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Edible Food Forests... Only for the rich?

 
Katrin Kerns
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I keep trying to research edible food forests in the hopes of some day being able to implement one when I manage to get my own property. But I keep running into the situation where my research is getting held up due to the pricing of books and information. I live on a fixed income at the moment and unless I manage to find a way to increase what money comes into my household, I will never be able to afford the books let alone the property and resources in which to do this sort of thing. Everywhere I go and everything I look at is just too expensive for me to actually shell out the money for without putting me at risk of going into debt.

If everyone behind this movement really wanted to get this information out there to the masses wouldn't it be better to make it more affordable to the common person? Don't get me wrong, I do understand that the folks putting this information out there also need to be able to make a living. I just don't think that making it out of reach of the common populace is the best way to spread the word and ideas. During my attempts at research I keep running into books in the $50 to $80 range, really... really? Is it really that imperative that these books make as much money as possible? If so, why not at least have a few books on the basics behind the food forest idea and sustainability in general to make it more accessible to the public instead of reinforcing the idea that only the rich can afford to live and eat well.
 
Todd Hoff
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There are quite a lot of free videos on youtube that are excellent resources.
 
Ben Plummer
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Libraries are great!
 
dj niels
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Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Katrin, I understand your concerns. I also am on a fixed income. I have managed to collect a few books over the years, mostly as gifts from family members, and my nearby libraries have a couple more I have been able to read. So I keep reading and rereading the ones I have access to. I would love to have access to more and wish they didn't cost so much.

I have been watching a lot of the videos on youtube, and there are many good ones. geoff lawton has a lot of good ones, and Paul has put out a lot also. There are also some free or low cost things, like the ipermies.com ebook that someone referred to on this forum somewhere. (Sorry, I don't know how to do a link.) I downloaded a free sample that has a lot of info. He is mostly emphasizing urban permaculture, but talks a lot about principles and ideas to design a lifestyle that is based on permacultural ideas. That site also has a link to some pamphlets by Bill Mollison, from a permaculture design class in 1981, that I was able to download for free. And there is a college class in NC (I think) that is available online if you can find it.

There is also some good basic info on permaculture in general, and some on food forests, at the survivalpodcast.com by Jack Spirko.

Even if you don't have any land yet, Geoff Lawton's latest (free) videos give great tips on what to look for, and the ipermies ebook has a lot about how to look at your life now and analyze what you can do now, and what changes you might want to make, etc. It has got me really thinking about my life and what I need or want to do.

I know there are places around, more and more all the time, that put out videos or lists of plants for their region. Or get lists of plants from the local county extension office. There may be places near you that you could visit, even. Or just start looking at what useful and edible types of trees, shrubs, ground covers, etc, you see as you travel about your area. Even if they aren't laid out like a food forest, if you find, for example, an apple tree in one yard, cherry trees in another, grapes, raspberries, currants, strawberries, violets, and dandelions, in different places, that is a place to start. Even a small patch with 1 or 2 trees, a few shrubs, and some ground covers or herbal layer makes a food forest, and can often be done in even a tiny space, if there is any yard at all, or even using dwarf plants in a large container that you could take with you if you move.

Even a large container with a dwarf lemon tree, and some herbs you use frequently, like parsley or chives, maybe a rosemary plant or some thyme, etc, that could sit by a sunny window or next to the back door, or on a patio, could give you a small bit less dependence on the food systems now in place, while you learn more about what you want to do later.
 
R Scott
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Many of the books I want are no longer in print and highly sought after so the prices are INSANE.

I wish more of them would appear on kindle or other digital media for a fair price. It isn't like the author is getting anything on the resale market.
 
Ben Plummer
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Dave Jacke
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Katrina, I hear you too. This is a tough issue.

For my part, I was pretty upset at my publisher for pricing my books so high. FYI, authors usually have zero control over title, cover, or price. This is why I have always sold my books at a 27% discount--$20 each off the cover price--at my website. But at that price I have to charge for shipping because my margin is so low. And at that price I am still higher than Amazon. Even I, the author, with an author's discount, cannot compete with Amazon on price.

FYI, when someone buys a copy of one of my books on Amazon, the royalties that Eric T. and I get--that we split-- are only a few $ per book. We spent 8 years writing the books, I destroyed all my savings in the process and got myself deep into credit card debt to write these things, and I am finally in the black on the project this year, 7+ years after publication. I am pretty sure I am the last one to get in the black on the project in financial terms. Believe me, I am not making a killing on this myself. I do better selling direct to people, but it costs you more to buy from me than from the behemoths of the world.

Why are book prices so high?

Amazon has so much market power that they sway the whole book industry. Every book has to be on Amazon: if you aren't on Amazon, your book may as well not exist. Amazon forces publishers to give very steep discounts. So publishers, in order to stay alive and make a profit while selling to Amazon, raised prices. This made prices at independent bookstores go up, and made Amazon's prices actually reasonable, which pushed consumers to Amazon even more. Did you notice that book prices went up when Amazon came on the market? I did. And independent bookstores went out of business very fast after that, giving Amazon even more market share. And the deals Amazon makes with publishers for kindle books are even worse for authors, from what I understand from the Author's Guild, of which I am a member. Its a pretty cutthroat industry, IMHO. And yet, very few of my books would sell without Amazon. Go figure.

So that may explain some of why things are what they are.

As for what you can do about it--besides what's already suggested--get your library to buy the books you want. Get your friends and neighbors to agitate for the same. Cooperate with friends and neighbors to buy books together. Support one person from your locale to go take a course, and have them come back and teach you all. Get creative. Stay determined and don't get discouraged. Together we are stronger.

I do my best to help people out in such situations. Your post will get me thinking about other ways, too.

Peace,

d
 
Renate Howard
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You can read some out-of-print books on www.journeytoforever.org;

There is also http://www.soilandhealth.org/ which has a lot of free books online about ecology, sustainable agriculture, health, etc.

If you want experience you can try wwoof or one of those organizations to volunteer and learn on a farm. You can even go to a lot of conferences if you go as a volunteer to work during some of the workshops.
 
Jen Shrock
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Outside of the book issue, when you get to the plant/seed thing, you might want to consider websites in which you can trade with people for these things. People will sometimes even "trade" for a self addressed stamp envelope and send you things (within reason). You just have to be patient and polite.
 
Deborha d'Arms
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Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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FREE AND INEXPENSIVE FOREST GARDEN RESOURCES;
i run ForestGardening.net --a huge resource database in support of creation of Global food forests to create community, educate, help with trouble shooting, networking and inspiration. i have written 2 forest Garden books; Jardin'd'Or; a treatise on forest Gardening, and a FREE Forest Garden Intro Ebook you can download at my site for a subscription--which contains tons of practical information. My book Jardin d'Or; is $23.00 and
has all you need to know including an extensive plant list. http://www.forestgardening.net/jardin-dor-a-treatise-on-forest-gardening/

Also my website http://www.forestgardening.net/ is chock full of info, you tubes, plant videos and more, for learning.
My FREE Ebook is available on the home page and videos page, and the sidebar for free down load.

i also too have a Community Forest Garden forum for all sharing, blogging and trouble shooting; http://www.forestgardening.net/forum/index.php
[color=blue]

Check it out, and please share this info so we can all learn and evolve this amazing method of creating our own Gardens of Eden faster~~~

Blessings,
Deborha d'Arms
 
Katrin Kerns
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Dave Jacke wrote:Katrina, I hear you too. This is a tough issue.

As for what you can do about it--besides what's already suggested--get your library to buy the books you want. Get your friends and neighbors to agitate for the same. Cooperate with friends and neighbors to buy books together. Support one person from your locale to go take a course, and have them come back and teach you all. Get creative. Stay determined and don't get discouraged. Together we are stronger.

I do my best to help people out in such situations. Your post will get me thinking about other ways, too.

Peace,

d


Thank you Dave. I don't really blame the authors even though it may sound like it, I just hate the way that big business keeps trying to make the rich richer while making the poor poorer. It seems like every time I get a head just a little bit someone comes along and knocks my feet out from under me. I want to learn so much but everything in life seems to cost so much more than I can afford. My husband and I are barely hanging on just below the poverty line and with me not being able to get a standard job, it just seems so hopeless sometimes. We want to live a more self sufficient sustainable life but it seems like the only ones who can do that these days are the rich.

My best friend is diabetic and can't even afford to get any medication for it because his job gives him less than 40 hours a week just so they don't have to pay for medical benefits. He's losing his eyesight because of it but there is nothing he can do about it. The one time he mentioned it to his supervisor she suggested that he take an unpaid medical leave (which he couldn't afford even if he wanted to) while he tried to figure out what to do about it. But the last person who took an unpaid medical leave was let go while he was gone with only the most flimsy of excuses. Now he feels like they are looking for a reason to let him go too because he has medical issues and they don't want to deal with it.

I have been walking on a daily basis of late and trying to figure out what the plants are in my local area, there are plenty of dandelions around but they are so close to the roads that I worry about toxicity due to pollution as well as pesticides. I don't really know what the grounds maintenance people spray or don't spray in the local park and I'm kind of nervous about wild foraging without knowing what I'm doing. I am doing my best to learn as much as I can but it's still discouraging because I don't have a very good internet connection or personal transportation. I stopped riding the bus except when absolutely necessary due to a sex offender that got verbally aggressive with me when I caught him superstitiously photographing women on the rout that I used to ride. (And before anyone asks how I knew he was a registered sex offender, I was told so by the officer I talked to about the incident. Sadly the officer also told me that they couldn't do anything about it unless he actually tried to assault me.)

 
Katrin Kerns
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I just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone who has responded to this thread. Sometimes it's hard not to get discouraged by life. All of your positive responses and links to information as well as your suggestions really did help to show that people do actually still care about each other and making the world a better place. Again, thank you all so much, I am taking your advice to heart.

Kat
 
Andi Houston
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Location: Gainesville, FL
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I am really, really surprised that only one person has suggested using the public library. I have read dozens of permaculture and homesteading books over the past five years for free through my public library. Any books that my library didn't have they gladly ordered for me through inter-library loan. I bring the books home, take copious notes, and bring them back. And the more we check out permaculture books from the libraries, the more permaculture books the libraries will buy. I only purchase the books that I find myself needing over and over, and that isn't very often.

Public libraries are possibly the epitome of sharing resources in America, paid for by our tax dollars and charitable donations. Use your local library and save your money for other things, like plants!
 
Brenda Groth
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It is ridiculous that people think they cannot afford the books to learn about any subject and especially not regarding forest gardening, I borrowed many of the books I've lead from lending libraries, and the books mentioned in the book thread on my winter reading list thread have all been available from the library for a very short wait to have them shipped in.

Dave Jackes books are available, that is where I read them the first time was from a lending library..I even suggest you borrow them and read them before buying them if you aren't sure. There are some on the list I have recommended buying but many are fine just borrowing and reading and taking extensive notes.
 
Julie Alberlan
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Hi, Katrin. I read your message yesterday, and it really struck a chord with me. In fact, I woke up at 5 am thinking about it, so I guess I better write a reply! I wanted to speak to the "books" issue, and then to the overall issues of money/poverty. Both issues are near and dear to my heart. I personally have spent many years in poverty, my husband and I are just now ready to sell the home we bought to fix up (with no money, lol), and stand to make enough profit to erase the debt we incurred and buy something with more land. But it's been a long haul.

First, books. I love books and will go to great lengths to get my hands on them, but I could never afford all the books I want to read. I agree with all that's been said about public libraries. I use my inter-library loans all the time for books and movies. I also make lists of book requests and give them to the librarians. They have been very obliging, but strangely, they only want to buy relatively new books. I don't mind that, as the new ones tend to be more expensive anyway. Also, see if/when the libraries near you have book SALES. I've picked up some great gardening (and other) books, not necessarily permaculture, but I wouldn't be too fixated on that, because there are so many related topics. I've found several ruth stout books (the mulch gardening lady), and Mel Bartholemew's Square Foot Gardening, among others. Some days of the library sale have $1 a bag pricing. I've also found great deals at Goodwill and used book stores. There's another online library called soilandhealth.org that's very good. Yard sales and craigslist (especially the free section) are worth checking out as well. In addition to books, you might want to see if your library would subscribe to a permaculture magazine, and also see what they do with old magazines. And I always keep an amazon wish list of books, and tell people to look at it if they need gift ideas for b-days or Christmas.

Now, some general thoughts about poverty. My husband and I used to be very poor, now we're just kind of poor. It can be depressing, sure. But you have to realize that you being depressed doesn't do anything to help. Only by raising your energy and devoting yourself to positive things can you help yourself and others. I used to be very prone to depression, but somewhere along the line I decided not to expose myself to low energies. No violent movies, no T.V. news (actually no T.V. at all on a regular basis), no dark music. It helped me a lot. And I also incorporated positive things that I like to do and spending time with people who make me happy. It helped a lot! Also, watch your thoughts. Rather than say "We're too poor to afford land, and forest gardens are only for the rich", say "Permaculture is something I am passionate about, and I'm going to take every opportunity to learn about it and practice it until I can afford land". Or here's another comparison: rather than "We're too poor to afford to do the things I want to be doing", try "Our current state of poverty is giving me the opportunity to use extreme creativity and learn the skills I'll need when I get the land I want for a permaculture paradise".

It may help you to take an inventory of what your assets, including the "intangibles", and then a list of things/skills/habits you will need to get to your goal. You didn't say much about your situation--where you are in the country, if you live in a city/town/country, an apartment, house, if you and your husband are employed, if you have kids, etc. But I can tell from your stories that you are compassionate (because of your friend with diabetes), courageous and assertive (in confronting the creepy sex offender and police officer), and resilient (because you switched from public transit to walking everywhere). These are rare traits these days, and certainly assets that you can work with. Other assets might be: a supportive husband, a curious mind, the skill of cooking, a trowel. Think very broadly about what you already have, and then think about what you'll need in the future to live your more sustainable life. Then get creative.

As you are walking around, carry a backpack with you with a trowel, notebook, pencil, scissors, etc. If you see food plants such as blackberries or apple trees that are not in season, make a note of it so that you can glean some fruit in season. Lots of people around here have apple trees that they do nothing with, just let the apples fall. You can often get permission to pick them. If you see a beautiful or fruit-bearing shrub, take a cutting (getting permission from a private homeowner, if applicable) and see if you can root it. If you know where there is a willow tree, get some willow branches, pull off the leaves and stick them in water. Willows release a powerful rooting hormone into the water that can help other plants to root. Save your plastic food containers (and get your friends to), fill with potting soil or even soil from and obliging field if you can't buy potting soil. Plant your rooted cuttings, plant your food scraps: potato sprouts, apple cores, celery and lettuce "stumps". Not everything will be a success, but some may be and you will be gaining experience. As you are walking around, find people who's gardens you like, and try to connect with them in a friendly way. Often gardeners will share plants for nothing. Actually, come to think of it, I have a ton of free veggie/flower seeds that a friend gave me who works at the dollar store. They were going to throw them out at the end of the season so he rescued them. Send me a private message with your address if you want me to send them. If you don't already have houseplants, get a spider plant baby and an aloe baby. They grow well and propagate, so you could later sell the babies for a dollar or two.

Have you networked locally with permies in your area? There is a regional board on this forum so you can connect with like-minded people in your area. Often the best "research" is done by seeing it in person and getting a chance to practice and help someone who's already doing it. You might also want to connect with "regular" gardeners through a Master Gardener program or a community garden. There's a lot of overlap between "regular" gardening and permaculture. Are there other ways you could learn useful skills by volunteering? Habitat for Humanity comes to mind. There are lots of ways to become more self-sufficient. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, spinning, cooking (including canning, fermenting, baking), carpentry, repair (auto, appliance, small engine), making soap, candles, leather, etc. Permaculture is so all-encompassing that I'm sure you can find a niche that would work well for you.

What about animals? Could you keep rabbits where you live? Rabbit waste is an excellent non-burning fertilizer for plants. You could even breed them for meat or for sale if you were so inclined. What about fish? If you could get a free or cheap fish tank on craigslist or a yard sale, even some feeder goldfish would create excellent fertilizer water for your plants. How about a worm box? I've started a worm box with just a few dozen worms (dug from the soil or a compost pile) in a large sterilite plastic container with a lid. Fill it with damp newspaper and your fruit and veggie scraps (not too many scraps until they start breeding). Another excellent fertilizer source. Ground up eggshells are also good fertilizer. You can start to create your own mini plant-animal loop even in an apartment.

Good luck! I wish you the best.

Julie
 
Katrin Kerns
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Julie Alberlan wrote:

First, books. I love books and will go to great lengths to get my hands on them, but I could never afford all the books I want to read. I agree with all that's been said about public libraries. I use my inter-library loans all the time for books and movies. I also make lists of book requests and give them to the librarians. They have been very obliging, but strangely, they only want to buy relatively new books. I don't mind that, as the new ones tend to be more expensive anyway. Also, see if/when the libraries near you have book SALES. I've picked up some great gardening (and other) books, not necessarily permaculture, but I wouldn't be too fixated on that, because there are so many related topics. I've found several Ruth Stout books (the mulch gardening lady), and Mel Bartholemew's Square Foot Gardening, among others. Some days of the library sale have $1 a bag pricing. I've also found great deals at Goodwill and used book stores. There's another online library called soilandhealth.org that's very good. Yard sales and craigslist (especially the free section) are worth checking out as well. In addition to books, you might want to see if your library would subscribe to a permaculture magazine, and also see what they do with old magazines. And I always keep an amazon wish list of books, and tell people to look at it if they need gift ideas for b-days or Christmas.


Hi Julie. First and foremost, thank you for your response to my thread. I have gotten so much useful information simply because so many nice people have reached out to respond here. I used to read a lot growing up, but sometime ago I kind of fell out of the habit when my eyes started failing me. I'm trying to pick it up again though since I've gotten my glasses, and have been collecting books when I can on the subjects that I want to learn about. I do hit places like "Half Price Books" when I get the chance. I am planning to hit my local library more often, though I had not thought about giving them a request list; cool idea that. The thrift stores and yard sales in my area do not seem to have much of anything on permaculture or even basic gardening very often, though I do manage to pick up the occasional book from them now and again. So I am actually trying to build up my library. I do get discouraged at times though when it seems the best books on the subjects that I'm interested in are out of reach.


Now, some general thoughts about poverty. My husband and I used to be very poor, now we're just kind of poor. It can be depressing, sure. But you have to realize that you being depressed doesn't do anything to help. Only by raising your energy and devoting yourself to positive things can you help yourself and others. I used to be very prone to depression, but somewhere along the line I decided not to expose myself to low energies. No violent movies, no T.V. news (actually no T.V. at all on a regular basis), no dark music. It helped me a lot. And I also incorporated positive things that I like to do and spending time with people who make me happy. It helped a lot! Also, watch your thoughts. Rather than say "We're too poor to afford land, and forest gardens are only for the rich", say "Permaculture is something I am passionate about, and I'm going to take every opportunity to learn about it and practice it until I can afford land". Or here's another comparison: rather than "We're too poor to afford to do the things I want to be doing", try "Our current state of poverty is giving me the opportunity to use extreme creativity and learn the skills I'll need when I get the land I want for a permaculture paradise".


I do realize that depression doesn't do anything to help. I have been diagnosed as clinically depressive and was on medication for it for many years. I'm no longer on the medication though because it began to make the depressive episodes much, much worse and my doctor at the time just wanted to keep increasing the dosage. Also I have not had medical insurance for the last 6 or 7 years so have not been to see a doctor in just about as much time. My husband has medical through his company, but to add me to it would cost us an extra $500 a month and we simply can't afford that. I have managed to get the depression (mostly) under control over the years that I have not been on medication buy using the exact techniques that you mention. We do not watch T.V. and haven't for more years than I've been off medical, we avoid violent movies like the plague, we just don't like them and the current trend to make them more and more violent has just turned us away from them even more. I can't remember the last time that my husband and I actually went to see a movie in the theater let alone had the money to. I'm not entirely certain what you mean by dark music, but I'm pretty sure that we don't listen to it. As far as the negative energies go, that's the hardest thing to get away from in our area. We live on the third floor of a three story apartment building. We can't really move because we can't afford it and truthfully the only reason we can actually afford to live here is because my husband works for the apartments as a maintenance man so we get a discount on our rent.

We don't qualify for any of the assistance programs because my husband makes $3.00 too much a year. They only count rent, utilities, and food as expenses and ignore anything that they consider to be unnecessary like internet connection, phone, auto or student loan debt, etc. So even though we are mostly living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck we don't qualify for any of their programs. Though I was told that if my husband lost his job, got a cut in pay, or if he and I wound up separated that they could help us, or at the very least me as a dispossessed housewife. My husband is also manic/depressive as well as suffers from Asperger's syndrome, so he's exceptionally sensitive to the negative emotions and attitudes around him on a daily basis. I do not have a regular job due to a combination of clinical depression and suspected Narcolepsy, but I do run my own shop on Etsy making and selling hand made jewelry and eclectic items to try and supplement our income a little. It hasn't been the most successful, and I've only made a little over $100. 00 since I opened my shop last year.

Oh, I say "suspected" Narcolepsy simply due to the fact that I have not had it medically tested and confirmed. Narcolepsy runs in my family and I exhibit roughly 75% of the major symptoms, but unless it's actually verified by a doctor or medical facility no one will acknowledge it. The only reason that it hasn't been actually medically confirmed is because I can't afford the sleep study that would confirm it. It runs $3,500 just to get the sleep study done. The truly ironic thing is, if I could afford to have it verified I would qualify as disabled because it disrupts my quality of living. So even though I'm technically disabled, (I can't drive a car due to the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel. I don't sleep regular hours and even when I manage to get a full 8 hours of sleep I still randomly fall asleep during the day. I don't move as fast as most folks due to a laxity of muscle that has nothing to do with my actual muscle tone... etc.) most folks just put me down as being lazy or being unwilling to try and keep up with the fast paced world we live in.

I do think it would help us enormously if we could get away from the hustle and bustle of city living and get somewhere much more positive and in tune with nature. But it does get difficult and discouraging to try when you have the kinds of issues we have. I do work very hard at trying to get past it and make our lives better, though it often feels like an uphill battle trying to push a huge boulder in front of us.

I know that for some folks our issues may seem like excuses to not try, but trust me we do try very hard to keep our hopes up and our dreams alive. But please folks, if you have never dealt with autism or mental health issues, please try not to judge us too harshly. We are doing the very best we can. Truthfully my husband didn't expect to be alive to see 30 so the fact that we are both still swinging at it in our 40's really says something about us.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Don't forget the BEST book out there is FREE, as sepp holzer calks it " the book of nature" and as he also says " it's always open".

What I mean is don't forget to learn from your natural environment. Your best clues on what to do are happening around you at all times.
 
Elsie Siderea
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Hi Kat!
Sounds like we have much in common. My best beloved and I live on a second floor apartment , and manage the building, so I can understand the yearning for space to grow something. Finally after 11 years here, a friend offered me garden space in exchange for helping with the yardwork. Wonderful to get tour hands in the dirt, and imo, a sure antidote for depression. Is there a school, church, friend relative, or
elderly neighbor wih a bit of backyard space you coyld plant some roots in?
Kudos on the walking! No better way to slow down and enjoy the sky, the plants and birds along your way..
I dont drive either, and am continually amazed what a lovely world is revealed tothose who choose the slower path.
Please feel free to pm me. Some books and possibly seeds await if you would like them
clear skies and apple pies
Carol T.
 
Katrin Kerns
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Carol Tinker wrote:Hi Kat!
Sounds like we have much in common. My best beloved and I live on a second floor apartment , and manage the building, so I can understand the yearning for space to grow something. Finally after 11 years here, a friend offered me garden space in exchange for helping with the yardwork. Wonderful to get tour hands in the dirt, and imo, a sure antidote for depression. Is there a school, church, friend relative, or
elderly neighbor wih a bit of backyard space you coyld plant some roots in?
Kudos on the walking! No better way to slow down and enjoy the sky, the plants and birds along your way..
I dont drive either, and am continually amazed what a lovely world is revealed tothose who choose the slower path.
Please feel free to pm me. Some books and possibly seeds await if you would like them
clear skies and apple pies
Carol T.


Thank you so much Carol!

I'm so amazed and blessed by the amount of wonderful people that I have met as a member of this forum! I'm always open to seed and or information exchanges. Thank you so much for the offer. Sadly as for local yard space, not so much in my area. It's all apartment complexes and condo's. The condo's have yards, but they are maintained by garden crews and sprayed with pesticides. I also found out today on my walk that the grounds crew uses roundup on the weeds in the local park... so sad since roundup has been linked pretty heavily to colony collapse disorder in honey bees. I don't know how they get away with spraying that stuff in a park where children and small pets run around everywhere. When I mentioned how bad roundup is for the environment to the grounds man he just said "Oh it's not that bad" and kind shrugged off my concern. But I'm not letting it all get me down, I will find someplace that I can get to and garden some day. I would prefer that it be close to where I live, but unless a miracle occurs there's not much possibility of us moving to a better place any time soon.

Take care,

Kat
 
Miles Flansburg
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Julie that was a great post !
Hang in there Katrin and keep talking. Permies always gives me hope and helps me when I get down.
 
C Quint
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Location: Northeast Tennessee
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I have learned more about my local plants and ecosystem from free naturalist programs at a nearby state park than any of the permaculture books I have read. I think one can get a fair bit of permaculture knowledge at no cost between local nature programs (check all nearby parks, nature clubs, etc.), online resources, and library resources.
 
Clara Florence
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A lot of whats in those books are philosophical discussions anyway. As the owner of several the majority of them are pretty light on methods. The reason being that permaculture is still a developing art and much of it depends on your local conditions. Most of the actual methods are explained in free youtube vids and forums like this anyway. What I got from my books was the mindset more than the methods. The mindset isnt a mystery either. In a short sentence, watch what nature does and emulate it.

I'm still in the trial and error stage. Some methods work well for me and others not. I just keeping working my way through things noting what works and what doesnt then adjust accordingly. I started my permaculture educational program (learning on my own) by setting up a worm bin when I lived in an apartment in the city. Its all I could do. Then I moved onto my mothers garden since she has some dirt and space. And now finally, years later I'm buying my own place. Just start where you are with what you've got and let it unfold from there.

For a philosophical read you can download Masanobu Fukuoka's book for free online. Just google it. It will set your mind to thinking and thats all you need.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Yes to public libraries!

And to seed libraries!!!

Also, look at what Ron Finley does in South-Central Los Angeles. Very tough poor neighborhood, they are transforming 1 yard at a time - all volunteer.

 
faith alkire
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hey I wanted to suggest not just using your local public library but if you have a local college see if the will let you read and maybe borrow there different gardening books. also I know in the 3 states i have lived in they had extension agencies that did classes or had local master gardening clubs. see if you can hook up with one of the master gardeners and pick there brain. the thing i have learned in gardening is that what grows best in each area is well dependent on your area. So my food forest in WV will look dramatically different then someone in NY or FL or CA (i so wish i had that climate) I also know that the local vendors at my farmers market are not scared to give you there two cents on everything from organic fertilizers to co-operative planting. You may also want to look into if there is a community garden in your area. our local university provides prorated 4x4 raised beds to low income families. you may not be able to grow all your food in the space they can let you have but I feel some is better then none. and it doesn't take a lot of money to start growing something it just takes a little to start and then you can build. also call local ag-school and ask who you need to talk to about auditing or sitting in on a class or two. creating a food forest is what our ancestors did for thousands and thousands of years all you need is to start thinking in terms of what plants work with each other. and good horticulture people know it even if they are stuck inside the row.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Thanks Dave, I have decided I no more buy from amazon.
Their way of doing is anti-permacultural.
Well Dave, I do not know if I love you or hate you!!! It was so easy!
(well, take it as a joke of course...)
Before I knew, I could buy from them... Now, really I cannot.

Then, why write a paper book and not publish one-self?
Sell PDF books and spread the word.

Permacultural writers should gather to do something, or am I dreaming?

Dave Jacke wrote:Katrina, I hear you too. This is a tough issue.

For my part, I was pretty upset at my publisher for pricing my books so high. FYI, authors usually have zero control over title, cover, or price. This is why I have always sold my books at a 27% discount--$20 each off the cover price--at my website. But at that price I have to charge for shipping because my margin is so low. And at that price I am still higher than Amazon. Even I, the author, with an author's discount, cannot compete with Amazon on price.

FYI, when someone buys a copy of one of my books on Amazon, the royalties that Eric T. and I get--that we split-- are only a few $ per book. We spent 8 years writing the books, I destroyed all my savings in the process and got myself deep into credit card debt to write these things, and I am finally in the black on the project this year, 7+ years after publication. I am pretty sure I am the last one to get in the black on the project in financial terms. Believe me, I am not making a killing on this myself. I do better selling direct to people, but it costs you more to buy from me than from the behemoths of the world.

Why are book prices so high?

Amazon has so much market power that they sway the whole book industry. Every book has to be on Amazon: if you aren't on Amazon, your book may as well not exist. Amazon forces publishers to give very steep discounts. So publishers, in order to stay alive and make a profit while selling to Amazon, raised prices. This made prices at independent bookstores go up, and made Amazon's prices actually reasonable, which pushed consumers to Amazon even more. Did you notice that book prices went up when Amazon came on the market? I did. And independent bookstores went out of business very fast after that, giving Amazon even more market share. And the deals Amazon makes with publishers for kindle books are even worse for authors, from what I understand from the Author's Guild, of which I am a member. Its a pretty cutthroat industry, IMHO. And yet, very few of my books would sell without Amazon. Go figure.

So that may explain some of why things are what they are.

As for what you can do about it--besides what's already suggested--get your library to buy the books you want. Get your friends and neighbors to agitate for the same. Cooperate with friends and neighbors to buy books together. Support one person from your locale to go take a course, and have them come back and teach you all. Get creative. Stay determined and don't get discouraged. Together we are stronger.

I do my best to help people out in such situations. Your post will get me thinking about other ways, too.

Peace,

d


Yes other ways...
- Permaculture independant publisher.
- Spend less time writing books by writing books together.
- So less loss and more time to work for money in other ways.

I have noticed I do not want to buy books just because half of the book is general and I already know it.
Why all authors want to cover all the subject just to write it their way?
- I am in favor of CO-WRITING.
If all who, like me, are working in the same subtropical dry climate would gather to write about what they ACTUALLY do, in real, then a book would come out, a gathering of our experience for the next who will do it.
I do not mind if I do not earn much or even nothing for making the job easier for the next ones.

Actually, as I know it from another field, the best reward for writing books is to be known as an author and sell courses or products or whatever: this is considered as advertising investment. That is also why publishers have taken the bad habit of not paying the authors well! They know (and know why) the author will accept the deal...

- And I am in favor of writing SHORT books, very short.
Very precise, very specific topic.

eg: instead of a big "food forest", more or less one for each very specific climate.
If you live in Scotland, you do not bother about what interest me in the Canary.
You want to know about hazelnuts and I want to know about almonds.

Yes I can grow avocados, but I am not interested in a book that teaches me about mangoustan and other litchis and other rain-forest trees!
I want berries from trees that can grow in a dry land.

- Very short books and very SPECIFIC.
Write 5 books instead of 1 if necessary.
And pdf book.
Each can print what he really needs.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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And yet, very few of my books would sell without Amazon. Go figure.


Because we are ignorant...
Thanks for telling.

I would pay an author for his work, but I do not want to support amazon, nor either publishers and all the paper industry. There are too many books (co-write more! and more than 2!). Only a virtual book can be modified without printing another edition. Well, some authors sell directly their pdf books, but when you know what is earned by an author for a paper book, then I think they could be sold at lower prices.

Katrin, it takes time, but I gather a lot from internet and I copy and paste and make my own doc.
 
steve temp
Posts: 39
Location: Costa Rica 100 meters above sea level, Tropical dry forest
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I have thought a lot about the separation of the haves, have land, equipment and money for improvements. The have nots, who have the knowledge, time and desire to learn and make the world a better place. Somehow the two need to come together to make a difference. Many land owners realize the value of perm principles on their land and might gladly offer up a place to prove your skills. Most owners probably do not,. But if convinced of the possible future value of projects they may well let you have your way. I have 2 neighbors with much land all of which is not managed at all. They would gladly like to have some progress made, as I'm sure so many others would.
I have long thought that to take this public on the stock market. Buy scrub land and permie it up with some managers and maybe volunteers, or profit sharing? Seems it could work to get some large money invested into land projects to get the ball rolling more. I think many investors would be glad to invest in land for this use. To make it financially sustainable would be a challenge. Would take some exceptional planning. The world could be your limit for an entrepreneur with no money.
 
Brenda Groth
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I also suggest that you type in some key words to google and try to see if downloads are available..some of them might not be legal downloads so you gotta be careful when you are searching..but I have found downloads of a lot of books and pamphlets by typing in things like...

edible forest downloads

forest garden downloads

etc..just take your key words and add the word downloads to it..and see what you come up with..i have a nice library of books that way..also as I said before librararies are great
 
S Bengi
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Each fruit tree that I have bought cost around $25 so the cost of books/knowledge is the least of your cost. How are you going to afford 2-3 acres of land or even trees if you cant afford the 10 or so books that you "might" need. Like others have said you can get these book at the library, some older "version" are in public domain and legally available online, something they are even free on amazon.com. You can probably read it on http://www.scribd.com/ too.
 
Diego Footer
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Jordan Lowery wrote:Don't forget the BEST book out there is FREE, as sepp holzer calks it " the book of nature" and as he also says " it's always open".

What I mean is don't forget to learn from your natural environment. Your best clues on what to do are happening around you at all times.


I agree x10.


I think part of the problem here is that people get obsessed with books and research. We just recorded a podcast talking about this exact issue.

Let's fast forward to the point where you have land. "I" think the key is to just go out there and get started. Don't obsess on researching every tree because you will never find the perfect one. You don't really need any literature out there to find out what to plant.

Talk to your neighbors, walk around your neighborhood and look around. Find trees that you like the look of - the foliage, the size, the flowers, the growth pattern.

Make a list of those trees.
List out the functions of each of those trees.
Select trees for your food forest and property from that list.

Then plant fruit trees based on what fruit you like to eat. For the most part if a nursery sells a tree in your area, then it will grow in your area.

Again, don't obsess on the design and each tree being perfect. You can always make changes later. They key is to actually just do it. Trees for the most part are cheap, so this isn't a rich man's game. Anyone can play and we need more food forests out there.
 
John Saltveit
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Middle class people who can afford a house and a yard can afford an edible food forest. You probably will need to learn how to graft. If you buy one quince tree, every time you prune it, plant the prunings and they become trees. Also hawthorn comes to my yard for free. Graft a pear onto it. Some apple rootstocks make suckers. I call them free rootstock. If you participate in a scion exchange, you can contribute and share scions with others in the club. Mine is the Home Orchard Society. Rootstock is amazingly cheap. Learn about edible weeds and plants that will self sow. I have numerous vegies and herbs that I don't plant but that I eat every year. I am a substitute teacher = lower middle class and I have an edible food forest.
John S
PDX OR
 
Dale Hodgins
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I seldom use the books that I have. It would take a thousand years to get through all of the great stuff that is freely available to everyone who has figured out how to do a Google search.
 
Dave Burton
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No kidding Dale! But if anyone needs any help finding any free books or videos, you can purple moosage me, and we can see what I can find online.
 
John Saltveit
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There are also these places I want people to know about. They're call co-housing units. There are some here in Portland where you can either rent or buy and you share land for a food forest, vegie garden, play area for kids, etc. It's a group effort. Really makes sense if you can't afford the land.
John S
PDX OR
 
Ken Peavey
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I've got several book. I've read them, reread them, can probably recite from them.
You've got books.
The guy in the next town has books.
Putting hem on the shelf when you are done does little more than serve as a tool for gathering dust.

Seems there is a simple solution: SWAP BOOKS.

If you go to some event, be it a class, farmers market, seed swap, pick up a CSA box, a seminar, tour a farm, attending a meetup, or sharing a cup of coffee with an acquaintance, take some of those tired old books with you. Keep a couple in your car.
Spread the word if you are hosting an event, that the event will include a book swap.
Walk in with a dozen books, walk out with a dozen books. Books you've not read before.
When you are done with them, swap em for something else.



 
Michael Cox
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I'll chip in here.

Someone mentioned earlier that they had books but that they were a bit light on technical details and seemed more about permaculture philosophy. That pretty much matches my experience of glossy permaculture texts. Pretty pictures, inspirational messages but thin technical content for someone who wants to actually get out there and do it themselves.

I've got FAR more practical information from these forums and from YouTube than I have from any other sources. The possible exception is the Permaculture Designers Manual which I read cover to cover - it is the best text I have found for getting you to "see" the project with the right frame of mind.

As for why the books seem light on technical content - I guess that the skills needed are not really permaculture skills. Say you are planting a food forest... You need to select tree varieties for your climate, you need to know how to train and prune them appropriately, you need to consider water for them, you might look at nitrogen fixing species around them, other yielding species etc...

But when you break the skills down, to learn about planting and caring for fruit trees you don't need a permaculture text, you need a YouTube video from an apple grower. You can spend £20 per grafted tree, or you can buy a pack of anatovka seeds and plant 200 trees for £2.00.

When you decide you want red currant bushes, you don't need a permaculture text on berry bushes - you again need a you tube video on how to propagate from cuttings. I can buy 3 bushes for £10 at the garden centre or I can take a walk with secateurs in autumn and fill a carrier bag with stems from neighbours plants (or if I'm feeling cheeky from the huge commercial plantation a few miles away). An afternoon can easily yield 100+ new bushes from cuttings.

I guess what I'm saying is that you can spend lots of money on expensive plants and expensive books but you don't need to at all.
 
Dave Burton
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I think that was an eloquent way of phrasing it all Michael! Also, I that is also another reason to get our hands dirty as soon as we possibly can.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Jennifer Kremp
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Hi Katrin,
I just love the wealth of info on this thread. I also know how hard it can be to handle significant disability (in my case a daughter). And books! Books! I love them, but what others have said about the internet is true -- the best info I've found has been from doing lots and lots of searches. You get a tiny grain of good useful info from each one. And for what it's worth, having spent around $400 on books, I still haven't found any that provide a really great and thorough 'how to' for food forest production near me. Even a book is only useful for that tiny grain of info it might have that's different to other sources and that adds to the knowlege bank incrementally... But mote by mote you get your mind around the whole. And then suddenly, it all makes sense, and you can dive in. (No, I'm not there yet...)

Basically I'm saying, spend your time building up the knowledge bank in small bits, experiment in small bits, and make yourself ready for the change when you're able to bring it about. (Besides, in a future permie economy those with knowledge might be as or more useful than those with trees!!)

So even if there's no acreage on the horizon, build up the bank of personal know-how, do tiny-scale practicing in your apartment/flat/park, and you'll find all that small scale rehearsing helps heaps later.

A silly example, but here goes: I decided a few months ago to learn to weave to eventually make a wattle-and-daub hut for chooks, sorry, chickens. I looked up online everywhere I could about how to weave twigs, and made a miniature version to suit guinea pigs. It was pretty wonky and terrible, really, but I learned a lot and would definitely be able to construct a fair-enough kind of chook pen. (Sorry, chicken pen.) Even usefulness aside, weaving is absolutely calming for the mind. I recommend it!!! Great for zoning out while still making something. You can feel better about life and a day gone by if you've made one basket! Honest...

Back to internet — unfortunately I've also noticed that Google is tending to shunt the most neutral and 'free' info to the last pages (if there at all) while commercial interests climb higher up. Sigh. So get in now, while you still can, and do lots of searches, before all the great noncommercial stuff disappears or stops working properly due to throttling (I'm not sure what's happened to Feedipedia.org, but I can no longer look up anything on it...).

For just starting out with building a knowledge bank, I reckon focus on just a few or 2 little things, one a type of animal, one a vegetable/fruit. Learn how to grow and tend those two things (preferably ones that will work in the zone/climate you might one day inhabit). Don't worry if it fails! Change the thing that failed or work out a new way. Keep it simple! When you get good at those two things (even if it's just, say, raise guinea pigs in the laundry and one potted miniature apple tree on a balcony) pick 2 more things and get good at those. I should add, growing chia in pots might be more helpful than apples (though I love apples). And... don't sweat the big things. They're going to happen anywhere (like Roundup on kerbsides). People won't listen... Reserve your energies for yourself and people who might be more open to ideas so you don't have to waste effort arguing...

There now, I've been horribly bossy... Hope you can ignore what doesn't ring true for you. I really really feel for you -- but try to keep your sights on the nearest achievable goal (like 'today I'm going to learn to do one thing'), and slowly and incrementally you should be able to make it to the big ones.

And then again, just... hugs. Life can be so horribly difficult. You sound amazing to have managed what you've had to manage.

Best,
Chancy (Australia)
 
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