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Farm scale permaculture?

 
Alex Ames
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Eric, I have a hard time imagining farm-scale permaculture. It would seem to be hard to get up
to critical mass of any one thing to be successful financially. There seem to be some increased
difficulties in harvesting efficiency that would be hard to overcome. What should it look like?
 
Julie Gahn
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Hi Eric,

Thanks for taking our questions!

I'm curious about your thoughts on "farm-scale" permaculture. We have a total of 130 acres and will be developing it in sections. We are receiving mentoring from Mark Shepard (New Forest Farm, WI--a 106 acre working farm based on permaculture principles & ethics) & Brandon Angrisani & very much appreciate their knowledge and help.

I too am still struggling to wrap my brain around perennial polycultures and being able to harvest relatively efficiently on say a 60 acre parcel that is the side of a sloping hill. (a main ridge in Yoeman's terms.)

I'm researching potential polycultures. Our climax trees will be Pecan & Black Walnut in the lower areas, Chestnut (probably Chinese & hybrid), Hickories, and some oaks in the mid-to high areas, and probably Korean Pines on the highest ridges. (My theory is that even with swales, the higher up the hill the drier it is.) This plan also goes with the flow of what already is growing here.

As I research which types of plants will complement these climax nut trees, I struggle with how to place them so that it is still relatively efficient to harvest the nuts, fruits, brambles, berries, vine fruits etc. I've met more than one permaculturist who has said they are overwhelmed by harvest, and I just hope to tap into any wisdom from your experiences before I start planting.

Many thanks!!
Julie Gahn
Northeast Oklahoma
i think we're pretty much Zone 7 now
western edge of the Ozark Plateau & eastern oak-hickory forest
 
Eric Toensmeier
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This is one of my favorite subjects though I should say straight out that I don't currently farm, and that my farm experience is mostly with nurseries, seed production, and organic vegetables. Mark Shepherd is definitely a great mentor on this topic.

Farm scale permaculture doesn't have to involve trees at all. See the publication Crop Rotation on Organic Farms : A Planning Manual for an example. (Yes, I helped write it but it is free online). But I'll admit my bias is towards tree–based systems, including those that integrate annuals and livestock.

The first thing is that a commercial–scale food forest is going to be more stripped down and less diverse than a backyard edible forest garden. There are some real challenges and complexities inherent in the model which are part of why you see few commercial examples in the US today. Around the world in the tropics there are many established large scale models of perennial polycultures. You can download Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands from the Overstory website to see some examples.

I should also add that I'll be doing a big workshop on this as part of the financial permaculture workshop this winter in Florida. As I mentioned in another post we tested a new exercise at the carbon farming course last winter with great success. I'm putting together my production understanding from permaculture and my many years helping farmers with their business plans from my former day job and it's quite a lot of fun.

So my top thoughts on this topic in no particular order:

1) Support plants and understory must pay. The cost of establishing nitrogen fixer's nectary plants etc. can be high, and if these can also provide a useful product for example tea plants or medicinal herbs that helps balance the budget.
2) Get livestock to do the work. Why use machinery and time and petroleum to mow when livestock can do the work for you. Think about how livestock, themselves a marketable and self–replicating product, can clear, till, mow, weed, control insects and diseases, pick up dropped fruits and nuts. On the other hand most kinds of livestock limit your understory options substantially. All should be rotated through to minimize impact.
3) Think about harvest access logistics. At your scale I imagine you are going to want nut harvesting machinery rather than pushing around a bunch of hand–powered nut wizards. You need to have wide enough rows to get the equipment through, and they need to be on a gentle enough slope. I like keyline rather than contour because you have a consistent spacing between the rows which makes machinery management much easier. Most nut harvesters also require the understory to be tightly mowed before harvest, limiting understory options.
4) Try to select a mix of crops and livestock which can share processing equipment and marketing strategies. If you have a line of dried products that all using your solar dryer, you don't also need to spend money on an oil press, commercial kitchen, and cheese cave. Same goes for marketing: if you are selling at farmers markets, don't start another product that needs to be driven to a processing center across the state unless you like splitting your time between different marketing strategies.

Thoughts?
 
Alex Ames
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The crop rotation manual you helped write is 164 pages long so I don't pretend to have
digested it. In a nutshell it is dealing with rotating crops for soil improvement, disease and
pest resistance.

In a permaculture setting I see perennial plants as being more or less permanently placed.
Then to improve harvest it would seem best to have a regular spacing of annual plants so
you are not having to hunt them down here and there. So you would recommend having a
rotation plan for the annuals and leave the perennials in place? Or are you in favor of moving
things every season.





 
Julie Gahn
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This is in Response to Eric's post in this thread. I've messed up the quote again.

Eric--first, thanks for the leads on all the great resources, just in this post alone. I look forward to reading all the others as well.
I'll download the Crop Rotation on organic farms manual the next time I get to town & a faster connection. Regarding crop rotation on organic farms; that sounds more like annual plants & after meeting Mark & listening to his plea to replace corn & soybeans with chestnuts & hazels, for example, I'd like to set up a demonstration of that here in the southwest edge of the oak-hickory forest. I've read Elliot Coleman & used the SPIN Farming Guides--how does this Crop Rotation guide differ from those approaches? Also, our soil is rocky & I think better suited to trees & other perennials.

I also look forward to downloading the Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands & hope it will give me some inspired insight on what to do here. Regarding the complexities & "stripping down" approach in a commercial situation, do you have any thoughts on "best plants" to use as understory for the oak-hickory forest nut trees? I attended a "conventional" workshop on Pecan management & they recommended crimson clover. I was considering mixing in white clover & now after reading another post of yours, the indigo that you mentioned. How about commercial scale (ie affordable and profit-producing) nectary plants? My goal is to develop an affordable mix to seed the disturbed soil after we create swales and berms in November.

Could you point us to more info about the financial permaculture workshop this winter? I saw a post on perennial solutions.org that sends one to earth-learning.org, but I don't think the details are there yet. If this helps one lay out the costs & incomes from a perennial farm-scale system, I'm most interested.

1) I wasn't keying specifically on the idea that understory must pay. Thank you for stating it so clearly. We are planning multi species intensive grazing in the alleys once we can afford the appropriate fencing to protect the trees. (Permanent fencing, perhaps on the berm or just downhill of the berm has been recommended & then portable electric fencing until I can get natural fencing in place for the paddocks. Another issue we're dealing with is Johnsongrass. I've decided to somehow learn to love it because I don't think it's possible to get rid of it in an affordable way. Learning to care for & manage "weeder" geese & ducks that eat grass are high on my list, but I just read that they also eat clover, so I feel like I'm in a pickle in that regard. More to think on!

1a) Related to the Johnsongrass & affordability issue, what are your thoughts on direct seeding vice bare root seedlings to save funds? I'm seeking sources of free mulch vice landscape fabric down the tree lines.

2) Fully agree on the livestock; working to gain the appropriate skill set.

3) Pondering the nut harvest machinery idea. I think it is do-able with hand labor, but I'm going to research the machine options also. If I can find a multi-species option, it would be more feasible. I'm going to need to understand the machinery's requirements before we create the swales. Field trip!

4) Do you have any leads on commercial production level solar dryers? I had the opportunity to attend a Food Policy Conference in Portland, OR last spring. The last session was about food production/preservation & climate change. Long story short, I'm keen on using the most energy efficient preservation methods possible & have thought that if we could dry fruits & veggies we could use their powders in smoothies, pastas, etc etc etc. We have a "Food and Agricultural Products Center" here in Oklahoma that exists to help citizens develop value-added foods. I've attended their basic course & will be researching this along with everything else.

Thanks so much for joining us here & sharing your insight. This can be an overwhelming endeavor for one making a complete "career" change. But once one understands, what else can one do? One step at a time along several threads at a time!

Julie


 
Eric Toensmeier
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hello again. By pointing out the crop rotation book I just meant that permit culture farming doesn't mean just perennials, as per my culture is about how you put together the pieces to create an interconnected whole and not particularly about the kinds of pieces themselves. The piece I like best in that book is about the way that farmers match crops to fields in any given year based on the conditions of the field that season and the previous crops and the type of residue and soil texture they left behind. Many of those farmers also incorporate perennial components like one even includes putting a field into hay or strawberries for a few years for example. Dwarf apple trees in his vegetable rotation!

However, like you I'm very much interested in the perennials and I think they represent our future ( I will continue to grow and eat some annuals).

The financial permaculture course hasn't been announced yet but as soon as it is I'll try to line up another promotion like this here at permies. I should add that part of the understory “paying” can include the value of nitrogen and pest control. For example, you could calculate the amount of nitrogen the delay game would fix and figure out what it would cost you to buy or produce that nitrogen on–farm. We'll run those numbers at the course. We also need to add the financial and labor-saving benefits of livestock to our in-house budgets. However, so much the better if you can sell the seeds of that legume to other forest gardeners and farmers for hundreds of dollars a pound, as is the case for some of the species.

I wish I knew a good resource for large-scale solar dryers. For some crops you could just use a greenhouse with a wood stove, But I know at least medicinal plants want to be dried in the shade. Anyone out there have a suggestion?
 
Eric Toensmeier
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I should add that I've just agreed to do a farm–scale permaculture weekend workshop at http://omvalleypermaculture.com/ in Ohio this November. Stay tuned to their website or send them an email for details.
 
gani et se
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Eric you are a punny guy. If I raise cats that'd be purr-mew culture?
 
Alex Ames
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I remain unable to imagine how it would look. Apparently I need a hypothetical layout or better yet an aerial photo. I keep seeing
it as a jumbled mess or a mono-crop. Helen Attowe's place looks more like a super large gardening operation than a farm size
permaculture project. I would think that in her size operation there is produce which gets lost in the surrounding vegetation and
is left out of the harvest.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think they tend to look very different from how we currently imagine a "farm"

Zaytuna Farm:



image too huge to post: http://www.permaculture.org.au/images/zaytuna_farm_diagram_2012.jpg

Krameterhof (small portion):



Tagari Farm:



Conventional farms in California:

 
Todd Hoff
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We just spent the holiday weekend driving through those hundreds of miles of row crops in California. My thought on seing this incredible production machine is how hard it would be to replace with permaculture. If you replaces all those miles and miles of produce would you really be more productive? I find that hard to believe. New technologies rarely ever replace an existing technology. They slowly penetrate and then sometimes they cross the chasm to become the dominate paradigm. That seems like a good diffusion model for permaculture to me.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree, Todd. I personally see permaculture as ultimately making conventional agriculture unnecessary.
 
James Colbert
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I think there is something that we are forgetting in our assessment of conventional agriculture. Conventional ag requires a massive amount of inputs by way of pesticides, fertilizers, water, fuel, and machinery. It is for the most part outside the reach of a start-up farmer. On top of this conventional ag gets subsidies to produce large amounts of poor quality food. It is far more INefficient than permaculture. It hurts farmers, consumers and the environment. There are no real positives to conventional ag. People will say that it allows us to feed our population but there is no reason this cant be done with more efficiency, and better outcomes for all parties involved. Another thing about conventional ag and business in general is that it is extremely wasteful. There was a time that the government would pay farmers to not grow food... I wonder if that is still going on. Insanity.
 
Todd Hoff
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The positive is predictable massive production. It's not that I disagree with you on many of your points, but there are positives. Think about all those heads of lettuce, garlic, etc the streamed to every supermarket in america. It is amazing. What will the permaculture world look like? What will those fields look like? We'll need a lot more product wins for permaculture to progress outside it's very small, loyal niche.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Todd Hoff wrote: What will those fields look like?


Many of those particular fields may be returned to grassland because those fields are irrigated by unsustainable means. So produce may no longer be grown in large amounts in those areas and instead possibly pastured meat might be raised. The advantage of permaculture is that large fields of that kind aren't needed because of the much higher productivity of permaculture systems per land unit. Farms might be much closer to the point of sale, so those heads of lettuce etc won't need to be shipped so far. Lots of food might even be grown right in cities and towns. Our current system is massively inefficient as far as energy and land use, it's extremely wasteful of every resource.
 
Alex Ames
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I agree, Todd. I personally see permaculture as ultimately making conventional agriculture unnecessary.


Your photos show two extremes and what I am trying to imagine is some kind of a blend of the two. A commercially viable
permaculture farm that is not dependent on support from seminars, tours, speeches, books and worked by volunteers for free
lodging. I think that is worth sorting out, but I don't see a picture of it yet.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Alex Ames wrote: I don't see a picture of it yet.


Maybe that's a picture you need to be in.



Generally those systems are not presented under the label "permaculture." There are many examples under "alley cropping" and "agroforestry."

 
Alex Ames
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Alex Ames wrote: I don't see a picture of it yet.


Maybe that's a picture you need to be in.



Generally those systems are not presented under the label "permaculture." There are many examples under "alley cropping" and "agroforestry."



Those systems are very viable and can be more like permaculture if they are designed that way. So yes if I were to make
that my day job I would go about it that way.

As far as permaculture replacing big ag is concerned it could happen quickest if everybody were to start gardening and replacing ornamentals with
edibles and attractive herbs in their home landscape. I am working on that for now and will let you know when I figure it out!
 
osker brown
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I'm in the process of establishing a permaculture farm. It is hard work, and I am in over my head, but I still have hope.

One point I'd like to make regarding a comment above about "volunteers for free lodging" (by the way, that's a work-trader, not a volunteer),

Not utilizing a free/cheap work force would be foolish. I doubt that any farmer has ever grown serious amounts of food without a low-wage unskilled labor force. To be certain, industrial agriculture would not exist if immigration and minimum wage laws were upheld. The choice I'm faced with is establishing infrastructure to accommodate motivated people who are willing to work for food and lodging, or a dependence on machines. That's a simple choice for me.

I think a major reason that "successful" permaculture farms aren't better publicized is that most of the population still wants a highly specialized job in an office and food from a grocery store. Permaculture, in my view, will not work in that system. Thus, my goal is to provide staple foods for people who are willing to work for them, and ideally for people who grown their own vegetables at home.
 
Alex Ames
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Tyler Ludens wrote:http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/30/pasture-cropping-an-integrated-approach-to-grain-and-pasture-production/

http://permaculturenews.org/2011/08/09/agroforestryalleycropping-video/

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/03/01/stabilizing-the-climate-with-permanent-agriculture/

etc.




The link in the middle at about 2 minutes in Mr. Thomas, who sounded like he was reading his lines, has come to grips with
where plow agriculture winds up, especially on land like his. Putting in trees on contour is helping him save that property.
In the mean time he gets a cash crop from what he is growing in between.
 
James Colbert
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Didn't Paul have a podcast that quoted something like 20 billion people can be fed on Holzer style permaculture. We look at his property and say how can that be, but everything there serves a function and/or can be profited by. All the tree cover that most conventional farmers would consider a waste of space serve to shelter crops and thus increase yield. I was just reading the Big Black Book last night and there was a section on how windbreaks increase yield up to 100% on some crops. I think one of the main differences in permaculure vs conventional ag is that smaller areas of land are farmed more intensively thus making up for the use of land towards more sustainable ends (windbreaks, wild life sanctuaries, ponds, etc, etc).

 
Tyler Ludens
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osker brown wrote: I doubt that any farmer has ever grown serious amounts of food without a low-wage unskilled labor force.


I think part of the problem might be that the standard held up for permaculture is a standard not achieved by many (any?) farms of any kind these days. The permaculture farm must make a good living for the farmer 100% from the farm, by farming (not teaching, tours, etc), even though most conventional farmers have off-farm jobs or other income. The permaculture farm must not use free or cheap labor, even though conventional farms use such labor. The permaculture farm must grow all the farmer's food including staple foods, even though conventional farmers typically buy their food at the store. Etc etc until there can not possibly be more than a tiny handful of examples that exactly fit the demand for what permaculture must achieve to be "really doing it." If any. Certainly all the famous examples totally fail to meet these standards.
 
Alex Ames
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osker brown wrote:I'm in the process of establishing a permaculture farm. It is hard work, and I am in over my head, but I still have hope.

One point I'd like to make regarding a comment above about "volunteers for free lodging" (by the way, that's a work-trader, not a volunteer),

Not utilizing a free/cheap work force would be foolish. I doubt that any farmer has ever grown serious amounts of food without a low-wage unskilled labor force. To be certain, industrial agriculture would not exist if immigration and minimum wage laws were upheld. The choice I'm faced with is establishing infrastructure to accommodate motivated people who are willing to work for food and lodging, or a dependence on machines. That's a simple choice for me.

I think a major reason that "successful" permaculture farms aren't better publicized is that most of the population still wants a highly specialized job in an office and food from a grocery store. Permaculture, in my view, will not work in that system. Thus, my goal is to provide staple foods for people who are willing to work for them, and ideally for people who grown their own vegetables at home.



You are in over your head, but you still have hope! Don't think of my comments as against what you are calling "work-traders" and you
are correct about free/cheap work forces making a great many things possible that would not have otherwise been possible. I grew up in
Mississippi and the world I grew up knowing and loving is no longer. Your workers are free to go and come. It was the same back there during
my lifetime "The Help" were free to go and they left. Boy did they ever!

I did the payroll as a young child with my uncles or grand mother and I saw what they were getting paid and I also saw how long the days were. We went
to the Bank and got new money. They were paid in crisp bills and shiny coins. It spent the same, but it was an event for them. They had a house made
out of Cypress, a fire place, screen porch, garden plot, usually a couple of hogs or goats and a couple of fruit trees. The days in the fields were long
and the little money they made didn't shine bright enough. When a few people had gone North and came back driving shiny cars it was over and they
moved on.

 
Walter Jeffries
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Alex Ames wrote:Eric, I have a hard time imagining farm-scale permaculture. It would seem to be hard to get up to critical mass of any one thing to be successful financially. There seem to be some increased difficulties in harvesting efficiency that would be hard to overcome. What should it look like?


We have farm scale permaculture. We have a wide diversity of plants and animals which support the tip of two arrows. Not everything has to go to market. We grow grass, clover and other forages to feed our ducks, chickens, geese, sheep and pigs. The poultry act as our organic insect pest control. They also produce a bounty of eggs which are excellent food for weaners. We grow pumpkins, sunchokes, sunflower, kale, rape, turnips, beets and other things which are all feed for the animals. We have orchards, nut crops and a wide variety of forages, some of which are wild and some of which we planted to work together well in our soil and climate. Our pastures are sections of grasses, legumes, brush, regen and trees - a balance makes the best space, the most diversity. All of that comes to a point, two points - What we sell is pastured pork and timber.

We do sustainable, natural, organic (small 'o' and long before USDA), humane permaculture which makes good use of our mountain pastures and forests, land that is not suitable from cropping or tillage. It pays the mortgage, and a lot more since this is our only source of income - We don't work off farm.

It did take many years, decades, to discover the systems, get good at what we do, implement infrastructure, develop markets and get everything running smoothly so that it pays. We deliver our pastured pork fresh to stores, restaurants and individuals weekly year round - that's our niche, our market. To make this work we developed techniques for breeding, farrowing, raising and finishing pigs year round outdoors in our cold northern climate. Winter's about five times harder than the warm seasons but with a lot of little tricks it works. We're still improving things and will our whole lives. Right now we're building our own on-farm USDA inspected meat processing facility (slaughter, butcher, smoke, etc). That will make it so we're that much more vertically integrated - something permaculture is very much about.

We find that it is not economically advantageous to try to sell everything. There are many things we grow well that don't sell for much. However if we grow them and feed them to our livestock then it becomes value added. About 80% gets relaid as fertilizer and the 20% that goes into growth is far more profitable than trying to sell kale, for example. Another example is we can't make money selling milk, the markets are insane, but if we feed milk to our pigs along with pasture then they grow quickly and taste delicious. Again value added. We currently get whey from a local cheese maker (we're part of their 'green' 'waste' disposal solution by using up a good food and keeping it from going down the chaos slope) but if we didn't I would have our own dairy for the milk to feed our pigs. I can sell milk fed pork for far, far more than I can sell milk. This avoids the government controls on milk pricing and avoids grain - we buy no commercial hog feed, grains, etc.

Alex asked for areal photos:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/home/forest/

and here's the prime movers and shakers:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/animals/pigs/

Tyler Ludens wrote:I think part of the problem might be that the standard held up for permaculture is a standard not achieved by many (any?) farms of any kind these days. The permaculture farm must make a good living for the farmer 100% from the farm, by farming (not teaching, tours, etc), even though most conventional farmers have off-farm jobs or other income. The permaculture farm must not use free or cheap labor, even though conventional farms use such labor. The permaculture farm must grow all the farmer's food including staple foods, even though conventional farmers typically buy their food at the store. Etc etc until there can not possibly be more than a tiny handful of examples that exactly fit the demand for what permaculture must achieve to be "really doing it." If any. Certainly all the famous examples totally fail to meet these standards.


I suspect that it is more a case of the people who are doing it just aren't visible. We make 100% of our living from our farm. No teaching, no tours, etc. We have no off-farm jobs and no other jobs. We don't use 'free or cheap labor' either. We do all the work on our farm ourselves. We can and do grow all our staples. We also do buy luxuries (love chocolate!). But if for some reason we had to we could go for years without buying outside food. In fact, we've done it when times were tight. Still gotta pay taxes though so it is important to produce some income from sales of farm goods. But, I don't choose to only live on what we produce. I like being able to buy milk (something we don't produce in quantity right now unless you count sows milk), welding rods, cement, etc. Being permaculture doesn't mean you have to be deprived (or depraved). Permaculture is about building a system that is sustainable in the long term, a permanent culture.

osker brown wrote: I doubt that any farmer has ever grown serious amounts of food without a low-wage unskilled labor force.


Well... I think the problem may be that you just don't know of examples. We have no interns, no employees, no helpers, no apprentices, no low-wage unskilled labor force and we're doing fine, growing a lot of food. Literally tons. We deliver our pork year round to about 36 area stores and restaurants each week plus to individuals.



Farm-scale permaculture does exist. We do it. I'll bet there are a lot of other farm-scale permaculture operations out there. Most are in the, er, wood work.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Walter, I hope you're right and there are millions of farmers out there like you.

 
Alex Ames
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Walter you came to different arrow points than I had in mind but I like what you are doing. I appreciate the
response and the fact that you are getting it done without the use of smoke and mirrors. By that I mean tours,
lectures, seminars etc. Those are fine if you want to engage in that as a calling. Paul has gone that route for now
and his farm is these forums/his empire and promoting the movement. People should be able to have success at
this through the farming operation.

People like you validate what Paul is teaching and it is an encouragement for us who just want to grow good food
successfully on some scale that it can be done.
 
osker brown
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Walter,
Well I'm glad to be wrong. Your description of your farm is inspiring.


Walter Jeffries wrote:We can and do grow all our staples.


Can you say more about this? Are you growing staple nut crops for your family?

Also can you say more about your timber sales. Do you have a mill onsite or sell logs to a mill? What equipment are you using to move logs out of the forest?

Thanks!
 
Walter Jeffries
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osker brown wrote:
Walter Jeffries wrote:We can and do grow all our staples.

Can you say more about this?


We have at some points raised all of the food we ate. Some years we haven't had money to buy food so we didn't. Life fluxes. The good thing about having land is one can live on it, get energy from it and food from it. We're able to raise everything we need but as I said, I enjoy luxuries like chocolate. But all the the staples such as pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, meat, beans and such we can and mostly do produce. Occasionally I successfully grow something extravagant like watermelon but that is really a luxury and just in small quantities rather than the acres of pumpkins and other crops. Corn is something that is very iffy here. They grow it well down in the valley but it is a rare year that I get much here up on the mountain. Perhaps I've just not mastered the technique yet. Perhaps it doesn't like my no-tilling methods. I wouldn't want to be dependent on corn for my food. Potatoes and tomatoes along with pumpkins grow extremely well here and we eat a lot of those. They're also keepers and easy to save seed from. Lots of other more minor plants too. I learned to garden from my father so I've been doing it all my life. One thing that is important when people are getting started is not to try to take on too many things at once. It takes time to evolve the skills and systems.

osker brown wrote:Are you growing staple nut crops for your family?


The pigs eat just about all the nuts. They also get the drops from the fruit trees. We then eat the pork. They love nuts.

Much of our apples, pears and almost all of our berries come from the wild plants on the mountain or plantings we've done. We do double fence lines between which we plant berries, fruit and nut trees. This works very well and the livestock then get the excess that drops.

osker brown wrote:Also can you say more about your timber sales. Do you have a mill onsite or sell logs to a mill?


We don't have a mill. There was one but it burned down years ago. We sell primarily hard wood for cabinetry and furniture making to two nearby mills, some lumber to another nearby mill and then the veneer wood goes to Japan. They pick the individual logs they want. Hard to believe it is worth them shipping it around the world (they pickup at the landing) but they do it. We also do some firewood, pulp and biomass for making wood pellets. (Ironically with all this wood we only use less than three quarters of a cord to heat our cottage due to its small size and solar gain.) I've considered Christmas trees but never gotten into that other than the few wild caught ones.

osker brown wrote:What equipment are you using to move logs out of the forest?


We use standard skidders, grapplers, forwarders and tractors. Horses are quaint but slow and have a hard time with our steep terrain. It has been done before on our land with horses, a century ago but I don't find the horses practical for the work. I realize some people don't like machinery but machines do have their place. I'm a tool using monkey.

For some jobs we have our own equipment for others we hire in as needed. Everything has its place. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2009/08/02/field-clearing-grapple-skidder/

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2009/08/26/underground-electric/

Alex Ames wrote:Walter you came to different arrow points than I had in mind but I like what you are doing. I appreciate the
response and the fact that you are getting it done without the use of smoke and mirrors. By that I mean tours,
lectures, seminars etc. Those are fine if you want to engage in that as a calling. Paul has gone that route for now
and his farm is these forums/his empire and promoting the movement.


What Paul and others are doing through education is important. His running of this site and talking about things brings people together to share ideas. I'm not a lecturer, don't do seminars or tours. I just got asked to do a series but it really isn't my way, my tao. I find those things too stressful so I like to focus on what I do well instead. Fortunately there are many opportunities for many people, just like in a diverse garden.

Tyler Ludens wrote:Walter, I hope you're right and there are millions of farmers out there like you.


I hope so too. A million small farmers can do a better job than the few big farms. Diversity and food security through distributed systems. I don't expect anyone to hit all ideals at any one time but I think there are a lot of people trying and many succeeding. It's keeping at it that hones the tool.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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newest pasture cropping article from australia

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-02-21/pasture-cropping-a-regenerative-solution-from-down-under
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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