Ouf! (as you say in France) …

….. meaning phew!, or expressing relief. We’ve had some rain (68mm), and more is forecast in the next few days. We had to wait until the third week of the month, and until then summer continued, with another heat peak around the 15th. And now we are getting noticeably shorter days (equi nox), the mornings and evenings are a lot cooler, and right at the end of the month I lit the woodburner in the evening for the first time.

Although over the last four months we have had about 190mm of rain, two-thirds of the published local average for this period (see the paragraph on weather recording below), the ground has been very dry to quite a depth, and together with the several heat peaks this constitutes a drought for the land here, not good news for young trees.

Continue reading

Sustainability: what does it mean exactly?

No. 2 in an occasional series of articles covering agroforestry-related topics in greater depth

‘Sustainability’ has become a buzz-word in everyday conversation. But I wonder how many of us have thought about what it actually means? If we buy food labelled as organic in a supermarket, for example, does that mean we are supporting a more sustainable form of agriculture? Unfortunately, the answer is probably “no”.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘sustainable’, in the context of development or agriculture, as “not leading to depletion of resources or degradation of the environment”, and I guess that the concept of sustainability has been around since time immemorial, in the sense that humankind has always needed to manage its resources and environment to make sure of the next meal. The word itself seems to have originated in 18th century European forestry to mean never taking more from the forest that it can itself regenerate.

Continue reading