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What is Permaculture?

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Get learned on the rising trend in sustainable living.

"Permaculture" is quickly becoming something of a buzzword. But what exactly does it mean? Wikipedia defines permaculture as "an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies." It is a very broad topic, but essentially refers to living sustainably with our environment in every way imaginable. The......read more

Billy Ray's Farm

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A modern dairy tale.

The small town of Oxford, Mississippi has played a disproportionately big part in American literature, having been home to a bunch of big-name authors, from William Faulker to John Grisham to Larry Brown. The title essay of Brown's final book, "Billy Ray's Farm," discusses his son's quest to become a cattleman. Now, six years after his father's death, the story is......read more

SHFT Sampler 7-1-10

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Essential links for your Memorial Day weekend.

The EU, which says it will meet 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, gets set to switch on solar power in the Sahara Desert. Vertical agriculture takes off: 11 "farmscrapers" that build on the success of living walls and mobile gardens. A fake oil spill was staged at the Tate in London, as BP protestors railed against the unholy alliance between oil companies and......read more

Farmers Markets Exploding

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In spite of exponential growth, farmers markets still only account for a tiny proportion of U.S. food economy.

Over at Grist, Bonnie Azab Powell reports that farmers markets are growing like weeds all over the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 6,132 farmers markets in the United States, a 16% increase from last year and a 214% increase from 2000. California leads the charge with 580 markets, followed by New York, Illinois, and Michigan. However, only one sixth of......read more

SHFT Sampler 10-01-10

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Weekly links: A milk carton castle, Vancouver time-lapse amazingness, and the best chicken coop ever.

How do you break the world record for largest sculpture made of recycled materials? Get a bunch of kids to do the work for you! Inhabitat reports on 5,000 Spanish elementary kids collecting 50,000 containers to make a record-breaking castle of milk cartons. You've seen Simon Christen's stunningly epic time-lapse portrait of San Francisco. Now check out a similarly amazing video that......read more

Betting on the Farm

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Popular farming internships teach people how to plant and plow.

It ain't no cushy, high-paid summer position, but these days it's just as coveted. Farming internships are being flocked to by people of all stripes, eager to learn the tangible skills of food production. In the New York Times Sunday Magazine this week, Christine Muhlke writes about the increasing popularity of farming internships. She pays a visit to Tantre Farm in Chelsea, Michigan,......read more

Organic Orange Orchard

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Isabelle Cossart accidently joins the local food movement.

It's been a tumultuous few years for Isabelle Cossart. First, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, then Hurricane Katrina tore through her neighborhood, then her husband left her for her best friend. In the ensuing divorce she was left with a three-plus acre fruit orchard, and was suddenly transformed into a farmer. Turns out she's pretty good at it. The produce from Cossart's......read more

Urban Homesteading

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Self-sufficiency in the city.

Homesteading is broadly defined as a lifestyle of simple, agrarian self-sufficiency. The sustainable, back-to-the-land movement is gaining popularity in urban areas, where applicable rural homesteading elements are being applied to city living. In theory, most people are into the idea of producing everything needed for survival on one's own land. While this isn't realistic for most of......read more

California's Dismal Water Situation

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Scientists say state's water future is "bleak."

A team of experts asked to assess California's water situation have published their findings, and it ain't a pretty picture. "Our assessment of the current water situation [in California] is bleak," says an economist involved in the research. "California has essentially run out of cheap, new water sources." Not that we didn't already know that, but if we needed any confirmation, there it......read more

Young Farmers Join the Food Shift

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Bolstered by demand for local and organic food, a new generation of farmers emerges in Oregon.

It's no secret that young people are psyched on farming these days. Nowhere is that more evident than in rural Oregon, where NYT writer Isolde Rafferty discovered a burgeoning movement of young farmers making a run at small-scale agriculture by doing things the old school way. Shunning the ways of industrial farming, the new generation of ranchers and growers are capitalizing on heightened demand......read more

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