Latest news on ethical and eco friendly living in the United Kingdom

published twice a week

 

Plants, gardens and countryside

Organic vs Conventional Plant Prices 03.07.12

Go into any large garden shop and the price of organic produce is inflated way beyond what is justifiable by the costs of production and materials.

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Despite Drop from 2009 Peak, Agricultural Land Grabs Still Remain Above Pre-2005 Levels 28.06.12

An estimated 70.2 million hectares of agricultural land worldwide have been sold or leased to private and public investors since 2000, according to new research conducted for WorldWatch’s Vital Signs Online service. The bulk of these acquisitions, which are called “land grabs” by some observers, took place between 2008 and 2010, peaking in 2009.

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History of the Garrigue 28.06.12

Contrary to the what most people think there is very little natural about the garrigue that covers the hills of the Aude and the Languedoc. It is very much the product of the agricultural development of the land, the history of this ecology can be traced back over 4500 years but the last 60-70 years have been the most dramatic. The garrigue is very much a product of man’s over exploitation of the dry Mediterranean landscape.

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Run-up to Rio bad time for U-turn on forest protection 23.05.12

Humanity is now using 50 per cent more resources than the Earth can provide, according to WWF’s recently released 2012 Living Planet Report. The consequences are seen in ongoing deforestation, increasing water scarcity, rising carbon emissions and crashing fish stocks. They can also be seen starkly in the Living Planet Index, a measure of the changes in the planet’s biodiversity, which shows a decline of 28 per cent since 1970.

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Bees at risk from chemicals increase 23.05.12

Pesticide use rose by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010, increasing the risk to bee populations, according to new research launched today by Friends of the Earth. The report, ’The Decline of England’s Bees’ was carried out by leading bee experts at the University of Reading as part of the environment charity’s latest campaign, The Bee Cause.

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Organic and natural solutions for snail and slug control 22.05.12

Snails and slugs are the bane of organic gardeners, basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces and other tasty leaves can be destroyed in one night-and their is nothing more disheartening than seeing the heads of tray seedlings fall victim to the nocturnal slippery slimes. Without the use of expensive poisons there is no simple solutions, here are a few ideas that organic gardeners can try and hopefully find the right combination that works for you.

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New Soil Association report on Manufactured Nitrogen- Just Say N20 30.04.12

Over the last fifty years much of our farming has become dependent on manufactured nitrogen fertiliser for fertility. However, too much nitrogen harms the environment and the economy, according to the 2011 European Nitrogen Assessment, which reported a study by 200 scientists investigating the unprecedented changes humans have made to the global nitrogen cycle over the last century.

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Three Organic Alternatives to Hormone Rooting Powder 08.03.12

With Spring almost appearing its time to think about taking cuttings. Here at Montrouch we have a series of strong mother plants awaiting a hair cut, the Rosemary, Mint, Thyme are all looking suitably shaggy. The problem however is how to maximise the survival rate and to ensure strong growth. For chemical gardeners this isn’t a problem, a good hormone rooting powder does the job, organic growers however have to be a little more creative.

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Reclaiming our future: Rio +20 and Beyond: La Vía Campesina Call to action 16.02.12

On 20-22 June 2012, governments from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to commemorate 20 years of the “Earth Summit”, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that first established a global agenda for “sustainable development”. During the 1992 summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Convention to Combat Desertification, were all adopted. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was also established to ensure effective follow-up of the UNCED “Earth Summit.”

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Global Organic market grows to 44.5 Billion euros in 2010 15.02.12

Thirty-seven million hectares of agricultural land worldwide are farmed organically. The global market for organic food is estimated at 44.5 billion euros. It grew by approximately eight percent in 2010. The largest growth was in Europe which added 800,000 hectares of organically certified land to reach a total of 10 million hectares.

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Get on my land! New report shows thousands benefit from community farming 09.02.12

An impact assessment of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in England – entitled ‘The Impact of Community Supported Agriculture’– has found that CSA schemes are providing multiple benefits to thousands of members, their communities, local economies and the environment. CSA offers an innovative approach to reconnecting people with their food, and helps to build strong partnerships between communities and farmers.

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Green MP warns of growing anger as "reckless" woodland sell-off plans published 28.01.11

Coalition plans to sell off swathes of England’s publicly-owned forests have been published in the face of widespread public opposition and questions over the economic case for the proposals.

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Organic milk is better for you - whatever the weather 27.01.11

Wetter, cooler summers can have a detrimental effect on the milk we drink, according to new research published by Newcastle University. Researchers found milk collected during a particularly poor UK summer and the following winter had significantly higher saturated fat content and far less beneficial fatty acids than in a more ‘normal’ year.

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Groasis: Green technology for low water tree planting 29.11.10

A retired Dutch tulip grower, Pieter Hoff, has come up with a simple. logical and easy to use system for establishing trees from saplings or seeds in low water climates and on degraded land. It’s just brilliant. We will be using this technology to start our olive grove. Its a bit pricey at the moment but prices are expected to drop drastically.

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Selling Organic: The Next Chapter Conference 14th October 07.10.10

Organic Farmers and Growers, an organic certifying body, are holding a Conference in Oxford this month that brings together many of the key players from market research organisations, buyers, organic producers and policy bodies.

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Les jardins du Salvet- Smart Green Technology 01.10.10

For some strange reason there is a connection between Green thinking and technophobia. True many Greens are hostile to transgenetic organisms, not so hot on nuclear power, and want to move away from our total reliance on petrochemicals. However being hostile to certain technologies does not equate with some stone age embracing hostility to all technology. Low carbon living, sustainable living or what ever you call it requires if anything a deeper understanding and more hands on approach to a myriad of technology than present modern, urban living requires. Nowhere was that brought home to me than a day’s training at Jean-Louis Rey and Caroline Rondinaeu’s amazing farm, Les jardins du Salvet.

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Salmon- 7 impacts of aquiculture 04.08.10

Once a luxury food, salmon is now one of the most popular fish species in the United States, Europe and Japan. Total salmon production has increased three-fold since 1980 to meet this demand. The largest growth has been in farmed, not wild caught, salmon. Approximately 60 percent (1.26 million metric tons) of the world’s salmon comes from fish farms. Source:WWF

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Farmland bird populations in sharp decline 29.07.10

Overall farmland bird populations in England fell by 5 per cent last year to their lowest level for 40 years, according to official figures released today (July 29, 2010). Source RSPB

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Aminopyralid Herbicide contaminated manure threat 17.06.10

The Soil Association and the Organic Growers Alliance (OGA) are calling on growers and gardeners to be vigilant following renewed cases of damaged crops due to manure contaminated with the herbicide aminopyralid. The symptoms exhibited on the crops are twisted, cupped, and elongated leaves; misshapen fruit; reduced yield; death of young plants; and poor seed germination.

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UK Organic market drops 12.9% in 2009 14.04.10

Organic sales in the UK had a terrible year in 2009, after a decade of double digit annual increase, last year saw a 12.9% drop in total sales to ₤1.84 billion, from a high in 2008 of ₤2.113 billion. Particularity hard hit was the organic meat and prepared food sectors, while organic milk, baby foods and home cooking ingredients held up and cosmetics and health product demand increased. Early signs from 2010 indicate a slow resurgence with projections of between 2-5% according to the newly released Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2010.

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Top 10 tips for low water organic gardening on a budget 11.08.09

Difficult as it may be for most people living in the British Isles this summer, in theory summer is a period of low rainfall. For the gardener dry weather throws up a number of problems, and with water prices rising, not to say the words ’hose pipe ban’, maintaining a traditional ’English’ garden during a period of drought can be a heart breaking experience. Here Peter Shield gives his top 10 tips for a low water approach to gardening on a budget.

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Incognito a 100% natural protection from moquitoes 30.06.09

Holiday time is upon us once again, time to pack the tent, book the train or bus and wobble off precariously off into the countryside on the bike to enjoy the wide big outdoors and dodge the dusk arrival of the bugs that bite. Anyone who has ever been camping in Scotland can tell you that midges can take all the fun out of an adventure. Luckily there is now a 100% natural, and vegan, solution to 90% of the problem.

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Severn shortlist ’seriously flawed’ says RSPB 08.05.09

The Government’s shortlist of tidal power schemes for the Severn Estuary is ’seriously flawed’ and should be scrapped according to an expert review of the advice ministers were given.

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South Africa launchs 4th largest marine park in the world 07.05.09

South Africa’s declaration to establish one of the world’s largest Marine Protected Area’s around its Prince Edward Islands, is a marine conservation achievement of global importance which will help protecting a suite of spectacular wildlife, including albatrosses, penguins and killer whales.

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Save Water, Money and Effort in the Garden 13.04.09

This time of year is traditionally when we all start getting to grips with our garden. Before rushing out to the local garden centre it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider some simple ways to avoid wasting water and money says the Consumer Council for Water.

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10 Better Things You Can Do To Help Save The Bees 08.04.09

In response to yesterday’s article about bees, Phil Chandler, author of The Barefoot Beekeeper, here suggests 10 more natural and organic orientated solutions to help the endangered honey bee.

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10 things you can do to save Honey Bees 07.04.09

Bees are probably one of the most economically useful creatures on earth, pollinating a third of all we eat. They provide more than 50% of pollination of wild plants on which birds and mammals depend say Dr Ivor Davis, Master Beekeeper.

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South Downs to become UK’s 9th National Park 31.03.09

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn today gave the go-ahead for the South Downs to become England’s ninth National Park.

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UK can have wind power and wildlife says RSPB 25.03.09

One more barrier that sometimes pits conservationist against ecologists has been removed by a report commissioned by the RSPB which found that the UK could greatly increase the number of onshore wind farms it builds without trashing wildlife.

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No excuse for worming your way out of compost 23.03.09

Setting up a home wormery could be the answer to the age-old excuse ‘I don’t have room to compost’, according to the UK’s leading organic growing charity, which is urging everyone to give composting a go during Compost Awareness Week, Sunday 3 – Saturday 9 May 2009.

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Garden 0rganic offers rare sale of even rarer vegetables 17.03.09

The British have a long and rich tradition of vegetable and fruit growing, from the apple orchards of Somerset to the allotment vegetable plots of Teeside factory workers. However visit the fresh produce section of any major supermarket and a very different story unfolds, yes the range of fruit and vegetables on offer is a season defying vastness but the depth of produce on offer is remarkably shallow

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Plea to protect the plight of nation’s gardening heritage 05.03.09

A leading organic growing charity is urging people to help it save some of the UK’s most endangered vegetables before it is too late.

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Garden Organic says 1st priority should be skills 02.03.09

Garden Organic, the UK’s leading organic growing charity, has approved of the National Trust’s announcement that it will make areas of unused land available for food growing, but urges that while access to land is important, re-skilling people in ’how to grow your own’ is essential.

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The Recycle Warehouse- Business against climate change 28.11.08

The Recycle Warehouse is an online department store that is championing the environment and fighting climate change. Their object is to be the next John Lewis, except that every item at The Recycle Warehouse is made from recycled materials says founder John Halladay.

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Organic Gardening 12 months for only £29.95 08.01.08

So you have made the Resolution to make that backyard, window sill, allotment work harder, and in the process make you healthier. Now you need some practical advice on what to do when- there is no better place to start that the Organic Gardening magazine.

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Top 28 Ethical companies to chose from for Christmas Gifts 13.12.07

The Ethical Company Organisation publishers of The Good Shopping Guide and the site www.gooshing.co.uk have published their top accredited ethical gifts companies, organic food and clothes, to green energy and pet foods. You couldn’t want for a better place to start your seasonal shopping.

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Ethical market worth £32.3bn in 2006 30.11.07

The Co-op Bank’s ethical consumerism report for 2006 show the sector has grown from 29.3 billion in 2005 to £32.3bn in 2006. Household spending on ethical goods and services is now £664, up from just £366 in 2002 an 81% increase in five years.

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Allotments-UK.com joins the 21st century 01.08.07

Allotments-uk.com, the longest running online community for allotment users in the UK, today announced the launch of a host of new upgrades for its dedicated users.

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Patio Heaters- warming more than the guests 30.07.07

Patio heaters are spreading across the gardens and terraces of the UK. According to the Energy Savings Trust’s latest Green Barometer numbers are likely to grow from 1.2 million to 2.3 million.

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ESRC: Rural communities revived by energy 19.07.07

A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, of community renewable energy projects in Britain has found that so far, projects are largely based in the countryside, some quite remote.

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Benn backs EU on removing set aside 17.07.07

In a week when cheddar cheese bits the £2,000 a tonne mark, and growing reports that bio-fuel is affecting over all food prices by gobbling up cereals to convert to car fuel, Hilary Benn has joined the NFU is calling for an en end to set aside land. Conservationist express grave concern for country wildlife.

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Eco-Centres and Courses – by Terena Plowright 06.07.07

Throughout the UK the galaxy of courses and hands on training around living a more sustainable life is breath taking. Published by Green Books, this is a comprehensive guide of fun and interesting days out for both adults and children.

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The Eco-store that Nigel Built - from clicks to bricks 05.07.07

Nigel’s Eco Store was founded strangely enough by a man called Nigel-Nigel Berman. While the trend in retail is moving from selling through shops to selling online, Nigel Berman talks to Natural Choices about why they have gone the other way.

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Organic Gardening- the natural no-dig way by Charles Dowding 30.04.07

This book is a superb introduction from Green Books to a tried and tested organic gardening technique perfected by Charles Dowding over 25 years of hands on experience.

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