Robert Wallace is an evolutionary biologist and social epidemiologist, and co-author of the mindblowing Farming Human Pathogens (2009). I had the pleasure of meeting him at a recent symposium in honor of the great ecologist, systems thinker, and activist, Richard Levins (on the occasion of his 85th birthday). In a recent blog post, Wallace addresses the recent – and ongoing – outbreak of avian influenza in the US. In this short essay he dissects the public discussion and institutional response to the outbreak, and lays bare the economic and ecological issues surrounding them. Wallace make a very compelling case that industry and government are responding in ways that serves industry first – and the public not at all. Originally posted June 10, 2015 on Farming Pathogens: Made in Minnesota Industrial turkey and chicken in Minnesota, and other states Midwest and South, have been hit by a highly pathogenic strain of […]

Avian Influences: The Politics of the Mid-West Bird Flu Outbreak


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This was originally a FB post. It resonated with some people and generated some good discussion, so I’m bringing it over here to the blog. It’s not as developed as what I usually post – but this way it won’t get lost in the misty depths of my FB wall. (Also, maybe if I let myself post shorter/rawer stuff, I’ll post more?!)   I worry about statements like these. It’s tempting to console ourselves with all kinds of individualism (and small-groupism) when we live in a culture where the fabric of reciprocity and solidarity has been most comprehensively unwoven. But we’re getting duped if we believe we face the question of individuals (or small groups) versus movements for making change – let’s ask instead how we as individuals come alive in groups and communities that are embedded, with scores of others, in movements as vast as the problems we face. […]

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I’m excited to be part of the teaching team for a very innovative curriculum alongside an amazing line-up of teachers. Warren Brush and the good people at Quail Springs are helping push permaculture in some very important directions, and helping build on the complementary strengths of permaculture and agroecology in the context of international development. Read about Warren’s work, and the bridges being built between international development institutions, agroecology, and permaculture, here: Permaculture for Resiliency in International Development through USAID, and check out details of the course and instructor bios.

Permaculture Design Course for International Development May 30 ...



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For the last several years, Eric Toensmeier and I have been working (ever so slowly) on a scientific review of global perennial staple crops. Last year we received an invitation to present our work at the annual American Society of Agronomy conference, in a session that was otherwise composed of perennial grains researchers. This was an exciting opportunity (as well as a deadline to light a fire under our slow progress). Eric and I decided that he would attend and present. He had never had a chance to present at a scientific conference – and more importantly, he has done the vast bulk of the work feeding into this project. He’s been painstakingly combing through scientific and technical literature over the past five years, and assembling a formidable database of 100s of perennial crops. My role in the project has been to help frame that tremendous work in terms of contemporary scientific frameworks, act […]

Perennial Agriculture Now! Our presentation at American Society for Agronomy.


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          UPDATE: This course has been postponed. With Eric Toensmeier, Rafter Sass Ferguson, and Elizabeth Ü October 18-23, 2014 at Shannon Farm Community In Afton, VA Cost: Sliding Scale $595-$895 to register or for more information visitwww.blueridgepermaculture.net or contact tygerlilley@gmail.com Scaling up ecological agriculture is one of the critical challenges we face in addressing climate change and the global food crisis. Integrated perennial farm businesses are a key part of the solution when planned and managed effectively; join us to learn and practice how! This 6-day course integrates time-tested farm business planning tools with the holistic landscape planning of permaculture and cutting-edge creative financing strategies. Experienced leaders will guide participants through an intensive planning/design process, from initial visioning, through successional enterprise budgeting, to design of the farm landscape. In this dynamic course, participants will design in teams working on a shared project, with structured time for participants to […]

This October in VA: Regenerative Farm Enterprise Planning


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If I haven’t attended to the website in ages – and I haven’t – it’s because my scarce extracurricular writing time has gone into articles that I couldn’t share until now. I’m very excited to have two articles in the current issue of Permaculture Activist (Autumn 2014, No. 93). The theme of this issue is “Experimentation – Science in Permaculture” and it looks to be a tremendous one all around. Other authors include some dear friends: my long-time co-teacher Steve Gabriel of Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, and the excellent forest gardener and human being we know as Jonathan Bates. I’m also happy to appear alongside newer friends and colleagues I’ve connected with over the past few years: Abbie Conrad (writing on  her tremendous work on permaculture among smallholder farmers in Malawi), Chris Warburton-Brown from the UK Permaculture Research Brigade, and Christopher Kelly-Bisson (of the new permaculture e-journal The Rhizome). Plus, bonus people I […]

Toward 21st Century Permaculture: new articles



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I made minor contributions to this very interesting poster presentation at the Radical Emission Reduction Conference held by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the Royal Society in London on December 10-11 2013. My hat is off to Ed Sears (of the Earth Systems Science Research Group at Exeter), the main mover behind the project, as well as to the other co-authors Chris Warburton-Brown (UK Permaculture Research Initiative) and Tomas Remiarz (UK Permaculture Association). Download the poster and handout here. [wpdm_file id=4]

Permaculture as evolutionary social learning organization





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A new graduate research position has just been funded in the Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design Laboratory. This is a great opportunity for a permaculturist with GIS experience who want to do research on design and economic issues at the farm-scale. If you’re interested, think about applying by the end of January. If you’re really interested, I recommend making contact as soon as possible. Download link is below the flyer. [wpdm_file id=3]

New grad position in Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems research


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I want to say “at long last” but really it’s been a relatively quick process, given the going pace of academic publication. It’s just been in any-day-now land for several weeks, so I’ve been experiencing very faint shades of when my mom made us kids sit and eat a nice breakfast before opening Xmas presents. The paper will be Open Access at Springer – in Agronomy for Sustainable Development, in case you missed it – but right now it’s stuck behind a paywall. I’ll continue to host it here in any event. If you would care to point people at this post rather than emailing the article around, I’d be grateful. Thanks! 11/10/2013 Update: As Dana points out below, it’s no longer stuck behind the paywall. 11/18/2013 Update: If you are on ResearchGate, please download through my RG profile here: ResearchGate.PermacultureForAgroecology Apparently it helps boost some statistic that may be […]

“Permaculture for Agroecology” is out!


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My research travel has taken a slight detour. I’ve had to fly home to deal with an urgent, but non-life-threatening, medical situation. I’m now recovering well after minor surgery, and will be getting back out on the road shortly. It was frustrating to abandon part of an itinerary that I had put so much time into assembling, farm by farm, but… sometimes you just have to roll with it. Ultimately, I’m just happy to be healing well and getting back out there. Hopefully I will find a way to get back out to that stretch of southern Oregon to central California before all is said and done. But I’ll be going east before I go back west. Next weekend, I’ll be presenting twice at the Yale Food Systems Symposium. I’m happy to be sitting on a panel on Permaculture in Academia, as well as giving a presentation entitled “Recovering the Future: Food System Transition […]

From the field – and the sickbed. And then the ...