So I read about the economic viability of permaculture on another thread, and was inspired to put this out there. Please don't kick me off the site
I am in this wilderness skills school that is incorporating the permaculture certification for the first time. I feel that there are two directions, or areas of focus, that are pulling me: re-wilding or permaculture.
I really want to make that OR an AND. Say you are raising meat rabbits (permaculture) but you practice your snares and deadfalls (rewilding) on them. Or you have a garden (permaculture) and a deer comes and grazes, then you shoot it with your bow and arrow that you made from natural material (re-wilding). Are these examples justified in the blending of these two themes?
Lets say something happens that puts the U.S. into a state of turmoil and there are bands of hungry people roaming around. If you have a self sustaining permaculture farm, wouldn't your land be their first target?
I just looked up what rewilding meant, as I've never heard of it before. It appears to be making an effort of reintroducing plants and animals into a designated area.
So, are you asking about returning an area back to what it was, to what humans think is valuable, or as a prospective hunting area? What would be your intent?
To me, permaculture is a less-invasive, less-polluting method of agriculture. The point of it is to feed ourselves while minimizing damage to the planet.
If you're thinking of returning a certain number of acres back to what it was pre-1830s, and using it as a grocery store that isn't obvious to roaming hordes of hungry people, I think you are probably doomed to failure, for two reasons that I can think of at once.
1. It takes a lot of wild area to sustain a small family. Indigenous people who lived off the land that didn't practice agriculture were always nomads. They would harvest the plant and animal bounty of an area and move on to another area. After they left, the plants would regrow (if they hadn't stripped it completely), and the animals would replace themselves by breeding. Drying foods was their main way to preserve food, and they couldn't haul much on foot. They would migrate from one area to another, never staying too long anywhere.
2. Just because people live in highly populated areas doesn't mean they aren't capable of hunting. If they know of an area that has deer, elk and rabbits, they're going to arm themselves and park there until they run out of food. They may not find every single edible plant, but they will certainly collect the obvious.
If this country goes into an economic depression, you aren't the only person who will be looking to wild (or wild-looking) areas as a source of food. Seattle has a population density of about 7,100 people per square mile. Probably half those people have firearms and some even know how to use them.
Now, if you were thinking along those lines, it seems to me to be better to engage in higher-density permie plantings that would be closer to your home and easier to protect, if you of that mind. And if you helped to create a small community where everyone helped sow, care and preserve the food, and could share the defense, the community might not be as attractive to roaming bandits as an isolated, individual place would be.
Thanks for staring this thread steve!Nows our chance to get back at Urban Scout!Like yourself,I find myself between the two.My problem with permaculture is that it seems to lack direction toward an end goal.Concepts and techniques can be used toward any end.Corporations stack functions!This allows people practicing permaculture to desighn systems relient on(and therefore supportive of) industrial civilization.I'd rather see decentralized models not relient on civilization(civ).We cant just turn around because the resourse base neccesary to live like the indians OR the settlers has been liquidated.I'm not speaking of "going back" in a technical sense,but of taking the abundant genetic and physical material that civilization has given us and of utilizing the remaining resourses and abilities of civilization to prepare for and create a world where cultural and genetic diversity and abundance are available,but where industrial civilization and its baggage is no longer neccesary. I use water for the first few years of a trees life but when its established I cut the water.I dont want my system dependent on the water.I use a chainsaw to transform the unmanaged ecosytem into a productive model that will(if maintained)require no more fossil fuel devises.The time I save is used to learn how do do these things without the modern technology.The goal is ultimatly to not be dependent on civilization for my needs.Permaculture does not have that as a goal so desighns do not aim for self relience(their are some of course).Rewilding has that as a defined goal.Its a world view more than a technique. Rewilding has its own downsides too.Some in that movement would critique manipulation of the enviroment itself and promote a return to pure hunter gatherer,which, in my opinion would not sustain a dense population.Many are also opposed to non native plants. I have been researching(and importing) non-native edible plants for 10yrs now.At one time I had 200+species of non native hebacaous perennials that are edible.These require no outside inputs so I'm using civilization to alter my enviroment so I will no longer need civilization.As for what % of my diet is wild.Probably more than most!Today I ate roadkill deer I got with rootcrops from my garden.OK root crops are not wild but some of them are pretty feral and can reseed themselves.They grow good in my sandy soil(hey mabey septic drain fields and outdoor volleyball courts will have a use after the collapse afterall!)I have not bought a fruit or veggie from the store for several years.Staples are a bit harder to aquire.Grains are pretty efficient in quantity of scale but for a home production model,roots are going to be more efficient carb source until we can get chestnut production up to par.Squash is pretty easy too.Protiens and fats are even harder.Nuts seem obvious but they take time to establish.Wild game populations can be incresed by 7X with proper management. Here in the PNW we dont really have that much soil appropriate for agriculture so a grain based culture is going to me minimal(and perhaps domestic animal production as well).We do have some good ag soils but percentage wise its far less then mountain terrain so if we want to maintain our population we should probably learn appropraite managment for creating production models in the mountains.Most of this space is protected so management for food(burning etc..)is outlawed.Realty is what you can get away with so post collapse production models will include agriculture of course.Ultimatly,I'd like to see a move away from dependence on agriculture. True wild production models in the past have been less productive but with new genetics the potential for greatly increased production exists.I dont think we need to come up with a solution to the global population.That is built unsustainably on oil(cheap energy)and thats not our fault.If we could feed everyone,people would take it as an opportunity to create more.I do not support a die-off but believe it will happen.I also belive it doesnt need to happen because complex polycultures scientifically have been shown to be more productive then single story production(which is what is going on now).Streets,athletic fields....everywhere I look I see underutilzed space so we are nowhere near our production potential.Nut trees take awile to grow though so in the meantime...ouch!!! PS the natives in my area lived semi permanently in long houses and were not nomads.They utilized perennial plants in a production model that supported a dense population and did not compromise the enviroment like european models.A couple of good books are Keeping it Living by NAncy Turner and Against the Grain by ?A good comparison of the two models.
There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.
I think you are hitting on a bit where I am at too. although the re-wilding of humans isn't where I lean but the general ability to be self reliant. which in my opinion can only be supplemented with wild harvests unless you are just an individual. I have a family. I could not feed my daughter adequatly without some form of agriculture and sustainable agriculture is even important in a shtf scenario and that is where permaculture take a place. unless, as sue touched on the population density was way lower than it is now and we became nomadic. I worry about the shtf scenario. going back to the wild won't be the answer to roaming starving people. your best protection would be helping your neighbors keep from being desperate and owning guns and amunition and having big not so friendly working dogs who take their job very seriously. a good stock pile of food and easily defendable property. it of course would be a good idea to have your place set up to be not so obvious. having things like generators running, orchards and gardens and livestock visible from the road, giving othe people too much food or allowing them on your property is not a good idea. you need to fit in as much as possible as being in the same boat as everyone else during socialization or encounters with others. don't be fat. and be careful who you tell about your ability to survive unless it is informing them that you have plenty of guns and ammunition
I read a book by Dan Quinn, Ishmael. Talks about how agriculture was the beginning of man's (delusional) superiority to nature. It started with someone looking at a piece of land with what have you on it (trees, critters, etc.), and deciding to take all that life out of that space to do whatever he/she wanted to grow. It is like saying the earth, or at least this section of it, belongs to me and I can do what I please with it. Was it chief Seattle who said "the earth does not belong to us, we belong to it."?
Fast forward to today. Someone moves to a piece of land that has a ton of grass on it. Lawns coming out of your teeth. We can't just live on the lawn. Gotta plant some edibles and medicinals and coppice species etc., right? Would that go in the permaculture box? Or the agriculture box? Or the re-wilding? I mean, you are going to bring "wild" critters to that land, and feed some of them along with yourself.
Was there an end goal in mind when the pioneers decided to create the United States of America?
I think we are at a point where we need to decide if we want to conserve the environment itself (to try to sustain all the remaining species) or support all the oober billion people we have living here. This probably won't happen, the decision, I mean, because there are opposing opinionated views.
Sue, by re-wilding they mean the movement that encompasses primitive skills, wildcrafting, eg re- becoming-wild human.
In this context it's another elitist word just like 'permaculture'. The only folks who know what it means are a sub-culture. I use both words, but realize it needs explaining the first time. There's a similar blog to this one about rewilding at http://www.rewild.info/conversations/
On the topic at hand, I'd add that it seems to me that the re-wilding movement (of which I have limited knowledge) doesn't tend to think that gardening is an act of wildness.
But, a look at history shows many instances of indigenous groups gardening, and that gardening tends to blend into the landscape in a very hard-to-recognize-to-whitie/ permaculture type way. The books Mt.Goat mentioned above, and 'Tending the Wild' (easier to read) explore this topic a lot. The book '1491' also.
So it's kind of a semantic thing. What is wild? Not obeying rules? Or only obeying rules that come from a tribe? And which tribe? Not tending to food? Or tending food plants/animals as best befits your ecosystem? What exactly does 'wild' mean, and is it a European way of just rejecting domination in all its forms? does that mean throwing out tradition as well? (that of course brings in more topics)
I want to learn a lot more about many topics re-wilding folks are into. And if I knew more I wouldn't hesitate to use the word 'rewild' for one of my approaches. BUT I'm hesitant to reject the notion that humans only belong in their ecosystem as hunter/gatherers.
As Jon Young said in a lecture/story I heard from him (very appropriate for the topic since he's a primitive skills guy): "We are the duct-tape generation. We don't know what traditions to hold on to. We don't know what traditions to create. And we'll have to duct-tape our lives together in some kind of way, hoping that our children will then have something more healthy and holistic to work with. We don't have the luxury of growing up in an intact healthy culture, so we'll have to create it"
I wouldn't throw out gardening (or permaculture, to get into semantics), it might kind of be like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Sure, industrial ag needs to be rejected. But so might the notion that we only mess up ecosystems when we start to interact.
These tribes didn't create traditions of gardening certain plants for nothing. The plants need us, is a common theme I've heard.
I like that quote, Kelda. Jon Young is the man. He taught my teacher here at Alderleaf.
Kelda just hit it spot on with her definition. That is what I am talking about.
The point of re wilding... to thrive in the forest using the gifts of the earth as your tools, food, medicine, entertainment, shelter, etc. I am not talking about EVERY human doing this. I am talking about me, an individual, living within the environment around rather than manipulating (when I say manipulate I make no negative connotations) it. Now that I said manipulate, however, I realize that one does manipulate it's environment to a certain extent... even animals (beavers build dams, birds build nests, etc.). So I guess it is minimal manipulation that I am striving for. Minimal manipulation of the world around me. That is the point of rewilding, in my opinion.
It feels good to get food from a garden, but it feels sooooo good to gather food from the forest! In my opinion anyway. Down in south america I visited a tribe who have wild gardens... no fences, no row crops. What they did was plant some manioc, plantain, papaya, and more found in the rainforest near their village. When I talk to some people about just taking some red huckleberry bushes and transplanting them near the house, I get mixed responses. Usually something along the lines of "cultivated plants bear more fruit so maybe a cultivated blueberry near the house would be smarter."
Steve,after reading Keeping it Living I decided that I'm really into managment in the landscape.I believe its our purpose on the planet to have a close relationship with the earth.In the I-ching,the creative is all yang(symbolised by heaven)the receptive is all yin(symbolised by the earth).The earth is here for us to be creative with.Together we can make beautiful things.Of course we should spend time observing so our dance is appropriate. I also see our relationship with the earth twisted by the beast weve created(yea,you guessed it, civilization)In 'my' forest the elk and deer use the trails I create.The beaver can move through areas once too dense.The squirrles feast on nuts.My actions in nature often seem to benifit the animals I love.We need eachother.My relationship is close enough that I can identify overpopulations and bumper crops and harvest approprietly.I'm always learning.Nature provides a lifetime of entertainment.But it took along time for me to build in confidence of my ability to be a force in nature and not f**k it up. As for the hucklberry debate,bluberries and hucklberries both like rich soils but blueberries need summer moisture and huckleberries can take it dry.I pick over 100# of huckleberries for my job(native seed collector)a year the best sites are glaicial deposits that dry out in the summer simmilar to good grape soils.Its a trick to compare a pampered domesticate to a wild plant .Yea the blueberries produce more weight but since they have been bred for size/water content,you are getting less nutrient density and more sugars.Of course you pay by the pound!Do the blueberries produce well without outside inputs.Dump enough calories into any plant and you can get it to really produce but its all about the production to effort ratio.
There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.
Are you currently managing a forest? That is amazing. Ever heard of Merv Wilkinson?
What is a bumper crop?
We have a beaver here too! I found beaver tracks and feeding sign on salmonberry and alder the other day. I hope he/she builds a nice dam. Form a pond and bring in some ducks and more species, species diversity is good, right?
Cool, Steve, those Ecoforestry folks look like a great resource. I'm more familiar with Northwest Natural Resources Group, http://www.nnrg.org/, as it's based more locally.
(bumper crop is more than an expected harvest)
And, back to the topic at hand, I was thinking of it and popped around on some Green Anarchy websites. It seems like there's kind of two trajectories crimethinc -> green anarchy -> re-wilding -> primitive skills and the other lessen consumption/resource use -> 'environmentalism' -> homesteading -> permaculture
So the one v. the other comes from different ideologies. Its not so much that the practices are opposed, especially in the gray area of indigenous land management/gardens. It's more that the ideas that spurned those skill arenas are different.
Let's say radical v. liberal. Though I can immediately think of so many places where that's false that I'm immediately uncomfortable with it (knowing the people I was at tree-sits with, or something like the permaculture-based Earth Activist Training)
OR maybe it's more: liberation-based v. earthcare-based. Not mutually exclusive, but different focuses.
Also as a side note, though I'm not sure how many permies would think this too: I thought it curious that the books 'The Chalice & the Blade' and 'The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community' weren't in the Green Anarchist resources I looked at. Is it a matter of semantics? For obviously the 'power over model' used by the above two authors is the same thing as 'hierarchy' by the anarchists. And the 'partnership model' is of course nothing but the 'anarchy/work things out as equals' that anarchists bring up.
Maybe Eisler's stories about 'civilizations' that Are partnership is too much for pure anarchists to stomach. She's speaking of pre-historical cultures, so it kind of depends on what one thinks the word 'civilization' means.....
oh yeah, and I was proud to my friend Ran Prieur's stuff all over the Green Anarchy resources He's perfect for this debate,but he's busy keeping his own blog http://www.ranprieur.com
i don't know if this fits into this thread or not, but because my husband doesn't allow me to keep domestic animals..i USE the wild animals in a similar way to the permaculture use of domesticated animals..we have lots of wild rabbits, they feed in my garden and leave their fertilizer. they are allowed to prune back some of the plants that need winter pruning and plants that need protection are protected. We have a doe that sleeps in our back yard..also some of her friends visit daily. She does a little pruning and fertilizing of her own, she is a bit more destructive, but as you said if I had to to not starve I guess I could eat either of them. We have wild turkey that scratch in our garden and sometimes have pheasants that come up and feed here..in summer we have wild ducks and geese that fly in onto our pond and patrol our garden for their delights and leave theirs behind. We also forage in our nearby areas for morel mushrooms, elderberries, wild greens and herbs, blueberries, etc..and I have made jelly for Christmas gifts from wild elderberries for years, love it.
We have a forest that we have somewhat managed, but is mostly allowed to be in it's wild state, on 3 acres of our property, and the property was nearly "bald" when we bought it in 1971 and now it is nearly all reforested or gardens..with a small pasture area (for the deer) and a little mowed lawn, to play on.
Bloom where you are planted.
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
I would say that totally fits on this thread ronbre.Domestic animals are one of defining features of civilized life and one that many rewilders avoid.Think of how much resourses native americans saved by managing the wild animal populations.The european model is so not efficient.As soon as you cage the animal you are resposible to feed,house,and provide all of its basic needs.That was pretty easy to do as settlers moved west.The natives had left the forest in pristine condition.The old straight trees were easy to split into rails for fencing and lumber for barns.Nice old growth provided tons of cheap shingles.The land was converted from managed forest(for wildlife)to annnual agricultural use.Well slowly bu surely,all those fine forests which had been managed for thousands of years by the natives were liquidated.Well fortunately we discovered cheap oil and now everything is made of metal(fences,barns,ect...).Well suppose that metal becomes unavailable in the future.Suppose getting hay or grain becomes impossible.Well you can kiss domestic animal production(at least using modern genetics)goodby. Has anybody had chickens or ducks without grain cause grain dont grow very easy where I live but everyone struts around like their so self sufficient.Like driving to a feed store to pick up a bag of industrialy produced product constitutes country living. Actually I'm also really intrigued by an ancient way of raising livestock that I stumbled on a few years ago and just cant get out of my head.In a older kids book,I read that cattle used to be much smaller in size and that they have over doubled their size with breeding.Well I'm sure these extra large cattle need a certian type of food and are probably more demanding in other areas as well(similar to a domesticated vegetable).Well I was reading in a book called Trees In the Wild by Gerald Wilkinson where he talks about how cattle used to be raised in the forests of england.The book is from england and Gerald is a historian as well.Select quotes include "Elms of all kinds have been used for winter fodder for cattle until recent times" and"Ivy leaves were a valuable food for cattle,though perhaps a last resort when all the elm leaves were used".He shows a wood cut of an elm tree pruned in a 'shredding' or 'lopping' method.The tree is grown as a tall single trunk.Every few years someone climbs the tree in the winter to lop off the side branches.These branches have dried elm leaves still connected to them.Another picture shows elms with ivy gowing up them.A primitive cattle polyculture.This method of animal husbandry seems much more sustainable.Modern hay and grain methods require irrigation and technology to grow and ship the food.So I think when it comes to animals,rewilders would place emphases on the wild animals and their management.Rewilders also interested in permaculture would probably be interested in finding more feral strains of domestic animals,Importing wild or domestic animals that might go feral,and figuring out how to provide for/have a symbiotic relationship with those animals.Rewilders would probably shun the edifice that modern domestic animal production has become including all the unsustainable outside inputs.
There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.
The wild rabbit that comes to your garden has not had to run around on its own shit and try to dig through cages. You also don't have to clean its cage, feed it, or water it. You may choose to harvest the rabbit in your garden. You have now just gotten all the benefits of a domestic rabbit (minus the companionship) with no drawbacks (except that the wild rabbit probably ate way more of its own crap than a domestic would have). There is one aspect left out: you don't know if there will be more rabbits coming to your garden. With domestic animals, there is more security that you will have food.
This sense of security is what separates us modern folks from early man. We need that security. Native peoples know that nothing is secure enough to stop mother nature. That is why they laugh when their thatched roof home gets blown over in a windstorm. That is why thanksgiving was celebrated numerous times throughout the year. It is one of the toughest things to be comfortable with... insecurity. I know I am not.
Permies always talk about self-sufficiency. THere is nothing on this planet that is self sufficient. Everything relies on some other aspect of the universe, even non-living matter. No such thing as self- sufficiency... Unless my definition is different than that of John Seymour.
that is kinda funny, and also the least of my worries, not knowing if there will be more rabbits..tee hee. Rabbits multiply well like rabbits.
My grandfather was a trapper and gardener, there is hardly an animal ..not skunks or dogs, ..that I haven't eaten..we have beaver for Christmas dinner cooked in a pressure cooker, yum.
I don't exactly live off the land, but probably could ..not comfortably at this place in our life..but alive yes..
Deer and rabbits are in our yard all day every day, i see squirrels, bear, possum, coon, etc. all the time. We even have pheasants wild turkey and quail ..as well as hundreds of mourning doves which we could eat if we had to..do we..no not now..as we don't need to, but could we, sure..
I have done extensive study of the herbs and plants that are available to eat on our land, and it amazes me as to how FEW things growing here cannot be eaten for food.
I haven't tried them all, every year i try a few new plants from the wild..we have even supplemented our income in the past when we had none by selling raspberries, morel mushrooms and even nightcrawler worms.
Each year I plant more and more and more plants into our property and woods..taking what once was an old used up celery farm with a few ornamental and fruit trees and the rest mown lawn and a small swamp area or two with alder and aspen and a few evergreens..to now what is more than 3/4 forested and the part that isn't forested is getting there with spots of trees growing here and there all over..there is about 2 or 3 acres of fruit vegetable and ornamental gardens (mostly edible ornamentals like daylillies, etc)..
the first thing i did on this property was to plant trees, and every single year i have planted more trees..and other plants..we now have about 7 to 8 acres of trees and gardens with only a small area of open fields..
Bloom where you are planted.
Whoa... Correction! Indigenous people who lived off the land always practiced permaculture or were driven to extinction with the possible exception of developing militant religious indoctrination based on mysogeny to artificially survive natural selection. Check out Bajos/Chinampas (raised beds in waterways. This permaculture pattern was how central American sustained much denser populations than the conquistadors could with slash and burn ag. the same pattern can be found in ancient China, Sumeria, Africa, SE Asia, North America, etc. Even the marsh Arabs use this pattern today. Remember 0ver 50% of our commmercial food crops are from those alleged "hunter gatherers" in America not the Judeo-Christian monoculture plowing agriculture.