Landscape Architecture and the Developing World

New York City's Central Park

Landscape architecture has has a lot to offer the developing world, such as adapting to climate change.

 

In this article about landscape architecture and the developing world for Sourceable.net, I took a look at what landscape architecture can do for the developing world. In particular,  landscape architects can address climate change, urbanization, and population growth. These factors combine for a certain synergy, making each one more destructive to the landscapes that people need.

More information about this topic here, here, and here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Learning to Build A Rocket Mass Stove

Last Sunday, February 9, a couple dozen people gathered in a cold barn outside Erie, Colorado, to continue work on a rocket mass stove. Learning to build a rocket mass stove is easy, but there are techniques that are helpful.

Here’s a good explanation of the concept:

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If you still don’t get it, here’s the gist: you build a small, hot-burning fire with small pieces of wood. The design of the rocket-mass stove encourages a strong draft, which gets the wood burning vigorously. The hot gases from combustion are drawn through the slightly pitched “chimney,” which transfers its heat to the surrounding cob bench. Cob is a simple earth mixture of clay and sand that is ideal for thermal mass for a cob bench. Building with cob is cheap, simple, and highly labor intensive.

Mike and Avery, who led the workshop, are permaculturalists and natural builders. A few weeks ago, they led a workshop to build the “firebox” and “flue” parts of the heater. Those tasks are more complex, but definitely manageable. They based the design on the book “Rocket Mass Heaters: Superefficient Woodstoves You Can Build” by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson.

people stomping cob, then learning to build a rocket mass stove

Stomping cob is energy intensive, so gather as many people as you can.

 

 

 

firebox of rocket mass heater

Here’s where you build a fire in a rocket mass heater.

 

placing cob on the heat tubes

This is about 35′ of heat tubes, so the heat from the gases can migrate into the cooler cob.

Building with cob is hard work, but very low cost, nontoxic, and flexible with design.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

What Does Permaculture Offer To Cities and Suburbs?

Maybe it seems obvious, but most of us now live in an urban world. We can’t just walk out the back door and be in the wilderness, or even have a substantial private space. But we can improve the spaces we have with plants, and we’ll be more successful at that by using permaculture. What does permaculture offer to cities and suburbs?

Well, besides the health benefits we get from plants, we can grow plenty of food and repair our cities. The suburbs, with their larger lots, offer a huge opportunity to turn lawns into gardens.

The Permaculture Neighborhood Center

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Mark Lakeman on Urban Permaculture: City Repair, Re-patterning the Grid, Solar Cat Palace

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Cultivating A Suburban Foodshed

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Suburban Permaculture w/ Janet Barocco and Richard Heinberg

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These are hot topics right now, though the concepts are not. City Farmer got rolling in 1978. And Mollison and Holmgren were developing permaculture concepts in the early 1970s.

screen shot of City Farmer News; What Does Permaculture Offer To Cities and Suburbs?

City Farmer News has been a boots-on-the-ground resource for urban farmers since 1978.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

The Regenerative Capacity of Permaculture

What’s the potential of permaculture to repair damaged land? Permaculturalist Geoff Lawton says, “You can fix all the world’s problems in a garden.” He worked on a small parcel in Jordan, first creating a swale for water catchment, then planting a variety of trees, building irrigation, and mulching heavily. Within a few months the figs were producing. This demonstrates the regenerative capacity of permaculture. Geoff Lawton’s site is here.

Permaculture: Greening the Desert

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Here are some other examples of people able to make desert land productive:

Qatar’s Plans to Turn the Desert Green Will Leave You Astonished

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Growing Forests in the Desert

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More wildly successful examples of regenerative approaches here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Sites Worth A Look: Sourceable, City Farmer News, The Automatic Earth

It’s tough to keep up with all the excellent sites out there, but these are sites worth a look: Sourceable, City Farmer News, The Automatic Earth. Loads of interesting info in each. And the first video features a German town that has pursued energy independence.

sourceable.net covers architecture, building, construction, engineering

sourceable.net is an australian web site that covers architecture, urban planning, construction, design, and engineering.

 

City Farmer News

City Farmer News has been around since the late 1970s, and online since the early 1990s.

 

If you're interested in environmental issues as they relate to global finance and predictions of collapse, check it out.

The Automatic Earth covers finance, environment, and economic collapse.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

A Self-Sufficient Community in Colombia

Gaviotas, Colombia is a self-sustaining community

Gaviotas, Colombia is a sustainable community created in a “tropical desert.”

 

About 40 years ago a man decided to create a self-sufficient community in Colombia. Here’s a bit of the story the village of Gaviotas, which makes use of:

  • homegrown renewable technologies
  • bioclimatic architecture
  • turning a desert into a forest.

Sounds a lot like permaculture principles.

 

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Whole Tree Structures by Roald Gundersen

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Architect and builder Roald Gundersen builds what he calls “whole tree structures,” including homes and commercial buildings. Lately he and his team have been testing the design properties of branched columns at the Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Building A Backyard Greenhouse with the Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Group

backyard greenhouse, Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Group

The plastic went on quickly, then we attached it with wiggle wire. 

On October 12, a group of 10 or so intrepid plant geeks got this greenhouse framework enclosed! Building A Backyard Greenhouse with the Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Group

Attaching the plastic to the frame was “wiggle wire,” which I’d never seen before. Clever idea:

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What a fun project!

Great News About Energy and Environmental Restoration

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From an environmental standpoint, there’s plenty to be concerned about. But there’s also great news about energy and environmental restoration. Filmmaker John Liu’s “Green Gold” shows the remarkable restoration of degraded areas in China and Ethiopia. The speed with which degraded landscapes can be stabilized then improved is surprising.

 

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Amory Lovins’ article from August 15 debunks critical accounts of Germany’s success in using renewable energy. Germany produced nearly 25% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2012. Great to learn what works.