After a turbulent 2016 we felt that instead of trying to stare into the ‘sustainability’ crystal ball and coming up with predictions for the year ahead, it was safer to pick an aspect that is reasonably predictable – so we will look at what direction growing and cooking our own food will take. It also makes it easier if we consider what an expert in this ‘field’ says. In the New Year newsletter from the Organic Centre, Manager Hans Wieland says that he had his “ear to the ground” and so he has come up with the following predictions for 2017.
Hans and Gaby Wieland will be delivering a course on fermented foods on Sunday, 19 February at the Organic Centre
- More people will compost, because more people do experience the wonderful effect compost has in growing vegetables. More people also begin to realise how much money can be saved by recycling waste material. And because more people following the no dig method in gardening, compost is all they need. Everybody can do it and with a few recycled pallets a compost box is constructed in minutes.
2. More people will kill their lawn in favour of planting fruit trees and bushes, a few vegetable beds or a herb patch, because lawns are unproductive, costly and time consuming. (Football pitches for kids are exempt!) The revival of growing potatoes in lazy beds as the best strategy to start a garden from scratch is already underway!
3. More people will have a polytunnel, not just because undercover gardening is so addictive, but because the beauty of for example harvesting lettuce all year round can’t be measured in money terms only. Although the savings can be substantial it is the flavour, the colour and the taste of home-grown salad leaves that are unbeatable.
4. With the help of polytunnels more people will grow and harvest all year round and experience the seasons in a very down to earth way.
5. More people will eat weeds, because they are plants often higher in nutrients than our “ordinary” garden plants, but the real thrill for many gardeners often is to find these undervalued species in the wild thus satisfying our discovery instincts.
6. More restaurants and cafes will have their own kitchen gardens and kitchen gardeners supplying the enterprising chefs with the freshest vegetables and herbs imaginable and often resulting in simple seasonal dishes of extraordinary flavour.
7. More people will eat fermented foods as they learn how easy it is to cook, pickle and preserve with the help of micro organisms.
The Organic Centre is located in Rossinver, Co Leitrim. They commence the 2017 course with ‘Starting a Garden from Scratch’ on Saturday, 18 February. See the full course listing and seed catalogue at www.theorganiccentre.ie. Note that Cavan Monaghan ETB will run a course on Plant Identification, Care & Maintenance in Castleblayney commencing on Wednesday, 1 February, 10am – 1pm (15 weeks). See ‘Latest News’ at www.cavanmonaghan.etb.ie. For more GIY expertise why not go along to Monaghan GIY events or check out www.giy.ie.
Sustainability 2016: the good and bad news
The bad news on the sustainability front from 2016 seems to have dominated in 2016. We list below some of the highlights of the bad news and the good news.
The Bad News
Climate Change: 2016 was the hottest year on record and this is unwelcome news for people trying to grow food in many parts of the developing world. Increased migration will be one of the issues that will arise.
Destruction of Nature: In 2016 we have the confirmation that between 1970 and 2020 almost two thirds of the entire world’s wildlife will have gone and the extinction rate is on the increase.
President-Elect Trump: On the political front the environmental policies of the incoming administration in the US are likely to speed up climate instability and nature extinction.
Ireland’s Climate Damaging Emissions: The EPA confirmed that Ireland is unlikely to meet our 2020 EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
The Good News
Paris Climate Agreement Ratified: Most governments from around the world (including the Irish Government) have formally ratified the Paris Agreement. In the Agreement world leaders pledged their support to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius in this century.
Campaigns against Fracking / Fossil Fuels: In Ireland a Bill to ban fracking passed its first crucial vote in the Dáil. Thousands of people worldwide campaigned to break free from fossil fuels. This led to the shutting down of major coal-fired power stations in Wales and Germany. The Sioux people at Standing Rock in the US and their allies successfully protested against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. The US government also abandoned its plan for oil and gas drilling in Arctic waters.
Protecting our Oceans: In 2016, more than 20 countries pledged almost €5 billion for ocean conservation and created 40 new marine sanctuaries covering an area of 3.4 million square kms
Global Health Improvements: Among the successes reported by the World Health Organisation was one which stated that since the year 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60%.
Events on in January can be found here