Grow Food With Shelfponics

screenhunter_01-feb.-17-17.29Shelfponics is a combination of vertical farming and hydroponics. The idea comes from the GardenPool project in Arizona, but Shelfponics does not need a warm climate. Trays and racks could be set-up anywhere inside where sunlight reaches.

Source: GardenPool Blog

So I was looking at an unused corner of the Garden Pool when I had an idea: vertical growing. It was a small area with about 78″ of vertical height, perfect for vertical growing. We generally used the corner to store unused buckets, aquariums, or small starter plants in soil.

The next task was to find a simple solution for vertical growing. What was found was a bookshelf that was used to store tools and miscellaneous GP stuff. I took down the bookshelf and installed a simple plywood shelf elsewhere to take its place. While examining the bookshelf I noticed that the shelves could be snapped-in upside down. This would make a perfect tray Ebb & Flow system. Over the next 9 months we would experiment with and perfect what we have coined shelfponics.

West Island To Get Dedicated Rail Line

Perhaps with this new rail service, the West Island will be more like Philadelphia and less like Los Angeles.

Source: The Suburban

Quebec Transport Minister Sam Hamad announced help is on the way for Montreal’s beleaguered West Island commuters…the Cherest government supports the plan to build a dedicated track line for the West Island’s commuter train service. Once preliminary plans for the new system are completed, transit authorities believe the system could be on track by 2014…With up to 86 two-way circuits available per day, authorities believe the AMT’s service will be increased from 3.6 million to more than 9 million rides per year.

Bee Workshop @ Coop Maison Vert

Bees are our collective “canary in the coalmine”. When they start to falter and die off, the global food system is under threat.

honey-beeNow and then, it’s in the news : chemicals, varroa, other diseases until recently unknown (as well as the sometimes violent methods of industrial beekeeping) are threatening the bees’ very survival. But bees play a key role in ensuring the (re)production of many plants essential to our own existence. The apiary offers delicious and healthy products and apiotherapy teaches us that they can also cure many illnesses.

Alain Péricard has been a beekeeper for 30 years. A pioneer of organic farming in Quebec, he now splits his time between his Rucher Apis (in the Eastern Townships’ Canton de Cleveland), and NDG. On Tuesday February 22nd, at 7pm, he will be at la Maison Verte for a workshop on bees and beekeeping.

Depending on participants’ interests, the workshop will touch upon the hive’s lifecycle, bee products and apiotherapy. Are the current organic certification norms sufficient to protect the bees and the environment? Why not introduce beekeeping in the city? There will be a presentation and sampling of apiary products.

Green Growth Or No Growth

We face serious environmental and economic challenges. People are looking for answers in a green economic future.

Can the Earth support an ever-growing economy? Can we shift to ‘green growth’ for a healthier environment and economy? What would it look like?

Four of the world’s top economic experts debate one of the critical questions of our time. CBC Radio’s Paul Kennedy, host of Ideas, moderated a live debate at the University of Ottawa on January 20th, 2011.

Participants include four globally prominent economic experts:

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Peter Victor
Author of Managing Without Growth: Slower By Design, Not Disaster, professor (and former Dean) at York University, and former Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario government.

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Tim Jackson
Economics commissioner with the UK Sustainable Development Commission, professor at the University of Surrey (UK), and author of Prosperity without Growth – economics for a finite planet.

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Richard Lipsey
one of Canada’s pre-eminent economists, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University, and author of Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long Term Economic Growth.

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Paul Ekins
Author of Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: The Prospects for Green Growth, professor at University College London, and Director of the UK Green Fiscal Commission.

Bread Making Workshop

ScreenHunter_01-Feb.-04-13.021Do you like bread?
Do you like eating bread?
Do you like making bread?
Would you like to learn how to make very easily your own delicious, healthy and inexpensive bread?

If you answered yes to at least two of the above questions then do we have the workshop for you! The Montreal Permaculture Guild is organizing a series of “re-skilling” workshops at the NDG Food Depot at 2121 Oxford Street.

Come join us there on Monday, February 7th, 2011 starting 5.30 pm and watch Montreal Permaculturalist Ed Yersh make bread with his very own bread machine.

He will show you how it’s done.
He will talk about bread.
We will watch the bread machine as it:

  • mixes the ingredients
  • kneads the ingredients
  • bakes the ingredients
  • warms the bread

You will be offered bread to eat.
You will enjoy the convivial company of fellow bread enthusiasts.

Egypt Was Unsustainable And Is Now Collapsing

ScreenHunter_01-Feb.-02-09.39The revolution in Egypt will probably repeat itself in a half dozen other countries in the near future. And while the usual suspects will be blamed (ruthless leaders, corrupt politicians, social media, people’s desire for freedom), the true cause of these revolts will be due to an unsustainable economy based on excessive debt that produced a lack of jobs, and massive food and energy inflation.

The case of Egypt should be studied well because it will repeat itself everywhere – not just in the 3rd world – until countries come back into balance and find a sustainable way to live.

Source: OpEdNews.com

No wonder then that the chief fear of Western intelligence agencies and corporate risk consultants is not that mass resistance might fail to generate vibrant and viable democracies, but simply the prospect of a regional “contagion” that could destabilize “Saudi oil fields.” Such conventional analyses, of course, entirely miss the point: The American Empire, and the global political economy it has spawned, is unravelling — not because of some far-flung external danger, but under the weight of its own internal contradictions. It is unsustainable  — already in overshoot of the earth’s natural systems, exhausting its own resource base, alienating the vast majority of the human and planetary population.

The solution in Tunisia, in Egypt, in the entire Middle East, and beyond, does not lay merely in aspirations for democracy. Hope can only spring from a fundamental re-evaluation of the entire structure of our civilization in its current form. If we do not use the opportunities presented by these crises to push for fundamental structural change, then the “contagion” will engulf us all.

Living Without Money For 13 Years

A profound and inspiring article…I’m sure the federal reserve banking system, which lends us our own money and charges us interest for the privilege, would NOT agree!

Source: Times Online

Heidemarie Schwermer, a middle-aged secondary school teacher just emerging from a difficult marriage, moved with her two children from the village of Lueneburg to the city of Dortmund, in the Ruhr area of Germany…

“I began to realise that I lived with so many things I didn’t need. So I decided that I wouldn’t buy anything without giving something away. That’s how it started. Then I began to really think about what I needed, clothes for example, and noticed that I could easily get by with what I could hang on ten coathangers. Everything else I gave away. I had so much stuff in the house that was superfluous. Getting rid of it was a relief.”

Ideally, Schwermer would like to lead by example and give other people courage to change their attitudes towards money and how they live in and contribute to society. The pressure to buy and to own, she feels, has intensified in recent years. Consumerism is essentially about “an attempt to fill an empty space inside. And that emptiness, and the fear of loss, is manipulated by the media or big companies.” There is a fear, she says, that in not buying or owning an individual will fall out of society. The irony, she claims, is that material goods can never plug a spiritual hole and shopping and hoarding are more likely to isolate people than bring contentment.Does she intend to start a revolution?

“No, I think of myself as planting the seed,” she says. “Perhaps people come away from my lectures or seeing me being interviewed and decide to spend a little less. Others might start meditating. The point is that my living without money is to allow for the possibility of another kind of society. I want people to ask themselves, ‘What do I need? How do I really want to live?’ Every person needs to ask themselves who they really are and where they belong. That means getting to grips with oneself.”

Does she really think that she can convert other people to her life philosophy? “Yes, that’s our future. One day we will all live without money, because we don’t need it and because it is only a burden. We’re the way we are because it’s how the system allows us to be. We can buy everything we want but we need so much less than we realise. If you think that the capitalist system we live in now is the only system, well that’s just ridiculous.”

“We are going to run out of oil in ten years. We don’t have infinite resources. That just isn’t sustainable.” Is her own itinerant lifestyle sustainable? She thinks so.

Green Skiing

IdlinglogoFor many Scandinavians and Europeans, skiing isn’t just a sport, it’s how they get to work.

Source: Montreal Gazette

…at Le Massif in the Charlevoix region, where a $230-million expansion is under way, green transportation is a major theme. The project, which should be completed by 2013, will offer dedicated rail service from Quebec City, gondola service from the train station to the base chalet and various types of green transportation on site (including dog sled and electric vehicles). A new hotel will be heated and cooled using geothermal and solar energy.

Mont Sutton, in the Eastern Townships, now composts organic waste from its four restaurants, buys local food when possible, provides shuttle service for its employees and guests from the village to the mountain, and encourages carpooling on its website and through occasional lift-ticket discounts. Along with five other Quebec ski hills, Mont Sutton is running an awareness program to get clients and bus drivers to stop idling their engines in ski-hill parking lots (and elsewhere).

So if you must downhill ski or board, and apparently many of us must, it’s important to support these changes and to encourage more. Here are some other tips on skiing green to keep those mountains white:

- Take a bus or a train to the ski hill whenever possible. Check the ski-area websites to see if they are served by bus or rail. Also check out express-ski.com,which offers bus transportation from Montreal and lift ticket deals to several ski destinations, including Killington, Le Massif, Mont Tremblant, Mont Ste. Anne, Smugglers’ Notch, Stoneham, Stowe, Sugarbush, Whiteface and Sejour.

- Carpool whenever possible. Check ski station websites to see if they offer a carpool coordination service. You can also coordinate with other skiers and find group travel deals at qc.bougex.com.

- Take your own food and drinks. Even if some resorts do offer recyclable dishes and packaging, you will waste less energy, reduce waste and save money by taking your own food in your own containers.

- Don’t idle your engine at the hill or elsewhere. It’s bad for your engine, wastes gas and pollutes big time. The vehicle will warm up faster as you drive.

- Buy or rent used equipment at places like Play it Again Sports and La poubelle du ski.

The Credit Commons

Money_RollIf cash becomes scarce and the wheels of commerce come to a grinding halt again, the idea of  “mutual credit clearing” will be critical. In the meantime, banning interest charged on money is a worthy goal which would instantly make the economy more sustainable.

Source: Reality Sandwich

We need to learn to play a different game. We need to organize an entirely new structure of money, banking, and finance, one that is interest-free, decentralized, and controlled, not by banks or central governments, but by businesses and individuals that associate and organize themselves into cashless trading networks. This is a way to reclaim “the credit commons” from monopoly control and create healthy community economies.

This approach is no pie-in-the-sky pipe dream, it is proven and well established. Known as mutual credit clearing, it is a process that is used by scores of commercial “barter” companies around the world to provide cashless trading for their business members. In this process, the things you sell pay for the things you buy without using money as an intermediate exchange medium. It’s as simple as that. According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA), a major trade association for the industry, “IRTA Member companies using the “Modern Trade and Barter” process, made it possible for over 400,000 companies World Wide to utilize their excess business capacities and underperforming assets, to earn an estimated $12 billion dollars in previously lost and wasted revenues.

Perhaps the best example of a credit clearing exchange that has been successful over a long period of time is the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative. Founded in Switzerland as a self-help organization in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression, WIR provided a means for its business members to trade with one another despite the shortage of official money in circulation. Over three quarters of a century, in good time and bad, WIR has continued to thrive. Its more than 60,000 members throughout Switzerland trade about $2 billion worth of goods and services annually.

Yes, it is possible to transcend the dysfunctional money and banking system and to take back our power from bankers and politicians who use it to abuse and exploit us. We do it, not by petitioning politicians who are already bought and paid for by an ever more powerful elite group, but by using the power that is already ours to use the resources we have to support each other’s productivity and to give credit where credit is due.