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permaculture for children and old people  RSS feed

 
Greta Fields
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My dream is to have a permaculture that is safe for children and old people too. I grew up running wild in the woods, but things are different where I live now -- lots of poison snakes and predators, which could kill children. I wonder how other people deal with this problem. I want children to experience the wildness of this place, yet be safe.
Planning a permaculture with children and old people in mind poses problems you don't normally think about. For ex., kids should not pick berries in the fields because of all the copperheads. Twice they have crawled over the top of my foot when I was picking berries. So I started a berry patch to a shoulder along the road , so I could stand on the road and pick [see photo attached -- I put 18 truckloads of leaves and sticks along this shoulder to build it up for berries.]
Anyway, I have found that thinking about kids and old people makes me plan differently. So far, I have not found any models for a children's wild forest permaculture. Mostly, I see photos of sterile looking children's gardens, formal and ugly, in urban areas. Or, I see children's petting zoos. I would like for children to be able to go to a place that is still wild and natural, but safe. It's a problem to think about.
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Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I wonder if part of this conundrum comes from essentially having an incomplete system....particularly a system without enough people and animals in it. Free-ranging poultry, especially guineas and geese, will sound an alarm about snakes and other varmints, as well as help deal with problematical insects like ticks. Even a dog or cat can help out with this. And children and old folks are naturally members of families, originally extended families, so that on the home site there would be plenty of other able-bodied people around to keep an eye on them. The equivalent of letting either loose in the wild without some kind of management or supervision is as likely to lead to problems as is doing that with any other creature.....
 
Greta Fields
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I think you are right. The question remains, then, how do you make a complete system?
I personally think of permaculture as a place for intergenerational people, both tame and wild animals, both modern and old physical facilities, old and new energy.
None of the permaculture books I have mention wild animals, but I think about them constantly. I think a good permaculture plan must be almost synonymous with a good ecosystem -- one that meets the approval of botanists, biologists, zoologists, tree experts etc. Not just a place for people, but people in a place.
None of the books on permaculture that I have talk about incorporating wild animals into the plan. Most of the books are about inserting man onto a landscape and trying to control that landscape to create a paradise for the man. That doesn't work where I live, since here is so much biodiversity here, the problem is how NOT to disturb the biodiversity yet insert people into it.
For me, completing the permaculture must include "restoration" of species missing -- such as adding back the ginseng that the local yokels have dug to extinction.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I've said this before in response to other posts, but I always recall one line from either the DM or Mollison's biography (forget which): "Stay out of the bush"....in other words, anything resembling wilderness, of which there is precious little left and in which it is nearly impossible to not have a detrimental footprint. Where permaculture really shines is in the remediation of degraded lands, such as former sites of conventional farming, logging, mining, overgrazing, "brownfields" of various sorts, suburbia, etc. In such situations both wildland restoration and the provision of useful yields often occur together, since basic improvements to the soil and moisture situation are foundational to both. In places where an ecosystem is in the process of establishing itself one must take into consideration the tradeoff involved in the disturbances you will create in order to establish yourself on the site. Eventually, especially if wildlife is thriving and the human group is growing or becoming more dependent on yields from the site, competition is inevitable. Each site does have a carrying capacity, even though yields can be increased significantly over the capacity of an "unimproved" site, usually by means of earthworks, remineralization, species introductions and "hard" infrastructures like fencing. Fencing and other forms of boundaries are eventually key to a site where humans, plants, wildlife and domestic animals are expected to co-exist. The alternative to fencing is to have enough human supervision available, such as takes place in many third world situations where children watch livestock and people camp out in critical food crops to drive away pest animals at crucial seasons.....
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Those snakes will occupy any niche where they can find cover and prey.
If a good number of domestic cats were allowed to roam near the house, rodent populations would be reduced. Song birds and other non target species would be killed by the cats. Near water, there are many prey species for snakes that cats are unlikely to control.
 
Greta Fields
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Well, Alder, I keep wishing people would come do permaculture farms on old stripmines. I am living on an old farm that does have disturbed land in need of restoration, but also having woodlands with biodiversity. There is a little bit of everything. I do not think that "competition is inevitable" between man and wild animal. Sometimes. I think of myself as the Indians say, as a "helper to Mother Nature", not her competitor.
Yep, the more the merrier. Snakes definitely control rodents, and they can get up in the attic where the house cat can't get.
 
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