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what is wrong with greenhouses?

 
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Right,I suppose starting this thread amounts to telling folks what to do and folks posting a totally opposing view point on this one thread could be seen as me wasting my time.Really Im not comparing to something worse but to something better.I am not claiming all manipulation of nature or use of technology is wrong.I want to explore whats wrong with greenhouses to figure out a solution to them.Centralized production is an easy target because the inputs are easily quantified.I agree there is appropriate use but that is a subjective ambiguous concept that is not quantifiable.That doesnt make it more sustainable but does hide its ecological costs.
Comparing to something that appears worse is a rationalization model used by the green product industry.It freezes the narrative but I would like to evolve the narrative and improve it.This is accomplished by challenging the status qoe not defending it.The greenhouse era will someday be eclipsed!
 
steward
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Please don't perceive my posts as being a rant or in any way hostile. I save rage for facebook.

I think what Holzer was referring to was commercial/industrial greenhouses. Crank up the gas heat, bring on the artificial lighting, pour in the chemicals...no different than industrial agriculture. Acre upon acre of enclosed space for out of season production or environmental control fails to allow for natural elements to interact with the crop. In these megagreenhouses, energy and inputs are used to usurp mother nature. The advantages are primarily economic and logistic. The right product at the right time at the right price. Nutrition and flavor are not typically included in the program. I consider these large structures to be in an entirely different category than the tiny backyard greenhouses my previous post describes.
 
Matt Ferrall
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This we agree:A mega chem greenhouse might be worse than lots of little greenhouses.The question I want to figure out is what is better?
 
gardener
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What is your assessment of Elliot Coleman's use of greenhouses?
 
Matt Ferrall
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His set up is better than whats worse.He doent offer a solution to greenhouses.Just the opposite,he actively supports them.Therefore he is my sworn enemy.May his legacy be swept into the dustbins of history!Seriously though,I appreciate the role of intensive production but dought it out produces its caloric expence.Any industrial product,if not found or salvaged ,would be hard pressed to mitigate ecologicaly or caloricaly for its manufacture.
 
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Matt Ferrall wrote:The greenhouse era will someday be eclipsed!




If the whole concept of greenhouses, in all their many variations, are "eclipsed", what in your opinion will replace the functions they serve?


I've read all of your posts, but I cannot seem to grasp your point why the whole concept of "greenhouse" is evil to you?
Were you beat up by a greenhouse as a child?



 
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Bless the hearts of all you patient souls who are legitimately trying to forge some kind of sensible debate out of this. While I wonder if your efforts are worth it, I do applaud your zen-like approach.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Smith wrote:Bless the hearts of all you patient souls who are legitimately trying to forge some kind of sensible debate out of this. While I wonder if your efforts are worth it, I do applaud your zen-like approach.



“Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”
― Zhuangzi, Nan-Hua-Ch'en-Ching, or, the Treatise of the transcendent master from Nan-Hua
 
Robert Ray
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Matt,
I hope that you expand your knowledge base, since your zone 3 experience is self admitedly limited. There are those of us who do have intimate personal experience with the challenges involved in extreme climates that are much different from where you are. I am open and willing to learn and part of that learning and experimentation occurs in my off grid greenhouse. It appears that you have acknowledged that not all greenhouses are completely evil. I would still like to know what big names are completely against greenhouses so I can learn what their objections are.
 
Matt Ferrall
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The function served by industrial products will hopefully be met in the future by using cultural technique.For example, if fresh food in the winter is the goal,than fermented foods might provide a similar result without as many products or with products that could be manufactured localy.A cultural technique has replaced industrial dependency in this case.
 
Matt Smith
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Matt Ferrall wrote:The function served by industrial products will hopefully be met in the future by using cultural technique.For example, if fresh food in the winter is the goal,than fermented foods might provide a similar result without as many products or with products that could be manufactured localy.A cultural technique has replaced industrial dependency in this case.



So how is the use of a greenhouse not itself a cultural technique?

It's already been generally agreed here that massive industrial greenhouses aren't a great thing, but "greenhouses" that function can be easily made using free/scavenged materials, if the initial input cost is a main concern.

So how is utilizing the collection and retention of solar energy to extend the life of plants different from utilizing the collection and retention of bacteria to extend the shelf life of food?
 
Robert Ray
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Please i am starving for answers who are the big names in permaculture that are against greenhouse so I can learn of their objections
 
Matt Ferrall
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Robert:please see my humorous reply earlier in the thread.I will concede that a salvaged greenhouse is hard to critique from a sustainability standpoint.Of course who knows how much purchased caulk and chemicals slide under the radar with words like "salvaged".The problem is if we use a properly desighned greenhouse made entirely out of materials bound for the dump, run without outside inputs as our example of "greenhouse".Well from that perspective they seem benighn.If having a greenhouse is percieved as desirable or neccesary by the masses well than you have the current situation with a little purchased greenhouse in backyards sited poorly operated inefficiently.Amounting to a less efficient model than the current industrial model.Thats why I think its important to refer to greenhouses as crutches.That implies that a person could do better but for now they assist those of us unable or unwilling to walk on our own in unmediated relationship with our enviroment.
 
Robert Ray
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Matt,
Are bee hives a crutch or technology that prevents a natural connection to the land? Is the use of or husbandry of non native animals acceptable as being connected to the land? Non native plants that thrive acceptable?
 
Matt Ferrall
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Bee hives can be made with old logs as per Sepps new book but personally Im not into hierarchical pollination.I strictly use native bees which organize themselves collectivly.I manage extensivly for wild game but not domesticates.Domesticated animals often require a support system that more often than not requires industrial products.I do love non native wild plants and animals but these require no industrial products or outside inputs.Perhaps "industrial crutches" might be a better term.
 
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I'm curious and I must have missed this...are you currently homesteading now, Matt?
 
Matt Ferrall
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Yes,I grew up homesteading the industrial americana way and have been experimenting with radical homesteading on my land here for 15 years.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Yes,I grew up homesteading the industrial americana way and have been experimenting with radical homesteading on my land here for 15 years.




Do you us a Slide Ruleto get on permies.com ?
 
Robert Ray
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Where would your homestead fall into in Paul's "Wheaton Scale" would you be in the HUSP area?
 
Matt Ferrall
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I knew we would end up here!YES,I use industrial tech like this wimpy cell phone I charge off my truck.Do I view this as optimum?NO!.But here I am in history and my ability to communicate here is neccessitated by our current social organisation patterns which,being out in the country on a 'homestead',dont really facilitate community.A product has replacied a cultural technique/social function.The mediation of the cell phone mitigates for the alienation inherent in the current reality.The cell phone is an undesirable but seemingly neccesary crutch.
 
Matt Smith
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Matt Ferrall wrote:I knew we would end up here!YES,I use industrial tech like this wimpy cell phone I charge off my truck.Do I view this as optimum?NO!.But here I am in history and my ability to communicate here is neccessitated by our current social organisation patterns which,being out in the country on a 'homestead',dont really facilitate community.A product has replacied a cultural technique/social function.The mediation of the cell phone mitigates for the alienation inherent in the current reality.The cell phone is an undesirable but seemingly neccesary crutch.



Well I am glad to hear that you're actually out there doing and practicing what you preach. I'm always a lot happier debating ideas with people who are actually doing, rather than just theorizing. Good on you for that.

I think most of us make compromises that take us away from our ideal living situation despite our very best efforts. Lord knows I do.

The current setup of our society often requires a creative path for those of us who are trying to find our way back to a way of living that is no longer standard or outside the social norm.

 
Robert Ray
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I'm not sure if that was a reply to my question or not. I'm just curious once you pass the curtlage of your property where would you be on the "Wheaton Scale". You initiated this discussion with some bold claims and I'm just trying to discover why or what technologies are acceptable for you.
I don't carry a cellphone anymore and I am very involved in community.
 
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Right,I suppose starting this thread amounts to telling folks what to do and folks posting a totally opposing view point on this one thread could be seen as me wasting my time.Really Im not comparing to something worse but to something better.I am not claiming all manipulation of nature or use of technology is wrong.I want to explore whats wrong with greenhouses to figure out a solution to them.Centralized production is an easy target because the inputs are easily quantified.I agree there is appropriate use but that is a subjective ambiguous concept that is not quantifiable.That doesnt make it more sustainable but does hide its ecological costs.
Comparing to something that appears worse is a rationalization model used by the green product industry.It freezes the narrative but I would like to evolve the narrative and improve it.This is accomplished by challenging the status qoe not defending it.The greenhouse era will someday be eclipsed!




How about a title change to something like "Beyond Greenhouses" as folks are using "Beyond Organic"? I think starting with a negative gave rise to the defense of greenhouses. I would love to hear some brainstorming type ideas to eclipse greenhouses.
I don't have one. I have friends who benifit from them. I always thought I wanted one and I do extend the season by growing things in my living room by the woodstove. I try to at least make mindful compromises but they are compromises none the less even though I constantly think about how I want to live in this world.
 
Cris Bessette
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My best guess is that the premise he is trying to make is "don't eat food that requires greenhouses, PERIOD" , rather than "find a better way to reproduce the greenhouse effect"

On a higher level he is saying that we should go back to the way our great great grandparents ate.


IE, once fall comes, say goodbye to all fresh vegetables till spring.
Replace all fresh vegetables (perhaps except winter hardy greens) with processed foods. (dried/canned/fermented/root cellared/etc)
Don't even think about salads.

No fruits , except maybe some apples or pears stowed away in the basement.
No avacados, bananas, strawberries, citrus, etc.

Personally, I crave fresh foods in the winter, its better taste, nutritional value, textures, etc. help me through the dark and cold till Spring.





 
Matt Ferrall
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Well I must admit to eating mainly apples as my fresh fruit for 4 or 5 months but I feel nurished.I dry alot of fruit.Really Ive found it far easier and sustainable to adjust my expectations.I wont say 'downward'but adjust them closer to that unmediated relationship Im seeking.In many ways my relationship has just expanded in a diferent direction, like focusing more on plants that do good here without assistance,both common and exotic.In fact, the time I save by not fiddling with gizmos has allowed me to explore and introduce many new plants.
 
Judith Browning
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We eat a lot of fresh homegrown produce over the winter...root crops, winter hardy greens fresh out of the garden, a lot of sprouts and herbs. I've never expected to have a citrus fruit out my door...I would have hitched farther south before settling here for that. It's entirely possible to have fresh produce all winter without a greenhouse...I just think it's a choice not a dogma either way.
 
Judith Browning
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Well I must admit to eating mainly apples as my fresh fruit for 4 or 5 months but I feel nurished.I dry alot of fruit.Really Ive found it far easier and sustainable to adjust my expectations.I wont say 'downward'but adjust them closer to that unmediated relationship Im seeking.In many ways my relationship has just expanded in a diferent direction, like focusing more on plants that do good here without assistance,both common and exotic.In fact, the time I save by not fiddling with gizmos has allowed me to explore and introduce many new plants.




That's exactly it...my husband and I also have adjusted to what we can grow easily, good food that will either store well or dry, can or ferment. and it might mean we eat somethings every day...like sweet potatoes...we love them and they grow amazingly well here and keep a year.
 
Cris Bessette
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Judith Browning wrote:We eat a lot of fresh homegrown produce over the winter...root crops, winter hardy greens fresh out of the garden, a lot of sprouts and herbs. I've never expected to have a citrus fruit out my door...I would have hitched farther south before settling here for that. It's entirely possible to have fresh produce all winter without a greenhouse...I just think it's a choice not a dogma either way.




I guess my position is that I don't see this as a black or white issue.

My little passive greenhouse and cold frames simply give me MORE choices, none of which are in the slightest bit harmful to the environment or unsustainable.

I CAN walk out my door and pick a mandarin off one of my trees until mid Winter, and I don't have to hitch up the wagon and move South to do it.
I'm making use of the natural cold hardiness of mandarins (as opposed to sweet oranges,grapefruit,etc) and the sun. There is nothing unnatural or weird about this.







 
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definitely not a black and white issue but still a choice or a range of choices. And I like the challange of my self imposed bounderies...
 
Robert Ray
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We all have boundaries and circumstance often influences what we establish as boundaries. I am intrigued by Paul's HUSP area but am afraid I am more of a Mad Max. Matt I appreciate your level of involvement in your homestead. I wish that you had street creds that included gardening in a climate that is similar to mine. If you did we could have a meaningful conversation with real meat to it. But when ones efforts are dismissed out of hand you can see how some bristle. I wouldn't dream of critiquing someone who had experience in the desert SW because I have no frame of reference. I'm not an armchair participant I am a serious gardener.
I do harvest some plants that are heavily mulched outdoors but I also have days with three foot of snow outside. Max output of harvest, max use of space, minimum use of water, no use of chemicals, trying to limit my self to my 100 mile self imposed circle I have boundaries too. Ya gotta live it to know it.
 
Rion Mather
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Crutches are not going to hinder an individual from having an intimate spiritual connection to the land. An open mind and heart are what is going to do the trick.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Yes,its probably possible to have a connection to the land with crutches or even life support.I must also admit that my arguments verge on advocating a certain quality of existence which defies any sort of scientific measurement.But still, I believe(when discussing quality)there is something to be said for having a less mediated relationship.I just read something on a different thread that said"the more you know,the less you need".
 
Robert Ray
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Is it a spiritual connection with the earth that you are promoting? or is it something else?
If we are talking technology at what point in history would you envision this personal connection would be optimal?
If it's a spiritual connection that's something entirely different.
It's hard for me to determine what you are promoting when you bring in a marker like quality of existence.
Spirituality or placing a standard of quality of life is a definite personal sphere conundrum and one that could never be right or wrong.
If it's just greenhouses we can attach credits and debits to, if it's spiritual it's a discussion that will just make us dizzy.
 
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For me personally, i built a hoop house as i was sick and tired of not getting any tomatoes and peppers even though i was planting HUGE starts that is started in my potting shed. I have been in Northwest Montana for 9 years and NEVER had a vine ripened tomato and only a handful of peppers. Out of my 16x20 hoop house last year i harvested over 400# or ripe tomatoes and over 100# of peppers! Well worth it in my book! Last year we had a killing frost in the second week of June and again in the 3rd week of August. My hoop house produced until Halloween!!!
 
Matt Ferrall
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Well for me,personally,I cant grow tomatoes or peppers without a greenhouse here. Wanting to live a local and non dependent lifestyle means I dont eat those foods EVER! No biggy though,that just frees up time to research other foods that do grow good here.At one point I had a collection of over 200 species of edible non woody perennials.That research would have never happened if I had spent that time perfecting my dependence on a greenhouse.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Well for me,personally,I cant grow tomatoes or peppers without a greenhouse here. Wanting to live a local and non dependent lifestyle means I dont eat those foods EVER! No biggy though,that just frees up time to research other foods that do grow good here.At one point I had a collection of over 200 species of edible non woody perennials.That research would have never happened if I had spent that time perfecting my dependence on a greenhouse.




In your opinion, what is the difference between making use of something and depending on it? For instance, if someone needs to dig a hole,
is it dependence to use a shovel, or is it simply making use of a tool?

Your statement about "perfecting my dependence on a greenhouse" implies that you think that having a greenhouse is like having a heroin addiction.




 
Rion Mather
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Well for me,personally,I cant grow tomatoes or peppers without a greenhouse here. Wanting to live a local and non dependent lifestyle means I dont eat those foods EVER!



Tomatoes and peppers are my life, literally. This is the bit I can't relate to from followers of permaculture.
 
Matt Ferrall
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True,a shovel is made of made of metal.I do use shovels and do compromise some in the ideal but given that most of my land is in tree crops and I am moving toward a lifestyle dependent on forest gardens,a shovel is not needed.Once my trees kick up production,my reliance on the shovel/annuals is reduced.So to,a greenhouse could be used to start perennials that would eleminate the ultimate need for said greenhouse which I would be hard pressed to critique as not being an 'appropriate use'.
Rion:if it makes you feel better,I never reference 'permaculture'while giving tours because I dont want to be associated with gizmos as solutions.I mainly use 'forest gardening'as my descriptor of choice.
As a side note,I do make extensive use of Solanum Nigra(sp?)a semi hardy short season annual in the tomato family.Ironically those who have chosen to dedicate their lives to a technologically mediated relationship with the earth often overlook this common weed in pursuit of the universal tomato.It may rock the boat to say this,but I dont think everyone on the planet should eat the exact same flavors/foods.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:True,a shovel is made of made of metal.I do use shovels and do compromise some in the ideal but given that most of my land is in tree crops and I am moving toward a lifestyle dependent on forest gardens,a shovel is not needed.Once my trees kick up production,my reliance on the shovel/annuals is reduced.So to,a greenhouse could be used to start perennials that would eleminate the ultimate need for said greenhouse which I would be hard pressed to critique as appropriate use.



That makes sense to me. We are not that far apart in opinion if a greenhouse is used simply as a tool, rather than a crutch.
 
Matt Ferrall
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It only becomes a crutch if a persons food system is dependent on it.Whether it is a tool or crutch depends on what is inside it and whether it is a means to an end or an end in itself.
 
That's my roommate. He's kinda weird, but he always pays his half of the rent. And he gave me this tiny ad:
September-October Homestead Skills Jamboree 2019
https://permies.com/wiki/118704/permaculture-projects/September-October-Homestead-Skills-Jamboree
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