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Greening the Desert, A Step-by-Step Video
Sarah Rich, 1 May 07
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Because we focus on new and emerging solutions at Worldchanging, we don't talk too often about permaculture, because while it's a beautiful and brilliant tool for sustainable gardening and food production, it's been around for quite a while. But a story passed through today about a recent project by the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, which uses permaculture to turn a barren, arid Jordanian desert into a fruitful garden and orchard, and suggests that the process can be a powerful solution to some of our most pressing global problems.

This video tells the story of a seemingly impossible feat achieved by permaculture designer, Geoff Lawton, in which he trained a group of locals in the principals of permaculture, and together they transformed the "hyper-arid" land until it bore fruit, desalinated water, and created fertile ground which requires very little water to be productive. If it can be done there, argues Lawton, it can be done anywhere, and it can become a real tool for addressing pollution, desertification and global warming.

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Anyone knows whatever happened to Might they join forces with or similar venues?

Posted by: Lucas Gonzalez on 2 May 07

It can be difficult to describe the detailed nature of developing a permaculture system. Permaculture is about designing an ecosystem. I don't think that the Geoff's youtube video does this project enough justice, it maybe his humility. They even built a pond to raise geese and fish to provide nutrients for the irrigation system.

Here are the web links describing the project in detail with the more technical aspects of the design process, soil type and nutrient consistency, local plant varieties utilized, crop yields, water management, integrated pest management system, ect. I hope this is helpful for anyone interested in an in depth analysis of a permaculture project. Books on the subject can be expensive and hard to find so these resources are a pretty good start.

Posted by: Jakub on 2 May 07

I'm slightly annoyed by the arrogant tone, but other than that, good going and hope he continues!

Have a look at the desert research institute at Sde Boker:

The Nabatians have mastered the art of desert agriculture a millennium ago, and people are now trying to revive their methods:

Posted by: Yishay Mor on 2 May 07

Wow.... That is amazing. I wonder what we could do with the Sahara.

Posted by: J. D. Harper on 5 May 07

I wonder if his techniques are in anyway compatible with the "black-earth" or "black-soil" research? (Whatever it is called - the use of fish waste and bio-char to sequester carbon but which also holds water and nutrients that would otherwise run off and stimulates biotic activity in the soil.)

It might be feasible to use some black-earth under or instead of the mulch.

I have also heard of a seaweed protein that someone was considering for use in desert reclamation projects due to its ability to hold water that would otherwise dry up. If this could be combined with the "hydroseeding" to make it more effective in desert areas it might help by creating a grassy buffer between the reclaimed gullies and dryer nearby areas. It might help hold dew at the ground level instead of being lost to the desert sky.

Posted by: Saul on 5 May 07



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