Category Archives: farming

My Personal Ecology

Flourish – Word of the Day

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Moon’s Crossing, Pemberton, a place where nature flourishes. Here the winter creek flows and sings over the rocks. I flourish here too, the smells, sounds, sights, sensations and feelings that arise here are all part of my living.

One of the earliest thoughts about flourishing came from the great philosopher Aristotle, he thought that flourishing was the highest good of human endeavours, and that flourishing was the aim of all our actions. Somewhere that got derailed. Just as the Greek culture showed potential to pursue its own thinking, the Romans happened with their civic culture focussed on empire. And, as they do, empires come and go, not unlike plagues.

Happiness became the human endeavour, a purely hedonic pursuit according to Martin Seligman. Seligman prefers to talk about Authentic Happiness and he has pinned his career on Positive Psychology, and its ideal of human flourishing. Seligman based flourishing on “Perma” which is:- positive emotion (happiness, pleasure, gratitude, joy), engagement (a state of flow), relationships (feelings of support, familiarity and security), meaning (belonging to and serving something other than self) and accomplishment (having goals no matter the size).

In the mid 70s David Holmgren and Bill Mollinson developed permaculture, a relations or ecology system of farming and gardening. Permaculture’s three main principles are:- care for the earth, care for the people, setting limits to populations and consumption. Permaculture is more wholisitc whereas Aristotle was focussed on the benefit to the community, and Seligman’s Perma is focussed on psychology, but the three work together, they are not mutually exclusive.

For me flourishing is having a personal ecology that consists of  mutually suportive relationships, a positive relationship with nature, a spirituality, creative expression, learning, and reflection. These are the things that sustain me, give me pleasure and enable me to flourish and be creative. This is my manifesto, my mantra if you like, it has taken some time to learn the health of it, but it is a gift of life for me now.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

 

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Filed under community, farming, food, Gardening, history, life, mindfulness, nature, permaculture

This Toxic Life

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

Run, hide, stay in bed. They’re going to get you!

The video is a traler for the Sean Penn doco – it is confronting because it challenges us to look at what we use and how it effects us.

Toxicity is actually part of our lives, we can deal with it easily if we learn and take steps to minimise the effects of chemicals in our lives. But we do need to take stock of the things that do effect us.

Do you love that new car smell? Beware.

My first conscious moment of how chemicals affect could affect me was in the 1970s when I was sitting in my father’s car. It was a hot day, around 35c. The windows were up, there was no sea breeze at that point, and all I could smell was vinyl. I immediately wound the window down to allow air to come in and displace what I could smell. I didn’t know then that the sweet smell in my nostrils was vinyl chloride which is highly toxic. In the 80s I commented to a car repair guy that the windshield of my car often had a film on it, he said it was vinyl vappour. It wasn’t until the late 90s that some public comment was made to the effect of always leave your car window down just a little to vent the vinyl vapour.

Vinyl chloride was developed in 1863, and over the next sixty years it would be refined and used in a number of applications from aerosols, to car fabrics. It was in production in the 1930s and was already the subject of research by those concerned for health. One of the research statistics was a consistent record of liver and kidney cancers among those who worked with the product. Since then the companies using poly vinyl chloride or PVC* have developed a more stable formulation, or, in some cases, companies buying in the product have reduced their usage.

The year our two young sons wanted their bedrooms painted in bold and trendy colours, I set to and did it myself, never once thinking to move the youngest’s aquarium tank out while I painted. I used a new formulation of paint on the market, made by a top brand. I thought the fumes were extreme. The next morning the fish were all dead, and we pondered the effect on our own lungs.

When we were on the farm we went organic, I had read more than enough to convince me that herbicides and pesticides, as well as inorganic fertilizers were likely to affect our health. The research into the cancer risk through the use of some agricultural products is now publicly well documented, and by the World Health organisation. Some of our extended family have suffered from agricultural chemical induced cancers.

There’s been a whole range of building product disasters from petro-chemically based products to vinyls, to asbestos, cement dust, fiberglass, and chemically treated particle board. Many of those issues now thoroughly researched and most dealt with.

And then there’s the whole processed and fast food issue, Supersize Me, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead are among the many documentaries on food and how it affects us. The current issue is sugar. And then there’s cleaning and personal care products.

So, long story short. We have reduced as much plastic as we can, especially those products that are formed from any vinyl chloride compounds, mainly soft plastics. That’s not as easy as it sounds – tubes, packaging, paints, equipment, cars, clothing, building products – it is everywhere. But we are getting there and with the public and corporate awareness, vinyls are being  more responsibly produced and monitored, and vinyl chloride is much more stable today than it was three decades ago. We are using natural fibres, metal drink containers, glass where possible, organic products from foods to personal care products to garden chemicals. Who knows what effect these will have? I’m thinking, they’ve got to be better than vinyl chloride!

*Note: PVC is also my initial and in highschool my nickname was plastic!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under chemicals, environment, Farm, farming, food, life, mindfulness

Small Is Beautiful

Micro

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(Photo: © Hayden Cannon)

Coccinellidae, or the humble Lady Bug as most of us would say. Definitely not micro, but definitely small. One of nature’s equalizers, it feeds on aphids, and therefore helps the market gardener, the floriculture industry, and the home gardener. Small but critical to the balance of nature.

Humans are not micro either, but we are the species that has an impact on the environment beyond our size. The creatures bigger than us have less impact on the environment. We are not particularly good at keeping a balance in nature, in fact, since the eighteenth century, humanity has pushed nature hard. I’m quite certain that if the Northern White Rhino had been crucial to agriculture or market gardening, or if the rhino could produce honey, or tea tree oil, it would still be with us. But, if we can’t save the rhino, what can we save? Or, more pointedly, what are we willing to save?

The way I see it, our carbon foot-print has to become micro in order to create a balance in nature that will enable all life forms to co-exist naturally. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There is some excellent work being done in alternative agricultural and horticultural practices, and in manufacturing too. The use of technology to resize and reorder how industry and commerce work (drones, micro-computers), where machinery cannot be decreased in size, it is streamlined and made more efficient. The attention to urban planning and using density as an option is (though hotly disputed by some academics) working well in cities like Melbourne (and, as yet, on a small scale). It seems we are coming to grips in some areas with the largess of our

The Lady Bug doesn’t just live for itself, it lives in a critical relationship with its predators and with its food sources as a predator. The Lady Bug is a great natural example (among many) for us, to live in a balanced, reciprocal, relationships. That sort of harmony is sacrificial, and if we want to live well, and if we want nature to survive, then we need to adopt the give and take of the Lady Bug, and the principle of sacrifice.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under environment, farming, life, mindfulness, nature, Uncategorized