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You can't feed even one person with permaculture  RSS feed

 
Posts: 218
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Hi,
I am here to try to learn, so I appreciate your taking the time to answer my post.
It sounds like you could let buffalo and other animals run off the back of your place into the wilderness?
I am studying everything I can about permaculture, and I don't pretend to be an expert on anything, and yet I have lived for 25 years near the woods. If anything, the more I learn, the less I feel like I know.
I am studying everything I can, to see what I can do to take care of the woods where I live. It is like the last woman said, the more you learn about nature, the more humble you get. I am personally trying to integrate information from a lot of sources, not just permaculture sources, but books on everything. I am particularly interested in learning from native americans, anything.
It is real interesting to hear somebody talk about that area of the country, since I read all kinds of books about Lakota people, and the whole west in general. I was thrilled when the Indians got Pe'sla back from some white farmers, as I feel like they will take care of the land and animals there.
The best thing I see about the permaculture movement is that it draws people's attention to water.
I grew up under the influence of Cherokee relatives, including my own father, who was an expert on water. He grew up loving trout rivers, but seeing them destroyed by coal silt, dry cleaning fluid, X-ray chemicals, oil, gas, battery acid etc. White businessmen tapped him to run the waterworks, and then he had to clean up the mess [which continues to this day.] He taught me a lot about water supply, and helped me install my own water system. I have since plumbed 20-30 houses and trailers, but now I am more interested in natural water supply -- like having the beavers back. [Beavers keep trying to set up house on my place, but the dogs kill them]
I don't know anything about canals, but stream banks and stream beds are often areas needing restoration. I read somewhere that elk are critical for maintaining stream banks, but who would have thought that? I was reading about out west, not here, but I can't remember where.
I am actually trying to live as much like Cherokee again as I can here, but I can't until I restore lost species. I don't have ANY models for this, so I have to make it up as I go along, but my goal is to create a hollow as biodiverse as it ought to be. I already live in a biodiverse holloiw which supports bear and cougars even. However, a lot of the original people foods are missing -- like red mulberries, chestnuts, native plums, persimmon and grapes, fish. I am adding these things back now. I may not get to enjoy all of them, but somebody will: I plan for the 7th generation, like the Indians say.
 
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hi Greta,

Like you, I aim at natural farming, but obviously I still do a lot of effort, a lot of planning, but nature knows better.

I tried to plant many vegetables this year and I was getting frustated because they haven't been growing well (even brassicas and onion family) because of this such cold spring and summer. However nature shows me the way. I notice I have a "forest" of thousands of siberian kale volunteer seedlings after the kale set seed last summer. This self-sowing is typical in Fukuoka natural farming ideal.

Same for perennials. I do not have to take care of the chives, they just grow wildly and much stronger than related annuals. Because they are already established. And most Icelandic natives are established perennials or agressive self-seeders.

In Portugal, i don't know that person, though I have met a few people practicing the best permaculture and natural farming mix I have seen so far. Speaking of which, do you think you could update that mount of weeds where you grow your corn? I am curious to see it.

Huegelkultur seems to be also a key. Though its effort, it mimics nature, in a forest patch, a log rotting creates perfect conditions for many species to thrive. Its all a question of creating habitats, different habitats.

For instance, to have those kale seedlings, or poppie seedlings I need disturbed soil (one habitat). Peas thrive more near deep huegelkultur kind of soil, with other nearby plants to climb (another habitat). All a question of creating habitats...


Greta Fields wrote:Yes, I agree totally with that. I think observation is the best thing that Indians and permaculture people both teach. However, some permaculture people sound like they do not take time to observe the land. After having a farm, I would never just move to a place and rip it up for a permaculture plan, because I found out you can't possibly know what the land is like just from walking it one year.
They teach you to observe, but their students forget to practice observation.
Sepp Holzer stresses observation too.
I am in Appalachia, not Austria. However, my grandparents were from Karnten and Salzburg, Austria. They moved to America and settled in an area that reminds me of parts of Austria. I never went there myself, but it looks beautiful.
One every ten years, a certain flower will bloom that you never even knew was around, for example. In a really biodiverse place, the plants rotate, not just with each other, but according to years. So if you just study the land one year and dig it up, you may kill something you had no idea was there.
One year a certain hollow turned blue with Campanula flowers which never had any before, for ex. Another year, the whole mountain turned yellow with trout lilies I never knew were there. Some years, the 12-inch pasture roses bloom, but fail to bloom for years.
You may meet somebody I know in Portugal, in the permaculture circles. Her name is Tabitha, and she was planning to go there and work like Fukuoaka She came to visit me once, but did not like what I was doing, as I was not practicing pure enough Fukuoaka methods, I guess. [I was piling up weeds instead of doing slash and drop]
but I had a goal in mind...I was making a mound of weeds to plant corn on top. This seems to be the way the Cherokee grew corn when clearing a field. There are old pictures of Cherokee making corn mounds.
Yes, I agree, a person learns to be humble working with nature. I fail a lot trying to make things grow, but I can usually figure things out if I just study nature. I do hundreds of tiny "experiments" to figure out what works, because I got tired of doing gigantic projects, only to have them fail. Now I am thrilled if I get one little thing to work(: )

 
Greta Fields
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that's great you have self seeding kale. I had self seeding greens, Upper Land Cress and a couple tall mustard plants. Onions like cold weather, so it looks like you should have gotten some onions. I am very happy when a perennial stays here, and I have added many:
New England Asters, Cress, Meadow Phlox, Sweet Rocket, Mountain Mint, fancy Daylillies, Bleeding Heart, Celandine Poppy, Asarum (tame Jack in the Pulpit), Rudbeckia lacinata (yellow coneflowers for bees), fragrant azaleas for bumblebees (5' X 6'), Yellow Flag iris, Louisiana iris (for ponds), Meideland roses, crocus, species tulips, Snowdrops, Virginia Bluebells (which used to grow here),wild hibiscus, and pink Physotegia (false dragonshead), and now, columbines and the cress are taking hold.
I keep losing Monarda, which bees love. I don't know why. I used to have big patches of it.
Other: hazelnuts, apples, tame pears and plums and cherries, a couple grapevines, tame iris. I am presently adding shellbark hickory, persimmon and redmulberry. Oh, and I have ONE bush cherry.
What do you grow in Portugal??? Are you following Fukuoaka's methods strictly? I did put out seedballs this year, to add a naturally occurring vetch, which is a legume. I like it because it is so fine you can leave it in with the flowers and not even pull it up. I just bought and read his last book, on seeding the desert. I am trying to figure out how to apply his methods here for growing grains. I would continue to have small garden mounds or spiral mounds even. Fukuoaka had a garden near his house too.
I tried to upload photos once before, and couldn't get it to work. Basically a corn mound is just a ten foot circle made with weeds, saplings, sticks, grass, etc. from clearing places for gardens. The first one that I built was over five feet high. I dumped a couple buckets of dirt on top and corn grew. I ate the corn the first year, but the second year the coons got it first. Same thing last year. This year, my corn did not come up. I suspect that mice discovered corn kernels. Corn is normally easy to grow here.
I don't like building mounds that high because it takes too long for them to rot down, and wild clematis has begun to climb over them. However, I have one mound that is now growing great big tomatoes and potatoes, pumpkins and squash. I had to work four years on that bed, which had too many small trees in it, I think.
Mounds really do stop big weeds. I have one mound, over ten years old, and it never did get weeds and is now full of onions, giant primrose and tomatoes. The primrose are over 5 feet tall now. I got them from my great grandma, whose father was on the Trail of Tears, but left it and moved here with other people, carrying seeds.
I bet Portugal is beautiful. I saw a YouTube video showing people playing in the mud there, doing permaculture!
Filename: Untitled-11.tif
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pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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And you can't feed even one person with a corn field either! Neither can you with a milk farm.

Irene Kightley wrote:

I would like to communicate with someone/anyone who has grown all their food.


We grow our own food but we also eat our own animals fed by food we've grown and we hunt and forage. I admit I buy milk, yeast, flour, some pulses and rice and sometimes buy stuff for a treat. We have had our own milk and will again and we intend to grow wheat for flour next year.



Permaculture is not about producing all our own food.

But this is right that most people are trying to grow and breed as much as possible.
Sure, 100% examples must not be so common. Being at less than 100% is not failure. Dunno what is the minimum that we could call success...
It might be that a grid between people and a way to transport "permaculturally" around the world state/county/city, should be more thought about...

So, before proves, might be useful to correct the statement of the ignorant person?

It is more about feeding without poisoning, without loosing soil etc, = sustainably, though it is more than feeding too!
 
Posts: 182
Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Geoff Lawton said on one of his videos, that permaculture can feed the world, maybe not with the amounts or types of food now being grown in huge farms, but with the nutrition that is really the most important reason for needing food. But he also says, we don't want to use the same land and farms as now being used, but to plant permaculture farms and food forests in and around the urban areas, to reduce transport costs. He claims we can feed the world using only 4% of the land now being used for agriculture, if we do it right. I remember reading that in the Soviet Union, over half of the veggies eaten were grown in the small plots just around the houses. If we plant food forests of fruits, nuts, even perennial starch crops like chestnuts and ground nuts, etc, and let animals graze on grasslands and eat fallen fruits, etc, we can get all the nutrition we need without needing to grow massive fields of annual grains. Animals don't need grain if they have good forage system, and we don't really need grain either. Growing annual grain causes massive soil erosion and requires massive inputs of energy for tractors, combines, fertilizers, pesticides, etc--all unneeded in a perennial system.
 
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Bumping this because I am putting together a permaculture plan for my community and need examples of functional farms. If anyone has anymore examples I would much appreciate it!

Thanks
 
author
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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we run a functional farm, feed the family and sell our surplus to make an income. it works. here are the cornerstones of how we do it-

-good water. have lots, more than you think you need. water is life. get a lot of it or you will have many many problems. know water law for your area, be the lush spot not the marginal spot.
-mineralized soil. you can add the humus and the biological soil web, but you get what you get in terms of the native geology. read steve solomon's intelligent gardiner and choose your region accordingly.
-dairy cows on pasture. they produce so much top quality food, and benefit the entire farm's fertility. i am happy to answer any questions on this one.
-orchards with chickens. great combination. if your region wont grow good fruit, that is a bad sign for the overall growing characteristics of the area.
-intensive vegetable gardening. dont waste space, labor, or time. aim for off the charts productivity of mineral and vitamin rich foods. lots of good books on this.
-semi wild land management. good for the ecology, great place for medicinal plants and wild foods.

your question is short so I will keep my answer similar sized. happy to expound on any of this if you like.

YOU CAN FEED A LOT OF PEOPLE WITH PERMACULTURE!

 
Posts: 197
Location: east and dfw texas
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Adam Klaus wrote:we run a functional farm, feed the family and sell our surplus to make an income. it works. here are the cornerstones of how we do it-

-good water. have lots, more than you think you need. water is life. get a lot of it or you will have many many problems. know water law for your area, be the lush spot not the marginal spot.
-mineralized soil. you can add the humus and the biological soil web, but you get what you get in terms of the native geology. read steve solomon's intelligent gardiner and choose your region accordingly.
-dairy cows on pasture. they produce so much top quality food, and benefit the entire farm's fertility. i am happy to answer any questions on this one.
-orchards with chickens. great combination. if your region wont grow good fruit, that is a bad sign for the overall growing characteristics of the area.
-intensive vegetable gardening. dont waste space, labor, or time. aim for off the charts productivity of mineral and vitamin rich foods. lots of good books on this.
-semi wild land management. good for the ecology, great place for medicinal plants and wild foods.

your question is short so I will keep my answer similar sized. happy to expound on any of this if you like.

YOU CAN FEED A LOT OF PEOPLE WITH PERMACULTURE!



I agree with you .The place I have is very dry,yet it still has grapes,plums,nuts,With a little work and more water could be more productive.
I do think there is a place in permaculture for cows , they do bring a lot to the table along with other animals .
Cows are not monoculture grazers they are edge and forest browsers.That will thin understory areas for other things to grow.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1367
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Adam, you've made good points. Water surely is the number one requirement.

As for cattle, I choose to go a different route. I opted for hair sheep. They are easier to fence in and not so apt to injure me. I keep one trained for milking, the rest for breeding meat. They are easy to home butcher and easy to transport to the slaughterhouse for the resale meat.

Like you, I have a functional homestead farm. It feeds us, provides resources other than food, produces surplus food that we use for trading and selling.

I see two more requirements for success other than water. Location. Willingness to work. We carefully chose a location for our farm, the number one reason why it is successful. And I work five 12 hour days then two 3 hour days every week. But I love doing this, so it not like being forced to work. It's a good life.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
dj niels
Posts: 182
Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Those are all good points, about how to create a functional farm. Better land and water does make growing things easier. On the other hand, even on marginal land, by using swales, deep mulches, compost, green manure crops, and other methods to improve the soil and water-holding capacity of the soil, and adding climate-adapted trees and other perennials, a system of perennial agriculture using permaculture principles can do much to allow even poorer land to become productive. Even if it does not produce all the food I need, my piece of high desert provides a lot of the veggies and herbs I need, reducing my need for importing veggies from california or china, so I still think it is worth the effort it takes to work toward this target, and my land gets better every year.

Not all of us have the option to pick up and move to the "perfect place and climate," but I believe we all can do something to help ourselves. I don't believe permaculture is a system only for those rich enough to buy great land, but has something to offer all of us, to reduce our dependence on the big agri-farms and long-distance transport of foods that could be grown in our various climates and landscapes.
 
Adam Klaus
author
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dj niels wrote:Those are all good points, about how to create a functional farm. Better land and water does make growing things easier. On the other hand, even on marginal land, by using swales, deep mulches, compost, green manure crops, and other methods to improve the soil and water-holding capacity of the soil, and adding climate-adapted trees and other perennials, a system of perennial agriculture using permaculture principles can do much to allow even poorer land to become productive.

Not all of us have the option to pick up and move to the "perfect place and climate," but I believe we all can do something to help ourselves. I don't believe permaculture is a system only for those rich enough to buy great land



Nothing at all personal Niels, but I have to disagree. The cost of land oftentimes has little to do with its soil fertility. That is the strange agricultural days we live in. I agree, if you are already rooted, then do what you can with what you have, by all means. But for the many people considering buying land, considerations of fertility should be paramount. We hear and read so much about how incredible it is to 'green the desert', or to build organic matter, or to remineralize eroded topsoil. These are noble pursuits, for sure. But considering how hard it is to feed a family off the land, starting with a fertile soil is oftentimes the difference between success and failure. I speak from experience. I see young people trying to farm in my valley, and there is a huge correlation between their water and soil situation, and their happiness and success with farming. This should not be underestimated in its importance.

It is cynical to say that you must be rich to buy great land. Cynical and innacurate. In the modern world, unlike a century ago, many other factors contribute to land values much more than its fertility. Things like views, privacy, access, and ammenities all are bigger factors than soil calcium, phosphorous, and humus. If one makes a priority of purchasing a fertile farm, oftentimes they will pay no more for it than another patch of dirt with degraded soil and a nicer view. It is also important to remember that 5 acres of fertile ground with good water is much more valuable to a permaculturalist than fifteen acres of arid scrub. As somebody who bought undeveloped land, and has worked with heart and soul for eight years to make it a modern homestead, I believe that we must be honest with newcomers about the value of purchasing quality land if they are to be successful in growing food abundantly.

In fact, I have to think that much of the origional question of this thread has a lot to do with folks trying to practice permaculture on degraded land. It is going to be really difficult to feed even one person on poor land. Our ancestors knew better when they settled this country. Good land is not an optional asset in homesteading.
 
dj niels
Posts: 182
Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Adam, I agree with your main points--if someone has money to buy land. A lot of people don't, so I still say, do what you can with what is available. Unfortunately, it seems you are focusing only on the one statement I made about money. In my experience, good land, in a good location, does cost more than less desirable property. My main point, though, is that even marginal land, if used for perennial food-bearing plants, as an edible landscape or even a farm, with contour swales and dams, such as Mark Shepard and Geoff Lawton and others show, will produce more with permaculture methods than if someone were to try to use it for conventional farming. Anytime someone plows and/or tills and tries to grow annual crops, it causes erosion by wind and water, and kills soil organisms. Using no-til, deep mulches, on such land, still provides more benefits than if the land is just planted to lawn or left to dry, dusty bare soil.

As I said before, a lot of us don't have money to buy land, period, and have to use what is around us. There are many people living in places our ancestors would not have picked, just because there are so many more people now living, and much of the "better" land has been paved over, built up with subdivisions and shopping centers, or degraded to the point where it is no longer fertile. That being true, isn't it better for us to try to heal the places where we now live, than to cut more of the few remaining "healthy" landscapes? Alan Savory reminds us that every society that has depended on annual crops and plowing has collapsed, and we are just about to that point. I believe permaculture can help to slow or even reverse this trend, if enough of us are willing to work to heal little pockets of degraded land. Yes, it is a slow process, but for every acre that is restored to a healthy ecosystem we get that much closer to the tipping point where the earth in one area or region can once again function in a more natural way. And as Geoff Lawton points out in his earthworking instruction, by creating swales, and dams, and other earth-sculpting features, we can often greatly increase the water and fertility of a piece of land, and the surrounding areas that benefit from the overflow and tree growth, etc.

Another point to consider, is that permaculture is not really about being self-sufficient, but self-reliant and community sufficient--people helping people to build communities. In my opinion, based on studies over many years, it is not about growing all your own food, but in living in such a way as to care for the earth around us while we care for people. Just as we talk about plants, animals, and other elements having connections, we need connections with other people too, so one person might grow veggies, one raise dairy cows or meat animals, one teach school, one make shoes, one fix cars, etc, so one person isn't trying to do everything by themselves. We tried that approach, too, early in our journey through life. I learned then, and have been reminded, often, that that approach does not work very well.

All that being said, Geoff Lawton's permaculture site feeds a lot of people--maybe not every single thing they eat, but fruits and veggies and grains and meat and dairy, etc, whatever grows in his climate. Mark Shepard feeds a lot of people, as does Joel Salatin. Those are all great examples of permaculture farms feeding people. Not all of us can do it to that scale, but every pound of food grown in a permaculture system is one less that needs to come from a conventional farm, and I believe that is a target worth aiming toward.
 
pollinator
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does a corn farm feed a single person..or a wheat farm...or an apple orchard...or a strawberry farm...or an asparagus farm..??etc.

no, they provide one ingredient for each person that eats the produce from that one farm..but they don't provide the meal.

the closest thing to providing an entire meal would be a permaculture, organic or food forest farm type situation..or some other type of mixed media farming..a single product farm will never entirely feed anyone.
 
Posts: 90
Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Having previously lived in Arizona and having there worked to find a way to develop a dry corn farming method for use in the desert, and now living in North Dakota, the capital of modern agriculture, I sort of see both ends of this picture.

What it comes down to in my view is this.

Until it is viewed as financially competitive to raise food in a permaculture manner rather than a modern agriculture manner, it shall remain the bailiwick of the visionary, the hobbyist and "the wacko."

Which one am I? Hmmmmmm....

YLE
 
dj niels
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Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Jeff, something else to consider, is the quickly approaching crisis of peak oil, or decreasing availability and increasing price of the same. As Mark Shepard so convincingly lays out in his book, Restoration Agriculture, the only reason conventional agriculture is so competitive is because of subsidies and high use of oil. The conventional farms of thousands of acres, are only possible because of high inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, and water, all of which demand lots of petroleum based products. And the water for agriculture comes from shrinking aquifers. If we can use permacultural methods to begin to learn how to grow food that is not dependent on these inputs, we will all be better prepared to face an uncertain future. Mark reminds us that even most "farmers" today get most of their income from off the farm, and could not survive without subsidy payments. So how is that "financially competitive?"

Mark Shepard compares the actual nutrition coming from a field of corn, with the same land growing a mixed savanna-type system. The corn field doesn't even come close. Maybe one person on a small urban or suburban property can not grow all the food they need, but as people with farm-scale properties convert to systems such as Joel Salatin, Mark Shepard, and Geoff Lawton manage and teach about, the possibilities increase that we as a society can learn ways to provide the nutrition and calories we need to survive and thrive. And I still say, the nutritional value of fresh-grown herbs and veggies from my backyard is way above what we can buy from conventional farms and markets, even those that claim to be "organic."
 
Jeff Rash
Posts: 90
Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Hi DJ,

In agreement with all that you say. But until oil drops off that cliff, until government breaks from the weight of its own subsides and until farmers go broke like they did in the Great Dust Bowl, we won't see any widespread adoption of permaculture, except as the aforementioned groups like us.

I know that here in ND, the friendly talks I have had with the farmers here about, including the loan organic farmer, they seem to scoff at permaculture.

The loan exception is the one organic farmer hereabouts. He has had nothing but trouble with the state and federal governments going out of their way to cause him issue.

It is one of the reasons I worked at meshing permaculture with more "modern" agriculture techniques when I lived back in Arizona. I did not know at the time what I was doing was actually called permaculture, until stumbling across this great site!

You and your mentioned author are absolutely right though. Until that tipping point comes, permaculture will be the bailiwick of my aforementioned trio.

Not that this is bad!

Somebody needs lead the way.
 
dj niels
Posts: 182
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Too bad we can't get more of them to at least look at what farmers like Mark Shepard and Sepp Holzer are doing, with an open mind. But like Mark said in his book, most of them are so heavily invested in the big equipment, and committed to big contracts, that it is hard for them to look at something else.
 
Jeff Rash
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You want to know the really tragic thing DJ? They are buying land and tractors and new houses and boats left and right out here. A few are socking it away, but they are under the impression that its just going to go on forever.

I know it won't, it can't. Corn and other crops can't stay at this high a price forever. Lot of the young folks are going to be really mad at God for "ruining them" in the future.

They don't understand that farms and high debt don't mix. I sure hope they can pay that land and tractors and homes off before the government does the same thing it did to us out in Arizona with all the free federal money for new housing starts. It was meth for the economy and it now has a total hangover that destroys people. I feel for these guys out here. Its going to hurt and I think suicides will be at an all time high...

YLE
 
dj niels
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Yes, it is very sad. Sepp Holzer talked about an old farmer, growing apples in a "conventional" system. The processing company charged more for storing the apples, than he was paid for growing them. But he was so tied into the system and his contracts that he could see no way out. A wise person once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results." The conventional farmers, and the general public, have been so convinced that the way it is is the only way it can be, that they don't realize they are being hoodwinked and led down a dead-end to nowhere. Unfortunately, that road can not give the future we all would like to see, of peace and joy and prosperity. Mark Shepard called it the myth of the profitable farm, if we just do this one more thing right, or find the right crop or marketing strategy. But the more they grow of one or two crops, the lower the prices go that they earn for their labor.

I just hope it is not too late to turn around and salvage something better, and I believe permaculture is the only way that can happen. Permanent plantings, with supporting guild species, and permanent cover crops or mulch to protect the soil, reduce erosion and drought, etc, and that greatly reduced input that allows us to harvest more than we put in, is, in my opinion, the only way we have a future, at least in this life. (I do believe in bright possibilities for life after death, but that is a topic for another time and place.)
 
Jeff Rash
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DJ,

You make some excellent points. As to the one about the general public, I don't think they really ever think about how food is made. So many now eat out of the local fast food place, that the idea that this stuff starts in the ground is utterly foreign. I am not bagging on fast food, once in a while I will eat it and actually enjoy it. But so many now never even cook!

I run into folks that have been in the welfare system all their life. They eat packaged foods, processed and call that cooking! Processed has its place, but not as a main source of sustenance. My middle son and his wife eat like that. They both work and "don't have time" to make meals for themselves and their kids. This is the most frightening thing to me. They can't even make Hamburger Helper for goodness sake.

I can't see how in the world this can sustain itself. We primarily discuss things from the farming perspective here, but the mentality runs all throughout our society. The end of the line is people living like animals and eating food from a company that makes animal feed! (Ralston Purina owns Jack in the Box, last I checked.) Again, not bagging on the fast food companies or any company. PEOPLE make these choices and that's why the companies sell it. We choose to eat like we do and that empowers the cycle.

You mention spirituality and that's a very important point. Christianity started as a freak splinter group and rose to become what it did because of the dedication of those preaching it. They showed a better way. They actually ignored the government and did not try to legislate their view. They lived and often died true to their principals. That simple dedication is what changed the world.

One can argue the validity of Christianity, but not their method for preaching their viewpoint. And that is why I admire the dedication of Permies. Being open, not accusatory, not condemning and certainly not by trying to legislate our viewpoint, I have seen people make real differences. Permies are a lot like early Christians. They made new Christians by showing one person at a time what Christianity was. It only took a short period of time for the worlds only superpower to concede defeat.

We Permies are much like the earliest Christians, showing what we believe to be a better way, one person at a time. Lol, not trying to form a new religion here or anything, but if we believe in what we think is true, we will live it out.

And our opposition is much like what the early Christians faced. Large, corrupt and powerful forces were brought down simply by living a public life. Early Christians found themselves afoul of the system only because they were true to principals and refused to do certain things- but they never forced anyone else to do it their way. (One can argue that changed somewhere along the way...) It was the system trying to force them.

They were made fun of, called crazy and as governments tend to do, they were persecuted as a minority. But they stuck it out and kept on and changed the world.

We are lucky to live somewhere that personal choice is possible. Permies need to and in my view are, "preaching the gospel" one person at a time. If and when the house of cards falls, we will have the answer. Personally, I hope it changes slowly as more and more realize this is not a "kook," "fringe" or "Hippy" concept. Permies are some of the smartest and best adjusted people I know. There is real peace here and it shows. Ultimately, I think that's an attractive thing. It was to me, when I left the rat race in California some decades ago.

So I guess my long winded point is, keep up the good work and keep preaching the gospel! It will take time, but things can change.

YLE

 
gardener
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A lot of people are already changing. Some of them are conservative survivalist people. Some are like old hippies, many are in between. When you realize that living like modern Americans gives you cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and you don't make enough money to pay for that, you realize that the old system doesn't work. Many people are starting to grow their own vegetables. Seattle and Olympia have food forests and many other places are starting to plant them. Farmer's markets have skyrocketed the past few years. Vegetable seed sales have tripled or so the last 10 years. People are realizing that you can walk or bike sometimes instead of driving. Many realized that they worked like a slave for 30 years for some soulless corporation, only to have their pension stolen at the last minute. When it's in the newspapers, it's a problem. When it keeps happening to many people you know, people realize they need to start taking action to change their lives for the better and adjust what they're doing.
John S
PDX OR
 
Jeff Rash
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What a great post!

Your last point about it happening to your friends, seen in the paper or happening to you reminds me of an old saying. "When your friend or neighbor gets laid off, it's a recession. When you get laid off, it's a depression."

YLE

 
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I see Permaculture as the best investment from every angle (Physical & Mental Health, Ecology, Food $, Property Value, Useful Education, etc.) regardless of politics or motives. It's hilarious to hear that Permies are being stereotyped as anything...LOL. I read somewhere that you never really own land & that you just become the steward of it for a while.
 
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I have about 3/4 acre dedicated to a regular family feeding garden while I plan and layout what I want to do in permaculture on a 3 acre plot elsewhere on our land. That way, I can become more sustainable now, while waiting 4 or 5 years for the new fruit and nut trees to start producing etc.

As many have already said, this is a process, and as Geoff Lawton says, nature works slowly, we just have a bad tendency to trash it all quickly then not want to take the time to fix it. To be honest, I am glad it takes awhile because there is so much to learn, and every piece of land is different. The soil in my garden area is horrible but awesome southern exposure etc, while I have richer soil in a lower pasture, but not much sun, then another 3 acres that have mid-grade growing soil that really needs some love, but also has poor access right now. So one thing at a time as you feel you understand it and can design it well, that's my approach.

Nettie
 
Jeff Rash
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So well said!

I have a horse and rather than let her poop go to waste, I collect it up all winter and then rototill it in areas that I am not experimenting with. I have one I am always filling and one I am letting compost or taking compost from. I built her (my horse's) compost pens out of 12 X 12 2 X 8's I got almost for free. They were all warped at the local Home Depot and they nearly gave them away. Throw in a couple of L brackets and you got a compost pen fit for a horse! A cheap used Monkey Ward or Sears rototiller is perfect for the 12 X 12 areas I use for compost. (You see them at swap meets all the time.) I am not into new when used is so much cheaper and actually better built. Anything that still works after 20 years is built for the long haul!

Point is, all that compost goes into my production beds and makes a real difference. Its free, except for my time and I need the exercise anyway. If you have a horse or other animals about, why not use their manure to improve you fields?

Something to think about and my horse provides me with emergency transport as well. We are soon training her to pull a cart. Our ultimate goal is to have her pull our vegetable cart to a farmers market.

Good luck friend and I am confident you can feed yourself if you want too. I know people who do now.

YLE
 
dj niels
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I love this discussion. Especially pertinent, in my opinion, was in another post, about a U.N. document from 2010. I don't usually think too highly of the UN, but this caught my attention. Somewhat hard to read, it essentially said that we can never feed the expected world population in 2050 unless we switch to something they called "agroecology." In other words, a system using perennial plants, more organic matter in the soil, reduced chemical pesticides and fertilizers, connected multi-species cropping, combined crop and livestock systems, small farms close to where people live, etc. Sounds like permaculture to me.

The news release stated that "scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live--especially in unfavorable environments." It also cited a doubling of crop yields, or increase of 80% or 116% in some areas. "Chemical farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks. It simply is not the best choice anymore today." ... "We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers' knowledge and experimentation, ...." The article also "...urges states to support small-scale farmer's organizations, which demonstrated a great ability to disseminate the best agroecological practices among their members.....small scale farmers and scientists can creat innovative practices when they partner..."

So, if anyone questions what you are doing, tell them you are following the UN suggestions to boost food production.

The Farmers Handbook, written by a group in Nepal, and free on the internet (I can't find it right now--it was discussed on another forum, I think in the chicken forum) has 5 sections talking about how farmers in Nepal were able to use permaculture methods to improve the health, nutrition, and income for the farmers and their families. Of course, their idea of a farm is definitely not our monocrop monstrosities--more like a homestead with "fields" that are like a series of large garden beds, and lots of intercropping.

So, after all the discussions and concerns about permaculture feeding one person, I believe permaculture is the only thing that will feed the world, in the long run, as well as in the short run. We could all die of malnutrition if we depend on our monocropped conventional fields of corn to feed us. So, as I said back in August or so, I believe it is essential for each of us to grow whatever will work in our yards, patios, balconies, etc, depending on our climate and space limitations, of the nutrition we need in the form of fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs, using perennials wherever possible, and farm these crops on a larger scale if we can. After all, it was the dachas and victory gardens and allotments and community gardens that provided most of the veggies etc for many people during the hard times of the past century, and will be our best source now and in the future, no matter what happens in the wider community and the world.

Go to Geoff Lawton's website and watch the amazing videos he is producing to get an idea of what can be done in small spaces. Even a roof-top garden in New York City, and a productive farm in New England, or a permaculture site in the desert of Jordan.

Or take a look at Caleb Warnock's blog and videos, showing what someone in a harsh winter climate can do to provide fresh greens all winter, even under snow. There are all kinds of examples out there of how permaculture is making a difference, as one series of videos said it--one yard at a time--the one yard revolution.

Well, enough of a rant, I am preaching to the choir anyway, but just don't get discouraged and don't give up because some people don't understand. (I am saying this for myself as much as you--sometimes it is hard to keep going against the flow.) Got to go keep working on my design. Good day to all.
 
Danette Cross
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Going against the flow, in my life's experience, has really been more a case of "being ahead of the curve"! I look at my neighbor on her five acres next to my 5.5 acres. She uses irrigation water to water her HUGE lawn!! She makes "comments"when we are out working and I bite my tongue. Guess who will be the first at my door during a food shortage or after the SHTF? Yup, my lawn water-wasting neighbor. Wait till she gets a load of the pond we are planning and sees me out in the back 3 acres planting my Hazlenut trees (just orderd them, SO excited!). My family kinda gets it because we grew up dirt poor, but some just give you that blank look. But I really don't care anymore. If they have to mock or question something that makes so much sense, then their oppinion isn't gonna rank real high with me. I think many "get it" but quite frankly are too lazy to even put in raised beds. My neighbor would rather spend a full 8 hours mowing her well-watered lawn than a few hours reaping a harvest that could feed her very well on that same land. Sad really.
 
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Danette Cross wrote:My neighbor would rather spend a full 8 hours mowing her well-watered lawn...



Growing up in a sub-arctic boreal forest, I have had to puzzle out the phenomenon of lawns as an adult, and my best theory is that they are some sort of bizarre status symbol -- people are competitively advertising their wealth and leisure and social status by displaying a large expanse of perfectly-trimmed, bright-green grass that is all labor/money inputs and no useful outputs.

Living in a warmer climate now, I can't help thinking it's marvelous that food (nuts! even fruit!) just grows on trees, and that edible plants keep coming back, year after year, without needing to be planted every year and babied along as seedlings on your windowsill for weeks before the snow is done melting.

Conventional agriculture (monocropped fields, bare-soil gardens in neat rows) leaves me cold. But food forests and perennial edibles feels like legal *stealing*, it leaves me gleeful every time I pick something to eat.

At this stage in my philosophical development I'm not particularly a permaculture partisan -- I went looking for techniques for doing what I already wanted to do (grow food trees and edible perennials on marginal land) and permaculture ideas are what I found. I'm not trying to feed myself 100% -- I have a cash-economy business that feeds me -- but I do enjoy "free" food and I cannot escape noticing that it's better, fresher, and more diverse than the food I can buy at a big-box store near me. I'm not really in any doubt, though, that I *could* feed my household from this land if I wanted to labor at the task full time. Generating a cash income or a really diverse diet would be harder, but enough healthy calories to live? I don't even understand how that's an issue.
 
Jeff Rash
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Danette Cross wrote:I think many "get it" but quite frankly are too lazy to even put in raised beds.



Very well said! What part of the country are you from?

Here in the desert, there are a few "lawners" that do that sort of thing. But honestly, its such a pain in the rear! But some folks really like it. And I think like the post below you said, it is a fantasy display of wealth.

Here in the Midwest, the concept of grass that grows knee high if you do nothing to it is an odd one! Coming from AZ and CA deserts, I had a very strange experience my first Spring here.

I was looking to buy a farm house that came with ten acres. While poking around, I stepped off the path and onto the grass. "Boing!" Wow, that was a really weird sensation! I suddenly remembered that sensation from our lawns when I was a kid. I was thinking, "Oh my god, that's what grass feels like... I had nearly forgotten!"

I might grow a small patch someday at our house in AZ, but we are talking just enough next to the house to play in, the dogs to roll in and the grand kids to put their play pool on. I am pretty sure it will be behind the kitchen where I can water it with AC condensation and sink water. Pumping water from 600 feet deep is for the birds! My power meter acts like its on amphetamines!

YLE
 
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You can't feed one person with permaculture because one person can't eat that much food!

The belief that alternative agricultural systems will cause mass starvation is the biggest most giant load of horse shit propaganda that has ever been uttered by either the uninformed or those with an agenda. To see the shortcomings of the current system we need only to open a newspaper.

Do they have ways to utilize all the wasted capacity, the back yards, the road sides, the green strips, the rooftops? No
Do they have ways to keep from degrading their resource base on the land they are currently using? No
Do they have ways to heal land that has been destroyed and then abandoned by earlier agricultural practices? No
Do they have ways to use land that most wouldn't even consider to produce food? No

I could go on and on and on but if someone doesn't get it or doesn't want to get it, just move on. Fuck the naysayers and don't waste your precious time arguing with them. There's just too much shit to do and they're always going to be there. You are in the right place and you know what needs to be done. That's all that matters. Most people aren't so lucky.
 
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