Tag Archives: environment

It’s a cool late spring late afternoon. I walk into the garden, foraging for dinner produce, not quite sure what I’ll cook yet. I’m looking for a few herbs here and there, some salad leaves, a couple of chillies and whatever else catches my eye that might form dinner. It’s an organic garden. Completely natural. Only fresh healthy produce grown here. That’s such a good feeling, knowing that only wholesome, safe food comes from my garden everyday. But there’s another, perhaps equally important side to urban farming. The home economics.

If you are someone who grows their own food, even a little of it regularly, you’ll know it’s a saving. Every item grown, if even it’s just a pot of herbs, ultimately saves you money. Each produce grown is produce not purchased. That saves money, time and other resources. Now do the maths. If you grow only a little and it saves you some time and money, then growing more must save you more time and money. But … here’s where many people’s thought processes kick in with obstacle thinking: ‘But that means I have to spend more time in the garden’, ‘How much will it cost me to set up a garden and grow more food?’ and ‘It’s a lot of work gardening. Won’t it cost me for water and fertiliser?’

Some common sense answers to the rescue! Yes, you’ll spend a little more time in the garden, especially initially to set it up in order to get a yield. But how can more time in the garden ever be a bad thing? You get more fresh air, exercise and it’s so good for the mind and body. And what about the yield? All that fresh produce, straight from soil to plate!

There may also be some initial costs to set up your garden to grow more food, but they can be minor costs with the right knowledge and resources, much of which you may already have handy in your home and garden. As with anything in life, there has to be some give and take, there has to be some initial and ongoing investment, but gardening and growing food is not expensive, certainly not for what you get in return. Once you set up a ‘closed system’, it will cost you very little.

During summer, when the weather gets very hot and dry, I hear many people say they just give up on their gardens until the weather gets cooler again. I think that’s very sad, not only because it signifies a lack of knowledge (and perhaps willingness to seek the right knowledge), but also because you are letting your garden go backwards, and allowing an ecosystem to suffer or die. There are many options and techniques, from permaculture, for example, that will help you set up your garden to cope with and provide a good yield in extremes of weather. Gardening is not always easier, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or impossible, and there are skills and knowledge that make it easier than many people believe.

Permaculture and urban farming are all about sustainability, which means learning how to sustain your gardens and keep producing food consistently throughout the year, even through extremes of weather and other challenges. These paths also offer solid, time tested and proven methods for helping us ‘get off the grid’ – use more or only renewable energy, store water and other energies, grow and produce most of our own food, which all ultimately saves us money and other resources.

I would like to encourage and challenge everyone reading this and who follows me to choose to step up their food production. I can support you in increasing your food production without spending much or anything to do so, without increasing household costs, using local, cheap or free resources, with a fresh way of seeing your garden and your world. I can support you in making the transition from where you’re at now to a more solid investment in your garden for a greater yield – to save money, time and improve health and wellbeing.

For the same time, or even less, that it takes you to go shopping at the supermarket, you can put into your garden for a greater, healthier, fresher, organic yield. I will share skills, knowledge, strategies and much more with you to help you achieve this, if this is what you choose, if you accept my challenge. I promise richer, greater return on your initial investment of time and energy.

What can you do? I would love your support for my events and workshops. Your attendance makes my community work and business possible. This is a mutually sustainable agreement. I look forward to us supporting each other, watching your gardens grow and hearing about how you’ve saved money … and ultimately, how much more you’re enjoying your garden and nature. Thank you.

Manning Clark House organized a unique multidisciplinary conference entitled "Science and Ethics: Can Homo sapiens Survive?" at the Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May, 2005. Drawing upon the expertise of speakers in a variety of fields including law, economics, medicine, politics, journalism, aboriginal affairs, earth sciences, religion, education, nuclear armaments, defence studies and ecology, the conference reached the conclusion that, while at risk from natural global disasters (supervolcanos or asteroid impact) and human-induced global impacts, Homo sapiens is likely to survive for the foreseeable future.

However, and this is just as important as the survival of the human species, civilization as we know it will not survive beyond a few decades unless there is a radical change in human culture, from a society driven by the pursuit of material wealth to one focused on human well-being. Science and the ethics of science are an aid to survival and indeed are necessary to address today’s risks and tomorrow’s possibilities.

There are several reasons for this, all of them reflecting applications and changed behaviours arising from advances in science and technology. Although these advances open doors for improvements in human health, wellbeing, and an increasingly open society, they also increase imbalances in wealth and power, raise barriers and foster exploitations in societies, and cause major changes to ecosystems and global systems.

The self-generated negative impacts include:

1. The explosive growth of the human population in the past sixty years and the inevitable addition of another two to three billion humans to the existing six billion by 2050.

2. The enormous global expenditure of nation states on military equipment, including nuclear arms, and the role of arms trade. The stockpiles of nuclear weapons held by several of the wealthy countries encourage rather than prevent the spread of nuclear arms capability to other nations.

3. The continuing overexploitation and pollution of land, fresh water and fisheries.

4. The increasing degradation of natural ecosystems, which provide irreplaceable "ecosystem services". The atmospheric pollution with greenhouse gases due to overuse of fossil fuels, which have a "life" of several decades, is already at dangerous levels, and emissions are still increasing globally.

5. Unless we focus on human wellbeing in place of material accumulation, the quality of life will decline. The likelihood is that this overexploitation will result in ever increasing conflicts, within and between nation-states, especially over supplies of fresh water needed for food production.

These multiple threats to human lives, health and well-being can only be attacked by a change in the behaviour of human beings from the current preoccupation with material wealth, that is, from a philosophy of "I want" to an acceptance of "I need", just enough to provide a fulfilling life. In fact, a focus on human well-being in place of material accumulation would actually improve the quality of life. Such a change requires a different approach to economic measurement, and the identification of objectives other than material gain.

These changes will have enormous effects on societies such as ours, effects that are likely to be resisted by corporations, advertisers and a public disenfranchised by monolithic mass media, education in decline, and low integrity in politics. In parallel with these changes, governments must ensure that the changes in employment that will follow, if this re-orientation of objectives occurs, are devoted to tackling the causes of each of the items mentioned above.

By Frank Fenner, Stephen Boyden, David Green, Andrew Glikson and Sebastian Clark