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Image of Permaculture - public perception of the permaculture movement

 
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One downside of defining something and having it be "famous" is that it is something from then on, something that people can lump together with other defined stuff and be disregarded. The plus side of referring to permaculturists as goofballs is that they remain behind the scenes, since goofballs are perceived as being non threatening, there is no official reason to hate them and degrade their practices, they are just goofing around wheres the harm?

Thats part of my own personal image i project with people I encounter, not one that says "I am a hardass practitioner of permaculture" but one thats more like, "come check this out, its great!"
This allows people to see that my main interest is not in destroying an old system of malfunctioning reasons and practices, I am focused on what I think is interesting and worthwhile. destruction is just a side effect. That is a nice layer of public perception, it isn't always about whats projected from a source as much as how you know people will receive it. In other words managing what peoples takeaway will be, rather than planning impressions of the content.

Permacultures broad public image could protect it and harm it in different ways.



 
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I am glad in my neighbourhood a permaculture community project is starting (yes, I am joining it too) and the interested people are all 'ordinary' people living in this 'ordinary' neighbourhood.
 
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permaculture is counter to what society is. people like denial and their little bubbles and super convenient everything. Anything that contradicts the belief systems set in place for what is and isn't is demonized and scary. permaculture just about conflicts with every conventional ideal about 'life' in society and what that entails.

lastly, its 'unreproducible'. the nature of permaculture is that it must be specific to the bio-region. therefore cannot be monopolized upon, therefore has no real monetary interests. we are in dire need of bio-region specific plant breeding programs and that is also a fairly large hindrance to this issue. there is to much 'ground work' to be done and thats highly inconvenient.

its a general issue of the mindset created by society and what permaculture as a base instils. 'sustainability' is just a fancy term for people in coffee shops to talk about, and something to do with windmill farms...
 
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Nobody is stupid for not understanding permaculture from the get go. It is a very complex system because nature and ecosystems are extreamly complex systems. Try to explain the human immune system to someone, then add how different kinds of food intake affect the system, then add stress to the picture. The complexity builds with each interaction.

I have completed the PDC course with G.Lawton and i am currently in my second year of advanced permaculture training working towards my international diploma for permaculture design. Even now after two and a half years of studying I am just now starting to really understand the system and I am amazed at how little I know compared to what I still need to know. The big advantage in joining a training programm is the opportunity to visit, see and touch a variety of differnt landscapes, climate zones, customers visions and their wish lists. My current teacher has been working and teaching excusively in permaculture for over 15 yearly now and his experience and the hands-on training is invaluable. The training takes aprox. three years to complete. We meet four weekends a year and must complete 10 design projects of our choice. Anything from designing a compost toilet to complete Zone 0-5 planings are considered a project. Three of the 10 designs are then reviewed by a committee of diplom designers and a series of questions are asked about why this or the other project was designed in this way and a fesability study of your design is considered in the review. Your design doesn't have to be faultless but it does have to work. The judging and review process takes around two hours. I suppose there are other ways of learning but four weekends a year and an online PDC course should be possible for anyone who is really serious about learning the trade and doesn't want to reinvent the wheel by trail and error.

For me the unserious misunderstanding around permaculture surrounds with what I believe in the US they call "Purple Permaculture" the mixing of new age sprituality subjects with permaculture design science. Don't get me wrong everyone should do whatever keeps their boat a float but please don't be implementing your beliefe systems on to a design science. Permaculture has nothing to do with creating nice circular garden plots or herb sprials without consideration of location or climate. I consider myself to be a very spritual person but I choose not to mix the one with the other because I want to reach those "Farmer" guys out there and for that I am willing to curb my personal preferences because I know that many of the people I want to reach are the more conserative types. Currently our goal here in Switzerland where I am living is to create a foundation for permaculture studies and start-up assistance. In addition we are looking to start a demonstration farm to move the permaculture movement more towards small scale community farming and somewhat less with personal homestead gardens. We would like to create more influence where most of the damage is being done, namely commercial farming.

For those who are concerned with promoting permaculture and protecting it's name I say first learn it well yourself. A well designed and funtioning system, be it a garden, a food forest or a comerical farm is all the convincing that you will have to do. Like the saying goes... a picture is worth a thousand words! Stick with it, stay determined and learn from others.

Saluti! From Permadave an expat abroad
 
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Alex Apfelbaum wrote:I see a few aspects that may give Permaculture a bad image to some people :

- It's seen as "unscientific" : A lot in Permaculture is based on the effects of inteconnections within a whole system, that makes it the oposite of a typical scientific experiment where you isolate things to pinpoint specific factors and results. Permaculture is also about trusting nature, the scientific mind doesn't like that.



Ecology is a (relatively) new science. Ecology and permaculture are very close cousins. There are a lot of people who don't have a firm grasp on science, or have kept up to date since leaving school.


- There is a "new-age/hippie/hipster/alternative/callitwhatever" side to Permaculture that attracts a certain kind of people who may not be taken seriously by the average professional farmer.



Yeah, I feel this vibe sometimes too. But I'm no hippie, I'm not a hipster. I might be considered alternative(and likely callitwhatever).


- There are no big corporations and celebrities endorsing it, no marketing, no big brands. In effect it doesn't really exist in the global media world, so how can it be serious ? (some people think like that.. sadly)



It is unfortunate that some people think this way. There's also nothing of real value that actually gets advertised these days. So this might be for the best.


It really depends on the people you talk to, these three points can also be seen as giving Permaculture a good image !



I like to draw my own conclusions from the facts.
 
Evan Nilla
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Davide Honey wrote:For me the unserious misunderstanding around permaculture surrounds with what I believe in the US they call "Purple Permaculture" the mixing of new age sprituality subjects with permaculture design science. Don't get me wrong everyone should do whatever keeps their boat a float but please don't be implementing your beliefe systems on to a design science. Permaculture has nothing to do with creating nice circular garden plots or herb sprials without consideration of location or climate. I consider myself to be a very spritual person but I choose not to mix the one with the other because I want to reach those "Farmer" guys out there and for that I am willing to curb my personal preferences because I know that many of the people I want to reach are the more conserative types. Currently our goal here in Switzerland where I am living is to create a foundation for permaculture studies and start-up assistance. In addition we are looking to start a demonstration farm to move the permaculture movement more towards small scale community farming and somewhat less with personal homestead gardens. We would like to create more influence where most of the damage is being done, namely commercial farming.



thanks for this, i do appreciate it. I've been fortunate enough to study a sizable amount of botany and plant systems, as well as family family land that is untouched forest and having a lot of time to study nature. walking the woods around 2009 i first realized to myself how great it would be to have edible plants systems like this. only to find others had thought the same thing. Also helps being able to spend about half year visiting different permaculture installations and working with the places. Its actually amazing how many small examples there are around the USA.

Permaculture is truly a very large field and encompasses an enormous amount. Also outside of the tropics/subtropics the potential for what is truly permaculture is fairly limited and in the least has like i was saying a lot of ground work before it becomes something easily replicated.

the real issue deals with commercialization as far as mass appeal goes. its fun to talk about something like switches corn to chestnuts and its a definite step in the right direction using our same monoculture mass planting system, but its not truly permaculture. In cool climates there is just so much ground work needed to make viable edible cultivars. Making a commercial success off of just the plants outputs alone is rough going right now to impossible. We would need something like smart robots to pick just want we wanted before a complex permaculture system could be viable commercially. Permaculture is not widespread, because there is just so much ground work to be done for a lot of the worlds bio-regions. All the same there are places permaculture has been always practice, but again, on a small scale.

we are basically at the beginning of the scientific concept that certain plants benefit from each other. just a couple years ago this idea would have been preposterous(and still isn't widely accepted). We are essentially at the forefront of a lot of areas.

---edit
Also, for some place like the USA, permaculture introduces a lot of realities and changes to what food and diet are. This is a massive mental hurdle for a lot of people. the typical industrial agricultural situation is hard to adapt to permaculture because monocultures were created for mechanized harvest in our current paradigm(i can hope for advanced robotic plant harvesters). Permacultures current scope is well aimed at the small orchard farmer. However, with something like adding black locust to reduce nitrogen requirements, adding daylillies the base of fruit trees, adding flowering shrubs/plants and beneficial attractants and maybe a minor understory and secondary crop is a cute thing, its not going to solve said farmers pest and fertilizer issue. you can add in new breeds of clover for green manures and even certain beneficial weeds, but at this point we are going pretty deep and its beyond the scope of what people really want to deal with.

even something like holistic grazing. it fails because it needs to be specific to the bio-region. thats a huge hurdle.
 
master pollinator
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Evan Nilla wrote:
outside of the tropics/subtropics the potential for what is truly permaculture is fairly limited



I don't understand how this design system can be "fairly limited." I read about people here on permies who live in temperate areas where it looks like they just stick a tree in the ground and it grows, stick a seed in the ground and it grows. To me, who struggles to get things to grow, I do not see how that is a limiting situation. People may limit their systems due to lack of imagination applied to design, but that is not a limit of permaculture, that is a limit of permaculturists who fail to apply permaculture design to their systems.



 
Evan Nilla
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:
outside of the tropics/subtropics the potential for what is truly permaculture is fairly limited



I don't understand how this design system can be "fairly limited."



it comes down to what i was already saying. we just don't have the available edible cultivars. the plant breeding programs we've had from europe were all made using labor intensive elements and bred in essentially isolation. Yeah sure, you don't get the sun baking the fertility out of the ground and the deep freezes help with this also, along with that also there is less pest pressure(not that its none existent, depends on 'where' and what). you get something like a Russian 'Dacha' but russia is great with local cultivars, the 'groundwork' is basically already done here. they know what does and doesn't work together, what flowers to mix with vegetables and what 'woody' plants work with what annuals, but its generally remote enough and small enough that the issue of pest and fertility isn't such an issue anyhow).

there are no real design systems i know of. plenty of things i've thought about, but, really only 'rough ass mainframes' and i haven't had time like i used to to organize plant databases, i lost/forgot a lot of it(life changes). Either way, most of it was a long the lines of "these weeds will not actually be detrimental and if green manured beneficial with these edibles, this weed has potential for edibility, etc". Its what i'm saying, there are so many unknown elements right now. the topic is why isn't permaculture more popular. because its like a 'plant nerd' thing or its like some weird new-age spirituality thing... there are no simple design patterns to follow and the typical overstory/understory model does not work because there is not enough solar radiation. So far i haven't really noticed anyone mimicking a transitional prairie to forest in the north, as this is what it would take as a base. maybe mark shepard, but, he's kinda got other things going on and mostly breeding apple trees and is reliant upon volunteer labor. so, this is what i'm saying, we don't see permaculture in the masses because we are at the forefront of many of the basic elements(at least in the northern areas, just for giggles we'll say zone 8+, which really is inaccurate, and excluding the Dacha's, which, are labor intensive).

something like Oiko's Tree Crops to me is a great example of permaculture in the north, but, they ARE doing these plant breeding programs and making the next availability for options. they aren't trying to feed people(at least not as a base), and aren't really concerned with plant systems.

a system is a base layout of mechanics. there are no real 'systems' for the north. we are currently working these things out, but again, at the forefront of these types of issues.(there is or was at least a guy in the UK breeding an alder species for grain production. again, the forefront). lastly, the issue of commercialization is real..

permaculture is, like my first reply in this thread. a complete rethinking of many aspect of life on earth, and, this is 'scary' for a lot of people(when truly its a very simple shift in thinking/lifestyle). having a yard of 1/3 beneficial weeds, 1/3 herbs/flowers and 1/3 productive edibles is a simple sustainable thing for any suburban home that controls issues like pests and water usage. if this was every home it would be massive, but, its a major flip in thinking from the rigid structure of overly simplistic 'safe and clean' arrangements of plants. something like "village homes" in davis CA does a pretty good job of what functional permaculture works, but, its about as non-commercial as it gets, and also its a pretty fantastic climate zone/area, so a little outside the issue.

the issue isn't making permaculture work for individuals, its making permaculture work on a large scale, which, again, without some advanced robotics isn't a reality.

There are of course inbetweens everywhere. people making a ton of money off a rooftop gardens(typical intensive vegetable gardening) in new york, but just the same, someone getting fined and nearly jailed for front yard raised beds.. Its a lot of ground work right now.
 
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Evan Nilla wrote:maybe mark shepard, but, he's kinda got other things going on and mostly breeding apple trees and is reliant upon volunteer labor


Do you have a source for this? I'd always been under the impression that wasn't the case.

As for Mark's 'other things going on' which ones are you referring to? His animal products are an awesome part of the whole system, and something I'm looking to emulate when I get my farmland [and am attempting to somewhat emulate on a small scale on the five acres I live on at present.]
 
Tyler Ludens
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Evan Nilla wrote:

the issue isn't making permaculture work for individuals



I don't agree. I think that is exactly the issue. Bill Mollison invented permaculture as a system to provide human needs in a sustainable way, not as a means to produce commodities.

That some people insist on wanting to produce commodities is not a failing of permaculture, but a reflection of the desire to not have to change the way we live. Permaculture demands us to change the way we live, I believe, not just paste a less-bad means of supplying commodities on top of the unsustainable system we have now.

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:

the issue isn't making permaculture work for individuals



I don't agree. I think that is exactly the issue. Bill Mollison invented permaculture as a system to provide human needs in a sustainable way, not as a means to produce commodities.

That some people insist on wanting to produce commodities is not a failing of permaculture, but a reflection of the desire to not have to change the way we live. Permaculture demands us to change the way we live, I believe, not just paste a less-bad means of supplying commodities on top of the unsustainable system we have now.



This, I think, is exactly what has happened to Organics...once there was a notion that there was money to be made growing that way, growing organically became an illusion when done by many large scale commercial growers, not always what was meant and intended by early, early proponents Sir Albert Howard and Rodale, etc. It became a commodity that is 'organic' in name only once big ag got involved. I can see the same thing happening to permaculture.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Judith! I can easily imagine "permaculture" being perverted in a similar way. In my opinion, if individuals are practicing permaculture, eventually there won't be a need for commodity farming. So the huge farms we have currently will simply become redundant and can be restored to nature or to small farmers.
 
Evan Nilla
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:

the issue isn't making permaculture work for individuals



I don't agree. I think that is exactly the issue. Bill Mollison invented permaculture as a system to provide human needs in a sustainable way, not as a means to produce commodities.

That some people insist on wanting to produce commodities is not a failing of permaculture, but a reflection of the desire to not have to change the way we live. Permaculture demands us to change the way we live, I believe, not just paste a less-bad means of supplying commodities on top of the unsustainable system we have now.



that was taken out of context.... if you looked at what i wrote, thats essentially what i said. Permaculture already works perfectly on the individual bases.

Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:maybe mark shepard, but, he's kinda got other things going on and mostly breeding apple trees and is reliant upon volunteer labor


Do you have a source for this? I'd always been under the impression that wasn't the case.

As for Mark's 'other things going on' which ones are you referring to? His animal products are an awesome part of the whole system, and something I'm looking to emulate when I get my farmland [and am attempting to somewhat emulate on a small scale on the five acres I live on at present.]



you could go there? it may have changed in a the last few years(three), but, i can try and track down the article where people were saying the same. Well, Mark was a big proponent of bulbs around the base of trees, but, this a big endeavor on the scale he has going(things end up like this, one concept is great and works but is near impossible on a large scale). I'm not in any way trying to discredit Mark's work, its pretty well fantastic, but, it just to say his system are just as much theory and they are functional. Or rather just as much for display as they are functional. He has an enormous amount of land, one guy is not going to be able to harvest that much 'intercropping' by himself. it would take a community of people. Mark's farm works as a good model of what something like this can be and how it works out, but, its not necessarily entirely functional either(as far as living off it entirely and managing all of the varied aspect of the land). I'm not cutting him down, its a great thing he's done, but, it all contributes to the ambiguity of what 'permaculture' is as far as a completely functional operation.

In my experience, i was on this transitional orchard, moving towards permaculture. It was 10 acres and we were basically working all day, as far as i'm concerned, 10 acres is about as much space as one person can handle on their own.(would shift a bit depending on bio-region). The guy had a good local following, basically ran his own farmers market and made enough to be content(considering he was essentially 'retired' with everything paid for).

Judith Browning wrote:This, I think, is exactly what has happened to Organics...once there was a notion that there was money to be made growing that way, growing organically became an illusion when done by many large scale commercial growers, not always what was meant and intended by early, early proponents Sir Albert Howard and Rodale, etc. It became a commodity that is 'organic' in name only once big ag got involved. I can see the same thing happening to permaculture.



there are plenty of people, industrial agriculturists, who believe in what they are doing growing organic. It provides a lot of good food to people who would otherwise have no choice. its cute be like "oh they are all corrupt, its all gone to heck" but its relative to the nature of what this society is. Permaculture, if it fails at all, is because its so 'outside' of what societies systems are its difficult to make this thing viable within societies constraints. Its all about making money, so if you can't make money off it, it turns a lot of people off. That being said, its already there in the form of weed spirals(sarcasm)... permaculture will have a vvveeerryyy hard time being 'corrupted' because its to complex to exploit in some simple manner. its not about getting a certain type of seed over another and using a certain type of fertilizer over another, permaculture is a more involved thing(as i'm sure is well understood).(yes i understand what you are saying, 'organic agriculture' as it first was coined was a different process all together. permaculture is to ambiguous however, at least as far as i see). the next step would be 'sustainable agriculture' which would be some over-simplified devolution of some aspect of permaculture, as far as corruption or whatever goes..
 
Tyler Ludens
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Evan Nilla wrote:because its so 'outside' of what societies systems are its difficult to make this thing viable within societies constraints. Its all about making money, so if you can't make money off it, it turns a lot of people off.



It's difficult to tell exactly which "thing" is being talked about. Maybe permaculture itself? Installing a permaculture design may not "make money" but it sure as heck can save a lot of money, in my personal experience.

But here on the board I see people trying to install some sorts of sustainable techniques (such as a "permaculture orchard") without first installing a permaculture design to the land, and I can easily see this failing and it being seen as a "permaculture doesn't work" when what the people are doing is not actually permaculture (a design system) but instead a technique of production.

That is not a failing of permaculture, it is a failing of understanding what permaculture is.
 
Evan Nilla
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:because its so 'outside' of what societies systems are its difficult to make this thing viable within societies constraints. Its all about making money, so if you can't make money off it, it turns a lot of people off.



It's difficult to tell exactly which "thing" is being talked about. Maybe permaculture itself? Installing a permaculture design may not "make money" but it sure as heck can save a lot of money, in my personal experience.

But here on the board I see people trying to install some sorts of sustainable techniques (such as a "permaculture orchard") without first installing a permaculture design to the land, and I can easily see this failing and it being seen as a "permaculture doesn't work" when what the people are doing is not actually permaculture (a design system) but instead a technique of production.

That is not a failing of permaculture, it is a failing of understanding what permaculture is.



agreed.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Evan Nilla wrote:In my experience, i was on this transitional orchard, moving towards permaculture. It was 10 acres and we were basically working all day, as far as i'm concerned, 10 acres is about as much space as one person can handle on their own.(would shift a bit depending on bio-region). The guy had a good local following, basically ran his own farmers market and made enough to be content(considering he was essentially 'retired' with everything paid for).


Which bio-region was this orchard in? I would definitely agree that in the tropics the amount of land [both needed and manageable] goes way down due to the way the vegetation and fertility cycles work down there. Heck in tropical climates a vegan diet actually works [though the value of having chickens working for you makes vegetarianism a tempting proposition.]

On that note, don't forget that animal labor is a massive force multiplier. Pigs, Chickens, Goats, Cattle, Sheep, they've all got work they love to do. If the site has the work for them, give it to them and sell the resultant product at a premium.
 
Tyler Ludens
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In my opinion 10 acres is far more than one person can manage. I should think a couple acres (one hectare) would be sufficient to keep a person occupied full-time, especially in the initial stages. One the board I see people biting off far more than I think they can chew when they acquire many acres and "animal up" and purchase tractors, etc. all apparently without a design. It's difficult for me to see this kind of thing being able to break even, let alone make a profit. They seem intent on having the least efficient thing possible, just exactly the kind of farm that Mollison was trying to get people to change to permaculture.

See pages 40 and 41 in the Designers Manual
 
Evan Nilla
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:In my experience, i was on this transitional orchard, moving towards permaculture. It was 10 acres and we were basically working all day, as far as i'm concerned, 10 acres is about as much space as one person can handle on their own.(would shift a bit depending on bio-region). The guy had a good local following, basically ran his own farmers market and made enough to be content(considering he was essentially 'retired' with everything paid for).


Which bio-region was this orchard in? I would definitely agree that in the tropics the amount of land [both needed and manageable] goes way down due to the way the vegetation and fertility cycles work down there. Heck in tropical climates a vegan diet actually works [though the value of having chickens working for you makes vegetarianism a tempting proposition.]

On that note, don't forget that animal labor is a massive force multiplier. Pigs, Chickens, Goats, Cattle, Sheep, they've all got work they love to do. If the site has the work for them, give it to them and sell the resultant product at a premium.



west coast, central area in Oregon and agreed about diet and the tropics/sub-tropics.

Also yes, animals inputs can be/are a great help, but, they have to be very carefully managed and planned out, its a full time job in itself. For example, it would have been to much to add anything else in the above orchard scenario. I recognize there are plenty of viable systems already as examples, Mark Shepard's example, but he has someone else doing that for him and its very well thought/planned out. In the same sense i guess it depends, poultry are easy enough to manage and are nice on size. getting into livestock is a different consideration however. It seems people oversimplify the concept of owning/managing livestock(discounting birds). livestock really do take sizeable amounts of land, as it were for wild variants. browsers have a fairly large range but have a more versatile diet, true grazer have huge ranges and need a lot of space to fully utilize and be efficient with. Can't remember the name. this guy in the UK spent basically his whole life finding the right grass mix(like 21 species or something). the end results is he had like two weeks of the year he couldn't graze his cattle and never had turf issues(dead spots). but, it took a literal lifetime to get right and he had a sizable amount of land. i recognize this is just one example but it illustrates a point. or like Mark, he has 100+ acres.

i'm not trying to sound negative about animals working on the land, i'm just saying there are A LOT of considerations given 'mobile elements' that are often overlooked.

Tyler Ludens wrote:In my opinion 10 acres is far more than one person can manage. I should think a couple acres (one hectare) would be sufficient to keep a person occupied full-time, especially in the initial stages. One the board I see people biting off far more than I think they can chew when they acquire many acres and "animal up" and purchase tractors, etc. all apparently without a design. It's difficult for me to see this kind of thing being able to break even, let alone make a profit. They seem intent on having the least efficient thing possible, just exactly the kind of farm that Mollison was trying to get people to change to permaculture.

See pages 40 and 41 in the Designers Manual



agreed, i'm saying in that 10 acre instance it was the maximum/upper limit, but the dude was really hardcore... so, he kept up fine.
 
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I'm pretty sure what I'm working for in my home garden can be counted as permaculture. I don't have a large overall design for my property. I identify what are likely to be my biggest limiting factors (erratic water supply, scorching summer sun, high pest pressure, low soil fertility, limited funds) and then am trying to work by slow trial and error to alleviate these issues. The really cool thing is that most of the solutions stack into each other in ways that only increase their effectiveness. I think we're all clear that massive chemical inputs aren't permaculture, but at what point does a gardener's garden plan become permaculture after they've committed to no chemicals? In my opinion, anyone who is planning for the long term, nondestructive viability of their system (more than just gardens) is probably practicing permaculture design. It doesn't guarantee it's good design, but it is a valid starting point.

Tyler Ludens wrote:In my opinion 10 acres is far more than one person can manage. I should think a couple acres (one hectare) would be sufficient to keep a person occupied full-time, especially in the initial stages. One the board I see people biting off far more than I think they can chew when they acquire many acres and "animal up" and purchase tractors, etc. all apparently without a design. It's difficult for me to see this kind of thing being able to break even, let alone make a profit. They seem intent on having the least efficient thing possible, just exactly the kind of farm that Mollison was trying to get people to change to permaculture.

See pages 40 and 41 in the Designers Manual



I could see, with careful planning and progressive development, someone being able to manage much more than a couple of acres in a permaculture fashion. Someone who is growing sugar maples, combined with selling medicinal herbs, gathering mushrooms, hunting game, seasonal nuts and berries, etc. who started with a thriving forest wouldn't have to do much hands on managing at all. I know my own gardens become easier to manage as I continue to develop them. The newest bed always takes several times the amount of work that my first bed does. I probably only actively garden a quarter acre right now, but eventually I will have enough established beds to maintain the whole half acre using the same amount of effort. Like many things in permaculture, I find the establishment phase the hardest.

As far as my possible impact on the image of permaculture, I'm definitely odd. Sometimes overly invested, sometimes highly disinterested in conventional things. I just keep trying to direct people to these forums with the instructions that here you find people who solve problems. Here you find people who've tried it and know how it'll work. That's the biggest thing I try to push about permaculture in general, it's about making things work now and in the future. Why would anyone want to keep rebuilding something if there's a way to do it once and be done.

Hope that made sense, I'm coming to the end of a long day, and so may be rambling.
 
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Evan Nilla wrote:

Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Evan Nilla wrote:In my experience, i was on this transitional orchard, moving towards permaculture. It was 10 acres and we were basically working all day, as far as i'm concerned, 10 acres is about as much space as one person can handle on their own.(would shift a bit depending on bio-region). The guy had a good local following, basically ran his own farmers market and made enough to be content(considering he was essentially 'retired' with everything paid for).


Which bio-region was this orchard in? I would definitely agree that in the tropics the amount of land [both needed and manageable] goes way down due to the way the vegetation and fertility cycles work down there. Heck in tropical climates a vegan diet actually works [though the value of having chickens working for you makes vegetarianism a tempting proposition.]

On that note, don't forget that animal labor is a massive force multiplier. Pigs, Chickens, Goats, Cattle, Sheep, they've all got work they love to do. If the site has the work for them, give it to them and sell the resultant product at a premium.



west coast, central area in Oregon and agreed about diet and the tropics/sub-tropics.


Ah, a climate quite similar to my own. Yeah, getting a system up off the ground can take an immense amount of labor relative to its area here [particularly late spring as it's heating up and early fall when the rains hit], especially if one is trying to install specific understory plants rather than grow one mostly by seed/tossing root cuttings into holes in the soil. Which is the method I prefer, but it's much less precise.

Also yes, animals inputs can be/are a great help, but, they have to be very carefully managed and planned out, its a full time job in itself. For example, it would have been to much to add anything else in the above orchard scenario. I recognize there are plenty of viable systems already as examples, Mark Shepard's example, but he has someone else doing that for him and its very well thought/planned out. In the same sense i guess it depends, poultry are easy enough to manage and are nice on size. getting into livestock is a different consideration however. It seems people oversimplify the concept of owning/managing livestock(discounting birds). livestock really do take sizeable amounts of land, as it were for wild variants. browsers have a fairly large range but have a more versatile diet, true grazer have huge ranges and need a lot of space to fully utilize and be efficient with. Can't remember the name. this guy in the UK spent basically his whole life finding the right grass mix(like 21 species or something). the end results is he had like two weeks of the year he couldn't graze his cattle and never had turf issues(dead spots). but, it took a literal lifetime to get right and he had a sizable amount of land. i recognize this is just one example but it illustrates a point. or like Mark, he has 100+ acres.


See, that multi-score acreage is where I see the bulk of our large meat yields [beef, pork, lamb, etc] are coming from. Certainly people with even a modicum of land are encouraged to raise poultry and rabbits, but very few meat eaters want to live on those alone and- for the time being- we still have an immense number of urbanites to feed.

Trying to harvest acres upon acres of fruit for sale and controlling weeds is a losing proposition. Allowing livestock to harvest it [both fallen fruit and those 'weeds' either with protection for the overstory or after they've become established enough to withstand occasional browsing] and enrich the soil and fatten themselves all at the same time though, that's a winning combination [when managed properly.]

i'm not trying to sound negative about animals working on the land, i'm just saying there are A LOT of considerations given 'mobile elements' that are often overlooked.



No doubt about the serious considerations required for such a project. I've been in the serious planning phase [which comes after the idyllic dreaming phase which itself lasted longer than I care to admit] for over a year. I've only just now finally found what I believe to be the right piece of land to work.
 
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Casie Becker wrote:Someone who is growing sugar maples, combined with selling medicinal herbs, gathering mushrooms, hunting game, seasonal nuts and berries, etc. who started with a thriving forest wouldn't have to do much hands on managing at all.



I agree, but we don't typically see people here on permies doing that, at least I don't. I don't see people doing the most efficient thing (forests and ponds), I see them doing the least efficient thing (large animals). Apparently not a single person here on permies is installing the classic permaculture design of forests and ponds, at least not who wants to talk about it.



 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote: but very few meat eaters want to live on those alone and- for the time being- we still have an immense number of urbanites to feed.



Maybe they could eat less meat?

In my region, the wild and feral deer are much more efficient at producing meat than the cows people raise because if you're Texan and have land that makes you a rancher so you gotta have cows. The feral Axis deer are at least as tasty as cows, they raise themselves with no inputs, plus they are over-running the place (no tigers). It would make more sense if people would eat more of these deer, but instead people buy meat at the store.

I guess my point is, should permaculturists feel obligated to support inappropriate choices? I'm not convinced we should.

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Casie Becker wrote:Someone who is growing sugar maples, combined with selling medicinal herbs, gathering mushrooms, hunting game, seasonal nuts and berries, etc. who started with a thriving forest wouldn't have to do much hands on managing at all.



I agree, but we don't typically see people here on permies doing that, at least I don't. I don't see people doing the most efficient thing (forests and ponds), I see them doing the least efficient thing (large animals). Apparently not a single person here on permies is installing the classic permaculture design of forests and ponds, at least not who wants to talk about it.


Can you elaborate on the 'classic permaculture design of forests and ponds'? Last time I read the Designer's Manual forest and ponds were only elements in a broader design system. Even Geoff Lawton has a number of cattle in his system.

AFAIK Bill is on record having issues with the way cattle are often raised, not with the rearing of cattle. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Kyrt Ryder wrote: but very few meat eaters want to live on those alone and- for the time being- we still have an immense number of urbanites to feed.



Maybe they could eat less meat?


I'm all for reducing the total amount of meat an American consumes. Two four ounce servings per day is probably sufficient for most people. That doesn't mean we can't have variety or make an income from providing it.

In my region, the wild and feral deer are much more efficient at producing meat than the cows people raise because if you're Texan and have land that makes you a rancher so you gotta have cows. The feral Axis deer are at least as tasty as cows, they raise themselves with no inputs, plus they are over-running the place (no tigers). It would make more sense if people would eat more of these deer, but instead people buy meat at the store.


Totally agreed in your circumstance. You have feral ruminants that are overpopulating. At least where I am there is no such problem [thankfully] and unfortunately the government heavily restricts hunting. An individual can only take one deer per year, which is a nice supplement to the family's meat supply but might last 2-3 months at best. [A family with multiple hunters would do better, but not every family will do so, nor will every family have even one hunter which counter balances those that have more than one.]

Then there's also Elk of course, but that's a kettle of fish I haven't attempted.

I guess my point is, should permaculturists feel obligated to support inappropriate choices? I'm not convinced we should.


I don't feel anybody should feel obligated to support any choice. Support those choices you feel are right my friend.

EDIT: it also occurs to me that Texas has a feral hog population that needs thinning as well. It does seem a little odd to have so much ranching going on down there.
 
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Ranching gets you significant tax breaks in this state.

My understanding is that it's either illegal or difficult to sell wild game in this state. I think if there was an efficient market for selling venison, this state wouldn't have any problems with overpopulation. If there's one thing my state adapts to quickly it is money making opportunities.

I miss deer meat. The last person in my family who hunted died thirty years ago.
 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:
Can you elaborate on the 'classic permaculture design of forests and ponds'? Last time I read the Designer's Manual forest and ponds were only elements in a broader design system. Even Geoff Lawton has a number of cattle in his system.

AFAIK Bill is on record having issues with the way cattle are often raised, not with the rearing of cattle. Please correct me if I'm wrong.



If you look at both Tagari and Zaytuna, the landscape is built around a system of ponds. At Tagari, Mollison was able to produce more protein in a couple acres of ponds than the entire property had done when it was a cattle property.

Aquaculture is a far more efficient use of land than cattle grazing. Cattle are among the least efficient animals at producing protein.

I think Geoff has cattle just in case someone asks "what about cows?" He can say "there they are!" Same with the horses. "Can you have horses in permaculture?" "There they are!" But they are not the foundation of the design.

If you look at Geoff's videos about property selection and design, he starts by identifying where to put ponds connected by swales, and then adds the stability of forests, and then the other elements of food production which may include cattle. Ponds are always a major feature of his designs. You can also see this focus on ponds and forests at Sepp Holzer's Krameterhof.

I don't see people here on permies implementing this design. Maybe they are, but they sure don't post about it. I'd love to see people post more about design, because it seems like people are struggling and making the same mistakes as people who don't have access to this information.

http://geofflawton.com/videos/property-purchase-checklist/

http://geofflawton.com/videos/5-acre-abundance-on-a-budget/
 
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Casie Becker wrote:Ranching gets you significant tax breaks in this state.



You get the exact same tax break from wildlife management. http://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/private/agricultural_land/

We manage for Songbirds and Amphibians and we get the exact same tax break as our cattle-ranching neighbor across the road.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Casie Becker wrote:Ranching gets you significant tax breaks in this state.



You get the exact same tax break from wildlife management. http://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/private/agricultural_land/

We manage for Songbirds and Amphibians and we get the exact same tax break as our cattle-ranching neighbor across the road.



Yes, I remember. I also remember you first had to raise livestock to get the agricultural tax before you could get a break for converting to wildlife management. Did I misunderstand that?
 
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Casie Becker wrote:
Yes, I remember. I also remember you first had to raise livestock to get the agricultural tax before you could get a break for converting to wildlife management. Did I misunderstand that?



Yes, you have to qualify for agricultural tax status and then transition to wildlife management. The least expensive thing is to set-stock some hair sheep, which is what our neighbors up the road did to get their ag status. They ran hair sheep for five years and then switched to birds.

You can still practice agriculture after you get wildlife management, as long as the ag use doesn't conflict with the wildlife.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Kyrt Ryder wrote:
Can you elaborate on the 'classic permaculture design of forests and ponds'? Last time I read the Designer's Manual forest and ponds were only elements in a broader design system. Even Geoff Lawton has a number of cattle in his system.

AFAIK Bill is on record having issues with the way cattle are often raised, not with the rearing of cattle. Please correct me if I'm wrong.



If you look at both Tagari and Zaytuna, the landscape is built around a system of ponds. At Tagari, Mollison was able to produce more protein in a couple acres of ponds than the entire property had done when it was a cattle property.

Aquaculture is a far more efficient use of land than cattle grazing.


I suspect this is partly climate related. In a subtropical zone like Tagari and Zaytuna, there's absolutely no doubt that aquaculture can dramatically outproduce grazers. I question that in my own climate where the water temperature basically never rises above 70 degrees or so. Sure such cool water is great for trout, but trout require ridiculously clean and oxygen-dense water unlike many aquaculture fish that do best in warmer waters [catfish survive here, but they grow slowly because of the cool water, while many others die outright]

Cattle are among the least efficient animals at producing protein.

But they are amazing at building soil when properly managed- at least in appropriate climates for it.

I think Geoff has cattle just in case someone asks "what about cows?" He can say "there they are!" Same with the horses. "Can you have horses in permaculture?" "There they are!" But they are not the foundation of the design.

If you look at Geoff's videos about property selection and design, he starts by identifying where to put ponds connected by swales, and then adds the stability of forests, and then the other elements of food production which may include cattle. Ponds are always a major feature of his designs. You can also see this focus on ponds and forests at Sepp Holzer's Krameterhof.

I don't see people here on permies implementing this design. Maybe they are, but they sure don't post about it. I'd love to see people post more about design, because it seems like people are struggling and making the same mistakes as people who don't have access to this information.

http://geofflawton.com/videos/property-purchase-checklist/

http://geofflawton.com/videos/5-acre-abundance-on-a-budget/


I think I understand what you're saying now.

Water Management is indeed a cornerstone of a good design, and one excellent component of that [though not in severely arid climates, people in deserts are best off storing water in the soil] is ponds.

Trees too, are crucially important for their myriad of ecosystem functions [and the perennial food they produce.]
 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Two four ounce servings per day is probably sufficient for most people. That doesn't mean we can't have variety or make an income from providing it..



To me that is a LOT of meat! I doubt I eat that much in a week. I won't argue with you about variety or making an income. If people are making an income with permaculture, I think that's great. I would like to see people post more about how they do it.

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Kyrt Ryder wrote:Two four ounce servings per day is probably sufficient for most people. That doesn't mean we can't have variety or make an income from providing it..



To me that is a LOT of meat! I doubt I eat that much in a week. I won't argue with you about variety or making an income. If people are making an income with permaculture, I think that's great. I would like to see people post more about how they do it.


Just to confirm... are you thinking of 'meat' exclusively as larger animal meat in this comment, or are you including poultry and fish as well? [That's what I think when I speak of meat, any animal flesh.]
 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:

Kyrt Ryder wrote:Two four ounce servings per day is probably sufficient for most people. That doesn't mean we can't have variety or make an income from providing it..



To me that is a LOT of meat! I doubt I eat that much in a week. I won't argue with you about variety or making an income. If people are making an income with permaculture, I think that's great. I would like to see people post more about how they do it.


Just to confirm... are you thinking of 'meat' exclusively as larger animal meat in this comment, or are you including poultry and fish as well? [That's what I think when I speak of meat, any animal flesh.]



Any animal flesh.

 
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yes, agree with the sentiment about ponds, ponds are essential and provide ample meat sources with little input. Not only that but fish tend to be a more complete nutritional source unless you are eating the livestock organs as well. Crass carp while a dirty word and for good reason would produce all you could possibly need as far as meat consumption goes. As far as how much is necessary, thats a broad consideration. potentially none, its not a 'need', necessity would come from things like vitamin K2 from organs, omega 3's as long as grass fed but again from organs.(or just fish). Alright, appreciate the conversation all, i'm out.
 
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Interesting subject. In the community garden I started I practice and teach permaculture rarely referring to the word. I give the reasons behind the technique, and slowly people are getting it. Some are starting to get interested in permaculture now, others still need to unlearn the reflex of buying everything at a chain store. You realise how far people have to go when you have to teach them what they can eat out of the veggie garden - they are so used to glossy supermarket produce they waste a lot... sigh... Of course, anybody who is allready into permaculture walks in and spots it right away.

It is much easier to teach people principles and techniques than try to get them to adhere to the religion of permaculture. Just think, why would they care? If they can see the benefit for their circumstances.
 
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Knowing pareto's law is fundamental to understanding good design as well as the issues that arise with the perception of permaculture.

The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

A simple statement, that Bill Mollison made, which proves the law. (I don't remember the source)

If your water holding capacity equals 15% of your land, you're drought free.

So if 20% of a given group are purple-permies, they'll affect 80% of the group. Depending on the group it might be + or -
If 80% of agriculture is conventional, then 20% is not.
In our particular permaculture case, that 20% might be responsible for 80% of the clean food, soil, water & air in their region.

When you meet someone who has something against permies/hippies/greenies or people who can see & say that our current world model is unsustainable,
you can either try to change their minds, leave a seed for later or save your energy and move on.

As most, if not all practicing permies know, your time is valuable. Wasting your time on arguments or coddling people is not going to get your next swale installed. It won't help you design better. It won't help you period.
A well designed system speaks volumes more than any permie can.

I agree with Tyler that there is a distinct lack of design on most forums and I would like to see more of it. Two examples to hammer it home.
To become a permie, you could either go on a permaculture DESIGN course or read the Big Book - Permaculture: A DESIGNERS' Manual
 
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Susan Wakeman wrote: the religion of permaculture



What exactly is the "religion of permaculture"? Or is that just something people say to be dismissive?
 
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