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A place for non-farmers in permaculture?

 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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Tyler, I know you are familiar with our property here in Michigan. I am no way a farmer and far from a homesteader as the only animals I have are 2 cats and wildlife (tried the dog thing last week but my husband's head injury couldn't handle the puppy around, which also leads me to believe chickens are likely out for the future too as long as Ron is around).

MOST of my food production beds are in the areas surrounding the actual house, in other words foundation borders. I know that in cities some zoning will frown on this but this is where most of mine is. I have in the bed in front of my house peaches, fruit cocktail trees, Halls Hardy almond and 3 pear trees, in the East border there are 3 pears and 2 cherries, in the rear border there are strawberries and cherries and in the west bed there is a crab apple. All are underplanted with perennial shrubs and plants.

Behind our home we have a 30 x 60 raised (up 4' above grade) drainfield. Around the drainfield is backfilled with clay/topsoil from our field and this area is planted to perennials and shrubs as well as apple trees and cherry trees...these are also under planted with perennials, shrubs and vines (grape vines over arbors all over the property).

In our front yard we have privacy beds, but there are also plum and hickory nut trees planted among them, and grapes as well as hardwoods and evergreen trees, all under planted with berries, perennials and shrubs.

To the east along the property line are pear and apple trees as well as evergreens and other deciduous trees..around the pond and at the edge of the woods are apricots, severl kinds of juglone, Medlar, elderberry, persimmon, etc..and then between the house and the woods is a small 40 x 45 garden with lots of berries and baby apple, pear and cherry trees and we also have lots of perennial vegetables in this area and we put in some of our annuals here..then there is also an herb garden just off our rear porch.

There are other nut trees also, most babies (chestnut, hazelnut, etc)..and lots of berry berring plants all over the place.

I do NOT consider myself a farmer, and I guess I don't really consider myself a homesteader either as the lack of animals. We do have WILD animals (deer, bear, coon, possum, skunk, and others)..and we have a small pond and woods as well...(you can see it all on our blog below)..

I think people that do what we are doing are contributing a lot to the "food chain" as we give a lot of our produce away and still have plenty for ourselves in most years..(when we don't lose our entire fruit crop to frosts or lots of stuff to droughts like we did this year)..

We have several neighbors that are doing nearly exactly the same thing we are, they have small ponds, small annual gardens and lots of fruit trees and vines..we generally swap excess food between us as well...and we all buy local from the people who have eggs and dairy and meat
 
steward
Posts: 3498
Location: woodland, washington
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I make realistic animal replicas, puppets and specialty costumes for the entertainment industry. There's not a practical way to make it sustainable, I can't construct them out of my sheep's wool.... :p



how about there's not a practical way yet?

demand for ecologically responsible products is spreading. there may well come a time when folks demand that of the entertainment industry, too.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11466
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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That's a hopeful thought, tel, but I'm afraid it's a project for someone much more clever than I am.

Brenda, I think it's easier to believe one is contributing to the food chain when one is able to produce a surplus of food. I'm not very good at growing food, myself.

 
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I've asked this question in another post.
Are there non-agrarian uses of land in permaculture. My example was a quarry or gravel pit used responsibly. Gravel for roads or hydroponics and a quarry for let's say mill stones for grinding grain. If I have a property that is unsuitable for farming would my responsible harvest of stone be considered permaculture like? I'm sure there are other examples that might fall into this category, the likely hood that everything I need is from my property is unfortunately a romantic notion I have of being totaly independent.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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I think that's a really interesting question, Robert. Seems to me we'd have to allow responsible use of materials harvested from the land as a permacultural use of the land. Maybe the quarry when all the appropriate stones were harvested could be turned into a water storage structure or perhaps even restored as forest over a long period of time. I have an old quarry on my place that I would like to restore. It's difficult to get anything to grow there because the gravel is almost pure limestone with virtually no organic material.
 
gardener
Posts: 357
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Robert Ray wrote:I've asked this question in another post.
Are there non-agrarian uses of land in permaculture. My example was a quarry or gravel pit used responsibly. Gravel for roads or hydroponics and a quarry for let's say mill stones for grinding grain. If I have a property that is unsuitable for farming would my responsible harvest of stone be considered permaculture like? I'm sure there are other examples that might fall into this category, the likely hood that everything I need is from my property is unfortunately a romantic notion I have of being totaly independent.



If you're designing a site using permaculture principles, you can demonstrate how it does so, and you call it 'permaculture', it's permaculture.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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We're probably expanding from permaculture itself to community with this question. There are crafts and trades that would be required for many. Creature comforts, repairs, medical issues all things that go beyond what I pigeon hole as permaculture. For me community is important and I see many places for people without dirt under their fingernails in a permaculture community.
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
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Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Robert Ray wrote: We're probably expanding from permaculture itself to community with this question. There are crafts and trades that would be required for many. Creature comforts, repairs, medical issues all things that go beyond what I pigeon hole as permaculture. For me community is important and I see many places for people without dirt under their fingernails in a permaculture community.



I think "permaculture itself" includes community. Permanent culture is big. Very big.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I hope that the community gets bigger, the idea gets bigger. In my small community now, I wouldn't call it a permaculture community there are only a handful of people taking the steps or making an effort. Heck even here I've seen where defining permaculture is like catching a greased pig. Once the idea of where a permanent land management model is adopted by most the culture (community) would be included or follow.
Now my ideas or these ideas are like a new kid in school, I wear funny clothes and have an accent. I look back and see the same things my clothes are cool and they all talk funny.
You're absolutely right culture is big, very big the culture of plants in a permaculture way is simple changing social interaction not so simple.
 
Posts: 147
Location: Zone Five, B.C., Western Canada.
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Sorry if I'm repeating someone else's sentiments.

Wouldn't a community need cooks,cook's helpers, cleaners, doctors, nurses, first aid, doulas, builders, artists, weavers,carvers, sewers/tailors, potters, glass blowers, etc.
Not to mention the # of bosses one- 180 acre plot might require.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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tyler, I'm not good at babying food..it is easier for me to grow food that pretty much cares for itself that is why I so love fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and perennial foods..

i suck at annual foods, and what I don't suck at, the racoons and squash bugs seem to enjoy more than I do..(racoons got my corn a couple nights ago).

but when it comes to my trees and perennials, i do tend to harvest more of those than I can use..(in a good year when frost and drought doesn't take a toll)
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Virtually all my fruit trees died in the drought last year, so I'm having to start over with tougher things. Maybe it's Buffalo Gourds and Prickly Pears for me.... :p

 
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I don't raise animals and never plan on it. I would have too much of a difficult time seeing them go to slaughter. That is one of the reasons I am a borderline vegetarian. Having these beliefs doesn't mean that I can't follow permaculture principles. To each their own. Definitions can be limiting.
 
Author
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Permaculture is about creating functional interconnections between elements, to create living systems that are more than their parts, that solve social and environmental problems. Not just food or farming at all. One of my jobs was pc economic development in my city, linking green businesses. You can be a chef, teacher, community organizer or other kinda person and use permaculture principles to make a better world. We need our growers but alos folks working on energy, arts, transportation, education, buildings, etc. Growing is just what pc started with, but has grown to encompass much more.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Since I personally do not see any large farms jumping on the Permie band wagon I see where small land holdings and lots being the impetus that will drive permaculture. In other postings I have seen where an urban lot is dismissed as not being on a grand enough scale to qualify. So I see where there will be those that utilize small scale permaculture and have a day job as well. Just because one is working on a thumbnail rather than a large frescoe dosn't mean that their efforts are insignificant.
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Just because one is working on a thumbnail rather than a large frescoe dosn't mean that their efforts are insignificant.



I agree. Each of those small urban and suburban lots draws people's attention to the process of growing food.

They also help provide a buffer zone between the grey, sooty gornch of the cities and the rural areas. This gives native pollinators a small refuge to establish nests/colonies where it was once doom & gloom.

We already realize that the farmer with a half million $$ in debt, and 3 generations of doing it the chemical way is unlikely to change. We need those city folks and urbanites to begin making the transition. Each one will influence a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker. Even if it is just a passerby that notices the birds & bees amongst the green foliage, versus the soot covered cement, it is a step in the right direction.

A dozen small yards in a neighborhood will convert more people than will a 1,000 acre grain field converted to food forest.





 
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Strange but it never occurred to me that permaculture was only about farming. There are so many niches that connect directly to permaculture without making the person a farmer. I have met a composting specialist who traveled around to the farms in the area he serviced and made their piles work right. A butcher would most certainly be a part of any animal-based permaculture. If we are talking about closing the loop on waste and creating community, then a good model would be a village from before industrialization. Bees do not just make honey, they also make wax. Animals do not just make meat, they also make soil fertility and leather. The philosophical principles of the Arts and Crafts movement are not so different from permaculture.

A rustic furniture builder coppices their woodlot to produce more useable chair pieces - permaculture. Anything that can be hand crafted and bartered is part of this cycle, and ultimately to actually achieve permanent culture everything will have to be hand crafted.

Ernie listed himself as a knifemaker. I make garden tools and implements from salvaged farm steel and use the tools on the veggies. I build buildings for people, animals, and food storage. Yet many of these trades are somewhat specialized. Today I placed and compacted 16 yards of cob building my smithy. Many people have specialized skills - the people who set up this website were just as much involved in permaculture as any farmer. Farming is so diverse and success lies in niches. Restrictive thinking does not benefit anyone who is trying to head in the right direction.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
Posts: 11466
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I am not yet able to imagine how I might make a living in permaculture. Perhaps it is a lack of imagination.

 
            
Posts: 75
Location: Ontario, Canada (44.265475, -77.960029)
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Tyler Ludens wrote: Are all permaculturists required to be homesteaders or broadacre?



Absolutely not. Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard grows apples.

 
Without subsidies, chem-ag food costs four times more than organic. Or this tiny ad:
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