I'd like to generate a discussion about the fundamental pattern of the Self-Sufficient Family Homestead as the fundamental unit of Permaculture. Without this pattern, there can be no true Permaculture. I've written down a description of this pattern after the manner of Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language
Please share your thoughts on how this pattern fits with other patterns of permaculture living.
75.1 SOVEREIGN FAMILY HOMESTEAD (KIN'S DOMAIN)
This pattern is the master plan governing the small family homestead from 1 acre up to about 10 acres. Anything larger should be looked at as either an Agribusiness (10+ acres) in which the principle goal is monetary profit over personal and family interests, or Clan Holdings which would really consist of a collective of Family Domains which sustain an extended family with individual domains for every couple/nuclear family. Each Individual should have at least 1 Acres of land from which to sustain himself/herself and every couple with children should have 5 acres with at least 300 species of plants and animals to sustain themselves food, medicine and other renewable resources.
This pattern is so fundamental that it is actually the archetype of the Garden of Eden and the origin of the word Paradise (Paradeis). Without this pattern there can be no Sustainable Culture! It is the single most fundamental essence of Man and his Homeland. The arguments that this pattern satisfies the indispensable conditions for a healthy sustainable human life have already been defined and implemented in countless cultures throughout the entire history of Mankind from the "Podere" as the foundation of the Roman Legion and therefore the Roman Empire to the famous Domains of medieval aristocracy up to the present methodology of Permaculture Design as a strategy to realize Sustainable Development. The most concise statement of these fundamental conditions is found in the Ringing Cedar series of books from Russia which are the following 4 points:
1) Every Man living on the Earth should have his own domain, his own Space to guarantee for himself a supply of high quality food. 2) In his own Space Man should grow, preferably by his own hand, fruit-bearing plants - plants that he considers tasty and healthful. Altogether at least three hundred varieties of perennials should be put in. Naturally this is not something that can be accomplished in the space of a year - or even two or three. But it is entirely possible to ensure that one's children will have, in fact, an ideal source of food supply. 3) Every morning upon awakening, a Man should take a walk through his family domain and, if he desires, eat some fruit or berries or herbs which have just that moment ripened to maturity. This should be done entirely according to one's desire, and not at the recommendation of some sort of dietician, even one with a post-graduate degree. Once your body has become familiar with all the taste qualities of the food growing in your domain, it will compile the ideal règime for you in terms of quality, quantity and the appropriate time for the food to be eaten. You don't need to go out to your garden just in the morning or according to a strict timetable somebody has thought up, but only when you have a real desire to eat. 4) Your domain should be located in an ecologically clean zone. It should be surrounded by the domains of those who share your vision of creating family oases of Paradise. One breeze will carry life-giving pollen from your domain to your neighbours', while another breeze from their direction will bring you life-giving air.
An individual's homestead should be from 1-10 acres in size. This might vary considerably where lifestyle and fertility varies. Ranchers in high desert conditions will invariably require larger acreage to range larger livestock although they can easily plant forage producing trees and shrubs (114.5 STACKING, 173.3 STOCK-PROOF HEDGEROWS, FREE RANGE FORRAGE) in, around and along their pastures to greatly increase productivity and diversity (MAXIMIZING BIODIVERSITY) with special attention to medicinal herbs (FOOD AS MEDICINE). While many individuals will find themselves with less than an acre of their own, especially where they have no previous generation committed to Sustainable Living, the focus should remain on the ideal of working towards a minimum ownership of at least one half acre per person. This might begin as a right to use the land whether it is renting, share holding or a lease-purchase, but the ideal goal is to have each individual own their own land. In the USA, wherever possible, the original Land Patent should be researched and updated with the BLM to assert sovereign ownership of the land. Where larger bocks of land are held by individuals, couples and families a specific parcel of no more than 10 acres should be identified as the individual's Personal Domain where he can eat, sleep and live the majority of his private life. Some couples will prefer to designate two individual domains with separate and perhaps overlapping territories. Truly Conjugal Couples will want to create a shared Domain in the deepest acts of Co-Creation along the lines suggested by the description of the wedding rites in "A Union of Two - A Wedding" in Chapter 5 of Who Are We? by Vladimir Meģré. Additional 1-5 acre blocks of land can be designated as Personal Domains of children within the nuclear family while extended families will become Clan Holdings especially with the passage of time. At no time should any Personal Domain be subjugated to anyone other than the God-Man of that domain and his individual decisions he makes for his land. Obviously, there will be wealthy individuals who may have ownership of far more than 10 acres. There should be no constriction on such ownership, yet the land beyond one's Personal Domain of 1-10 acres should be recognized for what it is whether that be agribusiness pursuits, agroforestry land, mining, park land, nature preserve, recreational land, etc. It may contiguous or not contiguous with the owner's Personal Domain the only distinction here is that an individual Man/Woman will become over-extended attempting to sustain a direct relationship with the Earth over an area greater than 10 acres dedicated solely to his personal living space, food, water and medicine supply. Moreover, it is unnecessary. Even raw materials produced over a territory greater than 10 acres for livelihoods necessarily become group harvesting activities whether commercial or communal in nature and cease to be a Personal Homestead Domain.
Each Man should designate for himself a Sovereign Homestead Domain from 1-10 acres in size where he can develop a Permaculture Design to sustain his life with a high quality supply of food, water and medicinal plants with a minimum biodiversity of 300 species of plants which he can raise in a direct interaction with the Earth. Wherever Conjugal Love inspires such a Homestead Domain will become a Co-Creation which will propagate a new generation of kin thus becoming a Kin's Domain which will be passed on for the posterity of future generations. The perimeter of the Homestead Domain should be planted with a Diversified Hedgerow which may also include a STOCK-PROOF HEDGE, GARDEN WALL (173) and TREE COLUMNS. The Healing and Transformative properties of the food and medicine raised on any given Domain will be most enhanced by the direct and intimate involvement of the Proprietor of the Domain in the germination and propagation of the resource plants (Anastasia's BIOFEEDBACK GERMINATION).
As much as possible, the ecological health of each Homestead Domain must be maintained. SITE REPAIR (104) Other patterns which would logically fill out the grounds of a healthy Homestead Domain are FRUIT & NUT ORCHARD, RAISED BEDS, BEE HIVES, FREE RANGE FORRAGE, INTEGRATED PASTURES, WILDLIFE CORRIDORS, FOOD FOREST, MUSHROOM NICHES, WORM & COMPOST BINS, FISH TANKS & PONDS, and SMALL WOODLOT.
I've had this post floating on my desktop since you put it up Bruce. I've been a little swamped, but I think now is the time to respond!
Maybe it would be easier to respond if it were broken up into lots of little bits ...
First of all, I have to express my little quirk about the pattern stuff. That wonderful book has wormed its way into a lot of industries. After years of whining about it, I finally composed a very brief article called Evil Design Patterns. In a nutshell, I think the purpose of patterns should be limited to vocabulary only. With anything else, the value of the pattern ends up being more of a problem than a help as implementing a pattern starts to have more value than what is best for the situation.
10 acres: my permie vision is more like 80 to 500 acres. I think that once you start to explore the idea of a full farm eco system, you need more than one family. In fact, six full time adults become a minimum (MOO (my obnoxious opinion)). Tending to animals, plants, harvesting, bills, feeding people, making money, etc. It starts to get to be a lot of work. Half the acreage is forest land, and a lot of the other half is for zone 3, zone 4, lots of ponds, terraces, hugelbeds, food forests, etc.
I could be mistaken but I think the 10 acres is pertaining to a "personal homestead domain" that would need to be a part of a larger community. all that other stuff is really community projects and community benefit so it would need to be a part of larger communal property and effort.
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
posted 10 years ago
I see a few problems with this design. 1-Where I live,soil types can vary in extreme.Blue berries do not grow good on my homestead (low organic matter)so even with 23 acres I cant meet my blueberry/huckleberry food needs.Other people cant grow what I can so limiting people to one piece of private property is not efficient compared to community management or people being given plots on all different soil types(similar to native American land management methods here).Are the people with waterfront the only ones with access? 2-Maintaining berry bushes means limiting succession so they are not shaded out.You must also prune out brushy twiggy stuff.The most efficient way to do this where I live is with fire(which natives used all the time)but you cant use this most efficient meathod because current social design has everyone spread out all over the landscape. 3-Land scape is the defining feature in cultural design.Here in the North Cascades most of the usable land is not inhabitable in the winter so people came together in the winter near the rivers and spread out in the summers so while the ratio of land per person was perhaps similar,it was not accessible the majority if the time. I personally think the most efficient model is small villages with people going out to their different management areas.This also provides more security from "bad"forces,be that people or animals.
There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.
posted 10 years ago
mt. goat - you have pointed out what I believe to be a bigger problem. why do we need some "plan" at all? each persons life and situation is so different it is futile to come up with a one size fits all ideal vision. my new place is mostly rocks. I tried to set some fence and hit solid rock with the t-posts about 6 inches down. My land will certainly not produce the same as a fertile deep prairie and 10 acres just woulnd't cut it for basic food production. the climate will limit (like everywhere) what medicinal plants I can realistically. grow I think it is far more useful to debate the ideals in the broad sense of morality and personal responsibility to the earth rather then in particulars of acreage, specific plant numbers or types.