• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

We're using the same words, but have different meanings.

 
D. Logan
gardener
Posts: 879
Location: Soutwest Ohio
288
homeschooling forest garden foraging rabbit tiny house books food preservation cooking writing woodworking homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's a common problem in all walks of life. Any time a word is tied to a complex set of ideas, the meaning can wildly differ from one person to the next. A recent topic reminded me of this and so I decided to split off a discussion on that topic specifically. There are a few words we all use regularly, but that seem to have vastly different meanings between us.

Homesteading
Self-Sufficiency
Permaculture


More often than not, they get used somewhat interchangeably. When one person says homesteading, they refer to being self-sufficient. When two people discuss self-sufficiency, they have wildly differing perspectives on how far that extends. Even Permaculture, the thread that runs through everything here, seems to draw up very different images depending on who you're speaking with. I thought it might be worthwhile for us each to express just exactly what we envision when we say each of these words. With that in mind, I'll start off. When I use each of these words, this is what I mean.

Homesteading:
The act of actively developing a measure of land with the intent of making it productive to human needs. This may be accomplished through an individual or a community, but is generally stand alone from the larger community as a whole, if not entirely independent.

Self-Sufficiency:
Having or learning the skills needed to handle situations independently if and when the need arises. For myself, I don't see this as 'doing it all yourself', but rather as being capable of doing anything needed until you are able to find a better solution.

Permaculture:
A system, that while originally conceived as an agriculture alternative, can be applied to all aspects of the world as a means of creating a more sustainable and healthy means of human survival. Often applied heavily to naturalistic environments, however just as applicable to urban settings.

So with that in mind, what sort of meaning do you generally have when you use each of these words?
 
John F Dean
master pollinator
Posts: 1542
Location: southern Illinois.
302
composting toilet food preservation homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Overall, I think you have hit it.  My definitions differ only in degree.

Homesteading, I would modify to "...standing alone, at least in part ...."

Self-sufficiency,  I would modify to, "....with the objective of full independence from outside influencers."

Permaculture , I would modify to,  "...developing a self sustaining ecosystem with the objective of supporting the inhabitants with minimum human input."
 
Leigh Tate
author & gardener
Posts: 401
Location: Southeastern U.S.
196
goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

D. Logan wrote:There are a few words we all use regularly, but that seem to have vastly different meanings between us.


When I first started writing, I did a lot of research on these terms (among others) and how they are used.

"Homesteading" is one of those terms that people argue over the definition of. There's a tendency to fixate on a definition and then try to argue that this is the "correct" meaning. Yet when we look at actual usage, we see a wide variance in application. For example, I have five acres, a large garden, orchards, livestock, and pastures, and we grow a significant amount of our own food ourselves. We consider ourselves homesteaders. A suburban friend has a garden and three chickens and considers herself a homesteader. Am I going to discourage her by telling her she's not a "real" homesteader? Not on your life. I think the common thread in both scenarios is a desire to live a more hands-on lifestyle closer to the source. I think that's what we need to focus on and encourage.

"Self-sufficiency" is a term I picked up in my back-to-the-land days on 120 raw acres while living in a tipi in the middle of the Ozark mountains. The term is in the title of two of my books, and I used it freely when I started my homesteading blog in 2009. I can't tell you how many people attacked me for using the term, dismissing it as impossible and equating it with isolationism (and it's accompanying selfishness). Of course, no one can be totally self-sufficient. I can't produce my own salt, for example, and I'll always need money for property taxes. I thought that was kinda obvious, but apparently I appeared to be more of a dunce than that. So rather than endless arguing with people, I shifted to the term "self-reliance." I don't know why, but that was more acceptable than "self-sufficient." Even so, in my mind they both mean learning to rely more on ourselves than on the consumer system.

Of permaculture, I'm not an expert, but personally, I much prefer the original meaning of "alternative agriculture". The problem (to me) with trying to embrace a larger sphere of human thought and activity, is that those defining it want to include things like politics and religion. The message that comes across is that unless "you don't think and believe like we do," you aren't welcome." When definitions like this try to become too specific, they become exclusive. Yet in reality, permaculture appeals to people of all walks of life, backgrounds, and belief systems.

My conclusion is that all of these terms are most useful when they embrace generalities rather than specifics, because the more specifics invoked, the fewer people they apply to. If we truly want to solve the world's problems, then we need to look for ways to be inclusive, because division never solves problems.

That's probably more than you were looking for, lol, but that's what came to mind. I think the important thing is not to assume what another means, but ask them what they mean. Just like you're doing, D.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 3809
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1108
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To me, homesteading is how my great-grandparents lived.  They had animals to provide meat, milk, and eggs. There was a garden to provide food and maybe there were crops such as hay or grain for the animals. They had a smokehouse to preserve the meat. Great grandmother and her girls did the canning. They were truly self-sufficient.

When we had our homestead, we did a lot of those things though we were not self-sufficient like our great-grandparents were.

To some, the modern homestead is just an exemption on their taxes.  According to Mother Earth News, there are some modern homesteaders who are really self-sufficient.


Being self-sufficient is not needing to earn cash from a job or be independently wealthy.  A person might earn money selling eggs and other homestead items.


Permaculture: is according to the "Permaculture a Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison."

https://permies.com/wiki/20210/Permaculture-Designer-Manual-Bill-Mollison

I am only just learning and live my life mostly in Zone One.

Many believe permaculture is organic or better.
 
Leigh Tate
author & gardener
Posts: 401
Location: Southeastern U.S.
196
goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:
Permaculture: is according to the "Permaculture a Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison."



I'd love to have a copy of this book and just checked it on Amazon. Yikes! Copies now sell for over $1000! I don't mean to get off-topic, but D. Logan has brought up a good point, and it should encourage us to read about these topics and try to understand (or at least realize) that there are varying, but interesting, points of view.

When my husband and I first started looking for the place we have now (that was about 2005), the term "homesteading" was new to me. So I was curious to understand what it meant. What I found myself asking was, what's the difference between homesteading and farming. My personal conclusion was that farming was a business venture, while homesteading was more of a lifestyle which may or may not include an income stream. A farmer isn't necessarily interested in self-sufficiency, while a homesteader looks to their homestead to provide for as many of their needs as possible.

Another term I ran across was "hobby farming," which only added to the puzzle. It seems that the hobby farmer simply enjoys certain aspects of rural life, but doesn't necessary need or want their farm to make a living, nor do they expect it to meet their needs, other than for the enjoyment of gardening and owning livestock. When I started homestead blogging (2009), quite a few similar bloggers called themselves hobby farmers, but I rarely see that term anymore.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 3809
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1108
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leigh, when I found permies in 2016, I was trying to identify all the beautiful flowers and edible plants on our ranch. I had never heard of permaculture.

I began to try to find the meaning and learn as much as I could about permaculture.  Some of the permaculture websites at that time said that Bill Mollison was the "father" of permaculture.

Here are some of Bill Mollison's quotes that I like:

These are a couple of quotes by Bill Mollison that I like:  We’d had agriculture for 7,000 years, and we’d been losing for 7,000 years — everything was turning into desert. So I wondered, can we build systems that obey ecological principles? We know what they are, we just never apply them. Ecologists never apply good ecology to their gardens. Architects never understand the transmission of heat in buildings. And physicists live in houses with demented energy systems. It’s curious that we never apply what we know to how we actually live.
Make the least changes that you need to achieve what you want.

Don’t cut a tree down unless you have to



https://permies.com/t/61970/Permaculture-Quotes#529470


I recommend this thread:

Ann Torrence said I know it's expensive. It's a massive textbook, hardcover, printed in Australia. I got my copy as a birthday gift (thanks mom!). A small reward for another decade. By planning to start a month from now, you can a) reserve it from the library, b) drop hints to loved ones about a tasteful gift, c) buy a copy to write copious notes in, d) rent a copy from Amazon, or e) buy a copy and plan to sell it back, since the going used price is 1¢ less than the new price. In fact, instead of whinging about how expensive it is, you could buy a copy, take good care of it, sell it to someone else on Permies.com for $5 less than the original price, they could read and resell for a similar reduction, and then 20 people could read it for $5 each plus shipping. A lot of shipping. But effectively renting a $100 book for $5 plus shipping isn't bad. That would be an interesting experiment in free market economics, but I digress.



https://permies.com/t/30283/Winter-read-book-club-Permaculture


This is the discussion for Chapter 1: Introduction:

https://permies.com/t/31000/Permaculture-Designers-Manual-Preface-Chapter


Oregon State University offers an online PDC:

https://permies.com/t/106654/permaculture-design/Permaculture-Design-Certificate-Online-Oregon

https://permies.com/t/60113/Intro-Permaculture-Design-Free-online


And this forum:

https://permies.com/f/142/pdm

 
Leigh Tate
author & gardener
Posts: 401
Location: Southeastern U.S.
196
goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Anne! I won't say more because I don't want the thread to get too far off track, but I appreciate the links! But it does bring up a point - it's always a good idea to research terms and words to understand their meaning. Or at least to understand how others are using them.
gift
 
Willie Smits: Village Based Permaculture Approaches in Indonesia (video)
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic