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proof of permaculture's longevity, resilience and success?  RSS feed

 
Tim Flaus
Posts: 17
Location: Moss Vale, Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
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Gidday

I spend alot of time reading about permaculture on websites and in books. Probably more time that I should. There is something I have noticed that concerns me a little and I was hoping for some discusion on the matter.

It seems to me that the Permaculture community is rich with ideas. Lots of people are experimenting, building this, testing that. Many provide detailed rationales for their ideas. Lots of people would say that they are providing solutions to specific problems such as lack of water, slope, nutrient deficiencies, energy management and so on. Some people go to the trouble of documenting in detail the initial construction of their solution with the aim of providing information to the those that are interested and may have a similar problem that requires a similar solution. It's all great, ideas flying around, people testing things out all in the name of developing sustainability.

So what is my problem? I am concerned about how we as a community of like minded people measure and determine the success of an idea.

Most of my observations lead me to believe that once an idea has met the "proof of concept" test it is deemed successful and then curiously shelved. Ideas are implemented such as building swales on a sloping block to improve water retention or some other terrific permaculture idea is implemented, the photographs are taken a blog writen and we all say how wonderful, gee that is some real good permaculture going on there. As time passes the idea becomes background, a new idea has taken the spot as the next great thing and the blog changes focus. What of the old idea?

There seems to be very little out there that demonstrates longevity, resilience and in my mind success. I want to see example of successful permaculture solutions. Concepts that have proven their value and quality beyond their initial implementation. I am more interested in seeing a plot of land that has been cultured for at least five years, preferably 10 or 20 years using permaculture principles. If the same ideas and concepts are still in operation and can be seen to be improving yeild and managing sustainability then I think we have proof of success.

I think we don't see so much of this because people are keen and eager at the start, they have learnt something new and they are excited about the possibilities it presents them. Then get going on it, it works in theory or in isolation from the system they really live in and away they go building, digging, planting and telling us all about it. As time passes the novalty wears off. A new idea comes and away we go again. I'm not really critisising this approach I'm guilty of it too. We all love the new and shiny. But do we fall into the same trap that I seem to be seeing in lots of areas these days. Any innovation is rewarded above any proven conventional approach. innovation drives the economy, regardless of its effect, regardless of its capacity to impove. It is of course unsustainable.

I'd like to see old permaculture, wise old gaffers that have been doing it for years writting up their blogs and taking photos. Maybe their too busy.

What do ya reckon??

Tim

What do ya reckon?
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
26
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Awh Tim, I feel your pain and so do others of like personality who crave documentation.

First off I'd like to acknowledge other 'types' of personalities who do not require such. That's what makes gathering places, like permies, so wonderful you get the geeks hanging with the artists.

Now about 'The measure of success' - I have found exactly what you speak of in youtube videos. Yes, there are a lot of trial and error, just starting out and here are my views and assumptions, as well as 'I hope this works'.

Here are the problems as I see them
(1) people are not all working for the same goals, they are not coming from the same place, and they do not all want the same things. Yes, people are the issue.
When you look at anything as an absolute your in for trouble, it is all relative. I absolutely stay away for threads where good people want to debate absolute permaculture perfection.

(2) I was just communicating with someone 'gifted in the ways of natural building' begging them to write a book, share their knowledge. Their response - They would have to sacrifice the time away from family, life and other work. They added that they had been turned off of the idea because when they share their ideas are stolen and done badly. I can see where they are coming from.

Think about it, if there isn't something good in it for them, why share, or blog or ....? I find when we are in learning mode we are all so hungry and can get discouraged when the information we seek is so very hard to accumulate. However, when we move into the doing phase we are then to busy, and producing information isn't practical, it becomes a negative unless it facilitates our lives in some way.

For example, Paul (father of Permies) takes the time to record things, write articles and post them, because he is trying to support himself while following his desire to live an sustainable life, and that is part of how he is doing it. I wonder if he would have done all this work if he had an inheritance I myself volunteer here, and I am as often treated badly, or ignored as treated well in the process. So I mostly moderate only, trying to encourage people here and there, responding to posts that are not getting much attention in order to bring some action. Sometimes I just stir the pot, and that brings conversation. My role is moderator and not teacher, at least not here *grin*

When I move out on land and it becomes a do 'this' or 'moderate' choice, I'll be choosing to Do and write my own story.

It's up to each of us - to learn, share what we can, in the way we can and find our way. I know it can be hard and frustrating, keep gleaning.... you won't find absolutes, although some people believe they have them, but you will find your way, and that is the most important thing.



 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Here are some examples of older, established permaculture projects, which you may or may not be familiar with:

http://www.permacultureportal.com/

http://beantreefarm.com/

http://www.ecofilms.com.au/2010/07/20/remembering-a-permaculture-food-forest/

http://www.krameterhof.at/en/ (not derived from the original Mollison permaculture, as far as I know, but related)

Not being a super expert on the permaculture community myself, those are the ones I can think of right now. I bet there are many more which I just don't happen to know about.

Here's a database of permaculture projects worldwide. http://permacultureglobal.com/ Not all of the projects in the world, just those entered in this database. Most are probably more recently started projects, but some might be older. Some might have websites or blogs; most probably don't. Those who don't you might be able to contact via email, phone, or letter. If you find some older projects you like, maybe you can get back to us here and post about them so we can be encouraged by those examples.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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You might also try posting your question on this other messageboard: http://forums.permaculture.org.au/
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
26
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Oh Ludi reminded me of something....

On youtube in the farm for the future video series, several of the people she interviews show how they have been 'doing it' for years and how successful it can be done.
Here is the link in case your interested http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xShCEKL-mQ8

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thank you, I had forgotten about those examples. SBS (Small Brain Syndrome)

 
Sue Jones
Posts: 13
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Tim,

Here is a project by Robert Hart in England that is decades old. There is a book about it http://www.amazon.com/Forest-Gardening-Cultivating-Edible-Landscape/dp/0930031849 and a documentary film http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/forest_gardening_dvd

Rachel
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Whenever I buy a finca (Spanish for farm), you find all sorts of things growing wild, avocados, fruit trees (oranges, limes, mangos), bananas, bread fruit, beds of camote, squash running wild, passion fruit, etc.

With just a little bit of help, it continues. Given some of the age of the trees, decades it has been going on.

Also, old pepper plants, and young (old 5 or so years), cherry tomatoes, bunching onions.

And then there is papa chinas, etc.

All naturalized, usually growing from the fertilizer shoveled out of a open air barn.

I call that permaculture myself, though many of those who did it never could read or write.

It took me a bit to figure out I should be learning from them!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The anthropological word for that manner of food-growing is "horticulture." Permaculture is largely inspired by horticulture. As Bill Mollison said, permaculture contains nothing new except as a system of design (or philosophy of design). There are many old examples of horticulture, a way of growing food which has been around for many thousands of years.

2,000 Year Old Food Forest in Morocco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hftgWcD-1Nw

300 Year Old Food Forest in Vietnam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5ZgzwoQ-ao&feature=relmfu
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:The anthropological word for that manner of food-growing is "horticulture." Permaculture is largely inspired by horticulture. As Bill Mollison said, permaculture contains nothing new except as a system of design (or philosophy of design). There are many old examples of horticulture, a way of growing food which has been around for many thousands of years.

2,000 Year Old Food Forest in Morocco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hftgWcD-1Nw

300 Year Old Food Forest in Vietnam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5ZgzwoQ-ao&feature=relmfu


And they refer to it as hortaliza, not jardin. Jardin generally is your flowers.
 
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