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I've just been looking at the messages from people looking for cheap land and a good place to live. I responded to two of them but I'd just like to say a little bit about what I think you could call the permaculture of people.  I live in Bulgaria, by the way.

Depopulation is a fact of development - when you present people, especially the young, with a massive variety of options and temp them with material things and disposable income, then the prospect of working very hard on a field for the rest of their lives, somehow looses its appeal. If you're on this forum, then you're probably not in that picture and in fact, you've probably had lots of disposable income, maybe bought and sold a house etc and now looking to go back to a more natural way of life.

The people who live in my village, live a subsistence economy - they have to work very hard to grow and preserve enough to keep them and their animals alive till next year. They usually dont have the time or resources to generate any real income so they're stuck in a bit of a cycle. But most people are happy here in this life - its a beautiful place with a great climate and lovely soil but this kind of life depends upon an extended family. As people get older, they dont want to have to continue working all day and every day in the fields and traditionally their children and grandchildren would do the work. But those younger generations are now more likely to be working in Germany or the UK and there is no-one to take over the land. As a consequence, the population of these villages is plummeting - this village had 3500 people 30 years and now the pop. is 450.

The result is that there are many, many empty properties - they usually come with around 2000sq metres and lots of outhouses and the price is usually under 10,000euros. The houses are mostly made from natural building materials and therefore need vigilance to keep them maintained but replacing the materials is very cheap.

The other result of depopulation is the loss of traditional skills. I have a load of mats made from cornstalks - brilliant and beautiful but almost no-one is making them now. There are loads of really interesting ways of working and living here that were totally sustainable in the natural sense but when you put 'development' in the capitalist sense, into the equation, life here becomes increasingly unsustainable.

I just want to add this into the discussions about homestead because i think that permaculture isn't just about land and materials - its about people, life and traditions and if you have the option to chose to live in a place where your presence will actually be valued and respected, then thats a permaculture choice.

I've been here for 5 years and if you want to look at my photos and stuff about life, my website is www.stjamespark.biz - I dont have time to keep my blog up to date but winter is coming on and during hibernation (-30 ish) I'll get more stuff on there but if you're interested, please ask me any questions. This village does need people - come and join us.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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the Geordie wrote:

The people who live in my village, live a subsistence economy - they have to work very hard to grow and preserve enough to keep them and their animals alive till next year.



Is there any way permaculture can be applied to make the work less difficult?  Are people open to new techniques at all if they can be demonstrated?

 
Kathy McGowan
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yes, of course - they'd love to make their lives easier but its also about valuing what people here do and learning from them - i dont thinks it necessarily about using new methods - they work very efficiently - its about diversifying the rural economy....but at the bottom line, its about not having enough people
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ok then permaculture isn't what it's promoted to be if the people have to work "very hard" just to subsist. 

 
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Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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In Japan at the moment, and rural depopulation is very much the case here.  Japan's produces less than 40% of it's own food.  Average age of farmer is somewhere in the 60's.  There are no young folks to take their place.  The daichi nuclear disaster has assured that even more young folks will flee the Tohoku region for Tokyo and other cities for a generation or two to come.

In the news every night there is discussion of TPP, the latest globalist free trade agreement.  If japan joins the TPP, it will kill what remains of Japanese agriculture. 

Already, marginal fields are being invaded by bamboo.  In more remote areas, whole villages are disappearing into forest. 
 
Kathy McGowan
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I'm not sure what its promoted to be but in any situation where you live off the land, you have to work hard - you have to get up for the animals, making sure your there every day of course; grow enough food for you and your family and all the animals  - probably working about 3 or 4 acres; preserve a large part of what you grow - that takes a huge amount of time; cut, collect, transport, chop and stackk at least 10 cubic metres of wood each year; maintain and fix everything all the time and be at the mercy of the weather. those things have to happen whether you use permaculture methods or not.
i'm sure that most of what people do here is really permaculture - its often just another word for common sense!
but at the same time, everyone can learn new methods and be interested in new ideas - theres always ways to improve on what you do, isnt there?
 
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I'm with Kathy on this one. Hope things are still going well for you?
I recently bought a property in a tiny village in Bulgaria, less than 100 people, mostly old folk. The villages are dying out here due to the young folk moving to the cities and coast to work, make money, buy tvs etc. Well that has cleared the way for people like me to buy up lovely houses, needing a bit of work (I just fitted a wetroom and new flooring). The house was furnished with old but clean stuff, is built of stone base with adobe brick walls, all rendered outside, plastered inside, two bedrooms, and lots of other rooms, goat shed, pig shed, chicken shed and half acre of walled garden- all for less than 5ooo euros! The garden is flat and south facing, has it's own well and deep, dark clayey soil in need of some tlc. I'm going to start collecting leaf litter and empty the old animal sheds from the surrounding empty properties to incorporate it into the soil, after I have finished scything down the weeds, a daunting task. I can get a local man to plow it all under then, thereby improving the soil.
I have twenty rows of potatoes in, tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and salad growing and five 'three sisters' beds, plus a hugelkutur bed I am trying. I've also got some ex battery hens which are improving day by day and are laying already.
The summers are long and warm here, the winters short with some snow. Most of the surrounding land is taken up with huge fields of corn, sunflowers, rapeseed but the locals left in the villages here are very poor and still grow most of their food in their gardens and keep fowl, a pig or goat and live a healthy lifestyle, with added local firewater called rakia made from their own grapes (which most houses have too. There are also established fruit trees in most gardens.
More permies should think about moving to this place as it is a goldmine for self sufficient living, property, transport, materials and labour are extremely cheap here ( a man plowing my land for two days is around 60 leva) and the opportunity for building any type of building is great as the planning regs are so lax. Old houses can be bought here to 'do up' for less than a second hand car in the UK.
Any way, keep up the good work.
Regards, Adam
 
pollinator
Posts: 990
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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This is a great idea -- and I'd like to add in that there is a calling for many to return to their ancestral roots and land. It may be simply a matter of time. I am Norwegian and Russian Jewish; for me, the idea of moving to a Bulgarian village feels exciting but not quite a fit. What comes to me instead is to connect through sharing ideas and encouragement. If I move to a village I think it will need to be a returning home, rather than a new place. But if I had the money to get to Bulgaria for a while and help out, or to go to California (see my other idea below) then that would feel like a fit to me.

Also, I think that there must be easier ways to work; with all respect to the old ways, the rapid flow of information today allows for many new ideas to be considered and tried out. Try out fifty of them, one a week, and if three of them don't fail you may have things much easier! Clearly we are all being asked to change in these times.

The problem is the solution--few young people means more___? as you say, opportunities for people with little money and big ideals to move in...what else? what other opportunities does this problem create?

I was going to post an idea that came to me--

barren almond fields in the Central Valley in California.
Dying/dead trees.

So: hugel beds, swales like the ones the WPA did that geoff lawton discovered still fertile in the midst of the Arizona desert, even without any maintenance for decades. You could probably get cheap land that on one else wants there in California and reclaim desert.

Build up swales with wood as well as dig in.

Problems are --land is soooo flat. topsoil is so dusty. there is SO little water--getting started would be difficult.

Ethiopian water-condensing doo-hickey might be useful so you have stuff to drink to start off: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-03/31/warka-water-ethiopia
 
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Location: Houston, Texas
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It's not what you think... believe me more people are being drawn toward their roots, but's it surprisingly difficult for them to find a place or area. For young people it's especially difficult since people find it hard to take them seriously. For example, you've all been talking about this and I'm sitting here a 19 year old, throwing myself out there to find a place to work hard and learn from. Part of the problem I think is that it's hard to trust someone who may not be matured/may regret their decision...
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks for posting, Kristen. I believe in you and I know you can do it!

Can you say more about your dream and where you feel drawn to? what feels natural to you, what feels like home?
 
Kristen Tabor
Posts: 29
Location: Houston, Texas
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My dream, is to live self-sustainably and teach wilderness survival., and own a bit of land someday.
I feel comfortable camping, or being inside. I think the place I'm looking for is a place I can feel useful
and build on the knowledge I gather. I wouldn't want to stay 3 months... I would want to seriously work
on a project until it was done, and from there find other projects to do.

A place where I can walk outside and care for either plants animals or both. I absolutely love the forest though.

I hope that clears it up
 
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