I learned to bake bread that has sold for 4 $ a loaf from the free Info on the internet.
The comment sections are often as fruitful as the articles them selves!
Our food forest is on a lot we bought outright for 2500 $
Asking price was ten grand.
My latest tree was "acquired" from an overgrown lot.
We can do it! You can do it!
David Goodman is a great man to watch on the subject of cheap gardening with most effectiveness. He albeit has some means obviously as you'll see if you watch through his series. He also produces a ton of small yet funny and easy to read gardening on the cheap books available at Amazon. He's inspired myself on many occasions and I'm sure he might give you inspirational ideas. Hope this helps at all and sorry if someone mentioned him already. I read many posts at the beginning of your thread but not them all. Hope you've started gardening regardless as it can in some ways be cost free. Also sometimes make you money in my case. I just had lots of extras from seeds I traded for etc that I grew and started listing away on eBay at some point and then just kept on doing it. 7 years or so now online selling what was mostly cost free and thousands in pocket over this time. Research edible and useful wild plants in your region, learn to harvest seed correctly or what can be sold as cuttings or easily rooted into live plant starts, learn to sell and ship them correctly, use cash generated to separately from your usual cash flow fund your garden dreams. Be a go getter and it can happen. I'm living proof. I just grow and it's what I do and nothing will stop me. I'll grow lawn grass in a cup if its all I could grow for whatever reason. I like to see and observe creation through nature and having an actual hand in that is truly priceless.
Tons of good advice on this thread so far. I don't recall seeing a mention of Plants for a Future. pfaf.org I think. To the best of my knowledge, that is the best searchable database of plants out there. Want to find an edible fiber producing nitrogen fixing dye plant in your climate that does well in partial sun and heavy clay? You can do a search for that (tho I suspect you won't find anything with that exact set of properties, but you get the idea).
So, on a whim I decided to do that exact search. Apparently I need to plant some buffalo berry and it appears that I am under utilizing my bayberry. Missing the fiber, but bonus medicinal and craft uses and hedge functionality makes up for that in my mind.
In a way yes, permaculture is only for landowner.
While you are 16-32yr old, you can read about and volunteer to get some knowledge but at the end it is about owners mostly.
Want to install solar panel/RMH you have to own
Want to install a pond, 9yr nut orchard, food forest you have to 'own'
As a poor city dweller, you might be able to buy your flour/soy/corn/canola/sugar/donut/etc from an organic producer.
While monoculture organic is not the same as permaculture, you will just have to take what you can get.
You can also cut down on shipping/fossil fuel by only buying California lettuce, vs ones that are imported.
Turn your heat down, travel less, really just buy/use less of everything and also recycle.
As a poor person permaculture is more about conservation and less about direct rejuvenation/creation.
I have a friend who rent and grows 7 herbs from the mint/thyme family in the window sill does that count as permaculture for the poor?
Many cities have a program where they have a list of fruittrees that have been there before the current landowner, who knows nothing about the fruit. Generally, the person who takes care of the fruit gets half of the fruit and gives the other half to the poor. You don't have to own or buy anything. Portland fruit project is an example. If there is no program in your city, just ask people with fruit trees that look like they're neglected. There are also community gardens where you can "rent" a space in a public garden very cheaply. Some people have done this for decades. Also, if you live in the country or a small town, land is amazingly cheap. Anyone with a reasonable job can buy land there. There are also many old people who want help, can't get on ladders, are tired of paying people $500 a pop for yard work. There is the window of opportunity.
I'm in the awkward position of being in the category of rich enough (or maybe just stupid or spendthrifty enough) to buy these kind of books. Most of them that I've read are not worth the list price. As others have mentioned, YouTube has at least as much good information with the added benefit that you can often see if what the presenter is saying lines up with the results shown. It at least shows how much of the info is tried and tested versus just theoretical.
The basic takeaway for a food forest is to have various layers of plants (tall tree, short tree, big shrub, low shrub, annual herbaceous plant, root plant) and have them all be useful plants that grow happily together. If you're not on a time limit I think a fair approach is to plant a mix of anything desirable you can get at a low cost and let it run its course with a bit of guidance. A lot will die but if you can propagate a whole lot of different plants en masse on the cheap, that shouldn't matter too much.
Having read lots of said books I think if you have 80 bucks to spend you're best off spending it on 80 bucks worth of edible perennials at your community's annual plant swap. Last year I spent 20 bucks total across two sales for a bunch of raspberries, fennel, a variety of annual veg and a whole cardboard box of free strawberry runners that someone literally abandoned because they just wanted to be rid of their extras. Best part of buying at your local plant swap is that you know it will grow locally. You can also get perennials extremely cheaply if you start from seed. I suspect one could build a small forest garden on the cheap for less than the cost of one of the more expensive books. (I think 200 dollars has been the most egregious so far.)
I also suffer from chronic depression and anxiety so I think I get the deal. I grew up poor and not in the greatest home environment and my first memory of suicidal ideation was when I was eight. My most recent was last year. I'm wary of the medications because my last one made me feel like so much of a zombie that it in itself made me feel more depressed and detached from life. Things have gotten much better lately, mostly because of lifestyle and attitude changes. Moving out of the city and into a more peaceful and friendly-neighbor area helped immensely, as did gardening and other constructive homesteading type hobbies, as did some work on assertiveness skills and better self talk. Instead of looking at all the areas of life that aren't up to my standards yet or berating myself for mistakes or shortcomings, I try to look at what small things I can do to get closer to my ideal and celebrate the small steps I've made. This feels very strange and fake at first, since I grew up in a home where anything short of perfect was brutally punished, but after some practice, it's a much happier way to live. It also makes me more productive from a practical perspective. If I only have the energy to do something halfway, and it's better halfway than not at all, then I'll do it halfway and be at peace with that choice. I still get anxious and depressed but I'm getting better at pulling myself out of it before it spirals. Nowadays I see it like any other life skill.
For the roundup I wonder if you could kick up a fuss with the press. There are lots of local reporters looking for stories and you might find one or two interested in an environmental human interest thing. Many local papers have a scoop email address so you don't even have to call them, just write one message and BCC it to all the different papers. I've done this and gotten stories printed that created awareness and change.
I feel like a lot of this homesteading and permie stuff comes down to a can do attitude and a willingness to fall down seven times to stand up eight. It's very scrappy stuff which can be hard for us natural perfectionists, but I think it's a mindset worth adapting to.
when you're going through hell, keep going!
look! it's a bird! it's a plane! It's .... a teeny tiny ad