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How to Persuade for Permaculture  RSS feed

 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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I recently heard of an offer of 2,000 square meters (.5 acres) of farmland.
The land is owned by a friend of a friend, but he wants to lend it temporarily to a co-op that my friends and I are setting up. He would be a part of the co-op as well. We're thinking of using it as a mini-farm to provide produce for the coop and possibly others.

What kinds of things can I do so that in 5 years permaculture is happening on that land?
He has some experience with farming, so when I walk in with a fresh PDC in my hand and start suggesting things... well, I can hear the scoffing now. I imagine a lot of lip-biting will ensue.

One glitch is that my co-worker on this project is someone who sees permaculture as extreme experimentation and thinks it doesn't work as well as traditional or "proven" Till/Weed/Water/Amend gardening.
I've already told her that I want to work on the margins, so she's a little less antagonistic.

My idea is to push for nut bushes, fruit trees, and perennials like artichoke/asparagus. They are already sold on blueberries, but obviously they want to do the row thing. Suggesting catch crops to dissuade birds is stupid for them, as is interplanting with other things. Rows Rows Rows. Same with trees. Trees=Orchard.

Let's say the cards are stacked against permaculture in this situation. Any help would be helpful.

best,
William
 
Allan Babb
Posts: 63
Location: Greater New Orleans, LA, USA
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About the only thing I can suggest is to show your friend some working examples of permaculture, or at least polyculture.
 
Varina Lakewood
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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This probably isn't very helpful, but I've found that it does work:

Research.

Get as much hard science data on it as possible.

Correlate it with understandable explanations.

Put the two together and print them out. With pictures/illustrations if possible.

Work out a diagram/illustration of what YOU plan to do.-Since permaculture is open to easy design try to use shapes that work around/with their mindset/aesthetics. (For instance, my peach guild is going to be a tidy circle, and while everything in it will work together and be edible, it is also going to be appealing to the eye, something that most permaculturists don't have to worry about quite as much in planning. No overgrown tangles of shrubbery or high-growing herbs there.) Permaculture is flexible in design. Design something that is both useful to the plants and useful/workable for you and your friend. There's nothing saying you can't design rows, or S-rows, into your plan. Try to find catch crops that have a secondary use that is sufficient that your friend will recognize it and feel comfortable with them.
Another thing you could try is designing two areas. One in a traditional design, that will act as a control. One as a permaculture design (again, you might try for tidier overall design than the norm [or norm for what I've seen posted]) as an 'experimental area' to prove that over time it has its worth over traditional design.
Remember, your friend is going to appreciate beauty/tidiness and functionality most, so do exhaustive research to find the plants that will work best. Don't go for the first solution or the most popular permie plants. Go for what will work best for you, your friends, and your area. (For instance, you could use a catch crop that doubles as cut flowers that can be sold at the co-op.) Border areas such as you speak of are good for appealing designs, especially for a farm that produces locally and needs areas that photograph well to draw approval from the customer base. (Photos posted in store, sort of thing.)-

Give them these as you explain.

Explain in terms of strict functionality and science as much as possible. Also note the eye-appeal, and lower amount of work designed into your plan.

Also, ask them often if they have any imput or advice. They might do traditional farming, but that doesn't mean they won't have good advice, and they'll be less likely to blow you off if they don't feel that you are ignoring their experience. Present it as working with traditional methods, complementing them, not against them, trying to push them out entirely. As you noted, "My theory is better than your experience." is one of the fastest ways to set up someone's hackles and make them work against you rather than being open to your ideas.

Don't expect a total conversion of attitude, even if they are impressed with permaculture. You probably won't be able to prove your point and get the land entirely converted to permaculture within five years. I don't feel that is even realistic. Trees and bushes take time/several years to grow and produce. And one or two years isn't going to prove much unless the difference in production AND work is dramatically in favor of your permie area.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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if there is enough room ask if you can have your own section..if you are working with 4 people, ask for 1/4 of the land..whatever..and then tell them you want to do permaculture on YOUR section and then compare outputs in 3 to 5 years with their sections..tell them you want to have that long for your fruit to begin to produce..but keep track of input and output..

obviously you will begin to have a more varied output then they will, but remembering your fruit trees take a few years and nuts even longer..make sure you do plant things that will feed you in a year or two as well as right away..berry hedges would be helpful for the year or two, but put in some quick bearing plants as well..or they'll still be laughing when you have no food.

given the 3 to 5 years, they'll likely begin to be boggled by your results...with perennial they sleep the first year, creep the second year, and leap the third or fourth year..by 5 they should be leaping all over the place.
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Thanks for all the replies.
Dividing things so that we can integrate her style with mine is on the agenda. I think that's probably the best way to not step on feet.

William
 
Ken Peavey
steward
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Consider promoting Organic methods. The organic path leads to permaculture.
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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My friend is on board with organic food. I don't know about the land owner, but I think so.

I think the main sticking point is that exposed earth and things in rows just look so...ordered? well-maintained? professional?

And the permaculture stuff looks so...abandoned? wild? experimental? not agriculture?

My friend likes the idea of it, but until she sees results she won't believe it. Or...perhaps even when she sees results she will pass them off as a fluke.

Example: I have completely surpassed them in pea production 2 years running. Do they think it has something to do with the way I grow? NO!
They say it was bad timing, bad weather, whatever to avoid the obvious conclusion that their method stinks.

William
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Ken Peavey
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Whatever you do, call it an organic method. It will simply be an organic method they have not yet been exposed to. Rather than sell them on the idea that mulch protects the soil microbes, sell them on the notion that mulch suppresses weeds and keeps the soil from drying out. Mulch once or weed weekly. You don't have to get into the details and benefits of mulch beyond weed control. The soil will benefit, the crops will perform. If your peas continue to outperform theirs, they may make the leap to your methods.
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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She says she is open to mulching.

As for slipping permaculture past them by calling it "organic" ....doesn't seem to work. They feel they are doing organic already, which for them just means no chems. Which is great. But.

I suppose it's just best to lead by example and let the cards fall where they may. Plus some of her intensive land use could be worked into the system at the beginning and as things pick up those practices could be abandoned if she so desires.

I REALLY liked the links to Kovach-Polyculture.pdf......

That is something that I look at as kind of a half-way point between what she wants and what I want. Rows, but polycultured Rows.

It could be something worth proposing as is, like a "lets just emulate this plan that we can both be happy with"

William
 
Andrew Kay
Posts: 31
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alley cropping. they get traditional layout, you get diversity, trees, and more edge. There is tonnes of peer reviewed science to back it up.
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Strange. Alley cropping isn't in the Designer's Manual. Or else it goes by a different name.

Alley cropping + guilds would be awesome.
W
 
William James
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As a side note, I'm almost positive this land is going to be butting up against a hedgerow of black locust. Yay.

But they creep. Would it be a good idea to use that edge for fruit/nut trees, then allow a few black locusts past the fruit/nut edge and use those for chop/drop?

William
 
Varina Lakewood
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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I suppose that depends on how much work you want to put into chop and drop, since locust is actually stimulated to spread by cutting it back. You might ask locals how exactly invasive it is in your area. If it is highly aggressive, it could become a problem for your fruit and nut trees at some point.

Quotas and records might be useful to you as proof to your friend...
 
William James
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GREAT news.

Through no fault of my own(or just minor suggestion here and there), my friend has been completely converted to permaculture!!!

We can start mulching now.

William
 
Nick Garbarino
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Location: west central Florida
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How were they converted?
 
Andrew Kay
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Nick Garbarino wrote:How were they converted?


 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Video of Emile Hazelip synergistic garden, that led to desire to mulch and cover the ground. Then she started reading about permaculture and had what she called a "revolution" in the way she thinks about things. She was all jazzed up about it, much like I was.

Oh, geoff lawton's Zaytuna Farm Video Tour was probably the think that did it too. Seeing a functioning example of the possibilities of permaculture really help. That way it seems less "experimental" and more "let's follow that recipe" kind of thing.

I'm biting my tongue and just waiting for all the other surprises to hit her. She's reading Introduction to Perm now.

William
 
He's dead Jim. Grab his tricorder. I'll get his wallet and this tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC
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