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William James
gardener
Posts: 1015
Location: Northern Italy
23
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My question is not that technical, but could use a couple ideas in regards to strategy.

I think that many people out there are in the same boat as me. I have a little experience, but not much. I am very land poor. I'm borrowing my friend's yard and another 200m square plot of some non-blood relatives who enjoy the non-permaculture kind of gardening. That's my situation in a nutshell.

I've solved a few of my resource problems, but a lot remain. In Italy it's a little difficult to get your hands on resources (exotic and even simple things like straw, something I was only able to solve by spending much too much money).

One of my burning questions that I think could help not only myself but others as well, is "how do I start?"

PDC is in the works. I'm working to maximize the benefits of my two meagre plots. I can't insert animals because the places aren't my own.

I haven't given much thought to a sort of "permaculture land trust" but for now I've dismissed it because I really have enough trouble just doing what I'm doing. Plus corralling the people and money necessary to make it happen just seems overwhelming.

There's the other nagging problem that I have 2 jobs that I can't quit right now. So I'm making the best with the little time I have.

Does any of this sound familiar?

What advice would you give to someone who has big permaculture dreams but little in the way of money or time to make those dreams happen?
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Hi William,

I would say think 'low-tech' solutions. They cost less to set up/install, less to maintain, and less if you have to replace them.
Do research into olden day solutions (100 to 200 years ago) to the problems your facing. Chances are they didn't have a lot of resources at their disposal either, and you'd be surprised at what people accomplished with the 'low tech' supplies around them.

The trade off is always time and labor, but the pay off is you get to keep most of your money.

You may want to do a search on DIY __________ (your issue goes on the line) & Frugal ways to __________ (your issue goes on the line).

Start new threads/topics with specific goals, adding as much detail as possible and including any links to researched info you've gathered so far. Then you may glean more tips and tricks for accomplishing your project.

All the best,
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1015
Location: Northern Italy
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Jami McBride wrote:
Start new threads/topics with specific goals, adding as much detail as possible and including any links to researched info you've gathered so far.


Hi Jami,
Thanks for the response. I guess you're right: it depends.

That being said, I'm pretty much doing what you've said. I find the cheapest, most DIY project to satisfy whatever need I have. Also, certain questions, like "how do I get straw in my area" can't really be answered online. In my case, the answer was found in one case by a friend of a friend who had some straw, in another case, I bought straw directly at 2 euros for a 1m x 50cm bale. Now I'm asking things like "how can I get uncontaminated straw" and, well, the search continues.

All my questions, I'm finding, are related to resources: time, money, physical resources like straw or manure, knowing people, access to experience, etc.

Perhaps I'm having trouble finding a better "edge" of all these.

As an aside, 100 or 200 years ago, a person in my situation would probably be in and out of debtor's prison (even if I don't have debt currently), or more likely a sharecropper or a servant of the aristocracy. I like to think of myself as a modern-day serf, at least that's my goal. A lot of the "olden day solutions" still required landholders to amass the resources necessary to make things happen.

Maybe if I lived in a cool place like Portland where there are tons of people going crazy over permaculture....doors would open.

Here in Italy, it's beginning little by little, but not fast enough to make things happen for me.

I currently do pretty low-wage agricultural work to satisfy my desire to be around plants and animals (all of whom are treated poorly and without respect).
I was just hoping there would be a better way (which there is, but not currently for me) and that I could be a part of it [cry, cry, cry].

Thanks again,
William
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Regarding the straw question, are there untended grass fields or roadsides nearby that you could harvest with a scythe? I would guess that the owners of such properties (if they can be found) would be fine with you mowing their property for them. If they are full of aggressive "weeds", just be sure to cut them before they go to seed.

Of course you'll have to come up with an inexpensive scythe. Perhaps you could put the word out to your "network" that you'd like to borrow or rent one for a few days? Or craigslist?

If you have not used a scythe before you should plan to spend at least a day just getting the hang of it.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
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Here in Michigan USA my property has very poor access to some of the things you would have poor access to, my problem is mostly the cost and the inability to drive our truck (partially handicapped) and hubby is handicapped worse than me..so he just plain won't help...son works 12 hour days 7 days a week so he can't.

I have to try to find the things I need on my own property. I did buy a small Kama type knive (off amazon) got 2, one was $3 and one was $4. did manage to pull some muscles in my back first time I used it..overdid and overreached..so a longer handle might be a better idea.

I suggest trying to grow things that you can cut , or chop and drop, for your own mulch..I am doing that with things with big leaves like comfrey, rhubarb, horseradish, etc..I also pull weeds that aren't useful in other ways when they aren't in seed, and use them as mulch being careful to keep roots from touching the soil. If you read some of the books avail. you will see that a lot of trees and shrubs are good to cut smaller branches off of to use as mulches as well.

Also, if you have any forested areas that are nearby, you might get a few handfuls of forest soil to put in when you plant trees and shrub..to bring in the proper micro organisms..best of luck

I suggest reading gaia's garden by Toby Hemenway ..lots of info for smaller plots and sharing with neighbors
 
Tony Elswick
Posts: 73
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my advice is your dreams are what you make of them.

you can find materials for aquaponics. Murrary Hallam has a DVD called Practical Aquaponics that shows you how to use local waste materials to set it up.

you can build a mycolab for fiarly cheap and start exploring ways to utilize mycelium... mycelium you will learn will help you achieve a lot more with less.

MOST of the investment is time and labor... money is something you dont necessarily need, but if you want a initial investment then liquidate something else you own.

the point being that if you incorporate mycology with aquaponics you will go real far with your dreams.
 
Geoff Lawton
permaculture expert
Posts: 48
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Find access to land and do the best you can to provide for your own needs and the needs of your family and then help your friends and local community when they ask for help to get started in permaculture, accept all invitations to help if you think you can and allow resources to gather around you many of them will probably be people and use this as a good indicator that you are doing the right thing.

Have fun and if you are not having fun rethink your design approach because something is not right.

Be dogged and persistent and you will be in for an incredible life journey.
 
Nacho Collado
Posts: 42
Location: Granada City (that's in the south of Spain)
7
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Hi from the south of Spain, William, use anything on your land or resources your neighbours don't use or want to get rid of
We don't have straw for mulch and we don't want to buy it, so we've used thistles and herbs growing wild in our piece of land... some we had to cut down to make room for the perimetral fence, Our piece of land is about two Acres


and most we had to cut or step down on it to avoid wildfires.
We don't want to hire any machine so we've done it by hand using scythe, sickles, machetes etc... or simply stepping on the plants when they were dry.






we also asked our neigbours for leaves, branches,and plants they want to get rid of, as well as prunning material they usually end up burning.
We got a lot of cherry branches when my neighbour got rid of some cherry trees... he sold the wood, and i asked him for the branches., now leafs are in the ground and we're chipping the thinner branches for mulch and letting the thicker ones for firewood.


here are some crop residues they use to burn... tomato. pepper, eggplants grapevines and so... now becoming part of our soil intead of vanishing in smoke and heat


here is the chipping of the branches leafs and vines for mulching... chipping was made bare hand and lately with prunning scissors


We don't use any machines, only hand tools, they're very cheap, and durable... hand working may be a bit slow, but gives you time to see what are you doing, and what plants and creatures are in your land, let the critters escape if necesary and also is fun, rewarding and saves gym fees
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1015
Location: Northern Italy
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Thanks everyone.

Note to self: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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Nacho, beautiful, great job.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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