Permaculture, Composting, and Carbon Offsets

With spring upon us, we thought that today we’d spend some time in the garden. We begin the show with a look at permiculture and how it works. Then we meet up with Anna Vesala who tells us about the ins and outs of composting. In the second half of the show we switch gears a bit and take a look at carbon offsets. Two of our correspondents, with very different opinions, share their thoughts on why offsets do and don’t work.

Download this week’s show.

A network of paths running between raised garden beds. Many different plans growing in the foreground, a croud of people gathered in the background, and trees in the distance.

Students in an Into to Permaculture course touring a garden. Photo by Nick Ritar and Kirsten Bradley.

Permaculture is an agricultural philosophy that focuses on optimizing the interactions between the different organisms in a garden in order to create a system that’s self sustaining and doesn’t rely on constant human interventions. Today Ron Berezan, affectionately known as the Urban Farmer, explains the basics of how permiculture works.

North American households are notorious for the amount of garbage they produce, but did you know that there’s a simple, painless way to put a huge dent in the amount of material you send to the landfill? For the average home, somewhere around 40% of solid waste is organic material. That means that an earthworm composter under the kitchen sink or a compost heap in the backyard can cut by almost half the number of garbage bags you put out on the curb each week. To find out a little more about composting and how it works, we caught up with Anna Vesala. She completed the City of Edmonton’s three week Master Composter & Recycler Program a few years back, and now provides information about waste reduction at community events around the city.

Carbon Offsets
Most of us think little of hopping on a plane and heading off for a quick break, especially when airfares are on sale. But air travel is one of the world’s fastest growing sources of carbon emissions. For those who are concerned about their personal impact on the planet, avoiding plane travel is a good start. And for flights you insist on taking, offsetting the carbon emissions might help alleviate the damage. But the world of offsets is tricky – lots of companies, not much regulation. To help make sense of it all, David Kaczan sorted through the details so you don’t have to.

More on this story: Pembina/Suzuki Report on Carbon Offsets, Background Info
David’s opinions of carbon offsets certainly aren’t the only ones on the topic. Some people are pretty skeptical about the value of offsets, and one of them is our very own Scott McAnsh. Scott tells us about a website called that pokes a bit of fun at the idea of offsetting carbon emissions.

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