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Holzer Moving away from permaculture?

 
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Can Zach address the question about why Sepp is moving away from the word "permaculture" and using "agroecology" instead? Does he have a problem with permaculture as a design approach? Maybe it's just a branding technique?

Thom
 
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Thom, this is something we debated about for some time. After being exposed to the more "purple" permaculture in Detroit in 2012 Sepp decided that he wanted to be in no way associated with this. He actually wanted to drop the word permaculture all together, but everything is already branded as Holzer Permaculture so he just changed the name for the US. Holzer AgroEcology still builds upon the permaculture movement, but also is able to attract the people who already have a prejudice against permaculture for one reason or another.

The systems that Sepp creates are very much so permaculture systems, but his approach is radically different. There isn't a list of ethics, or design parameters, everything that he does is rooted in working with nature. He has a special word for people who theorize all day but don't practice and observe, it loosely translates to "theory cripples." Everything he has learned has come through practice and observation in nature.
 
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That is similar to my grandpa's definition of PhD--Piled high and Deep.
 
pollinator
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I'm pretty sure PHD stands for post hole digger, which is exactly what some in the psychology industry and poverty industry are qualified to do.
 
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Haha, the purple permaculture!
It took me some reflexion to understand...
Then some cloth & colors details came back to my mind....

This is a very common permaculture around here!
But actually, this is here the type of life all people had before trucks and electricity arrived 30-40 years ago.

REsults, all patches of ground that used to be full of grains are abandoned, because the fields can be accessed only with 4hoofed!
And those fields could be so ridiculously small...

Result for me: I cannot plant a special plant I would like to get for its round seeds and good omega3 source....
because for sure the heads of the plant would be, in an understandable confusion, stollen around flowering time....
 
Thom Illingworth
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When a movie, book, or other literary work is referred to as "Purple," it means the author has delved into some overly deep emotional or spiritual discussions. Usually, it's a somewhat derogatory term. When applied to permaculture, I assume it refers to those people who like to include "new-age" spirituality into discussions of the ethics of permaculture--something that (as I understand it) Mollison did not original intend in his definition of permaculture. ("Permaculture does not include metaphysics.")

I'm guessing that those people who are new to permaculture and encounter this "purple" side can get turned off quickly without realizing that the "purple" side is not part of the core teachings of permaculture. I'm assuming that Holzer wants to avoid the confusion altogether by calling his practices "agroecology." Whatever he calls it, it's working well and providing models for permaculturists, agroecologists, or whatever one calls oneself.

Thom
 
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I actually listened to a podcast on "The Permaculture Podcast" with Scott Mann and I think that he was interviewing David Jacke and the subject of calling things permaculture came up. Dave had a pretty impassioned and quite funny response, but nailed it right on the head. Something along the lines of people getting hung up on the word permaculture and how it can end up getting negative connotations and turn some people off and, call it whatever you want, but just practice and promote things properly and do things to bring people to it and not away from it.
 
Zach Weiss
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Thom, thank you for the explanation of the "Purple" reference.

I should clarify that this is not meant to in any way knock spirituality or purple permaculture. Sepp is deeply spiritual, but his spirituality is much more reserved, much less in your face. It is founded in the connections that happen between humans and nature; a deep respect and reverence for all living things. When I first heard Sepp speak about this connection I knew he would be an important figure in my life, as these were the types of connections that I also experienced as a child.

The purple permaculture that Sepp saw in Detroit was more along the lines of hand holding and dancing around howling, pretending to be wolves. These kinds of activities Sepp does not feel comfortable participating in, and does not want his to be associated with. These activities are the creation of humans, and have little to do with connecting to our natural world. They are "hairs" used in the hopes of quieting our minds. Connecting with nature does not require such complex and awkward rituals. All that is required to connect with nature is to sit down with a tree, give it all of your stresses, and open your senses.
 
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This is my first encounter with the term "purple permaculture", and I can understand the shock people may experience when coming upon it.

I see it as a fundamental difference between a "bottom up" paradigm and a "top down". The "top down" paradigm says "this is the way things should be, and we will adapt the Earth around us to match". The "bottom up" paradigm says "This is the way things are, and we should adapt ourselves accordingly". I would say that the latter is the true nature of Permaculture. The problem lies in perceiving "how things are". Myers-Briggs personality typing has a spectrum between "Sensing" and "Intuiting". "Sensing" types derive their understanding of the Universe from that they gather through their senses. "Intuiting" types engage in imaginative envisioning that goes beyond their senses. "How things are" in the world around us is highly dependent upon whether we are more Sensing or more Intuiting types.

When Permaculture invites us to find patterns in Nature and learn from them, how different is this process for the Sensing vs. Intuiting types? Generally, good science ends up being a partnership between the two. It takes the Intuiting types to come up with good new hypotheses to test and to imagine the complex variables which need to be controlled for in the experiment, while the Sensing types are great at testing those hypotheses experimentally. It takes the Intuiting types to ask "what if?" and the Sensing types to establish practical answers to that question.

Theory? Practice? Both are essential, in balance.

That said... howling like wolves in a workshop MAY fall under Dave Holgren's "Holistic Health and Spirituality" domain of Permaculture, but it does get off on a tangent, doesn't it?

Personally, I love me a good bonfire. Circled around singing, dancing, chanting, story-telling, and enjoying one's community. That's a part of permaculture to me. It's about having healthy communities. Let's not forget that, as a species, we are a PART of nature, and we might do well in learning from our own pre-history, and learning to live once more like Paleolithic Man, which may have been the peak of our evolution.
 
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KevIn
I think you may have shown some of the issues in your post. I am unclear what much you have said has to do with Permiculture as defined by any of the founders or as taught in a PDC
Could you care to elaborate?

David
 
Kevin EarthSoul
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David Livingston wrote:KevIn
I think you may have shown some of the issues in your post. I am unclear what much you have said has to do with Permiculture as defined by any of the founders or as taught in a PDC
Could you care to elaborate?

David



I am beginning to discover just how many "flavors" of Permaculture there may be. I love Bill Mollison and Sepp Holzer and others, but my favorites so far have been Dave Holmgren and Toby Hemenway as I find them the most accessible. I also like Geoff Lawton, and have been really enjoying following Paul Wheaton (of course). Mollison's stuff can frankly be overwhelming.

In particular, though, I identify with Holmgren's definitions of Permaculture. He stresses, through his "Permaculture Flower", that PC extends well beyond the land and gardens. He envisions it as encompassing all areas of life, including the social, political, financial/economic, psychological, technological, and yes-- even spiritual.

Here's the link to some basic information about what he calls the "health and spiritual well-being" domain:
http://permacultureprinciples.com/flower/health/
Of course, you can read more about it in Holmgren's book. One might say that "howling like wolves" is a part of "Spirit of place, indigenous cultural revival: Reconnection of spiritual and cultural values to place and “country”.

Other parts of "purple permaculture" may be related to what Holmgren calls "Yoga, Tai Chi & other body/mind/spirit disciplines: The maintenance of health through regular designed exercises based on eastern traditions"

I personally eat a paleo diet, and I consider that to be a permaculturally sound way of promoting good health.

In the above post, I also apply some of the concepts I've been studying in psychology, and how it affects how different people with different personalities approach these kinds of subjects. Instead of having conflict between the "thinkers" and the "doers", we can recognize that these are two different, but valid, approaches to the subject, and we can synergize holistically.

Edit: Just wanted to add that it sounds to me like Sepp Holzer is mostly interested in the one area of Permaculture that Holmgren calls "Land & Nature Stewardship". Holzer may just be labeling it "AgroEcology". From previous discussions here on Permies.com, I know that many seem to hold to the idea that Permaculture is MOSTLY about that, with perhaps the addition of natural home-building and energy-production. I agree that if you just want to create a homestead, those three areas are the most important, but if you're wanting to change an entire culture, then all seven areas really need to be addressed.
 
Jen Shrock
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I can honestly say that Permaculture has impacted me much deeper than land and nature stewardship. I have taken the principles that apply to how I work with the land and nature and have seen them have a profound impact on how I perceive and interact with all areas of my life. I have a deep sense of awe in the world around me, observe things a lot before taking actions and purpose with things that I do. I enjoy sitting around a campfire and talking it up with people, but chants and spiritualistic dancing are not a part of that. It is not how I express myself and I would not be comfortable in a situation like that.

I had the honor of training under Sepp for several days last spring. Something I really remember is how there was a change in the whole aurora of the meeting place when he came in. I actually had someone turn to me and matter of factly state "he is an earth shaman". I agreed that I could see that. Sepp has a connection with nature that cannot be completely explained. What I remember about the time there is when he was talking about the HOW of doing things, it was just like you were sitting and listening to any expert teacher on a subject. When he talked about the WHY and how it connected to nature, there was an entirely different feeling or aurora that came over the place. The best way that I can explain it, without sounding out there, is that it almost felt like something swept over the room. People got hushed and entirely focused on what was being said. Sepp is doing what he was born to do. I can connect with that and it gave me a feeling of calmness and sureness when I was there. He didn't say a thing about spirituality...he didn't have to - he just exuded it. Yes, his ideas in permaculture are weighted heavily on land and nature, but people are a part of that nature and he knows that. He is genuine, the real deal.

I know that in different things that I have read or listened to on the subject of Permaculture has referenced needing to meet people where they are at and not trying to shove your beliefs on them. Maybe that is what the color purple is doing? Is purple promoting spirituality over and above all things and excluding some people from the overall concept because of it? I think that spirituality is a personal thing and if I want to have the most positive influence on someone spiritual or otherwise, I need to observe where they are at and taylor my approach to them, to make them comfortable first. Through those interactions, I will observe them enough to know what approach is best to use. Usually overwhelming someone with the totality of what I think and believe right away has the exact opposite affect than what I intended.
 
Kevin EarthSoul
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Hi, Jenn,

Thanks for your response.

I study indigenous spirituality extensively, and I can quite confidently say that it is far more an authentic expression of one's connection than it is something performed now and again. It's something you ARE, rather than something you DO. I see a process at work in the "civilized world" where there's a desire for more authentic expressions of spirituality, and less contrived. "Bottom up" spirituality, so to speak, rather than "top down" (see my post above). The fact that you and others recognized Sepp as "an earth shaman" (are there any other kinds?) is telling that he's living his life in sacred union with the earth.

If you would allow me to wander a bit onto this topic... that's what it's all about-- "sacred relationship". In my studies of "comparative indigenous religion", one recognizes a recurring pattern of "three sacred relationships":

1. Sacred Relationship with the Earth
2. Sacred Relationship with Community
3. Sacred Relationship with Spirit (including the future that is yet to be).

The term "sacred", in this context, is used to indicate a closed loop, bi-directional flow of energy. Its opposite is "exploitative". Exploitative Relationship moves energy in one direction. I discovered these three Sacred Relationships before I encountered Permaculture, and instantly recognized them in the Three Ethics of PC. "Care for Earth" "Care for People" and "Share the Surplus". The last connection is a bit more loose, but is there, once you delve deeper into what it means to do so. At the heart of "sustainability" is meeting one's own needs, while ensuring that future generations can meet theirs. You honor the legacy handed to you by your ancestors, and try to leave your descendants with as rich a legacy, without leaving a mess behind.

Imagine if THIS is the entire sum of "spirituality". Just living in these Three Sacred Relationships. It's plain to me how PC goes hand-in-hand with that. Doing PC-- really doing it in all seven domains-- means living this kind of spiritual life.

Where the "wolf howling" activities go astray is in how they are trying to bring people who are accustomed to DOING spirituality into a deeper state of BEING spiritual. These people are tourists to spirituality who expect an experience, and that's what is created for them. But until they see this state of spirituality as a place to call "home" rather than just a place "to visit", they will continue to be a little bit off-kilter... and even a bit ridiculous to those who are living it every day.

Does that make sense?
 
Jen Shrock
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Kevin - I do appreciate your explanation and perspective and, I must admit, it had me "squinting" a bit to try to wrap my head around it. I think one point that I didn't initially make is that, I think that all permaculture events should be clear what is being offered or experienced at the event so that people have an opportunity to evaluate what is the appropriate event for them. Permaculture comes in all different flavors or colors, allowing it to be what each person needs it to be for themself. As long as events are transparent in advance as to what people should expect while attending, I think that the rightpeople will end up in the right place, growing each part of the permaculture community and perspective while maintaining appropriate respect and appreciation of the other perspectives. If you put the wrong people in the wrong event, it will very likely give them a negative association which they will project on the entire set of principles.

I do think, though, that we have gotten off track of the original question and intent of this thread. Everything you have written has been interesting to consider andmight serve better actually being posted in it's own thread to generate more active particiapation and discussion. Maybe you want to consider starting another thread focused more directly on what you have presented in this one?
 
Kevin EarthSoul
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Jen Shrock wrote:Kevin - I do appreciate your explanation and perspective and, I must admit, it had me "squinting" a bit to try to wrap my head around it. I think one point that I didn't initially make is that, I think that all permaculture events should be clear what is being offered or experienced at the event so that people have an opportunity to evaluate what is the appropriate event for them. Permaculture comes in all different flavors or colors, allowing it to be what each person needs it to be for themself. As long as events are transparent in advance as to what people should expect while attending, I think that the rightpeople will end up in the right place, growing each part of the permaculture community and perspective while maintaining appropriate respect and appreciation of the other perspectives. If you put the wrong people in the wrong event, it will very likely give them a negative association which they will project on the entire set of principles.

I do think, though, that we have gotten off track of the original question and intent of this thread. Everything you have written has been interesting to consider andmight serve better actually being posted in it's own thread to generate more active particiapation and discussion. Maybe you want to consider starting another thread focused more directly on what you have presented in this one?



Maybe a little bit... but I am speculating on why Sepp (and others) are turned off by some of what some people are doing in Permaculture these days.

When it comes right down to it, why can't Permaculture be broadly defined? Many of us are doing PC in different hardiness zones and biomes. What's appropriate to one biome isn't appropriate to another when it comes to plant guilds, construction methods, etc... I would never do a subterranean earthen home in Louisiana-- that's just crazy-- and I wouldn't plant orange trees in Quebec. If doing yoga or shamanic journeying isn't your cup of chickory, then don't do it! But then again, please don't presume to point a finger at those who do, and proclaim "That's not Permaculture!". Dave Holmgren is admittedly just one of PC's founders, but there are many who agree with his broader-based definition of PC, who feel it's more about changing our entire culture than just finding more sustainable ways of producing food, shelter, and energy.

Also, remember that much of Permaculture is still highly experimental. We're still finding new and innovative ways of doing the growing and building. Why not do experimental work in the psycho-spiritual realm, as well? Why be so concerned that some people are interested in exploring the possibilities with that?

Kevin
 
Zach Weiss
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Kevin EarthSoul wrote:When it comes right down to it, why can't Permaculture be broadly defined? .... please don't presume to point a finger at those who do, and proclaim "That's not Permaculture!"



Thank you for all of the wonderful sentiments you have shared here Kevin. I think you've hit the nail on the head with the thoughts above as to why Sepp changed the name. There is no reason Permaculture can't be broadly defined, and societies are at their best when they don't point fingers at one another. He is always getting asked questions about swales (which he never uses) and has often had people pointing at him saying "that's not permaculture." And so now instead of calling his stuff permaculture (a design science he has had no part in creating) he is calling it AgroEcology.

What Sepp's doing is absolutely Permaculture. At the same time Permaculture doesn't explain Sepp's approach, his methods, or his story. Personally I've had an easier time learning from Sepp than some of my peers, I think in large part this is because I have yet to take a PDC. I was able to learn Sepp's approach from the very start, for me it is the most simple, logical, and natural approach I have come across. He has taken a completely different path, yet in many ways arrived in the same place.
 
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Thanks for such a thought provoking thread!
 
Dale Hodgins
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There's a guy on YouTube who promotes wood chip gardening. It's called Back to Eden something. It's hard to pay attention to a guy who so blatantly pumps his religion while leading a tour. He claims to ask god questions and receive answers. "So, I asked god ... and god told me ..." "You see how god makes everything work in harmony", "We've been here now for 6,000 years of recorded history". It went on and on and on. This did not instill confidence. It made me question and doubt, since I'm still not sure what is being promoted more. It would have been over the top even if he was showing the garden to a Sunday school class.

I'm quite interested in his growing methods but not keen to hear that he talks to spirits and hears voices.
 
Kevin EarthSoul
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Dale Hodgins wrote:There's a guy on YouTube who promotes wood chip gardening. It's called Back to Eden something. It's hard to pay attention to a guy who so blatantly pumps his religion while leading a tour. He claims to ask god questions and receive answers. "So, I asked god ... and god told me ..." "You see how god makes everything work in harmony", "We've been here now for 6,000 years of recorded history". It went on and on and on. This did not instill confidence. It made me question and doubt, since I'm still not sure what is being promoted more. It would have been over the top even if he was showing the garden to a Sunday school class.

I'm quite interested in his growing methods but not keen to hear that he talks to spirits and hears voices.



That certainly would be off-putting...

To me, a fundamental principle of Permaculture is to learn from nature. Toby Hemenway talks about this in Gaia's Garden (even this title has a mildly religious overtone, as "Gaia" is the Ancient Greek goddess of the Earth). Toby writes, for example, about using the veins in a leaf as the inspiration for minimizing traffic pathways and maximizing planting bed space in an urban farm. This is my kind of spirituality-- learn from Mother Nature by learning her language, and becoming a keen observer of her processes. Some of us happen to enjoy also personifying her and having social celebrations around her. It's a way we can align our lives with Nature. That's my kind of spirituality. It's that bottom-up, "this is the way things are" philosophy that is merely mythologized and celebrated. The top-down, "this is the way things should be", and "we do it this way because God said so" mentality makes my skin itch. I grew up with that, and it didn't work for me.
 
the navigator
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Yo, Zach! Could you please say some more about the purpleness on the Detroit event? It must have been more than some hippies howling at the moon.
 
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I have to say, having been farming for the past 25 years, starting out as a conventional homesteader and then switching to Organic and then studying and adding in some Biodynamic principles, I have always approached my work in a Permaculture way...

However, the purpleness in Permaculture has a certain bend to it which, I don't know...... is off-putting to me personally. I am a deeply spiritual person. I wholly believe the principles of Biodynamic farming and being in tune with nature. This is one of the reasons I am so strongly attracted to the work of Sepp. I feel a kindred bond both in work ethics, projects, philosophy and spirituality.

There is a permaculture event nearby this weekend.... I strongly considered going to it, despite having many pressing farming matters--like haying..... But, I looked at the schedule of workshops and didn't see anything which grabbed me as being essential to my vision of Agriculture and feeding people in need. It seemed heavy on the eco-housing, energy usage, lifestyle side of thing. Then I saw that there was a headlining band performing at the even. I read the blurb and definitely decided this wasn't for me..... The terms, words, phrasing and double speak in the 5 or so paragraphs about how wonderful this experience was going to make me feel was enough to sabotage the whole event for me. And I am an extremely open-minded, hippie-esque person.

So, myself and farmers like me, who have a chance to do great things within the permaculture framework will probably not ever call our work Permaculture.....it's just the way we do things and have done them for years. I completely understand why Sepp has chosen AgroEcology as a term. I have used it in describing what I do as well.....SilvaCulture is another good term. I think it is great that Permaculture is a broad umbrella which covers many things....it truly has some great visionaries and people within the movement on all levels. That broad-scope, however, often leads it far away from the natural/agricultural side of things where many of us dwell.
 
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Interesting topic. I'm still digesting what permaculture is.

My goal is to go one year without buying meat from a grocery store. This does not mean I won't eat at a restaurant periodically.

My research for my lifestyle ( which is to become more self sufficient, more of a homesteading thing) lead me to Prepper forums. That got frustrating. You can't build a cabin without having two escape routes, and if it wasn't emp proof ( whatever that means) it would be pointed out.

The permie forum, or the permie culture, Best fits for the info I need and what I can help others with. But it does have its downsides. I've got two issues I simply can't wrap my head around.
 
Neal Foley
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wayne fajkus wrote: But it does have its downsides. I've got two issues I simply can't wrap my head around.



Well?? Don't leave us hanging..... What are the issues?? If you've started other threads....point to them here and we'll join the discussion there....
 
Zach Weiss
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Eivind Bjoerkavaag wrote:Yo, Zach! Could you please say some more about the purpleness on the Detroit event? It must have been more than some hippies howling at the moon.



I wish I could but I wasn't there and the howling at the moon and dancing like wolves was all I heard about. Maybe someone on the forums was there and could elaborate?

Neal Foley wrote:myself and farmers like me, who have a chance to do great things within the permaculture framework will probably not ever call our work Permaculture



I think this is a big loss for the Permaculture movement and seems to be happening more and more frequently. I completely understand why people do it, I often skirt that line myself. At the same time their is a big advantage of everyone working together to build the same movement.

It seems like a lot of the best practitioners end up branding their own term and moving away from the word permaculture. This weakens the movement that is in fact a growing global movement. Of course all of these farms are working in unison whether they use the same label or not, but branding has its advantages. The more practical on the ground examples we establish the more the movement will grow.

Call it whatever you want, but when someone asks "is this permaculture?" and it's regenerative farming I think the best response is "this is my style of permaculture"; for the sake of the movement so that more people can rediscover this kind of life.
 
wayne fajkus
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Neal Foley wrote:

Well?? Don't leave us hanging..... What are the issues?? If you've started other threads....point to them here and we'll join the discussion there....



I don't understand aquaculture. Putting too many fish in a tank where they can't support themselves. It seems contrary to other animals where we rotate/graze them, allowing nature to provide their needs. Temple Grandin , loosely quoted, said I understand we have to kill and eat the animals, but we don't need to torture them through the process. I currently eat happy lamb, chicken, and eggs, I wonder who's actually eating the unhappy tilapia. Its not a new thing. Old issue of mother earth news (70's) covered raising 50 fish in a 50 gallon drum. They stated it could be done, but the energy requirements going in are huge. 40 years later and its still a "thing". We just added a second benefit- feeding the plants.

Second is harder to explain. It's a combination of things but probably comes down to greed and has probably been discussed tirelessly. I guess I see the teaching/learning/helping segment suited better with local groups using meetup.com to say "hey, we're building a chicken tractor, if you'd like to come and help and learn let us know. Compared to Funding an entire operation on people spending $1200 + expenses to fly six states away to learn the same thing. There are superstars in the world, just as in movies and music, so don't take this as a blank statement. Sitting to listen to Sepp or Geoff would be similar (to me) as going to see def leopard play in concert. It has value. Paying to watch someone screw a solar panel on a roof and plug it into a charge controller doesn't. I would drive 60 miles to help though.

 
Zach Weiss
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You've got two really great points Wayne. On the first:

There is a BIG difference between Aquaponics and Aquaculture. Aquaponics is the high density fish torture that you are talking about, and these systems simultaneously trick plants into drinking nutrient too quickly, as it is in solution rather than in the soil where it can be consumed as the plant dictates. After sitting in on a lecture about Aquaponics I became totally uninterested, and began to consider this animal cruelty, after learning more about the conditions they are kept in and all of the resources, technology, maintenance, fossil fuel heat, and fish food that goes into these operations! And they're billed as providing a demonstration for a sustainable future! I for one don't think we'd ever be able to keep up this kind of system without the fossil fuel resources we currently have at our disposal.

Aquaculture is growing fish in their natural setting, in open ponds. The way Sepp does it the fish aren't fed at all, they feed on the natural ecosystem that develops in the water. The Phytoplankton feed the Zooplankton, who in turn feed water insects and crustaceans, finally resulting in fish. It is important for the pond to be varied and natural, containing elements such at tree stumps. These elements provide shelter for the smaller organisms to take cover in so that the pond can sustain fish of various sizes. Without such protection (like in aquaponics) the small fish are exhausted until eaten by larger fish, and you can only raise one size fish at a time. This is very unnatural but has unfortunately become the normal thinking. Sepp often says "Think Naturally not Normally"

On the second point I think that people rush to the education side of things. We should have at least 10x as many permaculture practitioners as teachers, maybe even 100x or more. Unfortunately because a few people have proved a viable financial model through education people rush to teaching classes before they really have something to teach. There are LOTS of ways to make money in permaculture, and I think being a practitioner is actually much easier and more financially rewarding than being a teacher. For a lot of people making this bridge is a stretch however, and because they learned permaculture from a teacher this is the example they have seen for making a living in permaculture.
 
David Livingston
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I'm with you on your point about teaching Zach . Sometimes I think Permiculture needs to show its viable to more people and not some pyramid selling scheme. The teaching should only come after 10 years+ of experiance . Thats just my opinion, Folks are free to do what they want.

David
 
Neal Foley
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I can speak a little to the teaching side of things.....

Long before there was Farmstead Meatsmith, I used to teach on-farm, humane slaughter, nose-to-tail butchery of livestock. I did it on my farm for visiting students, and occasionally on others' farms. It was a viable method for me to sell my pork, rabbit, lamb to the students while getting them to learn a valuable skill and participating in where their food came from. Then it dried up a bit. I went to France to study their methods--how a family of 8 brothers & their wives and children could survive on raising, killing and butchering 10 pigs a week for 50 weeks a year and make a good living.

I came back and offered more classes. Sometimes I invited experts from France to teach. Again, it was a great way for me to sell my livestock at a premium. BUT.... it was hard work. The fees had to be high because of guest teachers and materials. In order to feed everyone great food and keep it hands-on, the classes had to be small. I had already been farming for 15 years before I started any of this and I had many clean, humane kills under my belt before I began sharing how to do it. But for all the class fees, I made little money. I did get to sell my very high quality meat at a premium to people who used it and understood its value. Chefs would come and take the classes and bring carcasses away back to their restaurants to break down with staff and serve to customers. But it wasn't sustainable as it was months of work for a 3 day class which paid only slightly above the odds. I did it because it was fun, and to share the information, and my experiences.

And then I got burnt a bit....one of my students....a man who had never raised pigs before came and took a butchery course....from live to sausage and went out and got pigs, had tremendous problems raising them to which he pestered me for solutions continually. The following year he was teaching all about raising pigs and alluding to slaughter techniques. It made everything I did and had worked for seem shallow and made my pricing seems exorbitant.

I also gave a lecture at a conference on rotational pig grazing and raising your own pig feed.... Before I began my presentation, the entire group was informed that we were all experts...I looked out over the class of mainly 20-somethings and felt like maybe I better sit in the audience myself and see what these Experts could add to my 25 years experience......It made me wonder why I was invited to speak and of what value my information was......

I think the too-many-teachers syndrome will sort itself out and be self-pruning..... Those who add value continually and who expand the field will remain and grow while the others will fall away. I agree that there are more, and probably better, and easier ways to make money than teaching..... The teaching of certain skills should be an adjunct to a fully functioning system and a way to demonstrate what can happen when experience is applied to a situation. I don't think permaculture will become a household word until some of this gets sorted out.
 
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great thread here!
 
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Zach Weiss wrote: The purple permaculture that Sepp saw in Detroit was more along the lines of hand holding and dancing around howling, pretending to be wolves. These kinds of activities Sepp does not feel comfortable participating in, and does not want his to be associated with.



but, in many ways, we are so many wolves holding hands, dancing and howling, in Detroit... i would not expect someone like Sepp to feel comfortable in such a rabid place as this city... it is most certainly not an idyllic, fresh-aired, natural wonderland (well, it sorta is, actually, in its own way...).

and yet, i have no knowledge of Sepp's actual visit in Detroit, as i wasnt around at the time. thank you for prompting me to question permaculture yet again -- if only permaculture can continue to question itself, relentlessly, through observation...

 
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