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Regenerative Leadership Institute - the nation's leadership, sustainable living and permaculture design school. We reconnect people and nature.

Benefits of Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting, the process that involves collecting and storing rainwater from various surfaces for future use, is an easy, affordable and sustainable way for households and organizations to meet their water needs. Rising populations, high processing costs and increasing numbers of people moving to large cities are putting more pressure on water providers to supply them with adequate water to meet their daily needs. As a result, it is important for anyone looking to get access to sufficient water quantities to consider investing in rainwater harvesting systems, and reduce their reliance on municipal councils, water bodies and other suppliers of this precious commodity. Below are a few benefits of incorporating the practice of harvesting rainwater into your lifestyle:
1. Affordable water
Americans pay an average of $50 every month to have water piped into their homes. In addition statistics indicate that Americans spend $100 per person yearly to purchase bottled water. Conversely, setting up a basic rainwater harvesting system will set you back about $3000 but this can be easily recouped in savings on your water bill and ultimately prove to be the most cost effective option in the long run.

2. Self sufficiency
Once you set up your own rain harvesting system, your reliance on water providers is brought down to a minimum and you will only have to depend on this water source in cases of extreme drought and other rare occurrences. You are also less likely to experience price fluctuations that occur when the cost of processing goes up due to an increase in oil prices, water treatment chemicals and other materials used to treat and clean water.

3. Soil conservation
Harvesting rainwater and directing it into a central place for storage means that there is less impact on the ground, as well as reduced runoff which ultimately prevents soil erosion, leaching of nutrients from the ground and even waterlogged soils that are detrimental to agriculture.

4. Useful for irrigation
In addition to reducing their reliance on third parties to supplier their water, many people are also choosing to grow their own organic food that is healthier and safer than store bought options that are produced using harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Stored rainwater is making this process easier by giving both rural and urban farmers access to a cheap and easily available source of water to irrigate their crops and ensure a year long and constant supply of food for them and their families.

Rainwater harvesting will become more and more important as people discover the benefits they can reap from this time honored practice. Anyone looking for an affordable, sustainable and easily utilizable source of water would do well to consider investing in this system. If you have decided that rainwater harvesting is the way to go, you can learn more about this sustainable practice at the Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute (

Advantages of Permaculture Guilds

Permaculture guilds incorporate various symbiotic animal and plant species into a system built around a central plant in order to ensure maximum production. The organisms in the system work together to ensure that the entire system can meet its needs for food, light, protection and other elements necessary to ensure that it continues to grow and produce items that meet human needs. A permaculture guild has several advantages to offer including:

  1. Optimal use of space

Climbers and supporters in a permaculture guild allow even farmers with the most limited amount of space to grow sufficient quantities of food. In addition, it is possible to grow diverse types of plants to meet your needs for a balanced diet without needing too much space.

  1. Increased soil nutrition

Many permaculture guilds utilize nitrogen fixing plants such as legumes, clover and Lucerne which convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia and fix it into the soil for use by other plants. In addition, mulches, composts and animal manure help to increase the nutrition of the soil and ultimately result in increased plant yields.

  1. Pest Control

In addition to integrating several plants in a symbiotic scheme, guild planting also uses several beneficial insects and animals for pollination, to provide fertilizer and control pests.  Ducks can be used to control slugs, ladybirds eat aphids and birds eat insects while they are still in their larvae stage before they can begin to wreck havoc on your plants. Planting insect and animal attracting plants and flowers will help to draw these beneficial species to your garden and keep pests at bay. Using natural methods and leaving out chemicals means that these dangerous substances are less likely to seep into the produce you grow and put your health at risk.

  1. Better tasting food

Some plants enhance the flavor of other plants around them if they are planted together. For instance, strawberries intercropped with borage will result in a great improvement in the flavor of the former.

  1. Guarantee of yields

Layering or stacking different plants in a guild allows you to plant as many different species as you need to in order to ensure that the entire system provides you with adequate yields to meet your food or fuel needs. Having diverse species guarantees a harvest as even if some of the crops fail, you still have backup yields from the other plants.

Permaculture guilds have myriad benefits to offer adherents. This type of planting is a sustainable and renewable way to meet your material needs without adverse effects on the environment. If you wish to learn more about how permaculture guilds can improve your life, the Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute offers several courses to help you get started on this important and life changing practice.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Mulch

When you put some mulch over the soil where your plants sit, there are numerous benefits. Mulch insulates and keeps the temperature steady thus shielding the roots from hot spells and cold snaps. It prevents the moisture in the soil from evaporating, so you water your plants fewer times. You can decide to make mulch with the necessary materials or buy some. Take a look at some things you should mull over when you want to purchase mulch.

  • The Source

Most organic mulches that are sold commercially except straw are byproducts from the lumber sector. Mulches from great home-improvement stores and garden centers or mulches from trustworthy landscape supply corporations are most likely safe and clean. Inexpensive bags of mulch may have waste with toxic materials, lead paint, and metals.

  • Its Purpose

When choosing mulch, bear in mind the plant on which you intend to you use it. Shredded hardwood that has a medium texture can work in most areas. However, when you want a permanent mulch for example around trees, large chunks such as pine bark nuggets are more durable. For your vegetable bed, fluffy mulch that can decompose easily such as straw is ideal.

  • Bag or Bulk?

Commercial mulch is usually in bags or truckloads. The mulch in bags can be more expensive, but it is simpler to handle, particularly if you have no space for piles of bulky mulch. Buying in bags is beneficial in that you can purchase various types of mulches for different purposes. If you only have a small garden that you only need to refresh, a bag would be a perfect choice. You can learn about where to order bulk mulch from Open Permaculture and Regenerative Leadership Institute.

Bulk mulch requires some labor as you may have to shovel a full wheelbarrow to where you need it and then empty the mulch around your plants. The prices of the mulch vary so when shopping, let the seller know what the purpose of the mulch is and estimate the price of the material they suggest for that purpose. Remember the delivery distance may have an impact on the cost.

  • Prices

Before buying mulch, take some time to visit various garden stores so that you can compare the prices. When buying bags, remember to confirm the return policy of the store from which you purchase. Most stores often allow you to give back any extra bags of unopened mulch in case you buy too many of them.

Benefits of Greywater Re-use

Greywater refers to waste water from households that does not contain fecal matter in it. So technically, it is all the waste water from the house watering system, that is the kitchen, shower and other such systems, except the toilet. This water can be re-used in outside gardens and to water other plant systems directly from the house. Systems can be installed through which the water can be piped directly to the plants outside or to a reservoir tank from which there can then be controlled watering of the plants to minimize waste. Greywater has a lot of benefits and these include;

Water Treatment Costs and Resource Reduction

When the water is pumped into the septic water systems, the end goal is usually to recycle it by filtering, purifying and treating it so that it can then be pumped back for use at home. These processes usually take up a lot of resources. Chemicals for purification, larger reservoir tanks maintenance costs and cleaning costs, lots of energy costs and not to mention the amount of energy required to pump the water back to the whole population. By re-using greywater, the amount of water that goes into the purification systems is reduced and gradually, with more and more re-use, the effects can be felt. There is an overall reduction in the costs and energy required to recycle the water.

Encourages Eco Friendly Living

Normally, we do not always pay attention to the eco friendliness of what we use in the house. Certain chemicals, such as the ones found in detergents, are harmful to the environment. By re-using greywater however, one becomes more aware of the impact of the toxicity or lack thereof of the things used within the household. In the long run, the re-use of greywater encourages less and less use of toxic substances and an adoption of eco friendly techniques.

Reduces septic system overload

Constant use of septic systems eventually takes its toll on them. With more and more water draining into these systems, and a reduced capacity in the efficiency of recycling the water and pumping it back, the septic systems experience an overload. Every once in a while a septic tank may blow open and this is a sanitation nightmare. By reducing the amount of waste water flowing into these systems  through greywater re-using, you contribute to the reduction of the septic system overload.

More information on greywater, its uses, systems that can be used and more benefits can be learnt at the Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute.

Anaerobic Composting

This is a process of making compost that does not use air. Anaerobic composting is reliant on bacteria and microbes that survive in oxygen deprived states or environments. It is a very slow process due to the lack of oxidation that tends to speed up decomposition. An anaerobic compost can stay for years before it can be considered mature or rather fit enough to harvest or to use. There is no exact way to monitor the compost since most times it is dug underground. Once covered, the compost is first of all decomposed by aerobic bacteria – those that require oxygen. This goes on until all the oxygen that was covered up with the compost is depleted, the bacteria are then rendered useless. Over time, anaerobic bacteria – those that do not use oxygen – begin acting on the compost. Continue reading Anaerobic Composting

Huge acres of China’s farmland are not fit for agriculture

For the rest of the world, China is a country that is big enough to grow food for the whole population and but in reality this statement is not 100% true. China is not capable of making their crops free of contamination. 8 million acres of agricultural land are not fit for growing crops.China is determined to grow a huge amount of crops from its land which put these lands very close to chemical plants and heavy industries hence raising the risks of contamination in the food. Officials revealed toxic metals and banned pesticides in this fields which can contaminate the crop. Rice with high level of cadmium is seen in the market. The chinese government is going to spend millions in this matter.

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New method of harvesting maple sap

mapleA new method of extracting maple sap can revolutionize the whole business. Scientist have found out a way to efficiently take maple sap from the trunks of saplings and increase syrup production. The idea behind it is that instead of using big trees in a forest, the new method would use young trees grown in tight rows, like Christmas trees. The Use of young trees also gives syrup makers more opportunity for genetic experiments and they don’t have to wait for the tree to grow also. The saplings will be cut and a vacuum is put into it to take the sap out. The syrup produced from these saplings will be identical in taste and color. The yield also increases in this way.

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