Richmond Vale

I was fascinated and excited about ecological farming!

ecological-farming1200x628 The idea of growing food without pesticides and other chemicals is something that has always intrigued me
My name is Ms Emris Stapleton, from Chateaubelair. I am a Field Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture. I am also a farmer, an organic gardener and an active community member. The idea of growing food without pesticides and other chemicals is something that has always intrigued me, but I needed expert advice as to where to begin. The opportunity ca...
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Camille Bru

About Seedlings

seeds-banner What does it mean to work with seeds?
Seeds are fantastic! These little dry insignificant beads can give life to your lettuce, tomatoes or even a huge mango tree!!! Can you imagine? As the master of seeds here at RVA, I have the privilege to work with them at least twice a week during what we call Common Action. What does it mean to work with seeds? Well, with my accomplices, we set se...
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Richmond Vale

Organic Farming is Peace

frontpage Richmond Vale Academy - Organic Farming is Peace
"An organic farmer is the best peacemaker today, because there is more violence, more death, more destruction, more wars, through a violent industrial agricultural system. And to shift away from that into an agriculture of peace is what organic farming is doing." - Vandana Shiva Dear Readers In this blog you will see a lot of beautiful pictures fro...
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Richmond Vale

New Video by the March Team!

In the beginning ofMarch a new Climate Compliance Team started and here is one of their first movies, put together by Simon. Enjoy!
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Richmond Vale

Permaculture Ethics and Principles (A life Example) - by Heather

Permaculture Ethics and Principles (A life Example) - by Heather
When I first heard about permaculture, I didn't really have a concept of what it was. I knew that it was something to do with the garden and producing your own food, I knew it was organic and based around sustainability, it was a little alternative and out there on the edge (Principle 11: Use Edges and Value the Marginal). In the last 10 days, I have been able to take part in a Permaculture Design course and what a journey it was! I now know that there is so much more to permaculture, it is not just gardening or agriculture, it is actually a way of life and a willingness to be aware of the life we are creating. The word Permaculture came from the concept of 'permanent' and 'agriculture' and focused around making our farming practices not only sustainable but regenerative. The code of ethics that is followed is care for the earth, care for the people and fair share. Care for the earth looks at everything from what we put into and take out of the land including all the plant and animal species and the most important thing, soil! When we talk about care for people we are thinking about the idea of everyone being treated with respect and care and love that they deserve. Fair share is in all things, if...
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Richmond Vale

Why start organic gardening

Why start organic gardening
People start organic farming for a lot of reasons, as a hobby, a way to eat healthier, to reduce their grocery spending, to earn extra income, etc. There are also many people (like myself) who do it for philosophical reasons as part of a value system. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy my work in the garden or on the farm, it's tiring and in my case there is quite a bit of trial and error, but I do genuinely enjoy it. Which I guess is lucky for me because my reasons for doing it would have me out working with the plants regardless. Now I’m not going to go on a sustainability rant or try to convince you that the ideologies to which I subscribe are right for everyone. The purpose of this post is to try to put organic gardening into a big picture perspective, because I feel that looking at it in that way not only enhances its value, and the fulfillment that we can get from it, but also it can increase our yields and reduce the amount of work that we have to do.   I guess that to begin it would be worthwhile to define “organic”, because it's a termthat is subject to interpretation. In the commercial world it simply means non chemical, which in my opinion isn’t...
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Richmond Vale

The Permaculture Design Course is finally here at RVA!

The Permaculture Design Course is finally here at RVA!
Permaculture is a way of designing your life so that very little of your effort is wasted.  You design your lifestyle to be healthier, cleaner, social, meaningful and productive.  It is the design that makes Permaculture a different way to sustain humanity. So, by doing a permaculture design course,  we can make more efficient societies, workplaces and preserve the beautiful natural resources we have left. Richmond Vale Academy Diving and Hiking Center brings you a 10 days Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) . This course, will open your heart and your mind to a new world by connecting human beings and nature together as one. The course plan, which is based on Bill Mollison's book “ Permaculture: A Designers' Manual ”, will give you an introduction to permaculture as a science that can give the opportunity to live a sustainable life. It will prepare you with the skills and techniques to apply permaculture designs in different settings and at different scales. Why to do a Permaculture Design Course? The most important reason to do a Permaculture Design Course is to build your skills to design a more efficient, co-operative and eco-friendly lifestyle for yourself and others.  We believe in walking the talk – living the lifestyle that will help others to develop.  This course enables much more. You can develop a specialist field, teach others, set up...
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Richmond Vale

5 Amazing Ways To Get The Most Out of a Permaculture Garden

5 Amazing Ways To Get The Most Out of a Permaculture Garden
The term ' Permaculture ' is a portmanteau word for 'permanent agriculture' and 'permanent culture'. Permaculture is basically an agricultural system which focuses on the natural way of practicing agriculture, maintaining the ecological systems and not strictly adhering to the systems followed in modern agriculture. This system of permaculture garden was designed and developed by two Australians named Bill Mollison and David Holmgren . Permaculture has been defined by Mollison as, "A philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single project system." Why Should We Use Permaculture? Permaculture gardens serve many functions. Rather than limit the garden to only one use, permaculture gardens employ a variety of uses. A permaculture garden provides food and medicinal crops, wildlife habitats, crafting materials, an attractive appearance, and a private, relaxing atmosphere throughout every season. These types of gardens produce food by using a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. Flowers are not only grown for their edible or medicinal properties but also as an insect repellent or attracting depending of the needs. They are also good to be used as cut flowers for beautiful bouquets or dried out for additional longer-lasting displays, and numerous plant materials are used...
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Richmond Vale

5 amazing benefits of mulching the garden (Infographic + Types of mulch)

5 amazing benefits of mulching the garden (Infographic + Types of mulch)
  One of the easiest ways to ensure success in your garden, especially a vegetable garden, is to incorporate mulching into your garden preparations. This doesn’t have to break the bank, but it will provide you dividends in the abundance of vegetables you will harvest from your garden. Whether you live in the city, countryside, or suburbia, and whether you have a huge garden, raised beds, or even if you are using pots and containers, mulch is the unsung hero in the garden. What is Mulch? The word ‘Mulch’ has its roots in German. It comes from the word ‘molsch’ which means ‘beginning to decay’. This is probably used in reference to the first types of mulch that were biodegradable. Mulch is a thin layer of any substance that is spread over the soil. It is used to mimic the conditions that one sees in the forest. What are the Benefits of mulching? Mulchin your plants can give you a lot benefits. Some of them are: (Click The Infographic to Enlarge ) Share this Image On Your Site </p> <p><strong>Please include attribution to http://richmondvale.org with this graphic.</strong></p> <p><a href=' http://richmondvale.org/benefits-of-mulching-the-garden/'><img src='http://richmondvale.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/INFOGRAFIA-MULCH.jpg' alt='5 Amazing Benefits of Mulching The Garden' width='540px' border='0' /></a></p> <p> #1- Gets Plants Through Extreme Weather. During dry spells, mulch can save plants. It acts as an insulator, keeping the soil cool and moist...
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Richmond Vale

Benefits of the Moringa Tree (Infographic) + Uses

Benefits of the Moringa Tree (Infographic) + Uses
Moringa oleifera is a small to medium-sized tropical tree native to the Indian subcontinent. The tree is easily recognizable from its light colored knotty trunk and highly branched compound leaves. The fruits of the Moringa tree are thin, 1 ½ -2 ft. long pods.  Click to go to the Uses of the Moringa Tree The M. tree has several names in different parts of the world including its common name of “horseradish tree,” since its roots taste similar to horseradish root when raw. In Ayurvedic medicine it is known as shigru. Although the sparse crown of the drumstick tree offers little shade from the hot sun of the tropics, it is a common fixture in almost every yard and by the wayside. The M. tree have innumerable health benefits. The leaves, flowers and the green pods of Moringa are all edible and are widely use in Indian cuisine. This miracle tree is beneficial as food because of its ability to grow in a variety of climates, especially subtropical climates. In fact, M. Oleifera grows in virtually all countries where malnutrition is widespread and may be a great part of a comprehensive plan to alleviate malnutrition throughout the world. Nutritional Value Of Moringa Moringa leaves and pods are a nutritional powerhouse.It is a rich source of essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. It...
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Richmond Vale

4 Benefits of Intercropping that you never imagined!

4 Benefits of Intercropping that you never imagined!
Intercropping is defined simply as growing two or more crop types on one field. The practice of intercropping has actually been around since farming began. Modernization of farming equipment has changed our farming practices into what they are today, which is largely mono-cropping. Mono-cropping is planting only one crop on a field that was adapted with the intention of maximizing the amount of seeds you could plant on one field and in a shorter period of time.  Types of Intercropping These are the basic four methods commonly employed. Sometimes they involve annual grains and vegetables, such as the mixed intercropping classic of corn, beans and squash. Sometimes there are perennial species with annual crops growing amongst them, say perennial garlic and basil with annual tomatoes. Perennials also work well with other perennials. In parts of the tropics, bananas, papayas, coffee, vanilla and cacao make a crackerjack intercropping team (For example here at Richmond Vale Academy , we have what we like to call the “Dessert Field” with bananas, cacao and vanilla. Delicious!). In essence, these are all forms of companion planting, in which one plant provides some useful component for another. The technique can be small in scale, something seen in a home garden. However,  strip cropping is also becoming more common for progressive industrial models. - Row Intercropping It’s the growing of two or more...
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Richmond Vale

Organic Bananas

Organic Bananas
New technologies are being introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture, to improve Banana Production in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Ministry is partnering with H2K Agro to conduct trials on Banana Farms with the aim of controlling the Black Sigatoka and Moko diseases that have been affecting the banana industry. Speaking at a media conference, Mr. Rex Suckoo, Representative of H2K Agro, pointed out that the Company utilises natural means of strengthening the banana plant. He said that this will create a healthier environment for farmers and possibly open up a market for organic bananas. Mr. Suckoo also said that overall they have demonstrated that the technology works, and he ensured that it would have a greater benefit to the people of this country. Soruce:   agriculture.gov.vc
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Richmond Vale

9 benefits of crop rotation for the environment

9 benefits of crop rotation for the environment
The crop rotation is a thousand years old technique that has been proven to help the environment , improve the soil and so many other things. Crop Rotation This system is the practice of growing several dissimilar or different crop types (or no crop at all) in the same area and in sequential seasons. Historians believe that farmers in the Middle East already practiced crop rotation as early as 6,000 B.C, although they didn’t fully understand the science behind it. The logic behind crop rotation is when the same crop is grown at the same place for several years the soil is depleted of certain nutrients. [caption id="attachment_6471" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Example of crop rotation on a small-scale. Photo Credit: Wikipedia . Doing rotation, a crop that draws one kind of nutrient from the soil is followed during the consequent season by a crop that returns the nutrient to the soil or draws a distinct ratio of nutrients. Environmental benefits of the crop rotation Several problems begin to creep up when you don’t rotate crops. All these problems can lead to decreased yields over the course of several years. First, the land itself can become “tired” and less fertile. This is because if the same type of crop is planted in the same area, the plant will continue to drain same nutrients from the soil.. Second, certain...
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Richmond Vale

Experiments in the Organic Garden

Experiments in the Organic Garden
The organic garden at RVA is based on Permaculture principles, which view the garden as an ecosystem, and applies a holistic systems approach to fertilization and pest control. Plants are positioned on a garden bed according to their respective plant families. In this way, by mixing plant families, the fertilizer requirements of the diverse plant families are more easily met by the soil than when growing a mono crop. The soil at RVA organic garden is sandy and in order to grow organic vegetables, fruits and herbs it is necessary that the topsoil have a structure that enables retention of water and nutrients as well as providing a cool and protected home for our all important microbes. To this end we have experimented with the burying of coarse organic material under garden beds as well as the mixing of soft rotted wood with horse manure and bio-char. This mixture is then applied to the tops of the garden beds and mulched. [caption id="attachment_10537" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Preparing the banana fertilizer The mulch, itself in time becomes fertilizer, as it is transformed by the soil microbes into rich humus. Mulch and composting materials are grown in and around the garden in the form of support species. These include trees and vining beans that are capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere, the organic matter deriving from such species...
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Richmond Vale

10 Reasons to Start Backyard Gardens in Homes and Schools

10 Reasons to Start Backyard Gardens in Homes and Schools
Gardening is a way to teach children about how the farming industry works. It also teaches them the importance of good and nutritious food. It is vital that children learn about gardening because they might be interested to learn this and do it at home for themselves. It will teach people the importance of biodiversity and the importance of a broad variety in the garden. It is a good way for the family to spend more time together and learn about gardening. It is a good way for low income families to save money on fruits and vegetables. For families to grow their own food, it would also mean that people would consume more of a variety of food. For schools it is a great way to implement other ways of teaching for teachers and other ways of learning for students. Including environmental education in the garden will also teach about global warming, greenhouse gasses and what we can do ourselves to become aware consumers. By growing your own food, you know what goes into the soil and the water. Hopefully when growing your own food you have taken a stand against chemically produced pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers. Creating awareness to go organic in your garden may also introduce you to go more fair trade, local and low carbon emission foods. This is also good for...
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Richmond Vale

Humanure: Using human waste as fertilizer

“The world is divided into two categories of people: those who shit in their drinking water supplies and those who don't.” – Joe Jenkins, Author of Humanure Handbook . As the war for resources wage on let's take a moment to discuss a resource that we throw away every single day: human manure. "Humanure (human manure) is the human fecal material and urine that is recycle for agricultural purposes via thermophilic composting. Humanure contains valuable soil nutrients that enhance plant growth.  Human manure could be a major source of soil fertility if properly recycled. When discarded into the environment as a waste material, it creates pollution and threatens public health. When you recycle using composting, the pollution and health threats are eliminate. "   Composting toilets don't smell bad at all. That is because each time someone does their business, they cover it up with carbon-rich sawdust which accomplishes three things. Soaks up moisture, create a covering that prevent odor from escaping. And create a cover that prevents flies from being attract to it. Additionally, each bucket has a wooden cover so insects cannot get into it. Many Ecovillages compost human waste in such a way that it is recycled, over a two year period, using methods that organically destroy all pathogens contained within it. The toilets at don't have any water in them. Instead, they have...
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Richmond Vale

Useful and Pioneering Organic Pest Control in the RVA Garden

The organic gardening is very important to Richmond Vale Academy , not only because it provides food security to the school, but also because it is a way to show local people how to be climate compliant through implementing climate-smart agriculture techniques. This is why a useful organic pest control is really important for the garden in RVA . But, as every agricultural practice, it presents various challenges. One of these challenges is pests we had to avoid if we want to protect our organic food . Organic Gardens As you may know, organic gardening discards using all kind of chemical products. And, since they are harmful to the environment and nonetheless to humans. There is where the challenge begins. Considering we are under tropical weather, the proliferation of undesired bugs in your garden is something to be aware of, and have an organic pest control system is necessary. Also, for the school is especially difficult considering that the amount of people is always changing. Besides, sometimes, the garden team struggles to keep up with the tasks required. Organic Pest Control So, how are we dealing with these situations? Ideally, a garden designed under Permaculture principles will be bio-diversified enough to have natural predators to the present pests. Additionally, it should have a crop mixture that avoids pest concentration in specific areas. Hence, this is what...
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Richmond Vale

Food Forest: The End of the Manicured Lawn?

More often than not, we go to a neighborhood and see neatly trimmed grass and decorative plants in the entryway. The book definition of a manicured lawn. Is it pretty? Yes! Is it useful? Not in the slightest. In fact, lawns massively contribute to global warming and environmental pollution. If you are a gardening enthusiast, this might cause you a cognitive dissonance. How is this lovely grass you nurture detrimental to the environment? Keep reading to find out the answer to this question; and to learn about how you can still do gardening through an excellent, environmentally sound practice: growing a food forest. 1 HISTORICAL FACT AND 5 UGLY TRUTHS ABOUT LAWNS Current lawns take inspiration from the English landscape gardens, which became popular in Europe in the 1700s. The English gardens "usually included a lake, sweeps of gently rolling lawns set against groves of trees, and recreations of classical temples" ( Wikipedia ). They were a sign of aristocracy, as the landowner could afford to maintain unproductive land. [caption id="attachment_5853" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia Fast forward to last century, after the second Industrial Revolution brought along industrial suburbs. Well-kept lawns "propagated the homogeneity of the suburb itself" ( Wikipedia ) . They were signs of good citizenship and increased the selling price of new homes. Today, manicured lawns are part of urban and suburban...
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Richmond Vale

What are the 12 Permaculture Principles after all?

[caption id="attachment_5578" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Geograph.uk Permaculture is men's way of acknowledging the wiseness of Mother Nature. It consists in simulating the natural processes of ecosystems in controlled environments to make the latter self-sustaining. Over the years permaculture has revolutionized how people see, use and interact with nature. It is truly a culture; and features certain ethical aspects which are key to its survival. This ethical base consists of three pillars: earth care, people care and fair share, which form the foundation for permaculture design. A set of 12 permaculture principles has been modeled after these ethics, to help people regulate self-interest and ensure long-term cultural and biological survival. Read on for these 12 permaculture principles that will give you a better understanding of this life philosophy. THE 12 PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES [caption id="attachment_5427" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Based on the three ethical principles of permaculture, a list of 12 permaculture principles were developed to guide new and old practitioners OBSERVE AND INTERACT The first of the permaculture principles promotes a deeper understanding of earth care. [caption id="attachment_5577" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia Permaculture depends on the understanding you have of your garden and the local conditions. Timberpress.com recommends devoting an entire year to observing your garden and the influence nature has on it. At the end of this year, you will understand the changing microclimates of your...
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Richmond Vale

Permaculture: A Miracle System for the Survival of the World

Permaculture is a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere . It incorporates knowlege, tools and resources to create a regenerative, self-substaining society in both the physical and social sense. WHAT IS PERMACULTURE? It is understood as the design and life philosophy of working with nature and not against her. Permaculture creates human systems inspired in natural ecosystems , from which it draws inspiration for design and patterns to follow in the construction of environmentally sound, self-reliant spaces with the goal of meeting human needs. Permaculture tries to simulate natural conditions with farming purposes. It consists on taking the natural processes found in ecosystems and emulating them in a controlled environment; in order to make the latter self-sustaining. Well applied, it could provide food for people around the world with a low maintenance cost and very little impact on the environment. In short, permaculture is a positive, effective solution to the current world crisis, in which climate change , hunger and poverty are running rampant. [caption id="attachment_5421" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Claire Gregory's permaculture garden: a suburban permaculture garden with different layers of vegetation - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Permaculture was originally conceived as "permanent agriculture" and focused on methods to ensure sustainable food production. Imagine having a piece of land and developing a way for it to produce healthy fruits...
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