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Robert Ray
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How do you feel about land ownership and permaculture?
  I've seen several posts that seem to support a communal style of ownership. Does one owning or possessing land mean they can't be a permaculturist?
Does owning land inhibit "Fair Share"?
In replying indicate if you currently own property or plan to own property, I feel that might be an indicative component of views.
 
Joshua Chambers
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I am involved in owning land "communally".  There are challenges to this, though the economic challenges to doing it "by myself" seem quite a bit greater than the social challenges of working together to create a more robust economy to allow us to engage in "owning land" at all, not to mention actively pursuing permaculture!
 
Ken Peavey
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It is the fundamental nature of man to want to control his own destiny.  The ability to own a home and the land it sits on, the ability to build according to whim, and the ability to leave behind a legacy for one's children to continue offers dignity for the human spirit.  Without dignity, we are the property, and we have no control over our own destiny.

People get up every morning, go to work, suffer, pay, live and die all across the world.  It is not too much to let them do the working and suffering and living and dieing with a couple of rooms and a bath to call their own.

In an intentional community, there is room for private ownership of land and homes.  This private ownership does not have to be acres and acres with expansive mansions and sculpted shrubbery.  My little house is 1140 sqft, plenty of room for me.  My lot is 100x120, house sits in the corner giving me a fine backyard.  I can do my own thing in my own yard, whatever that thing may be.  If I did not need to grow my own food, I would not need a whole lot of space.  A community garden and livestock, with the residents all pitching in certainly makes good use of space, time, and investment, and I'm all for it.





 
paul wheaton
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It is my obnoxious opinion that to do the things I want to do, I cannot do it alone.  Nor can I do it with just one other person.  Even with two other people - not enough. 

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this and I think what I have in mind would require at least six full time, year round people, plus a bunch of folks in the warm season. 

I came to this conclusion in 2005 and set out to figure out how to make it work.  I read diana leaf christian's excellent book and then took a workshop from her.  I visited a dozen different IC's and lived in a few different flavors of IC's. 

My thinking is that IC living is about seven times more complex than all the rest of permaculture put together.  And this complexity makes it nearly certain to fail. 

In fact, I remember in Diana's workshop, the rule of thumb is that 90% fail.  And the remaining 10% looked a little sickly too.  And you have to realize that 100% of these people are smart, decent folks dedicated to making things work. 

I do not have a slam dunk answer.  I think all answers are going to be flawed.  The trick is (IMOO) to come up with something that has the most up sides and the least down sides. 


 
tel jetson
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seems to me that more folks ought to seek long-term leases and other alternative modes of land tenure rather than buying a chunk of land.  mortgages are trouble.  leasing would allow folks to invest more resources into the land instead of into the bank.  it would mean being very careful about finding the right landlord and crafting a lease or other agreement, but there are a lot of very substantial advantages.

if, however, a person is flush with cash and can afford to buy land outright, that might very well make sense to do.  owning land may make "Fair Share" a little more difficult for some folks, but I don't think it should prevent it entirely.  private ownership of land has lead to all manner of problems and there's a strong argument to be made for shifting away from that model.  that doesn't mean folks can't do all sorts of good on land that they do own right now, though.
 
Robert Ray
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Tel, could you expand on your "all manner of problems" with ownership versus a lease advantage?
 
                        
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seems to me that more folks ought to seek long-term leases and other alternative modes of land tenure rather than buying a chunk of land.  mortgages are trouble.  leasing would allow folks to invest more resources into the land instead of into the bank.  it would mean being very careful about finding the right landlord and crafting a lease or other agreement, but there are a lot of very substantial advantages.


Allow me to wander a tiny bit.  There's no permaculture/land ownership link, just an example of a so-far successful long-term lease situation from the farm I worked on last year, short-handed:

      Rent is set at a pittance: $100/year for all-you-can-farm access to 5 acres of prime bottomland, plus 10-15 acres of pasture/hayfield, with the object of freeing up farmer cash for farming.

      Farmers (married couple) rent land from owner, currently a ten-year lease.  Improvements to the land (i.e.: structures) are divided into Classes A and B.  Other improvements from soil amendments, informed and careful stewardship, etc. are not considered by the lease agreement, although there was some discussion of how to quantify and reward that kind of thing.  So, the buildings:

      Class A are those improvements which the landlord agrees will be of some benefit to him, should the current farmers leave.  The construction cost is borne by the farmers (unless otherwise agreed upon) and refunded to them when they leave.  Example:  The cabin in which they live was built by the landlord.  They had kids and needed more room.  The landlord agreed that an addition would increase the value of the cabin - allowing him to raise the rental price in case the farmers were to leave - the farmers paid the carpenter for another two rooms and saved the bills.

    Class B are the buildings that the landlord does not foresee a use for if the parties go their separate ways.  Example:  The greenhouse.  He won't use it, and would like it to be removed.  Again, construction cost is borne by the farmers, but they retain the right to dismantle and take it with them - so in that sense they "own" it in a way they don't "own" the cabin - but will not be retroactively compensated for its construction. 

    All this is intended to give the farmers some sense of security.  They are not completely subject to the whim of the landlord and are thereby encouraged to invest in the place.  The system has the merits of being simple, and has worked so far (since 1997).
 
Seth Pogue
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It sure is nice when the intentional community can share a common spiritual bond.  Seems to be the best "glue" of all.
 
Robert Ray
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I'm not sure that a bond would have to be spiritual for a IC to be succesful but a common and agreed upon goal or vision.
Some of the posts concepts appear to be along the lines of Paul's Modern Fiefdom.


 
tel jetson
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Robert Ray wrote:
Tel, could you expand on your "all manner of problems" with ownership versus a lease advantage?


sure.  I think private land ownership often leads to a sort of it's-mine-I'll-do-what-I-want-with-it mentality.  I've seen many examples of actions taken on private land that were extremely damaging both to that land and to surrounding land that I attribute to this mentality.

I've seen many instances of irresponsible harvest of timber that lead directly to extremely damaging erosion downhill.

I've seen many instances of irresponsible application of herbicides directly adjacent to bodies of water.

I've seen many instances of home garbage dumps and home garbage burning.

if property were to be administered by a community, I believe many of these actions that have great impact on whole communities would be very much less likely to happen.

I'll go ahead and acknowledge that many private owners of land have done great and beneficial things with their land.  that doesn't negate the nastiness, nor does the nastiness negate the goodness.

just yesterday, I toured a 225-acre organic herb farm.  that 225 acres of fertile bottom land has the potential to support many more people than it does and support them very comfortably.  instead, it is enriching one family, and paying low wages for tedious, unpleasant work to forty-two H-2A workers from Latin America.  one family owns the land and therefore, from their perspective, owns the exclusive right to reap reward from it.

I don't believe such an arrangement is morally acceptable.  other folks hold such a farm up as an exemplar of good business practice.

I'm not prepared to say, unequivocally, that private ownership of land is a bad idea.  I'm leaning that direction, though.
 
Robert Ray
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Perhaps some of the same thing could be said of people to lease properties from others.
Having built a small house in one State and moving to another then leasing the home in abstentia, thinking I might move back , was an expensive learning experience.
I seem to see the opposite in many cases where ownership encourages one to take care of the property and those who have no stake are not good stewards.
Son of Levin's description seems to be a workable and equitable exchange.
I both own and lease property I treat both as if they were mine and even though improvements are not owned by me on the leased property I have a personal obligation that I leave no detrimental effect on it.
 
tel jetson
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I won't argue with any of that, Robert Ray.  there are certainly a lot of examples on both sides of the issue.  I guess my first post was dealing with two different ideas that aren't necessarily that closely related and I didn't distinguish very well between them.

the first was that a long-term lease can be a great way for a farmer to get things off the ground without the overwhelming burden of a mortgage.

the second was that private ownership of land causes problems.  abolishing private ownership would, of course, also abolish leasing land from private owners and nullify the first idea.

abolishing private land ownership isn't likely to happen right away, so I'll repeat my recommendation for long-term leasing.  obviously, it depends on the particular parties involved, but I believe a long-term lease stands a good chance of encouraging everybody involved to care for the land.  the longer the lease term, the more likely this is to be true.
 
Robert Ray
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A long term lease along the lines of Son of Levin's description in where a new farm or property is placed into responsible production could occur much faster than the farmer/property owner could do on his own.
Is see where there is a buy in of the leasors in that system.
 
Seth Pogue
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Just make sure you have really easy terms on your long term lease, that you can meet no problem if, say, the economy drops by another 50%.
Ocean of tears when you lose the land you've spent 10 years pouring your heart and soul into.
 
tel jetson
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I don't think a flat rate lease makes sense in this context.  something as simple as a fraction of gross sales could work.  maybe a floor and a ceiling would be needed as well.  an option to buy would be nice.

I've mentioned it in another thread, but the New England Small Farm Institute put together a pretty good primer on alternative land tenure models.  I don't have a link right now, but it's easy to find.  covers a lot of things that seem inconsequential at first blush, but in reality could end up making the difference between success and failure.
 
Robert Ray
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  A flat lease rate on occupied dwelling and equitable distribution of net of any  revenue on shared efforts makes sense to me.
In the end if there is no option for purchase the eqitable division of profits would make it a lot easier for me to want to stay on someone else's property and lease in that type of scenario.
Having your own plot and the ability to deversify/specialize in addition to what might be offered by the shared crop/product of the main plot or other renters would allow one to make additional personal profit from their efforts outside the shared effort profit.
 
Seth Pogue
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Robert;

Might want to establish a mandatory amount of time spent on collective profit before adding personal profit efforts. People spending more and more time pursuing personal agendas is often  the beginning of the end for community.
 
paul wheaton
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Son of Levin wrote:
Allow me to wander a tiny bit.  There's no permaculture/land ownership link, just an example of a so-far successful long-term lease situation from the farm I worked on last year, short-handed:



This sounds simple, plausible and effective. 

Can you tell us more?

 
                        
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Sure.  Here's the situation, a little more fleshed-out:

      Landowner C bought an old 60-acre farm back in 1979, homesteaded for awhile, fished around for ways to make money, and ended up buying the "means of production" - vats, koji trays, etc. - from a failing miso company in Ohio.  He built a masonry stove and started making miso.  At one point, he had dreams of growing the ingredients for the various varieties of miso (eg; leeks, soy, garlic) on his own land.  And he wanted to do it with horse-power, so he bought up a bunch of harness and built stalls in his barn.

      But the miso got really popular, really fast, and he had no time to farm.  C never got horses.  The business expanded, he built himself a house, and his cabin and barn were now vacant and a local farmer grew corn on the parts of the farm down by the river.  No one managed the forest.  C had mixed feelings about it.  He was happy the land was being used, but not thrilled with seeing continuous corn. 

      1995: Enter D.  Very eager to be a farmer, though with only limited experience; he'd been a former apprentice on a farm in Maine and some homesteads in the PNW, and had worked with horses.  He'd done a bit of reading, too. 

      C and D hit it off, and agreed to a one-year lease to get to know one another and feel out the terms that might work for both.  They agreed that D would grow something other than corn and try to sell it, and C would let him use the tractor to do it.  Other than that, C stayed out of it.  Didn't tell D what to do or how to do it.  Let him make his mistakes, charged next to nothing for renting the cabin, and let him use the tractor for free.

      D grew a 1/12th acre garden, sold what he could, wrapped it up early and finished the season doing piece-work in a local apple orchard.  He kept all his money, and spent it on seeds, a pickup truck, and some beat-up horsedrawn equipment.  Year 2, same thing, but on a little larger scale.  Year 3, he finally bought horses, worked up the courage to start a CSA, and got about 30 members. 

      At no point was there any revenue- or labor-sharing.  Whether D's business succeeds or fails is entirely up to him.  He simply receives a "micro-subsidy" from C in the form of a very cheap lease on some good land.

    C runs the miso company, hires and fires employees, oversees day-to-day operations there, and writes the checks.  D runs the farm - with apprentice labor - and all proceeds from the CSA and farm store are his.  The farm does not provide ingredients for the miso company.

    I think this "separate-but-helpful" arrangement is an important point: the two workforces and managers do not interfere with one another, but each is available as a resource for the other if they need help.  I was an apprentice at the farm and we were on hand when C wanted to put up a greenhouse near his house.  And when we needed the miso company's tractor or forklift to lift a pallet onto the wagon, all we had to do was ask.

      As the farm operation grew, and D became more invested in it, the question of longer-term security came up.  He wanted to start a family, teach apprentices how to farm with horsepower...do his life's work, basically.  They came up with the arrangement detailed in my first post in this thread...

      The key to the whole thing is finding a landowner enlightened enough to relinquish some control over "his" land. 
 
Anna Spangle
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Wheaton wrote "My thinking is that IC living is about seven times more complex than all the rest of permaculture put together.  And this complexity makes it nearly certain to fail.
In fact, I remember in Diana's workshop, the rule of thumb is that 90% fail.  And the remaining 10% looked a little sickly too.   And you have to realize that 100% of these people are smart, decent folks dedicated to making things work. "

Bummer, because as you say there is too much manual labor to (happily) do alone. We need each other. There has to be a way.

Having been married 21 years to only ONE person, I cannot imagine how it works being in a commtted long-term relationship with many others unless it was a business arrangement. Daniel Quinn talks about running a business cooperatively.  Also I read that Russian peasants had an elaborate system of common ownership called the Mir or obschina for hundreds of years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obshchina

   Must we accept that Americans somehow cannot make this succeed!
 
tel jetson
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Son of Levin wrote:
Sure.  Here's the situation, a little more fleshed-out: ...


South River Miso, yes?  just tried to pick their brains about some FDA regulations concerning miso.  seem like nice folks.

anyhow, that's story demonstrates fairly well why I'm in favor of leasing.  your Farmer D likely wouldn't have qualified for a loan to buy land.  if he had qualified, he likely wouldn't have been able to save money for materials and horses while making payments on the loan.

now if only I could convince the bankers who own the 30 acres just down the road how great it would be to lease to me...
 
Fred Morgan
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What we are doing is treating our workers like they are part of a co-op. We limit the amount of money we withdraw from our company and all the rest of the profit goes back to expansion, buying more land, more equipment, more lifestock, planting more trees, etc.

Thankfully, Costa Ricans have a sense of community and they know if we expand, it means their relative or friend might be able to get a job.

Since no matter how much money the company makes, we don't change our life style (which is very modest) those who work for us believe us. We have caretakers who are paid to do a job during the week - which gives them a nice salary and a place to live. They also raise pigs, have a milk cow (we buy this) and raise much of their food. They are NOT allowed to raise a cash crop since the land belongs to us.

They have a good salary, a good place to live and health insurance, etc.

I can't imagine doing something likes this as a committee because it requires people only taking what they need (like ourselves).  Most people want more than that.
 
                        
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What we are doing is treating our workers like they are part of a co-op. We limit the amount of money we withdraw from our company and all the rest of the profit goes back to expansion, buying more land, more equipment, more lifestock, planting more trees, etc.


What makes this a co-op?  What you are describing is sound capitalism, but not a co-op.  A co-op is:

      a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit.[1] Cooperatives are defined by the International Co-operative Alliance's Statement on the Co-operative Identity as autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprises.[2] A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or by the people who work there.  (Wikipedia search: "co-op", emphasis mine)

    The issue is control of the means of production.  In your case the land, equipment, livestock, and nursery stock.  You use the profits generated by the business to acquire additional land, which you control.  In this way, you increase your assets and net worth, regardless of how modestly you live.  Your workers are subject to your decisions about what they can and cannot raise on their own plots, in exchange for which you provide or do not provide certain benefits.   

    Providing milk cows, salaries, and health insurance is great.  To the extent you do go above and beyond providing the barest necessities for your workers, I commend you - you sound like a good, compassionate landowner. 

Thankfully, Costa Ricans have a sense of community and they know if we expand, it means their relative or friend might be able to get a job.


This seems to indicate that Costa Ricans can see beyond the ends of their noses, and are able to put the greater (material) good ahead of their own personal interests.

I can't imagine doing something likes this as a committee because it requires people only taking what they need (like ourselves).  Most people want more than that.


And this seems to indicate maybe you don't trust human nature too much - and there is a lot of evidence to support that belief, I grant you.  But there appears to be an inherent conflict between these two statements.  Or is your belief something like "Costa Ricans can be unselfish, but in practice they are not often so." 

Do you believe that, if put to a vote (i.e., "doing something like this as a committee", your workers would allow a system where some got more than what they needed?  Or do you suspect that their definition of how much they need would differ too greatly from your definition of what they need?



 
Fred Morgan
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I think what everyone has to accept is the Tragedy of the Commons. If you have a common resource, without controls - and very strong ones, someone will start exploiting it, and after that, you have a run on the resource.

I think many people are good people, but it doesn't take many to cause everyone to just give up.

Capitalism would imply we would take all profit to ourselves - what we do is reinvest in new jobs, new opportunities. Granted, our asset base grows, but as long as we don't touch that asset base, it really doesn't matter who owns it. The advantage is that we ensure everyone is contributing, and anyone who doesn't, is removed. I am not a socialist, since I believe in private land ownership.

This is not to say I think an Intentional Community would not work - it might.

A co-op, Costa Rican style, does not imply equal power.  It means merely that resources are combined in order that smaller units can benefit as though they are larger. It also implies that there isn't a dominate player siphoning off all gain.

We aren't a pure co-op, but we try to follow many of the concepts.
 
Fred Morgan
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A little more - I don't really think of myself as a compassionate land owner, just a smart one. Not to call people cattle, but... I would never starve a cow or horse and expect it to produce, I would never expect a worker to do well if I didn't make sure they were cared for.

And, what will turn this into a true co-op is that someday is that we have made plans to turn everything over to the workers in our will, with board of trustees to make sure it doesn't get looted.

I am more interested in sustainable industry to be truthful. The idea is to build a company that doesn't have a top heavy management group and investors who drain off the life blood.
 
                        
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If you have a common resource, without controls - and very strong ones, someone will start exploiting it, and after that, you have a run on the resource.


I agree completely.  And I believe these controls can be co-operatively established and enforced, especially at the local level.

Capitalism would imply we would take all profit to ourselves - what we do is reinvest in new jobs, new opportunities.
 

I didn't mean to imply that you take all the profit.  But those new jobs and opportunities, in the end, mean more land for Fred and Fred alone.  In other words, that profit, re-invested in cows, or health insurance, or new hired hands, returns to you, just in a different form. 

The advantage is that we ensure everyone is contributing, and anyone who doesn't, is removed.


The expediency of being able to oust a lazy worker without having to call together a committee is appealing.  I've seen a crew's morale destroyed because the lazy ones weren't dealt with promptly. 

A co-op, Costa Rican style, does not imply equal power.  It means merely that resources are combined in order that smaller units can benefit as though they are larger.


What does this mean, in practice?  That the caretakers have access to company vehicles/equipment for their own use during off-hours?  What are the resources, smaller and larger units we're talking about here?

Not to call people cattle, but... I would never starve a cow or horse and expect it to produce, I would never expect a worker to do well if I didn't make sure they were cared for.


OK, but do you not believe that workers could care for themselves if given the means to do so?  Of course it's not reasonable to expect a (fenced-in) cow or horse to manage its pasture optimally.  But give the workers a little more credit.

Granted, our asset base grows, but as long as we don't touch that asset base, it really doesn't matter who owns it[...]what will turn this into a true co-op is that someday is that we have made plans to turn everything over to the workers in our will, with board of trustees to make sure it doesn't get looted.


Which brings us to an important question:  If you really wouldn't mind not owning the land, and your plans are to turn it over to your workers eventually anyway, why wait?  Why not cede ownership to the workers tomorrow, on some conditions that you felt comfortable with?  I know what I think, but I'd like to hear your answer.


 
Robert Ray
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Would releasing the property to the workers, guarantee the already established success developed by Fred and his oversight?
Do you see in Fred's operating procedures anything that is unfair in his relationship with his group?
 
 
                        
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    Guarantee is a strong word.  No, I don't think there would be any guarantee.  The company could go belly-up, or it could prosper. 

    I don't know what Fred's operating procedures are.  And I have no way to know.  I'm in no position to call them fair or unfair.  I only want to understand his logic, and his view of his relationship to his workers and to do that, I have to ask questions.  I admit I'm being challenging, but I hope not condemnatory.
 
Emerson White
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I spent the better part of the last three hours writing out a big long reply about evolution and game theory and tragedy of the commons and iterated prisoners dilemma, and the history of property ownership and the philosophy behind it, but I didn't thing it was complete enough to give the whole picture (and at a scant 2,600 words I figured it would be tl;dr material; this whole thread is about 4,500 now). So I figure I'd put it in terms you would all understand.

Property ownership at some level is essential to permaculture,especially the perma part of it.

Complete cooperation is a monoculture, and that leaves it vulnerable to attack.
 
                        
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E-mail it to me.  I'll read it.  I'd like to see all those dots connected.
 
Emerson White
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I need to write for a few more hours to get it ready, then I'll send it your way. If I spend a few days on it I might be able to turn it into a proposal letter, maybe get someone to pay me to write a book on it this summer.
 
Fred Morgan
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Okay, a few quick answers here. First of all, I don't feel attacked, if anyone wishes to attack me, you are going to have try harder for me to notice it. 

Why not turn it over? Let me answer this by pointing something out. Most people think that the reason they are poor is they don't have money. That is not true. The reason people are poor is because they don't know how to use money as a tool.  The reason we retain control is so that the resource is not drained. We did try to have partners, it didn't work. The concept here is similar to there, the owners take all profits, and only give the bare minimum to the workers.

In a way, this is socialism, but with us as the state, instead of the state. The land and the machine are commonly owned, and the state (us in this case) ensures that no one exploits the land or the workers. People are paid based on their contribution to the company, like a capitalistic system - so it is far from communism. People are not paid based on their need. Everyone who works for us realizes that if they aren't contributing to the overall profitability of the company, they either will be reassigned, or let go.

But though I think they aren't ready to take the reigns yet - I see great progress. I am looking forward to the day, honestly.  We have other sources of income as well - so we really don't even think about taking profits out of the company - just not needed.

And though in theory all gains in assets to enrich us, since we won't ever sell the company and it is already set up to never be sold after our deaths, we don't think of assets as belonging to us - they are the seed for further growth, and more jobs.

And though these may seem very generous (and I suppose it is), I figure it is the workers who have helped build what we have and any decision we make must take into account those who got us here.

By the way, regarding giving people credit. I swear a cow has more sense than humans - especially in groups. Honestly, people resemble horses more than cows. A cow won't kill itself off from having too much food, but a horse will. In fact, I can't think of any animal, other than people, more self destructive than a stallion.  If you look at our current society, we are exploiting resources at an incredible rate, with very little thought for the future. And we are mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren at the same time. It is a nice idea to think that groups of people will do the right thing, but in practice - look at Democracy.
 
Emerson White
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Dude that is totally and completely 100% capitalism. It's not overly and clumsily greedy capitalism, but it is capitalism.
 
Fred Morgan
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Emerson White wrote:
Dude that is totally and completely 100% capitalism. It's not overly and clumsily greedy capitalism, but it is capitalism.



Sure, I know that. But if you were to replace me with the State, you have socialism - doncha? The goal for me is to improve society (you would think it would be for the State, but it seems usually just to get elected again). A better society around me, with good jobs, good schools, good health care means I am safer and happier. So, in a way, it is selfish - and in another altruistic.

I think someone once called it enlightened self interest.
 
Fred Morgan
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Just to be clear on something - I don't think socialism is a cure for much, except perhaps productivity.
 
                          
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I have to make an important point here.

One of the things John Michael Greer has said in his writings is that civilizations that relied on annuals were more successful than those that relied on perennials.  Successful is different from sustainability, of course.  But you have to live to see the next day before you can think about longer timeframes, and history has spoken on this issue so far.  The problem is that if a tree takes many years to enter maturity, then there is a significant risk that the tree will get chopped down.  So there is no free ride with permaculture.  In order for the time-savings of food forestry to pay off, there must be a high degree of stability in land use.  That typically means having a single owner who acts as an earth-steward for the long-haul.

This is reeeallly hard to do in today's world in which land is fast-trading commodity.  Even someone like David Jacke of Edible Forest Gardens fame has had to abandon his own nascent food forests at least once due to moving.  And the most famous example being Robert Hart himself whose property fell in the hands of an uncaring owner who has either intentionally undone his work or let it fester.

In my own case, I am currently living in 1/4 acre suburban plot that my parents own.  The property value of this area is so high that I find it inconceivable that they will not one day break down and sell it to the yuppies chomping at the bit to get in.  That means any tree plantings I make are liable to be destroyed by the new owners who will (of course) not see the value in them.  So I am likely never to see the food forest project mature, and if I do, it's likely to be destroyed and force me to start from scratch elsewhere, at a time when I will desperately need it to be in full productivity!

So THAT is what permaculture and land ownership is all about.  A migrant permaculturalist isn't a very effective permaculturalist because in his wake are everyone else who won't appreciate the work and reverse it, resetting everything back to zero at the rate of a chainsaw blade and a wood-chipper.

What the world needs is a new form of land trust designed to protect permaculture food forests, not just native wilderness.  It should be possible to lock a portion of the property in the land trust and yet maintain the rights to operate it as an edible food forest.  It would be hard to apply this all the way down to the suburban scale, however.

 
Robert Ray
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That permanence of ownership or shared vision is an important point.
The effort to bring a plot, lot, acre whatever into permaculture production isn't overnight and would require a legacy of some kind to carry through. So whether that ownership is personal or communal ownership I think it's required.
 
Neal McSpadden
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I think this is a large part of why Mollison changed permaculture from permanent agriculture to permanent culture.  Without a quasi-permanent settlement structure, you're right that the huge payoffs of permaculture doesn't manifest. 

However, even in the short to mid range, permaculture techniques can have beneficial results.
 
jeremiah bailey
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mos6507, I think you maybe struggling over the fact that the land you are living on is not owned by you. Your parents probably don't care about the sustainability of the land as much as the dollar it (the land) will bring to the closing table. I think you should look into affordable land in the vicinity. Build your food forest there. And when it comes time to sell, include in the sale the stipulation of trust that the land will be tended to as a food forest and not some urban construct. Part of ownership of land is the freedom to utilize it as you see fit, and to see that it is maintained into the future. The type of land trust that you speak of is already inherent in the real estate laws, at least here in the US. The founders of this nation had great foresight when they implemented the tenets of landownership. You can stipulate in the sale of land, the future use and means of use of said land. Any deviance from that agreement is a breach of contract in which the seller can file suit. You could also create a NPO or LLC and entrust the land to it and remain in control of it, even though you have physically moved onto greener pastures..
 
                              
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tel jetson wrote:
I don't think a flat rate lease makes sense in this context.  something as simple as a fraction of gross sales could work.  maybe a floor and a ceiling would be needed as well.  an option to buy would be nice.

I've mentioned it in another thread, but the New England Small Farm Institute put together a pretty good primer on alternative land tenure models.  I don't have a link right now, but it's easy to find.  covers a lot of things that seem inconsequential at first blush, but in reality could end up making the difference between success and failure.


It's called Share Cropping. Which has a whole bunch of evils all its own.
Leigh
 
We should throw him a surprise party. It will cheer him up. We can use this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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