Friday, November 27, 2009

Backward and Forward: Planetary Limits

In looking backward, yesterday, theÊOrganic Consumers AssociationÊgave special thanks to the indigenous farmers and wildcrafters of the Western Hemisphere for cultivating and preserving our food, fiber, medicinal herbs, and biodiversity for thousands of years. Ê

Today was officially Native American Heritage Day, as declared in June 2009 decree by the Obama Adminstration.

And in looking foward,ÊNASA has identified nine planetary boundariesÊwith. . . quantifications for seven of them:

- Êclimate change: CO2 concentration in the atmosphere <350 ppm and/or a maximum change of +1 W/m2 in radiative forcing;Ê
- ocean acidification - mean surface seawater saturation state with respect to aragonite ³ 80% of pre-industrial levels;Ê
- <5% reduction in statosphere ozone concentration from pre-industrial level of 290 Dobson UnitsÊ
- limit industrial and agricultural fixation of N2 to 35 Tg N/yrÊand annual P inflow to oceans not to exceed 10 times the natural background weathering of P;Ê
- global freshwater use (<4000 km3/yr of consumptive use of runoff resources);Ê
- land system change (<15% of the ice-free land surface under cropland); andÊ
- the rate at which biological diversity is lost (annual rate of <10 extinctions per million species)."Ê

Our collective work is to keep within these limits, to honor indigenous farming, wildcrafting, and biodiversity into the future.


Sunday, November 22, 2009


We have the definition of agroecology as a whole-systems approach to agriculture and food systems development based on traditional
knowledge, alternative agriculture, and local food system experiences - which links ecology, culture, economics, and society to sustain agricultural production,
healthy environments, and viable food and farming communities.

So, this starts with the surrounding biodiversity, even before you
start preparing the soil, and extends throughout planting and
harvesting to the retail end. And the Blog from Rural America notes that local grocery stores are in trouble, yet there are viable models to keeping them.

- Local ownership
- Cooperative ownership
- Youth affiliated

Of course, at Pine Ridge and Hoopa, we are giving away the produce, to support the tiospaye, the ceremonies, the elders, and the youth. But we know when the right time comes, it is important to be able to support local economies and provide an alternative to the distant and the industrial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Living Building Challenge and Urban Agriculture

There's some good news about Responsible Building from GreenBiz.Com
in that the newest version of the Living Buildings Challenge standards unveiled at Greenbuild also aims to go beyond an individual site to address issues such as social justice and urban agriculture. For example, a minimum amount of site square footage must be used for food production and the site must provide unrestricted access to rivers, lakes and shorelines.

Also noted is the An Indigenous Response to the Challenge of climate change with NASA and tribal colleges, more than ten years after Indigenous peoples came together at the first Native Peoples/Native Homelands Climate Change Workshop.

And, finally, if you want to advance the fight for sustainable food, here are the Top Ten Ways to Get Involved

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weekly Roundup

It's good to see the outburst of new hybrid business models to better account for business impacts, like L3Cs and B-Corporations ( L3Cs are only available in a handful of states, including VT and IL, and are expected in CA in spring 2010.

Several good films have screened at the American Indian Film Festival this week

And since this EarthTeam youth video has come to us a couple of ways, we thought we'd showcase it as an example of how our youth are connecting with the earth

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sustainable Development > Making the World In Our Image?

This in from JustMeans:

"Teaching the hungry how to more efficiently farm, can actually create new unexpected inefficiencies. The Green Revolution in India, in which farmers in the Indian state of Punjab switched from traditional methods to American-style farming - with chemicals, high-yield seeds and irrigation- was once thought to be a rousing success. However, under scrutiny the shiny label of success has lost some of its sheen: India's Green Revolution has depleted ground water, destroyed soil through salinization, locked farmers into cycles of debt and turned what was once a localized hunger problem into a structural one. It also hasn't actually solved India's hunger problem: 1/4th of the world's hungry call India home. A whopping 230 million people or 18% of India's 1.25 billion population is hungry"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Water in California

Water is the theme of the week in California.   A state-sponsored workshop today highlighted that all municipalities in CA are required to have a landscape watering efficiency ordinance by January 1, 2010, and the state Dept. of Water Resources will have to report on the status of compliance by January 1, 2011.  If no action is taken, CA has a Model Water Efficiency Landscaping Ordinance that will automatically go into effect.  Meeting highlights and technical notes include:
- "It is illegal to waste water" according to staff member of the Department's Water Use and Efficiency Branch, and California Constitution Section 2, Article X. 
- Certain landscapes are exempt from the ordinance.  
- The state has an Evapotransporation database (ETO) as guidance for regional watering needs.  ETAF of 0.7 is required for projects installed after Jan 1.  ETAF of 1.0 is permitted for edible landscapes (good -- we clearly have greater water needs when growing our own food), parks, golf courses (but let's xeriscape golf courses instead), and other landscape types.   

- use native, place-adapted plants! 
- install an irrigation controller, read the manual and learn how to adjust the settings. 
- use drip irrigation rather than spray irrigation, and deliver the water to where it is really needed (primarily edibles)
- observe for signs of irrigation problems (i.e. dry spots, ponding, and erosion).  
- if you see water running onto pavement, you're over-irrigating
- install a rain shutoff device
- check for leaks, sprinkler head misalignments, broken pipes, and blown-out irrigation devices twice per month.  Pressure regulation is key -- the pressure in water systems can often blow out irrigation fixtures (and you see this where water is bubbling out, rather than a fine spray)
- regularly clean filters in sprinkler heads and drip systems

Also, the California Tribal Water Summit takes place Wednesday, November 4, and Thursday, November 5, 2009, and is designed to get tribal water issues feedback to the state.  One concern is that it is not clear how the tribal process is integrated into other Dept. of Water Resources decision-making process (2030 Water Plan, Integrated Water Management processes, etc.).  DWR will have to be really coordinated to pull this off in a way that helps tribes.