Win a bunch of tools from Truly Garden and Loma Creek! this week in the Gear forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • James Freyr
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
  • Dave Burton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Steve Thorn
  • Eric Hanson

!!!!!!!!! is "permaculture farm" an oxymoron?

 
Posts: 19
6
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do not understand the penchant for naming things that are not really tangible in theory or material concepts.  It seems counter-productive.  This discussion seems like it is trying to define a word like "man".  Yes, there are lots of men in the world but each is unique and each man/woman's life would have a different definition would they not?  I like my thinking processes to bear fruit......tangible fruit.  So I spend my time of "thinking", to create something that literally benefits my living conditions.  Isn't it enough to say "I grow things", then just get on with doing it in whatever way suits a person - LOL? So I guess what I am asking is that by trying to define what farmer or permaculturist means is the question really "how do I describe what I do....to other people"? In which case...the answer would be "I grow things".  I have found, as one who has been on this earth for awhile....that although people might ask us what we do....they are not really interested.  It is more curiosity and I have also learned that it is a waste of my breath to talk of what I do, with the passion I have for this life, to people who are only curious.

And yes.....Rene...you hit the nail on the head about interns.  This is why I don't have them here anymore.  I paid their way here, fed them, housed them....they were lazy and did not want to grow things, they had some romantic notion that bore no reality to what this life is all about. They stole from me, they lied.  In the end they cost me a LOT of money and almost caused the destruction of this wondrous place I grow things on.  The scale is smaller now but its peaceful, harmonious and the birds are singing again.
 
Posts: 138
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Abe Coley wrote:I take oxymoron to mean a contradiction in terms. Permaculture is the best way to farm, so it can't be an oxymoron.  Permaculture oil refinery - now that's an oxymoron.



I struggle with this as I look at part of my farm as being an oil refinery. So far down the refinery  route I produce gas as part of my torrefication of wood. I produce oil from oil seed rape. I combine the torrefied wood and OSR oil with water to produce an alternative to diesel. The ongoing project is an alternative to aviation fuel (kerosene) from Jerusalem Artichokes.
 
Posts: 33
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

"Further, Mollison makes it clear that one of the big functions of permaculture is to replace petroleum with people.   And once you do that, I wonder if you do better with the farm technique or with a whole lot of big gardens."  

I do not believe that this will happen on a large scale as long as there is petroleum. I also believe that we can not feed the world on permaculture.
After 46 years as a organic gardener, I see that the only way small plots will feed the world is if everyone will do their on work.
With 40% of the poeple on some kind of government handout or retirement, another  23% are walmart gardeners, that leave 37% that even care about gardening of any kind.
Walmart gardeners are people who do not care how the fruit of  the vine was grown, mainly because they have no ideal how, just want it to be on the self at a low price.
Not only do 63% of the people not know how to grow any vegetables, they do not care to learn, I am NOT saying that we should throw our hands up & quit.
Youtube has done a great job of spreading the word, but most people just watch & go back to their lives, of shopping for vegetables.
 
master steward
Posts: 29053
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I believe that when we set a beautiful and well documented precedent, others will follow.  

A study has been done to show that Sepp Holzer's techniques will feed 21 billion people, without fertizer or irrigation, on existing farm land.   Further, the Krameterhof is 110 acres and has an income exceeding a million dollars per year.   I think this can be a powerful motivator for farmers.

Fukuoka proved that his techniques produce at least double the food on the same land without fertizers or pesticides.

I like the idea of creating a community on a plot of land that is loaded with permaculture gardens.  

https://permies.com/t/61654/permaculture-projects/Symboo-Village


 
gardener
Posts: 1337
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
395
duck books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul Wheaton wrote:

I believe that when we set a beautiful and well documented precedent, others will follow.

Some will follow. Unfortunately, I think we will need to break out of our gardens to get "popular" media working with us to help remove all the faulty education that big ag has worked so hard to cultivate.
No, you don't need to eat breakfast cereal for breakfast (I doubt that Sepp Holzer ever ate it on Krameterhof, but I don't know).
No, you don't need to eat strawberries in January in Canada.
That doesn't mean that you have to eat "boring". Yes, it's nice to produce or buy the bulk of your food locally, but if you like ginger and it's too cold to grow it easily, that's something light weight that ships well and I'd say the same about a number of other spices. I grow a bunch of herbs, some of which I dry for year-round use, but I really don't want to go to the effort of growing cinnamon or cardamom, but I do use them in Holiday baking. I'm not going to feel guilty about that.
What I'm saying is that the vision of feeding the world without using fossil fuels (but using some alternative fuels for some things), with not only not destroying soil but actually improving it, is a vision that has been already proven possible in a number of places on this planet, by people like S Holzer and Fukuoka. Now it's a matter of getting more people actually doing the soil building and the growing, help people see that growing at least some of their own food, (even if it's just helping with harvest and storage - the really manpower intensive parts*) and help people see that they can eat a healthy, satisfying diet that might just not look like the diet they grew up on. That last part is not easy and takes time.

*I'm often really busy in July when my raspberries ripen. I started making a deal with friends that if they came and picked the berries, for every liter they picked, they got to take a 1/2 liter home and I got to keep the other half. If nothing else, I had company if I did some of my own picking at the same time, and I kept all that I picked. I pick much faster - but beginners have to be given time to learn. I have a different friend who usually comes in the fall and we make sauerkraut together and share the proceeds. I guess I'm suggesting there's a place for cultivating "local" part-time help that actually have a stake in the results.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 4588
1056
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do not find that having people around really helps a whole lot myself.

A couple of weeks ago I was really up against it, and so the church got together to help me out. On one day a guy from church came over to help me cut wood, but in the end, we ended up talking, and production of the amount of wood cut was the same as if I had been working in the woods all day by myself. It was nice to have someone to talk too, but as far as wood on the deck at the end of the day; it was honestly about the same as if I had just worked that day by myself.

Then a few days later a few guys got together to help me out, but while the extra help was appreciated, again, production wise it did not do me much good. That was because I only have one skidder, so while there was four of us cutting trees, it still meant only x amount of trees per hour was moved via the skidder. So again, the work itself was easier as it was divided among 5 people instead of just one, but production from talking, and only having one machine moving the cut wood, meant about the same amount of wood was cut as if I had done it myself.

It absolutely freaks some people out that I would log all day by myself, but I have done that since I was 15 years old. I learned that trying to work in 2 man crews (me and another guy) meant I did NOT get twice as much wood out, but had to split my profit 50% nonetheless, but had twice as much fuel costs. A normal 2 man crew will consume about $40 a day in fuel, but when I work alone, it is about 10 gallons per day. I might only get 6 cords of wood out instead of 10, BUT I am not consuming 20 gallons of fuel either, I am getting HALF the wood out, for 1/4 of the fuel consumption. This is the reason why I cut wood alone, and typically work alone farming.

I think people versus petroleum was a valid point when it was made, but now that fuel is no longer being consumed like it was, peak oil is being pushed further and further back. And because of that, there is a lot of work that 131,000 btu's can do in a given gallon of diesel fuel, and unlike people, it is darn predictable. On my farm, the numbers have proven for 12 years now that me working alone, with the help of a little diesel fuel, can accomplish a lot.

Note: I just checked my records, and averaged out over the last five years, my full-time farm consumes about 175 gallons of diesel fuel per year. That is it!
 
r john
Posts: 138
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Travis

I am also into forestry and what you describe I have come to exactly the same conclusions. Only problem being a lone worker in a dangerous environment you do need to think of safety which is why I use what3words to pinpoint my woodland location in case of emergency.
 
Joe Grand
Posts: 33
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Travis Johnson,
I never cut logs or firewood by myself, but I started in grade school with two younger brother. Father would clear around the tree, then throw it & started to cut it up a the stump.
I would limb up the tree with a 5 pound ax, while my two younger brothers would pull the limbs away from the tree, so I or Father would not trip on them.
We worked together, no one got cut or hurt, now where I work they say I need gloves to touch wood.
I think your problem is none of your friends know how to work a tree into 4 cords of wood, so they slow you down.
I was slow at loading firewood into the truck bed, I was short at that time, started to grow around 12 years of age.
 
Posts: 35
Location: Salt Spring Island BC (zone 8-ish, yes really!)
9
hugelkultur goat forest garden chicken fiber arts medical herbs
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my opinion 'permaculture farm' is exactly the direction our society needs to go, for the survival of the planet.

If we can make permaculture and regenerative agriculture concepts mainstream and commercially viable, so that they are adopted for use by operators of spreads of 100s or 1000s of acres, that will be a huge win. We still need all the permaculture gardens/smallholding farms to do this too, but if we can transform the footprint of the big commercial operations to a planet-friendlier vibe, that will be huge (no pun intended).

Some examples that I would argue are clearly 'permaculture farms' (not an exhaustive list by any means):

- New Forest Farm. Mark Shepard, 100 acres, Wisconsin. Planted with 250,000 food producing trees, polycultures of perennial crops among the trees, livestock, water management earthworks, solar and wind powered.

- Brown's Ranch. Gabe Brown and family, 5000 acres, North Dakota. Converted from industrial agriculture to no-till, no nutrient additions, very limited herbicide use, polycultures in the fields, livestock grazing and rotation; major increases in soil building and water retention and soil life as a result of the regenerative agriculture practices.

I feel that demonstration of commercial viability of permaculture practices is essential so it will be more widely adopted, so I'm very happy to see that farms that are adopting these practices are being described as 'permaculture farms' or 'regenerative agriculture'.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1630
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
585
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't see why "permaculture farm" needs to be an oxymoron. Heck, once upon a time "chemical-free farm" would have been considered an oxymoron, but now it's called mainstream organic farming. So I figure "permaculture" farm could follow the same route. Wouldn't that be nice?

The problem I see right now is that people in westernized countries equate farming with acres of row crops, large petroleum run machinery, and profit driven farm plans. Not all countries do farming like that, but they still have farms. The farms just use a different mold. My own tax assessor couldn't initially wrap his head around my lack of rows. I had a second visit from another tax office official who just wanted to see my old style Hawaiian homestead farm. He said he hadn't seen one since he was a kid. So obviously some sort of permaculture farming was done in old Hawaii.

 
pollinator
Posts: 733
Location: Southern Oregon
147
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just to provide some lightness, which I desperately need at this point in time. I named our property Foxglove Farms because I love alliteration, and it's play on words. I'm known as Foxglove in certain circles, and I'm farming, but I'm not farming foxgloves.
 
pollinator
Posts: 317
49
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There’s a permaculture farm in my city. They sell at the city’s farmers market on the weekend and supply food to restaurants. They also hire permanent staff, so it’s a proper business.

I don’t know how much money such farms generate but I doubt such farms will ever generate enough money to pay for what the average farmer in Australia wants in his or life.
 
gardener
Posts: 1349
Location: Maine, zone 5
439
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To me it seems that permaculture can be very different things to different people based on their experiences and location.  Growing up in a forest in Maine, I am imprinted to think in a food forest model in which I'm not happy with the title farmer or gardener, but am rather an active forager in an ecosystem I tailor to help meet my needs.  I want to work in a food production ecosystem that is crazy bio-efficient in squeezing every drop of energy from the sunlight hitting the land and in which one can be forgiven for not being able to tell that they aren't in a natural environment (heck it is after all)....the equivalent to the Amazon rainforest where you'd just as much want to camp out there to be in nature as want to think about harvesting food for sale.  But then when you do harvest for sale you are harvesting 100s of species that people crave and that bring satisfaction and robust health, feeding people's desire to be surprised with every bite as much as it feeds their bodies.  

Tie back to this thread....for me I see this as being a model like Paul's many gardeners on the land.  And those gardeners are gardeners for many generations who protect the land as it's amazingness materializes over 100s or 1000s of years.  They start as gardeners/permaculture artisans and evolve into full time foragers/protectors as the food ecosystem emerges into higher and higher levels of productivity/diversity.
 
Greg Martin
gardener
Posts: 1349
Location: Maine, zone 5
439
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
….a billion acres of that with 100's of millions of people living in it seems like it would be ok to me.  

Perhaps levels on a permaculture scale will be developed to describe these production system, from just getting started to "dang that's unbelievable" and I can't wait need get back there to vacation/eat/learn/trade/help out there again this year.  
 
The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!