Shrooming in weird places

An interesting little experiment is afoot. Well little might be an understatement but you’ve got to try these things now and again.

tubes

We’ve had a lot of cardboard tubes delivered from a local carpet recycling business, more than we actually have ideas to use them up. So plan B comes into effect.

One of the first things I’ve thought of is to chop them up, a travesty I’m sure, and soak them back down into pulp. Once we have that we can make them into fuel logs and briquettes to help provide heat for the buildings over the winter.

tubes-3

But in the interest of generating a revenue from what others through away there’s nothing to stop us inoculating that pulp with mushroom spawn and stuffing it into some of the tubes turning them into little mycelium powerhouses.

Cardboard is essentially finely chopped up trees in the form of cellulose and if there’s one thing mycelium (the actual root network that fruits the mushrooms we all know so well) does well is break down and consume the molecule lignin that makes up cellulose.

It does this by breaking the long chain carbohydrate into shorter chain carbohydrate. Or sugar as we call it.

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I’ll go into more detail about soil ecology in a later post but to suffice to say, we will have a source of heat, a soil building activity and mushrooms with both health and culinary use.

Not bad from someone else’s unwanted stuff….

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The Gathering

With very Short notice we At Bentley Urban farm invite you to our first annual Gathering!!

This is the weekend Saturday the 24th of September we will be driving, walking, riding and generally meandering around Bentley and the Doncaster area as a whole identifying, adopting, learning about the apple trees we find and gathering all the apples we can. We will also be giving a variety of talks along the way about various methods of caring for those trees we adopt and what we can all do to preserve them.

We will be charging £10 to cover our educators time, a light lunch, though we will probably just go to the chippy! and to put some cash in the coffers so we can offer even more excellent adventures !!

Click or tap the link below for the poster.

 

the-gathering

 

#DoncasterIsGreat for Growing in a Small Space… amendment

Please note the change of date on the following event…

small GGB_May_meeting_poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PermaFuture co-founder John Briggs will now be giving a presentation for Growing a Greater Bentley (GGB) on Growing in a Small Space at Bentley Baptist Church at 6:30pm on Tuesday, 14th May (rather than the 7th as previously stated). We’ll be following this up with a practical session in the heart of Doncaster at the end of the month, so watch this space for further details.

Click here to download, print and share a PDF of the altered poster. 🙂

Next DUG meeting 28/3/13 at The Sal… #DoncasterIsGreat #GuerrillaGardening

small DUG poster Mar 2013The next Doncaster Urban Growers (DUG) meeting is at The Salutation from 7pm on Thursday 28th March, 2013. As you can see from recent DUG posts members are itching to get active. With Spring in the air and mud on our minds you can expect some interesting debates and ideas! 😉

Click here to download a PDF of the poster.

The next Doncaster Urban Grower’s (DUG) meeting is on the 21st Feb… #DoncasterIsGreat

DUG poster Feb 2013 (small)

Come and join us at The Salutation from 7pm on Thursday 21st February, 2013. We meet downstairs in the bar and then head upstairs for a presentation at 8pm… look out for the signs! 🙂

Click here to download and print a copy of our poster.

The Fiscal Cliff & the Permaculture Parachute

The world may not have ended on December 21st, 2012, but it looks highly likely that the economic dominance of the US will be very much in its death throws during 2013…

This puts the UK, with its intimate links to both the US and the Euro-zone, in a very precarious position. On hearing about the looming fiscal cliff and the risk of hyperinflation there are some people who will be tempted to build a bunker, dress like an action man and stock up on freeze-dried chicken noodles (the kind of people who give preppers a bad name courtesy of the Discovery Channel). But those of us who enjoy fresh air (and fresh fruit & veg for that matter) like to take a more logical (in actual fact ‘methodological’…) approach.

The word economy comes from the Greek oikonomos (manager of a household) and is closely related to the word ecology (oikos = house + logia = study), but modern attitudes which focus on ‘bottom lines’ and ‘perpetual growth’ can seem far from homely. This is because the economists define wealth and security in terms of access to the market. But despite being elevated to a central position for the last few centuries the market is not the most important factor in the economy… the real driving force of the economy is – and always has been… – the land. As The Land magazine say in their manifesto:

Anyone who has land has access to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave. Ivan Illich spoke of “a society of convivial tools that allows men to achieve purposes with energy fully under their control”. The ultimate convivial tool, the mother of all the others, is the earth.

Don’t get us wrong, markets can play a vital role in the peaceable exchange of skills & resources and in countering creative and cultural stagnation, but when the market is placed above every other aspect of human ecology the effects are devastating… hence the current crisis. The dominant economic and legal systems we are expected to live by have divorced the vast majority of us from both the land in general and the skills to cater for our own central needs – food, shelter, sanitation, etc. – in a convivial and ecologically sensitive way. And as the ongoing economic crisis makes it ever harder for an increasing number of people to secure access to the essentials, the ecological crisis – which is itself a product of a dysfunctional socioeconomic worldview – is making present human ecologies even less stable… a viscous circle spinning at the heart of a perfect storm.

sandy

Spencer Platt/GETTY IMAGES

If this sounds a bit gloomy, it is; there’s little point in denial when it comes to one of the most rapid and monumental changes in the earth’s climate. What’s more there’s not a whole lot of real, decisive action taking place… in fact, thanks to a political system ultimately based on lobbying clout (whoever can pay has the last say), the very opposite is true. On a global level we’re about to witness some of the most dramatic shifts in sovereign power for centuries, but there is little evidence to suggest that Gaia will replace the gun regardless of who’s in the big chair. On a local level even before the economic crisis there were very few local authorities which paid anything more than lip service to building genuinely resilient communities. But we have now reached a point where we are being forced to reconsider both our economic and ecological systems in the light of the overwhelming evidence that continuing along our current path is almost certainly suicidal.

london-futures-main

From Robert Graves and Dider Madoc Jones digital art series Postcards from the Future

Well that’s the doom & gloom done with, now for a glimmer of hope… THERE IS A BETTER WAY!..

Permaculture is a design system which uses naturally occurring ecological patterns and feedback-loops to create highly sustainable, convivial and resilient human habitats. Far from being a pie-in-the-sky utopian dream these are widespread everyday practices which often take advantage of techniques that have been known to humans for millennia (and to mother nature for billions of years). What’s more it is a process which doesn’t rely on any outside help from politicians, bankers or business gurus; so regular people (like you and me) can begin to make a very real difference – both locally and globally – regardless of the inactivity of government and the local authorities. Some might find that they have to bend the rules a little depending on exactly where they live and the socioeconomic circumstances they find themselves in, but absolutely anyone can – and should!.. – begin to practice essential permacuture principles today.

Permaculture is no magic bullet, as you’ll quickly discover it’s all about small steps and a lot of patience. But taken seriously each small step you take will lead you  to a healthier, more fulfilled and resilient (not to mention cheaper!..) way of living.

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Design for Eco-Village Wroclaw

There are plenty of freely available online resources (this is a good place to start), but if you have some spare cash one of the most accessible (not to mention most beautiful) introduction books has to be Graham Burnett‘s “Permaculture, A Beginner’s Guide.

permabeginners1

At the moment it’s on special offer and includes a copy of Graham’s “Top of the Crops“, but even if you miss the offer we recommend ordering Top of the Crops as well anyway… especially if you have kids!

PermaFuture will be hosting an Introduction to Permaculture workshop in Doncaster sometime in the Spring; drop us a line or follow the blog for further details… in the meantime, GET GROWING!

Why pay for sickly @redbull when you can get delicious #SilverBirch for #FREE

It’ll soon be that time of year when the sap begins to rise… both metaphorically and actually. Spring is when we begin to feel rejuvenated after the grey days of winter. Luckily for us there’s a natural energy drink which becomes freely available just when we need it the most (and which doesn’t rely on a bombardment of crappy advertising). Filled with sugars, amino acids, proteins and enzymes, Birch Sap is guaranteed to deliver a Usain-Bolt-paced-energy-jolt to tiring bodies. 😉

Birch Sap is also so delicious that it is sold commercially in some countries, and because it can only be collected during an average period of 1 month in every year and is highly perishable, it can demand a very high price indeed (even higher than that overpriced Red Bull stuff) – in Japan it has sold for as much as €50 per litre!

Any prepper, bush-craft enthusiast or forager worth their salt will find the idea of paying such a high price for Birch Sap a little crazy, because we know how easy it is to obtain…

A cut branch will provide a good drink, but we wouldn’t recommend this technique. It’s much better for the tree, and more ethical for the forager, to learn how to properly drill a tree to leave it in good repair. With this in mind the ever wonderful A-Z Bushcraft & Srvival Skills  have produced this informative, Creative Commons licensed video…

The video recently featured on Permculture Magazine‘s website, where they also included the following recipe taken from Ben Law’s book The Woodland Year:

Ben Law’s Birch Sap Wine

Ingredients

1 gallon of birch sap

2 lemons

1/2 lb (454g) raisins

2 lbs sugar or 2 pints of honey

yeast

Method

Squeeze lemons. Add a little grated zest to the birch sap and boil for 20 minutes. Pour sap on to sugar or honey and raisins. Stir until the sugar or honey is dissolved. When lukewarm add yeast, cover with a cloth and leave in the fermenting bin until fermentation has slowed down. Then strain into a demijohn. Top up with water as necessary and fit an air lock. Should be ready to drink by late summer.

Special Offer direct from the publishers: save 25% on The Woodland Year and get it p&p free (in the UK). RRP £19.95. Discounted price £14.96. Offer lasts until March 31st 2012.

Future scenario’s of an energy descent world part 2

Here is the second instalment in our ongoing series of articles dealing with possible security issue’s in a post energy world…

2. Foreign Invaders

Although the United Kingdom is currently bogged down in foreign wars, many within and without the U.K. military predict that the U.K. will soon face the threat of another peer competitor along the lines of the U.S.S.R. Such a peer competitor would likely not be a single country, but a global alliance centred on a major power like Russia, China, or both. Some in the Peak Oil community fear that such a strong energy secure player could easily overrun a now weakened western society and play havoc with its people. Admittedly, a new alliance is a real and credible threat in the very near future. However, to leap from the current situation, with the western economic and social model spreading to all corners of the world, to a time when Chinese troops march down oxford Street, is a monumental shift in realities. Even though the west is significantly weakened politically, economically, and diplomatically, it still holds significant physical and figurative ground world-wide. The approaching depression alone will not completely unravel this power; it will take sustained pressure in a world of declining energy availability to erode globalisation. A third world war would likely only result in the western powers losing its overseas footholds and retreating back within its borders – and that would be after several years of conflict. Adversaries of the West will likely continue to use asymmetric means to weaken the powers that be, by further undermining our economic, energy, cyber, and political interests long before the advent of open warfare. Our adversaries understand that it is foolish (and will remain so for at least several years) to attempt to compete with the west in the one domain we have trained and prepared for exceptionally well — large-scale open combat. This is not to imply that we shouldn’t be concerned about the very real possibility of major war, just that it is not a near-term (i.e. within the next one or two decades) security problem at the local community level. Even if, decades hence, we face the prospect of foreign powers on western soil, all the difficulties outlined in scenario 1 apply to a foreign occupier — only much more magnified given their foreign status.

 

3. Mutant Zombie Bikers

Many in Peak Oil circles and other groups speak frequently of “Mutant Zombie Bikers” (MZBs), or the golden horde, which are composed of highly mobile independent groups of heavily-armed bandits scouring the countryside for riches or destruction. In this “Mad Max” scenario, individuals or even isolated communities do stand a reasonable chance of mounting adequate defences against MZBs. But are scores of roving MZB groups attacking peaceful communities a likely scenario following societal collapse? To state the obvious, with the advent of Peak Oil, or even during any societal collapse, fuel will become a very valuable commodity. As recently witnessed during the gas shortage in the U.S. Southeast, gasoline supplies dwindle to near zero within a matter days. In such a scenario it is unlikely that any sizeable group have the ability or the foresight to meet their logistical requirements over any significant length of time. While some isolated cases of MZBs may exist (e.g. gangs commandeering tanker trucks or well-fuelled military units going rogue), MZBs are unlikely to pose a significant threat to the average community. While it may be prudent to consider the possibility of an MZB encounter, it could prove a disastrous (or even fatal) waste of resources to focus on MZBs as the primary security threat while ignoring the key risk to post-Peak Oil communities.

It’s a new dawn in the North….Or it could be……

Hello Everyone,

I’m angry oh so very angry today. So I’ll start by apologising for the rant that’s to come. So what has awakened my ire ? Well its two articles in Fridays mirror. Not a newspaper i read a lot but at least it assumes its readers can actually read which is lot more than can be said for a few other red tops and broadsheets.

Here is the first article by Tristram Hunt if you want to read it. Its about the draft National Planning Policy Framework. Basically this Government’s economic policies haven’t worked so they are going to scrap planning policy and allow developments anywhere. This is absolutely ludicrous. In a country with 750,000 empty homes, Business park vacancy’s at 17% and over 1.6 Million square feet of retail space currently empty, we need to encourage people and business to use what we have rather than build more just so a few cronies in the building trade can get rich on the kickbacks. The Tories supervised the wholesale gutting and rape of our once thriving and bustling high street’s when they relaxed the rules on developing greenbelt land. They stood watch whilst the country disappeared under a sea of out of town developments and superstore’s. And by god we let them. We chose to abandon our own lives and the life of our towns for the fake glitz and glamour. Build it and they will come. And we went in droves….

We’ll here’s the second article that has so, as we say ’round here, Boiled my piss. 

Essentially its about how this and previous governments have abandoned the north. How once thriving communities lie broken and shattered, The former employers have left, the development agency’s are shut down. No jobs, no hope. But that’s not the part that got me mad. Oh no. I mean this set of bottom feeders in Westminster got me started but its not what has got me all riled up. It’s WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO US THAT HAS TURNED US INTO SUCH A BUNCH OF FECKLESS WANKERS..?

Don’t get me wrong i feel for the people of Middlesborough. I really do. Here in Doncaster we experienced the same thing ten years ago. But for me this is an opportunity to be had. Stop wingeing about what has been lost. Stop begging or expecting a funding hand out. Your government has abandoned you. GET OVER IT. Here’s a thought. Abandon them. The old way doesn’t work any more. The old economics don’t work any more. The old industries DONT WORK ANY MORE. It’s the wild wild west out there. A perfect place for people like us to rebuild the broken remains of what once was. To create a safe sustainable and stable future for us all. Why not try and rebuild things your self. So my call to the people of Middlesborough is this, Plant a garden. Gardening is a gate way drug. Once you start you cant stop. So take those vacant and abandoned plots of land and put them under the hoe. Squat and repair those empty house’s. When people ask you what you are doing invite them to help. Share the produce and build a community again. Learn to store the surplus produce or donate it to a local food bank.

Once you start to garden and grow food you become aware of other issue’s such as water quality and resource recycling. There’s plenty of help and information out there. Place’s such as this blog, videos on you tube and just the internet in general. Rebuild you industries and economy using different models. The old ways don’t work any more. The old models no longer apply.

So stop expecting someone to come along and solve your problems for you. Only you know what you need. Only you can provide the solutions. Be self reliant again. Plant a garden and see where it takes you.

1st ever HarFest: Alternative Harvest Festival takes place in Doncaster on Oct 2nd…

The PermaFuture project, along with the Living Arts Trust and PIXIEWORKS, are helping to create HarFest, an alternative harvest festival, at The Leopard on West St in Doncaster next Sunday – 2nd October.

Why not drop by and bring something for the ‘harvest table’? If you live in Donny why not help spread the word…

Click here to download a free PDF of the HarFest poster.