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Home Food

Cultural & Ecological designing

Last update: June 8, 2000

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught,
only then will you find that money can not be eaten.

- Cree Indian Prophecy

Systems [ Systems | Soil | Seeds | Processing | Information Resources ]
  • Ecology Action - John Jeavons' Biointensive Sustainable Mini-farm Program and the Bountiful Gardens seed catalog. Over twenty years of research and practice, with lots of publications and successful projects in a number of different countries. Information and workshops on food & general plant/biomass production with an emphasis on integrated, sustainable, soil-growing methods. Excellent for integration with Permaculture practices.
  • Keyline Design - "Keyline is a set of principles, techniques and systems, which coordinate into a development plan for rural and urban landscapes." A fundamental purpose of this design system, which originated in Australia in the early 1950's, is to increase the health of soil through non-mixing aeration and redirection of water flow leading to increased absorption. Developed initially to maintain and regenerate healthy farmland, it appears to have equal promise at other scales and in other contexts.
  • Permaculture - a cornucopia of links! Permaculture, while grounded in certain common principles and methods, is as diverse as the individuals and groups that practice it and the locations in which they do so. Here's a scattering of links to a wide variety of Permaculture sites. Enjoy!
    • Bay Area Permaculture Guild - the San Francisco Bay Area, that is! Newsletter articles, calendar of events, further links and info. Related sites include Wish-Fulfilling Tree and Garden of the Heart.
    • CSF Permaculture Resources - the Communications for a Sustainable Future permaculture links and resources site, hosted by the University of Colorado.
    • Central Coast Permaculture Guild mailing list - An online forum for exchanging information, practices and ideas on permaculture and related topics, focusing on the Central Coast area of California.
    • Eastern Permaculture Teachers Association - support for skill and knowledge improvement, instructional cohesiveness and accountability, marketing support and networking and FUN in the Eastern USA.
    • The Food Forest - in Australia - a working permaculture farm and education center offering tours, short courses, food for sale, fact sheets and consulting.
    • La'akea Permaculture Gardens - on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Permaculture Design courses, apprenticeships and related programs hosted by a working permaculture site. Da Kine!
    • Permaculture Activist - from Permaculture Activist magazine comes this web site, which includes material from the printed version plus a back issues list and links to other resources including seeds, plants, courses, books and videos and mailing lists.
    • Permaculture Concepts and Resources - an overview of permaculture compiled from a variety of sources. Principles, implementations, ethics, worldwide resources, recommended reading and further links.
    • Permaculture Drylands Journal - a non-profit educational organization promoting permaculture as a way of living and working in arid regions throughout the world. Activities of the Institute and its graduates include: education, publications, demonstration projects, site-assessment, design consultation, and technical assistance.
    • Permaculture in Mexico - in English y Español - permaculture activities in Mexico, events and courses, articles, work exchanges and related links.
    • Permaculture Institute of Northern California - located near Pt. Reyes in the San Francisco Bay area. Calendar of workshops, consulting services, suggested reading, additional links.
    • - offering the American Permaculture Directory, a permaculture web forum, a large collection of "definitions" of permaculture, book links, and a listing of courses in various states, including an online form for adding courses to the listings.
    • Permaculture Research Institute - "Dedicated to supporting research and education in ecological design, environmental restoration, appropriate technology and sustainable agriculture." Located at Tagari farm in Australia, offering courses, international activities, publications, research and consulting.
    • Permaculture The Earth - Just one more example of a nice permaculture site with articles, links, definitions, a bookstore and more.
    • Permaculture Visions - Australian site offering distance learning Permaculture courses via e-mail or printed materials. Also assorted info on theory and practice, online articles, links, etc.
    • UNC Permaculture site - home of the alt.permaculture newsgroup, the UNC permaculture listserv, and a whole bunch of related information resources (currently somewhat chaotic, on the way towards more carefully organized...).
  • Seed Balls - information about making and using seed balls and Masanobu Fukuoka's practices and philosophies of "natural farming."
Soil [ Systems | Soil | Seeds | Processing | Information Resources ]
  • The Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure. Info about the book (including reviews and table of contents), plus links to composting and permaculture resources. Stop wasting those valuable nutrients!
  • Soil Biological Communities - A US Bureau of Land Management site with information on soils and soil biology, soil critters, references and further links.
  • The Soil Foodweb - Its importance in ecosystem health - heavy and informative reading on what is known and not known about the incredibly complex systems that make up "soil" - by Dr. Elaine Ingham, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University (includes references, diagrams, etc.).
Seeds [ Systems | Soil | Seeds | Processing | Information Resources ]
A variety of seed and nursery plant sources for all manner of growing things! Preference is given to suppliers of seeds that are one or more of the following: organic, open-pollinated, traditional/heirloom, bioregional, rare, etc.
  • - seeds, trees, planning and consultation for tropical forestry/agroforestry. Large variety of species for timber, reforestation, medicinal uses, nitrogen-fixing and more. Also offering workshops and a free e-mail newsletter.
  • Bountiful Gardens - a project of Ecology Action, offering a wide variety of seeds (including organic and open-pollinated) for annuals, perennials, herbs, flowers, rare and heirloom varieties, along with tools, books and pamphlets, videos and more.
  • Ho-Ti Nursery - a nursery on Hawai'i Island specializing in rare tropical plants, including endemic and native Hawaiian species, and also dried herbs and plants from other tropical regions.
  • Horizon Herbs - suppliers of herb seeds and live roots, certified organically grown or wild-harvested. Also publications related to herb cultivation and use.
  • Inside Passage - a specialty seed service, featuring native and naturalized flora of the coastal Cascadian Bioregion (Northwestern North America) and also offering relevant publications and consulting services.
  • Seed Saving Resources - resources for saving, trading, buying and sharing organic, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds; information on botany, genetics and horticulture; seed saving books and supplies; links to other relevant organizations.
  • Seeds of Change - One excellent source for 100% organic, open-pollinated seeds, including rare heirloom and traditional varieties. They also support a "deep diversity" seed bank and a seed donation project.
  • Seeds of Diversity Canada - Canada's heritage seed-saving network, "...a non-profit group of gardeners from coast to coast who save seeds from rare and unusual garden plants for the purpose of preserving the varieties." News and events, online library and further links.
  • Seeds of Texas Seed Exchange - a non-profit seed-trading organization - all seeds are grown and exchanged by and among members of the Exchange. Seeds of Texas Seed Exchange exists to offer Texans (and non-Texans, presumably) a medium through which to find and trade seeds adapted to any of Texas' different climates.
  • Territorial Seed Co. - Another good source for organic, open-pollinated seeds, including heirloom and/or traditional varieties. There is an on-line catalog that includes tools and supplies, and somewhat of a focus on varieties adapted to the general Pacific Nortwest (USA/Canada) climate.
Processing [ Systems | Soil | Seeds | Processing | Information Resources ]
  • Solar Cooking Archive - Cheap cooking with free energy. A centralized resource site for all things solar cooking, including plans of all kinds. Build one today! Includes information on an online discussion group for and about solar cooking theory and practice. Think sun...
  • Solar Food Dryer/Dehydrator - plans and instructions for making and using a solar chimney dehydrator for food drying and dehydrating.
Information Resources [ Systems | Soil | Seeds | Processing | Information Resources ]
  • Agroecology Home - central site for info on agroecology, here defined as "...the application of ecological science to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems...a holistic approach to agriculture and agricultural development...linking ecology, socioeconomics and culture to sustain agricultural production, farming communities, and environmental health." Principles, case studies, discussion forum, activities and courses and further links.
  • Algy's Herb Page - a web forum site focused on herbs, with sections for medicinal use; growing, harvesting and crafting; biodiversity and seed exchange; and culinary uses. There's also a FAQ and a links page.
  • Alien Plants of Hawai'i - illustrated list of "Pest Plants of Hawaiian Native Ecosystems - Alien plant species that are among the greatest threats to native Hawaiian biota."
  • Alternative Farming Systems Information Center - part of the US National Agricultural Laboratories, the AFSIC "...specializes in locating and accessing information related to alternative cropping systems including sustainable, organic, low-input, biodynamic, and regenerative agriculture." Includes info on Community Supported Agriculture with state-by-state CSA listings.
  • Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden - a living example of old Hawaiian ecological design in agricultural systems, including plant varieties, cultivation and land use techniques and other ethnobotanical information. Located south of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
  • Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas - A private non-profit program located at the University of Arkansas, providing information on alternative agriculture topics to farmers, extension agents, researchers, farm organizations, and others involved in commercial agriculture, including market gardeners and small farmers. Includes extensive online documents plus info on organizations, publications, internships and apprenticeships, and educational programs at all levels.
  • Arid Zone Trees articles - from Arid Zone Trees, a commercial nursery, and guest authors. Articles on various ecological design and horticultural topics relevant to trees in arid areas.
  • Bees and other pollinators ... are essential to the continuation of human and other animal food systems. Here are some relevant links!
  • The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems - at the University of California, Santa Cruz, aiming " research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems which are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and which serve as a foundation for future generations." They offer graduate and undergraduate education and a six-month apprenticeship program. Facilities include the four-acre Alan Chadwick garden and a 25-acre farm. Publications, tours, events, and community outreach services are also available.
  • Center for Food Safety - a public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to address impacts of our food production systems on human health, animal welfare and environment - through grassroots campaigns, public education, media outreach, and litigation.
  • Center for Plant Conservation - an organization dedicated to preventing the extinction of plants native to the United States. Programs, publications, internships, gardens, and plant and seed collections plus links to participating institutions throughout the country.
  • Container Gardening - information from Virginia Cooperative Extension on growing food, herbs and more when you don't have access to land for a "regular" garden! Covers containers, soil, planting, watering, and more.
  • The Food Museum - "The Food Museum examines what in the world we eat and how we eat it, where it came from, how it has evolved, what its impact is on culture, what its future may be." History, education, school programs, book reviews and more.
  • Food Resource - At Oregon State University, USA. Lots of information and images of food of all kinds - a bit chaotic but with interesting tidbits here and there.
  • GardenWeb - an online "grand central station" for gardening info. A wide variety of online forums, seed and plant exchanges, a plant dictionary/database, organizations, topical and regional sections, botany info, links and (of course - but relatively low-key) shopping.
  • Holmgren Design Services - David Holmgren, co-originator (with Bill Mollison) of Permaculture, offers consulting, residential design courses, publications and links as well as info on Fryers Forest Eco-Village and the Hepburn Permaculture Gardens.
  • International Institute for Ecological Agriculture - a permaculture-based organization with resource listings, permaculture design courses, a community-supported agriculture operation (in the San Francisco Bay area, California, USA) and further links.
  • A Modern Herbal - the hyper-text version of "A Modern Herbal" by Mrs. M. Grieve, first published in 1931. "Contains Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs."
  • Phenology Web Links - resources for determining what's blooming and when in various climates and areas of the world.
  • NewCROP - Purdue University's Crop Resource Online Program, which "...provides windows to new and specialty crop profiles." Tons of information, including a crop information search engine, index of common and scientific names, reference bibliography, events listing, newsletter and more.
  • Organic Trade Association - "...a national association representing the organic industry in Canada and the United States. Members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, brokers, consultants, distributors and retailers." Publications, news, events, and info about formal definitions of "organic" food - including information on reviewing and commenting on OTA's proposed American Organic Standards.
  • Plants By Mail FAQ - an introduction to the world of buying plants by mail order; also a central clearinghouse for information about contacting various mail order plant houses.
  • PLANTS National Database - from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, aiming to provide "...a single source of standardized information about plants." A searchable, dynamic database providing standardized plant names, symbols and other plant attribute information.
  • Plants for a Future - A non-profit in England that focuses on plant resources for all aspects of existence. There is an incredible amount of plant info at this site! The information covers a variety of climates, not just England's...
  • SelecTree - " interactive program designed to match specific tree species to particular sites based on compatible characteristics." Hosted by the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and funded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
  • Soil and Health Holistic Agriculture Library - an online library offering "...full-texts of carefully-selected older books whose importance and contemporary relevance has not diminished." This section of the library contains works relevant to holistic agriculture by the likes of Fukuoka, Faulkner, and Sir Albert Howard.
  • TreeGuide: the natural history of trees - Includes extensive material about individual tree species, discussions on evolution, biogeography, structure and function of trees, a forum for comments and questions, Tree Stories, and further links.
  • United Plant Savers - a non-profit organization whose mission is " protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come." There's a newsletter, an "at risk" plants list, an events calendar, networking opportunities, and information on UPS' first "botanical sanctuary" (in Rutland, Ohio, USA), including an internship program available there.
  • Urban Agriculture Notes by City Farmer - Canada's office of urban agriculture. Wonderful, rich site for ideas, resources, case studies and more concerning "urban agriculture," a loosely-defined term at best (these folks have been working on it for quite a long time)! Includes seminal reports and papers; past, present and future projects; on-line information about global and local conferences and events; and guides and outlines for crop selection, rooftop and apartment gardening, social and cultural issues, worm bins and composting and much more.
  • USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory - featuring a searchable database of nutrient data. Also FAQs, downloadable data sets and links to other food composition and nutrition sites.

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