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!!! Permaculture Victories: tell your stories

 
gardener
Posts: 493
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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This thread is for anyone to share their successes, big or small, in convincing others to choose permaculture techniques. We all interact with people who have never heard of permaculture or Permies before, and maybe they never will, but we have opportunities to infect them with bits of permaculture information or techniques that can impact their decision making processes for the better.

The idea came to me when my new neighbour announced that he had built a new garden on his lawn using the sheet mulch method I had suggested long ago. This was a small victory for permaculture because he had initially asked me if I had a roto-tiller or knew where he could rent one. I'd forgotten about our conversation, but obviously he hadn't because he stated that his reason for not using a tiller was that I had explained that "tilling is killing" and that the soil biology is a necessary feature of a healthy garden.

Please share any similar stories you have as an encouragement to the rest of us that we can make a difference. A million tiny differences adds up to a large difference. A billion is even bigger.


 
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 8385
Location: SW Missouri
4154
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I also have a neighbor, a new one, who looks like he's going to be doing a no till garden after talking to me. And he is fascinated by my sunroots, I told him if he wants roots in the fall I'll give him some.

I think corrupting my neighbors to garden, especially to garden well, is one of the best things I do :D   And there are heirloom tomatoes by the road, for them to pick, so now they KNOW what they are missing... Mwhahaha!
 
steward
Posts: 6463
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
1867
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Edited to add: great thread idea!!

I *think* I've convinced a friend to compost her households kitchen scraps directly in her garden to improve the soil instead of buying commercial topsoil or commercial compost. Closing a loop!

Her garden has struggled this year. She has bought commercial topsoil in the past and in response, I explained how that can be tainted with broadleaf herbicides. Then she thought she needed a compost tumbler, or a compost bin, etc. to create her own compost to improve her soil. So I described how I improved the rock and sand soil in Montana just by (the Ruth Stout method of) putting kitchen scraps directly in the garden covered well with sawdust, straw, or leaves. And putting it in between plants, of course, not putting the scraps right on a plant, because that would rot the plant as things decompose. And how no compost turning, no tilling are both better because, hey, LESS WORK (!!), and also, less lost nutrients (especially nitrogen) to the air/atmosphere.

She said she understands and will try composting directly in the garden, but she just had knee surgery; and after a delay like this, and such an odd/unusual idea, I'm concerned she might be a bit daunted about actually doing it.

((Fingers crossed and will check in with her!))
 
gardener
Posts: 5213
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1976
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I built a 30" tall raised bed about 4 years ago. A friend who had some 8" raised beds came to visit and thought it was wonderful, but she didn't have any way to fill that tall a bed, as she's got lots of rock at her place. I explained that the bottom 18" was punky dead wood that would help hold moisture. Last spring her husband built her one that was about 40" square, which is not big, but it still grew a lot of fresh veggies. This year, her husband built her a second one, and I'm working at talking him into building a third one this fall. Even if she only grows lettuce, tomatoes and beans, at least they're local and being grown without toxic gick and mostly with saved seeds.
Any progress is better than no progress!

Last spring I built two more, only mine were ~4' x 6 1/2'. I've got some HT skids in a pile to make two more. My knees aren't getting any younger, and the bunnies can't jump 30" high!
 
gardener
Posts: 3193
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We got some new neighbors, early last fall. When they moved in, the very first thing they did was install a duck run, and their mature, mostly free-range geese and ducks. I was excited! When John drove past (they are on our way to the main road) one day, a few weeks later, he saw feathers EVERYWHERE, and nary a bird in sight, so we got worried, and decided it was high time we introduced ourselves and expressed our condolences, and offered assistance, about the loss of their beautiful birds. It was the right thing to do, but the birds were fine, lol. They'd just all hit a molt at the same time, and were hiding inside the run, since they were all pretty much naked! So, we all had a good laugh, and we've been fast friends, ever since.

They're already new (organic) homesteaders, and wanting to learn, but there are/were many things they hadn't done at all, and were avoiding, thinking it would just be too much, on top of homeschooling their 5 kids, her disabilities (rheumatoid arthritis & severe migraines), prepping, plus the ducks and their plans for wintering a couple pigs in their woods. But, the place they bought was previously owned by an elderly woman with a penchant for intensive flower gardening, and this spring, my new friend wanted me to tour her new yard, and help her identify whatever I could. The garden hadn't been weeded since last summer, and while I was able to identify most of the flowers, we both found the weeds to be much more interesting, with only a few notable exceptions. It got us on the topic of eating and healing with the weeds. She felt very intimidated, and didn't think she could learn enough to even begin - so, I pointed out the humble broadleaf plantain, and extolled its many virtues, as her eyes widened, and she started picking every perfect leaf she could find. A few days later, I invited her to go elderflower picking with me, and taught her it's benefits and explained some recipes to use them in, and how to identify it, and discern it from poke, and how to preserve and use it... And even though she was still not convinced that she could ever do much with herbs, to be an 'herbalist', she was/is like a sponge. I gave her some more tidbits, with each visit, always checking on whatever we talked about previously, to see how things were going, and if she had any questions.

At this point, not only has she completely succumb to the herbalist/wildcrafting bug, so have both of her older girls, and they're all starting to learn how to nurture their wild environments, how to garden, and so much more - and they actually seem to enjoy coming down to our place, to help us, and keep learning. I'm not sure how much is actually winning someone over, that might not have anyway, but each time I see their eyes light up, over new information and skills, it FEELS like I've helped them win a new a victory.

 
pollinator
Posts: 375
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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My neighbor mows his 2 acre field every week.  After seeing my silvopasture trees I planted take off, he decided to plant some trees in his field.  He's still going to mow it every week, but at least it'll be a little more than an inch of grass.
 
Michael Helmersson
gardener
Posts: 493
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Yesterday, we had friends visit with their two young children. The three year old boy got to pick his own raspberries from one side of a hugelbed while baby grouse were doing the same on the other side. I thought that would be the highlight of his visit but that novelty was surpassed when he realized he needed to poop. He had to overcome some panicky ambivalence, but eventually nature took its course and he became the first to inaugurate our guest pooper. Afterwards, he peppered me with questions about our toilet, asking what the sawdust was for, and why it doesn't have any water in it. He and I concurred that it was weird but I pointed out that pooping in water is weird too.
 
Posts: 43
Location: NE Wyoming Zone 4-ish
17
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I moved from 5 acres in a small town north of Sheridan, Wyoming to a half acre just south of Sheridan's city limits after my divorce in 2013.  My past neighbors all had animals and gardens and hunted and fished with me.  We were a fairly tight community.  This current neighborhood is different.  Approximately half of the folks on my 'street' are retired and keep pristine, heavily "weed-n-feed"- laden lawns, watered daily, usually tended to by Nitro-green and small landscaping companies.  My property is at the end of the dead end road and I'm the lowest-lying lot, topographically.  We are part of an 'unincorporated' subdivision that has its own ditch rights and most of the properties have flood irrigation setups.  The city eliminated ditches at my end of our street and instead installed a worthless 6 foot deep hand-dug pit that is supposed to be for me to irrigate with.  I've fixed it but don't use it - it smells of sewage and has an oily sheen on the water.  

I've been told that I do weird things on my property.  I suppose I do.  But after watching me gather yard weeds in a colander, chew out neighbors for flooding my front yard with foaming chemical runoff from their yards; allowing milkweed, burdock, dandelions, plantain etc. to grow large along my far fence line, and piling up twigs and logs and covering them with compost from my chickens (the only ones in the subdivision), they've all of the sudden asked why I am doing it instead of what am I thinking.  Now they ask what 'that' is for, nod their heads, and buy my extra chicken eggs.  

One neighbor was ticked that I planted 9 new fruit bushes and 3 fruit trees in my front yard.  She said it would just attract more birds.  They ask if I am watering with my "well" because theirs is dry and they would like to use that water.  I let them know that I am using city water for now, since my "well" is nasty.  And the power company is currently more expensive (to run a pump) than city water costs.  Only one neighbor knows that I also have a 200 foot deep well in back.  He was surprised when I told him it was my number 2 most important reason for buying the place.  

Lastly, the half acre behind me once belonged to my lot.  I asked the neighbor who owns it if I could buy it.  He asked my reasons, and I had a list of them, but when I got to "I need a zone 3 and 4" since I have been making it all happen within feet of the house.  His eyebrows raised up and he slowly asked "zones?"  I said, "permaculture zones 3 and 4".... He actually knew what I meant and said he would think about it.  I ran to the bank to get things rolling on my end.  
 
master gardener
Posts: 3529
Location: southern Illinois.
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I convinced an old coworker of mine to stop tilling his garden and go for raised beds.  The raised beds are going in now.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 6463
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
1867
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
I *think* I've convinced a friend to compost her households kitchen scraps directly in her garden to improve the soil instead of buying commercial topsoil or commercial compost. Closing a loop!


Per my post above, my friend is doing it!! Despite knee surgery and all! I visited her today and snapped this picture.

She knows this isn't enough mulch yet, but she has been putting the bad apples from her tree and kitchen scraps in her garden already! Yes!!

She even told me she read an article about no till methods. Wow! I'm rather chuffed as the Brits might say.
Kitchen-scraps-in-the-garden.jpg
Kitchen scraps in my friend's garden bed
Kitchen scraps in my friend's garden bed
 
pollinator
Posts: 249
Location: N.E.Ohio 5b6a
149
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If your 17 year old son can be found about 8 pm after working all day laying in the grass between his chicken tractors watching a u-tube of his favorite farmer.

I have no room to complain if that's what he wants to do after working over 12 hours.


 
Christopher Shepherd
pollinator
Posts: 249
Location: N.E.Ohio 5b6a
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The other day some friends, a mother and her two daughter stopped by to help us grind sorghum.  They really helped us out quite a bit.  As we were stripping leaves and cutting the heads off of the canes we started to discuss the camaraderie of doing things like this togeather.  The mother said " I feel so much better if I come out here and work with you guys, I don't know what it is" and one of the daughter said " it's relaxing to come here and learn to make something, you guys are always doing something".  

I think the seeds are planted.
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[Thumbnail for IMG_20210924_121500325.jpg]
 
Posts: 47
Location: Between Tacoma and Mt Rainier in the Pacific Northwest
16
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Jay Angler wrote:... the bunnies can't jump 30" high!


Or so I thought!!! My needs are 36 pinches high and have escaped the bunnies for several years until this year. Something was nibbling a path of destruction through my newly sprouted beans earlier this summer and I was trying to figure out what it was when my kids told me it was the bunnies. I said no way, they don't jump into the raised beds but the kids said, yes, they watched one from their bedroom window and saw the bunny jump right in and start eating!  (Not a permaculture victory but I just had to share how surprised and annoyed I was.)
 
Jenny Wright
Posts: 47
Location: Between Tacoma and Mt Rainier in the Pacific Northwest
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My neighbors have some convincing still but I have plenty of victories with my children and they teach the neighborhood children. Everyone knows that when you come play over here you can eat whatever you want from the yard and forest (after I teach them the 2-3 non-edibles) and you can't kill any bugs without identifying it to me first and getting my ok. The fact that my kids always want to know the name of a plant and what it's good for and don't think anything is a weed. And that the neighborhood kids often come talk with me about what I'm working on outside and ask if they can help me.
 
Posts: 67
Location: Vancouver, Washington
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All your stories are great! I don't know if mine qualifies but here goes. We have a big, long bed up by the street that really needed a lot of mulch to suppress weeds and we had a 20 yard pile of arborist chips, so we used some of the chips to thickly cover the bed this spring.  All of our neighbors have all of their beds covered in what's called bark dust here.  It's purchased, standard sized bark chips from the sawmills and, of course, being bark and standard sized, it takes a long time to decay.  (Plus, that is what bark is supposed to do.) One of our neighbors came by yesterday and said they had to know where we got our chips as our bed is weedless and not so at all with the neighbors' beds! And, no, we don't spray weed killer on our beds. I'm sure it's because our chips have a lot of fines in them and a lot of size variability so they  decompose better, making them a nice robber of the nitrogen at the very top of the soil, and, thus, a good weed suppressant. Here's to arborist chips!
 
Michael Helmersson
gardener
Posts: 493
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Jen Swanson wrote: One of our neighbors came by yesterday and said they had to know where we got our chips as our bed is weedless and not so at all with the neighbors' beds!



Yes, this qualifies as a victory. These seemingly insignificant moments can have a tremendous impact.
 
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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It's a small victory, but it made me happy.

I talk a lot about native plants that are good for the soil here in the desert, that attract bees, how to put in sunken areas to collect water.

My adult eldest child - who has no interest in gardening or permaculture in anyway - will now periodically comment on the yards around us and what they could do better. Stop putting trees on hills, stop covering the yard in rocks to make all the water drain off the yard, put in more of X and Y tree to add nitrogen.

The fact that they have literally zero interest in plants and STILL know this is first, hilarious, but second, is great to see when they talk to other people about plants and giving suggestions and I know they talk to their friends about this sometimes, so the info. is getting spread around to people to ARE interested in plants. ^_^
 
pollinator
Posts: 297
Location: South East Kansas
59
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This is from a thread I posted and here is a link: https://permies.com/t/166643/believing#1308357

Had a friend stop by the other day. “Hey could I see your rocket stove?” he asked. I was a little surprised, but I was happy to show him. After setting it up and getting a small fire going. He began to look over the rocket stove and putting his hand on the stove.

This is what he said about the stove:
“I saw than on the discovery channel” he said. I have not watched any discovery TV for a long time. If you know what program talked about rocket stoves or other rocket things please post below. Thanks
“Unreal”
“Wow”
“A few sticks of wood to cook lunch”
After talking about the book "The Rocket Mass Heater builders Guide by Ernie and Erica Wisner"  https://permies.com/wiki/57365/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Builder-Guide. And after showing him the great pictures in the book he wanted to build one.

In the end it was a fun and surprising day for me. Just wanted to share this story with everyone at permies.
 
Posts: 49
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
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I bought my beat up old place in Sedona almost 11 years ago. Sedona is a really pretty place and lots of people want to live here. I quickly realized that nothing had changed since I lived here briefly 25 years ago. The overwhelming majority of people who work here still can't afford to live here! Rents are outrageous! They drive 16 miles or more each way just to be here. The rich people here are just fine with that but it really pisses me off. Everyone, regardless of race, creeds, colors or income level should have the opportunity to be here. It's called sharing!

So I decided to provide a little affordable housing and to rent out my 3 rooms a lot cheaper than everyone else to working people who earned at or near minimum wage. I'm trying to raise my good karma. A handful of tenants have stayed for 2+ years but most are in some sort of transition and only stay for 3-6 months. And when they get here hardly any of them have any concerns over the changes in our climate or the shape our planet is in! And none of them were trying to change their habits or make things better. They were all just living in their own little bubbles. I make it clear to each prospective tenant that we conserve everything to keep my bills as low as possible. I don't mention that they might learn a thing or two in the process.

Most all of them have never seen food growing before. Never even gave it a second thought. (In fact, most of the younger generations  don't even know how to cook their food!! Damn!) Here, they can help themselves to any of the vegies I put on the kitchen counter or go out into the gardens and pick their own fresh, organic vegies. They get to see where their food comes from. They learn the peels and rinds and unused parts do not go in the trash to be wasted. They go into the bucket for the compost pile to grow more food. The seeds fermenting in glasses of water or drying on plates will be used to grow new vegies next year. The leaves I rake up and collect from others don't go in the trash; they mulch the plants, go into the compost or into a big pile to invite and feed the worms.

They learn that nothing gets wasted here. That water is super precious and to save every drop. When it rains every drop of water gets used or collected and saved for the future. Seen pictures of Lake Mead lately?? And to even save the water that they rinse their vegies in and dump it in the kitchen bucket because it's perfectly good water to feed more plants. To never run the water needlessly or leaves lights on, waste electricity and run up their big, old carbon footprint foolishly. Yes, all those packages they constantly order from Amazon amount to THEIR big carbon footprint!

They learn a little about history too. When we were all walking around in loincloths, living in caves AND USING A CLOTHESLINE! HOLY SHIT... A CLOTHESLINE! Yes, they learn how to do that too. Most are pretty reluctant at first but eventually realize it's not bad at all.

They learn not to crank up the heat and walk around in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter and pretend that it's summer. It's winter, put on a sweater and deal with reality. And in the summer when it's 100+ degrees, we open the windows at night and close them during the day and it keeps the house at a reasonable 85 degrees or less. 85 degrees won't kill you! I think they heard a Kardashian once say that your face will melt off over 85 degrees! It won't kill them to sweat a little  bit. It's what the human body does.

They learn that almost nothing here goes straight into the trash, it gets reused, repurposed or recycled. We have to stop being a 'disposable' society. And most of them are bewildered because they've never recycled anything before!!! Can you believe it?

They learn to occasionally put down their phones, close their laptops and climb up the hill in the backyard and watch the spectacular sunsets turn all the mountains into amazing colors. We are so darned lucky to be here. This is such an amazing planet! I don't suggest that they wear sack cloth and live like monks. I don't. I don't just grow food to eat but have filled my yard full of beautiful flowers which use up way too much water sometimes. My guilty pleasure. But every plant is drought tolerant and can fend for itself in really hard times for a spell. I just suggest they they all learn to act responsibly and reasonably and to take good care of this wonderful planet we live on. Yes, we can save this planet... but everyone has to help out.

These young people (I mean anyone under 60)... they just came here for a cheap place to live. But I hope  they learn an important thing or two during their stay. Some folks might say 'what a nice old lady giving the youngsters a break and  teaching them some sustainability and good habits'. While others might say 'what a conniving old bitch luring these young folks in and indoctrinating these unsuspecting people'! I would wear either title proudly! Hope this fits in with your theme.
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It's easier to convince someone with a belly full of good food.
It's easier to convince someone with a belly full of good food.
 
I love a woman who dresses in stainless steel ... and carries tiny ads:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
https://permies.com/t/40993/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
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