Eco-Villages

Global EcoVillage Network

Baltic EcoVillage Network

EcoVillageRoad.eu – an EU-govt-aided initiative

Some manuals written by the Baltic EcoVillagers about their experiences, methods (energy conservation/technology, farming, construction etc.)

About the project

Project “Ecovillages for sustainable rural development”

Idea
Nowadays people start thinking about changing their living habits towards being more socially, economically and ecologically responsible. One of the possible ways to do this is proposed by Ecovillage movement. Ecovillage principles aim to combine social–cultural environment with a low–impact way of living. Choosing to live in the ecovillage is choosing an alternative way to the individualistic, materialistic and consumer-oriented lifestyle.

Aim
Project aims at fostering ecovillages development as more sustainable way of living in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region

Duration and budget
Project is implemented from 2010 to 2013. It is working under “Baltic Sea Region programme 2007-2013” and has total budget of 1.333.426 EUR, funded by European Union as well as contributed by project partners.

Main outputs
• 3 manuals based on case studies, covering guidelines for:
– Eco-settling practices;
– Environmentally – friendly technologies;
– Community living and social development in ecovillages.
• An ecovillage socio-economic sustainability assessment on-line tool;
• Recommendations for decision makers concerning ecovillages proper development;
• Ecovillage road for the Baltic Sea Region including ecovillages which are ready to introduce tourists into ecovillage life as well as pursue internship programs.

Partnership
5 partners from different Baltic Sea Region countries are implementing the project. Project also has 10 associated partners.

Lead partner
Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics, www.laei.lt

Project partners
MTT Agrifood Research Finland, www.mtt.fi
Latvian State Institute of Agrarian Economics, www.lvaei.lv
The West Pomeranian Business School, www.zpsb.szczecin.pl
Suderbyn cooperative society, www.suderbyn.se

Associated project partners
ZEGG , www.zegg.de
GEN Europe, www.gen-europe.org
GEN Finland, www.rihmasto.fi/skey
Centre for Independent Social Research, www.cisr.u
St.Petersburg Forest Technical Academy, www.ftacademy.ru
Permaculture in Sweden, www.permaculture.se
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, www.slu.se
Ekoboforeningen Njord, www.ekobogotland.se
Ecohome, www.ecohome-ngo.by
Council of the Baltic Sea States, CBSS Baltic 21 Unit, www.cbss.lt

Ash Comments:  I am currently mulling over ideas around the notion of what I am now calling ‘Village Farms.’ There are single-family farms, small scale farms, agribusiness farms. This idea is simple: a working farm or farms around which are developed a residential population, varied in age and livelihood, which both enjoys living in a rural, farm atmosphere and also supports the farm operation by purchasing its produce, helping at harvest times, and some of them have independent secondary production operations (like cheese-making, bakery etc.), whilst many do not do farm-related work at all, rather are doctors, lawyers, consultants, drive to work at nearby town or whatever. There could also be financial anchors such as a retirement home which has both residents on fixed income and also hires staff from the village and elsewhere.

Rather than being organised mainly around a philosophy or political cause (environmentalism, a particular religion etc.) this idea is very simple and secular: it is simply a population clustered around a working farm operation. In this way, it is hoped that more people can make a go of it in rural areas, which is not currently the case due to an almost complete abnegation of rural society by current governments throughout the developed world, who have basically ceded the most important policy decisions (how we live, our economic system etc.) to multinational corporations who in turn have foisted agribusiness on all of us using corporate ‘supermarket’ distribution points (aka ‘Big Box Store model’) which drive out local operations and turn small towns everywhere into dying wastelands which young people can’t wait to leave, meaning there is no generational continuity and therefore really only 3 classes: the chronically poor and usually unemployed; the employed but really just working to afford a basic lifestyle and with no generational continuityin terms of place or family fortune; the rich, many of whom also have no continuity, but some of whom – the super-rich – do. It’s not a very advanced system, unless if you count the raw numbers involved which indeed are greater than at any time in known history.

I am thinking of trying to mount a web-based drive to raise money to make in-depth studies of the bad effects of the Big Box model, but more importantly to analyse various hierarchical/organisational models for such a village, finding success and failure examples in places like the EcoVillage initiative highlighted above. Also maybe raise funds via IndieGogo or other methods to pay for studies from cyber-bases analysis services to project ideal population numbers in various climate zones (how many villagers per X-sized farm), also research the legal and funding issues, and also maybe come up with a plan to start 5 model Village Farms in Cape Breton, which plan including

a) how to fund them

b) how to organise them both in terms of project development and subsequent actual ongoing living management

c) how to actualize them

d) how to maintain ongoing interest and networks so that lessons are learned and more such Village Farms can be facilitated – if they prove worthy – in a wide range of terrain and jurisdictions throughout the world.

Ambitious? Yes, I guess. But really this is a one-step-first approach which mainly involves chewing over this idea and seeing if there is an affordable way to come up with a plan for how to go forward with 1-5 Village Farms on Cape Breton Island. That hardly qualifies as hugely ambitious.

A correlated idea is to launch a global ‘Think Tank for the 99%’, i.e. a cyber-funded Think Tank that tackles issues like this Village Farm example, both in terms of funding but also in terms of participation, in that they vote with their dollars as to what to study next. There could be many other topics (Common Law, organic farming methods in colder climates, various small business model templates to help people with start-ups, a research operation that takes peoples business ideas and spits out a comprehensive business plan for them (often the main stumbling block for startups) along with a funding initiative from within the 99% Think Tank community). Now this is ambitous and probably too hard to put into practice, but with all the automation possible nowadays, who knows. If I have time and ongoing interest, would like to look into this sort of thing further if for no other reason than the market numbers have been falling of late in Sydney (both during but also before the bad weather) and it is getting harder and harder to survive here in this situation with deteriorating economy and declining population. A recent Commission reported that this sort of thing is probably going to happen throughout Nova Scotia (not just the rural areas as has been the case for decades, and with urban Sydney the past 20 years), in which case things are going to get tough. And since the Commission did not look favourably on small business inititiatives (if I understood the 120 page report recommendations correctly), rather big business solutions (chiding us for not being Big Business friendly), and since big business has no real reason for being here really, I am not holding my breath that they will do anything substantive.

There is a chance they will allow the Ports Sydney PanamaxPlus container initiative to go forward, but with Chinese shipments down steeply this year, it could be one of those things that gets put on hold for 5-10 years – a very short time globally, but a long time for a local region in systemic crisis.

Meanwhile, although I have no doubt that it will never happen, also I have no doubt that if it did many of the world’s problems today would be solved by: simply banning agribusiness operations and making all farms authentically organic. This would bring rural to urban population ratios back into line (with more people living on or near farms than in cities), end chronic unemployment (and bad minimum wage for corporations employment) and generally promote a saner, healthier society and culture, which in turn would naturally revive a people and economy less beholden to corporate banking and other related cartels (energy, medicine, science, education etc.). It could work, although realistically speaking as we all know, it is highly unlikely.

Still, it says something about the current state of our societies in the developed and developing world that a high probability of success initiative seems so hopelessly out of the question. Indian farmers have been fighting back. And winning yield-per-acre prizes across the board using small-scale, non-agribusiness-input methods. Hopefully more people around the world, like the ecovillagers at top of this page, will make further progress.

 

Let us hope and pray they, and we, can do so.

 

 

Natural Farming – the new way forward?

To supplement income from the bakery, which is not quite breaking even after two years, and given the two-day sourdough wood-fired brick oven method is not suited for 2-3 bakes per week, and given I have been yearning to get my hands in the soil for a while now but cannot because have been too busy in the summer selling into two FM’s (Sydney and Baddeck), notwithstanding the numbers are still not adding up, therefore be it resolved that something else has to be done!

So this post is going to be a repository of links about several main topics relating to my search for viable farming methods for here on the island. They must be able to be implemented for little or no money and be organic.

There are currently three main interests:

1. Cold season greenhouse operations. For this will be reading up on Eliot Coleman Four Season Farming technology, albeit also looking into heating mainly with compost the Natural Farming method (see next), and also am quite happy letting things go dormant for a couple of months in Feb-March. It’s good to rest, take a holiday, plan the upcoming year. It’s Nature’s annual version of the seventh day of rest principle. There are no links to this at present except what seems to be good quality greenhouse covering:

http://www.northerngreenhouse.com/

2. Natural Farming. This is the one I have been waiting to discover, namely a way of vitalizing soil – obviously the key to good (organic) farming – using fermentation. One of the key underlying principles evident in Nature and her Processes, is Abundance. Seeds of most species, be they plant or animal, are usually several orders of magnitude greater than the individual generating them. Males produce literally millions of sperm to make one baby. Microbial cultures are exceptionally fertile in this way as evidenced every time I build a sourdough starter culture. At the right temperature they double every few hours. Within a week a teaspoon could become a ton. Nature wants to grow, to flourish, things naturally wish to increase. There is not a scarcity problem in the world in terms of population numbers, food etc. There is only a political/cultural/ethical corruption/unconsciousness problem. For a good intro to consciousness-raising, try Eckart Tolle’s Power of Now (and then spend the rest of your life studying BuddhaDharma or contemplative Christianity if you can find it). But for financial and general material/societal corruption, the solution is for many more of us to create more vibrant local economies by providing local production and the simplest place to start is with food, i.e. cultivating the soil. Natural Farming is a great way to do this by growing microbial cultures from existing cultures in the immediate environment in the soil, nearby woodlands, milk, very few inputs (none needed but sugar can help speed things along, as can milk in small quantities to generate lactobacilli cultures). So here are some main links to Natural Farming:

http://naturalfarminghawaii.net/tag/master-cho/

from this site several key links:

http://naturalfarminghawaii.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/soilfoundation-lowres.pdf

7 page pdf article on how to collect your own IM organisms from your location:

http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/BIO-9.pdf

THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE ON THIS PAGE: Gil Carandang’s http://hkpi.webs.com/Indigenous%20Micro-organism%28Phil%29.pdf 

This one explains the basic philosophy along with how-to instructions on making indigenous beneficial microbial cultures from scratch from your property or nearby.

Another similar pdf article: http://www.cog.ca/documents/07SU_EffectiveMicroorganisms.pdf

excerpt:

How to make Bokashi
Ingredients:
100 lb wheat bran
12 L warm water
240 ml molasses
240 ml EM
Prepare a diluted solution of EM, molasses and water at a
ratio of 1:1:100.
Mix well and pour over bran and continue to mix until the
final product is about 30% moisture
Place the material in a barrel and place a lid on the container
to create an anaerobic condition.
Allow 3–5 weeks in the summer and 7–10 weeks in the winter
and the bokashi should have a sweet and sour fermented smell
(but not putrid).
The pH of the bokashi should be about 5. The material
should be used immediately.

and more:

“The literature on EM is overwhelmingly favourable and includes many peer-reviewed publications that demonstrated a wide-spectrum of benefits including: increased seed protein, crude fat, and seed yield in soybeans; increased N uptake by cowpea from crop residues; control of Sclerotinia in turfgrass; increased yields in banana, oranges, peanuts, papayas, mangos; efficiency of compost production from three months to three weeks, etc. From this superficial scan of the literature, EM appear to have been successful in agronomic applications worldwide, but data are lacking from Canadian experiences. For those growers using EM technology in their agricultural practices, I would love to hear your testimony on the products you used.

Av Singh, PhD, PAg, is the Organic and Rural Infrastructure Specialist with AgraPoint in Nova Scotia and is available for comment or question at 902-896-0277 or at a.singh@agrapoint.ca.”

Another set of how-to make from scratch:  http://forum.hydrobreed.com/showthread.php?1001-How-to-make-EM-1

http://permafornia.com/

Official EM site: http://www.emrojapan.com/application/agriculture.html

Case Studies, research links: http://www.scdprobiotics.com/SCD_Probiotics_Case_Studies_s/365.htm

Canadian EM1 re-seller: http://www.gardenerspantry.ca/microorganisms/effective-microorganisms.html

A cheat sheet with quick instructions for how to make EM1 from scratch (hard to find instructions): http://pinoyagribusiness.com/forum/cattle_carabao_goat_sheep/how_to_make_benificial_micro_organism_em1-t942.0.html;wap2=

From Georgia, United States:

http://www.prokashi.com/videos/

Also his research page: http://www.prokashi.com/research/

https://www.youtube.com/results?q=cho+global+natural+farming+method&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=w1

How to make lactobacillus with pictures. I did this recently starting with brown rice water and it worked fine, although I was not using these precise instructions, rather my memory of prokashi’s instructions. They are essentially the same. http://myfanwe.xanga.com/754896562/making-em-1-culture/

http://www.kalapanaorganics.com/natural-farming-with-indigenous-microorganisms/raising-chickens-the-natural-farming-way/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdNHEpMISmQ (1 hr chicken production for eggs)

This bokashi business (sort of) started again (officially) around 1982 with Dr. Teruo Higa. This clip promotes his derived product but of interest to you, perhaps, is that it can be used to clean off toxins in water or other substances.

So it is an organic, virtually free way of developing healthy soil, essentially meaning you can compost everything – meat, eggs, bread, sugars, not just veggies – and in so doing clean away toxins as well.

This site sells compost tea makers and has very interesting information – and pictures – of microbial life. http://www.microbeorganics.com/ In fact, it is so well written that I am making a companion post which will follow this one – ‘Organic Growing from a Microbial Perspective’…

3. Hugel Culture – or raised beds with wood logs as the nutritive and hydration base. This takes heavy machinery (realistically) up front, but then for years you have vibrant soil with no irrigation or fertilization needed. Combined with some Natural Farming home-grown soil enhancing additions, not to mentions regular infusions of additional nutrients from roaming chickens, perhaps pigs etc., you have a dynamic growing culture far more productive per sq metre than the best conventional farming methods at far lower cost. The problem, of course, is our Northern climate short growing season, which brings us back to Nr 1, winter greenhousing. Nr 2 solves the problem of the soil getting tired inside a greenhouse, albeit it will need an irrigation system, and/or it could be that one good solution is simply to have removable greenhouse covering which goes up from Nov-April and then comes off the rest of the year, covering over these Nr 3 section raised beds which themselves contain plenty of water, albeit still there would have to be some irrigation of course, but nothing intensive. Anyway, some links:\

The Godfather of this nowadays is Sepp Holzer. His latest book is Permaculture. Just Google his name for articles, videos etc.

A film of Holzer – growing lemons at 5000 ft in the Austrian Alps! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF6-xh34ovA

Also: http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/ – some videos about making the raised bed with back hoes, results, methodology

http://www.permies.com/forums/f-2/permaculture This is an active permaculture forum and there is a sub-forum in there about the hugels, amongst many other things.

So this post is tagged with Farming, Solutions and Fermentation. It is a solution because I believe if more of us get into doing this, especially Natural Farming, even if it’s just for our flowers and a small vegetable garden, that the world would be a much better place, and the Power of the Evil Doers, whoever ‘they’ are, but ‘they’ are ruining our world and human culture, will be diminished. So this is all very worthy stuff, aka ‘Solution’. Fermentation is of course my special interest. I am not surprised to learn that the best way to farm involves using the natural abundance/fertility of micro-organisms. It’s sort of a head-slapping moment for me: the same stuff that makes sauerkraut (lacto-bacillus) and other great pickles that boost vitamin and phytonutrient content by 20-50 times, is also what you can use to turn any soil into highly fertile, microbially rich living soil. Elementary, Dear Watson!

Related to Natural Farming are various other techniques including, for example, fermenting grasses and the use of biochar, or charcoal.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/79794950/Farmers-Coop-Begin-Innovative-Biochar-and-Soil-Project

http://www.biochar-international.org/

Making biochar yourself video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqkWYM7rYpU