Excerpt from Nikolai Gogol’s “Dead Souls” written in 1841. Interesting. Permaculture being practiced 173 years ago. Second time reading his novel, this passage had little meaning when I read it the first time 15 years ago. Enjoy.
“Look,” said Platonov, pointing to the fields, “his land begins here. You will see at once how different it is from the other people’s. Coachman, here you take the road to the left. Do you see that copse of young trees? They were all sown. On another man’s land they wouldn’t have been that height in fifty years, and they have grown up in eight. Look, there the forest ends and the cornfields begin, and in another one hundred and fifty acres there will be forest again, also raised from seed, and then cornland again. Look at the corn, how much heavier it is than anywhere else.”
“Yes, I see. But how does he do it?”
“Well, you must ask him that. There is nothing he hasn’t got. He knows everything, you would never find another man like him. It is not only that he understands what soil suits anything, he knows what ought to be next to what, what grain must be sown near which kind of trees. With all of us the land is cracking through the drought, but his land is not. He calculates how much moisture is needed and plant trees accordingly; with him everything serves two purposes, the forest is timber, and it also improves the fields by its leaves and its shade.”
The "corn" may have been wheat or several other grains. It looks like the author was quite observant. I wonder if the forests were what I would call a hedgerow. Coppiced hedgerows were once very common.
Whatever name it went by, it appears to have been a model farm of it's time. A farm this size would have had many serfs. I'm going to read the book.