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permaculture and diet  RSS feed

 
                              
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I notice when reading about permaculture there is a large focus on plants that produce fruit. Also vegetables. I'm curious about this because from a nutritional point of view fruit and veges are important but they don't supply the crucial fats and proteins, or even the amount of carbohydrates that most people need (that's a gross generalisation from the climate I live in - maritime temperate).

Just wondering how much people think about what they eat in relationship to permaculture. I know people who grow most of their own food, but I think that is rare and I'm never sure what that means exactly. Growing most of one's own fruit and veges is reasonably straightforward, but growing most of one's food overall is more complex.

I'm also keen to know if any permies have done work on this - looking at diet from a nutritional and sustenance point of view in a permaculture context, rather than looking at designing a piece of land to produce food sustainably. Is there something missing there?

(I've put this in the permaculture forum rather than the food one because it's more about design than food preparation).
 
George Lee
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Well, given enough space nut trees are certainly a great canopy to a complete system. Granted they do take years and years to establish, if not already on your piece of property.
I think a lot of permaculture is happening in cities and smalltowns, and people shop for nuts at local markets. The homesteaders with the larger areas likely have at least a few nut trees producing. I do agree though, the fats from nuts are essential. You sure can offset the times when you do need to goto market by growing heaps of vegetables and fruits for your immediate use. There's nothing missing there. It's earth care, people care (us), and sell/give away a surplus. I think once you've broken your plot down by design and synegistic biology, we of course consider our diet in the meantime. If you're curious of the ecology of land, wouldn't most be inclined to consider how our own biology is therefore influenced by the produce from said land? It is for me anyway. I consider each day a gift, and each morsel a treasure.
 
Benjamin Burchall
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Location: Long Beach, CA
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If people are eating fruit and vegetables, they are probably getting adequate carbohydrates. Essential Fats and proteins can be gotten from meat, eggs, milk, nuts and seeds
 
George Lee
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There are a lot of sustainable people out here who are vegetarians and vegans also. So sans meat/dairy, we're back to nuts and beans being of utmost importance. In the south we have tons of pecan orchards and tons of small-town sellers which is really nice in your vicinity. Pecans and walnuts are indespensible in a veg diet. Lest not forget hemp seeds & chia for our omegas that can be found in the herbaceous layer...
 
Neal McSpadden
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There is plenty of permaculture incorporating livestock.
 
                              
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Thanks, I know that it's possible to design a site to include those foods (nuts, animals, oily plants like avocado, higher protein plants etc), but what I'm interested in here is whether any permies are doing the connection between human nutritional requirements and the design currently. eg looking at 5 humans and figuring out their nutrional requirements and designing from that.

I've seen discussions on PRI about how much land you need to feed x number of people, and it's usually focussed around calorie production. Which is important for survival but not enough for humans to thrive on.

If people are eating fruit and vegetables, they are probably getting adequate carbohydrates.

That depends on the kind of fruits/vegetables, the climate and the people eg cold climates and active people need more carbs. It also depends on the fat content in the diet and whether they are getting substantial amounts of energy from fats. The paleolithic diet and Weston Price people have done alot of work around this but not as far as I am aware in a permaculture or sustainable  land management context.

 
                              
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Another example would be looking at the amount of labour in processing walnuts and pecans, and how that fits into the plan. If we're looking at a powerdown future, then low tech processing of nuts is fairly labour intensive.
 
George Lee
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pebble wrote:
Another example would be looking at the amount of labour in processing walnuts and pecans, and how that fits into the plan. If we're looking at a powerdown future, then low tech processing of nuts is fairly labour intensive.

I don't buy nuts that have been processed. I collect them or buy from others that do. I'm talking mom-pop stand at our weekly market here. Not a nut company.
 
George Lee
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Eat a diversified diet...You design around what works for your given temperate zone,situation...Grow multiple food sources and settle into a diet routine...You could plant additional areas for specified vegetable matter for a person but designing around 5 persons? Plant so you know you're guaranteed a surplus given your family unit. I don't really think of it in those parameters. Jah will provide 
 
Phil Hawkins
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How about peanuts?  They wouldn't take years and years like other nut trees.  I don't know much about growing them (or their nutritional value) but they must contain fats if cooking things in peanut oil is so bad for us

http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/8012_0/organic-sustainable-practices/growing-peanuts

Of course there's peanut allergies, but maybe anyone with such an affliction might have to reconsider being vegan/vegetarian?
 
                              
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The problem with seed oils is that they go rancid easily, so you want to leave the seeds whole and in their casing until as close to eating as possible.


Plant so you know you're guaranteed a surplus given your family unit

I think you're still missing my question I understand permaculture design. What I'm asking is if anyone is looking at human nutrition in that context. Planting for a surplus of varied foods could still leave one with inadequate nutrients.
 
Neal McSpadden
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Feed your animals a wide variety of plants that tap different mineral sources in the soil. Eat the animals. Close the loop on the nutrient and energy cycles through your land as much as possible to keep those nutrients and minerals at home.

Simple!
 
jacque greenleaf
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There've been several indepth discussions here.  See http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=6848.0 for one. Also, Carol Deppe's book, The Resilient Gardener, shows one person's approach to this question, and we've discussed that several times. John Jeavon's Ecology Action Center has lots of info on what it takes to feed a person for a year, although he is not a permie, strictly speaking - http://www.growbiointensive.org/.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Categorical statement: There is nothing an annual agricultural system can provide that permaculture can't do more efficiently and healthier.  

I don't think there has been much systematically done around nutrition and permaculture, but I can't think of a single permie that doesn't have a strong awareness of wanting to eat the healthiest food possible, and that shows up in design. Problem is that nutritional theories are so widespread, and, in the end, food choices are so personal.  So, design for your own needs.  

Anyone who puts a suburban food forest in their backyard is going to greatly increase the quality of their nutrition, by virtue of eating a wide variety of live, organic plant foods.  You simply cannot buy anything healthier, because even the best organic foods start losing nutritional value the moment they are harvested.  

I eat a plant-centered omnivorous diet, nothing can compete with permaculture in terms of meeting my nutritional needs.  
 
hannah ransom
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Personally, I do plant what (at least me and my husband, and then some for extended family) need. Though, we eat what you say one can't eat.. Lots of fruits for calories and nutrients, lots of veggies for other nutrients like minerals and sometimes a bit of calories, and the occasional nut/seed (not necessarily every day or anything). I also recently got some seeds for a legume producing tree (palo verde), also a nitrogen fixer.
Planting perennials is going to be better nutrition because of the deeper roots, being able to eat your food fresh is going to be better nutrition because of staying on the plant longer. I try to plant some "staples" for calories, which around here is white sapote (which can fruit all year long and is very high calorie), and citrus and then tons of other stuff to add in nutritional variety. I think, obviously, it is important to think about calories first, since that is out number one nutritional need, but we can't neglect micro-nutrients, either.
 
Brenda Groth
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I have planted several types of nut trees which I hope will begin to produce in the next couple of years..I have 3 kinds of walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, almonds, hickory and beech...I also have wildlife that can be eaten should I have to but right now I buy eggs from a neighbor and meat locally. We also have seeds and beans that we can eat or sprout.

I would sometime like to have chicken and eggs here, but my husband objects. we have a lot of wild birds rabbits deer bear etc.
 
Hugh Hawk
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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Great question, pebble.  It is definitely something we need to think about in our designs.  In urban environments I think there is credit to the idea of growing a few things you are good at, and trading for others.  In more isolated environments there is the opportunity to produce a wider range of products, particularly meat products, which are of high nutritional benefit (when raised on quality feed/pasture and eaten in moderation).

I find that I can get by with a diet high in fruits and vegetables if I am not doing a lot of physical labour.  When I am working hard I find I need animal products (fish, in my case), and legumes in order to feel full for longer and not run out of energy.

I am very interested in ways to diversify my diet to minimise the need for consumption of annual grains.  For example, I've identified rice/wheat/oats as major calorific parts of my diet which I cannot provide on my scale of growing.  I know some people are growing annual grains on a permaculture basis e.g. using Fukuoka methods.  The question is whether to accept that it is a necessary part of the diet or to try to find alternatives.  Ideally I would like to be able to produce as much of my diet as possible on the 300-400m2 or so of growing space which I have to work with.

I think ultimately it may not be feasible to produce a majority of calories in an urban environment... but would love to be proven wrong.
 
Benjamin Burchall
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Why not in an urban environment?

There are plenty of opportunities in cities to raise fish, birds, escargot, ginea pigs, rabbits and other animals for meat. In some cities you can even have goats and sheep like here in Atlanta. Other calorie dense food: sunflower seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, avocado, potato, sweet potato, acorns (can be harvested from oaks already growing in the city). It's not that people can't grow a lot of food in the city. It's that they just aren't...yet. Grains are not really necessary.
 
George Lee
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In the city not everyone has the luxury of excess space/greenspace. So it's not always feasible. I'm all for urban resourcefulness,and especially in a surburban setting with a little more space. I do edible landscaping for a living, and I've had so many run-in's with comissions and homeowners associations it's not even funny...There are many hurdles. It's the citizens jobs to push for said "improvements", which they would be in my mind (keeping condensed livestock numbers)...
 
Hugh Hawk
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Benjamin: Thanks for the suggestions.  I am optimistic that grains are not really necessary as you say, I just have yet to prove that to myself.  To me, grains seem like a lot of work, even if you do have the land - maybe better to get animals to do the foraging for you, then eat them.

A bit OT, but does anyone have any resources for keeping pigeons?  We have heaps of feral pigeons around and I've often wondered if they would be good eating.  I have heard there is some disease they can carry which is best avoided.  I seem to remember Mollison talking about pigeon houses in the black book.  I think it's funny that they are considered a gourmet product when they are a dime a dozen, at least here.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Hugh, you might be interested in the book "One Circle" which describes how to design near-complete vegan diets grown in the smallest amount of space using Biointensive techniques.  I say "near-complete" because the diets might be lacking in some nutrients such as iodine and B12. The diets don't include grains but some do contain seeds and nuts. 

http://www.bountifulgardens.org/prodinfo.asp?number=BEA-0370

In my opinion small animals (birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish) could make up most of the nutrient or caloric lack in a small-space diet if they were fed on "waste" from the gardens and food processing.  I'm working on trying to prove this to myself and others! 

Here's a link about pigeon diseases which may affect humans:  http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/epi/epi-pigeon.shtml

 
Guy De Pompignac
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I think the diet that reflects the most permaculture is the paleo diet, cause paleo diet is a modern way of eating based on pre-agricultural tribes, and permaculture is rooted in indeginous horticulture.

So Fruits + nuts + grass-fed ruminants + fodd-forest-fed poultry and pigs + mushrooms + perenial vegetables + roots + annual veggies* = permaculture = paleo diet

* i think annual veggies is the exception, in that it is not perennials, but for permaculture it is a labor/fertility intensive small plot with higth return .

(PS: ok, one can be vegan and permaculturist, no pb. I just think that omnivore diet is "the best use of complex natural systems", as stated by Mollison.)
 
Brian Bales
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I'm currently building my food forest and garden/pasture system with the ideal of producing 95% of the food I need for myself and family. I live on 1.5 acres of land but the bulk of this project is taking up only about .5 of the 1.5 acres. Its been a tricky process but I am beginning to see results. I have planted most of the trees in my food forest and most of them are established (I lost several last year that I need to replace due to gophers). There is an established pecan tree on my land already but in addition to that I have planted almonds and pistachios. I'm working on planting bush fruits, herbs, beneficial and insectiary plants now as well as edible ground covers like strawberry, ground plum and purslane.

I've been doing a great deal of research on perennial vegetables and have found some great additions. I just got some cutting of tree kale/collards. I have high hopes for this plant. Supposedly 100 square feet will produce around 300lbs of food a year. I also have artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb planted. I am going to be trying seakale this spring too. The ground plum is an interesting legume that I hope will prove a useful ground cover and food plant. I also will be planting sorrel, nettle, good king henry and purslane to name a few.

As to cereals I am planting them too, some are going in a rotation system of animal paddocks and cereal beds others will be planted in the open spaces in my orchard. I have several cereal crops to test. Once I can evaluate their suitability to growing here. Then I will streamline my selections to just a few. I'm testing wheat (Sonora, spelt and kamut), millet, sorghum, flax, quinoa, amaranth, chia, barley, buckwheat, flint corn and a few other oddities like rocky mtn bee plant. Some like quinoa, amaranth and chia are especially important to me because of their high nutritional content and their use as both grains and green vegetables.

I am including animals in my projects. I currently keep nigerian dwarf dairy goats, pilgrim geese and guinea fowl. I intend to add chickens and turkeys to my collection. I also plan to have a couple bee hives. Eventually I plan to build a greenhouse and keep an aquaponic system where I can raise channel catfish and maybe tilapia or carp.

One of the biggest challenges has been working out a system where all the money I save on growing my own food doesn't go down my animals throats instead. A big part of that is keeping numbers minimal. I feed them conventional foods like alfalfa and grains but I am working away from that. One of the most important feed sources I've been looking into is tree crops. My animals love poplar trees and I have a lot of them growing on my property so I've had success supplementing some of their feed with poplar. I'm also planting polyculture hedges with the intention of using them as animal feed. I'm planting a mix of acacia, honey locust, rosa rugosa, black mulberry, sawtooth oak and a few other misc items like elderberry, wild plum and hazelnut. All things useful to me and to the animals. Never underestimate the usefullness of the edges

 
                                
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I would guess that the emphasis on fruits and vegetables stems from the sources you're reading.  It seems reasonable to guess that the majority of permaculture practitioners are city dwellers with backyard gardens -- and one thing about most cities, they don't allow the keeping of livestock.  So meat still has to come from somewhere else.  My garden can supply my vegetables... but not my annual side of beef, whole hog, and few dozen chickens.

That, and I've noticed that many permaculture instructors are vegans, which results in a creeping prejudice.  (Certainly not Mollison, who opines that vegetarians are environmentally destructive.)

Planting and growing a self-reliant vegetarian food supply is easy on the equator.  But the further one gets from the equator, the shorter the growing season, the less practical this is... and the further one must move to an animal-based diet.  This factor seems largely forgotten.  Basically, at latitude 10, a vegetarian diet can be sustainable; at latitude 40, it is not. 

The common vegan argument is that a cow consumes 10 pounds of food to produce one pound.  I call that concentration.    One pound of beef is nutritionally useful to me; 10 pounds of grass is not.  Pretty much a specious argument.

Now, to design.  Let's say we have 100 acres, and we want to maximize our crop for sale.  We could plow and plant to annuals, we could plant an orchard, we could graze.  Well, we've already established that plow agriculture isn't where we want to go.  How to produce surplus food with a wide nutritional profile from 100 acres without plowing?  We need animals.  Just no way around that.
 
                              
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I'm currently reading Mollison and Holmgren's Permaculture One, and it was something in that that prompted me to start the thread now

But I've been noticing it for a while, especially when people are talking about food forests. Often there is not mention of animals, or limited mention. It's not really that people aren't aware of the need for a varied diet, or that protein is important (I still see not enough reference to fat though, which is vital for humans to be healthy), it's more that the more I think about it the more it seems like a glaring hole that hardly anyone in permieland is doing this work of figuring out what humans need to be healthy within a permaculture design context.

That's not a criticism necessarily, because I think 30 odd years isn't that long to get the discipline established, so maybe it will happen next. It seems crucial moving into a post peak oil world though, esp as we know that Cubans often when hungry when they had their peak oil (which implies not enough calories, and I haven't seen any analysis of nutrients although some accounts think health improved in the short/medium term because of the enforced change of diet and exercise)

The permies where I live aren't typically vegan, and I'd guess that the resources aren't much either (I tend to read Australasian and British rather than American works). I agree with what you are saying about urban permaculture to an extent although I think that will change once we need to grow our own food instead of choosing. Cuba would be a good example again - people there run small livestock farms in the city.

Hugh mentioned grains earlier, which is an big part of thinking this through. I don't eat wheat so most of my grains have travelled a long way   I can see a permie design without grains or carb substitutes but where the local landbase supplies grains grown a la fukuoka etc. Or one could get calories by replacing grains with fats, a la paleo. I'm not sure to what extent one can replace grains with perennials or roots, but the point about climate and geography was much appreciated. I doubt that I could eat enough potatoes to replace grains, so would probably choose to eat more fat/meat.

I'm still making my way through the previous thread that someone linked to earlier...

 
                              
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"We need animals.  Just no way around that."

I'd really like to avoid the vegan debate in this thead . It makes sense to me that selected people could do vegan permaculture but I can't see how it would work for most people, because of the land needed and because most humans don't do well on a permanent vegan diet. THere is no one size fits all, so I"m happy for people in this thread to talk about whichever they are doing or drawn too, as long as they can put what they are saying in the context of the original question about diet and permie design.

Most people aren't at the point of growing all/most of their own food, so I think that's why we don't have alot to go on. For those that are, I'd like to know how one designs for that.

Some of the issues that have some up:

- quantities of food from quantity of land.

- the need for variety to increase nutrient value

- how to decide on optimal ratios of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins, etc

- getting enough calories

- most efficient ways of producing nutrients

- that permie systems probably produce more nutrient dense food than we are currently used to commerically

- geography and climate influence nutritional needs as well as providing limits to design.

Feel free to add others.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mollison talks about wild animals a lot in the Designers Manual, especially about how they are more efficient at producing a yield than domestic animals.  Here we have tons of deer, squirrels and other edible critters.  Seems to me any food forest would attract lots of these.

One can replace grains with roots and tubers, doesn't matter if they are annual or perennial, one will need to eat literally pounds of them per day to get sufficient calories, as the Irish used to do, if they are the main calorie food.

 
                        
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pebble wrote:
Another example would be looking at the amount of labour in processing walnuts and pecans, and how that fits into the plan. If we're looking at a powerdown future, then low tech processing of nuts is fairly labour intensive.



I haven't read the whole thread.  Good luck in your search.  Here is one tidbit that may or may not help you:

A forager and author named Samuel Thayer writes some great introductory books.  His methods show harvesting nuts from various trees, walnuts included.  Yesterday as I sat underneath a "black walnut tree" I read about various approaches to walnut harvesting and processing in Nature's Garden.  His passage did not make walnut harvesting and processing seem like a lot of work.  Caveat: I've never harvested walnuts.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thing is, if we're living a powered-down life, we might not have a whole lot to do but sit around processing food (in between the times we're making music, art, personal adornment, clothing and shelter).  Folks used to spend time processing food while gossiping or telling stories.  Seems like a fine way to spend our time. 
 
John Polk
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Heck, I know people who still sit around the wood stove shelling beans and telling stories.  They thought about buying a sheller, but then asked "Why?  We do this every year.  It's a family tradition."

I believe most people on this forum who live rurally do have barnyard animals, but the conversations seem to center mostly around growing plants.  I couldn't imagine a homestead without animals.  They perform many functions around a homestead.  Besides providing eggs, meat and dairy, they enrich our soils by converting our wastes into beneficial fertilizers, they prepare areas for planting, and offer us untold hours of entertainment to boot.  Nothing else can compare when it comes to utilizing "useless" ground, or wasted produce to manufacture proteins for our benefit.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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pebble wrote:

Some of the issues that have some up:

- quantities of food from quantity of land.
- the need for variety to increase nutrient value
- how to decide on optimal ratios of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins, etc
- getting enough calories
- most efficient ways of producing nutrients
- that permie systems probably produce more nutrient dense food than we are currently used to commerically
- geography and climate influence nutritional needs as well as providing limits to design.



Good summary. 

Personally, I don't think variety is going to be an issue at all for the permies, who may easily have over 100 diverse and nutrient dense species of plants on 1/4 acre.  Compare this with the typical diet that probably focuses on about 10 inbred, tasteless facsimiles of vegetables. 

Now, for something beyond veganism, how about fruitarianism?  I am not a subscriber, but I found this interesting from a permie perspective.  Of course, by focusing on the fruits, these folks are missing grazing poultry underneath the trees, as well as whatever will grow in the understory - nevertheless I found the numbers interesting.

http://fruitarians.net/forum/topic/Fruitarian-Tree.htm
* Acreage Yield
Few average examples to compare: apple and pear trees give 35,000 lbs per acre a year; strawberries: 45,500; pineapple: 30-60,000; oranges: 30-40,000, papaya: 28,000; sweet cherries: 14,000; grapes: 9,000; blueberries: 8,000; corn - 8,000 (can be used to produce plastic, diapers and packing material); rice: 7,000 pounds per acre; wheat: 4,000; peanuts and almonds: 3,000; soybeans: 2,000 (used also for ink and paint), sunflower - 1,500, chestnut and pecan trees give 1,000-2,000; cotton - 500 pounds per acre (for cloths and paper).

Some non-fruit cultures are very efficient too: potatoes 36-60,000 pounds per acre, lettuce: 24,000. We have discussed with friends how it could be possible to make potatoes least destructive food (this is a many years living plant, its fruit are toxic, but its edible tubers contain its seeds), but we agreed that we have not enough knowledge about it. But potatoes could be a reasonable addition to fruitarian diet in a context of the common good.

Compare this to red meat (edible carcass weight) - 48 lbs per acre (TX), some others - more than 100.

I read that orchards of centenarian trees can yield more than 450,000 pounds of fruit per acre a year, but I have not found the primal source of this data.

Calories per acre efficiency of fruit trees
An example from a real farmer Walter:

Wheat can produce 3-4 million calories per acre and potatoes can produce 6-8 million calories per acre. ... I got 288 pounds of fruit off the first tree and my orchard is on a grid of 200 trees per acre. That means this tree produced the equivalent of 57,600 pounds per acre. At 236 calories per pound for raw apples, this equals 13,593,600 calories per acre for an apple tree producing less than 300 pounds per tree. This is 3.4 times the calorie production for wheat and 1.7 times the value of potatoes (using 4 million calories per acre for wheat and 8 million for potatoes - the upper end of the spread). ... Now let's consider commercial apple production. ... At half a bin, or 500 pounds per tree and with 200 trees per acre, the calorie value of commercial apple production jumps to 100,000 pounds per acre, or 23.6 million calories per acre. This is nearly 3 times the calorie yield of the most optimistic calorie value for potatoes and almost 6 times the most optimistic calorie value for wheat! ... Planting trees is an investment in the future and it takes 4-5 years for production to come on, but once the apples start producing, the amount of high-quality food produced is astonishing. Apples do take some management, but the labor costs are quite low compared to vegetables. If there is a perfect food, from both a farming and a consumer perspective, it is an apple.




 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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Now, for something beyond veganism, how about fruitarianism?


Wow......only fruit.
I am always wondering what the next xtreme diet will be.....when will we have the strictly bug eaters show up....They are probably already organizing

It would be nice though...they could harvest all the bugs in my garden for free!

I notice when reading about permaculture there is a large focus on plants that produce fruit. Also vegetables.

I tend to get the impression that permies avoid talking about meat animals to avoid confrontation. ......and I am not sure how I feel about that.

maybe it is just me......but I avoid talking about the delicious meat that I eat, because I don't want any one accusing me of something negative
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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This season I plan to grow truckloads of drying beans. I don't have animals on my teeny suburban place, although one day when I don't have a flatmate to scare, I'll get guinea pigs
Because of space limitations, my design will always include plenty of 'off-site' food. I'm more than fine with that if I'm sourcing reasonably local stuff while, strengthening and supporting my community.
 
Guy De Pompignac
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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What a coincidence, i've just started to compute a list a macronutrients of fruits yesterday. link (importants columns are the three a the right).

Trees produce a lot, but that not the most important, ne has to check about time to harvest, conservation, nutrients, etc. For example chestnut seems a good staple tree but one has to eat chestnuts for months to see if it can accept a staple with such a strong taste.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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Thanks H Ludi.  Psittacosis is the disease I had heard of before.  I guess I was really wondering what risks there are to eating (sub)urban pigeons which are fairy plentiful.  I wonder if anyone is eating them.

I am starting another thread about pigeons with some info that I found:

http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/10227_0/critter-care/wild-or-domesticated-pigeons-for-meat-and-poop

The One Circle book looks interesting, HLT.  What sort of animals are you using in your system so far, and how?

Pebble: good summary of the considerations.  Your point about the land needed for veganism is interesting.  I suspect most vegans would contest that their diet requires less land than that of an omnivore.  I think they would be right if you are talking about the industrial food system.  But perhaps when we use animals as part of a multi-yield polyculture system, they are a way to get an additional return by utilising parts of the output that we cannot use directly?  You also have to consider the other benefits of animals on the system.

This is another thread relating to producing a complete diet that might interest you:

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=5785.0
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have chickens and I'm working towards getting fish for my aquaponics system.  I also hope that we can eventually eat some of the deer here but that depends on my husband shooting them! 

The chickens are free range but get a little store-bought oats and sunflower seeds.  My system isn't productive enough yet to yield enough food to make us "store-free" by a long stretch.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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Ludi, what are you planning in regards to feeding your fish in your aquaponic system?  I know numerous people have looked at the issue of cutting external inputs, but as far as I can tell haven't made a lot of substantial progress so far.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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My plan is to feed them Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Red Wigglers, and Pillbugs/Woodlice. 
 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 659
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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So glad you brought up this question, and I ditto "One Circle" by Duhon (available at Amazon) - very detailed analysis of complete human needs, plant sources, and production per square foot, including winter storage, etc.    His conclusion is based on biointensive gardening in No Calif -  but good info.

I brought up the same question in terms of how many edible calories per land unit from monoculture versus permaculture, at a permie meeting yesterday.  I'm afraid it turned me into a semi-heretic   Glad I'm not the only one waiting for the calculation.

Ludi, are you planning on making some type of large-scale pill bug traps?  Or a contained production unit?  Or ... ?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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It's easy for me to collect pillbugs from my vegetable garden by turning over rocks or potted plants.  I think I can trap them more effectively by laying pieces of damp cardboard on the ground, but I haven't tried this yet.  I could probably raise them in confinement but they do so well "free range" I hope to save myself some work by just collecting them from the garden. 

 
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