U-Vic Garden Struggles

*Editors Note* David Holgrem co-founder of the permaculture movement will be giving a talk at 5pm pst on U-Vic radio which you can find here

No Justice, No peace….!

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In Solidarity with Garden Struggles everywhere…

we at Punk Rock Permaculture E-zine support the Uvic students as they affirm their right to exercise their autonomy and creativity and practice regenerative design at the school that is dependent on their attendance.

For Immediate Release (3/26/2010)
Media Advisory

UVic Administration Bulldozes Students’ Garden Plots, Students Pledge to Continue Resistance

Friday March 26, 2010 – Coast Salish Territories – Victoria, B.C. At midnight March 26th campus administration and Saanich police at the University of Victoria used bulldozers to destroy the ten garden plots created by approximately 400 UVic students the day before. UVic student Mike-Jo was handcuffed and arrested for “assault by trespass” for standing by the garden plots to block their destruction. He was later released.

Yesterday hundreds of students who walked by the pits of mud that were plots of vegetables and native plants the day before expressed grief and anger at the gardens’ destruction. “Yesterday we proved that we as students can build a sustainable and positive relationship with the land,” said UVic student Joyce Lyell, “after fifteen years of having UVic administration turn down every one of our campus agriculture and garden proposals, we took action on our own. With the bulldozing of our gardens, it is now more obvious than ever that UVic values lawns over sustainable food, and values control of students over student choice and ingenuity”.

Yesterday students turned the former garden plots into a memorial site, erecting tombstones marked R.I.P Food Security and R.I.P. Student Voice, and a flag reading “Shame on UVic”. Approximately forty students then marched to the campus administrative building to demand an apology for the destruction of the gardens, but found that Campus Security and Saanich police had locked them out of the building. “I find it disgusting, and indicative of the administration’s cowardice, that they refuse concerned students entry into the building whose administrators claim to represent them,” said UVic student Erin Davis.

Several students attempted to gain access to the administrative building when Tom Smith, Executive Director of Facilities Management, said by UVic to have authorized the bulldozing of the gardens, was seen trying to sneak into the building via a back door. When these students held the door open to access the building after Smith unlocked the door, Smith violently shoved the student standing in the doorway. The student says she will bring this encounter into the public so that students will suffer no illusions that UVic administration exists to help students. “To deny students an opportunity to bring food security to our campus, to openly destroy our efforts, and to actually physically assault concerned students, sends a crystal clear message – that UVic opposes creativity, dialogue, and solutions, and that administrators have nothing but disrespect for the land, community, and student voices,” she said.

Yesterday afternoon at a large, public meeting students decided to start rebuilding the gardens at the same location in front of the UVic library, at noon on Wednesday, March 31. They encourage students and community members to bring shovels and seedlings to the event.

Media Contact
Matt Christie: 250-588-7924 or mrc@uvic.ca

I encourage anyone interested in Garden Struggles to watch the film below and show it to your friends….

Waterpod rocks!

photo credit: Mira Hunter

First, the Miss Rock Away Armada an now, the Waterpod, sustainable education and art barge design reaches new heights…

The water pod project is a retrofitted sustainable education barge full of art and enthusiasm for appropriate technology.  This collaborative and nomadic project traveled down the Hudson river doing education demos at stops along the way.   A new kind of out of box imaginative and artistic thinking related to permaculture, appropriate technology, new ways of living, is exactly what is need to get people inspired about transforming our civilization and the Waterpod fits the bill.  Check out the design and technology employed below.

Waterpod project image galleries: here

Growing Power going to Africa!

allenWill Allen: Growing power—and gaining influence in development circles, too.

From Grist.com

At the Clinton Global Initiative wrap-up on Friday, ex-President Clinton made waves in the sustainable-ag world by declaring Will Allen of Milwaukee/Chicago-based based Growing Powerhis “hero.”

The real news was buried in the press release, though. Toward the bottom of a listing of verbal “commitments” from NGOs and foundations, we findthis:

Growing Power commits to strengthen food security for school children and their care givers in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Growing Power will build a new model of local food systems to ensure adequate nutrition in the short-term and build a long-term foundation for competitive African human capital in the global market place.

So Growing Power will be bringing its community-based, low-input style of agriculture to Africa—under the aegis of a group most known for its top-down, Big Solution way of development work.

I got Erika Allen, daughter of Growing Power founder Will and leader of the group’s Chicago operations, on the phone Monday to talk about the announcement.

She told me that in the current phase, Growing Power is hoping to raise $2 million to get its Africa initiative started. (The Clinton Global Initiative doesn’t so much fund specific projects as match funders with projects.)

Allen described the proposed initiative as a “cultural exchange”—Growing Power reps would be learning about how food production currently works in South Africa and Zimbabwe; looking closely at local assets, resources, gaps, and needs. And food-system actors from those places would visit Growing Power sites in the United States—not just at the flagship enterprises in Milwaukee and Chicago, but also at partner projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.

From there, Growing Power and its partners in southern Africa would work on “modifying our production systems to local resources there.”

She stressed that what works in Milwaukee won’t necessarily fly in Zimbabwe. Here in the United States, Growing Power essentially siphons off some of the enormous food waste generated by a modern U.S. city and transforms it into fertile soil, which is then used to grow food. But African cities generate less compostable waste.

erikaErika Allen of Growing Power.“The challenge will be to find the systems that work in areas with less excess,” Allen told me. She cited Growing Power’s aquaculture setup, where waste from tilapia tanks is used to fertilize watercress, one example of a low-input system that could work in Africa.

“Overall, it’s about helping people use their resources to build soil and grow food,” she said.

In a single sentence, Allen had articulated a vision completely counter to the top-down model of development that has dominated U.S. policy since at least the Cold War—the agricultural model most famously promoted by the recently deceased Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug. In this model, imported agrichemicals and seed varieties provide the path to food security in the global south. And trade is venerated with an almost religious zeal—nations should only produce food insofar as they have a “comparative advantage” in a particular crop. “High-value” crops like fresh produce should be exported to the industrialized north, where consumers can pay top dollar for them; “low-value” staple crops should be imported when expedient.

Make no mistake—even though more than a billion people globally lack sufficient access to food and farmers in the global south operate in a state of permanent crisis, that model still dominates today. The“Millennium Villages” concept for Africa championed by Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs hinges on “new advances in science and technology.” To help boost food security, these showcase villages receive subsidies for imported fertilizers and seeds.

And the Gates Foundation, which has been organizing a massive attempt to transform food production in Africa,  has made a game attempt to be open to new models of ag development. But as Annie Stattuck, Raj Patel, and Eric Holt-Gimenez show in an excellent recent article in The Nation, the overall thrust has been in the direction of high-tech “solutions” to the continent’s food problems.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has recently taken a deep bow to the conventional ag-development gods, by putting agrichemical-industry stalwarts in charge of both agriculture negotiations at global trade talks and USDA-funded research. Analyzing the latter appointment, that of the Monsanto-affiliated Roger Beachy to lead the USDA’s new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Science blog recently wrote that:

Beachy’s interests in biotechnology and the developing world closely match those of his new boss, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research Rajiv Shah. They also fit with President Barack Obama’s desire to increase agricultural assistance to developing countries.

The Growing Power initiative points to a new direction. In place of costly and often ecologically and socially ruinous high-tech methods, the Allens present a vision of appropriate technology: techniques that communities can own and manage themselves, without the perpetual need to commit precious resources to toxic agrichemicals and patent-protected seeds.

As debate rages about how to “feed the world” amid population growth, climate change, and fossil-fuel depletion, projects like this one are critical. I’ll be watching it closely.

Strait from the teat (AKA Goat Fest)

Goat fest

Goat fest

Hey Gaia Punk here,

I have two amazing events to report back from this weekend.  First off, I have to say that I was very excited to witness what amounted to probably the biggest amassing of bike punks in US history friday night in Seattle WA during the Dead Baby Downhill after-party compounded by the fact that Seattle was also hosting the North American Bike Polo Championship that same weekend (congrats to Seattle for winning another tourney!  Good luck at the worlds in Philly)!  After the Dead baby after party a couple of friends and I drove to the foothills of Jacksonville, OR for the first annual Strait from the Teat Fest (aka Goat Fest) at the Boone’s Farm.  This festival was a punk and dance festival hosted by an organic permaculture farm and goat dairy.  There were lots of wonderful bands including, the Hail Seizures, Razzamatazz, RVIVR, Mutoid Men, and many more who played on a wooden stage in the midst of a beautiful oak grove under a massive moon.  The hosts were extremely gracious and I think everyone had an amazing time. Below is a interview I did with Mookie about the Boone’s Farm and history of Strait From the Teat Fest.

mookie milking a goat

mookie milking a goat

Gaia Punk: What is the history of the Boone’s Farm and how many folks are involved?

Mookie: I had been doing sustainable agriculture for a few years when I came to this area 8 years ago with the intention of starting a agricultural education center that would promote the next generation of farmers and radicals.  This was the goal around which the Boone’s Farm was founded.  Right now we have 8 people living here, 3 full timers working with the organic goat dairy,  2 working with the veggie farm, and 3 half time interns who help all around and also work on political campaigns.  Besides our growing commercial operation we have a revolutionary program called Turning Tables in which we grow and 1 acre of veggies that we give away at no cost to families in need to help ensure that everyone in our community has access to wholesome organic produce.

Gaia Punk: That fits perfectly with the permaculture ethic of “fair share” or returning the surplus to your community and to the earth.

Mookie: Yes, exactly.

Gaia Punk: How did Strait From the Teat (aka goat fest) evolve and where do you see it going?

Mookie: A lot of us here at the farm have punk and or DIY influences.  Farming of course can be very DIY.  Eventually folks learned of our farm as a inviting punk friendly space and it became a way point for various band and musicians on tour.  It was from these relationships and friendships that the idea for Strait from the Teat as a yearly festival arose.  This festival is a place for people to speak out against the oppressive systems that we don’t want, but most importantly a space for folks to see and realize community in action.  During the festival a natural skill share organically emerged and in the future we hope to bring  even more educational aspects for the benefit of everyone attending.  It seems obvious to me that there can be no resistance without food and no celebration without music.

Gaia Punk: What permaculture techniques and or principals do you employ at the Boone’s Farm?

Mookie: Well water management is critical and recently we just finished a key line dam that after this years rainy season will provide ample amounts of water for the farm during the summer.  We also employ many permaculture practices in our produce production.  Two principals that really stick out for me on the farm are planned redundancy and on site resourcing.   Something that we don’t do is employ hierarchies such as the teacher/student dichotomy because as far as I’m concerned we are all learning and sharing from one another.

Gaia Punk: Do you think permaculture is being popularized by it’s interactions with various sub cultures, and if so will it have lasting effects?

Mookie: I feel permaculture is just the labeling of a ethic that could easily be describe as sanity.  I feel permaculture as an idea will eventually be absorbed into the mainstream and hopefully become accepted and commonplace.  I feel it is the destiny of the term permaculture itself to disappear.  I think it is very important that permaculture can’t remain as something to be bought or sold but must become knowledge that is freely shared.  This is what we’re working for at the Boone’s Farm

Gaia Punk: I agree completely.  Thanks so much Mookie I’ve had a incredible time listening to all the great bands at Strait from the Teat and learned a whole lot too.   I hope you know you got lots of allies out there.

Mookie: Oh, I know it.  Thanks to you too, have fun and keep up the great work.

Just for fun…

I always wanted to list some of the interesting things that could go before the word punk that I could find or think of so here goes: permaculture punk, bio punk, bike punk, steam punk, cyber punk, eco punk, dance punk, krunk punk, space punk, color punk, art punk, sly punk, blog punk, skate punk, surf punk, snow punk, desert punk, forest punk, loser punk, lazer punk, rave punk, daft punk mutant punk, digital punk, primativist punk, green anarcho punk, vegie punk, folk punk, garden punk, gaia punk, flower punk, and spunk punk!

add more by commenting if you think up good ones…

so far added in comments have been gypsy punk, and high frequency punk