In the heart-poundingly dramatic realm of website improvements, I… …finally started consolidating links to interviews and talks I’ve done to a Media page. …updated my Contact page to encourage the kinds of emails I’m really excited about, while steering common questions toward a Resources page. …even fulfilled a minor life-goal of creating a page with helpful suggestions for those who are about to engage in Asking Busy Strangers for Help on the Internet. As my old adviser John Todd liked likes to say, “Onward and upward!”  

Media, Resources, and Contacts   Recently updated !

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   Recently updated !

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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 or contact 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).

Permaculture as evolutionary social learning organization   Recently updated !

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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 ...

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I just got the official word that my paper Permaculture for Agroecology: Design, Practice, Movement, and Worldview  has been accepted for publication in the  agroecology journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development. This is the first hard look at permaculture in any peer-reviewed natural science literature that I’m aware of, so I’m pretty excited to be getting this into print – especially in a journal like ASD. [EDIT] So now that it’s official, I’m making a preprint of the article available for download I’m uploading a copy to the eprint archive server dedicated to sustainable agriculture research, It will be available for download for there shortly. As this is a late-draft preprint, the final published form may differ slightly, or not at all, from this version. I’ll link to the final version, as well as make it available here, when it’s finally published. I had high hopes for, but they have been totally unresponsive. In any […]

New review of the permaculture literature in Agronomy for Sustainable ...

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I’ve written before about the challenges faced by permaculture enterprises. Farms, like other land-based permaculture projects, are faced with the formidable task of regenerating ecosystems and communities, while surviving in a system that rewards the destruction of the same systems. Permaculture projects have to compete with degenerative enterprises and institutions that are happy to take the efficiency ‘bonus’ from unsustainable and exploitative practices. The consequence is that it’s hard for permaculture enterprises to keep costs as low, and therefore people with less of an economic buffer, who have to minimize costs as much as possible, find it hard to support regenerative enterprises as consumers. That’s most of the world, in case you were wondering. So the regenerative enterprises that we would like to create have a difficult time offering products and services that most people can afford, and most people can’t afford to support the regenerative economy. If we want […]

Confronting the Context: Permaculture and Capitalism

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Now that Toby’s interesting essay (in response to my post on definitions in permaculture is making the rounds, I think it warrants a reply. (Some of this post assumes some prior knowledge of those posts, and a general awareness of agroecology). If you haven’t read Toby’s piece, he’s making an argument that permaculture is really, fundamentally, a design discipline – and that’s how we should regard it. It’s not a movement, a set of practices, or a worldview, and we shouldn’t confuse it with those things. It’s clear how  this reduction could be attractive for people who are interested in supporting the professional sector in permaculture, and Toby makes his argument well. His definition tidies up a messy ecosystem, drawing clear boundaries that focus attention on a single aspect of interest. While such linear and reductive thinking can be useful in the right context, in this case it does not serve. Permaculture’s spread […]

the convenience and poverty of simple definitions

  Great, thought provoking article by Rhamis Kent now up at Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. “Permaculture and Slavery: A Systems Analysis” kicks off a welcome and badly needed discussion of the legacy of African slavery in the development of the US economy – all through the energetic lens of systems ecology, long beloved by permaculturists. Go check it out. You’ll find me in the comments.

Permaculture and Slavery