I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Permaculture vs. Poverty  RSS feed

 
Kenny McBride
Posts: 24
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Hi. I'm new here, so if I sound like an idiot, it's probably because I am. I work on an anti-poverty project here in Glasgow and recently we've been looking at food poverty in particular, noting the rise in food prices, lack of choice, lack of affordable high-quality produce, lack of knowledge about cooking and storing food (not to mention fears of high energy costs for certain types of cooking) and so on. Given that most of the high cost of food is linked to oil prices (hence the big spike in food prices over the last couple of years) and that the oil problem is only going to get worse, it seems clear that the market isn't going to provide a solution. Pure charity - rich people giving the scraps from their tables to poor people - is not a solution either. Even the people operating foodbanks in this country keep telling us that's not what they want to do but as long as people are hungry, they have to do something. They'd much rather be doing something to address the causes, but what can they do?

I stumbled on the idea of permaculture a few weeks ago while looking for ideas about people growing their own food. It seemed to me that growing food was the only genuinely affordable option for many of the people we're talking about, while the supplementary benefits to physical and mental health, community, self-development and so on could be incalculable. I knew conventional agriculture couldn't achieve what we needed, but how well could we do in an urban setting with very little green (or even brown) space available? I'm sure my reaction when I started hearing about permaculture is familiar to many of you; I just couldn't believe how obvious it all was! We were doing this growing thing all wrong! While I'm still thinking about urban options, there are already plenty of people in the city doing somewhat similar things and many of those can be expanded and encouraged without my project getting seriously involved. I've started to think a bit bigger.

Now I'm trying to formulate a plan to propose for the next stage of my project (and bear in mind that if this doesn't get any support from the donors, I'm out of a job!) and would like to hear opinions from people with a bit more experience of these kinds of things. I think the best way to start is to find a reasonable plot (maybe 5-10 acres) that could be bought or borrowed or leased from one of the many farms right on the edge of the city. Set it up to produce as much food as possible, employ one or two people to be in charge and get the rest of the labour from visiting people from the community we're working in. That could be on a fairly informal volunteer basis or through local schools and community groups or maybe a structured programme for people recovering from addictions or who have been in a homeless situation. The produce could then be distributed via the foodbank network at VERY low cost, with all cash reinvested in maybe getting more land or developing supportive infrastructure (e.g. training a local butcher or building a local slaughterhouse or employing someone to make jam with all our surplus berries). We would also want to include help with storing and cooking the various foods (since Scots have a notoriously poor, narrow diet) perhaps by offering meal suggestions, cooking classes, communal eating etc. It's also possible that surplus could be sold via Locavore, a fantastic grocer in Glasgow who sells only food grown or found within a small radius of the store itself. There are various other artisan food-makers and high-end restaurants who might be interested in taking any surplus, quite possibly at inflated rates.

Obviously a plot that small is not going to feed the whole of Glasgow. My vision is that over time, as the farm/community accumulates a bit of cash, expansion of the growing territory will be next natural move, until eventually all the farmland surrounding the city is turned over to permanent food production. Even then, it probably wouldn't meet the entire demands of the city, but it should hopefully make a substantial dent. Theoretically, we could eventually move to a rotation-type system as we moved round the city, eventually leaving some land to grow totally unattended and spread into the wilderness while some land closer to the city gets more closely managed then is periodically cleared for timber and replanted to retain the widest variety of produce.

I'm well aware that that last paragraph is pretty much pie in the sky at the moment but as the oil crisis deepens, it's eventually what everyone is going to have to start doing in some form or fashion so it makes sense to be ahead of the dust-storm. I'm also aware that some of what I've suggested above might not necessarily chime well with some of the more connected, one-family-one-farmstead, spiritual and ethical concerns of the movement, but my focus is on how to feed large numbers of people much healthier diets at much lower cost than is currently available. If you think my ideas need more ethical work, point me in a better direction!

I'm no expert on the land immediately surrounding the city, but I can tell you that historically (and for the most part still today), the main crops of Scotland are barley, oats, wheat, potatoes and other root crops, hill grazing sheep, and cattle mostly on the lower, flatter ground. Also, I recently learned that strawberries are the country's biggest agricultural earner! We have a lot of hills around us (some going as high as a couple of thousand feet), little sun, and plenty of rain. We've not had a hard freeze for a couple of years but we do usually get a few days of snow.

So basically, I just want to hear ideas and opinions on this kind of idea. Obviously there's little flesh on the bones yet, but that's what I'm here to do - get advice from people who know about this stuff! Assuming we can get the land (I know a farmer who might be willing to let us take a chunk of his land for little or no cost - it's a charitable donation for him, so he get a big tax deduction for it and not lose much in the scale of his farm), what kind of money would we need to get us up and running? What kind of crops could be grow? How many people could we provide "Five-A-Day" to? How would you distribute the food that's available? How soon could we have produce to deliver? What sort of yields might we expect after a few years of bedding in? What else haven't I thought of yet?!

I wasn't exactly sure where to put this because my idea will also take in urban growing and potentially a much larger peri-urban area as time goes on. Is it appropriate to post seperately in those subforums to get ideas about that side of things? I think the urban side of things could be interesting as more people could get more directly involved in growing things (not mention that it cuts the food miles even further) and it's also going to involve very different economics and growing styles, given how little land is available in the city. I'm happy enough to talk about that side of things in this thread but not sure about Permies ettiquette.

Thanks.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1977
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Great idea!

Ten acres is huge, if you're talking vegetable gardens. I'm thinking less land, more hands working. Finding folks who will work the gardens is key. I'd recruit gardeners, begin with a small area (an acre is bigger than you think when you're managing it by hand!) and focus on getting support built up for a pilot program. Then once your amazing success inspires lots of others you will have some experience and can train the new recruits well.
 
Chris Barrows
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You get the land and the sweat equity, I'm sure the folks state side can find a way to get you seed and teach you technique....

 
Cj Sloane
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Kenny McBride wrote:
Now I'm trying to formulate a plan to propose for the next stage of my project (and bear in mind that if this doesn't get any support from the donors, I'm out of a job!) and would like to hear opinions from people with a bit more experience of these kinds of things.


Is there a Transition Town Glasgow? They would have overall experience and could connect you to people & resources.
 
Kenny McBride
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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What kind of manpower would be needed to get started then? I'm assuming a somewhat bigger plot on the basis that little of it will be hugely productive in the first year or two and we will want to have food coming out as quickly as possible. We also need to have an area we can can expand into relatively quickly, since sequential development of the plot will be useful as we bring in different groups of volunteers. There are plenty of groups we can get involved, so I don't think we'll struggle too much to get the hands we need.
 
Kenny McBride
Posts: 24
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Glasgow doesn't have a Transition group, but there are similar groups nearby. There's also a variety of groups doing all sorts of things within reach of us: The Fife Diet, South Seeds and a whole host of other community gardens. I've been in touch with a few of them, but not to discuss this specifically. I just figured that at 1am, I might get a bit more reaction here just now!
 
Dayna Williams
Posts: 79
Location: Zone 8, Western Oregon
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Wonderful ideas, and I don't think you're violating any Permaculture ethics - the idea of a local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker is kosher here, just as acceptable as one-family-one-farm.

Are you wanting to design the farm yourself, or would you be open to letting someone else design it? My thought is that there may be a PDC (permaculture design course) student in need of a final project, who might love to partner with you on this project.
 
Peter Ellis
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Kenny, may I recommend you try and contact Martin Crawford? He is a British agroforestry authority, with several published works. He has loads of experience with the British Isles climate and might be a very helpful resource.

 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Are you looking at specific neighborhoods, or just in the city in general? I don't know your town, but like most cities, it's probably a patchwork of neighborhoods with different economic levels, access to stores and food, etc. My first thought was that (and take this with a grain of salt, I'm don't really know that much about urban development) if there are several neighborhoods with need, that you might want several gardens, more centrally located to the people that would be using them. Then you would also be creating a sense of ownership among the folks who frequent them (and maybe a little healthy competition?). It could be a network of gardens that support one another, and if one location didn't turn out to be well-suited there would be others to pick up the slack. Are there smaller vacant lots scattered throughout the city? How about rooftops with amenable landlords?

I know logistically that might be trickier, but long-term maybe more sustainable.

Oh, and have you read Avant Gardening http://www.amazon.com/Avant-Gardening-Ecological-Struggles-World/dp/1570270929? I remember loving it years ago...it's probably dated now, but still had a wonderful vision of what community gardening could be in an urban environment.
 
Sam White
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Hi Kenny,

I started reading your post and immediately thought "Locavore" so it's nice to see you've already come across them. They might be worth talking to in order gain leads in terms of available land, recruiting volunteers and people with the necessary skills, and perhaps sources of grant funding specific to agriculture which you might not be aware of. They have a market garden so it sounds as if you have convergent interests! An acquaintance of mine used to work for Glasgow Locavore (she might do still) running cookery classes and managing volunteers iirc. Glasgow is in Transition by the look of things. I believe that a separate acquaintance of mine is involved somewhat.

I run a veg box social enterprise down in south east Wales and we're a member of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and they provide support through a variety of way including regional gatherings with an element of networking etc. They could be helpful in terms of finding/offering land for your project or pointing you towards other sources of assistance.

I think the most important things to get right for a project such as the one I run and the one you hope to run is to plan for and achieve financial self-sufficiency; lurching from one funding cycle to the next is painful! Getting dedicated and skilled volunteers will also be necessary. You really need to communicate with your community too; find out what they actually need (which I imagine you might already have an insight into).

Oh, getting out there and seeing what and how other people do similar things is essential; you can learn a lot from what they do well and, if they're unabashed about talking about such things, what mistakes they've made.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Sam

Edit: A lot of raspberries are grown in Scotland too I think commercial soft fruit production is more-or-less confined to the east of Scotland however.
 
John Polk
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You may want to look into this site. They have a lot of local insight.
http://www.transitionscotland.org/

 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I completely agree that permaculture is a great solution to long term poverty.
If a family was able to build their own house capture all the heating and electricity that they need and produce there food, they could survive and on alot less money.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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So basically, I just want to hear ideas and opinions on this kind of idea. Obviously there's little flesh on the bones yet, but that's what I'm here to do - get advice from people who know about this stuff! Assuming we can get the land (I know a farmer who might be willing to let us take a chunk of his land for little or no cost - it's a charitable donation for him, so he get a big tax deduction for it and not lose much in the scale of his farm), what kind of money would we need to get us up and running? What kind of crops could be grow? How many people could we provide "Five-A-Day" to? How would you distribute the food that's available? How soon could we have produce to deliver?


this sounds like an excellent project, best of luck.

heres some thoughts about some of your questions

food crops:
brassicas of all kinds= kale and cabbage, etc, green and salad fixings should be one of the first things to plant. along with whatever other annuals and quick producing foods that are desired. then move onto to planting long term food crops, fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, perennial herbs. you would have to get location specific advice on what types of crops, but thats some basic thoughts.

distributing food:

how about a "pay what you can" honor system food stand? as well as whatever delivery of free food, and possibly telling certain particularly needy people that they could have food for free from such a stand whenever it is loaded -like make a schedule to fill it on certain days extra heavy for free food distribution and let the people most in need know when.

then you might have other people with resources to spare to help support your project. you might think by donation might not get as much money for things, but surprisingly there are still some good folks out there, and those who will sometimes over pay when it is by donation. it would give potential supporters a format to donate, and get some food for their donation...as well as have a central place for the neediest people in hardship to know where to go to hook up with the service.

perhaps have it posted general donation prices for certain things, but that ious and free pickups are allowed, make a format where its stated two bags per person, or whatever other format would prevent someone from taking too much at any one time.
 
Kenny McBride
Posts: 24
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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I like the "pay what you can" model. It's actually slightly surprising how many people will overpay once they know the money is going somewhere good. The table idea is also pretty neat. A friend works at a German university and apparently such tables are fairly common there. People leave things they don't need (from books to bags of rice to garden flowers) and people can take what they like. Again, our church partners would probably be happy to facilitate that.

Also, I'm only too aware of the funding nightmare. My project has support from some fairly big charities and access to crazy amounts of in-kind support from elsewhere. My feeling is that something like this should be looking for three years funding and to be essentially self-sustaining by the end of that time. Again though, it comes down to how much it would cost to run. As far as I can see, the big cost is land. The next thing is a professional to oversee the farm and direct the labour of volunteers. A lot of tools and seeds can quite probably be acquired at zero cost but we'd need to factor in some costs like that. Then there's the costs of distribution. Most of that would be volunteer-led, I think, but we'd have to think about things like packaging, storage and so on. Then there's the infinitely complex question of how much people are likely to pay for how much food we're producing. What sort of quantities can be produced in the first year or two of a project like this?

We have done some consultation on what people are looking for and virtually everyone has said cheaper food, homegrown food, food education and greater choice are at the top of the list. Many talked about more communal eating to help build community. All of the above also helps reduce the effect of people's home energy costs.
 
Kenny McBride
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Oh, and Jessica - I don't know how well you know Glasgow, but most of the poorer areas, especially the areas I'm mostly focussed on, are Victorian tenements with small (often concreted) back courts shared by all 8-10 homes in the block. Very few people have meaningful gardens. There's very little growing space there, and most things would need approval from all tenants AND the housing associations/landlords. There are a handful of brownfield sites but the city is generally pretty hard on guerrillas. Also, presumably because of the rain, most of the roofs here are very steeply pitched. I don't know that I'd want to be picking fruit off them! I do think more urban growing is important but feeding a whole neighbourhood is going to require a lot more land. Besides, there are already community gardens dotted around the city and we'll be sure to co-operate with them. This would be a pretty different approach which, given the limits on land across the city, seems like the only option that can eventually be scaled up to feed everyone here.
 
John Polk
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Many talked about more communal eating to help build community.


I don't think anything builds community faster than food - a shared meal bonds people together.
As the weather cools down at harvest time, nothing can beat a caldron of hot soup...
...especially if you can find a small neighborhood baker that will donate some fresh bread!

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1977
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Matu Collins wrote:Great idea!

Ten acres is huge, if you're talking vegetable gardens. I'm thinking less land, more hands working.


If you can get the land for cheap, go for it! You can always start your design with more zone four and five where you mostly leave it alone for wild creature habitat and start with a smaller garden. There is so much potential on ten acres.

I wonder if you could secure funding for farmhand quarters and have live-in staff. Giving them housing would reduce the amount of cash you'd have to pay them and they'd be on site which makes farm management more easy and pleasant.

Making it a community enterprise where people of different social classes could work and get food would be hard work but really valuable.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Great Idea!

I hope the Saint Isidore Society, which I organize, will do something like this in the future. Right now we are just trying to give ourselves a hands-on education, and get something to eat out of it, if most of our experiments work out.

Hopefully, we can build our skills and infrastructure so that we can really start helping the poor in Denver. And who knows, we might all count as poor by that point!

Anyway, we hope to sell seedlings, and possibly beehives built of scrap wood, to cover costs. We have also thought about raising fancy fish in aquaponics tanks; eat the vegetables, and sell the fish. This would be more difficult, however. Selling food can get a little tricky due to regulations, but raw vegetables (here in the United States) are generally OK in small amounts.

I think this is where Permaculture is most relevant; helping the poor, especially in the big cities. Denver metro has the huge advantage of being very low density; lots of parks, greenbelts, vacant land, flat roofs, and big yards.
 
Kenny McBride
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Matu - absolutely. If my idea comes off at all, we would be aiming for a pretty good-sized bit of land and then developing it piecemeal over a few years. I think that's probably easier and ultimately more effective than trying to develop a whole site in one go or worse, trying to acquire more adjacent land once we grow out of a smaller plot.

Gilbert - I love the idea of using the wax for church candles. That's about as neat a cottage industry as I've seen so far. We may well incorporate that at some point! Out of interest, why Saint Isidore? Random fact for anyone who likes trivia - Saint Isidore is the patron saint of the internet!
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Kenny,

There are two Saint Isidores; Saint Isidore of Seville, who is the patron of the internet and (moderately) well known; and Saint Isidore the Farmer, who is the patron saint of agriculture. Most people don't seem to know about him, but he is fairly well known in Spain. He is generally shown with an angel plowing a filed, since there is a legend that angels helped him with his work.

In this context, either of the Isidores could work!

I hope we can do the altar candles. It all depends on if we can keep some hives of bees alive. The Denver area bee population, both native and cultivated, has dropped drastically in the past few years. But we will try.

Do you have a website for your project?
 
John Elliott
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Only one passing mention of kale so far? You're skipping over a great part of the Scottish heritage, the kailyard, when it can be the organizing principle around your project. Sure, it's criticized as "overly sentimental", but isn't that what we Permies are when we talk about getting back to the land? Go and turn these parts of Glasgow into new kailyards, and plant kale anywhere and everywhere. They are commonly used for winter landscaping plants here, so wherever there is a planter, put in some colorful kale. There's plenty of decorative varieties and they taste pretty good boiled up in some colcannon.

And don't be giving me muckle trooble for bringing in an Irish recipe.
 
Kenny McBride
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Gilbert - fair enough. Will have to go and read up on St. Isidore the Farmer then! No website for the project. My current work is scoping what's being done and what could and should be done so this idea is literally only a week or two old. I have a meeting with my donors in a couple of weeks so will have a slightly clearer idea of where we might go next after that.

John - neat idea! That might be a pretty cool way to get some of the urban side of things moving. Is kale the kind of thing that could be guerrilla-planted and just left alone?


 
John Elliott
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Kenny McBride wrote:
John - neat idea! That might be a pretty cool way to get some of the urban side of things moving. Is kale the kind of thing that could be guerrilla-planted and just left alone?


Very well suited for that. Or even tell people you are going to spruce up their storefront/curb planter/window box/median strip/walkway/etc. for free. Then just tell your volunteers how they can cut the outer leaves as the plant keeps growing and it provides a continuous harvest. Any leaves that are a little past their prime for human consumption will gladly be eaten by chickens -- if you have any backyard flocks.
 
Sam White
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Have you come across Incredible Edible Todmorden Kenny? Worth a look if you're interested in the possibilities surrounding guerilla gardening. The model has been copied all over the UK including Scotland.
 
Kenny McBride
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I'd heard of the Todmorden work in passing but hadn't really looked into it. I know there have been a few guerrilla projects in Glasgow over the last few years, but the city has come down pretty hard on them. There's a 22 acre plot in quite a poor area of the city that has no currently intended use -the owners are just waiting for land values to rise enough for them to make a bumper profit selling it for housing development - but no-one is allowed to do anything with it. Oxfam actually made a proposal to put sheep and various plants in there - all stuff that could be removed fairly easily if the land was to be sold - and were told there was no chance. Does anyone here have experience of changing political minds on this kind of thing?

 
Sam White
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I've no experience with that kind of thing but, again, there is much to be learned from Todmorden in regards to changing political mindsets. Pam Warhurst, one of the founders, could teach a masterclass. Her TED Talk is brilliant but you might have to talk to someone from the organisation for a full account of Pam's political machinations. I only became aware of the political side of their story when I visited the town last year for work.

If there are community-minded and passionate local councillors who aren't afraid to use the press to their advantage I'd start there once you've flesh out your proposal. As you say, there are plenty of local projects and schemes from which you can draw a precedent for positive change in Glaswegian communities. Everyone is afraid of costs and a lack of financial sustainability at the moment so demonstrating to politicians and purse string holders that your project won't be an ongoing liability will also be important; realistic business planning is key. Anything that creates jobs or training/work experience opportunities will be looked upon favourably so demonstrate how you will provide for this. Facts and figures will help.

Also, I don't know about your local council, but mine has a list of objectives underpinning it's policy and guiding it's decision making process. Might be worth finding out what these are and determining if/how your project will align with these.

What process did Oxfam go through in an effort to gain access to the 22 acres? Can you learn from their approach? Politicians/local council might not have much sway over the owners of the land so perhaps another approach to the one taken by Oxfam is worth looking into.
 
Kenny McBride
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The land is owned by an "independent" government agency meant to promote enterprise in the city... :-/
 
Chris Barrows
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I guess "independent" in such a context means they believe "money" is the only thing that helps people.....
 
Barbara Ziegler
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Hey I've been thinking of doing somewhat the same thing here, in Santa Fe NM... or somewhere. Maybe some of my ideas will help you in your search.

My thoughts were to approach the city or county; they have tons of repo-ed land & buildings everywhere & see if they could lend the land & or building or both & create a sort of community housing / teaching project for homeless or low income people (like myself); they spend a fortune on shelters & feeding homeless. So why not put that land & buildings into use; teaching people how to grow their own food, how to live efficiently, how to build a rocketmass heater. Everyone is still using woodstoves here...it makes me crazy!

So, everyone thinks SFe is a very conscious community...well sort of...we have community gardens... 2 Whole foods (whole paychecks) bla bla bla...and farmers markets, where you can get green beans for $8.00 a pound!..etc... but its not affordable for most people.
We have tons of trees that were killed over the last few years by the Ipps pine bark beetle, perfect for hugleculture...but everyone either cuts it for firewood; further spreading the beetle & smogging up the air, or takes it to the dump for shredding...

At the state prison; just outside town they used to raise cows for slaughter...don't know if they still do. But it seems to me that the inmates could grow some food out there.

I think every city & town in the country...no the planet, should be thinking along these lines instead of letting their communities decay.

I wonder if a really big rocketmass heater could be built to heat...say a 2 story building? There is an old monastery just a 1/2 block from where I live; empty for years,(some say it's haunted... has a good amount of land.

By the way if there are any permies here in SFe, who have land & need help for reasonable rent please contact me.
All the best, BZ

 
Paul Cereghino
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Some of our local models you might talk to... VERY similar climate.

http://goodgrub.org/
Youth garden project... school farm... our schools often have lots of empty public land... very popular with local funders.

https://www.facebook.com/OlympiaKiwanisFoodBankGarden
Some retired guys who do nothing but grow food using volunteer labor on unused land. They have converted lawn at the state capitol to potato fields.

http://olyblog.net/thurston-county-food-bank-gleaning-and-gardening
Our gleaning program... there is often lots of food left to rot n the field because it is not of market quality.

http://www.enterpriseforequity.org/agripreneur/
Enterprise does business training for underskilled and underemployed folks, with a focus on farm based businesses.

The permaculture design is often social--finding beneficial relationships between groups of people and their resources that add up to an opportunity--for example in the case of GRuB... disengaged students looking for something real.. families that don't have enough food... schools looking for interdisciplinary education... surplus land... people wanting to help people to help themselves...


 
Brice Moss
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The folks at Food Not Bombs here in Portland are doing great things in terms of conecting gardeners and garden plots and folks who need ta get some healthy food. I'm sure if you got in touch with them they'd be able to share some about their sucesses and pitfalls to avoid.

http://www.foodnotbombs.net/contacts.html
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Paul Cereghino wrote:Some of our local models you might talk to... VERY similar climate.

http://goodgrub.org/
Youth garden project... school farm... our schools often have lots of empty public land... very popular with local funders.

https://www.facebook.com/OlympiaKiwanisFoodBankGarden
Some retired guys who do nothing but grow food using volunteer labor on unused land. They have converted lawn at the state capitol to potato fields.

http://olyblog.net/thurston-county-food-bank-gleaning-and-gardening
Our gleaning program... there is often lots of food left to rot n the field because it is not of market quality.

http://www.enterpriseforequity.org/agripreneur/
Enterprise does business training for underskilled and underemployed folks, with a focus on farm based businesses.

The permaculture design is often social--finding beneficial relationships between groups of people and their resources that add up to an opportunity--for example in the case of GRuB... disengaged students looking for something real.. families that don't have enough food... schools looking for interdisciplinary education... surplus land... people wanting to help people to help themselves...




sometimes i miss being in oly, i lived there for five years and its such a great place =)

i remember up in the fancy capitol neighborhood there were tons of fruit trees planted in the sidewalk. i found them early one morning coming home from a party up there, there were a few peach trees, with perfectly ripe peaches, a bunch of apples and pears...it felt like a small miracle =)
right place right time kind of miracle, to get bags of free peaches

it was like three blocks where people had planted tons of fruit trees, intentionally for public use as they were on the street. very cool.

i too have always been interested in doing something like this...planting fruit trees and other edible landscaping in places where people can harvest for free.
or doing a pay what you can farm stand....
the closest i have to come to that is working in community gardens, but its different.
i hope more and more people start doing projects like this
 
Kenny McBride
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I'm currently up very late getting the framework of an actual written proposal together on this idea. I won't have much detail in time, but I hope to give a decent sketch to my donors at the end of this week. So I wonder if I might ask you all a very quick favour...

On a whim tonight, I looked up land prices. I decided to look near my old home, since I lived there a long time and know enough about the landscape and the infrastructure to know what and where I was with the properties I found. It's highly unlikely any of these properties could be used for my project as it's going to take a long time to get funding of that sort of scale in place, but as three different types of property, I hoped we could do a quick "what if..." with them. My hope is that I can have a few things to say about each so that I can give some food for thought to the people I'm talking to. Essentially, I want to have a swanky Powerpoint presentation to show them with a few pics and a few suggestions of what might be possible on each site that will really get them thinking about the idea of permanent, totally sustainable production. Do you have any ideas about how we might work these sites? How long before we could have people living on each site? How long before we could be producing enough food to feed those people? How quickly could the land be developed to be maximally productive? What might you use - goats, chicken, cattle, sheep, pigs? What kind of crops might be grown and how big a harvest could you expect from each site? I realise these are all huge, intangible and intractible questions, but if you can suggest a few broad thoughts about what might be possible, I can then plant some of those seeds in the minds of the people listening and hopefully the best ones start to grow! (I do apologise for my determination to twist metaphors like pretzels.)

Anyway, here are the properties I looked at.
140 Acres inc. 85 rough grazing (the worst category of land by governmental classification - I'd love to prove them wrong!)
16.5 Acres of woodland with planning permission for "eco-chalets." This is my old village, so I'm fond of the location.
5.6 Acre plot with planning permission for stables.
Two small residential plots in another nearby village.

Incidentally, this whole area is close to the source of the River Forth, in the hills above Aberfoyle. There are live tributary streams all over the farmland around the area, so there is presumably fairly substantial water available quite readily in these soils already.

Whenever I do consultations and focus groups, I have always told people that every idea is useful and interesting. Believe it or not, I even said the same thing when I was foreman of a jury some years ago! You never know what you might comment on that someone else has missed, nor what that new connection might spark in their mind. I genuinely believe ideas cross-breed in just the same ways as plants do, and in the end we have heirloom ideas - things that will work for us for hundreds of years. I never realised until now that that's really a permaculture idea - the sharing and passing on of useful knowledge and skills so that our knowledge base as a society continues to grow and develop, just like good soil. So think of whatever thoughts you have as the first groundcover on a completely barren landscape, and then hopefully I can find us a bit of folding money to put down as mulch.

Thank you.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1977
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Each site has it's different strengths and drawbacks. How hard it is to get zoning changes? For example, the ecochalet one looks really lovely but are you allowed to cut down trees?

You could have people living in tents or in a camper right away! Depending on weather and the hardiness of the people.

It is very hard to say how much food you could produce without a lot more information. A lot could be done in a year or two, but a food forest will take many years to reach its full potential. Much depends on the people working, their enthusiasm and experience. You could grow a lot of veggies in even the small lots!

Good luck with your pitch to the donors and keep us posted
 
Sam White
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Did you read Monbiot's recent Guardian article on flooding? He referenced an interesting farming cooperative here in Wales and their efforts to improve the productivity of upland farms by reforesting their land. If you're considering uplands as a possible location for your project it could be worth checking out - here. As an interesting aside, a study in 2008 investigating the flood mitigation potential of afforestation in the Welsh uplands estimated that, with just 5% of the Severn's catchment being afforested, instances of flooding downstream would be reduced by 29%.

I've just finished a thesis on agroforestry in the Welsh uplands so I'm happy to discuss that sort of thing in more detail with you.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1977
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Sam White wrote:As an interesting aside, a study in 2008 investigating the flood mitigation potential of afforestation in the Welsh uplands estimated that, with just 5% of the Severn's catchment being afforested, instances of flooding downstream would be reduced by 29%.

I've just finished a thesis on agroforestry in the Welsh uplands so I'm happy to discuss that sort of thing in more detail with you.


This sounds like a great opportunity for a grant proposal! Improve farmland, reduce flooding downstream all while feeding the poor! The more benefit you provide, the more money you can ask for.

Perhaps you could build a community garden for the short term and also begin planting a food forest. Then you can produce food and build networks and community now and once the trees start producing your productivity will go up up up.
 
David Livingston
master steward
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Hi Kenny
I see you said that
"The land is owned by an "independent" government agency meant to promote enterprise in the city... :-/ "

No such thing matey . I would get onto your MP pronto . This is a good time to get those involved in politics to get off their fat bums . As you know with an election round the corner they like to be seen to be doing something . Its worth a try . What might happen is that they offer you something else if a big enough political stink is made.

David
 
Sam White
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Matu Collins wrote:
Sam White wrote:As an interesting aside, a study in 2008 investigating the flood mitigation potential of afforestation in the Welsh uplands estimated that, with just 5% of the Severn's catchment being afforested, instances of flooding downstream would be reduced by 29%.

I've just finished a thesis on agroforestry in the Welsh uplands so I'm happy to discuss that sort of thing in more detail with you.

This sounds like a great opportunity for a grant proposal! Improve farmland, reduce flooding downstream all while feeding the poor! The more benefit you provide, the more money you can ask for.


You'd think so wouldn't you? Unfortunately, grant funding for tree planting in Wales (I don't know about the rest of the UK) has more or less come to an end and the UK's Environment Minster is very much in favour of maintaining the uplands in their current form (i.e. sheepwrecked). He's also proposing higher subsidies for upland farmers to increase the amount of farming in upland regions which will probably result in no damage mitigation and no restoration of damage habitats. Unfortunately he's a climate change denying, fracking-favouring, renewable energy reneging, science-ignorant corporate toady.
 
Kenny McBride
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David - you might be right. It's not really a fight I'm tooled up for right now though. There might be a bit of potential soon as we start bringing more interested groups into play. We'll see.

As for the question of how much food can be produced - I heard geoff lawton talking about the food produced on his site and (if I've done my sums correctly) he seemed to be saying roughly 150 full meals per acre per year on his 150 acres. Now obviously he's pretty good and knows exactly what he's doing, plus he's been on that land for a good while and has got it built up very much how he wants it by now, so he's probably doing a good bit better than average. But what might be feasible in a Scottish climate with rather less experienced hands? I imagine the potential decreases on smaller areas because variety is more limited, but then I've seen some pretty amazing things being done in VERY small plots. After, let's say five years, what kind of per acre yields might you expect from a well-planted site? Are we talking enough to feed one person? Ten people? Twenty?
 
You didn't tell me he was so big. Unlike this tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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