• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Burra Maluca
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Miles Flansburg
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Anne Miller
  • Daron Williams
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
  • Bryant RedHawk

Industrial scale permaculture?  RSS feed

 
              
Posts: 238
Location: swampland virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pakanohida wrote:
I both agree and disagree.  After watching a video on youtube.. (Ancient Futures - Learning from Ladakh (permaculture) 1 of 4)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oI2lD5Nre08

I found myself questioning the value of mechanization of everything, and the obvious destruction of communities for profit.  Things are more enjoyable when you work with others, but mechanization removes that and focuses on improving how much 1 person can do in a give time.  Thus doing the min / max thing.

For me this goes against Perma-culture ethics.  Earth care, people care, surplus share...   



great video. I would add to the issue of mechanization, specialization of everything and everyone when we need more generalist that have a better picture of the whole. I would assume that fits in with perma-culture thinking.
 
                                
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Very interesting thread here.  First, an observation: just looking at permaculture forums, it seems to me that 90% of what people call their "permaculture farms" are the backyard of a city lot, with about 95% being properties of 5 acres or less.  (For the US anyway; seems to be more larger scale in Australia.)  And in the US, I'd wager that a considerable majority of PDC certificates are held by folks who haven't designed anything bigger than their backyard.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it does, I think, result in the negative reaction to doing things on the large scale proposed by the OP.

I come from a large family of large farmers, and I live in a place where the average farmer owns or leases somewhere around 15 sections. I know multiple farmers with 30+ sections in Nebraska and Colorado, 45+ in Wyoming, and if I count out to third cousins, I'm probably related somehow to half the farmland in eastern Montana.  (A section is a square mile, or 640 acres.)  So for me it's easy to see the possibility of scaling up.  In fact, I see it as easier to implement because of the scale, and for another reason.

Backyard vegetable gardening does not scale up well.  It just shouldn't be done.  Mollison is fond of saying that you shouldn't sell anything off your property that can't walk or fly.  Mining the soils for vegetable production on a large scale is difficult enough to do organically, let alone in a sustainable manner that rebuilds soil.  Thus, vegetable production should be done at home -- the suburban backyard, the inner city community garden, or perhaps blighted sections of dying cities like Detroit demolished and put to crops.  The current situation in California's central valley, from which comes 80% of the country's fresh vegetable crop, needs to be reversed.  I'm picturing the end of the supermarket produce section.

But there are two categories of food crop that are impractical, if not impossible, in cities or suburbs.  Grain, and cattle.  Man cannot live on pears and broccoli alone.  I doubt anyone here eats a diet totally devoid of all (currently) monocultured crop -- wheat, barley, etc., especially vegans.  The value of the grain crop is obvious: easily mechanized, harvested, transported, and stored without refrigeration.  There's a reason these are called "staples."  I very much doubt the "backyard permaculturist" wants to grow all his own grain for bread. 

So we are left with the conclusion that some crops (veggies, fruits, and in some places chicken) are best decentralized for efficiency, and others are best left for the tractors outside of the cities.  Anyone disagree?  Unless you're one of those anarcho-syndicalist Luddites who thinks there will be no use for factories, cars, machinery, and think everyone should live in a grass hut and work the earth with pointy sticks....


Given that, I would concur with Paul Wheaton that any move made by grain or beef agriculture to clean up their act by reducing fuel use, water pumping, chemical use, and transportation is a step in the right direction, and fully in accordance with the permaculture (a la Fukuoku) principle of doing more with less.  That doesn't mean make a little improvement and stop -- baby steps -- but let's start the process of improvement within the production systems that already exists.  The purists are NOT going to make inroads here.  No one is going to convert my cousin to rush out and plant 25 square miles of food forest and herb spirals.  But he will get into swaling, damming, windbreaks, keyline plowing and such as it inevitably makes financial sense to do so.  Re-drilling pivot wells is not getting any cheaper.  And it definitely means the end of feedlots, and cows back out on pasture where cornfields once stood.

Now then, back to the original proposal of developing a million acres, which would be about an area 40 miles square, or approximately the size of the greater Denver metropolitan area.  Piece of cake.

How?  Let's look at how subdivisions are built.  (I've done it, so I know... and I'm sorry!  ops: )

First, earthmoving.  Grades, slopes, pads, streets are established.  Then utilities are trenched in, storm drainages established.  Roads paved.  Houses built, sidewalks and landscaping.  Then the developer sells the houses.

So... is there any reason to think we can't do the same thing with a sustainable design?  Earthmoving would be done differently so as to retain water rather than run it off.  Utilities would be structured a bit differently.  Lots would be subdivided to provide all housing with solar access and proper orientation.  You could range from small lots for the artisans, to larger ones for pastoralists, and larger yet for grain or beef producers.  There would be wild forest areas, parks, greenbelts, schools, commercial areas, a factory or three. Build it, and sell the parts, whose owners then have an interest in their piece of the pie, rather than being employees.  Profit for the developer, profits for the residents.

That would eliminate the fatal flaw of top-down corporate ownership, wherein the guy doing the work at the bottom gets screwed because the very reason for the existence of a corporation is to make profit for its shareholders -- a difficult prospect when every employee expects to be prosperous.

 
              
Posts: 238
Location: swampland virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
TheDirtSurgeon, you make a lot of good points. On the staples, there are substitutes for many staples that bond well with permaculture and polyculture. Listening to you talk about large tracts of land and developments makes me think of buckminister fuller's floating city. If anyone were to build it, I think you are the one. .

A lot of roadblocks in replacing industrial ag with permaculture. I think if you see it happen, it will happen swiftly and possibly without notice. From what I hear, some industrial ag has already moved over, but they do not mention it.
 
                                
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dr_Temp wrote:
If anyone were to build it, I think you are the one. .



Yeah, I'm hoping permieobserver and his rich bastard friends retain me as a consultant... and make me a rich bastard too. 

I used to give ideas away for free... until one company I worked for made $5 million on my suggestion... and fired me.  (So don't none of you damn free-love-and-education hippies give me a bad time about charging for them... because someone else will make the money instead. 
 
Posts: 14
Location: Santa Barbara. Ca
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What an epic thread.  Thanks permieobserver for starting this.  It looks like its a one year anniversary!

DirtSurgeon, you hit the nail on the head, as you obviously have the experience to wield a hammer...
I also firmly believe it is possible to incorporate many permaculture principles and ethics on the large scale, though it may not be purist- or satisfy everyone in this forum that is.

I think we need to move towards the ideal and utopian model of industrial permaculture, though may not actually reach that lofty goal ever.  But baby steps are better than no steps.

There are several designers working on the scale you are talking about, most notably Darren Doherty's work on huge cattle stations in Australia that approach the 100,000 acre plus scale.

I have also been approached by a wealthy "investor" who seeks to "walk the talk" and showcase permaculture on the "industrial scale".  In this case we are talking maybe 2000 acres, not 500,000, still pretty big when you consider topography. 

For this current project, we are still in the planning phase, basically crop selection.  I made a spreadsheet that lists all of the crops I could think of that are suited to that micro/climate in all of the categories possible: food, fiber, fodder, timber, animals, insects, mushrooms, etc. 

(I tried to read through this whole thread but got lost in some of the dogma.  But did anyone list mushrooms as a product?  I think something like oysters or even reishi would do super good in a temperate forestry system.) 

Crop selection will narrow down based on the demand for products locally, then based on mechanization/economies of scale and value of course (both monetary and caloric).  Those products that perform multiple functions (ex. tea tree = bee forage + windbreak + essential oils + cut flower + bird habitat) are also selected.

My point is to pick a dozen or so crops that will do well in the particular microclimate, that have good value and market demand, and that are relatively efficient to grow, harvest, and process.  Farm layout follows from conventional farming, but is integrated.

Implementation follows from community planning to create local buy-in and secure a labor force to run the operation.  This IMO is one of the most important elements- people the run the thing.  Then composting and fertility management, nursery establishment, earthworks, infrastructure development, planting, etc.

The corporate model can work as long as the employees are happy.  Take advantage of them and there will be too much turn-over or poor performance.  Benefits beyond pay go a long way, like free food and housing, which need not be too much of a cost to the company (give employees culled produce).

If you asked me for advice (maybe you are sick of it by now) I would say find an intact virgin or old-growth forest in the area you wish to start this project.  Make note of the plants and animals and interactions you see.  This alone could take awhile.  Find cultivated analogs (crops), and create a system that mimics the native forest in composition (not necessarily distribution- this is the advantage of designing the system, ie for efficiency and partial mechanization).

I am attempting to create a Design Team very much like what you mentioned in the first post (www.globalpermaculture.com).  The idea is exactly to use all of the knowledge synergistically in order to reduce mistakes and increase chance of success.  Contact me if you need help arranging all star designers, I may be able to help.

Keep us posted on the development of this, if it still is a possibility.  I want to get rich doing good work too!  That way I will have more to share...

(pic is an orchard in the sky, working on planting it)

dream-orchard-150KB.jpg
[Thumbnail for dream-orchard-150KB.jpg]
 
Posts: 109
Location: W. CO, 6A
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
TheDirtSurgeon's ideas (and others) remind me of the plans Frank Lloyd Wright had for his "Broadacre City". It was, I believe, based on the Thomas Jefferson model of surveying plots and setting property lines based on natural topography instead of arbitrary grid lines. Image a suburb with edible hedges, decentralized power (solar/wind/minihydro/woodgas/nuclear fusion/etc), community meeting places, and everyone with harvestable food right in their own backyard. I believe (perhaps naively) that there would be less mental illness, less petty crime, and a greater satisifaction with life in these areas. Studies have shown that gardening helps veterans deal with PTSD, and getting your hands in dirt and increase happiness, though I don't have a ready link to prove it (Google?). 

But it _would_ take money, no doubt about it, and plenty of it, to make this a reality. And someone with great vision who could look beyond making piles of money (though there would be that too, as it must be profitable) to see the importance of the people behind it, and how best to structure the project to support permaculture, backyard gardening, simpler living, and livestock production.

Well, that's enough rambling for this morning. Off to work...
 
master pollinator
Posts: 10369
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
377
cat chicken fiber arts fish forest garden greening the desert trees wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rehovoth wrote:
Image a suburb with edible hedges, decentralized power (solar/wind/minihydro/woodgas/nuclear fusion/etc), community meeting places, and everyone with harvestable food right in their own backyard.



Village Homes in Davis was an attempt to make such a suburb.    http://villagehomesdavis.org/public/about
 
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Loren Luyendyk wrote:


The corporate model can work as long as the employees are happy. 





This IMO is a fallacy because for the current economics that we humans are tied to it sadly isn't about the employee, it is about minimizing spending, and maximizing sales.  Corporate models do not work under the whims of nature.

Secondly, a property should never be bought with the intention of going in with a mindset to grow x,y,z crops.  This is not how permaculture design works.  The first year alone is supposed to be about long walks on the property noting sun, moon, wind, and a numerous amount of other data, and that is prior to even going in and mapping the property for setting up crops of any kind.  This is a great way to scare off investors of any kind because they are not seeing any return, i.e. profit.

When you can find investors smart enough to think "down the road" and not for quick profit, then Industrial size permaculture can take off, else you need to do it slowly yourself with your own money.

That, more then anything, is the limiting factor...  the all mighty $

 
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't read the whole thread yet but think the concept is great.

Here is my idea:

Mixed permaculture/food forests/aquaponics/IRG/etc.  Have a small cottage every 5-10 acres or so.  Tenant farmers and land owners live in the cottages and work the land.  Electric trains bring the raw products into the cities for processing and consumption. 

The cities have to be re-tooled as well for the waste stream to go back to the country.  Municipal sewer systems would become composting facilities utilizing anaerobic fermentation (producing electricity and gas for the city and fertilizer for the country), bokashi, vermiculture, and traditional composting.  All of the cities waste would be composted directly outside of the city.  Food waste, fiber waste, and human manure would be processed there.  The stable compost would then board the electric trains and go back to the country.

Eventually the trains themselves and the solar/wind/whatever would be constructed and maintained with completely renewable and non-toxic materials.

sounds nice....
 
Posts: 134
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my understanding of permaculture, I am but an egg.

If my understanding is correct the ideal is to have no net export of material from the land.  Failing that -- minimize the net export.

So grain goes out, sewage sludge comes in.
Eggs go out, composted city waste comes in.

Secondly:  One of the goals is synergy.  So a full section of wheat is less satisfactory than a quarter section each of wheat, oats, canola, and alfalfa.  Which in turn is less satsifacatory than those same quarter sections plus livestock.

Closely coupled to synergy is biodiversity.  A field with shelterbelts has more biodiverstiy, and less disease.  (At least on my tree farm, I have zero bug problems, thanks the the thousands of chickadees, sparrows, wrens and LBJs.)

So if you are going to do industrial size permaculture, it will need a community to run it.  To take advantage of large farm equipment for things like grain, you will need to run narrow strip fields -- perhaps 5 miles long by a quarter mile wide.

I suspect it would work best in some form of landlord/tenant set up, with long term leases.

Even if Industrial Permaculture isn't complete, and offends some of the diehard permies,it's a step in the right diretion
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
305
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my opinion, "Industrial scale permaculture" is an oxymoron.  A principle of permaculture is "no imports/no exports".  If you produce, say 1,000 bushels of corn (or apples, or whatever), growing your crop has depleted your soil by x amount of nutrients.  If you are exporting that 1,000 bushels for sale, you would need to import x amount of nutrients to replace what your crop has consumed, or else your soil will constantly be losing its richness.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
Posts: 10369
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
377
cat chicken fiber arts fish forest garden greening the desert trees wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Polk wrote:
  A principle of permaculture is "no imports/no exports". 



I'm not finding that principle in my Designers Manual....  

 
Sherwood Botsford
Posts: 134
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No iimports/ No exports is unrealizable.  Water, Oxygen, CO2, dust, aerosols, bugs, birds and associated deposits all go where they will.  Earthworms don't stop at fence lines.  Every time you take a crap in town, you've exported nutrients.

The key is to create a complete cycle, or as close as you can come.

If I ship a thousand tons of pure cellulose off a parcel of land, just what have I exported?  Pure cellulose is (C6H12O6)n where n is a large number.  (That's right cellulose is a LOT of sugar hooked together)

That cellulose was created from water and CO2 by photosynthesis.  Both of those are 'unregulated permaculture feedstocks'

Wood pulp doesn't have a lot of nutrients in it.  Lots of energy, but very little nitrogen or phosphorus.  Most of the good stuff is in the leaves and roots which are left behind.

So, ship a thousand tons of pulp off, and you are possibly shipping off a ton of stuff that isn't water or CO2 in origin.

So, to be sustainable, you have to balance that by corresponding inputs.

The small scale permie works by reducing exports as much as is reasonable.  Industrial Permaculture will have to measure the nutrients leaving, and balance them with imports.

***

The other thing to remember is scale:  Using the No I, No E rule the earth as a whole is a perfect permaculture.  AFAIK no turd has been left in space.

So permaculture is not a planatary goal, it's a local goal.  Within each environment you have to adjust the nutrient cycles so there is enough of everything to do what you want.  Hence manure moves from the barn back to the field, by way of the compost heap.  Water is moved from the dugout to the corn patch.  The corn is grown on last year's bean patch.  All of these are clever ways to get things together to make them grow, using modest amounts of energy to do so.

As an example of industrial permaculture, consider a modifed hugel system, where you grow pulp wood in strip forests, and at the end of the cycle, after the logs have been hauled off, the remaining trash wood (branches, roots..) are chipped and mulched into the soil, and the next forest is planted elsewhere.

 
Posts: 10
Location: Amritsar, India
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rabid Chipmunk wrote:The diversity of permaculture is also it's achilles heel when it comes to competing with traditional commodity crops.  I mean your harvesters would probably need a degree in botany to figure out what was a crop!



I think most large scale monoculture societies have forgotten the real reason they are farming and that is to produce ample & nourishing food. Its NOT to run harvesters!

When Corporates run farming....they want machines....who won't want minimum wages, pension schemes, good working conditions & so on. Humans want all these & they are costs. Many run in perpetuity, like the liability for pensions. Corporations don't want to produce nourishing foods. Their target is to earn long term & short term money, while reducing short term & long term liabilities. That the business that is earning them money is that of farming, is just incidential!

That is why they want harvesters, pesticides, terminator genes (<start rant>I sometimes idly wonder about the terminator gene, if transfers itself to humans, what would it do...require humans to buy a child from Monsanto?!!...and BTW, many things they say can't happen..do happen...<end rant>). They don't want seasonal food pickers from Africa or other third world countries. What if someone suggested that they be given better pay, better conditions, more security & so on......oh no...machines, monoculture, non-nourishing foods & pesticides are better! BETTER FOR THE BOTTOMLINE!

Sorry for the rant...but that's the way I see it.

Ciao.
Sanjay.
 
Posts: 71
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Forgive me if someone already mentioned this, this forum was way to long for me to read it all right now. So..
This permaculture on such a huge scale would be wonderful for the environment .. after its completed. And after its completed you have to make your money back right? But you cant get your huge machines in there to harvest. If you pay people to harvest.. your still not getting your money back.. and your depleting the forest. But what if you "rented" about 10 acres out to different people? How many people would love to live in a "paradise" retreat for a season? They can pick and eat their own food. Get back in touch with nature. You could set up small cute cottages every 10 acres, near streams. maybe with lil herb gardens near the house. Be like camping only better! cause you dont have to bring your own food and shelter. Do they have a name for such a vacation? This way the "energy" isnt leaving the forest. Its just goin to the outhouse
 
gardener
Posts: 357
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

permieobserver Hatfield wrote:
I nearly laughed when you said we have lived 100,000 years without greed.  I fear you may be suffering an idealized European version of what life is like for primitive peoples. From http://www.rogersandall.com/what-native-peoples-deserve/:

The main point that annoyed [Mead] was the concept, unstated by me, that primitive peoples were any better off as they were. She said she was “maddened by antibiotic-ridden idealists who wouldn’t stand three weeks in the jungle” . . . and the whole “noble savage” concept almost made her foam at the mouth. “All primitive peoples,” she said, “lead miserable, unhappy, cruel lives, most of which are spent trying to kill each other.” The reason they lived in the unpleasant places they did, like the middle of the Brazilian jungle, was that nobody else would.

So no, capitalism has not existed forever, but the vicious forces of greed and competition that drive humans has, and they haven't changed, nor are they likely to anytime soon.  They've merely been beaten into submission by our "culture" (and thankfully so).

Regardless, we are in a world where capitalism is the ideology du jour, and where we actually have civilization. In order to preserve this civilization, I think it's important that we all have enough to eat, otherwise we quickly revert to our jungle ways and the killing begins. Going back to some idealized "pre-greed and capitalism" system just is not a reality, and wouldn't be until there had been a lot of war in the meantime.



All primitive peoples lead miserable, unhappy, cruel lives? Has this person read anything besides Hobbes? Seriously, this is ridiculous. Take a look at the standard of living of indigenous peoples before and after capitalism (that's assuming they haven't been wiped out like most of the Native Americans) How is going from living long, healthy, sustainable lives to working in sweatshops making cheap clothes for Americans in any way better? The ethics of Permaculture are ESSENTIAL to the practice of it. You have no idea what you're talking about. You make me foam at the mouth. Greed has been beaten into submission by our civilization? WHAT? ugh
 
pollinator
Posts: 308
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What an interesting thread. I think 'large scale' permaculture would be a better choice of words than 'industrial scale'. To me, 'Industry' implies a mechanistic, factory-like production model...an input / output machine where you attempt to maximize efficient production. The word has baggage because it is inherently at odds with a systems approach like permaculture, where the focus is more on cycling, building in diversity and resilience, and emphasizing sustainability rather than production.

While permaculture and 'industry' seem incompatible, I think the idea of 'large scale' permaculture is an important one. It will look different than what you can do in a back yard. Whether something looks like monoculture or polyculture depends on the scale of analysis, or how you have the 'Zoom' set. The real test of the limits of scale is whether the system functions ecologically...whether it patterns itself / recognizes itself as a diverse and functional ecosystem. I am certain that the maximum scale at which you can pattern a farm while attaining the ecosystem benefits of permaculture will be variable depending on local biology, geology, and climate. I suspect larger scale permaculture would be more viable in temperate zones than in the tropics, for example.

I would like to farm in a pattern that allows efficient work, while still gaining the advantages of polyculture...I hope that this is an achievable goal, and I think the farm will tell me if I am approaching it, or not...

 
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joshua Msika wrote:This is what I like doing; building castles in the air... I am simply not a practical person but I love having ideas and evaluating their feasibility.

I am reading through Bill Mollison's "Permaculture for Millionaires" available as chapter XV in this document: http://www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org/PDC_ALL.pdf

Chapter XIII "The Permaculture Community" is extremely useful as well. this is one of the best doccuments ive seen well done Joshua!Q

The main work in permaculture is firstly design and then harvest. Of those two, harvesting is the real issue.

Yields are limited firstly by the biomass being synthesised, as Brenda mentioned. They are then limited by the amount of people harvesting (assuming low availability of fossil fuels).

What one must do, according to Mollison, is figure out as many possible, non-conflicting ways of making a living off the same piece of land.

In the Eastern forest region those ways of making a living would include, in no particular order except the order in which they come to mind:
- raising animals
- raising fish
- on-site restaurants
- honey production
- maple syrup and similar products
- wooden handicrafts
- basketry
- tanning hides
- spinning wool
- making other fabrics from plants or animals
- being a tailor
- being a cooper
- plant nursery
- research institute
- managing herds of semi-wild deer and other animals for meat and hides
- vegetable production
- flour production from acorns or chestnuts (I think blight resistance will spread through the genome and chestnuts will eventually make a comeback, they're just going through a "black death". Plagues are natural. But that's beside the point)
- nut oils
- biofuels (mainly for lighting but maybe also for machinery but I'm not sure if machinery has a place in this system)
- methane production
- making pipes and other conduits from elderberry stems or other hollow stems
- blacksmithing with recycled metals (many different tools to make, many livings to be made)
- charcoal production
- medical services
- educators
- stonemasons
- carpenters
- potters

It goes on. Some of these jobs will not allow a person (or family) to make a complete living, some will require more than one person. Some will remove organic matter from the property, some will trap it from outside (think restaurants... ), some will circulate it inside the property. Circulation is what we as permaculturists are going for but any exports from the property will actually just be entering larger cycles in the economy.

One could guide the creation of such a system by simply inviting one person after another to come make a living off a part of the natural systems available on a piece of land. To work, it needs to appeal to people's self-interest. I am not a believer in the practicality of communism and nor is Bill Mollison. This means that a bee-keeper would be keeping bees because he wants to harvest honey or beeswax or beestings or whatever, not because he wants to pollinate other people's plants.

What the designer(s) need(s) to do is set up a legal and regulatory framework to make sure things stay on track. This is probably the most important thing that needs to be done. People living on the property will identify niches that are available much better than a designer who walks around the place once or twice.

Anyway, enough said, what do you think?

 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In recent years PC seems to have embraced rotational grazing as promoted by Allen savory etc !!!
with enough fodder trees you can easily have a PC feedlot ,Then you could shake up the industrial ag sector
The money men have a problem with the 20 year time lag but with stacked yields i cant see a problem
 
Posts: 15
Location: Tuffnell, SK. Zone 3B
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a farm hand in Canada's grain belt, I think about this issue a lot. A lot of the land around that's farmed for grain is naturally large meadows of grass in between stands of trees. Replicating this instead of blanketing everything as forest seems to be the way nature has sorted itself out to work the best here . I think an edible and diverse shelterbelt system with large areas in between with a mix of a groundcover and a layered series of grass-ish crops could do very well, in a mimic of the way meadows naturally occur. Clover/vetch spring wheat quinoa sunflowers? I haven't done a ton of research into specific combonations, but you get the idea. Initial weeding and clean-up with animals to control weeds and spread nutrients around would be effective and low energy and once the groundcover was established well I don't think a lot of intense weeding would be nessecary. Just a browse-off by sheep at the right time to control competition? I think this could be done on a large scale, especially with a wooded, multi functional pasture grazing system in between weed control and clean up for the animals, and pigs in a summer fallow rooting set-up for switching crops.
Lots of people have been talking about mechanization as a negative and harvesting as a problem. I understand that using crazy machines to destroy the natural cycle of the ecosystem and then using more machines to artificially replace what you've destroyed is silly, but so is harvesting wheat with a scythe. Did it this fall. IT SUCKS. Extremely high energy input for what you get. I understand that combine harvesters are also a high energy input machine due to dependance on fossil fuels and also designed obsolescence with parts creates a lot of work fixing them, but it is nice harvesting the same amount with a straight cut header in under two minutes holding a rye and coke than you did all day by hand. What I'm wondering, is if you could reduce energy input (better build parts, wood gas engine, etc.), if a combine harvester might make large scale food prairie harvest possible. You can set a combine to run with all the screens set to wide open, and take in all the seed at the same time, and then screen it out after the fact into seperate products for consumption or reseeding or whatever. This would be reasonable around where I'm at because all the grain crops that are grown here ripen at nearly the same time. In a different climate with different crops I don't know how that'd go.
I was also thinking that perhaps one could use nature as a guide in dealing with the compaction issue. I don't know how much one pass a year with a machine would compact the soil. If a combine with a 30' to 36' straight cut header (no swather running ahead beforehand) compacted a small comparative area compared to the harvest, could one use that area to grow crops that are suited to that level of compaction? Anywhere here I see compacted soil, I see thistles going crazy. What if we looked at the compaction as a positive, and used it to plant even just a straight animal forage guild that would be turned into meat by the clean-up animals? This is assuming that the compaction would be contained to one small combine route per meadow and not degrade all the soil throughtout before a pig-powered soil aireation.
I realize that this doesn't change the transporting fuel costs, etc. and present a whole picture of a sustainable large scale food system, but as some body who is involved in the large scale farming end of things thought I'd add my two cents after reading through the thread.
Cheers.
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
welcome aboard Ian!
we love to talk about edge here i bet you have lots of edge you could play with eeye!
 
pollinator
Posts: 301
17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just found this thread and did not read everything.

I have some things close to my heart that need saying.

WE NEED HUGE PERMACULTURE ACERAGES TO DO WHAT IS NEEDED AT THIS TIME.

1) my project Terra Lingua Farms LLC in Eastern Oregon, which involves planting trees (bore well trees, nitrogen fixing trees, insectary trees, fruit and nut trees), medicinal herbs, grasses, legumes and vegetables, we will significantly increase carbon to the soil and thereby reverse desertification and drought and climate change.

we have the goal of the farmers involved earning more money than most farmers now do. this is easy to do. as bucky fuller says “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”


2) to increase rainfall in a local area, it requires 20 acres.

3) for the project to reverse desertification and drought, it requires having a significant amount of acerage involved, 100,000 is not necessary but highly desirable.

4) this could happen by either large "industrial" applications or a lot of small farmers doing the project.

a) one vision i have for urban farming which speaks to things people have brought up in this thread is to have belts around the city where farms grow. this would be good for air quality, waste disposal and many other things. in my perfect design i would "clean out structures" so that these farm belts would not just be on the outside of whatever the current city size is. they would be interspersed throughout the city.

b)another person in the thread said that we will not go back to earning our livings on farms so we will always need large scale agriculture. this is definitely the current thinking.

to that end i am using equipment on my current project. fortunately the farm where i am working has all the equipment i need.

for myself i feel more connected to the land the less equipment i use.



5) there is a lot of evidence from Cuba, UN studies and others that show that small ecological farms actually provide greater yields than large acerage. One reason for the bad press of these small farms is that they grow many things on each acre and all the stats are recorded for monocroping. Where there are many crops, they do not get recorded as only 1 crop gets recorded per acre.

the person who talked about the harvesters being happy botany trained folks speaks to me. I would be happy wandering through the flowers, herbs, trees harvesting the 20 - 30 species we will grow, where i would be bored harvesting only 1 or 2 crops.

what would we would need to have people caring about the harvest, their jobs, etc. with this kind of caring we could get the yields and involvement of these studies where the small farms provide more yields.

6) one thing several people brought up is the closed loop, the idea that we cannot take off from the land without returning. when i first heard of this i rose up on my hind legs. what poppycock. it reminded me of the 2nd law of thermodynamics involving all systems going downhill. i fought that one too. living systems are increasing not going downhill. it did not make sense to me. nature is so abundant. then when i read elaine ingham, that the microbes can make a whole earth size of material in one day, i said yes. that is it. the earth is a closed loop, our individual farms are not.

to this end we can turn wastelands into productive lands with microbes increasing the carbon in the soil again helping reduce climate change, desertification and drought. what everyone has told me for years is you cannot put microbes on the soil without something for them to eat. i never listened and got great results from adding microbes to any soil sand, clay, whatever with good plant production the same year in horrible subsoils, etc. elaine ingham gave me the answer. the microbes eat dirt and turn it into rich earth. that is teir job. you can help them by giving them some fine rock dust or some other organic matter to eat, but they can just eat dirt. this makes massive permacuture.

we can use wastelands to grow all our fuel while reversing desertification, increasing carbon in those soils, stopping drought, stopping climate change and living in a garden of eden.

i would love to consult on this "industrial" project.
 
charlotte anthony
pollinator
Posts: 301
17
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
there is no time lag if you bring in enough microbes the first year. we will demonstrate this at our farm. the only time lag is how long it takes to get trees to grow and meanwhile we will have vegetables and herbs which will make good money.
 
The world's cheapest jedi mind trick: "Aw c'mon, why not read this tiny ad?"
Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!