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Wondering if there can be a parallel Permaculture "4H" type program?

 
Posts: 134
Location: Greenville, Mississippi, USA
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Hi to all,

Intro: 4-H is a US-based, government funded youth development program that exists under the Agricultural Extension Offices on the County level.  Its a program is basically divided into agriculture, healthy living and community involvement.

Problem:  Since agricultural extension offices are historically staffed largely by graduates of US Agricultural Colleges  and allied programs, and those colleges often receive heavy funding from corporate agricultural entities and the pesticide/insecticide sector, I was wondering if there is any mention of Permaculture in 4H or perhaps even sustainable farming programs existing as partners with any Agricultural Extension or 4-H office.  Any P-culturalists working in 4H or agricultural extension out there?  If so Id be very curious about how something like that would work.

A Description of 4-H:    4-H describes their youth programs as follows:  "4‑H STEM and agriculture programs equips young people with the skills they need to succeed in life, and are available through local clubs, schools and grant-funded programs. Focus areas include computer science, robotics, environmental science, agri-science, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and veterinary science."

Challenge:  If a graft of two divergent philosophies (chemical v organic) that, by their methods and definitions and outcomes would never achieve compatibility) what about an alternative 4-H type program for youth.  Anybody want to form a think tank or working group on that?  Don't we want to educate the potential leaders of tomorrow?  At times I feel we are preaching  the converted as the saying goes.  How about more emphasis on modeling nature-care, bio-ethics and healthy living for youth?  I look at that this country alone and feel that corporate pressures are gobbling up more resources every day and at a frenzied, exponential rate.  Numbers, even if they come in the next generation, could be a counterbalance to that.

Action Step (personal) I would, in fact be willing to divert 5% of my annual income to support a sustainable agriculture version of 4-H in my community.

Thanks for any thoughts on this and sorry if I've run roughshod over anyone's feelings on Agricultural Extension. If I'm wrong in some way, please enlighten me. Best, M

 
pioneer
Posts: 199
Location: NW Arkansas
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Both my wife and I were in the local 4H program when we were kids. I was given 2 pigs every spring for a couple of years by the program to raise and then we ate them. Best damn bacon I ever put in my face!!!
My brother and my wife were each given 50 chicks to raise. They weren't sexed so as soon as the roosters started showing rooster traits they were marked for the pot. Best damn chicken I've ever eaten. There's something about the taste after you've chased them, cussed them and nursed them... just can't be beat! We had two names for the chickens, one for the eating roosters and one for the girls.
4H is a worthy program when ran correctly. We were given animals and the extension agent would come out to check on them occasionally. We had meetings where we told of our progress but I always felt there was more. I saw pictures of kids riding horses and cuddling up to goats but I never saw any of that.
So, the wife and I are going to engage ourselves, our property and our knowledge to the 4H program. We've just got too much on our plate right now. The big hunk of cheese taking up all the room on the plate is getting our house built. Once we've moved in, that will be our focus. The wife especially wants to bring 4H to the mountain, it was her idea.
As far as a parallel 4H Permaculture type thing goes I think that's an excellent idea and can succeed if you're 100% permie or something less than that. I'd venture to say I'm about 30% permie, but 100% organic. Any adult taking time to get to know and teach kids, even at my measly 30% permie, will be doing a great service to the community and to each child.
Our motivation is we were both raised very poor. We were so poor we couldn't pay attention! But we were rich in family!! Our goal is to have a gardening center the poor rural kids can come to for 4H meetings. A place they can learn and feel safe. Even gonna have a big board where pictures and awards can go. We will partner up with the current county agent and see what we can come up with.
Having thought about your idea a bit more, I may adopt a lot of the concepts I've read about on this site to inspire 4H kids to go whole permie hog. My wife will be very excited about this concept. No sense in re inventing the wheel, we have all the info we need on this site.
Great idea, brother! If I could give you an apple I would!! Somebody give this man an apple, please!! Thanks!!
 
Michael Littlejohn
Posts: 134
Location: Greenville, Mississippi, USA
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Hi Michael,

That is super to hear, very exciting stuff and I would be interested to know about your progress with your local 4-H as it unfolds.  Yes definitely get that house built first.  

Thanks for the encouragement.

My intent for my own mini-farm is to keep some rabbits, quail, Nigerian Goats and Mini-Zebus.  I think that rabbits are a great vector for such a program, small portable and relatively easy to care for on the scale of things.  The mini-cows might be the real hook however insofar as the kids are concerned.  I think also a tree planting program would be successful, and a young entrepeneur's program to raise funds via sale of their own tree starts.  Perhaps a
buyback program of young trees and manure, then reinvested into the community--perhaps alliances with a local community garden, and homeowners who are living at the poverty level, to help get them toward food self-
sufficiency.

Stay in touch!

Best, Mike

 
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