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Feasibility of food self reliance.

 
pollinator
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my goal is to be self sufficient except maybe for an occasional purchase locally of dairy and meat and maybe some seasonings that we can't grow or make here like salt..etc. My problem is that I had to replant my food forest in the past few years so a lot of my fruit trees, nuts and berries aren't producing yet, but soon will be. I also have $300 worth of new plants, trees and seeds ready to order for this year that should be a big help, more fruits, more berries and more perennial and self seeding OP seeds for vegetables and grains.

Also depends on your weather, your abilities to preserve your food, and the size of your family and their needs..

I tend to eat a large salad every day, and eat a lot of nuts, I have about a dozen and a half nut trees growing and more seeds planted to grow more, once they are producing they will provide a lot of my protein. I have just about every kind of fruit tree or bush growing or ordered to grow here that I can find that will grow in our climate..and continue to buy more perennial vegetation or self seeders to make the need to purchase seed inconsiquential
 
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Thelma McGowan wrote:Honora says it very well.

Hemenway is a realist. even lawton has talked about how being self sustaining is not the ultimate goal. we need to have community and networks of people that can be part of the whole system. a traditional small village is sustainable only because there are groups of people with different skills that can be traded and combined to create all that everyone needs from food to clothing and shelter. An amish community is another example. the whole community works together. One farmer can not provide his family with everything they need.....he does not have all the skills or resources to provide everything.

so hemenway wants to see people work together, not be isolated xenophobes.


If you make great dairy products on your farm that you trade for honey from my bee hives then you are still self-supporting. As you said it is all encompassing. Your job, your farm produce, your workshop products are all part of the picture.
The reality I think permaculture builds upon is that all great societies that have sustaining power are ones that can feed themselves. When a society needs to transport basic needs over interstate highways, ships and rail roads they become vulnerable to natural, political, or terrorist attacks as well as moronic business decisions.
If one can be self-supportive in a strict survival perspective from homesteading, then trade or purchase the quality of life things (Coffee, Wine, DVDs, Smoked Salmon and so forth) then they are self-sustaining.
 
author
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I'm glad to see all these thoughts about the self-reliance article. Of course you could grow all your own food. What got me thinking was, I meet hundreds of people each year who appreciate self-reliance, but, like me, none of them are really doing it. Yes, people have done it. The point of the article is (as Honora and plenty of others get), why would someone make self-sufficiency a goal? I think it's valuable to have much of that skill set--be able to grow food, make tools, build, weave, and so on. But in a world in which we are surrounded with people who are also skillful, and who may enjoy doing things that we don't, or who are better at it, or who want some of what we can produce better than they, or with whom it just would be beneficial to be connected, why wouldn't we want to engage in all sorts of exchanges with them? And even invite them to provide some of our basic needs.

The hardest part of permaculture--and of life--I think, is the "doing it with other people" part. We only get good at that with practice, and we know a lot about what happens when we're not good at it. So I wanted to point out that self-sufficiency and self-reliance may not be useful goals. That even goes for community self-reliance. We might want our community to be able to be self-contained, but to actually isolate our community from others doesn't seem like a good idea.
 
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Toby,

I agree with what you just said. I personally will not become self reliant as a means to exclude others from my life, but as a means to reduce or remove the food dependancy I have on what I like to call the borg.
 
pollinator
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This may not be quite on point, but I think the Essex Farm is interesting. A 'membership' farm that ambitiously aims to provide a really complete diet, year round, to it's subscribers - vegs, beans, grains, fruit, maple syrup, dairy, eggs, beef, pork, poultry - on a mostly free choice basis - organic, using draft horses, etc. They have 500 acres, but I don't think all of it is in production, and 170 members right now, using 8 full time employees. That may work out to about 2-3 acres per person for an almost entire diet, at $3,000 per adult per year (paid annually, quarterly, or monthly, and including a sliding scale for the low end).

It seems to have something of a small village flavor, where natural farming survives and thrives, along with community (but, of course, I haven't finished reading the book about it - 'The Dirty Life" by Kristin Kimball). I wonder if the same level of production could occur with permaculture... meaning, I'd like someone to confirm my hope that the answer is 'yes' :)

BTW, google to find it on-line - it's near Lk Champlain in NY.
 
                        
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Toby Hemenway wrote:I think it's valuable to have much of that skill set--be able to grow food, make tools, build, weave, and so on. But in a world in which we are surrounded with people who are also skillful, and who may enjoy doing things that we don't, or who are better at it, or who want some of what we can produce better than they, or with whom it just would be beneficial to be connected, why wouldn't we want to engage in all sorts of exchanges with them? And even invite them to provide some of our basic needs.



This is classic comparative advantage which underlies economic thought. It makes sense, but . . .

there are problems on the margin. Here's a few issues:

1.) Skills, intelligence and/or experience as the source of comparative advantage are not complete "barriers to entry" (to mix my terms) for DIY and self reliant people, that is the learning curves may not be as steep as imagined and a reasoned analysis might reveal that, depending on project size, that a learning curve is present where the beginning of the task/project yields suboptimal results compared to work performed by a skilled person but as the DIY progresses in the project their skill level increases to match that of a worker experience and/or knowledgeable about the field.

2.) Joblessness and underemployment: Intelligent people, skilled people, experienced people are way-laid by the economy. Employers prefer to hire people who are currently employed. This sets up a vicious cycle, especially toxic for recent graduates (who will bear the consequences of prolonged periods of unemployment/underemployment for the rest of their lives and, as a group, never catch up to peers who graduated and became employed before the onset of this downcycle) and these people, who are overqualified for their current jobs, find that they are actually better qualified for doing the work themselves rather than hiring the people who are currently doing it for a living and that it doesn't pay (for example) for someone with a Masters in Physics who is stuck working at Starbucks for $10 per hour to pay an electrician $100 per hour to do some wiring in his home when this person who mastered hive level physics could apply his intellect to quickly mastering the level of knowledge needed to complete the task at hand.

3.) Comparative advantage economic models don't adequately address the deadweight issue that taxes impose on the economic transaction. Here is how the ideal situation works: the specialist can perform a given task 2x faster than a non-specialist. If the non-specialist can earn $20 for selling his labor to his employer then the most he should pay the specialist for the task is $40 and the outcome would be a neutral benefit to him. If he pays the specialist less than $40 then he comes out ahead and if he pays the specialist more than $40 then he is making himself poorer. Now throw taxes into the mix. When the person earns $20 for his time, a sizable portion of that must be paid as taxes on income, for unemployment insurance, for social security, and of the net income that he takes home he must pay the specialist his $40 but that transaction is taxed with a sales tax and the specialist doesn't net $40 for he must pay workers' comp, his employer takes a share, there is overhead for advertising, for clerical help, for building and infrastructure, etc.

The point is that labor specialization works quite well in theory but breaks down in some aspects of reality. Most people don't try to do heart surgery on themselves because the learning curve is quite steep, but growing food, doing home repair, etc doesn't involve insurmountable obstacles and so self-reliance, especially for the underemployed who can't find someone to pay them for the real value that they can produce in the economy are ideally situated to undertake a number of tasks for themselves because it MAKES ECONOMIC SENSE for them to do so in many situations. I don't find it surprising that there is an upswing in the appeal of self-reliance at a time when millions of people are underemployed and I don't find it surprising that educated young people, who are finding the job market choked up, are turning to self-reliance ideology because they, more than a mid-career worker, are finding that they're underemployed and that their talents are being wasted.
 
Jesus Martinez
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Victor Johanson wrote:

Honora Holmes wrote:I'll never be able to grow my own iodine source though.



Six apple seeds supposedly contain a daily dose of iodine. Or is that an internet myth?



Most likely myth as they also contain cyanide so they are one of the last things you want to be using for a supplement.
 
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The amount of cyanide in six apple seeds is negligible. I've been chewing up the cores and eating them for years now. In fact, some is probably good for you--study up on hormesis.
 
Jesus Martinez
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i reread Toby's response and it seems like we have different views of what self sufficiency means. Toby's response to me implies self sufficiency means isolation ajd refusal to interact with and exchange with others. To me it means the ability to provide a large majority of my families food needs. The things i cannot directly provide for will be provided through my wages. To my knowledge not even the pioneers were 100% self sufficient, they bought things like coffee and sugar when they had the means.
 
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Relating to the original question of this thread:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DxShCEKL-mQ8&h=AAQEnhJJ3AQErVZqBZsmkklFj-6H_QQFpVGaXtSNMRn00WA&enc=AZMVZCZK_-0D1LQICHei5z4HVD5Whr4jcQc6zz-rVEjnfTfpDvyiaH10WrFbxNc4Otr7vse2eIbYGycC7DcDH7Ly

That is a link to the YouTube video of the BBC production of the documentary "A farm for the Future".

I am not interested in a debate over the fossil fuel crisis, but would love to hear people's responses to the amazing and inspiring permaculture ideas presented in the video. I think if the statistics presented in it are accurate, it is undeniable that we can feed the planet with permaculture. And live much better lives in the process. This documentary is one of the best presentations of the reasons for global awareness of permaculture that I have ever seen. Beautiful photography to boot.

By the way, the documentary is presented in five 10-minute segments on YouTube. The link is to the first one, but the other 4 pop up on their own.
 
master steward
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Helen Atthowe, Norris Thomlinson and Tulsey Latoski convey their very experienced opinion on how many acres does it take to feed one person when there are no external inputs.





 
Brenda Groth
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I also believe if you are able to trade, barter or give excess that that is a way to get the things that you don't grow or raise or build at your own home. In Michigan there is a cottage industry law that you can basically sell $15,000 worth of stuff off of your property (some items limited) per year..and that will buy you a lot of stuff..

Also we are into supporting other people in our area that are willing to grow, raise or make things we can't or don't choose to, so we get our eggs and most of our meat from those sources, as well as some other things like amish baked goods, etc..and we also have friends that hunt more exotic animals than we can here..and they give us shares of their food sometimes..like this week we ate 2 pounds of bear meat from them..and they have also given us elk, moose and other meats ..some done as summer sausages etc.

Self sustainable means having friends that you can help sustain and they can help you ..in my humble definition
 
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Based on some theoretical number crunching, I came up with a conservative 1.5 acres per person in a temperate climate eating something close to a paleodiet: http://farmerscrub.blogspot.com/2006/12/self-sufficient-diet-rough-draft.html

I reference this towards the end of the video Paul posted...my numbers were based on trees in one area, shrubs in another areas, vegetables in another area, chickens in another area, etc. By stacking elements, perhaps you could get it down to 1 acre per person?

Norris
Portland, OR
http://farmerscrub.blogspot.com
 
nancy sutton
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Another tidbit factoid from the past - anyone else remember the New Alchemy Institute? -

"....Citing research conducted at New Alchemy and in his own back yard, Barnhart said that a year’s worth of fresh vegetables per person can be grown on as little as 1/100th of an acre—or 450 square feet, equivalent to a 15-by-30-foot garden. To grow grains, a quarter of an acre per person is necessary; if chickens or livestock are raised, at least 3/10ths of an acre are required....."

from here -

http://capenews.net/blogs/under_the_lens/2010/07/21/the-road-to-food-security-on-cape-cod/



 
gardener
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This is a very interesting thread. After watching Pauls video I was a little surprised to hear that most of the people agreed that approx.1 acre/person is needed. After listening to the podcast I put together a spreadsheet to play with some numbers and see what I can come up with. I have attached it here and hopefully it can be downloaded and you can play with it if you wish.

I setup the cells to be mostly formula based, and added a key to help make sense of it. The information for calories per pound was found by googling it. I tried to find 2-3 sources and take the average of what they stated as the caloric value. You can add your own things to it and copy the formula from the ones that I put in.

I chose to use calories as the baseline for comparison because it was the easiest thing for me to compare. As far as nutritional value vs. calories, I agree that calories alone do not tell the whole story. That being said in my opinion if your growing your own food in a polyculture you are probably going to be taking care of those nutritional needs. I also think that if your going to focus on one or the other calories would be a better area to focus, at least short term.

My reasoning for this is:

Lets say you have the perfect nutritionally balanced meal but it only comes out to 500cal/day
Short term: Not good
Long term: Probably won’t make it to long term.

Other side, you have a high caloric but not complete nutrition meal 2,000 cal/day
Short term: probably be OK
Long term: Probably will run into problems.

After playing with different scenario it seems to me that the biggest determining factor for land/person is the diet of that person. At first I was thinking that the location was going to be a huge factor, but after listening to the interview Paul did with Geoff I see location as less of a determining factor and more as a guide of what I should be producing. In my case, with a 6-7 month growing season, I need to focus on producing the most nutrient dense, storable food that I can. In most cases this is meat or a root crop.

My (sort of hypothetical) example:
I am raising rabbits for meat. I have 4 females and 1 male. With the 5 of these animals I can produce 16 4-6lb rabbits each month. Each one of these rabbits will be about 3,000cal. Since I am new to raising rabbits lets assume I lose 30% of them due to inexperience. Even with this loss this would still equal out to being about 400,000cal/year, or roughly 55% of a 2,000cal/day diet. This setup could be done in as little as 12sq feet, with food inputs (as an aside I will be moving towards a paddock shift system, but I got them in the winter and this is how its got to be for now). Since you can not live on rabbits alone I am going to produce some potatos also. I really like potatos so I am going to eat 2 potatos a day for a year. 730 potatos is about 250,000cal/year. Now I am up to 89% of a yearly 2,000cal/day diet. Obviously this would be a boring diet, and is just an example.

Wow this post turned out to be way longer then I had planned, and I really don’t feel like typing anymore. Hopefully this spreadsheet works if people try to download it.

Comments, questions, concerns?


Edit:
**It seems I can't attach an excel file, anyone have ideas on what I can save it as or how to make it available?
 
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Hi Brad

If you use a blog or some other site that allows you to upload files, you can post your excel sheet there and just put the link to it in your permies post. I don't think you can attach excel files here, but I'd love to know if someone else knows how.

I've done some spreadsheets of my own on this topic, but I hesitate to post any of it because I don't think I have it formatted in such a way that can be understood by others.

A couple of things to consider with rabbits, which I also feel are an excellent way to raise quality calories in a small space: my fryer meat rabbits tended to be ~5lbs at slaughter, but by the time the skinning and gutting was complete, they would be down to ~ 3 pounds dressed out. A pound or so of this was bone and other connective tissue. Point being that the 3000 cal may be a bit high unless you are finding a way to use the whole animal. I would bury the guts and head beneath garden beds that were to be planted with crops needing high fertility. The bones/carcass was cooked down for stock, and the remaining softened bones (pressure cooked) were used for fertilizer or dog food.

I was raising rabbits on 3/4 of an acre in the 'burbs, so I didn't grow any hay for them. I used foraged material and it worked well (pruning material/bamboo, blackberry/raspberry canes, japanese honeysuckle, etc...) along with scraps from us and the garden/orchard. I never got to the point of not needing some grain and/or alfalfa to give the does enough calories/nutrition, I don't think. I was starting to raise a patch of alfalfa and oats, but it wasn't big enough.

Back to the overall topic, I tend to go with the belief that an acre of land, managed intensively can provide nearly all the diet (calorie and nutritional needs) for up to 10 humans. I'm working on our land to see if i can pull it off.
 
pollinator
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Try Google Docs.
 
Brad Davies
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Kay Bee wrote:

my fryer meat rabbits tended to be ~5lbs at slaughter, but by the time the skinning and gutting was complete, they would be down to ~ 3 pounds dressed out. A pound or so of this was bone and other connective tissue. Point being that the 3000 cal may be a bit high unless you are finding a way to use the whole animal.



Awesome, I love it when someone has some first hand info to share! I adjusted it to be 3lbs each from 4 and now it's 75% instead of 89%. I'm also raising quail and broilers at a friends house so I have other sources of protein to make up for the difference, I was just trying to make a simple example.

What breed of rabbit btw?

Cj Verde wrote:
Try Google Docs.



Sweet, I had heard of google docs before but never had a reason to use it. Hopefully this will work.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0As0KV4jmER1bdHd3X21QYnp6dGF6c0JYYkE5aUktYkE



 
Kay Bee
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The link to the spreadsheet opens for me, very nice.

I was raising Californian meat rabbits. Once I feel i have my food supply set up, I'm thinking to cross New Zealand's with the Californians
 
Brad Davies
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Kay Bee wrote:The link to the spreadsheet opens for me, very nice.

I was raising Californian meat rabbits. Once I feel i have my food supply set up, I'm thinking to cross New Zealand's with the Californians



I'm glad the spread sheet works, are you able to download it or just view it?

I think if I remeber correctly the Californians are a little smaller than the New Zealands? I don't know very much about rabbit breeds, what would be the purpose of the cross? hybrid vigor? I read a book about raising them and they reccomended Californians or New Zealands. I was able to find some Black New Zealands local so I went with those.
 
Jesus Martinez
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Brad Davies wrote:

Other side, you have a high caloric but not complete nutrition meal 2,000 cal/day
Short term: probably be OK
Long term: Probably will run into problems.



Nice spreadsheet. I want to add though that all you have to do to get complete nutrition is grow some berries, fruit and a mix of leafy green vegetables such as kale, lettuce, etc, and then consume eggs now and again for dietary b12. If you eat 500 calories a day from leafy green vegetables and berries you should be getting more than adequate nutrition, so throw in some grains or animal products or more fruit and you have a complete diet.
 
Kay Bee
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Looks like under the file menu it allows for the sheet to be downloaded in several formats.

I think Californians and New Zealand rabbits run about the same size. Both are pretty standard meat breeds. The cross would be mainly to see if I can keep the vigor of the breeding stock up a bit and to make it easy to add in new blood to the herd. Pretty much depends on what all is being raised by other breeders in a particular area.
 
Kay Bee
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rather than post a confusing spreadsheet, here are a couple of columns that I think are the most relevant:

Assuming a diet corresponding to this (simplified) break-down on a calorie basis:
Food Type / % of diet
honey 10%
fruit 20%
nuts 10%
grains 20%
oil 10%
vegetables 20%
venison 2.50%
turkey 2.50%
pork 2.50%
chicken 2.50%

We would need to produce this many pounds of each category to feed our family of five 2000 calories a day per person:
Food Type / Pounds of food needed per year
honey 268.4
fruit 2433.3
nuts 114.1
grains 486.7
oil 91.3
vegetables 7300.0
venison 129.6
turkey 114.1
pork 91.3
chicken 95.6

Total 11,124.3

calorie data is based off of nutritiondata.com or an approximate average for things like fruit (300 cal/lb) and vegetables (100 cal/lb)
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I need to mention this again, depends on where you are what the carrying capacity is.

I've been trying to grow food here for a decade, and am just now possibly maybe beginning to know how. But most of that decade has been failure. If "one" is in a difficult location or has a brown thumb, "one" may encounter a great deal of discouragement in trying to be food self reliant.

Personally, I would probably starve to death.

And...

I don't think permaculture is being very helpful if all it can tell people is "location is everything." That is, permaculture as a design system is failing if it can't help people in less than ideal locations. So for every person living in a lush location who can complacently say "it's easy to grow my own food" I would hope there would be someone in a less than ideal or even a poor location who can say "I can grow my own food even though it might not be as easy as it is in a lush location." And those are the examples I'd like to see, not the easy examples, but the challenging ones. Of course it would be helpful if even the easy examples would tell us what they're growing, how they grow it, how much they produce, etc etc.



Tyler - HUGE THANK YOU for bringing up location/climate and carrying capacity. Living in Phoenix, I have found what you say here to be VERY true. I've lived in temperate climates and tropical climates and gardening there is a lot less of a challenge than growing in drylands. Even Lawton states that you have to do a lot more planting of nitrogen fixing natives to get a decent crop yield. You also have to plan for water scarcity, deal with saline and alkaline soils, deal with temperature extremes, etc. It takes on average about three years to build good "veggie growing" soil here (longer most times). Then, in order to be truly "sustainable" you have to think about what your water budget is and how you're going to manage that and what kind of yield you're going to see. Most of that yield in the desert may come from foods most of us are not used to eating (mesquite pods, prickly pear pads and fruit, cholla buds) and may not have the means or knowledge to process.

Truly, for me, the litmus test for permaculture is not necessarily the successes of folks in hospitable climates (although kudos to those of you working and succeeding in these climates) but the success, hard won, in more inhospitable climates. It may take much longer to see a yield, but ultimately this is the frontier that is critical to address. If permaculture can work in challenging climates then we are truly on to something.

Toby Hemenway wrote:… But in a world in which we are surrounded with people who are also skillful, and who may enjoy doing things that we don't, or who are better at it, or who want some of what we can produce better than they, or with whom it just would be beneficial to be connected, why wouldn't we want to engage in all sorts of exchanges with them? And even invite them to provide some of our basic needs.

The hardest part of permaculture--and of life--I think, is the "doing it with other people" part. We only get good at that with practice, and we know a lot about what happens when we're not good at it. So I wanted to point out that self-sufficiency and self-reliance may not be useful goals. That even goes for community self-reliance. We might want our community to be able to be self-contained, but to actually isolate our community from others doesn't seem like a good idea.



Toby - THANK YOU for this - as a city dweller, individual sustainability is actually NOT my goal. In fact over time I've come to rank my permaculture goals as:

10% - all about ME - my food, my energy savings, my personal watershed (my social "Zone 1" as it were)
25% - my immediate neighborhood - interactions with neighbors, sharing tools, rides, information, surplus produce, skill sharing, recycling wastes... (social Zone 2)
25% - my city - how it deals with issues having to do with sustainability like tree canopy coverage/UHI mitigation, storm water mitigation, legislation regarding community gardens... (social Zone 3)
40% - my region (SW USA)- how we can address issues like rehydrating broad degraded landscapes, lessen our dependence on the Colorado river, mitigate salinization issues, use cattle to regenerate rangelands, create policy that benefits the environment AND people/profit, etc. (Social Zone 4)

Although certainly SELF sustainability is a worthy goal of permaculture and we need examples of people doing this - that is not ALL that permaculture is about. Indeed, I would argue that permaculture is more about restoring ecosystems that have been degraded (most of the lands that people have worked for the last 100 years) and bringing them back into balance while at the same time providing a yield for us as humans - both in terms of a food yield and a social yield.
 
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I was going to write something similar here to Jennifer's post, in relation to what Tyler wrote about carrying capacity and ease of growing. There are plenty of extremes that make you feel as if you might as well be homesteading on another planet compared to some site with deep soil and both perfect sun and moisture. In my case I can get a killing frost off the mountain in July or August, and my winters can be more than half my year on a bad year. It will take a lot longer to grow a fruit tree to full bearing in my climate then in Fresno for instance.

I may not be able to grow a calorie dense food like an avocado, or even a pecan, but I can grow all the turnips and kale and cabbage i could possibly consume. It was mentioned by some that it really comes down to diet, and I agree with this for the most part. I believe I could survive quite well on roots, beans, greens and berries, without planting a single corn or potato plant, especially if I have rabbits and chickens fed off my land. It's just a matter of thinking about what you really need verses what you really crave due to having too much available in the convenience culture. Pretty near everyone is guilty of this.

Back to the original message: Toby is not saying that we should not try to produce for a food needs in abundance and be sufficient in that, but to question this ideology that is based on exclusion, rather than inclusion. Humans are inherently social and village life is inherently about relationship and exchange. It's certainly possible to go it all alone, but Human's are social creatures, and we inherently like to share when all the fear is removed. If a large part of the population has a even a small part of their focus on raising food of any sort, this is bound to create not only personal abundance, but abundance within whole communities which share, and this goes to all areas of life not just food.

The problem, as was pointed out in the video that Paul posted above, is that urban populations exceed the capacity of their area (even in Portlandia!), and in Canada anyway, we have the most urban population in the world, despite out massive land base, and the majority of our cities are within 200 miles of the U.S. border, which is also a fraction of the country. Our food systems have been built to try to sustain urbanization. The whole planet's economy is built to sustain it. That's the peak oil dilemma. Fixing this through better planning on all levels is, I believe, permaculture's true sole goal.

On that note, I think that we have to begin to think differently about what our society looks like. Urban design, for instance, if we are to have cities at all, or if we expect to have massive garden yields sustainable off small urban landscapes, needs to change to be much more intensively stacked. In order to do so, vertical gardening, and stacked layers of gardens would be one way to maximize yield/area. Other ways include decommissioning many of the streets, knocking down half of the single family houses so that people have to live together in larger dwellings (not necessarily high rises). The fact that people still believe the myth that the urban world, as it exists can be retrofitted to be sustainable is atrocious in my mind without some serious destruction, depopulation or both. Sad, but I think true.

I have seldom found anything that Toby has written to not ring pretty true if I really think deeply about it. But also in thinking about it, I can also find ways to build on his ideas in ways that make my system or dream stronger. Our communities owes these inspiring people for the efforts to put such information out there, if for nothing else but to challenge us to think differently and if it comes down to it, where we can not agree, try to prove them wrong and make something even better.

This has been a very worthwhile thread to read today.
 
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