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Is anyone really doing permaculture?  RSS feed

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

R Ranson wrote: That's why I'm such a fan of the Wheaton Eco-Scale, and other ideas that embrace permaculture as a sliding scale.



Have you gotten beyond Level 2 or 3? I have a hard time seeing how someone could without either choosing to be "poor" (turning off grid connections, quitting job, etc) or being quite wealthy (even by First World standards).



I think I'm somewhere between a 2 and a 5. I'm taking the poor person's path. I don't know if I'll ever get very high up the scale because I can't see every being able to afford a PDC. But each year we do more and do better. We learn from everything we can. We'll probably move in the next few years to a much smaller house, a much larger farm, and be off grid. That's the plan at any rate.

Paul's scale is a great starting place, but maybe a bit too specific of what each level requires for my taste. There are people doing amazing permaculture living, but never heard of the word level on taken a PDC. Yet I would put them very high on a permaculture scale.
 
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How to pay the bills permaculturally, is a big one for me. Because there are still bills, even with reducing in a lot of areas. Electricity, insurances, taxes, internets, etc. But it's hard to get anyone to talk about it; I've tried in other threads. Mostly just theory, not what anyone is actually doing or in the process of trying. I've cut way back on my stupid and wasteful business, or, to some extent, it has cut back on me because of changes in my industry, in any case I've stopped trying to obtain more paying work. But gosh darn it, the bills didn't get the news that there's hardly any money coming in.

I guess I could bluntly start a thread "How do you make a living permaculturally" but all I would get would be a bunch of "you can do this, or you can do that," not what people are actually really doing in their own lives.

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:How to pay the bills permaculturally, is a big one for me.

Seems selling information is one of the biggest industries in Permaculture right now.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Seems selling information is one of the biggest industries in Permaculture right now.



That wouldn't work for me as I have no information to sell. Some of the best information seems to be free - this messageboard, Geoff Lawton's videos.
 
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wow, i see the last post on this forum was on in august of 2012. hmmm.

people are talk here a lot about permaculture is done to meet the goals of the person doing the permaculture.

these goals often seem not primarily to be monetary. I recently posted in a forum on sand about how easy it is to grow in sand by adding microbes without any off site materials and no one seemed interested. many people want to bring in materials from the outside and work hard, or shall we say they do not hear unless it fits their concept of what it takes.

i do wonder how one can sustain something, even pay the taxes without making money from the venture. yes we can work somewhere else and pay the taxes but that does not meet my definition of sustainable.

i want to talk about an amazing operation in sebastopol, california, owners are paul and elizabeth kaizer. they are earning $100,000 an acre gross on a 3 acre spread. what was most amazing to me is how little what i consider permaculture they are doing and yet the carbon holding capacity of the soil is really rising and I assume microbes are rising as well. what i mean by little is that the only tree crops are in their hedgerows. they are not planting dynamic accumulators and their beds are primarily monoculture. they do have a huge diversity more than 100 annual plants. they are a strict no till operation (or they would not have the carbon accumulation. they use incredibly less water than others nearby because of the carbon holding capacity of the soil. they also have a paid labor force, which they are proud to pay 15.00 an hour. the labor is paid 1/2 of the 100,000 per acre or 50,000 per acre. they grow 5-8 crops per year in their beds.

here is something that was written about them:

http://craftsmanship.net/drought-fighters/

my own goals involve reversing desertificaiton as well as demonstrating permaculture in such a way as a lot of farmers take off with it. In this world at this time that involves earning a decent living from this farming. If current farming practices along with many other things we humans are doing why not develop a method of farming that restores the earth. permaculture is this and so lets demonstrate it.

i was recently watching a video of John D. Liu talking about how various governments including China have done massive projects to reverse desertification (such as the Loess Plateau). They have paid the farmers to stay off the land during the restoration, paid them to keep their animals off and paid for all the earth works. So one way is for the public sector whether government or NGOs to pay for reversing desertification. my contribution is to demonstrate how farmers can make money from restoring their soils, restoring the ground water, restoring the rain cycles.

Green Gold a documentary by John D. Liu, Geoff Lawton is on this video.
www.whatwechange.org.



I studied and taught dry land farming (no irrigation) in India where this type of farming is all that is available to 70% of the farmers. With permaculture methods, especially earth moving practices, yields are increased considerably.

Now I am back in the U.S. and have chosen to move to a desert environment in Eastern Oregon, where there is only 8-16 inches of rain a year to demonstrate how drought tolerant crops can be grown without irrigation that will actually increase rain in the area. And more money can be made from this than from growing wine grapes. this is posted on permies under the region cascadia and also under food forests as Terra Lingua, Eastern Oregon.

One could say this is theoretical at this point and when you go through the resources there you wlll see that all of this had been done, just not applied to making money.

 
Tyler Ludens
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charlotte anthony wrote:
Now I am back in the U.S. and have chosen to move to a desert environment in Eastern Oregon, where there is only 8-16 inches of rain a year to demonstrate how drought tolerant crops can be grown without irrigation that will actually increase rain in the area. And more money can be made from this than from growing wine grapes. this is posted on permies under the region cascadia and also under food forests as Terra Lingua, Eastern Oregon.



Looking forward to seeing your results!

 
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Charlotte, could you post a link to your info on growing in sand without outside inputs? I am curious.
 
charlotte anthony
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will do the growing in sand next.

right now i wanted to post this video I found on a man 2000 dry land agriculture, earning lots of money on 2000 acres in north dakota where he only gets 11 inches of rain a year.


Keys To Building a Healthy Soil - Organic - Permaculture and Polyculture
Gabe Brown Soil Conservationist - Explains how to remediate and build up your soil quality.
 
charlotte anthony
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i already posted one of the projects that i did in India where i grew wonderful crops on 5 acres of pure sand mainly subsoil. this was a dry land planting with a failed monsoon. we did not get more than 1 inch of rain during the whole growing season, and it was mainly in the form of mist. only once did we have to look for shelter to avoid getting once, the rain was that light.

the link is http://www.permies.com/t/52127/soil/Turning-sand-soil

the corn was 10 feet tall. tomatoes, beans, eggplant, lots of medicinals.
 
Tyler Ludens
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charlotte anthony wrote:i already posted one of the projects that i did in India where i grew wonderful crops on 5 acres of pure sand mainly subsoil. this was a dry land planting with a failed monsoon. we did not get more than 1 inch of rain during the whole growing season, and it was mainly in the form of mist. only once did we have to look for shelter to avoid getting once, the rain was that light.

the corn was 10 feet tall. tomatoes, beans, eggplant, lots of medicinals.



You seem to be saying you grew corn 10 feet tall with one inch of rain. Did you irrigate?

 
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I'm doing permaculture. Not very well, but I'm trying hard. Same with the money thing.

There are people out there who are doing some sort of agro-ecology -- doing good for the land -- and getting a decent livelyhood. And not just people teaching about it, if that erks people.

Hopefully what I'm building will come to fruition and it will do both the ecology thing and earn money for me. But it is certainly nowhere near as easy as I imagined in the beginning.
I think that's why you don't hear a bazillion more success stories. It's not easy and like everything worth having, it takes time, money, and hard work to get things off the ground.

William
 
charlotte anthony
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william, if you know of some agro-ecology projects that are making money would you share them. and yes please tell us what you are doing.

i do not agree that it takes a lot of time, money, or hard work to make money while doing great agro-ecology. please see my posts.

i was discussing with a friend what it takes to be a good farmer and the word she used was competence. competence is not intelligence, knowledge, hard work, money or time. it is observation and doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. i would say it is working smart rather than hard working. it is focusing on what you are doing and noticing when it works and doing something different when it does not. it does take some going on the internet and reading what is working for others and applying that.

i was blown away when i went to india and found that 70% of all farming in india is done dry land. Now I am blown away to see that folks have been succeeding in the u.s. with these methods for many years and i had never noticed. (please see the post just prior to this).
 
charlotte anthony
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tyler, yes i grew corn 10 feet tall on 1 inch of rain. okay there was some water put in the trenches which were next to where the corn was grown. the trenches were 2 feet deep and the farmers had cows which lived on cement (yuck), but every day he would collect what he termed cow wash, which came off the cement when he washed it down. this was put in trenches several times during the growing season.

again these trenches were 2 feet down from where the corn was growing and i assume that the mycorhizzals transferred the moisture up to the roots of all the plants including the corn. also there were coconuts growing nearby shading the corn (or at 130 degrees during the heat of the day, the seed would not have germinated). the coconuts were on 30 foot centers and the trenches were put down the middle of the coconuts. I spread out the soil on the uphill side and planted in the pure sand subsoil.

India transformed my ideas of what is possible with permaculture, starting with 70% of all farming is completely dry land in India.
 
charlotte anthony
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also tyler and anyone else who wants to great food production with more nutrients WITHOUT ADDING WATER OR ANY TYPE OF FERTILIZER please look at the posting up above of gabe brown who rows 2000 acres with 11 inches a year of water in north dakota.
 
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First off I think many are missing the point. You don't have to earn your living in permaculture to mostly be living it. In fact most people will never be able to earn a living doing it. It is an attitude and a way of life not an occupation.

By Paul's scale I run somewhere between low 2 on some stuff clear up through 6 on other stuff. I am a work in progress. I am certainly not high end. And I will never be. That is because there are places where I believe in a different balance than the classic permaculture and the modern world. I think we should be using the absolute best of both worlds where permaculture puts certain things off limits without really exploring if they are good or bad in general or on a case by case basis. And there will always be certain creature comforts that each of us will be unwilling to give up. There again we each make those decisions.

2 other comments here.

First off Permaculture is about working with nature. Many seem to think it should be huge work. And in some cases it is. But in many others people are making it to much work. In the book Cheaper by the Dozen the husband is an industrial time and motion studies person. The sort of quote from it that applies is how do you find the best way to do a particular job. Find the laziest man doing it who is getting the job done. Him you study because he will have gotten most of the waste effort out of it. The same applies in many cases to permaculture. What gives the best results for the least effort? That is also the most likely to be profitable.

Second if you want to change the world even if you are dead broke the one thing you can do is share knowledge and enthusiasm. They are literal among the most powerful forces in the world. Read, learn, share. These grow exponentially. And the neat thing is that some of them we have sort of known for decades or centuries. We just have to make them popular. For example one I think will change the world is geopolymer concrete. It is a 2000+ year old technology that we are just relearning. And yet it has the potential to possibly reduce global CO2 production by maybe as much as 7% and even if the pesimistic numbers are right it is good for 2 1/2%. I remember back in 7th grade during the discussions of world civilizations the teacher talking about the romans having concrete that was better than we can make today. Well we have relearned the recipe and it happens to be good for the environment in the process. Better concrete that cures far faster, flows better, is stronger and more elastic and good for the environment. If we can spread that knowledge it won't take long to take over.
 
Tyler Ludens
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C. Letellier wrote: I think we should be using the absolute best of both worlds where permaculture puts certain things off limits without really exploring if they are good or bad in general or on a case by case basis.



I guess I'm curious to know which things are off limits!

 
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William James wrote:I'm doing permaculture. Not very well, but I'm trying hard. Same with the money thing.

There are people out there who are doing some sort of agro-ecology -- doing good for the land -- and getting a decent livelyhood. And not just people teaching about it, if that erks people.

Hopefully what I'm building will come to fruition and it will do both the ecology thing and earn money for me. But it is certainly nowhere near as easy as I imagined in the beginning.
I think that's why you don't hear a bazillion more success stories. It's not easy and like everything worth having, it takes time, money, and hard work to get things off the ground.

William



I, too, am already "doing it" but I'm not actually earning any "income" from "permaculture" either.

Thing is, I honestly don't see having work outside of growing food/managing livestock/etc as being non-permaculture in any way. I mean, if you're making nuclear warheads or mixing roundup at the chemical factory, one could certainly argue that, but a job is a job and work is work. Contributing to society, especially on your own terms (such as freelance/contract or small business owner), is part of what it's all about, right? Perhaps you're an artist that makes coupons for a living, or you're an accountant who does bookkeeping and taxes. Just because it doesn't involve designing holistically integrated and nature-mimicking systems, it doesn't mean you're not doing permaculture. Perhaps you bring the permaculture philosophy to work with you, leaving your herb spirals and huglekultures at home but helping to make people think a bit more about how they see the world, how they approach problem solving or how they impact situations. There's nothing wrong with doing work that needs to be done, and if you're being mindful in your day-to-day, it's certainly not any less permaculture than someone who designs people's backyard Edens for a living.

As far as the not hearing success stories very often, to me, once the decision has been made in your mind that you want to do something, you'll find a way to make it work. If you don't really want to commit, or you value things the consumerist society has to offer more than the alternatives that permaculture shows are more correct, then trying to "do permaculture" will inevitably be a failure. We all like to have cheerleaders, and a lot of us, myself included, often lead the cheer for others here...but when it comes down to the guts of it all, you, personally, have to believe in what you're doing. Without that, there's no sense in even bothering with trying. That's the big success story to me - those that have done it, in the face of all the voices to the contrary, both external ones and internal. Making $100,000/year is something I would be horrified of having happen to me - can you imagine the taxes on that? The dept of sticking their nose in your business would be all over an income that high around these parts!

My case: I come from the so called "low income bracket" to begin with, was just starting to get somewhere in the world when the markets collapsed in 2000, then again in 2008, and had resigned myself to what people call "full-time RVing" in 2006. Turned out I liked it I learned to live both cheap and efficient, sometimes caring for myself and my mother on a part time, $8/hr job (this with years of college education and a resume that often makes headhunters drool...don't get me started). Anyway, I've always been interested in solar and green technologies, recognizing them for what they could offer someone trying to get by on little, and have likewise had a strong interest in survival/self-reliance. I started to apply what I had learned while RVing around the country. From Florida to New Hampshire, back to Florida, out to New Mexico, back to Florida, to North Carolina... I blew through everything I had saved over the years just trying to stay afloat in this screwed up corporate facsimile of capitalism, and after a while, I began to realize that "getting out" was my only chance at anything I could call "success" in life. Heck, the only way to ensure that I'd have a life worth living in the first place!

Thankfully, over the years I had also picked up a real interest in growing my own food as part of the whole self-reliance thing, which inevitably led me to learn more about permaculture.

So, I earn on average $10k/yr doing freelance/contract web development. I am currently sitting on roughly 14 acres of partially forested land. I have a $30/mo DSL line, two 100 watt solar panels and 200 amp-hours of battery bank, plus a gas generator for long cloudy stretches. I use rainwater for washing, bathing and drinking. I also grow as much of my own food as I can. Auto insurance for my old pickup is apx $500/year. I pay apx $250/mo toward this owner-financed property - more when I have it. This equates to just a little more than half the amount I would pay when simply staying at campgrounds with electric and water/sewer hookups (and usually they charged you by the kilowatt-hour used on top of that!). Yearly tax for my unimproved stump-land is about $280/yr.

On my $10k, minus "bills" and other expenses, I planted somewhere around 750 bareroot perennials last year including 200 hazelnuts, 200 blueberries, 200 ever-bearing strawberries, a couple manchurian apricots, a few nanking cherries, 25 black walnut and 10 butternut, plus nitrogen fixers. I planted roughly 500 bareroot perennials, mostly nitrogen fixers, the year before last, and a few dozen the year before that. I wont get into the numbers of seeds I've planted as I couldn't keep track if I wanted to...many insectary and nutrient accumulators, mostly natives, and a lot of edible/medicinal herbs.

I'm experimenting with alternative building techniques (cordwood/cobwood, roundwood timber framing, waddle-and-daub, green roof tech, freehand chainsaw milling [I'm awful at it!], strawbale/haybale, etc) and built an 8" rocket mass heater system that works beautifully (the little 4" one, not so much). I've dug what I've calculated to be well over 100,000 gallons of water catchment ponds that are full of all sorts of life during the non-frozen months and did so with shovels and mattocks. Didn't even have a wheelbarrow to use until last year There are three existing and two upcoming stropharia/winecap mushroom garden beds and I've innoculated logs and stumps with shittake, oyster, lions mane and sulfur mushroom.

I do lacto-ferments, brew ciders and vint wines, dehydrate, pressure-can and make herbal tinctures. I also have muscovy ducks (somewhere around 400 extra-large eggs last year plus 4 12lb drakes have been culled for meat birds so far - 2 more out there to "graduate" still).

So far, I have nothing of value to sell or trade as it's very hand-to-mouth. My only income is the web development work with an average of less than 45 billable hours per month (yes, I said month).

But if that's not "doing permaculture", I'm hopefully on track to do so!

I'd say that the biggest obstacles to this lifestyle are the upfront costs - a down payment on land, investments into energy systems and tools, costs for bareroot stock and seed, etc. For example, I've been trying (and completely failing) to save up for a backhoe/loader that's necessary for the major earthworks and construction that needs to be done on the property - hard to plant those acres of food/fuel/fiber/medicine when you can't put in the ponds, swales and roads first. It's also hard to move 20ft long, 2ft thick hemlock boles to construction sites without heavy equipment!

A distant second is the mental and physical aspect of it all. I'm determined to get things done, even if it takes me a whole lifetime to do it. I will get out there with the shovel and the mattock, dig ponds and swales. I'll debark my posts and beams then haul them around with ropes and pulleys if I have to. I'll slowly shift this property into something that, someday, I can look to with pride and know it was a life well spent.

What I have succeeded in doing financially is lowering the expenditures on foods substantially over the past two years as the gardens are producing, the ducks are laying and we're better able to utilize the resources here on the property already (mostly blackberries, raspberries and wild/alpine strawberry). I see this as an equivalent of income, though the gov't (thankfully) doesn't. In dollar terms, when I first moved out here I was spending apx $4800/yr on foods, nearly half of my average yearly income - I'm down to apx $3k/yr now, so $1800/yr in savings, or a 37% decrease in costs. This accounts for more than 50% of the total food stuffs but prices keep going up, big sales are fewer and I am trying to eat "better" where I can. I'd like to see that come down to less than $1k/yr in food before I go looking to sell any of what I have here, though, and would further prefer to be selling meat animals and animal products (more dollar value in pastured pork finished on hazlenuts than in selling hay and nuts at the farmers' market).

Oh, I did mention I'm still taking care of my mother, right? She's not up to the early retirement age yet, but still can't find a job worth the gas to take her to it in this economy. This was true in cities as well as country. So this is all for two people - me, a 33 year old guy, and my now 60 year old mother And yes, she does help out where she can with the workload - I'd be at least a year behind without her here helping.
 
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This thread started with questioning the business model of permaculture, in the form of is anyone really making money.
Any business must find a niche in the form of customers who have a want or need that the business can fulfill at a reasonable profit.
So access to markets is the first key to permaculture.
The second key is what want or need can permaculture fulfill? Family farms vanished as food became dominated by global commodity prices.
It is unlikely that permaculture will compete in most areas were of commodity agriculture.
So many seek to meet other needs. Training and selling CD's, books, etc. is one valid area.
Selling organics or specialty items like papa, heirloom foods, etc is another means.
What it comes down to is that permaculture is more than just a means to grow plants.
Making a living while applying permaculture means identifying your markets and the needs and wants that exist within your markets.
It requires a business plan just like any other business.
To make a living you have to make a profit or form a not for profit that can break even.
I have seen many small business fail for many reasons. I have also watch permaculture efforts fail for a number of reasons.
In the end if you want to make a living you have to run your permaculture operation as a business.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:"The kitchen garden is Nadia Lawton’s baby — and very productive it is, supplying the bulk of the 25,000 — 30,000 meals served every year." http://permaculture.org.au/2012/06/01/zaytuna-farm-video-tour-apr-may-2012-ten-years-of-revolutionary-design/



how many people are working on this garden/per year? this is where all the interns are trained? if so the work input is enormous and so is the output, no magic there!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Why should there be magic? Permaculture isn't magic.
 
alex Keenan
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"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

To those who do not understand, it is magic!
 
Tyler Ludens
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nikos pappas wrote: the food produced will always be more expensive than conventional food.



Fukuoka sold his citrus for less than conventional food.

 
nikos pappas
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

nikos pappas wrote: the food produced will always be more expensive than conventional food.



Fukuoka sold his citrus for less than conventional food.



ok but still, this does not prove anything. Fukuoka spent 30-35 years of his life in his farm, to "build" rich soil, isn't this an input?
 
charlotte anthony
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growing food with permaculture is not necessarily more costly than conventional food. this is why it is so important for me to do the demonstration i am doing and to get the word out. I do believe the way most people are doing it is more costly. in fact, it could be a lot less expensive. meanwhile it would also reverse desertification, mitigate climate change by increasing carbon in the soil, give a living wage to the farmers, this is why i put up the thread 99% of people doing permaculture are doing too much work.



http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/40/56435#474323

also i have already posted gabe brown's video on this thread where he talks about growing on 2000 acres with permaculture very profitiably with no fertlizer, no water and lots less than his fellow farmers with larger paycheck for him. i did find out how much the no till seed drill costs that he is using costs and it is 35,000 smakeroos. however people tell me even a disc costs 10,000 bucks these days.
 
nikos pappas
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growing food with permaculture is not necessarily more costly than conventional food

i totally agree with you. what i am trying to say is that, under most circumstances permaculture is not suitable for profitable commercial agriculture (it's not a fact just my opinion.this is not a black and white topic it's more like a 500 shades of grey thing). small-medium scale permaculture techniques are superior to conventional farming in terms of saving (because you produce what you eat and not buy it)and not polluting, rather than making a direct profit. profit may occur as the surplus of a produce once or twice a year, is not something you can count on for money.
and at the end there are the benefits of healthy eating, exercising, spiritual healing...................(add your own)
 
charlotte anthony
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nikkos, it is far easier, and therefore more cost effective, to use the permaculture techniques i use on broad acre scale as well as market gardening scale than the practices that chemical farmers or organic farmers use.

another farmer on this property is growing vegetables. because the land he is using is very compacted he is taking out the soil in a 6 x 6 inch area where his tomato plants will grow (in the greenhouse). he is replacing it with compost, fish emulsion, etc.

i would (and i explained this all to him, but he believes it will take years so he is going on as before), plant 12 grasses and legumes (50% of each) and spray with microbes. i would wait a month, then i would cut holes in this and plant the tomato plants it has been my experience that the ground would be soft at this time. it will too late in one month to seed the tomato plants directly, but if he had done this a month ago, i would recommend seeding the tomatoe plants directly. (or even two months ago in the greenhouse) i would take out enough of the cover crop to allow light to get to the tomatoes every 4 feet. or as the greenhouse here gets into the 130's in the summer i might even lead the grasses for shade.

on the 12 acres where he is now planting, i would spray with the microbes. there is already rye grass growing there. i would seed into the rye grass a mixture grasses and legumes. i would do a no till planting of all vegetables (he is growing a lot of squash so this is easy.).

again please see gabe brown to see how he is succeeding on 2000 acres with similar technics.

i am not talking long term here, these technics will soften the compact soil within a month. please see the thread about a story of microbes.

 
nikos pappas
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charlotte anthony wrote:nikkos, it is far easier, and therefore more cost effective, to use the permaculture techniques i use on broad acre scale as well as market gardening scale than the practices that chemical farmers or organic farmers use.

another farmer on this property is growing vegetables. because the land he is using is very compacted he is taking out the soil in a 6 x 6 inch area where his tomato plants will grow (in the greenhouse). he is replacing it with compost, fish emulsion, etc.

i would (and i explained this all to him, but he believes it will take years so he is going on as before), plant 12 grasses and legumes (50% of each) and spray with microbes. i would wait a month, then i would cut holes in this and plant the tomato plants it has been my experience that the ground would be soft at this time. it will too late in one month to seed the tomato plants directly, but if he had done this a month ago, i would recommend seeding the tomatoe plants directly. (or even two months ago in the greenhouse) i would take out enough of the cover crop to allow light to get to the tomatoes every 4 feet. or as the greenhouse here gets into the 130's in the summer i might even lead the grasses for shade.

on the 12 acres where he is now planting, i would spray with the microbes. there is already rye grass growing there. i would seed into the rye grass a mixture grasses and legumes. i would do a no till planting of all vegetables (he is growing a lot of squash so this is easy.).

again please see gabe brown to see how he is succeeding on 2000 acres with similar technics.

i am not talking long term here, these technics will soften the compact soil within a month. please see the thread about a story of microbes.


sounds really promising i don't have a reason not to believe you, i have seen much improvement with ground covers and obviously there is room for improvement in these techniques.
 
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This thread raises very legitimate questions, and ones which have been under discussion at the International PC Convergence. A new PC journal is being started to try to address the evidence basis for PC.

Part of the problem is that there are very many techniques to try in PC, and the idea is that you trial and observe in your system to ascertain what works in each situation. This together with the huge learning process means that most of us can only ever be learning to do permaculture. I would like to see a wiki established for the purpose of gathering evidence about what works where so that we don't all have to reinvent the wheel all the time! The journal is great but can only publish a few articles a year and that will be slow progress.

I think PC is essentially a subsistence farming system. Whether is can produce anything which can be sold for a profit depends on what non-PC systems are doing, which is problematic. Also, there's meant to be a principle of returning the surplus which is at odds with commercial production.

PC has been a collection of very interesting ideas, principles and ethics, but to be credible there has to be an ongoing self-correction process whereby all ideas are tested and modified on the basis of the evidence. It's the difference between science and religion. Because of the teaching process it's easy to contribute to PC, and its basis is a collection of ideas. I'd really like to see the development of a self-correction mechanism. Is anyone else interested in this? Does anything like this exist?

Cheers,
Rowan
PS eg this week I saw a presentation on how people are affected by mulching (simple enough). In poor areas in Africa it made poor people poorer, but on average it made people better off. These things aren't simple!
 
Tyler Ludens
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As I understand it from reading the Designers Manual, permaculture is a system of design based on a set of ethics, not a set of farming techniques. People here seem to be questioning if specific techniques work, not if the design system works.

If people skip the design process and just go to try some specific techniques, such as mulching, why would they expect better success than just trying some techniques and not calling it permaculture?
 
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this might have been mentioned before, worth reposting.....permaculture in Cuba.....

 
Tristan Vitali
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Tyler Ludens wrote:As I understand it from reading the Designers Manual, permaculture is a system of design based on a set of ethics, not a set of farming techniques. People here seem to be questioning if specific techniques work, not if the design system works.

If people skip the design process and just go to try some specific techniques, such as mulching, why would they expect better success than just trying some techniques and not calling it permaculture?



Big thumbs up

That's the issue with the discussion these days. That's the issue I encounter when I try to explain to the neighbor what I'm doing. That's the *issue*. Permaculture isn't itself herb spirals, cover cropping, sheet mulching and slinging cob around, those are tools in the permaculture toolbox. They're bricks in Paul's empire building project. They're technologies that have practical purposes and appropriate uses. Bill Mollison himself talked about tilling fields of watermelons so they'd self-seed, saving the farmer work. He didn't say that permaculture is no-till seed drills, stands of perennial ryegrass and growing only what your family needs to survive.

Even today's modern agriculture uses design techniques to reduce work, conserve energy and reduce irrigation needs...they're just not very good at it because they're fighting nature's template with their designs. Permaculture takes these templates (patterns) and focuses the designer on how to utilize the natural flows of energy to reduce inputs while maximizing outputs. What is not applicable to commercial production about reducing labor and inputs while enhancing yields? Seems the opposite would be true and big farm operations would be jumping at the chance to utilize permaculture design principals to increase their profitability (oh wait, they are...just not in the US!)

Herb spirals are great, but they don't feed the hungry masses. Someone has to grow rice and beans, raise cattle and produce eggs. Doing "permaculture" on broadacre and commercial scales is no different than doing it on a 1/4 acre suburban lot, but in dollar terms, it can certainly make a lot more impact.
 
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Tyler, that was great.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you. I tried skipping the design part of the design system known as permaculture, and just leapt into trying some techniques, and it was a major fail over the course of several years. It is much more difficult to try to fit a design around a bunch of components which are wrongly placed than to start out with the design process clearly in view. So I'm hoping to encourage people to be more interested in design, even though everyone really wants to leap into trying techniques. Don't make my mistakes!

http://www.permies.com/t/55751/permaculture-design/Permaculture-design-basics
 
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I think another point that needs to be kept in mind is that permaculture isn't just about maximum extractive profit right now or even this growing season. It gets better over time, as opposed to synthetic monocropping, which gets worse every year. The design system is carefully adding elements so that over time, the land heals, people are fed, and the surplus is shared, in harmony with nature. It's treating people as if they were going to live for more than one accounting dividend quarter and the planet as if it were going to last more than one growing season. Imagine!
JOhn S
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nikos pappas
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in the modern world of urbanisation and declining farmer population, there is no wonder that more intense agricultural methodologies are needed and promoted.
 
How do they get the deer to cross at the signs? Or to read this tiny ad?
Amazing garden tool - recommended by Sepp Holzer
https://permies.com/t/55266/Amazing-ploskorez-replace-usual-spade
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