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The spread of permaculture and the limits of it's language  RSS feed

 
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As a person who has a adopted the idea that permaculture answers many of the huge questions and problems of the modern day, I want to see permaculture spread. In fact, I would love to see permaculture become the social norm in agricultural thinking. A problem with this process seems to be that the systems thinking of permaculture requires a language that is unrelatable to most people. I'm curious about everyone's thoughts on overcoming this difference and also the evolution of permaculture over the coming years. How do you go about introducing permaculture to people that want to know what it is? If you a person who likes open discussion, how do you argue for permaculture? Why not conventional organic gardening?

I think that an inclusive approach is probably the best place to start. For example, any kind of organic gardening that a person does is great and really deserves that credit.
 
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I think examples are much more effective than just explanations. I don't personally argue much for permaculture, I just show people examples such as Zaytuna Farm and Happy Earth. Eventually I hope to have more to show them at my own place. I think explaining the workings of these examples is a good way to discuss permaculture.

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/01/zaytuna-farm-video-tour-apr-may-2012-ten-years-of-revolutionary-design/

http://www.happyearth.com.au/

 
Bobby Eshleman
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Tyler that sounds about right. And thanks for the happyearth link, that is a great urban example.

 
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I need to find examples not in Australia, or I am gonna choke the next person who replies to me that "permaculture is great but it only works in australia." I have had people say these words and then the very next day come to be all excited because they found their new idol, sepp holzer.
 
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I'd love to see working examples. I sit smack dab in a mono culture, agri biz, GMO infested state. I don't know of a single permaculture farm in my area. Forget language show me the melons!
 
Tyler Ludens
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What state are you in, Dennis?

 
Tyler Ludens
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LaLena MaeRee wrote:I need to find examples not in Australia, or I am gonna choke the next person who replies to me that "permaculture is great but it only works in australia."


A few not-australia examples:

http://www.permacultureportal.com/

http://www.quailsprings.org/

http://www.velacreations.com/

http://berg-en-dal.co.za/

http://permaculturenews.org/2011/11/08/letters-from-jordan-greening-the-desert-the-sequel-site-contrasts-against-jordan-insanities/

http://permacultureartisans.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXEcjWE_Xjs&feature=g-vrec

etc
 
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Hello! I just joined up. I saw a video on a stove that burned wood at a small rate at a time. I live on the navajo nation and I am starting to grow my own veggies and chili's, like my grandfather did. I live up in the 6000 elavation. I am learning by trial and error. My grandfather grew corn, bean, squash and watermelon in his time but the weather has changed when I was a kid 11 or 12 the weather was warm now the summers up here a windy and cool. I am 42 now and I know there is a difference in the weather, strawberries don't survive unless in a greenhouse. I am not gonig to buy a one for $$$$. I am more of a graigslist type person who takes others peoples stuff and make it work for me. Until the world stops spinning or we destroy it first, I wish you all a good day and keep on keeping on.
 
Dennis Mitchell
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Tyler Ludens wrote:What state are you in, Dennis?


Southern idaho, I'm in an irrigated desert. Far from the big cities.

 
pollinator
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We don't have any examples in the area of South Carolina that I live in - so I am going to try to make an example.

I think Tylers comment "show an example" is about the best way it can be explained.

In my business the customer is constantly saying "show the pilot a picture" because it is so much more effective than words. So I am trying to create that picture in my own yard.

I did see an article posted by Scott Pittman - just this morning I think - about a lady in Charleston South Carolina who is implementing permaculture techniques in her yard. And I am thrilled to see it - every small step that replaces the green postage stamp with something productive is progress.
 
Bobby Eshleman
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Dennis, gaia's garden and Edible Forest Gardens both have great example sites in them. Tabor Tilth here in Portland, OR is legit too. 1/5 acre = 60%-70% of her food. My first year here is was pretty bad, those fine-print cautionary measures (e.g., seed in mulch + more mulch to suppress mulch seed = too thick of mulch = slugs, + not enough nitrogen in mulch mix = sick plants struggling against said slugs) that I sort of scanned over, forgot about, and didn't apply definitely came back to bite me. The trees are a healthy though --nice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YYZTw_xBBs
 
Bobby Eshleman
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Jeanine, your garden looks so nice btw. This was our first year and I eagerly anticipate the spring/coming years, I can't wait to see the growth of our place.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Dennis, you might be able to locate some Idaho examples by contacting

http://palousepermaculture.com/

http://www.kamiahpermaculture.com

 
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Bobby Eshleman wrote:A problem with this process seems to be that the systems thinking of permaculture requires a language that is unrelatable to most people. If you a person who likes open discussion, how do you argue for permaculture? Why not conventional organic gardening?

I think that an inclusive approach is probably the best place to start. For example, any kind of organic gardening that a person does is great and really deserves that credit.


So many ways as a 1 week old "newbie" PC adventurer that I should be able to answer "how" you could argue for PC, as I have so much to learn! I have what, 40+ years of learning to do?? lol However, a couple of things I can say that I have hopefully learned correctly in my readings is that PC is really a mixture of many "earth friendly" techniques including organic, and more. To me, the difference I have discovered in my 1 week journey of learning, is that PC is applying the knowledge of many of these practices, and adding more emphasis on the ethics of a person, family, community and their duty/responsibilities in life. However, for me, the sad part of that is that all in all, I don't find many people with "good ethics"..

I think that what has attracted me, is that PC includes a bit of many "methods" (all great), but the fundamentals (principals and ethics) of PC has managed to include organic, tree hugging, animal lover, ecosystems/preservation of the earth, etc. AND it expresses the importance of balance of all of these, and the result is SELF MAINTAINING systems that fulfill "all" of the aforementioned.

I still have questions about organic, and many other practices, but the combination of many practices is how I "currently" see PC.

This past garden season I remember being in a local feed n seed store. There was a young guy in there buying seed, etc just as I was. I rarely go out, so when I do, I usually strike up a conversation. This person told me they have an organic farm. I think about that now, and wonder.. What "really" does organic mean? If I buy "seeds" that I am not SURE are organic, but follow all of the other organic "requirements" (US) does that mean that the fruit/veggie I produce is organic?? Even if I have no clue if the seed I planted was?? On the other hand, I read a post here the other day that said PC is more about wildlife and ecosystems over "human" needs. Hum, that just didn't fit with my thoughts of what I have learned PC is. I see it as BALANCE... I am a newbie n thereby a dumb ass I suppose..

I am hoping that PC is more about an actual "process of applying many processes", which includes all of the things that will make our world a better place, NOW and in the future.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Me Wagner wrote: On the other hand, I read a post here the other day that said PC is more about wildlife and ecosystems over "human" needs.


Keep in mind everyone is going to say what they think permaculture is to them. It might be something very different to other people.

Here's what permaculture is according to the "official" line from the Permaculture Research Institute which was founded by Bill Mollison, one of guys who invented permaculture: http://www.permaculturenews.org/about-permaculture-and-the-pri/#permaculture
 
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I have had no problems in the past 42 years in explaining or conversing with people about permaculture, food forests, organic gardening, etc..but just this past week I got verbally attacked (not on this forum) for using the word organic..

so you may find that the big chemical farmers are beginning to fight back now against people who encourage organic or permaculture properties, I do not know if companies like Monsanto may have actually been behind the attacks on me (using common user names that would not be suspected as Monsanto??)..but be prepared that there are less safe areas to discuss these things than this particular forum..which I just found out.

I feel that probably the safest way to "share" permaculture, food forests, organic type gardening now may be from person to person by example..I know that I have neighbors that I can share with by my example, and by being a giver of produce, a lender of books, etc..but now that some big GMO companies are taking over several hundred acres in our neighborhood, I realize that there are just some advances by big chem co's that there is very little you can do anything about..

I do have the county at my back, so that is helpful..use whatever reasonable resources you can..and share personally with those in your neighborhood or community...and of course on this forum
 
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Does anyone know for some good permaculture course? i want to take my PDC.
 
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Coined words/phrases exist in almost every specialty. Though it is well understood to the practitioners, it can be intimidating to any outsider.

"Organic" was a mystery to many until recently (and still is in many regions). For permaculturists selling at Farmer's Markets, I think a good approach would be to post a sign/banner saying "Better than Organic". This is more important to those who do not want to go to the expense of getting certified as organic. You may not offer your product under the name "organic", but "Better than Organic", at the very least would get a lot of people looking. Be prepared to explain why it is better than organic.

Perhaps, given time, the so-called 'Green shoppers' would begin seeking "Better than Organic", especially if enough farmers had carefully explained why it was better...not just 'for you', but also 'for the Earth', for 'Mankind'.

 
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Ivon Carter wrote:Does anyone know for some good permaculture course? i want to take my PDC.


Ivon - where abouts are you? It might help people to recommend a course if they knew where in the world you are.
 
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John, I prefer 'beyond organic'. It's less undermining of organic and opens the way for showing that organic is one aspect of a permaculture system. I think we need to be careful to not alienate natural allies of permaculture, like organic growers, who, let's face it are producing far more food that is kinder to the planet at the moment than permies.
 
Ivon Carter
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Sorry, I forgot to write the most important thing California
 
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Rose, thank you.... this is something that has bothered me as I read hints of negativity towards "hippies" and "organic" in other threads.
I like using the term "beyond organic" rather then "better than organic". If some are young enough to only be aware of USDA Organic I can understand wanting to distance Permaculture from it, but, to my way of thinking "permaculture" has some new techniques and emphasis on design but is not so different from old fashioned "save the earth" organic philosophy .....some of us continue to use those organic principles to live by....(we read "One Straw Revolution" too!)
I don't see why there should be a competition with or dismissal of a major movement that had/has similar goals to permaculture.
 
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Bobby Eshleman wrote:

I think that an inclusive approach is probably the best place to start. For example, any kind of organic gardening that a person does is great and really deserves that credit.


Tyler Ludens wrote:

Keep in mind everyone is going to say what they think permaculture is to them. It might be something very different to other people.


While I can see the benefits of an inclusive approach in the permaculture community (e.g., it encourages diversity, creativity, freedom, etc.), I think it also poses the risk of diluting the permaculture message, or communicating messages that are inconsistent.

I have seen this pattern in other non-mainstream / alternative disciplines, where the community of practitioners wants to win over the public, but they cannot agree among themselves what exactly they stand for, as each practitioner has his/her own interpretation of their basic philosophy, and each wants to go their own way rather than adhere to a "party line".

Tyler Ludens wrote:

Here's what permaculture is according to the "official" line from the Permaculture Research Institute which was founded by Bill Mollison, one of guys who invented permaculture: http://www.permaculturenews.org/about-permaculture-and-the-pri/#permaculture


Indeed. But since he's the founding father, I would argue that Bill Mollison's definition of permaculture should be taken as official, without the inverted commas.

I think we do need an official line that all permaculturists adhere to. It may make some of us feel constrained and boxed in, but it will ensure that we convey a strong and consistent message towards the public.
 
LaLena MaeRee
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Thanks Ludi! I found permaculture a year ago, almost exactly. The first month was like the first month in a teenage relationship, all giddy and awesome. Then I tried to talk to family, got shunned. Then I reached out to friends, got shunned. Tried to find new friends who claimed to be into the same stuff, got shunned. Finally joined permies, got hugs! Seriously, from the bottom of my heart I give such huge thanks to this community. Without you all I would have given up. I love this community, and I say we compost all the ney-sayers! It would turn them into something beneficial to the soil instead of detrimental to it. Function stacking at its finest, we stop getting slammed for being organic, and our soils get some bones and blood!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Levente Andras wrote:
Indeed. But since he's the founding father, I would argue that Bill Mollison's definition of permaculture should be taken as official, without the inverted commas.


Which definition of Mollison's will we take as the official line? He has given several varying definitions. Sometimes he defines it as a design system, sometimes a philosophy, sometimes he says he doesn't know what it is.....



 
Levente Andras
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Levente Andras wrote:
Indeed. But since he's the founding father, I would argue that Bill Mollison's definition of permaculture should be taken as official, without the inverted commas.


Which definition of Mollison's will we take as the official line? He has given several varying definitions. Sometimes he defines it as a design system, sometimes a philosophy, sometimes he says he doesn't know what it is.....





Sometimes a design system, sometimes a philosophy... no contradiction there. (A philosophy (=ethics, principles) underlying a design system...) There must be a common thread in Mollison's theory that leads to a single definition. If not in his, then in geoff lawton's - I suspect that GL, being very practical and hands-on, will have a pretty clear and well-articulated concept of what Permaculture is.

Anyway, my point is that the permaculture community really needs one consistent, articulate "definition" for what it does and what it stands for. Being too vague or too inclusive, or sending many different and potentially contradictory messages, will not help in the long run.

As I've said, I've seen this undesirable pattern in other areas, with practitioners weeping on each other's shoulder and pitying themselves for not being understood and accepted by the public at large, while never admitting that the main problem was in the vagueness of their message.

I don't think that the "language of permaculture" has any "limits" (as implied in the title of this thread). My feeling is that the limit is in our willingness to stick to one single, principled message.

 
Rose Pinder
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Judith Browning wrote:Rose, thank you.... this is something that has bothered me as I read hints of negativity towards "hippies" and "organic" in other threads.
I like using the term "beyond organic" rather then "better than organic". If some are young enough to only be aware of USDA Organic I can understand wanting to distance Permaculture from it, but, to my way of thinking "permaculture" has some new techniques and emphasis on design but is not so different from old fashioned "save the earth" organic philosophy .....some of us continue to use those organic principles to live by....(we read "One Straw Revolution" too!)
I don't see why there should be a competition with or dismissal of a major movement that had/has similar goals to permaculture.


Hi Judith, using the term 'beyond organic' can also open dialogue about why and how US organic standards have been co-opted. And referencing organic standards elsewhere in the world that still have more meaning. Organic is still a very good thing.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Levente Andras wrote: If not in his, then in Geoff Lawton's - I suspect that GL, being very practical and hands-on, will have a pretty clear and well-articulated concept of what Permaculture is.



I'd be interested to read his definition. Or his "definition." Do you know where I can find it?

 
Judith Browning
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I, too, like the idea of spreading the word about permaculture by example...either being one or siting them for others.

I like ideas that allow me to think not tell me what to think. I know thats what has drawn me to permaculture. I found some quotes from Bill Mollison's "Introduction to Permaculture" that I like...
"The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term."
and this one..."Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supportive system for city and country, using the smallest practical area."
and this one by Geoff Lawton..."You can fix all the worlds problems in a garden. You can solve them all in a garden. You can solve all your pollution problems and all your supply line needs in a garden. And most people today actually don't know that, and that makes most people very insecure."
This could be Wendell Berry talking or Gary Snyder....and plenty of others back in time...the ideas are just getting more and more refined and more and more crucial but it's all the same wave, in my opinion.
 
Bobby Eshleman
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I think this is the issue that Paul talks about with his ecoscale idea. This is an issue in any field. The more advanced the more crazy sounding from the basic perspectives. Physics, politics, biology, etc... I think Socrates-style questioning is probably the best way to join another person in realizing that nature will do everything the gardener will do, if you just let it. Tilling and compost has it's merits, but is it necessary? How come a forest grows food without man's intervention?
 
Judith Browning
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Bobby Eshleman wrote:I think this is the issue that Paul talks about with his ecoscale idea. This is an issue in any field. The more advanced the more crazy sounding from the basic perspectives. Physics, politics, biology, etc... I think Socrates-style questioning is probably the best way to join another person in realizing that nature will do everything the gardener will do, if you just let it. Tilling and compost has it's merits, but is it necessary? How come a forest grows food without man's intervention?


..and what is the sound of one hand clapping?....That popped into my head with your last sentence...sorry. I like what you are saying. I am afraid that I don't know what Socrates style questioning means though.
 
Bobby Eshleman
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No worries Judith, it's important to stay practical. I mean shit, where would we be without it? One story of Socrates is that the Oracle of Delphi announced that Socrates was the wisest man in Greece. Socrates set out to prove her wrong by questioning other people about their beliefs, especially ethical beliefs as "wisdom" had an ethical connotation in Greece. Questions like what people actually mean when they use basic ethical terms like "justice" or "courage". What came to the surface was that people don't know what they mean when it comes to this basic level of ethics, and in this sense Socrates was more wise as he was at least aware of his own ignorance. He didn't so readily claim answers.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks..I like the example. With that in mind I wanted to respond to questions in your original post...

Bobby Eshleman wrote:As a person who has a adopted the idea that permaculture answers many of the huge questions and problems of the modern day, I want to see permaculture spread. In fact, I would love to see permaculture become the social norm in agricultural thinking. A problem with this process seems to be that the systems thinking of permaculture requires a language that is unrelatable to most people. I'm curious about everyone's thoughts on overcoming this difference and also the evolution of permaculture over the coming years. How do you go about introducing permaculture to people that want to know what it is? If you a person who likes open discussion, how do you argue for permaculture? Why not conventional organic gardening?

I think that an inclusive approach is probably the best place to start. For example, any kind of organic gardening that a person does is great and really deserves that credit.


I am starting to realize that many are disconnected from the history of organic farming and gardening. This quote is Wendell Berry (who is a living activist) paraphrasing Sir Albert Howard (who died in 1947) in excerpts from a recent interview for Humanities magazine found on PermacultureProject.com...

"If you want to know how to farm, you must look at the forest. Learn what nature does. You've got to imitate her methods. She always keeps the ground covered. She always farms with animals. She maintains the highest diversity of plants and animals. She wastes nothing. She maintaines large reserves of fertility. She leaves then her crops to defend themselves against pest and disease."

Sir Albert Howard is known as the father of organics. He advocated studying the forest in order to farm like the forest. He published "An Agricultural Testament" in 1940 about natural farming techniques with an emphasis on raising mixed crops without the use of artificial fertilizers. He wrote "The War in the Soil" as a response to early 1900's "Big Ag".
I think in discussing the idea of permaculture with the hope of convincing anyone of it's relevance it is important to acknowledge its roots in history so that permaculture doesn't just appear to be the next new thing in gardening.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Judith Browning wrote:
I think in discussing the idea of permaculture with the hope of convincing anyone of it's relevance it is important to acknowledge its roots in history so that permaculture doesn't just appear to be the next new thing in gardening.


Even Bill Mollison said there is nothing new in permaculture!

 
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