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Permaculture as a Gringo Movement

 
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I think we should be solving all the problems so the bitchers and moaners don't have anything to do! One of my least favorite things is complaining about problems without working on solutions to them.

 
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I loved the title of this post!!! I've often thought something similar... In my case, I'd probably call it "Permaculture as a Yuppie Movement". I read all sorts of the newest and greatest permaculture this or that or the other. And I'm like, "Duh, that's how we've been farming since time immemorial." Welcome to the country.

 
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Neil Layton wrote:The thing is, a lot of this is fair comment:

One of the most recent permaculture books to hit the market was originally priced at $75 dollars on Amazon. ... If it weren’t for internet piracy and public libraries, the majority of books about permaculture that I wanted to read would still be on my Amazon wish list.




It is true some books are overpriced, but I just took an honest look at amazon and found every resource I have in my library for under 20$. or significantly less, that includes Holmgren, Mollison, and others. If spending alot on books is how you gain knowledge that is your prerogative and a few authors publishing companies, not the prerogative of permaculture as a whole. I dont need to count on piracy even though I know its available, because there is affordable or free information out there already. I just use what is cheap and available.

When I showed one video from a well known permaculture teacher about how to do build swales (water infiltration ditches) using a backhoe, one of the young Central American farmers raised his hand and asked sarcastically: “Is this guy a farmer or a miner?”



This doesn't really jive with me. I don't care if this guy is a smart ass and thinks everyone with a backhoe is a rich miner. So he saw something he doesnt see the value in or understand, why frame it as something beyond that?


On this site, I talk about permaculture, but what I'm thinking about is agroecology, with my own thoughts on the social stuff. When I discuss my plans and ideas with anyone not on here, I talk about agroecology, not permaculture. I've never done a PDC and don't intend to.



Thats about the same as me, I NEVER mention permaculture unless its mentioned to me, and even then I deny it. I only cite Mollison and Holmgren as my main influences.

I came to find that most people involved in the permaculture movement had no idea what the third permaculture ethic actually entailed. In fact, many permaculture leaders had different ways of defining the third ethic. Some permaculture teachers stuck to the more radical idea of redistribution of surplus, while others settled with the more ambiguous idea of “fair shares” while failing to ever define what is fair.

Meanwhile, here, discussion of the third ethic is effectively off the table or confined to the cider press. There are those growing enough to feed their families, while others brag about their profits, often on the back of free labour (i.e. WWOOFers). There is a really blurry boundary here between sharing surpluses and outright exploitation at one end.



Are you saying this with some specific examples in mind, or is this just your general impression?



The last time I engaged with a discussion on here about an article off site, I ripped into the article. I can find little in this article to argue with. I suspect many of us in rich countries are simply unaware of our own privilege, and this article does well to point this out.



maybe a majority of people are unaware of their privilege, but its not unanimous, and I personally feel this article doesn't really do anything positive to amend blind privilege, just aims to stir the shitpot of misinformation.

I am suspicious of this authors intent, on one hand the article reads like he got "burned" by permaculture and is writing a letter about how it can improve itself (with a marxist reinterpretation) to reach more poor farmers, yet it is chalked full of references to "some permaculturalists" and finishes by taking a big "should" right on the readers face.
Links for further reading.
To anyone interested in pursuing information of the author of this article and his background I searched out some links and connections that I find notable. These links are not meant as a commentary on the character of the author in any way, just as further reading for consideration on his opinions and agendas.

Its just the way I am.

Isreal in central america

Key mennonite institutions against isreal


outdated NGO monitor
 
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I think, perhaps, a large problem that we should be fighting is not the PDCs and books and their costs, but rather the stigma that permaculture needs those things. It seems most people like permaculture, but don't want to label what they do as permaculture because of a stigma that permaculture knowledge is only to be found in expensive books and courses.

I know that when I first started looking into permaculture (what, three/four years ago?) that I had a really hard time locating things that gave the fundamentals and practical applications for free. I would see things talking about Gaia's Garden and the PDC and the expensive text books, and be really frustrated. I wanted to understand the theory and practice of permaculture, but it was really hard finding resources for them. It was searching for knowledge that finally led me to permies, because unlike a lot of other permaculture websites I found, people actually told the information that was in the books (the less expensive of which I have slowely accrued over the years as birthday/Christmas presents).

Later on, I found the Spirko permaculture course on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgRwtMGcNe4), as well as the Farmer's Handbook (https://permies.com/t/50195/books/Book-Review-Farmers-Handbook-Volumes). The latter was extremely helpful for me. It really laid out the permaculture principals and some really effective--and really cost effective--practices that I could do without major investments in tools. Resources like that are out there, but they took me 2-3 years to find, and I'm not a substance farmer with limited time with extremely limited internet!

Guiding people to these sorts of resources--instead of talking about PDCs--should really transform the stigma that permaculture appears to have, and make it a word that we can all be proud to use! I don't know how to get these things to the top of permaculture web searches, but doing so would likely help a ton! (And, doing a quick google search for "permaculture resources" does come up with a lot more helpful things things than it did when I was first searching. But, even still, permies doesn't even show up until the second page of search results. It looks like good change is happening, but the author of this article, and likely many other people who looked into permaculture years ago, don't know about that change and still view permaculture negatively due to their past expereiences.)
 
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Zach Muller wrote:

When I showed one video from a well known permaculture teacher about how to do build swales (water infiltration ditches) using a backhoe, one of the young Central American farmers raised his hand and asked sarcastically: “Is this guy a farmer or a miner?”



This doesn't really jive with me. I don't care if this guy is a smart ass and thinks everyone with a backhoe is a rich miner. So he saw something he doesnt see the value in or understand, why frame it as something beyond that?



Because it demonstrates how Permaculture, as taught, uses tools and techniques unavailable to many, perhaps most, of the world's farmers - in fact available pretty much exclusively to rich gringos (/goras/wazungu/pakehas etc).


Zach Muller wrote:

I came to find that most people involved in the permaculture movement had no idea what the third permaculture ethic actually entailed. In fact, many permaculture leaders had different ways of defining the third ethic. Some permaculture teachers stuck to the more radical idea of redistribution of surplus, while others settled with the more ambiguous idea of “fair shares” while failing to ever define what is fair.

Meanwhile, here, discussion of the third ethic is effectively off the table or confined to the cider press. There are those growing enough to feed their families, while others brag about their profits, often on the back of free labour (i.e. WWOOFers). There is a really blurry boundary here between sharing surpluses and outright exploitation at one end.



Are you saying this with some specific examples in mind, or is this just your general impression?



I can certainly think of specific examples, yes, at both ends of the scale. I think it would be unreasonable to name names, but there are people out there charging four-figure dollar sums for a course. Multiply that by twenty participants and even after costs you can come up with a tidy profit. I've observed elsewhere it's verging on a pyramid selling scheme. I've combined a lot of reading, with books from various sources (none bought new) with my own experience in gardening and the odd free workshop (which is how I learned to graft, for example).

Zach Muller wrote:


The last time I engaged with a discussion on here about an article off site, I ripped into the article. I can find little in this article to argue with. I suspect many of us in rich countries are simply unaware of our own privilege, and this article does well to point this out.



maybe a majority of people are unaware of their privilege, but its not unanimous, and I personally feel this article doesn't really do anything positive to amend blind privilege, just aims to stir the shitpot of misinformation.



I'm sure that were the author and I to sit and discuss politics we'd probably agree on much and then have a falling out over Marx. That said, I have less of a problem with giving permaculture a Marxist spin than I have with giving it a libertarian or capitalist one. I've looked for anything in this article that's demonstrably "misinformation" and can't find anything. So, is the problem the message, or is the problem that the messenger is a Marxist?

Zach Muller wrote:
Links for further reading.
To anyone interested in pursuing information of the author of this article and his background I searched out some links and connections that I find notable. These links are not meant as a commentary on the character of the author in any way, just as further reading for consideration on his opinions and agendas.

Its just the way I am.

Isreal in central america

outdated NGO monitor



I can find precisely no links to the author in any of those links. If you%27re going to accuse him of having an agenda (we all have agendas - I have an agenda, parts of it more open than others), please can you substantiate it? So he%27s a Marxist. Big deal. It%27s not like it%27s rare in Latin America. Marxism mostly has a bad reputation in areas where neoliberal propaganda dominates. Personally, I%27m comfortable with an agenda that opposes any form of colonialism, but that%27s off topic.

I think this article makes the author%27s agenda somewhat clearer: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-roberts/from-the-bible-belt-to-liberation-theology_b_2812591.html I%27m no Christian, but I can identify with the messages of Liberation Theology, and I think these are entirely compatible with an interpretation of Permaculture that has people care as part of its focus. Liberation Theology was something I first came across at university as a direct response to the proselytising Christian Union. They had a logo depicting a bleeding fist grasping a crown of thorns, and it%27s not one I forgot. I regard these people as natural allies, and I%27m willing to take their criticisms on board if it enables us to build a socially sustainable world.

Even if you disagree, none of that invalidates the message. It reads to me like fair criticism we need to be taking on board in order to make the techniques and ideas more accessible. That%27s a good thing, provided we don%27t shoot the messenger. The same applies to the last offsite article I helped comment on, and that was intended to be damaging. We learn from it, improve our practices, and move on.
 
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David Easton in his amazing rammed-earth building book talks about how bobcats, diesel compressors, and foundry tampers are the best tools for the job in first world countries because technology is cheap and labour is expensive. He suggests that in developing countries it would probably be much better to use dozens of people with shovels, buckets, and sticks with blocks on the end. I'm sure when he's teaching rammed-earth building in developing countries, he uses just that.

What if a permaculture course used an excavator to build a beautiful blueprint swale, then all the course picked up shovels and made an identical one next to it? Maybe it ends up not being visually identical due to the limitations of the hand tools, but is functionally identical?

It's a powerful thing to know that you don't need the machinery to get the same results if you have the manpower.
 
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I think many folks are missing stuff that is going on but because it's not going on in English
Check out Geoff Lawtons work in Jordan for instance
I agree with folks about the pyramid selling scheme . As I said before there are those making a living from permaculture and those by doing Permaculture . It's not the same thing .
As for the writer being a Marxist . So what it's 2016 .
I'm a self proclaimed socialist I have n't eaten a baby in some time
David
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I loved the title of this post!!! I've often thought something similar... In my case, I'd probably call it "Permaculture as a Yuppie Movement". I read all sorts of the newest and greatest permaculture this or that or the other. And I'm like, "Duh, that's how we've been farming since time immemorial." Welcome to the country.



Yes! I'm not surprised that the criticism in this particular article comes from Central America. There, especially, indigenous farmers figured out millennia ago an amazingly balanced and sustainable system. They enjoyed the advantages of agriculture, in terms of increased and predictable harvests, and avoided the downsides of monoculture and permanent soil depletion. Amber VanDerwarker's work (for example, her _Farming, Hunting, and Fishing in the Olmec World_) really drives this point home.

That said, I think the issue of context is an important one. Despite the best of motives, selling a PDC course to people who have little cash but plenty of other resources and/or a strong tradition of agriculture can come across badly. On the other hand, there are people who don't know a lot about agriculture but have money to pay to learn, or to have someone design an awesome permaculture backyard. Perceptions of scale, cost, etc. vary a lot. $75 for a book seems like a lot, but if you know what new college textbooks or academic books cost now, it might be less surprising.

Finally, as Joseph's post brings out, "welcome to the country" is a real thing for people who haven't spent a lot of time there before. This is something Paul has talked about in his podcasts and elsewhere: If you want to reach farmers, you'll need to talk to them in a way they can appreciate and understand. That applies for farmers in the US and outside the US.
 
Zach Muller
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Neil, in the links above I wouldn't expect to see the authors name, it is background reading about the organization he is a part of, which is the reason he is in South America, nothing more. When an indivividual belongs to a group that has a long history of saying one thing and doing another I find it noteworthy. I'm not accusing the author of anything specific, just pointing to the information available, which shows he is part of a group that has a primary goal beneath any stated humanitarian or ecological development.

Perhaps there are more bulldozer permaculture videos than I realize, but it's just one example. if I chose some videos to show farmers I would seek out ones that demonstrated techniques that used the same tools as them. I feel confident I could find such videos as I have watched them. So when the author chooses to show what rich gringos do rather than something useful to the farmers, he isn't really representing permaculture, he is using certain videos to get a response he wants. Seriously, he couldn't pick any of the thousand other videos....
This is what I mean by misinformation, more properly I would call it misrepresentation. That is my problem with the article. In my perspective All he wanted was a certain reaction so he could pile on his opinions and Marxist arguments. I know we all have our own agendas, but there's a difference between presenting a fair shake and presenting something you know will get a certain response.
IMO
He threw permaculture under the bus and used it to talk about class problems which exist in all spheres of human activity. Permaculture doesn't need that abuse, it's image is already pretty bad.

 
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I wish farmers and ranchers had been those kinds of stewards here in my locale. Here they pretty much trashed the place.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Zach Muller wrote: Permaculture doesn't need that abuse, it's image is already pretty bad.



How did permaculture get such a bad image? Or is that a topic for another thread?

 
David Livingston
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Zack
I don't see Permaculture as having a bad image at all and have no idea where you obtained such an opinion
Bit kooky ok but not bad - bad is monsanto et al
 
David Livingston
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So as not to hijack this topic I started a new topic
https://permies.com/t/55689/permaculture/Image-Permaculture#464349

David
 
Zach Muller
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Sorry I did not qualify that guys, I did not mean to say it quite like I did. The reason I say it has a bad enough rep is that all the ag folks I have learned from and spoken about permaculture in my area did not remotely take it seriously as a way to improve yield and work flow for food production. In fact some scoffed and laughed, people who were just coming around to no till possibilities. It does not help them take it seriously with titles like this one on huffington post.

People might not think permaculture is nefarious, but it's not even close to reaching a level that will penetrate the industrial food producers here. So to rephrase a bit, it's not that the reputation is terrible, it's just a far cry from being taken as a serious tool, turning it into a "gringo hippie" thing on a big site isn't going to help.
 
Tyler Ludens
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It might be a reflection of how well permaculture is doing that there are hit pieces about it on Huffpost and elsewhere. Of course not all are hit pieces there, most seem to be positive.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Zach Muller wrote:it's not even close to reaching a level that will penetrate the industrial food producers here.



From my own point of view that is almost not relevant to permaculture's success. Industrial farmers represent a minuscule percentage of the population in the US, so for permaculture to have an effect, we needn't change industrial food producers, though of course it would be great if we could. If all or even most gardeners and small farmers become permacultural food producers, the industrial farmers will probably go out of business, but in a gradual way so as not to shock them too much.

 
Zach Muller
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I like your point Tyler. They do represent a very small amount of the population, as well as representing a lot of daily food eaten by the general population. I would like to see change in both directions, more locals growing food where it's needed saving massive transport and quality cost, as well as more commercial producers updating their models and producing food without all the pollution and without supporting the Monsanto gmo nightmare. Eventually the two processes could meet in the middle where people have abundance of fresh food right out their door and can count on people with bigger plots of land to produce calories safely and efficiently to fill any gaps.
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's what I see happening, Zach. The clean food movement is gaining steam, and costing chemical farmers market share. Some will double-down with chemical propaganda "without chemical farming MILLIONS WILL STARVE!!!" but eventually they'll either change or go out of business. I expect some pretty intense screaming coming from the chemical side, as they see their livelihood slipping away. I hope they get a clue and decide to change their practices to stay in business. I like to think folks in the permaculture movement are giving them plenty of opportunity to learn about different methods of production.
 
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Zach Muller wrote: Permaculture doesn't need that abuse, it's image is already pretty bad.



I move in circles that take environmental restoration and sustainable food systems pretty seriously. In my circle of relationships, I don't know anyone who has a negative image of permaculture. When I get outside these circles, I regularly meet two different groups: the first has never heard the world permaculture, and when you explain it to them, they universally say, "That's totally cool. I want to learn more about it." The second group says, "Yeah, I've heard of it, and I know someone who has this amazing backyard food forest/garden. I'd love to learn more."

On a regular basis we've got friends and co-workers who come by our place to help themselves to fresh fruit and produce, as my wife and I can't possibly eat everything we grow. (Last week I picked and threw about 200 lemons into the compost, they were so heavy I feared that the tree branches would break.) The universal response to people who come over is to express nothing but wonder at the productivity and health of our third-acre space. It's beautiful, peaceful, full of lizards and birds and bees . . . they sit down and don't want to leave.

These are usually people that have never the world permaculture, but they leave convinced that it's the best way to grow food abundantly, restore denuded soils, and create a little Eden in your own backyard.

Who are these people who have such a bad image of permaculture? That is news to me.
 
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Marco Banks wrote:Who are these people who have such a bad image of permaculture? That is news to me.



The people mentioned in the article? If we are to assume that it's factual.
 
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Marco, I see what your saying and would agree for my associates who are interested in environmental restoration and sustainability have a good impression of permaculture. Although I would also mention that I know at least one ecological consultant who leave the term permaculture out of his business presentation. I'll ask them a detailed why next time I get a chance, but I think it has to do with their degree from a university being in sustainable design, rather than pc.

Most of this impression I get isn't from those types, but rather from people who don't think about sustainability as much as they think about the bottom line, and the more practical steps they go through to produce.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I was thinking conventional agriculture is kind of a gringo movement because it requires expensive tractors, hybrid seeds, etc.

 
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That article annoyed the hell out of me. Are there honestly people in the world that don't realize that if you can dig a swale with a backhoe, you can do the same with shovels, it will just take longer? I don't think that if I saw a person dig a swale with a backhoe, I would immediately say "Yep, that isn't for me, I can't afford a backhoe".

As far as the PDC costs go, I do think it is kind of a yuppie thing, and it is more than I want to pay. I use free resources instead, along with books that I purchase. But comparing a $2000 PDC against the third world nations $6 a day income is absurd. The average person in this country probably makes between $100 and $200 a day. So that means for a PDC, a person has to work 2 weeks or a month to afford one (obviously not accounting for taxes, living expenses, blah, blah), just as if a PDC in lower income nation paid $30 to $60 for the same course.

I do dislike the idea of the PDC in general. It smacks of a pyramid scheme to me. I pay $2000 for a PDC, which in turn allows me to teach a PDC to 20 people for $2000, and then those people can teach a PDC.... That said, to equate permaculture with the PDC is simply wrong in my mind.

Tyler also makes a great point about conventional farming. The farmers here have tractors so big I can drive my car under them, thousands upon thousands of acres, hundreds of heads of dairy cows. Clearly then, there can be no farmers that aren't rich...
 
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It's actually a big controversy even in the United States, about whether you should use big equipment to do permaculture. I think it just depends on your capital, your land size, your available workers, your specific plants, etc. I don't have a problem with it. I think the idea is that if you're saying, "We're going to show you people how to do this," and it is a method that they can't do, they wont' be attracted or interested in it. If you are trying to get a bunch of vegetarians to do permaculture, don't show people eating steaks first and say, "See what you can do! Isn't this great!"
John S
PDX OR
 
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Interesting subject. I did not read the article itself. I got an idea of it by the comments.
I did not read it because I know it isn't true. Permaculture is not 'only for rich white people'. There are always people who like writing untrue and unfriendly articles about good things (actions, organisations, institutions). In the past I wanted to react and comment to such negative writings, but now I know this doesn't help, it's better to ignore them.
Did not Paul say something like: 'don't fight against the bad things, just do the good thing'?
 
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does a subsistence farmer in Peru need to know to find water on a tropical island?
or soil building techniques in temperate climates?
or how to build straw bale houses, rocket stoves, or herb spirals?
much of the PDC tries to cover "everything, everywhere"
so a <<<<Permaculture Teacher>>>> has
a broad background in different techniques

so who needs a PDC?
Geoff wants to spread permaculture
by offering PDCs to increase the number of teachers
but sometimes he seems to think everyone
who is doing permaculture has to be a teacher (PDC certified)
rather than just someone who can benefit from
using appropriate techniques

there's a difference between learning a language
and learning to teach a language

maybe a better approach is
by first providing the benefits to the needy
and showing things will work
some will be willing to learn more (attend a PDC)

The PDC system was set up in those old "pre-internet" days
where it was a good way to collect and spread information
nowadays, maybe the concept needs rethunk

So yes, I vote for more demonstration sites
and informal classes for the poor

 
Tyler Ludens
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duane hennon wrote:Geoff wants to spread permaculture
by offering PDCs to increase the number of teachers
but sometimes he seems to think everyone
who is doing permaculture has to be a teacher (PDC certified)
rather than just someone who can benefit from
using appropriate techniques



He seems to be changing lately with all the free info he's giving out.

http://geofflawton.com/free-videos/

https://vimeo.com/158306671

http://www.geofflawtononline.com/
 
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Jim Tuttle wrote:If the price of education is the subject, let's not forget that a degree in any of the "free" schools there is still mostly unattainable by the poor. I have no need for a PDC, but if I did, $2000 is nothing compared to even one year in a CA university.

Heck, there IS a free PDC [of quality instruction put on by a somewhat shady company] out there on the internet. It's a bit more dry than Geoff, but free is good.

Alternatively, the PDC is basically just teaching the Designer's Manual with the additional value of the presenter's personal experience. Sacrificing that instructor's personal experience for a far cheaper permanent resource [in the form of the Permaculture Designer's Manual] seems like a pretty good deal to me. I bought mine used for 50$, but new ones are selling for around 100. Sure, that's a significant investment for those of us with minimal means, but there's PLENTY of free material available online for someone to determine whether or not they feel buying 'the big black book' is worth the cost.
 
John Suavecito
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There are different techniques and applications for different locations, as there should be. I think that ignoring a technique that doesn't work where you are is more positive than getting angry at them for using it. I think that a big part of this site is sharing ideas so people can find ways that fit their situation.
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Kyrt Ryder
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franck chardes wrote:

Todd Parr wrote:That article annoyed the hell out of me. Are there honestly people in the world that don't realize that if you can dig a swale with a backhoe, you can do the same with shovels, it will just take longer?

Some permaculture enthousiasts need to get real, need to understand that farmers aren't young and cool urbanites working an office job who don't mind some exercises during their vacations...Over here if you tell a farmer something like "Do you realize you can dig swales on your 4 acres with shovels...it just take time you know...?" he'll probably answer you with a nice "F... you!" And I won't blame him!


Nor would I, because it seems that the person teaching him hasn't clearly demonstrated the overall time savings of a fine-tuned system.

It's also challenging adapting a current working farm without a sudden massive energy investment, either in the form of Machine Labor or hired Human Labor. Trying to adapt a decent sized property [I'm working five acres myself for now, though I haven't yet hit the point of marketing product] by hand on one's own is incredibly time consuming, though probably less time consuming for one accustomed to such labor.

But permaculture systems don't *have* to be implemented quickly despite the benefits of doing so, they can be done peacemeal, an hour or two day. Take a swale for example: a swale for a 4 acre property might be dug one hour a day during the Dry Season in a tropical local. After it demonstrates its value in a year or two it might be repeated on a different elevation.
 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

franck chardes wrote:

Todd Parr wrote:That article annoyed the hell out of me. Are there honestly people in the world that don't realize that if you can dig a swale with a backhoe, you can do the same with shovels, it will just take longer?

Some permaculture enthousiasts need to get real, need to understand that farmers aren't young and cool urbanites working an office job who don't mind some exercises during their vacations...Over here if you tell a farmer something like "Do you realize you can dig swales on your 4 acres with shovels...it just take time you know...?" he'll probably answer you with a nice "F... you!" And I won't blame him!


Nor would I, because it seems that the person teaching him hasn't clearly demonstrated the overall time savings of a fine-tuned system.

It's also challenging adapting a current working farm without a sudden massive energy investment, either in the form of Machine Labor or hired Human Labor. Trying to adapt a decent sized property [I'm working five acres myself for now, though I haven't yet hit the point of marketing product] by hand on one's own is incredibly time consuming, though probably less time consuming for one accustomed to such labor.

But permaculture systems don't *have* to be implemented quickly despite the benefits of doing so, they can be done peacemeal, an hour or two day. Take a swale for example: a swale for a 4 acre property might be dug one hour a day during the Dry Season in a tropical local. After it demonstrates its value in a year or two it might be repeated on a different elevation.



Unfortunately conventional agriculture is still successful here (Taiwan). I mean very productive and allowing farmers to make a decent living. As long as this system is still working, oil and chemicals still affordable...farmers won't embrace permaculture. Too much hassle for them. They want immediate results. Most farmers are simple people with just one expectation: making enough money to raise their family. They aren't adventurous, they don't like risk and change...this is why the two major category of people interested by permaculture are: 1/Neo-rurals or 2/very poor uneducated farmers from very degraded land who need to relearn efficient subsistence farming in a environment that doesn't allow conventional farming. They have no other choice than to go the permaculture road...
 
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Well. Some time ago I took a PDC. At the time, I had neither land or focus to do anything more than be a learner.

I'm not white.

I was a former master gardener who had studied ecology and other environmental courses years before in college.

Any one can learn enough about Permaculture and sustainable gardening or farming by watching YouTube.

Learn enough to DO...that does not mean enough to teach or design.

We can learn about food forests, rocket stoves, techniques, ect and never shell out more than the cost of our internet bill.


The design course is if a person wants to start a career as a designer.

It is not for a farmer or gardener or simply for those wanting hands on information. The internet is for that.

What the author has demonstrated is how a lack of knowledge and a sense of ill advised entitlement can lead to a lot of misconceptions.

People can farm without ever taking an agronomy course. People can practice sustainable living and never take a Permaculture course.

If a person wants to make a living as a designer, their target clientele are not farmers in 3rd world countries with strong backs and 6 packs of beer. Nor is it teaching one person or group how to design.

Permaculture is applied science, not esoteric information, it is a discipline pitched to communities and governments not specifically for lay people to hire a designer..unless they can afford it.

Once schools, governments,and NFPs have access to a designer,those entities can then distribute information for free or reduced fees..

A subsistance farmer is jealous of a PDC course? Was that person planning on switching from farming to designing? Or do they just want to be handed credentials.


Nothing is stopping some enterprising Latinos from scouring the net for all info about Permaculture, setting out a shingle and sharing what they learned.

If they want to sell services for the local currency of a 6 pack of beer..so be it. They can even go on line, and design their own certificates for the graduates of their locally taught course.

No time for that...THEN TAKE TIME to ponder why a discipline thought up by and practiced by rich gringos is a concern of subsistent farmers in the first place.

Permaculture is a concern of everyone..but it must always be tailored to environment AND circumstances.

Got that? No money for heavy equipment? Go to plan B. No money for a design course? Get online and learn by Google and YouTube.

Bigger issues are not what gringos have and can do but locals can't..it is what can people do and how locally
.leave comparisons for haters.

..as for Marxism, the reality is that ambition and achievement is the enemy of any communist system.

By its very nature, a million people around anyone's individual neck is self defeating and an albatross. No one wants to achieve only to have millions EXPECT that a few people's hard work should have their fruits shared with the masses.

Attempting to belittle Permaculture is sour grapes. Heavy machinery is one method but not the only one.

From the outside looking in, it may seem that Permaculture in itself is elitist and ethnocentric when it is not.

Academia IS elitist and can be ethnocentric but only at the teaching level not the application level.

I have seen Permaculture students of all races from many countries fom China to India and from Africa to the ghettoes of the US.

I'm black, and the demographics I consult with are mostly lower middle class to urban dwellers with access to neither machetes or land.

IT is human nature to attempt to put down or discredit anything perceived as unattainable, but the leap from that to disparagement about white Americans is racist and obviously stems from that area where resentment overshadows yearning or covetousness.


At its most basic, Permaculture is about applying scientific and technogical principles to develop a perpetuating ecology that humans can be a part of...ANYWHERE...on the terms DICTATED by the local environment.

In some places, that might be a bobcat and swales, in others, a machete,6 packs and a shovel...still others, a stick and a bag with string to tie over a few leaves to catch some moisture. Or a concrete jungle and dumpster dived scraps to begin a compost heap.

Each of us apply the principles to do what we can where we can because ultimately, all scoffing and whining about who has what, aside..we EACH are doing what we can to help ourselves and we MUST do it based on local resources because ultimately aid, hand outs and outside expertise are NOT sustainable.


In the end, the resentment. MUST give way to pragmatism. I don't have white guilt nor do I subscribe to the principle of redistribution of anything people did not earn to others with less. You start with what you have not what you can get from everyone and everywhere else.

I do believe this: the planet is in such a state... That each of us MUST do all we can to save ourselves and create sustainabity where we live. NOW.

If someone in Central America fails to create a system or Permaculture paradigm that fits their reality of very little income and hand tools, Gringos in other countries will not be the ones suffering or starving due to Central Americans' failures.

Use common sense.. What works in the USA may not work in Central America.. So don't do it..ADAPT processes to what you can do and stop being jealous of how others achieve.

CONCEPTS can TRUMP methodolgy and are not rigid, but if thinking is.. We get nowhere.

If farmers anywhere are simply sitting around and grousing about "rich, white, gringoes or anything else..they miss the point.

As for redistribution into a system. ...

Understand that the "system" is NOT the world anymore than the ecological system in a pond in Vermont can be compared to an ecosystem in the GOBI DESERT. Dont compare one place or techniques to each other solely for comparisons sake.

Redistribution means returning by products of a system BACK into THAT system to both enrich and help that ecology self perpetuate.


Wanting wealth of the world redistributed is neither sustainable or natural. Wealthvus primarily perception. If all the money in the world was evenly distributed, humans would either redefine the financial bar or the criteria for elitism and those on the bottom wild find themselves still on the bottom.

By predilection,human societies require several things to thrive: moral standards, scapegoats, a value for goods and service and economic strata or classes. Human nature uses each of these things as safety valves.and manipulation tools.


Hand outs from people in their own milieus might not mean squat to someone in another culture because it does not fit.. But it was not supposed to.

Permaculture concepts are how to evaluate, gain, utilize, and self perpetuate resources where we live.. Not worry about how others do what they do or what they access to because it is not local reality.

No matter how close a global community may seem..it is NOT one system, it is many, with a myriad of methods and techniques to achieve sustainability.

Central American subsistent farmers have NO Business either assessing or critiquing anyone's methods for sustainability except those in their areas with their resources, AND limitations.

Money is a resource. When all the talk is done, no one should be shipping books, courses, machinery or much of anything else to C.A or Africa or the Maldives..different ecosystems. Work within your own parameters.

Attempting to redefine or augment a system with outside resources is NOT sustainable because it relies on a fabricated, unreliable, non natural input.

The net result of any failure to create a self perpetuating system in the coming climate reality will result in TRAGEDY for not working within local means.

So at the risk of being seen as mean..

Tuck those Central American bottom lips back in and stop holding those hands out.. No freebies..because even taking from others is not sustainable because it relies on some to make while others just take and most of us are not feeling that.

If swales have to be done by hand in a region...get to digging and don't worry so much about techniques or books or credentials...THE POINT are not how the swales were dug or with what..but the necessity of retaining and directing available water.

Get the concepts and get to work or many may not survive to regret the consequences.

Please excuse my auto correct typos, I'm typing on my rich, gringo phone.
 
Queenie Hankinson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I think we should be solving all the problems so the bitchers and moaners don't have anything to do! One of my least favorite things is complaining about problems without working on solutions to them.




I disagree. Never solve all the problems for bitchers and moaners lest they think their job is to bitch and moan and your job is to service their concerns.

Every microcosm must work, thrive andbe sustainable under their ownlocal limitations. Importing of books, money or even knowledge is not sustainable.

People who expect to be spoonfed Permaculture knowledge and site/culture specific methodologies might come to expect others to grow, cook, eat and eliminate for them also.

The concepts fit ANY culture and demographic. But thinking is not optional. People MUST learn to tailor local methodologies to circumstances and must do so without relying on others to think and solve things for them
 
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:David Easton in his amazing rammed-earth building book talks about how bobcats, diesel compressors, and foundry tampers are the best tools for the job in first world countries because technology is cheap and labour is expensive. He suggests that in developing countries it would probably be much better to use dozens of people with shovels, buckets, and sticks with blocks on the end. I'm sure when he's teaching rammed-earth building in developing countries, he uses just that.

What if a permaculture course used an excavator to build a beautiful blueprint swale, then all the course picked up shovels and made an identical one next to it? Maybe it ends up not being visually identical due to the limitations of the hand tools, but is functionally identical?

Most courses should be teaching concepts then locals ADAPT teachings to their version of real life.

If people who are from lands that do not have or cannot afford heavy machinery cannot extrapolate or lack the common sense to understand the concept and ADAPT a viable local methodology then not having books or first world people augment their incomes or give them certificates are the least of their future problems.

It's a powerful thing to know that you don't need the machinery to get the same results if you have the manpower.



I agree, and it is even more powerful for people to realize this on their own.. In order for any system to be truly sustainable for humans; Survivors must be able to thrive and ADAPT as part of their ecosystem and on their own..outside spoon-feeding.and hand holding are not sustainable in any system .... too many variables.
 
Queenie Hankinson
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Zach Muller wrote:Marco, I see what your saying and would agree for my associates who are interested in environmental restoration and sustainability have a good impression of permaculture. Although I would also mention that I know at least one ecological consultant who leave the term permaculture out of his business presentation. I'll ask them a detailed why next time I get a chance, but I think it has to do with their degree from a university being in sustainable design, rather than pc.

Most of this impression I get isn't from those types, but rather from people who don't think about sustainability as much as they think about the bottom line, and the more practical steps they go through to producr..


Permaculture isbut one type of sustainable system. There are others. For more low tech methodologies, I am more inclined to talk about Martin Crawford and no maintenance food forests and less about a complex integrative ecosystem.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Zach Muller wrote:... belongs to a group that has a long history of saying one thing and doing another I find it noteworthy. I'm not accusing the author of anything specific, just pointing to the information available, which shows he is part of a group that has a primary goal beneath any stated humanitarian or ecological development. ....
if I chose some videos to show farmers I would seek out ones that demonstrated techniques that used the same tools as them. I feel confident I could find such videos as I have watched them. ...
This is what I mean by misinformation, more properly I would call it misrepresentation. .... In my perspective All he wanted was a certain reaction so he could pile on his opinions and Marxist arguments. ....


Misrepresentation in more than one way! Not only misrepresenting permaculture, but also misrepresenting what it means to be Christian ... (and maybe even what it means to be Marxist?)
 
Tyler Ludens
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Queenie Hankinson wrote:
Permaculture isbut one type of sustainable system. There are others. For more low tech methodologies, I am more inclined to talk about Martin Crawford and no maintenance food forests.



How are those not part of permaculture? Permaculture is a method of design, not a method of production.
 
Todd Parr
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franck chardes wrote:

Kyrt Ryder wrote:

franck chardes wrote:

Todd Parr wrote:That article annoyed the hell out of me. Are there honestly people in the world that don't realize that if you can dig a swale with a backhoe, you can do the same with shovels, it will just take longer?

Some permaculture enthousiasts need to get real, need to understand that farmers aren't young and cool urbanites working an office job who don't mind some exercises during their vacations...Over here if you tell a farmer something like "Do you realize you can dig swales on your 4 acres with shovels...it just take time you know...?" he'll probably answer you with a nice "F... you!" And I won't blame him!


Nor would I, because it seems that the person teaching him hasn't clearly demonstrated the overall time savings of a fine-tuned system.

It's also challenging adapting a current working farm without a sudden massive energy investment, either in the form of Machine Labor or hired Human Labor. Trying to adapt a decent sized property [I'm working five acres myself for now, though I haven't yet hit the point of marketing product] by hand on one's own is incredibly time consuming, though probably less time consuming for one accustomed to such labor.

But permaculture systems don't *have* to be implemented quickly despite the benefits of doing so, they can be done peacemeal, an hour or two day. Take a swale for example: a swale for a 4 acre property might be dug one hour a day during the Dry Season in a tropical local. After it demonstrates its value in a year or two it might be repeated on a different elevation.



Unfortunately conventional agriculture is still successful here (Taiwan). I mean very productive and allowing farmers to make a decent living. As long as this system is still working, oil and chemicals still affordable...farmers won't embrace permaculture. Too much hassle for them. They want immediate results. Most farmers are simple people with just one expectation: making enough money to raise their family. They aren't adventurous, they don't like risk and change...this is why the two major category of people interested by permaculture are: 1/Neo-rurals or 2/very poor uneducated farmers from very degraded land who need to relearn efficient subsistence farming in a environment that doesn't allow conventional farming. They have no other choice than to go the permaculture road...



Let's take your example of the farmer with 4 acres. He has 3 choices that I see with regards to swales. If he can afford to, he can use heavy equipment to dig the swales. This is going to cost money. He can dig the swales by hand. This takes lots of time and effort. Or he can say "F... you!" Whether you blame him for the last or not, it won't get swales put in. From this the conclusion is drawn that permaculture is for rich people and permaculturists need to "get real".

Let's say he is a traditional farmer instead. He has 3 choices. He can use heavy equipment to till his fields. This is going to cost money. He can till his fields by hand. This takes lots of time and effort. Or he can say "F... you!". This won't get his fields tilled. From this the conclusion is drawn that traditional farming is for rich people, and young cool urbanites.

Let's say someone wants a birdhouse. He can buy a birdhouse. This takes money. Or he can build a birdhouse, and that takes time and effort. Or he can say "F... those birds!", which won't get him a birdhouse, so he concludes that birdhouses are only for rich people.

As see it, most everything costs money or time and effort. Doing, or not doing, any of it is a choice. Saying "F... you" will accomplish nothing. It's unfortunate that those are the choices, but life is what it is.

I have a question for you. How is that farmer taking care of 4 acres now? He doesn't have money to have swales dug, and he can't/won't/doesn't want to do it by hand, so how are the 4 acres being tilled and planted and fertilized and harvested now without time or money?

And for the record, I'm 52, not a rich, cool urbanite, and I'm not someone that I think needs a lesson in "getting real". I am just a guy trying to get by while converting my 2 acres to the kind of place I want to live on with the money and time allotted to me.
 
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