Trying to make a living on an organic smallholding: Paul Jennings, ‘One-Planet’ smallholder
This is part 2 of an interview with Paul Jennings, who has built his own straw-bale house and lives with his family on a smallholding in Carmarthenshire in Wales. They were able to build their house via the One Planet Development (OPD) policy in Wales. Here’s part 1 of the interview. Read more
One Planet Development and access to land: Paul Jennings, OPD smallholder and self-builder
This is the first part of an interview with Paul Jennings, who lives on a smallholding in Pembrokeshire with his family, and built his own straw-bale home under the One Planet Development policy that exists in Wales (but not in England), which allows people to build a home on their land, even if it is… Continue reading One Planet Development and access to land: Paul Jennings, OPD smallholder and self-builder Read more
What might buildings, settlements and even regions look like through the lens of Permaculture design?
This is the transcript of a talk given by Paul Jennings to the recent SBUK Big Straw Bale Gathering. Paul has built his straw-bale family home on a ‘One-Planet Development’ smallholding in Wales (costing £12,000). Read more
What might poultry farms and human society look like if chickens and humans weren’t treated as machines to maximise profit?
Making use of biological resources, or renewable resources and services as David Holmgren characterises them, is an important principle of Permaculture Design. ‘Renewable services (or passive functions) are those we gain from plants, animals and living soil and water without them being consumed.’ Read more
What are we supposed to teach children about nature nowadays, without frightening them?
My little boy Alfred, just turned 6, pays close attention to what he hears. Sometimes this means that we need to be very careful in case he remembers something and then blurts it out in front of just the wrong person. It’s already clear that he’d make an awful spy. Read more
Why does the planning system make it so difficult for people who want to live on the land sustainably?
Being able to go through the process of making a planning application for a low impact development may be a sign that there has been some progress for those of us who have hitherto lived, to paraphrase, as outlaws on the planning frontier. Read more
How a ‘chicken tractor’ can clear and improve soil, as well as getting rid of pests
My vegetable field has some problems. It’s not that vegetables don’t grow there; over two seasons I’ve had some notable successes, it’s just that there’s verdant weed growth throughout, more slugs than you can shake a stick at, and the soil needs improving Read more
One Planet Development arrested: my attempts to build a home on a smallholding in Wales
We moved to Wales because of an extraordinary Welsh Government policy. I shan’t lie, despite all experience and political conviction to the contrary, we were optimistic. One Planet Development seemed to be the kind of advance for low impact living and sustainable land use that we had been hoping for Read more
Fermi’s paradox: does the lack of contact from extraterrestrials have implications for human survival?
“Where is everybody?” Enrico Fermi is supposed to have asked in 1950 of his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Working from first principles, Fermi calculated that extraterrestrials should have visited the Earth long ago, and many times over Read more
Will nature deal with our crop and garden pests if we don’t intervene or use poisons?
It’s been cold, really cold. For a while I thought it was just that my new garden is on a very exposed site, and until the windbreaks really get going I’m going to have to put up with a late start to the season. Read more
Community vetoes for wind farms, but not for fracking? What’s that about?
On the one hand the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd, appears committed to stopping the spread of onshore wind farms; this despite the fact that they are already the most important and cost effective source of renewable energy in the UK, and enjoy the support of two thirds of the population; and… Continue reading Community vetoes for wind farms, but not for fracking? What’s that about? Read more
Should we be planning to ‘drought-proof’ our food production for a warmer climate?
The weather is not the climate. Nonetheless, over the last few years I have noticed that I have developed a slightly panicky fear of the weather; I can’t notice the weather I suppose, without it triggering all sorts of associations in my mind to the myriad articles I’ve read, and conversations I’ve had, about Anthropogenic Climate… Continue reading Should we be planning to ‘drought-proof’ our food production for a warmer climate? Read more
Art and the apocalypse: do artists and writers have a duty to raise the alarm?
Sometime last year I took my youngest son for a walk along the beach. I’d been reading an article about climate change and the acidification of the oceans. Bad timing you might call it. Read more
Health warning about breathing on Friday
It’s becoming quite a regular thing, this health warning on breathing. Friday this week, in large parts of the east and south-east of England, air pollution is forecast to rise to dangerous levels. You can check these air quality forecasts out here. Read more
Are schools just for preparing kids for a corporate world, and should home education be the norm in a future, non-corporate society?
There was a time when it was much easier for me to stumble into an argument over the choice to home educate than almost any other subject. People who would hesitate to call me a fool for being an anarchist or a vegetarian would wade in with all kinds of Read more
Are we forgetting what pristine nature looks like?
Singing about the environment, Joni Mitchell reminded us “that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”; maybe the truth is that very quickly after things are gone they are forgotten, not only lost, but unmissed Read more
Mark Lynas thinks that corporate capitalism can solve climate change – that’s like burning your house down to keep warm
Oh do beware someone who comes before you and claims to be the voice of reason. Mark Lynas does exactly that in this morning’s Guardian and it doesn’t wash. His argument is barely an argument at all, more like a sort of faux man-in-the-street flimflam. Beware. Read more
Putting up a polytunnel: fresh fruit & veg all year round
There’s loads of information around when you come to put up your polytunnel. The one I’ve just finished erecting came with really good instructions and the company website provides a whole host of instructional videos for the fiddly bits Read more