LAC Countries Take Action Towards Ending Hunger by 2025

3 March 2016: The 34th Session of the Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) adopted a number of measures to achieve the region's goal to eradicate hunger by 2025, five years ahead of the deadline agreed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Goal 2 is End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and the Goal's first target calls to, “by 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.”

The LAC conference focused on three priorities: consolidating regional efforts towards eradicating hunger and malnutrition; promoting family farming, inclusive food systems and sustainable rural development; and the sustainable use of natural resources in the context of adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management.

In his address to the Conference, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva commended the region's advances in combating hunger, and said LAC countries have an opportunity to be the first region to achieve SDG 2. He said FAO will continue supporting key activities such as the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean initiative, and the Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Conference delegates decided to develop a priority regional initiative on the sustainable use of natural resources in the context of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, which will focus on climate change adaptation in Latin America's Dry Corridor, a region experiencing more frequent and erratic droughts caused by climate change. Other outcomes include: agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to support implementation of the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), which took place in 2014; agreement with Consumers International on strengthening action to reduce obesity in the region; and a new initiative to support family agriculture, inclusive food systems and sustainable rural development.

The FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean takes place every two years to coordinate efforts in eradicating hunger and establishing FAO's regional priorities. The 34th session took place from 29 February to 3 March 2016, in Mexico City, Mexico. [FAO Press Release, 25 Feb] [FAO Press Release, 1 Mar] [FAO Press Release, 3 Mar] [Conference Website] [Video Coverage (in Spanish)] [Hunger Free LAC Initiative] [CELAC Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and Eradication of Hunger 2025] [IISD RS Story on 2016 CELAC Summit]

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Turning Yards into Gardens & Neighborhoods into Communities by Food Not Lawns & Heather Jo Flores

Bring the author & founder of Food Not Lawns to your town to teach workshops, plant gardens & build community.

Lawns are the Worst!

Americans spend over $30 billion every year to maintain over 40 million acres of lawn. Yet over 40 million people live below the poverty level. Even if only ⅓ of every lawn was converted to a food-producing garden, we could eliminate hunger in this country.

Lawns use more equipment, labor, fuel, and agricultural chemicals than industrial farming, making lawns the largest (and most toxic) agricultural sector in the United States. Lawnmowers burn more fuel every year than all industrial oils spills of the last twenty years, combined. Growing Food Not Lawns is a beautiful, responsible and empowering step towards finding real solutions to the major problems we face as a global society.

Grow Food, Not Lawns!

When the original chapter of Food Not Lawns started in 1999, in a tiny space behind a park in Eugene, Oregon, our vision was to share seeds and plants with our neighborhood, to promote local awareness about food security, and to learn about permaculture, sustainability and organic gardening.

Our project blossomed. We received a Neighborhood Improvement Grant from the City of Eugene, and conducted a low-cost permaculture design course for the neighborhood. We transformed most of the neighborhood lawns into lush organic gardens. We hosted annual seed swaps. Soon, we started to get mail from people around the country who were starting up local Food Not Lawns chapters of their own, and a movement had been born.

In 2006, co-founder Heather Flores published Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community (Chelsea Green.) The first half of the book is about gardening in the city, with no budget and on shared land. The second half is about working with people to build community around shared food and resources.

The book sold over 25,000 copies, and now there are more than 50 affiliated Food Not Lawns groups in the United States, Canada, and the U.K.. The original Food Not Lawns collective just hosted its 16th annual seed swap, and the meme, “Food Not Lawns,” has taken root in the mainstreamconsciousness.

We need your Support!

Stickers, T-shirts and Yard Signs help spread the message

This campaign is a tool to raise funds for outreach and education, and every donation comes with a Reward that helps everyone.

Starter kits help you establish and expand your local Food Not Lawns project.

Website sponsorships connect people to your work (we place your logo on our website) and support the expansion of the long-standing website,, into a user-generated network for sharing skills, knowledge, photos, events and other resources.

Consultations with Heather Flores help you get creative with your garden design and/or community project.

“50 ways to Grow Food Not Lawns,” a new audio handbook from Heather Flores, gives a fun overview of urban permaculture and lawn-transformation techniques.

Workshops in your community will help jump-start new gardens and strengthen local networks by bringing people together to share seeds, resources, tools and knowledge about permaculture, sustainability and organic food.

Food Not Lawns Workshop Tour

This is the main focus of this campaign, and if funding is successful, Heather Jo Flores will travel all over, teaching workshops and helping people turn lawns into gardens and neighborhoods into communities. Please note that all events on this tour will be booked through this Kickstarter campaign, as premium rewards. If you want your town to be on the tour, pledge $500 or more. You can sponsor the event yourself, collaborate with a local nonprofit or university, or sell advance tickets to workshop participants. Funding deadline is March 21 and at that time tour schedule will be confirmed and announced.

Hosting Heather Jo Flores in your community means so much more than just hearing her talk. Heather literally wrote the book on Food Not Lawns, and as one of the founding members, she has had her thumb on the pulse of this movement since the beginning. She emphasizes friendship-based learning, and her events always incorporate a heavy dose of community interaction and team-building play. Specific curriculum will be tailored to meet the needs of your community.To learn more about workshop details, visit

It’s Not Just About Gardening!

Food not Lawns is not just about gardening. It’s not just about food. And it is certainly not just about social media. We are about building neighborhood-based, friendship-driven communities, on the ground, in person, and for real.

FNL has always maintained a very simple approachWe help each other turn yards into gardens;

We host events to share seeds, plants, skills, tools, land and information;

And we educate and advocate for communities that want to take back control of their food from the corporate profiteers.

These actions, when combined, build empowered local networks, and help foster a strong sense of community-wide security, stability and sustainability.

Remember, if we don’t reach our goal of $10,000 by March 21, we don’t get any of the funding!

This means no tour, no t-shirts and no audiobook! We really want to share all of this with you, so please help us make it happen.

We Love you! See You Soon! More







Raise the Roof for Marda Farm Teaching Center

Salam (Peace) from Palestine!

The Marda Permaculture Farm is a working farm and demonstration site for permaculture principles, techniques and strategies in Palestine. Based in the picturesque ancient village of Marda, the project promotes food sovereignty, health, self-reliance and empowerment. This is accomplished through modeling water harvesting, recycling, energy conservation and home-scale garden production with readily available and locally-appropriate materials.

Farm Founder and Director Murad AlKhufash has long dreamed of a Teaching Building using natural materials and techniques such as earth bag construction, cobb, adobe, and local building technologies. The building, which would maximize space at two stories would provide a much needed office, indoor space for workshops, and lodging for interns and volunteers.

We are ready to begin this process, with your help! $4000 will support Murad in launching the project by working with students at nearby Birzeit University to complete renderings for the building, begin the permitting process, and initiate a Natural Building Workshop April 2015 to jumpstart the project!

This Teaching Building will integrate passive and active solar power, rainwater catchment and graywater recycling, thus enabling the farm to go “off grid” and so reduce dependence on Israeli-controlled and high cost energy and water supplies.

Over the past eight years the farm has become a destination for international visitors as well local farmers and backyard gardeners. The farm has thrived despite continual challenges posed by the occupation ranging from destructive hogs unleashed by settlers that destroyed crops and fences, high costs of materials, food, and water.

Murad and his neighbors have endured ongoing curfews, harassment by the Israeli military, difficulty leaving and returning. Thanks to Murad's dedication and strong partners the Farm has survived, on a shoestring.

We are grateful for you contribution and our farm has bounties to offer to send a warm thank you for believing in our cause. Olive oil, organic soap and honey from Palestine as well as fantastic donations from our international allies Starhawk, Albert Bates, and Brad Lancaster are our small thank you for your generous support, with an open invitation to visit us in the Marda Permaculture Farm and Palestine anytime.

Please specify “Marda Teaching Building ” in comments sections when submitting the donation.

Please share widely with friends and colleagues who are passionate about the environment, farming, sustainable agriculture and Palestine. Just spreading the word about the work we do will be very much appreciated.

Our next Permaculture Design Course with instructors Klaudia Van Gool and Leslie Buerk will take place from March 25 to April 10, 2015. April Natural Building Course to be announced soon!

Please consider joining us!

Shukran (Thank you) from the Marda Permaculture Team! Click Here for the IndeGoGo Site


China Experiment in Permaculture Offers World Hope

China is the most populous and possibly one of the most diverse nations on the planet, with a population of over 1.3 billion people and 56 ethnic groups.

What each one of those people shares with the rest of the world, regardless of political, linguistic, economic, and existential differences, is the complete and utter dependence on the ability to find food. In China’s Loess Plateau, sustained generational farming had depleted the soil, leaving in its wake a textured landscape of dust. When winds came, the dust blew into cities, compromising air quality. In the rains, it washed down the valley, depositing more of the silt that gives the Yellow River its name. In 1995, scientists and engineers surveyed the land of the Loess Plateau in an attempt to determine what was causing the once fertile belt to be a thorn in the country’s. The results of their study led to an experiment in permaculture in China that offers hope to the world.

John D. Liu, Chinese American ecologist and documentary film-maker, documented the project in an award-winning film called Hope in a Changing Climate. In the film that Liu narrates, he reports that the first thing that the scientists discovered was a causal relationship between ecosystem destruction and human poverty. Where environmental degradation is severe, the population becomes trapped in a downward spiral. Because they needed to eat to survive, generational subsistence farming had stripped the land bare in the Loess Plateau. In search of food for themselves and their flocks, farmers and their families continued to deplete the fertility of the surrounding ecosystem, further impoverishing themselves.

When scientists developed the plan to restore the ecosystem in China’s Loess Plateau, generational farmers had to be convinced that not farming was critical for their families’ long-term survival. To get buy in from the locals who did not understand how their families would eat if they were not allowed to farm, the government subsidized them and taught them how to do the work that would restore their land from a scarce dirt pit to a thriving ecosystem.

Around the world, populations are living a scarce subsistence lifestyle similar to the one that the citizens of China’s Loess Plateau used to live. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) states that besides fleeing for personal safety, the basic need for food and shelter is the primary motivation for people leaving their homes and becoming displaced. If there were a stable food supply and supportive ecosystem, then the motivation for the world’s most vulnerable populations to move, would decrease. The UNHCR reports that competition for scarce resources triggers violence. If there were a way to restore resources so that people had food and a sense of power in their lives, the fuel for much of the world’s violence would be spent.

The permaculture experiment in China indeed offers hope to the world. Working with scientists, the local population terraced slopes, they planted trees, and they penned their herds so that the trees could grow without being eaten. Soon they found that their hillsides were green. Instead of letting the rains sheet off the mountains, the terraces collected the water and fed the delicate new roots systems, transforming the arid land into a booming garden. Liu reports that since he first visited the area in 1995, the people have seen a threefold increase in income and a profound sense of hope and empowerment. More


Permaculture Design Certification Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship


Permaculture Design Certification Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship

June 21 – July 5, 2014

14-day immersion course at Quail Springs permaculture farm and community nestled in the beautiful high desert spring-fed canyon wilderness of Southern California

  • Increased Food Security
  • Community-Based Development
  • Waste Cycling
  • Sustainability Education
  • Clean Water and Drought Proofing
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Sustainable Vocations & Enterprise

The course gives participants theory and practice for integrating Permaculture's systems-thinking and design strategies into their work and study, while gaining an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification.

Lead Instructor

Warren Brush of Quail Springs, Casitas Valley Farms, and True Nature Design

Presenters & Guest Instructors

  • Jeanette Acosta – Tribal Indigenous Knowledge, Permaculture Teacher
  • Tara Blasco – Co-founder of Global Resource Alliance
  • Tom Cole – Former Director Save the Children Uganda, Consultant
  • Noah Jackson – Founder of Forest Voices
  • Jay Markert – Founder of Living Mandala
  • Alissa Sears – Leader of Strategic Planning & Global Betterment with Christie Communications
  • Janice Setser – Former Program Manager with Mercy Corps, Consultant
  • Melanie St. James – Co-Founder of Empowerment Works
  • Brenton Kelly, Andrew Clinard & Lindsay Allen – Quail Springs' Farm Management

Topics include: Integrated Design, Composting, Water Harvesting, Compost Toilets, Waste Cycling, Earthworks, Rocket Stoves, Design Priorities, Ecological Building, Aquaculture, Bio-Sand Filtration, Broad Acre Applications, Food Forestry, Bio-Engineering, Resilient Food Production, Greywater Systems, Livestock Integration, Soil building, Watershed Restoration, Integrated Pest Mgmt, Biomimicry, Appropriate Technology, Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution, Community Organizing, Drought Proofing Landscapes, Rebuilding Springs, Refugee Camp Strategies

Location & Hosting: The course is hosted at Quail Springs' 450-acre wilderness and working farm site focused on modeling and teaching the concepts and practices of sustainability. We are located 32 miles east of Santa Barbara and are surrounded by Los Padres National Forest. This land is an ideal drylands site for learning about Permaculture.

The Permaculture Design Course for International Development and Social Entrepreneurship is presented

by Quail Springs Permaculture

in association with

Casitas Valley Creamery & Farm

Christie Communications
Empowerment Works

Forest Voices

Global Resource Alliance
Living Mandala

Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya

Santa Barbara Permaculture Network

True Nature Design


Cost includes instruction, certification, catered meals, and camping accommodations.

Cost: $1,650 (a deposit of $300 reserves your space with the full balance due by June 10)

Special Promo: First 5 people to register in response to this announcement receive $300 off the course!


PDC Refresher – $200 discount for participants with a previous 72-hr PDC
Register with a friend or family member for $150 off each, or with 2 friends or family members for $200 off each.

Check or Money Order – $25 discount, payment by check or money order

Please contact us at for more info or to register


Warren Brush

Warren Brush

True Nature Design, Founder / Owner

Quail Springs Permaculture, Co-founder

Warren Brush is a certified Permaculture designer and teacher as well as a mentor and storyteller. He has worked for over 25 years in inspiring people of all ages to discover, nurture and express their inherent gifts while living in a sustainable manner. Warren is co-founder of Quail Springs Permaculture, Casitas Valley Farm, and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He works extensively in Permaculture education and sustainable systems design in North America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Australia. He has devoted many years to mentoring youth and adults to inspire and equip them to live in a sustainable manner with integrity and a hopeful outlook. His mentoring includes working with those who are former child soldiers, orphans, indigenous peoples, youth, young adults and families.

Project Highlight: Casitas Valley Creamery & Farm, a Regenerative Earth enterprise, is a multi family and friend endeavor where we are demonstrating how we can create an investment vehicle that integrates permaculture design for ecological equitability and stability, community food resilience and economic viability. This 49 acre property located outside of Carpinteria, California is growing its multi enterprises to support a local culture that truly honors that which sustains us and is wrapped in our family hearth.

Jeanette Acosta

Jeanette Acosta

Tribal Indigenous Knowledge, Permaculture Teacher

Jeanette's ancestors were Native Americans. She serves indigenous people with her participation in numerous committees and groups, including a growing emphasis on building collaboration among Native American nations to protect sacred burial and ceremonial sites. Jeanette is a certified teacher and designer for permaculture and specializes in maritime culture, herbalism, ethnobotany and biodynamic principles. In her work, she emphasizes humankind's symbiotic relationship between earth and sky. Moreover, she is a spiritual counselor, couples' counselor, integrative medicine health care provider as well as a certified level 1 and level 2 Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and teacher trainer. Her experience dealing with international business people, world diplomats, heads of states, renowned artists/celebrities, and politicians gives her a unique perspective on various cultures and customs.

Janice Setser

Janice Setser

International Development Consultant

Mercy Corps, Former Program Manager Tajikistan

Although Janice has lived, studied, and/or worked for the last 18 years in Bolivia, Ireland, Honduras, Cambodia, and Burma (Myanmar), it is Tajikistan that has held her attention and her passions for the longest period of time. For over nine years, she has managed a variety of development projects on health, nutrition, agriculture, disaster preparedness, economic development, and ecological restoration while working for the organization Mercy Corps.

Janice experienced an unusual sense of belonging, home, and even freedom in the mountainous region of Tajikistan. Through her work she developed a sensitive understanding of the physical, economic, environmental, social, and cultural constraints that locals face. Her dedication to the people in the region led her to venture into private sector development when her programs ended with Mercy Corps.


Project Highlight: Working independently for two years, Janice pursued her passion to empower the marginalized through social entrepreneurship and capacity building projects. To this end she cooperated with local beekeepers to develop the market for honey, worked with youth on their professional development, and collaborated with locals to sensitively advance tourism. Janice also personally dedicated herself to raising awareness about the possibilities for ecological restoration in the region.

Melanie St. James

Melanie St. James

Empowerment WORKS, Executive Director / Founder

The Global Summit, Executive Producer & Co-chair

Melanie is a creative social entrepreneur, dedicated to building a thriving world from the ground up. Melanie's global social change journey began in 1994 with a semester abroad to mainland China. After completing an international education in Spain, Italy, Cuba and Africa, with sustainable development field studies in Senegal and Zimbabwe (and being inspired by many creative social entrepreneurs there), Melanie identified Empowerment WORKS' flagship approach to turning local resources into solutions, now called, “7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS)”. In 2001, Melanie formed “Empowerment Works” as a global sustainability think-tank in action continuously working to connect the world's most culturally rich, yet economically challenged communities with the access to markets, tools and partners they need to thrive. In 2007 after participating in the World Social Forum in Kenya, Melanie co-developed and produced The Global Summit (2008- 2020) to unite social, economic and environmental movements for a sustainable future.

Project Highlight: Inspired in Senegal and Zimbabwe in 1999 & 2000, and registered in the USA as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization in 2001, Empowerment WORKS (EW) is a global sustainability think-tank in action dedicated to the advancement of whole-system, locally-led solutions for a thriving world. In the world's most culturally rich, yet economically challenged communities, access to markets, appropriate technologies and education can empower people to transform critical problems into opportunities for lasting social change. Empowerment WORKS brings these vital tools within the grasp of citizens on the front lines of poverty and climate change.

Noah Jackson

Noah Jackson

Forest Voices, Director / Co-founder

Noah Jackson is a conservation consultant and storyteller whose work combines photography, writing, and new media to document conservation and community issues. He has worked in Asia and Africa for over a decade, starting as a Peace Corps volunteer, and continuing through graduate work, a Fulbright fellowship, independent projects, and as an auditor and farmer trainer for the Rainforest Alliance. His storytelling work can be found in publications such as the National Geographic Traveler, the Rainforest Alliance Blog and Canopy newsletter.

Project Highlight: Forest Voices works to preserve the knowledge of forest communities and foster meaningful connections between people of different geographical regions and lifestyles. We employ diverse techniques-writing, video, photography-to nurture dialog within and between communities through storytelling programs, student courses, and direct trade programs. We help consumers of globally traded products such as coffee, tea and cocoa, understand and directly experience how good practices of trade and agroforestry can enhance the lives of farmers and conserve surrounding ecosystems.

Alissa Sears

Alissa Sears

Christie Communications, Strategic Planning / Global Betterment

Christie CommUnity Foundation, Executive Director

Alissa leads Christie Communications' Strategic Planning Division to develop results-oriented, comprehensive strategies across multiple industries for clients ranging from natural product companies to impact investment groups, social entrepreneurs to natural food and beverage products, green building to non-profit organizations and community groups.

She has also helped to create social enterprises and sustainable development programs in communities in Northern Sri Lanka, Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Malawi, Chad, Bolivia, Mexico, in the US, and beyond. Alissa first began working in Northern Sri Lanka helping to develop Sri Lankan-run educational and leadership/sustainable development programs in the war-torn NorthEast. With the programs still running locally, Alissa has continued working to build integrated, scalable, market-based models that integrate the local community with local and international organizations and businesses for the benefit of the communities.

She is a Board Member of Safe Water International, The California Coast Venture Forum/Clean Business Investment Summit, the Weidemann Foundation, HumaniTourism, and an advisor to the 300in6 Initiative, Blue Ocean Sciences, Ocean Lovers Collective, The Chad Relief Foundation, Create Global Healing, the Playful Planet Foundation, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, and others.

Jay Markert

Jay Markert

Living Mandala, Founder

Jay Markert, known as Jay Ma, is a permaculture designer, facilitator, natural builder, and community organizer committed to cultural healing through Peacemaker Principles. Jay is a graduate of the pioneering two-year training intensive in Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness. Jay has facilitated educational programs, retreats, workshops, and events as well as community land development projects with organizations including the Regenerative Design Institute, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Gaia University, Omega Institute, Harmony Festival, and others. Jay is co-founder and director of programs and development of Living Mandala, and works with other regenerative educators and institutions organizing educational courses, workshops, and events for ecological and social regeneration in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. He is currently an associate with Gaia University in Organized Learning for Eco-Social Regeneration. Jay is also a certified Permaculture Teacher, a Fire Walk Instructor through Sundoor International, and is passionate about renewing Rites of Passage experiential programs for people of all ages.

Brenton Kelly

Brenton Kelly

Quail Springs Permaculture, Farm Director & Educator

Brenton has over 25 years experience in soil building, gardening, non-toxic land management and animal husbandry. He co-owned Island Seed and Feed in Goleta for 10 years before joining the Quail Springs team, and has taught 1000s of folks about pastured poultry, bees, worms, vegetables, and more!

Lindsay Allen

Lindsay Allen

Quail Springs Permaculture, Farm Management Team

FoodWaterShelter, Permaculture Advisor

Lindsay joined the Quail Springs team this past winter after making the long trek across the country from her Massachusetts home. Before coming to Quail Springs she worked in organic farming and Permaculture in Massachusetts, Illinois, East Africa and Panama. She is currently co-managing the farm, helping to facilitate courses at Quail Springs, and is also the permaculture advisor for the non-profit FoodWaterShelter in Tanzania. These days, Lindsay is enjoying teaching and sharing the wonderful world of permaculture farming with others.

Payment plans are also available. Contact Kolmi Majumdar at for more info.

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Quail Springs Permaculture is nonprofit organization dedicated to demonstrating and teaching holistic ways of designing human environments, restoring and revitalizing the land and community, and facilitating deeper understandings of ourselves and one another through immersive experiences in nature.

Quail Springs Permaculture