eat next year and the year after that, etc. So, the question is which matters more, deficiency in profits for a few, or deficiency in life?

Lichen June is the Director of the Northwest Permaculture Institute in Oregon, USA

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/09/24/gardens-micro-farms-cost-inefficient-fail-feed-society/


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Free Film Event, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, July 24th

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When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. Cuba rebuilt its quality of life following that energy crisis. This fascinating and empowering film shows how communities pulled together, created solutions, and ultimately thrived in spite of their decreased dependence on imported energy. Film 53 minutes.

Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share: Free Film and Lecture Series, presented by the Northwest Permaculture Institute.  Every 4th Thursday @ 6:30 pm.  Bring Item for finger food potluck, enjoy event and discussion, at UU Congregation of Salem, 5090 Center Street NE, Salem.  For more info, 503-449-8077, nwpermacultureinstitute.org, or nwpermacultureinstitute on facebook.

Made possible in part with support from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, and Life Source Natural Foods.