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The California Problem

 
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Professor Steven Andrews, UC Berkeley Soil Scientist, spoke to the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners, and based on the rainfall patterns which show as narrow or wide in tree rings of native trees, CA has had 500 year droughts, and 500 years adequate rainfall, punctuated with 4-5-6 year droughts. He has found that we are going into another 500 year drought. The bad news is our reservoirs, ground water is sized to the lush years. We can't make it depending on them. As Californians, he strongly suggested stockpiling a month of drinking water.
And yes, gray water is one part of the solution: I do want to use the washer's gray water to water my berries. I need to.
 
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tiffany thrasher wrote:like, we are vegan, and have been for almost 2 decades, so our diet uses WAY less water than someone with a standard american diet, and we've been doing it a long time.these are just some things i think about..


While a vegan diet may use less overall water, it seems that a vegan diet uses more water from arid regions than a carnivorous diet. For example, if you are eating meat then most of the water you are consuming fell in the Midwest and was absorbed by a corn or soy plant that was eventually turned into animal feed. For a vegan diet, many of the staples are grown primarily/exclusively in drought ridden California:

California produces almost all of the country's almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries...The most important vegetable crops grown in the state are lettuce and tomatoes. Again, California leads the way. Broccoli and carrots rank second followed by asparagus, cauliflower, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.1

 
Jan Cooper
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His suggestion is to make sure you don't send your water to the curb. Make an area to send the water, cistern or ground so that it is saved.
 
gardener
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Here is a link to a recent EconTalk episode with David Zetland on water. It talks about a wide range of stuff, including costs of water, conservation, and an enlightening description of how the Western US states ended up with such different water rules than the rest of the US. He also makes a point about how distorting it is to have things with large fixed costs(like water or power infrastructure) be funded too much by usage(use more pay more) vs having fixed charges for infrastructure and smaller usage rates. He talks about how low connect fees cause expansion to be subsidized by existing customers.
 
pollinator
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Some great posts at http://www.permies.com/forums/f-74/grey-water on Grey water. I know someone posted a question about it.
 
pollinator
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I'm not a Californian, and I may have the wrong impression of US gardens. Basically you have large garden areas most of which are put over to lawn. Lawns take high inputs in terms of water, fertilizer and cutting BUT they are simple to understand and you can get unskilled labor to cut them. I suspect that many people would convert to more appropriate landscapes but the alternatives require more technical skill to maintain and don't scale as easily to cover large areas.

If you can find a way to show people how to convert a large area of grass into an equally versatile and appropriate landscape you might get some traction, but when the alternative cost either silly money (landscape gardeners) or silly time (learn about it and do it all yourself) you will only get the very keen people acting.
 
Bill Crim
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Each state has its own rules and reg about this. There is no "general" US gardening culture or rules.

The only "general" cultural thing, is that occasionally Home Owners Associations (HOA) or citites will have rules requiring a lawn. The rules were usually made because poor-quality homeowners would either let their lawns die, or become so infested with weeds that it became a problem. Normally the rules are something like "You must have a lawn, grow bluegrass, and mow it once a week". Often the rules only apply to publicly visible front lawns, and they don't care what you do in the fenced in back yard. But not every HOA makes this distinction. Also, depending on the part of the US you are in, a front yard garden would spend several months out of the year being dead-looking or covered in mulch. In other countries(and older US cities) there isn't a front yard, only a back yard.
 
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Why have a lawn when you can have a garden? Or better yet, a nice low hugelkultur row to cover with greenery that provides edibles for the table, looks like a hedge the way you shaped and planted it, and you can divert greywater to it maybe if you have to? I always did think lawns were vastly overrated, especially when I lived in the big urban that mandated Kentucky Bluegrass everywhere...
 
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Location: San Diego County, CA (9a) ~15-18"precip/yr
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Such an immense problem, good comments so far in this discussion. I think the localized approach is critical for conservation measures and legal mechanisms to get people to actually conserve a significant amount of water.

I'm glad it is legal for some composting toilets, some greywater, and active rainwater harvesting systems here in CA. For one, it should be mandatory to build these systems into new homes and significant rebates should be available for existing homes. We also need to educate people on passive rainwater harvesting systems, such as soil building (as someone said, getting Brad Lancaster's teachings out to way more people).

The biggest user of water in the state is big agriculture. And, if you are on this site you should know the monoculture systems wastes an incredible amount of water. This needs to be the focus of water problems. Use permaculture technology to decrease water demand, we all know it works but it must be proven to the staus quo.

Being from and living in San Diego County it makes me especially sick and makes no sense that we dump most of our rainwater as fast as possible into the ocean instead of harvesting it via active or passive systems. It incredibly unfortunate we built our city in such an anti ecological design method. Now it is basically financially unfeasible to make a large scale change, but we certainly need to start small scale.

My new business deigns, builds and installs a type of ferrocement water tank. The tanks are relatively low-impact, super strong, last for generations, safe for potable use and are attractive. These will mostly be used for residential active rainwater harvesting systems here in San Diego County. I really hope to scale up rainwater tank use combined with drought-tolerant edible landscapes and passive rainwater harvesting.
 
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Location: East Bay, California USDA zone 9
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Here's an article that breaks down the political hurdles that keep California from better managing its water.

http://www.vox.com/2015/4/10/8379221/california-drought-water-crisis
 
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Location: Northern CA Coastal zone 10/a/b
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There are many, many good local resources for grey water information, education, regulations and requirements, for urbanites. I began my search in Berkeley...of course! Check out http://greywateraction.org/ This org is very longstanding, and has an eco-center for educational and training/certification activities, among other good stuff. As Gloria Steinem reminded us just last week: "...it took about 100 years for women to get the vote. We are only 50 years into the pursuit of equal wages. We've got a WAYS TO GO PEOPLE!" (...on many fronts) So don't lose heart, keep dialogs open, pursue new concepts, be open to taboo stuff, TALK TO EVERYONE about new ideas, such as humanure and options like the Loveable Loo. We are smart enough, if we pool together.
 
pollinator
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Aaron Goodwin wrote:

One of the biggest difficulties with California, in general as well as with this specific issue, is that it's a very large state covering very different areas. The northern part of the state receives substantially more rain than the southern; and the weather is much more temperate on it's west side than it's east side (this is what happens when you have a mountain range running through the middle of a coastal state. There's a real sense for Northern residents that Southern California is steeling their water and wasting it, but at the same time most of the food is grown in Southern California so it's just all a recipe for catastrophe.



yep. california is like its own frikking country! its really that big and varied, but maybe people dont realize it. i sort of feel like i dont live in california, even tho i do, but this is like its own sub country up here! actually its not even like living in amercia, it feels like we are that far removed from what most of the country does, but theres only a few thousand people who live in the mostly uninhabited mountains. its very different from so cal, but its also really different from most of nor cal too.
the northern "state of jefferson" part that i live in does not have a water shortage, we have 6 huge rivers, huge resevoirs, and actually had nearly normal amount of rainfall this year (as opposed to the last few years). so its kinda weird...in a way i am not involved in it so much, we have water and actually our water is very cheap! we only water the big fruit trees a couple of times during the summer, and we have drip irrigation set up for the main food producing gardens. sometimes, with new beds and establishing plants i water more frequently, but for the most part, and considering how much food we grow, we use very little water. while the grass looks nice when it rains, and all the yarden medicinals/edibles come back strong, we dont water the lawn or grass areas, and every year they turn brown, no big deal, and then come back once the rains come. is part of the problem that people think of things a certain way- like must water twice a week, or whatever- but dont push the plants and their own ideas to see if its possible to do less? the more you push the plants and trees to do with less, the deeper they root down and the more they acclimate...but i suppose you dont find that out till you question your ideas about it and push them.

just because i have been on the path of lessening my resource use in general, i am very conservative with my water use, as i have been for many years, even in the very wet pacific northwet, or when i lived in the coastal rainforest. BUT you are some of the only people who can appreciate my lack of bathing =) and all that...and now in my newest situation i have a real bathtub =) so i admit to guiltily taking as many hollywood showers as i can =) but thats after 15 years of living mostly off grid and not having a normal bathtub/toilet/running water/etc.....i suppose you cant justify like that, but its just not the real problem, IMO, and i truly enjoy the simple luxury of being able to bathe frequently =)

and as much as i dont like to say it, because people should be restricting themselves, its really not home user, suburbia, or individuals who are causing the bulk of the problem. it is industry and agriculture...one persons home use is hardly a drop in the bucket in the major water wasting....so its tricky, because i think people should want to voluntarily restrict themselves to using water wisely, but i also know its not really going to make a dent in the problem, at least this IMO. i still would rather people at least not water grass and non edibles, not just for vanity concerns...at least...


...and totally theres a lot of people who feel that southern cal is both stealing the water and wasting it, from up here. people may not realize that towns up here sell their water to so cal, and they pipe it down. the money they make selling the water is what the towns and cities use to spend on local projects and stuff like that.
 
Sheri Menelli
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Really fantastic discussion!

I want to throw out one idea at a time. What do you all think of the "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."?

What I'm thinking is that if we implemented that in all the schools and office buildings and public toilets, would that not save a lot of water. Plus it would have the added benefit
of making EVERYONE think about the water they are using - not just to flush but for everything.

Of course you have to flush once in a while or you get too much toilet paper clogging it all up so you'd have to educate when to flush.

Would love some ideas or feedback on this

Sheri
 
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much earlier in the thread...and i haven't had time to read beyond this yet....sheri asked for possible water wise personalities for tv appearances. i consider elizabeth dougherty, http://www.whollyh2o.org, a very strong candidate for sheri's time and talent. http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_25394950/being-water-wise-embracing-low-h20-lifestyle
 
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Hi everyone my name is Stefan and I am currently a graduating senior in my Hydrology program. Over the last few years i have been putting in tons of personal research into Low Input High Diversity growing techniques (I even did my senior project on this with great results), this information lead me to find permaculture which is where I have spent most of my recent research efforts. I have been eavesdropping on this forum for quite a while now and am finally getting around to writing my first post (WOOT).

So thats a little of my background, now as far as CA water problems go I love that everyone wants to get involved and do their part. But from what I've learned and seminars Ive gone to I really feel this is putting our energy into the wrong spot, this is because of the nature of agricultural water use. In a time of drought if residents are able to conserve water, agriculture will come and sweep up that extra as they are scrambling and clawing to get every last drop they can. Does this mean that conserving water is wrong? NO, but it does mean that conserving water alone will not solve our problems because it will be undermined by agriculture. Lets look at almonds as an example, we all know they use excessive amounts of water and dont produce crops for the first few years. The water used to sustain these trees alone would account for 75% of residential water use in the ENTIRE state, so lets say you want to conserve water rather than using less water its about eating less water hungry crops.

Yes this could be a drastic change to some as many of our favorite foods require high amounts of water, but it is really the only way to show big agriculture we are serious about our environment and our health. We can vote, conserve, and rally to achieve the intended results but by the time we get anything done through this route it could easily be too late (Subduction, essentially the ground collapsing because too much water is removed, has been occurring in Northern CA now at a rate of almost 2 feet per year since 2011 and SoCal is far past that in terms of subduction; anyone ever hear of the Tulare lake? well its completely gone now). We need to vote with our dollars since that is all that matters now to many Americans, that means disciplined choice of food purchasing as far as where it comes from and what its requirements are. I have seen the Organic food movement take off here in Northern California to the point where organics are now the same price if not cheaper than non organic, this makes me confident that we can also do this with water wise food!

The best part is that many of these foods that you may want to give up/decrease intake can be grown in your own water wise permaculture system so you dont have to completely forgo them!

Im sorry I am currently on my laptop and the links to my sources are on my desktop at home (Will try to remember to update when I get home)
 
Sheri Menelli
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What i really appreciate about this group and this forum is how much I'm learning. I really didn't know about the almonds using so much water and ag in general using so much.

I guess I'm going to stop buying almonds! I'm also going to send an email to the Governor about the ag use

Can anyone give me any info on Fracking? How much water does it use? How much fracking is actually happening in California? Until last week I didn't know it used water. I'm betting the public doesn't either.

Sheri
 
Sheri Menelli
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jenny shore wrote:much earlier in the thread...and i haven't had time to read beyond this yet....sheri asked for possible water wise personalities for tv appearances. i consider elizabeth dougherty, http://www.whollyh2o.org, a very strong candidate for sheri's time and talent. http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_25394950/being-water-wise-embracing-low-h20-lifestyle



I'm happy to talk to her and give her a bit of my time teaching her how to get publicity. I think we need as many people as possible that are great at talking about the drought and solutions to get
on tv and in the media to educate the rest of us

I'll send you a purple Mooseage

Sheri
 
Deb Rebel
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Things I am working on and actively experimenting with include: Microtrees. Superdwarf trees that get only 6-7 feet tall and can be worked from the ground. Much easier to protect against frost, insects, birds. Ways to water those trees that puts the water to them as efficiently as possible. The yield per acre is higher overall because the smaller trees and lesser output per tree is offset by the trees may be closer together and are much less effort to tend and harvest--no ladders. It feeds back into our suburban and urban environments as a lot of super-dwarfs may be kept as 'patio trees' and allow city dwellers to produce for their own tables (maybe not everything they need but it will help).

Rain Gutter Growing System. A combination of container gardening, raised bed, and self watering. Low maintenance, high yield, organic (yay compost) and again something to use water more efficiently. Again something for the suburban, urban, and even apartment dwelling person to help fill their own plate.

Some other growing methods, again to be low cost (in the end) and use resources more efficiently with less work and give more production. This isn't quite permaculture but it is being driven by something has to give. I'm finding a blend of permaculture in my life IS helping everything. Passive solar, edging off grid, and efficient water use is very important here. Using trellises to grow stuff and shade house walls in summer to help with cooling costs....

Back to California. I know they've been bulldozing producing almond and citrus trees. To get that production back takes at least five years, but. They don't have the water to keep them alive; they are taking them out period. The ripple through the commercial food supply will hit us, and prices will go up. Or they will turn to third world produced food where they are destroying their environment to produce food that may have been grown with contaminants of air, water, and soil, plus stuff sprayed on the food plants... we need to rein in water wastage period. It is said China has gone to the Ukraine, the 'wheat basket', and leased lands to produce food on to send home, as they have polluted enough of their environment...

We really need to support water conservation, and local food production. Even a windowbox full of salad greens is a step in the right direction. I am working on also, how to reuse my water at least once before I release it (to the garden, to the lawn, to the ponds, to the sewer).
 
Sheri Menelli
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Does anyone else feel the urge to go to the Governors house and help him with all of his water usage? I'm really curious how much he uses and if he has a greywater system. I'd love to go to his house and do a water makeover and then film it as a demonstration of what can be done

It would be fun to focus on every Mayor in California and help them be good examples



 
Deb Rebel
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Goferit Sheri. Bet they have lush expanses of green thirsty bluegrass....
 
Stefan Kirk
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Sheri I can provide some information on CA fracking, as i recently attended a lengthy seminar (powerpoint he had was 1300 slides O.o) given the head of the geology department at Chico state who is very involved in the national fracking scene. Im sure you will be as surprised as I was to find out that fracking in CA actually isnt a big problem relative to the other pressing water issues. The techniques used are different than the long horizontal pipe fracking used throughout most fracking sites. In California fracking is actually much more sparse than you would think due to regulations and the fact that it isnt nearly as profitable here and the geology doesnt support the same widely harmful fracking practices used elsewhere. in calfornia the water used is often recycled from previous fracking projects and treated with certain compounds to make it more Jello like, which makes it less likely to contaminate an burst well casings. On top of the practices used the frequency of California fracking is much lower than other states (http://maps.fractracker.org/latest/?appid=ad67d1d697104a4bbc1c238319f03eeb) spend some time browsing this website for fracking information.

I really believe that fracking in CA is sort of a wild goose chase and that there are much bigger fish to fry in terms of saving our water.

For instance this may sound really counter intuitive but restoring fire regimes to the Sierra Nevada mountain range is something I have come to understand would restore tons of water to the water cycle. Think natives burning large areas to increase productivity as well as maintaining perennial streams.
 
Sheri Menelli
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Stefan,

Thanks for the info on the fracking.

Doesn't sound like that is the most productive use of time as far as fighting the drought.

Sheri
 
leila hamaya
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i keep having a WTF? moment, every time someone calls almond trees "thirsty" or water wasters.

now i have never run a big almond orchard or anything...so perhaps theres something big i am missing here, must be, because in my understanding almonds are one of the most drought tolerant of large food bearing trees. if i was growing almonds i might baby them for a year or two with some light consistant watering, for like only a year or two...then make them adapt to getting their water for themselves. i have been thinking about starting both almonds and pistachios, partly for that reason...in my limited understanding - i think they are drought tolerant, very strong and able to get by on almost no water.

perhaps what i am missing here is that because of pulling the water out from the ground...trees cant acclimate like this, and especially without the rain we get up here. idk...but i just dont get why suddenly almond is being touted all over as this huge water waster, when i always saw it as a very drought tolerant, low watering needs kind of tree. now i keep reading articles that claim its this huge problem.

also i have a WTF moment when people talk about bulldozing live trees! why would someone do this? even if they wanted to get rid of them...or dont have the water etc...why not just let them be? if they die, then they die, but MAYBE a few would live? am i being unrealistic? maybe they wanted the land for something else...or something, but i really dont get it....
it is more than possible in my mind anyway, that some of them may be old enough and hardcore enough to keep on keeping on, even without the watering they are used to. anyway maybe most of them would die...but some few might just make it against the odds...and then be the most drought tolerant tree around.
 
Deb Rebel
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Could be loans, government participation, or what have you; to qualify for some relief payments or such, they have to 'doze the trees...

Here everyone has land in 'limited use' pasture (grass) and you have to do certain things to qualify for the program and can only do certain things with it. In return the grass cover stays on, the dirt stays put, and we don't have the Dustbowl all over again. (I am in the original dustbowl). If you don't play by the rules you don't get the payments for the land to stay idle (and pay the taxes and such with that payment). I assume that is why those trees went away.

Now maybe some varieties are drought resistant and tough, but they don't produce enough or the desired varieties that the consumer wants. And often it take several years of babying the trees to get them established enough to take SOME severe conditions. And more than a few years of those conditions will kill the trees...
 
Stefan Kirk
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Leila, I also was confused when i heard that almonds were the culprits. And im almost positive its not the plants fault, more likely it is due to the fact that the soils where these almonds are being grown are so depleted that the water is a mechanism for fertilization as well as max yield. I am not an almond farmer not have i ever grown almonds, but i could easily see how more water would lead to more nuts and drought conditions would stress it reducing its productivity although it could still survive. The farmers dont get paid to grow pretty trees in an orchard they are after the nuts so they will do whatever they think (I have read many articles on misinformed farmed practices based on tradition) is necessary to increase their yield.
 
leila hamaya
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well- what i have been thinking: its not that almonds use too much water, its that people THINK they need to use all that water, and in an effort to get max yield on huge tracts of land with thousands of trees...they dont have time or ability to test out how little water they can give???

idk....its still a bit of a mystery to me, or it is correct, almonds take far less water than most crops/trees, but people dont know this and over do it, or its about max yield and people having such enormous farms that they are on a level where careful tending/observation/experimentation/potential failure isnt financially feasible? so it could be the case that a small gardener/orchard could have a few trees and use hardly any water for lots of almonds and it would be a win, and yet huge farms with thousands + trees somehow cant make it? ah idk...i am just putting out there what i think.

well here's what mr smarty pants google says:

http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/sports/20150411/8-facts-about-almonds-agriculture-and-drought

http://grist.org/food/making-almonds-the-droughts-scapegoat-thats-nuts/

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/sep/14/alarm-almond-farmers-drain-california-dry
 
Stefan Kirk
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I wouldnt blame almonds outiright and its definitely not Northern California almond growers that are consuming a majority of the water. Another problem is just trying to raise trees in the desert without establishing ground cover or anything else to help support them is going to be a water thirsty practice anyways regardless of tree species. In fact Im well aware that meats are technically the worst water consumers because their food is raised and processed which takes water, then they are raised on that food and more water. only to be processed thereby consuming even more water. All in all it seems clear to me that the only real sustainable solution is to de industrialize the food industry. because hell I want almonds but i bet 2 trees in my backyard would supply all the almonds I could ever eat. And as far as meat goes you can have multifunctional animals such as ground birds or rabbits to weed eat and fertilize your garden.

What im trying to say is that there is no one solution to sustainability, it requires a new way of thinking about everything essentially since much of the first world is completely based on consumption. If we can shift our mentality to focus on production and sustainability then no matter what path we we take it will work itself out.
 
leila hamaya
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Stefan Kirk wrote:Another problem is just trying to raise trees in the desert without establishing ground cover or anything else to help support them is going to be a water thirsty practice anyways regardless of tree species.



yes, now here i think we are getting at the "nut" of the matter! the problem is much larger than almonds, thats for sure. it's like theres so many things that are propping up unsustainable things, which are propped up by other unsustainable unwise practices, and those are also propping up other things. once the base foundation "flaws" got rolling, without people seeing the obvious flaw in the base there, then all the things started being built upon that base...now its all connected and all the propping up isnt going to help in the long run. base foundational "flaw" = monoculture... = trying to grow too many trees and plants in the DESERT...+ creating these huge pipelines to pipe water down there.


Stefan Kirk wrote:
What im trying to say is that there is no one solution to sustainability, it requires a new way of thinking about everything essentially since much of the first world is completely based on consumption. If we can shift our mentality to focus on production and sustainability then no matter what path we we take it will work itself out.


agreed.
the key thing is shifting our ways of looking at things, and interacting, with regenerative modelling rather than consumptive modelling.

but i hate to see the almond , and almond farmers, get so much bad rep...even the big monoculture almonds...are probably doing less harmful and more regenerative practices than many other crops.
 
leila hamaya
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also i agree with you as far as de industrializing our food. it's complex, because well...we have made it so complex...and i even myself think about making money with growing food/ somehow supporting myself with my obsession with growing things....but theres so much about what changes and happens when the money aspects of food growing come up...it gets complicated quick. but i have thought about how the whole monetary aspect of food growing has really messed us up, and maybe seeming less practical but to me very damaging, how people dont have a relationship to their food plants/animals and more intimate connections with plants/nature.

but i have nothing against farmers, or trying to make money with growing things, if only things were as simple as they should be!
 
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I believe that most of the almonds produced in California are sold outside the United States, so an effective boycott is going to be difficult. I love the idea of showing how water can be captured and infiltrated. We need to take a jackhammer to the Los Angeles "River!"

 
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leila hamaya wrote:but i hate to see the almond , and almond farmers, get so much bad rep...even the big monoculture almonds...are probably doing less harmful and more regenerative practices than many other crops.


Indeed, almond farmers seem to be the whipping boy of choice these days because the product they sell has a high water per pound of product sold ratio. Since almond trees are very closely related to plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots (same genus, different species) there does not seem to be anything inherently thirsty about the almonds.

Ironically, the growers of the other fruits a getting a bit of a stone fruit trees are getting a bit of a pass because they products they sell are more filled with water and are therefore heavier. For example, pound for pound almonds have about 15 times as many calories as a peach mainly due to the peach being mostly water.
 
leila hamaya
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yeah right, so its like just some kind of numbers game to make things seem a certain way. and one could use different different factors, or framework, to make it look like something else is to blame...

and totally considering the amount of nutrition in almonds, as opposed to just their weight, makes more sense. this weird numbers game thing everyone keeps doing doesnt seem like a legit way to really get the issues.

but here, this is an interesting article on this :
stop demonizing almonds

complete with this chart :


which i still think this isnt the best way to understand these issues...but it is kind of interesting. then she goes after ALFALFA and animal feed, of course...

 
Deb Rebel
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My area gets it's water from an aquifer. In the 1970's they tapped that for the first time and in the Midwestern states a lot of acres went under irrigation. To produce hog feed. Corn for hog feed. In about 20 years they took close to half the aquifer's supply. Just to raise cheap hog feed. We still have water in the aquifer, but with the cost of pumping that water out of the ground having risen stiffly, a lot of acres went OUT of irrigation.

There is a lot of that, quick short term make a buck and don't give a rip about the later generation or when things run out. It seems totally off to put acres under production to export animal feed.... It boggles the mind that they are growing hay and alfalfa to export when they don't have enough water to go around... and this way they are in drought and need animal feed to keep the herds on the ranch. What they pay to have feed trucked in is a crime too. <shakes head>
 
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Michael Cox wrote:I'm not a Californian, and I may have the wrong impression of US gardens. Basically you have large garden areas most of which are put over to lawn. Lawns take high inputs in terms of water, fertilizer and cutting BUT they are simple to understand and you can get unskilled labor to cut them. I suspect that many people would convert to more appropriate landscapes but the alternatives require more technical skill to maintain and don't scale as easily to cover large areas.

If you can find a way to show people how to convert a large area of grass into an equally versatile and appropriate landscape you might get some traction, but when the alternative cost either silly money (landscape gardeners) or silly time (learn about it and do it all yourself) you will only get the very keen people acting.



I think an aspect of it is time. American's are time crunched. Grass takes a lot less time for Americans with sprinkler systems and lawn mowers.
 
elle sagenev
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It always feels like sacrilege to me when people try to advocate against beef. Cows man, they're what we've got. Want the best steak you'll ever have in your life? Come to the midwest. We know how to grow it and we know how to cook it. Anyway, there are feedlots, no denying. But a lot of the ranchers I know around here pasture raise their beef.
 
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Wow, I had an interesting experience on my street this week.

A bit of background first. I'm in a middle class suburban neighborhood in Southern California. Up until I moved from lawn to a drought tolerant landscape in October, I was the only one without a front lawn.

(Actually I wanted to remove the lawn but until Gov Brown signed something last August I was not allowed to by the Home Owners Association. After Gerry Brown the HOAs could no longer prevent you
from having a brown lawn or for getting rid of grass!)

I got one other neighbor last November to tear out his whole back and front grass - I think it is all replaced with creeping thyme now

Well. This week after all the announcements of the 25% reduction that we have to make, I had 3 neighbors approach me about removing their lawns. They wanted
to know if the rebates were still available that I told them about last summer.

I also spoke to them about laundry to landscape and they got excited about that and rainbarrels

They started noticing a lot of neighbors a few blocks away ripping out the grass and replacing it with mulch and drought tolerant plants and for
every one who has, it has created more of an impact here. (Social proof that it is ok to get rid of the lawn)

I've never ever seen any of my neighbors worried about conserving water before so this is really am amazing change.

I know ag uses far more water than residents but this is a good start.

Sheri
 
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elle sagenev wrote:It always feels like sacrilege to me when people try to advocate against beef. Cows man, they're what we've got. Want the best steak you'll ever have in your life? Come to the midwest. We know how to grow it and we know how to cook it. Anyway, there are feedlots, no denying. But a lot of the ranchers I know around here pasture raise their beef.



well just in case i wasnt clear, i am not trying to be anti cows, or anti cow farmers even. that they are EXPORTING cow feed is quite a bit of wackiness...but i think the issues are much bigger than that. just as i dont think its fair to demonize almonds, i dont want to demonize cows, cow farmers, or even suburban people who water weird monoculture grass lawns or feed their swimming pools.

yeah we should just stop demonizing people in general =) !
i would even include those who might deserve it a little. we should get to figuring out what exactly is happening and adjust ourselves without having to play the blame game. and kinda silly to even try to blame one thing for these problems...and the weirdness of trying to find blame for the problem of "drought" in a desert ?!!?? can you even call it a drought if you live in an area that, even in normal years, doesnt get much rain? isnt it more like - just another day in sunny dry paradise?

well some of the areas do get a bit more rain, but mostly the areas that are freaking out and having it the hardest, are areas where there is little rain and natural water. so calling it a drought implies something thats not really accurately portraying the situation. when it wasnt raining and snowing up here in northern cal, that was freaky, because this is an area that normally gets lots of rain, although it mostly comes all at once within a few months. actually thats some of the core of the issue, northern california had such lower amounts of rainfall and snow for three years... some of this is seeing the effects that had on so cal and central cal. because northern california is one of the main places that replenshes the water for the state, and theres pieplines that bring the water down the state. at least this year we are getting more rain, although we had very little snow, which is important for the snow pack on the mountains holds a lot of water....

that there are complicated methods to grow food in areas with little rain or natural water, by pumping huge amounts of water around the state, is pretty strange and precarious to begin with. that those areas arent getting water that maybe they shouldve never had easy access to....is more of the issue. thats more of a mouthful than "drought"...but as far as i can see thats what happening
 
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Sheri Menelli wrote:

A bit of background first. I'm in a middle class suburban neighborhood in Southern California. Up until I moved from lawn to a drought tolerant landscape in October, I was the only one without a front lawn.

(Actually I wanted to remove the lawn but until Gov Brown signed something last August I was not allowed to by the Home Owners Association. After Gerry Brown the HOAs could no longer prevent you
from having a brown lawn or for getting rid of grass!)



I'll never live in an HOA integrated community like that again. Cookie cutter methods...sigh.
 
elle sagenev
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Well I'm in Wyoming and we don't get a lot of rain or snow but we do declare droughts quite often. When we do not get the little snow we usually receive people pay attention. A lot of the midwest pays attention to their water. In fact, there is a huge hoopla in my county about water right now. They're going after farmers in a big way. I personally think it is because farmers are selling their water for fracking purposes, though I realize the problem is larger than that. Anyway, the point for me is that CA is being a bit whacky about it all. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around people not being aware of their water, but that's because we are hyper aware here.

Anyway, my cow comment is just because I am in cow country. So it's hard to wrap my head around not having cows. Cows are what we are. It's what we eat and it's bloody delicious! lol But I do know Greeley, CO has a ton of feed lots and I drove past several near Ft Collins, CO last sunday on my way to pick up a new peacock. That kind of beef management is not sustainable. I get ya there. But here, it's a lot of land feeding the cows. Massive amounts of acreage dedicated to it. So yeah, the cows drink and they do feed hay in the winter, which requires water, but it doesn't seem that bad to me I suppose. But again, I'm used to it. The corn farmers around here kill me with their water waste, cows, not so much.

leila hamaya wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:It always feels like sacrilege to me when people try to advocate against beef. Cows man, they're what we've got. Want the best steak you'll ever have in your life? Come to the midwest. We know how to grow it and we know how to cook it. Anyway, there are feedlots, no denying. But a lot of the ranchers I know around here pasture raise their beef.



well just in case i wasnt clear, i am not trying to be anti cows, or anti cow farmers even. that they are EXPORTING cow feed is quite a bit of wackiness...but i think the issues are much bigger than that. just as i dont think its fair to demonize almonds, i dont want to demonize cows, cow farmers, or even suburban people who water weird monoculture grass lawns or feed their swimming pools.

yeah we should just stop demonizing people in general =) !
i would even include those who might deserve it a little. we should get to figuring out what exactly is happening and adjust ourselves without having to play the blame game. and kinda silly to even try to blame one thing for these problems...and the weirdness of trying to find blame for the problem of "drought" in a desert ?!!?? can you even call it a drought if you live in an area that, even in normal years, doesnt get much rain? isnt it more like - just another day in sunny dry paradise?

well some of the areas do get a bit more rain, but mostly the areas that are freaking out and having it the hardest, are areas where there is little rain and natural water. so calling it a drought implies something thats not really accurately portraying the situation. when it wasnt raining and snowing up here in northern cal, that was freaky, because this is an area that normally gets lots of rain, although it mostly comes all at once within a few months. actually thats some of the core of the issue, northern california had such lower amounts of rainfall and snow for three years... some of this is seeing the effects that had on so cal and central cal. because northern california is one of the main places that replenshes the water for the state, and theres pieplines that bring the water down the state. at least this year we are getting more rain, although we had very little snow, which is important for the snow pack on the mountains holds a lot of water....

that there are complicated methods to grow food in areas with little rain or natural water, by pumping huge amounts of water around the state, is pretty strange and precarious to begin with. that those areas arent getting water that maybe they shouldve never had easy access to....is more of the issue. thats more of a mouthful than "drought"...but as far as i can see thats what happening

 
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I am seeing a lot of great ideas come into play in this thread. But no one sees some of the real issues that are California only issues. Farmers, get a water allotment from the state, they own that water outright, no water bill as non farmer residents know them.
Many of the California Farmers are already selling their water back to the state, A farmer can sell (at the current rate of 700 dollars per acre ft. of water) as much of his water as he decides, at the current price it is paying the farmer to sell his water back to the state at a better rate than if he produces his normal crops.
The long term results of this one thing will result in major increases to vegetable prices at the grocery stores.

The main suppliers of water to Southern California are Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. Lake Meade is currently at a defect of over 100 ft. low, it has been shrinking every year for the last 6 years, without the benefit of being replenished by the snow melt or rains as it was in the past.
This year was another negative snowfall year, in fact it was the first time in over 40 years that the snow pack was so low as to be nonexistent during the annual snow pack measurement event.

This drought is not just in California, it extends all the way east to the Mississippi River Basin, that covers Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and a few others at a smaller rate.
The climate change is normal, it just happens to be the second time in US History, the first occurred at the same time as the Dust Bowl. The difference is that this climate change will be longer and the effects will be further reaching because of population increase.


People, as a whole group, only change their habits when forced to do so, that seems to be human nature. Perhaps this is just Mother Earths way of forcing the blight of humans to change or die.

Politicians have never been the best method of creating change for the good, at least in my life time. I have never seen politicians do the right thing because it was the right thing.

I lived in California in the 1960's and in the early 1970's. I watched people get mad when water would be rationed back then, I can only imagine what their behavior will end up like this time around.

I do believe that We are in the fifth shaking of the world, as predicted by my ancestors.
I believe that people can and will change, mostly because they will be forced to do so or perish.
I believe that those of us who know permaculture will need to become the teachers, the new voice, the new farmers.
As this changing time progresses, more people will listen to us, adopt our ideas.
 
I wish to win the lottery. I wish for a lovely piece of pie. And I wish for a tiny ad:
Taylor&Zach’s Bootcamp Journey
https://permies.com/t/115886/permaculture-projects/Taylor-Zach-Bootcamp-Journey
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