Spring Beekeeping Workshop

Spring Beekeeping Workshop
Demonstration Hive

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Schitaake Mushroom Planting Day Party

We have 12 acres of land here, so you'd think we would have lots and lots of room for crops, right? Actually, not as much as you would think. We may have only about one acre of open, relatively level ground for growing food.  The rest of our land is quite rugged and rocky, very steep in places or is wetland, ponds or streams.  It is really beautiful and diverse and is home to countless bird species and all kinds of wild animals including bear, coyote, fox, and many smaller mammals too.

Trying to obtain a yield from the wooded parts of our land is really fun and interesting.  There are obvious things to harvest e.g. firewood and building lumber and tree fruits such as hickories and acorns. 

Under the trees is the perfect habitat for logs impregnated with mushroom spores so we are trying our hand at Shitaakes.  We have already spread Winecap mushroom spores in beds of compost covered with wood chips under our fruit trees. That species will take more sun exposure than the Schitaakes.

To pass on the knowledge about this fun "farming" activity, we invited a few of our closest and earthiest friends over on a Sunday morning recently to help us plug the fresh cut oak logs with the mushroom spore plugs.  Of course, it was the coldest morning to date at about 20 degrees so we made a makeshift firepit on the driveway with cinder blocks.  The fire really threw off a lot of heat and kept everyone comfortable, along with hot tea and coffee from a never-ending pot.

The first task is to drill small holes into the logs in a uniform diamond pattern around the circumference  of each log.  Then we pounded the plugs into these small holes with rubber mallets.  The last task is to seal the plugs over with melted wax painted on with small paint brushes.  The fire came in handy to keep the wax melted - since it was so cold out, the wax only stayed melted for a few minutes at a time.

When all the logs were done, they were set out under trees in a very moist area as close to the house as possible.  It will be important to keep an eye on them from next spring on to see if they start to "flush" the mushrooms.  When the mushrooms emerge, they must be harvested as quickly as possible otherwise flies or slugs will infest and ruin them.

We've been told that once the logs start producing, they may continue, on and off, for a few months, and then again in subsequent years.  That would be really lovely!  Either way, though, we plan to do more next year and keep a continuous supply coming.  We can sell them to restaurants, at farmers' markets or preserve them by drying or freezing, for our own use.

All intrepid helpers enjoyed a sumptuous pot luck brunch afterwards and took home a couple of logs to try at their homes.

I'll be sure to post pictures next year when our logs start producing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Farmers Occupy Wall Street

My choices are now predicated on 2 beliefs:
1. The planet can no longer sustain a consumptive lifestyle that has been perpetrated during the industrial era, advertising agencies, and the notion of a continuously, and forever, growing economy with disregard for the finite nature of natural resources, on which that growing economy is based.
2. We can mimic nature, because we are part of it. By doing so, we can design a new “old” way of living that will sustain itself and be healthier and everlasting.
In these beliefs I have, of course, been influenced by many great thinkers who have written on many subjects stemming from these core ideas. There are also many writers and thinkers who have used their art or science to demonstrate what is wrong. There are many who are demonstrating how we can try to put things right.

To join people who are demonstrating publicly, in the streets, I journeyed to New York City on Sunday, December 11, 2011, with my friend, Jennifer, to be part of "Farmers' March Occupy Wall Street". This rally of several hundred people gathered at La Plaza Cultural at 9th Street and Avenue B, a lovely community garden space in a Lower East Side area with a lot of visible gardens on many blocks. After 2 hours of speeches by prominent activists in the national farming and Permaculture movements, we formed into a broad column to walk to Zuccoti Park at Wall Street.

Speakers at the event included Karen Washington, Founder of City Farms Market and board member at NYC based organization, Just Food; Jim Gerritsen, a Maine organic farmer and lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto and was named one of 25 World Visionaries by Utne Reader in 2011; Severine von Tscharner Fleming, food advocate and producer of the film "Green Horns" profiling young farmer entrepreneurs; Jalal Sabur, Founding member of the Freedom Food Alliance, an alliance of black urban comunities with black rural farmers; Mike Callicrate, Colorado rancher, entrepreneur and rural political activist; Andrew Faust, Permaculture expert and educator.

What struck me vividly was the cross section of generations at this event - the aging baby boomers and older generations, and many young people from all walks of life. The younger people will have to carry the torch for food security and social justice now. It won't be an easy task but I am confident, after seeing the vitality and enthusiasm of those present at this event, that it will happen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

No Frost Yet

We are 3 weeks past our usual first frost date here in the northwest hills of Connecticut. The garden is slowing down and we're pulling out some plants that have obviously stopped growing and producing. We are protecting others with makeshift cold frames made with hay bales. I will be posting pictures of those later.

Here is a nice picture of some of yesterday's harvest, taken by Suzanne Elliott.

Friday, August 26, 2011


The following information is being circulated by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to help you prepare for the coming hurricane expected to hit our state on Sunday morning. Even if you are not an agricultural producer, this is , helpful. If you have a garden, it would be a good idea to harvest as much as you can of sensitive crops that may be damaged by heavy rain, or provide protection for them. Hoops or cold frames should be securely anchored. If you have greenhouses and the plastic sides are rolled up, unroll the plastic and anchor securely to the ground and bury the edge of the plastic so wind cannot get underneath and whip the plastic off your greenhouse.

Also, make sure you have adequate supplies of drinking water on hand. Emergency personel recommend 1 gallon of water per person per day. If power goes out, we don't know how long it will be for, so over compensate!

From Agricultural Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky: An important message regarding Hurricane Irene

Dear Connecticut Agricultural Producer:

The latest report from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (http://www.ct.gov/demhs), issued at 8:15 a.m. today (Friday), indicates that Hurricane Irene is expected to arrive in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, area around 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning as a strong Category I hurricane.

It is imperative you take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, family, farm, and livestock.

The first effects from Irene are expected to begin Saturday afternoon with light rain, which is expected to become heavy at times by midnight. Heavy rain is expected to continue from midnight on Saturday through the passage of the center of Irene late Sunday morning (especially in Western Connecticut). Tropical storm force winds are expected to enter the state before daybreak on Sunday and hurricane force winds are expected by mid morning on Sunday.

Information has been posted on the Connecticut Department of Agriculture's website, www.ctgrown.gov, to help you prepare your farm for the storm. Additional information from Governor Malloy, available at www.ct.gov/Irene, can help you prepare your home and family.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture will be collecting information about storm-related damage to farms in the state. If you incur damage to your livestock, crops, equipment, or buildings, please fill out and return the attached form to us as soon as possible.

Please return the forms via one of the following methods:

Email: ctdeptag@ct.gov
Fax: 860-713-2516
USPS: CT Department of Agriculture Marketing Department, 165 Capitol Avenue, Room 129, Hartford, CT 06106.

This information will be used to prepare damage reports for Governor Malloy and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection if needed. It also may be used to seek federal assistance if the extent of the damage warrants. Therefore it is very important that we receive information that is as accurate and complete as possible as soon as possible.

Thank you for your assistance. Please stay safe and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.


Steven K. Reviczky


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beautiful native beetle

The photograph accompanying this post is of the brown prionid, Orthosoma brunneum. The insect was given to me by a friend who was concerned that it may be a nasty pest beetle such as the emerald ash borer. However, the latter is a very small insect and is literally emerald green in color. This insect is about 4cm in length! and red/brown. It is an awesome-looking creature and fearsome in appearance although it is a native species of Connecticut and a beneficial insect which lives around wet, rotting wood. According to Katherine Dugas, an entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, Connecticut, the larvae of this insect "feed on the rotting wood, usually fallen logs and tree stumps. As adults they will emerge to mate and then disperse to find a new feeding site for their larvae. They are one of our natives that helps with the natural composting process".

As a soil scientist and being that I'm fascinated by anything to do with the soil-food-web, I'm thrilled to have found out about this shy insect which I've never seen before, despite having worked in the woods for 30 years as a soil scientist and have poked around fallen logs and tree stumps looking for stuff.

This individual brown prionid is recovering (hopefully) from stress at the moment. It came to me in a sealed plastic container with no air holes and was obviously stressed. The current heat couldn't have been pleasant for this insect that usually lives in damp, cool soil conditions. At the suggestion of Ms. Dugas, I have moved the insect to a larger, glass, container with a wet paper towel and a small piece of banana. I see that he/she is alive and appears to be interested in the banana. I am hoping it isn't too late for this lovely beetle and it will revive enough for me to release it in my woods soon. Unfortunately, it has lost one of its posterior legs but I think it could survive without it.

For more information on this insect,or others, Ms. Dugas recommends the website: http://bugguide.net/node/view/5031.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

From "Inversnaid" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

What would the world be
once bereft
of wet and of wildness?

Let them be left
wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds
and the wildness yet.

NOW is the time.....don't wait

Now is the time we must all pull together to re-learn what our parents and grandparents know, or knew, about living in community. Communities are where people live among each other in a helpful way, knowing support is there from friends and neighbors. Community is also when friends and neighbors have the knowledge and skills to provide for the WHOLE COMMUNITY'S essential needs.

Who reading this can say truthfully they can provide their own food, water, shelter, clothing etc. without recourse to shops, internet, cars, etc? Probably none of us, really. And, I want to say that we do not each of us have to be able to do all of that on our own. What we do need, is to build resilient communities and neighborhoods where those things can be provided by the whole.

To become more resilient and self-reliant, communities move away from dependency on all our needs coming from far away, moved by petroleum, to our homes wired to a grid and surrounded by landscaping designed to be neat and conforming, but sterile with nothing in it to eat or build with and which requires expensive and damaging chemicals and machines to maintain.

That is why I'm sponsoring and leading a Transition Town Initiating Committee in my town of Bethlehem, CT. tonight. A wonderful movie, "In Transition" can be viewed on the Transition Town Network website www.transitiontown.org. Look under Resources and then Publications to find the 45 minute movie that explains what Transition is all about and why we need to do it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cold, Wet Spring - Mmm..Soup!

I learned from noted chef, Deborah Madison, how to make a really rich Wild Mushroom Stock from her wonderful book, "The Greens Cook Book" (Bantam Books 1987). This is a useful stock when you want a really dense tasting mushroom soup that is better than average. Have you noticed that a lot of mushroom soup recipes end up tasting weak and in need of more flavor? That won't happen when you use Deborah Madison's stock recipe for a soup base.

This being Connecticut, and this being May, any weather can befall us. True to style for some years (it seems like it's every other year) we are having a typical, cold, wet spring. Days and days of endless cool temperatures of 50 degrees or less, cold nights in the 30's or 40's, grey skies, and rain, rain, and more rain - that's what we are having. Needless to say our hot weather annual vegetables - tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. are sitting in their pots inside a cosy (unheated but warmish) greenhouse waiting for some sun to kick them into gear.

However, all is not lost because we have tons and tons of lovely overwintered hardy vegetables. Some are real perennials, like lovage, and herbs such as sage, thyme and bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica). And many others act like perennials the way we grow them in covered cold frames or unheated greenhouses. So, except for the mushrooms, I had everything on hand for this lovely soup stock - with a couple of substitutions.

Here is the recipe, and again, credits are to Deborah Madison for the inspiration:

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (I like to leave the onion skins on if they're clean, it makes a nice dark broth)
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 medium carrots (from the cold frame), cleaned and chopped
2 celery stalks (I substituted the perennial lovage which is already big in my garden and tastes like celery)
1/2 cup leek greens (I mixed the leek greens with greens from oversized scallions)
4-6 thyme branches (outside kitchen door)
2 bay leaves (I used my own bayberry leaves which are similar to the tropical bay leaf and is a hardy native shrub here in the northeast)
6 branches of parsley (from the cold frame)
3 sage leaves (in the herb bed outside my kitchen)
2 cloves garlic, smashed (from last year's harvest)
1 teaspoon salt
9 cups cold water

Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup of hot water and set aside. Prepare all the other vegetables and herbs. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, add the vegetables and herbs and the salt. Cook over medium to high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Next add the soaking mushrooms with the liquid and the 9 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve.

You can use the stock just as it is at this point or you can return it to the pan and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid and intensify the flavors.

Then, use as the base for your favorite mushroom soup. Let me know how you like it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

See upcoming classes

CONTAINER GARDENING is coming up on Saturday, June 11, 2011 from 9:30am - 12:30pm and RAISED BED and INTENSIVE GARDENING on June 18, 2011, from 9:30am - 12:30pm.

For more information and registration visit www.connsoil.com.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Registration for All Workshops

For all workshops being held by the Center For Sustainable Living, go to www.connsoil.com, click on Registration along the menu bar and download a registration form.

For information about workshops, click on Educational Events to read the details and for workshop fees.

Useful Green Apps for your iPhone

I get a warm fuzzy feeling when one of my children (grown up children) call with information or questions about green living or sustainability. A few weeks ago my son called and asked if I would come to his house this summer to give a presentation on sustainability to 8-10 of his friends! Knock me down with a feather!

I must be getting through to him!

Today, my daughter called and offered these phone apps she found that she wants to share with others:

GOOD GUIDE APP helps you "find safe, healthy and sustainable products while you shop. Scan the barcode of the product and immediately see detailed ratings for health, environmental and social responsibility for over 100,000 products.

LOCAVORE FOR IPHONE lets you find out what's fresh and in season for your location, including restaurants that feature these products.

SEAFOOD WATCH APP from the Monterey Bay Aquarium helps you to choose seafood that's not over-harvested or harvested in a way that causes habitat destruction, or is farmed in a way that is polluting or unhealthy.

IRECYCLE is a guide to local resources including recycling centers, how to recycle, pollution prevention and general information on how to protect the environment.

All these apps are free and very useful for people on the go.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Workshops Scheduled

The following workshops have been scheduled at the Center for Sustainable Living in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Contact information and registration form is available at www.connsoil.com.

Saturday, 14 May 2011, CLOSING THE LOOP WITH WATERLESS TOILETS, with Giovanni Ciarlo

Saturday, 21 May 2011, BUILDING AND USING A TOP BAR BEEHIVE, with Al Avitabile and
Stuart Rabinowitz

Saturday, 11 June 2011, CONTAINER GARDENING, with Cynthia and Stuart Rabinowitz

Saturday, 18 June 2011, RAISED BED AND INTENSIVE GARDENING, with Cynthia and Stuart

Saturday, 30 July and Sunday, 31 July, 2011, EARTH OVEN WORKSHOP, with Stuart
Rabinowitz and Larry Hunt

Saturday, 20 August, 2011, COMPOSTING, with Cynthia and Stuart Rabinowitz

Saturday, 27, August, 2011, COLD FRAMES, with Cynthia and Stuart Rabinowitz

Saturday, 24 September and Sunday, 25 September, 2011, BUILDING AND USING A ROOT CELLAR, with Cynthia and Stuart Rabinowitz

Saturday, 12 November, 2011, SEED STARTING, with Cynthia and Stuart Rabinowitz

Saturday, 28 January, 2011, GROWING AND COOKING WITH SPROUTED GRAINS, with Cynthia
and Stuart Rabinowitz

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Upcoming Workshops at The Center For Sustainable Living


Saturday, 9 April 2011, 9:30am - 4:00pm

At the Center for Sustainable Living, 90 Cabbage Lane, Bethlehem, CT. 06751

Course Fee - $75 includes beverages, lunch and snacks.

Pre-registration is required. Please print out a registration form at www.connsoil.com

In this class you will learn what soil is, how it forms and what it is composed of. Learn about soil minerals, organic matter and chemical and physical characteristics.
You will gain an understanding of the soil food web ecosystem and its ability to sustain life on earth.

We will also explore soil classification using soil survey information and topographic maps to assess soil on your own property.

You will learn what steps to take to improve your soil in your home garden to enhance nutrition, and learn how to make compost and vermicompost.

The class will combine lecture and outdoor demonstrations and exploration.

I will be teaching this class. For me, soils are fundamental to everything else we may want to learn about the environment and growing things. I have been a consulting soil scientist and environmental horticulturist for 31 years and I am also a Permaculture Design Consultant.


Saturday,May 14, 2011, 9:00AM - 4:00PM at the Center For Sustainable Living. The instructor for this class is Giovanni Ciarlo, New Earth Consulting: Sustainability Through Art, Ecology, and Social Responsibility. The course fee is $95.00.

This workshop will focus on the need for changing society's approach to sanitation in the home environment using waterless toilets. We will look at the urgent situation affecting drinking water on the planet, the history of the "crapper" (flush toilet), some design options for building and using "dry" toilets, the disposal and use of human waste materials, regulations affecting dry toilet use, and a hands-on construction of a model dry toilet.

Giovanni has researched, built and used dry toilets all his life. He designed and built one in his ecovillage home in Mexico (www.huehuecoyotl.net) which he and his family have been using for the past 30 years, making design improvements often. He has also designed communal dry toilets and backwoods alternatives that do not contaminate the soil but, rather, improve the soil. Giovannis is President of the Board of The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). He is a faculty member in the MA program in Sustainable Businesses and Communities at Goddard College, VT. and the Open University of Catalunya, Spain. He is a consultant in sustainable settlement design for small villages and intentional communities.


Saturday, 21 May 2011, 9:00AM - 4:00PM at The Center for Sustainable Living. The course fee is $75 plus $40 for those who wish to make and take home a hive of their own. You may attend the workshop without building your own hive, if you wish.
Instructors for this class are Stuart Rabinowitz,of the Center for Sustainable Living, and Alphonse Avitabile, retired professor of zoology (University of Connecticut) and well-known bee researcher and author. Stuart will demonstrate building the hive and assist anyone who wishes to construct one, on the day. Al will teach the important need-to-know information about beekeeping, tailored to the use of this particular kind of hive.

PRE-REGISTRATION is required for all of these classes. A registration form is available at www.connsoil.com.

I hope to see lots of you at these interesting events.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kent Energy Summit

On February 26, 2011, the Kent Energy Task Force will be holding its annual energy summit. This event is not just about energy but covers a wide range of "green" topics and sustainable living ideas.

Here is a link to the website for more information http://www.kentedrive.org/ESummit.html.

I will be on a panel in the afternoon with Landscape Architect, Jane Didona, Garden Photographer, Writer and Educator, Karen Bussolini, and Sean Hayden, a fellow soil scientist from the Northwest Conservation District. We will be discussing ways to improve your home landscape to be more environmentally friendly and the need to protect and improve our soil with home scale techniques such as composting.

Hope to see you there. If you come, please come up and introduce yourself to me after the panel discussion!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Today I met Karin at a business networking breakfast at an upscale local hotel. Because everyone had to introduce themselves, she learned what I do for a living - working with the environment and land management, and working for secure local communities through Permaculture and Transition.

In talking later she asked an interesting question. She and her friends, being so appalled at the way things are going in the world - climate change, food security, Monsanto's genetically engineered seeds - those are a few of the worries. She told me how her friends feel possibly the only way to survive it all is to go off to a remote rural place and homestead. She asked me what I thought about that.

What I think about that is - it is most definitely not the answer for most people!

If you already have the skills to raise and preserve all your own food, build an eco-friendly house, provide all of your own fuel for heat and energy to run your electric equipment, make your own clothes, home school your children, and all the other necessities, while earning some cash as well so that you can buy insurance, pay taxes and buy things you cannot make, then by all means, "go back to the land".

Most people in these times do not know how to do even the most basic of life-support tasks and the idea of suddenly doing it all would be out of the question. Most back-to-the-landers of previous times, say the 1960's, failed and returned to cities after grueling experiments in self-sufficiency.

Rather than following that path, there is a better way for those not-yet schooled in these rural skills. Living in sub-urban or urban centers provide a great deal of opportunity for those wishing to live more sustainably in resilient communities, leaving a small carbon footprint and eating mostly organic food.

Permaculture principles are being applied to city neighborhoods. People are forming well-organized groups to transition to resilient communities. In fact, transition has become international through the Transition Town Movement. This movement began in the UK, founded by Rob Hopkins,using the principles of Permaculture applied beyond the homestead, and has spread throughout the world. TT is now a recognized system for groups of people to address their own needs while waiting for their governments to finally acknowledge the severity of the problems the world is facing. But there is no time to wait so we are taking matters into our own hands.

All over, people are clamoring to learn how to become self-sufficient - if not completely independent on their own, then together with their neighbors. After all, as my Permaculture teacher, Andrew Faust, said, there is no point being self-sufficient if all around you people are struggling to survive. (I am paraphrasing). People are starting to struggle and will struggle more as time passes because of economics and the environment.

This is an opportunity for us all to learn how to rebuild our own local economies, food production systems and other systems we need to get back to healthy, meaningful lives.

To find out more about the Transition Town Movement, go on line to their website and navigate through to find the wonderful 45 minute long movie which will inspire you to start small in your own communities, with your neighbors, and build the lives we all crave so much.

In Connecticut, a Transition Town training will be held at the end of March in New Haven. This training will help learn the proven methods of community organizing the TT way and how to start and develop a movement in your own community. Trainings are being scheduled all over the country as well.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Uncharted Territory: An Expansive Approach to Environmental Landscape Design

I was fortunate to attend a symposium at Connecticut College on January 20 and 21, 2011. In it's 22nd year, "Uncharted Territory" is a wonderful opportunity to hear top speakers and learn cutting edge approaches to land restoration and ecological landscape design. This program is co-sponsored by Connecticut College Arboretum and New Directions in the American Landscape, a non-profit educational organization founded by Larry Weaner, landscape designer.

The first speaker, Dr. Tom Webb, Professor Emeritus at Brown University, spoke about the Hypsithermal Interval, a climatic period which occurred eight thousand years ago and was characterized by increasing temperatures and decreased rainfall, and other climatic changes over the last 21,000 years. His presentation showed how the climatic changes affected the distribution of plant species in North America. Using fossil evidence and pollen analysis, scientists are understanding these changes in ways that have opportunities for those of us trying to understand the changes we are facing in this era of warming climate. Dr. Webb showed us how to access information on line which will help us in plant selection in our current warming trend.

Climate change will not be uniform around the world but certain trends are predictable. For instance, rising sea levels. During the last, ice age, for example, seawater levels dropped 120 meters. That water was locked into ice sheets and is now being released back into the sea.

Warmer winters accompanied by drier summers (longer droughts) will lead to changes in streamflow. Water experts in the US are seriously worried about water levels in streams and rivers of all sizes. Increased winter precipitation cannot completely compensate for the expected longer summer drought periods.

Also, warmer winters will affect plant growth and flowering times. Apples do best with forty days below 45 degrees F. In areas of moderate winters, even a small change in length of winter, may affect agricultural crops. Warmer temperatures will benefit invasive species such as Kudzu vine which is gobbling up land areas in the SE USA and making its way north with the warming trend.

Additionally, flowering time of plants is critical to the survival of animal species which depend on plants for their life cycles. Many insects have evolved to synchronize their egg hatching with flowering of specific plant species.

For those of us involved in ecological landscape design or food production, we need resources to help us choose plant species that will be tolerant of the climatic changes we are undergoing.

Here are some useful websites to explore for weather and climate data and climate impact information: (provided by Dr. Thompson Webb III, Brown University)

1.NASA GISS site for Global Maps and Graphs

2. NASA Earth Observatory
(site with up-to-date and archived photos for global changes)

3. Daily Weather with Climate Information

4. Climate At a Glance, NOAA: (click on Cities Link)
can see maps and graphs of recent to long-term changes in temperature and precipitation

5. Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University

Websites Showing Climate Impacts for Plants
Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment

6. http://www.northeastclimateimpacts.org/

7. Climate Change Atlas of the US Forest Service

8. Maps of Changes in Distribution of Plant Taxa since the Last Glacial Maximum 21,000 years ago: in Google, type NOAA Pollen Viewer or go to

These websites are fascinating and a little scary too. We need this information, however, to plan for what is coming - no, what is already here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Valuable Insights from Dr. John Todd

I have recently returned from England where I visited family mainly in Leeds, a huge urban center in the North. I discovered that the British National Permaculture Center is located in Leeds. That was a surprise since I don't think of Leeds as particularly progressive on the environmental front. Although, Leeds does have lots of nice green space throughout the city and many community gardens, known as allotments, which date from WW2 when growing food was a life line for a wartime population on a severe food rationing system.

Too bad for me that the UK pretty much closes down between Christmas and New Year so the Permaculture Center was shut too. I will have to make sure to visit again at a better time and then I'll be able to report to you on what's going on there.

Today, I want to share with you all some ideas put forward by Dr. John Todd. Dr. Todd won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge in 2008. He is a biologist specializing in the field of ecological design. He may be most well-known for his work in designing ecologically engineered technologies particularly for handling industrial and household waste the way nature would do it. His design has become known as a living-machine and it seems to me that we should have adopted this technology right away when it became available in (I believe) the 1970's. Here, then, are some of his comments:

1. the living world is the matrix for all design.
2. design should follow, not oppose, the laws of life.
3. biological equity must determine design
4. design must reflect bioregionality.
5. projects should be based on renewable energy sources.
6. design should be sustainable through the integration of living systems.
7. design should be coevolutionary with the natural world.
8. building and design should help heal the planet.
9. design should follow a sacred ecology.

Some websites for reading more about Dr. Todd's life and work are:


I'm sure there are many more resources on this remarkable man and his work. Enjoy.