About our mission

For many years already I have been building an online community for people interested in desertification, poverty and dryland gardening. The main reason for the establishment of such a network is that I noticed, when speaking with my colleagues of the Committee for Science and Technology (CST) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), that we all spend a lot of time searching the internet for interesting publications concerning our fields of interest. Everyone is looking for the same information, spending considerable time to find mostly the same articles, all of us reading these texts to see if their content is important enough, and if it is, to use that info for our own purposes.

There is no general communication whatever between the members of the CST and between many more people interested in desertification, poverty, agriculture, horticulture and sustainable development. It does not suffice to send them the addresses of interesting websites, because not all the articles on that sites deal with dryland gardening, desertification, poverty, sustainable development or container gardening, so that we all have to start again searching and reading the content of the different sites. In other words: we all waste the same amount of time!

Therefore, I started selecting messages on these topics and all related subjects that can be important for people interested in the issues mentioned above and republishing the texts (some entirely, some partly) on my blog, so that my visitors do not have to switch again to all those websites to look for the entire texts they possibly want to read. My main aim is to reflect the diversity of publications on these topics. Thereby, I try to ease up the access to a panoply of articles and stories and to a panoply of sites and blogs. From time to time, I am also publishing my own contributions, mostly about my own experience with ways and means to improve plant growth in the drylands with a minimum of water and fertilizer.

Some people seem to be not so happy with this system, claiming their property rights. If so, I respect their views. I do not wish to harm their proper interests, whatever their objectives to create a public site or blog may be. I only tried to bring the attention of thousands of people worldwide to their messages.

Again, for me all this is a question of offering time-saving to my readers. This is not MY BLOG, it is OURS, for I am only the administrator to easy up the work of many colleagues and friends. My blog visitors seem to be very happy with this system, as I offer them a chance to save plenty of time by aggregating valuable information on all aspects of the topics in a sort of newsletter, in which I (re)publish that what seems to be of some interest to most of us. This way, we all save time for more practical things to do and meanwhile we bring interesting websites and blogs to the attention of many more people worldwide than one single site or blog could do for itself.

Personally, I spend this time for collecting and aggregating the info because I am a retired professor of the Ghent University (Belgium) and I want to serve my colleagues and friends in an efficient way, without any other personal advantage than having the pleasure to serve and to do it the best way I can.

Of course, I mention always the source of the info I collect from the internet, so that the visitors of my blog can be immediately linked to my sources and go to these websites for additional interesting messages. Moreover, I am listing the links with important sites and blogs under my “Blogroll”, so that visitors of my blog can click directly the website’s address.

Observations, remarks, critics or additional ideas are always welcome. I also hope to find ways and means to improve cooperation and networking between people working for closely related websites. There is still a lot of improvement and collaboration to realize. Let’s do it together, in full respect for the work achieved by all of us, instead of “combating” each other in the battle of worldwide information!

Thanks for understanding.

I opened this second blog for all aspects of “container gardening“, a type of gardening seeming to be a very useful tool for food production with a minimum of water in the drylands. Under the same heading I will also publish related messages and articles on other gardening aspects, aiming at collecting information that can be of some interest for people working in the fields of drought mitigation, combat of desertification and alleviation of poverty.

Willem

18 thoughts on “About our mission”

  1. Thank you for sharing. There is a lot of great information on your blog. I would like to post some of your information on our blog at localchoicescv.com.

    Happy Farming
    Kat & Anna

  2. Sir
    Congratulations and thank you for the very interesting and mobilizing site. I was looking for some ideas to use our small backyard and create a vertical garden and this blog just gave me the right ideas. The drawings are excellent and the text is very straightforward. I could understand it all.
    Best regards from Brazil

  3. Dear Willem, Romanus,

    So agree with you, I moved to the UK (from Israel) at 2007. My knowledge as agronomist and my finger tickle as garden designer together with the green understanding brought me to develop few products made from recycled plastic- only very simple ideas.

    My lack of It experience and contacts around , beside of getting settled in a new country with my family we found it very difficult- and we invested everything in it.

    the easy enviro raised beds- low cost big round or anyshape raised bed, the lawn edging, the blooming post- vertical planter- not yet launched – but may be soon, window planter(not yet on the web). It will be interesting to get your opinion maybe support.

    http://www.best4garden.co.uk/shop/page/3?shop_param=

    many thanks
    Ofer El-Hashahar

  4. I am extremely grateful to have found your site. What you are doing makes more sense than any I’ve seen in years. I am going to share a little about myself so that you know I am speaking from some experience. In 1986, I and my two kids landed unceremoniously during a snowstorm in downtown Toronto amid concrete, noise and extreme cold. All we had was the clothes on our backs, a small satchel and $7.40. That’s it. I didn’t even know how to use the public transit as I was raised in remote country farmland. I wasted half of the money using transit incorrectly trying to get to a hoste (someone on the street told me about them)l. It ended up being a very cold, long walk.

    From this inauspicious beginning, I learned a great deal about humanity, poverty and the will of the people vs the will of the politics. Always in my mind was concerns about food. After transitioning through the ‘system’ I found employment with a non-profit (inner city mission). Our target was developing housing for homeless people and assisting them to transition to a stable housing environment. During the course of the next 15 years of my life, one of my primary interests was always the concern about food. It never seemed enough to me to have food banks and free left overs to give to people.

    To me, where ever there is some soil, you can grow food. I finally tilled up the front yard of the Church there and started a community garden. There were many protests from the staff and some from the community. No one believed that people would want to use the spaces. But guess what? You already know the answer, don’t you? After I layed out the general area and I started tilling, people came to watch. As the first plot shape appeared, a man stepped up and asked “If I help, can I have one plot for my family?” After that I never had to till or maintain or anything but help people learn to co-operate, share their knowledge and share the space. They did the work. They built their own gardens. It stands today.

    After that I started a food co-operative where the ‘group in poverty’ got the rights to go to the main food terminal and purchase food at wholesale prices and bring it back and distribute it at wholesale prices. It was the only way these people could afford to buy healthy oranges, bananas and out of season food that is essential to health. I set it up for them to carry on themselves.

    A secondary dream that evolved in my mind was that of a city wide plan, then a world one. There are so many homeless and hungry people in Canada and United States. I noticed very clearly in my walkings around the city a couple of interesting things. First of all, almost every large office building has two thiings. A reasonably controlled environment, both in the lobbies and in the offices. They also have many many windows. I know from experience that many office workers are actually very kind and generous of nature. Many city people long to re-connect with nature and wish they knew how to tangibly help the less fortunate. My solution would have been to convert those many indoor plant and tree boxes into growing various kinds of vegetables and fruit.

    Inside the offices is always someone who’s a farmer at heart. An office could share in the project by allowing window containers to become growing food containers – of which they get a share of the produce and the balance to the less fortunate. Why I say that is because I know many office workers are paid minimally and the economic reality is that even working families are very hard-pressed to feed their families. Also the lobby grown food could be donated to help solve the hunger issue. As for the city landscapers, Many of the parks and tree boxes along the sidewalks could be converted to fruit tree and vegetable growing. I know that flowers are also very pleasing (as much a health necessity as food sometimes) so combining both vegetables and flowers would work. Further to this, is the fact that many healthy vitamins do come from various types of flowers when you make tea. So I am not advocating getting rid of the aesthetic value of flowers. I’m just saying there’s room for both.
    Every growing plant helps people connect with the nature aspect of themselves on the inside. And I truly believe that it is intrinsic to man’s nature to share and help each other. I also think that sharing is the way to overcome that need ‘for power over others’ that shows up in some people among who are detracting from the world instead of helping it grow.

    I did a poll of the homeless that roamed the streets. Believe me they would gladly help maintain gardens and fruit trees for free in exchange for a share of the produce.

    Think about it. Walk into an office building growing oranges and bananas in the lobby instead of leafy trees that mostly just look pretty. What an opportunity to help feed the world. The political climate changed during that phase of my time in the city. The Non-Profits of the time felt it was too big a project to take on. I finally moved back to more country settings where I belong. But I still believe. Every time I hear a child who say that ‘X’ item comes from the store with no understanding of the hope and freedom nature provides or whre food comes from, then I think about it again. I take every grandchild I have through the steps of tilling, planting, maintaining and harvesting (both crop and seed). I think we all need this. Giving food is one thing. Helping people learn to grow their own is quite another. It is the meaning behind the old adage ” Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

    People just don’t always understand that Nature is (really is) everywhere. It is not out in the country someplace, it is right under your feet and in front of you, including in the mirror.

    That dream I have never fulfilled. This is why I am writing to you. It was a dream that I saw carrying around the globe and the whole world being fed. I see you are doing it. Seeds are like the cornerstone of life to me. I have to tell you I am grateful that you and your program exist. I will prep any seeds and share them gratefully with your group. Thank you so much for your work. It isn’t just cities that need your kind of help. And You are Accomplishing much. Thanks so much! I am humbled by the work you have done. Sincerely, Daisy Lee

  5. Hello, very excited to find this blog… I am starting a new brand, “Vertecology,” which by the name, you can probably tell, will have a bit to do with vertical ecology. I would love to link to your blog, if that’s ok… to include you in my blogroll. I hope in months and years to come to also produce and post content worthy of your blogging about. http://www.vertecology.com

  6. Thank you very much for all your effort and expertise. What a labour of love it must have been!
    I wonder whether it is a pity that you have moved your arena to Facebook, which is quite a different platform. Both have their pros and cons. Would it not be better to maintain both?

  7. Would you please remove the “A free gardening PDF on container gardening and gardening newsletters” The reason being that is it somewhat changed form my site and although I would like it to be shared it was never my intention to have it posted on another site. Thank you, D Grant The Gardeners Rake.

  8. Hi,

    I am currently looking for advertising partnerships on sites like yours containergardening.wordpress.com

    We have a large customer base of clients prepared to pay to display discrete adverts, contextually matched to the content of the page on high quality sites like yours, and this can be a great way to generate an income without compromising your website.

    Please email me back expressing your interest in this offer and I will send you through further emails.

    I look forward to hearing back from you soon,

    Wayne Marshall

  9. Hello Willem,
    I am living in Sinai desert for a part of the year. I am very interested in your blog.The big problem we have is lak of organic matter as it all ends up in the stomacs of our amels and goats. While using this in the garden it seems to me not useful in the bottles. What an I use as a fertilizer for my bottles?

  10. Hi Willem. Thank you for compiling all of the info on container gardening. I love looking at some of the creative ways people re-purpose containers for gardening. It provides me with awesome insights into existing problems and practices. I am an industrial designer and I specialize in container gardening products so I couldn’t ask for a better website. Keep up the good work. You can check out my work at http://www.garden365.com/

    Cheers!
    Tom

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