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Collaborating towards prosperity in forest gardening

 
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Hey fellow forest gardeners 👋

When I was working on teams in the software, fast-food, and construction industries, I had a lot of opportunity to grow with my colleagues. We worked on tasks and projects together, I saw how other people did things, I got feedback from managers and review from peers... There was a lot of exchanging of perspectives, practices, and ideas. We had shared objectives and overlapping responsibilities, and one of our responsibilities was to help each other.

I am new to the farming industry, and I am struggling to find this kind of support and collaboration in agriculture. I have made posts on reddit, various forums, and facebook, and I have started groups on discord and facebook... however the conversations and collaboration is minimal and infrequent.

It's my understanding that agriculture is not the only discipline that suffers from this difficulty. My partner is a sole-proprietor in a different field, and she also struggles to find the collaboration and feedback she needs to accelerate in her growth.

Is anyone else here needing/wanting frequent and in-depth collaboration and feedback amongst peers in forest gardening?

I'm curious what tends to get in our way, and what we can do to collaborate and grow more effectively together.
 
pollinator
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I've been here almost a month now and its a fairly helpful place,  I am like you in that I'm prosocial and like talking to others about what I'm doing and what they're doing and how we can all get better at what we're doing.  Hopefully you can find some folks, locally if necessary, who can connect and build a loose group of people all working toward similar goals, I'd also suggest posting in the regional section for your local area.
 
steward
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Josh said, " I am struggling to find this kind of support and collaboration in agriculture.



If I were looking for that kind of support I would look right here on the forum.

Ask lots of questions because the folks here love to help.

Next, I would look at my local feed and seed stores.

Usually early in the morning, the locals gather at my local feed store for coffee and a lively discussion of whatever.

My suggestion would be to sit down and get to know these folks.
 
master gardener
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Welcome to Permies

I would suggest to use the search function on topics that interest you. If you can't find information or perhaps need clarification, please make a post! I am always impressed the breadth of different persons who respond with insight on even the most niche questions. There is a wealth of knowledge on this forum by the people that frequent it.

I hope to see you in the threads
 
master steward
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Hi Josh,
Do you think the issue is one of working alone? I don't find it a problem in my growing plants projects, but I'm not trying to make a living at it. It is something I have missed however in my little convenience store. We manage by making it up and initially by reading the trade magazines, but as soon as you try and go online for advice you end up with people with vested interests trying to sell you something....I suspect that most people are just so busy with their own projects that they don't have the energy (mental or physical) to help other people. We can do a certain extent here to share ideas, but it isn't the same as having a group locally working together on similar issues.
 
pollinator
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Collaboration would be great but I think it can and will be hard to find it in these areas because it seems like we all have both different goals and often wildly different circumstances.

While there are lots of us working on forest gardening, and are using many of the same permaculture principles, what we are trying to achieve is generally very personal. Add into that, the variations in climates and how each plot of land will have drastically different challenges and it gets hard to really "work together".

I am very lucky and have some long-term friends that are also into food gardening, who live close and have very similar goals and interests to myself. Even with them, we are still making significantly different choices about how we are building our gardens. At least we are close enough in direction and climate to be able to share lots of plants and advice so I do get a good bit of collaboration but I acknowledge how rare and lucky that is!
 
Josh Terrell
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Thank you for the perspectives y'all have shared. Also if any of y'all are celebrating holidays this season, happy holidays!

I definitely appreciate having the wealth of knowledge available on the internet. I am regularly immersing myself in books, videos, and posts/articles about various topics within regenerative ag. However I think Nancy's question really got to the heart of what I feel I'm missing--I'm working alone.

I can read, learn, and practice from what others have shared in many mediums, but I feel I'm still missing the kind of feedback and learning that occurs when observing and responding to peers/colleagues. This problem is not unique to ag. It seems it's quite often that sole-proprietors are making similar businesses across the world but the peers aren't connected in a way that helps them comfortably learn from and with each other.

Nancy Reading wrote:...I suspect that most people are just so busy with their own projects that they don't have the energy (mental or physical) to help other people. We can do a certain extent here to share ideas, but it isn't the same as having a group locally working together on similar issues.



Dian Green wrote:Collaboration would be great but I think it can and will be hard to find it in these areas because it seems like we all have both different goals and often wildly different circumstances.



Anne Miller wrote:If I were looking for that kind of support I would look right here on the forum.

Ask lots of questions because the folks here love to help.



I haven't found an online way of connecting that seems to really meet what I'm looking for. I think I'm looking for something like a small peer support group of fellow food-forest gardeners who are frequently discussing how to improve their forest gardens. Though not as in-depth and mutually engaged as a support group, forums may be the best tool we currently have online.

Y'all have been very supportive and welcoming with my first couple posts already. I'm going to try sharing and asking a bit more with this community. This sort of feedback and back-and-forth is extremely helpful and appreciated. Thank you!
 
Dian Green
pollinator
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Josh, if this is something you really want, and you have some experience with online collaboration, you could try and start something yourself.

While I don't have a paid zoom account, a friend does and she has been running an open zoom night for several years now that I drop in on most weeks. ( not about gardening)

You could pick a night, every week or second week, ( I suggest no less frequent since you want it to not be forgotten too easily) and post here with a link and let people drop in a chat for an hour or 2. You could do part of each session to be about specific topics or goals, if it needs more direction, but you don't want to limit things too much, at least to start.
Keep it simple for those with less tech to drop in, ( why I suggest zoom and encourage a brief FAQ of how to get in to be pasted in each post) and you might be able to create the sort of group it sounds like you want.

It may not get a ton of traction and doing it right will take work on your end. You will have to be prepared to provide some direction and moderation if some participants don't behave well. I would recommend putting hard limits on allowing political/religious topics and of course, racial/sexual harassment should trigger immediate booting. Basically the same levels that Paul has set for these forums should be a good baseline.

Now is not a bad time of the year to try starting. Otherwise, late fall would good since it's a slower period for most of us. With luck, you can get a range of people who may not make every session, but will come in when they can manage it!
 
Anne Miller
steward
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Josh Terrell wrote: I think I'm looking for something like a small peer support group of fellow food-forest gardeners who are frequently discussing how to improve their forest gardens. Though not as in-depth and mutually engaged as a support group, forums may be the best tool we currently have online.



I found the Permies forum back in 2016,  I found my support group here.

I found that if a person asks enough questions they will find that they have a support group right here at Permies.
 
Josh Terrell
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Hey Dian, thanks for the encouragement! And also point well-taken about how this may be a good time of year for it. I have never facilitated a group like this, but have been a part of one and can imagine learning how to facilitate one. I will chew on this idea some more 🤔

As Anne and at least one other has suggested, Permies is a community, a large group. Maybe my concept of getting support from peers in a support group is a bit too narrow/rigid. These forums seem to have worked for others, and there's lots of discussion and support going back years here. I hope to work closely with some peers, but maybe that's something that develops over time, and I can start more loosely in this Permies forum.

Thank you also Anne for sharing. I'm going to make a post about my ag endeavors... I've been talking about talking about ag 😅
 
pollinator
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While it could be that you feel you’re missing working side by side with others, in a way you sound like me or at least that’s the feeling I’m getting. Yes this is a lot of nice people and a lot of good advice. I would be much happier actually speaking with someone on a call or something at least sometimes. It would make it more personal.

Me and my neighbor compare notes and such but he’s more traditional with his farming although he has certainly come around to organic in his garden. Making compost, log dams, etc a few things I’ve rubbed off but I can get zero advice from them or anyone else in my direct life for whole organic farm or premie style ideas.

So yeah the forum does fulfill a lot of questions and answers it’s just not personal connection that I feel would top it off. There have definitely been a few people I’ve seen post throughout the years I specifically would have loved to talked to.

My thoughts are kinda jumbled up a bit there sorry
 
Josh Terrell
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Hey Joe, thanks for relating! What you wrote reminded me that I may not find all the collaboration I want on a forum. However after these replies in my last two posts, including your reply, I feel there's a lot more support available here than I thought.

I can somewhat relate with the desire for calls--I think that can make things much more personal and alive, and increase communication in ways that are difficult through text alone. However some of the stuff I'm wanting I feel can be done through text/images (online) too.

For example, after reading your post I remembered one of the things I was hoping to discover: I'd love to see like weekly or bi-weekly updates from as many different forest gardeners as I can observe. I'd love to see pictures, and hear what challenges and successes they've had most recently, as well as how their plans evolved this week. That sort of frequent, "evolving together" (amongst peers) collaboration I think would make a world of difference to my success (and I suspect others' as well).

I relate with your difficulty with local farmers too. The farmers local farmers I talk with are very open, thoughtful, and supportive. But they are doing more traditional min-till gardening, and my forest-gardening lens is quite unrelatable to them.

It seems forest gardening is quite rare outside of australia/brazil/parts of africa. I think that's why I'm hoping to find others to collaborate with online, we're just too sparsely and distantly located to find colleagues we can relate more significantly to in person, I think.

Thank you for your thoughts and relating! This helped me re-hone in on a few of the things I'm needing. Speaking of a more personal connection, I would be down to hear more of what you have going on currently and where you're headed, either online or through a call!
 
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