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Site last updated on 5 November 2013
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The Journey to Forever Project
Journey to Forever is an overland expedition through Asia and Africa to Cape Town, South Africa.
We'll be reporting on environmental conditions along the way and working with local groups on community projects, and creating new networks among the groups we work with.
It's organised by Handmade Projects, a small international non-profit organisation that also runs a small organic research farm and appropriate technology development centre, and operates this website.
The aim is to help people fight poverty and hunger, in this richest-ever world where there's more food than there's ever been before more food per capita than most people could eat and to give individuals everywhere the means to opt out of the vicious global economic system that rules our planet and is destroying it.
The focus is on appropriate technology, sustainable energy, sustainable farming, family nutrition and local self-reliance.
Think globally act locally
The Journey to Forever website gets about half a million page visits a month, with visitors in 202 countries. It has inspired spin-off projects all over the world, hundreds of them or more, not including the millions of people over the last 12 years who've used it to learn how to turn their backyards into organic farms or to make their own biodiesel fuel.
More and more people all over the world are doing that now, it's spreading like a weed. You don't read about it in the media, and Big Oil doesn't have a clue that there are many, many millions of gallons of petro-diesel a year that they're not selling. It's small-scale, and local, so it goes right under the radar. It's suitably out of control.
What "they" don't know won't hurt them. (Until it's too late to do anything about it.)
We also don't know how many millions of biodiesellers there are or how much they're making but we do know that they make much better fuel than the big commercial biodiesel brewers do.
"Small is beautifuel," said Prof. Pagandai Pannirselvam of Brazil at our online discussion group.
And big is not beautifuel. The good people at GRAIN and at La Via Campesina say that large-scale industrial biodiesel production shouldn't even be called "biodiesel". "Bio" means life, they say, and industrial biofuels production is entirely anti-life, just like industrial agriculture is, only worse. So they call it "agrofuel" instead. Quite right too.
Real biofuels are produced by small-scale, local or community-level projects using an appropriate technology approach, which means that it has to fit in with the local context.
The industrial approach does the opposite, forcing the local context to fit the demands of the bottom-line, and "externalising" the costs. Locally it causes deprivation and poverty, along with clear-cut rainforests, and a lot more carbon emissions.
The one and only Law of Ecology is that everything is connected to everything else, and indeed all these issues are closely connected.
For instance, it's difficult to prise Big Biofuels, Big Agriculture and Big Oil apart, there's overlap, a grey area, they're virtually joined at the hip.
Industrial agriculture uses massive amounts of petroleum at every step, from the production of synthetic fertilisers all the way through to delivering the food to the local supermarket an average of 1,500 miles in the US (2,400 km). It's responsible for 25% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions even more than global transport, which accounts for about 24%.
It's the same with agrofuels crops. Industrial biodiesel is not climate-friendly, nor carbon-neutral. And it's often poor-quality as industry leaders have been forced to admit. Even the food miles issue applies: where is the sense in trucking the crop all the way to a central processing factory and then trucking the fuel all the way back again to where it will be used? Locally made biodiesel doesn't have to do that, it's right there already. Most of it's made from used cooking oil, which is also right there.
Organic farmers can reduce their carbon footprints virtually to zero, if they make their own biofuels too, as many do, and to even less than zero organic farming actually helps to repair the damage. Organic farming works with any kind of soil, and concentrates on building up the soil fertility to a peak. It sequesters huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and locks it up for a thousand years in the soil organic matter.
One teaspoon of fertile soil (4 ml) contains 200 nematodes, a quarter-million algae, a quarter-million protozoa, half a million fungi, 12 million actinomycetes, and 100 million bacteria, all interconnected in a living web soil is alive. The growing roots of the plants are an intimate part of the web, and so are the animals that eat the plants, including us, all caught up in an ever-turning wheel of wholeness and health.
But the harsh chemicals that Big Ag uses instead of Nature's methods plus lots of good compost burn out the organic matter and destroy the living web, leaving the soil laid waste, dead stuff that only serves to prop up the plants.
And they need propping up the plants are weak, sickly and unwholesome, they can't survive without the constant protection of multiple pesticides, which kill all the beneficial insects as well as the pests, and don't work properly anyway pesticide applications increase, but pest damage remains high.
Organic farmers seldom need to use pesticides, not even the benign, organically approved pesticides that they're allowed to use. Healthy plants resist pest attack.
Organic farm yields are just as high as the agrocrop yields. Yields for individual crops might be lower at first sight, but organic farmers don't concentrate on a single monocrop like corn or wheat or soy, they grow a wide variety of different crops in ever-shifting rotations.
Their farms are smaller, family farms mostly, so they can pay them close attention. And it pays off: in the US, farms smaller than 27 acres have more than 10 times the dollar-per-acre output of larger farms.
It's the same everywhere. In Thailand, farms of two to four acres produce 60% more rice per acre than bigger farms do. In Taiwan the net income per acre of farms of less than 1.25 acres is nearly double that of farms over five acres. In Latin America, small farms are three to 14 times more productive per acre than the large farms. Across the Third World, small farms are 2-10 times more productive per acre than larger farms.
Small is bountiful.
A study of more than 200 sustainable agriculture projects in 52 countries involving more than four million farms found that average increases in crop yields were 73 per cent.
The UN's worldwide scientific review of agriculture damned industrial agriculture and concluded that "small-scale farmers and organic, agro-ecological methods are the way forward".
"In the end, only a conversion to organic farming will allow us to maintain and even increase current crop yields," another study concluded.
"Conversion to small organic farms would lead to sizeable increases of food production worldwide," said yet another study.
"The truth, so effectively suppressed that it is now almost impossible to believe, is that organic farming is the key to feeding the world," The Guardian newspaper reported.
The topics Journey to Forever covers follow this ecological outline. The list of topics is in the red navigation bar on the left. Just click on the names.
The site has more than a thousand web pages. But it's easy to find your way. Wherever you are at the site, one click on the Journey to Forever logo at the top-left corner and at the end of each page will take you straight back here to the Home page.
It's colour-coded: the navigation bar is a different colour for each section, and there's a second navigation table at the bottom of the page.
As you go to a new section, such as Composting, or Appropriate Technology, the topics in the navigation bar open out to show a list of sub-topics and what they contain, covering the subject thoroughly.
These are how-to's, "information you can use", with resources pages pointing you to further information.
Comment from a user: "Your website is very well done. I appreciate the layers of technical complexity. You have progressively more technical information layered in an escalating and logical fashion. I like the links as each new item is introduced, the user can click for more specific information on a topic and it opens in a new window. This eliminates the tediousness of having to constantly backtrack to where the new concept was introduced."
Where you see underlined links in the text, don't hesitate to click on them, you won't get lost. Close the new window when you're finished with it and you're back where you were. Keep going.
Schoolchildren are a special part of Journey to Forever this is a great opportunity for students to learn about the issues that are so vital to the world they'll inherit.
Schools projects are listed in the navigation bar, and many schools make use of them.
Visit our Small farms library new books added every week
Top 10 pages
1. Make your own biodiesel
Just a second...
• Four babies are born every second.
• "If many little people, in many little places, do many little things, they will change the face of the world."
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