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pollinator
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Location: Denver, CO
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And that, to my mind, is the big question. Are the values of permaculture best served by a less efficient use of human labor; i.e., by using less machinery and more hand work? Of course, all else being equal, we'd rather have more efficiency. Adding more technology to agriculture will definitely increase the efficiency of the humans running the machines; they will be able to do more with less time. But are the losses worth the gains? Do these machines damage local communities, deplete resources, or impose undesirable paradigms?

Would a return to hand-work (not maybe a complete return) solve some of our problems?

Of course, we will never convince everyone that this is a good idea. We haven't been able to convince most people that permaculture is a good idea. Just because something is unlikely to convince others does not mean it is not true.
 
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:And that, to my mind, is the big question. Are the values of permaculture best served by a less efficient use of human labor; i.e., by using less machinery and more hand work? Of course, all else being equal, we'd rather have more efficiency. Adding more technology to agriculture will definitely increase the efficiency of the humans running the machines; they will be able to do more with less time. But are the losses worth the gains? Do these machines damage local communities, deplete resources, or impose undesirable paradigms?

Would a return to hand-work (not maybe a complete return) solve some of our problems?

Of course, we will never convince everyone that this is a good idea. We haven't been able to convince most people that permaculture is a good idea. Just because something is unlikely to convince others does not mean it is not true.


mike oehler said something to the effect that the industrial age was the worst thing to happen to humans.  Is it true?  I don't know.  My gut feelings is that reverting back to small communities and every family contributing to the growing of their own food or creating something of good for the community is necessary, but at the same time, I don't believe the current population can be sustained without petroleum.

I don't know why Mike's name went to no caps.  That isn't the way I typed it.
 
pollinator
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David Livingston wrote:I wonder if talking about things in terms of money is a red herring . After all Tax and the price of "stuff " are human constructs , subject to human change and politics For example the price of Petrol is about 1.30€ a litre thats about 10$ a gallon I think .
The only price I pay for wood for my stove is about 10€ a year for enough wood to heat my house thats the cost of electric for the saw . If I had to buy the wood its about 350€ thats what I earn in two weeks  in my part time job . So to me its worth two weeks.  I wonder if looking at our time cost is a better way of looking at this :-)

David


I think a lot of the problem may have started with me (apologies Paul Wheaton and staff), but I think I am starting to also understand why.

I am a full time farmer, so I have financial needs today...property taxes, electricity, phone, Christmas presents, chainsaw chains, sticks to make my chainsaw (lol), etc...and EVERY needs has to come from our land. It could be the selling of apples, pulpwood or lambs, but my family of 6 has to to be cared for. In many ways this forces me to be a land economist, and so from that I utilize foresters, agronomists, geologists, forest pathologists, conservationists, environmentalists, and wildlife managers. All these subjects that these experts divulge in have interest to me, but because my sole existence is upon production, sometimes the bills just have to be paid.

An example of this is with my sheep. Sure I can retain every ewe-lamb and build my flock up to staggering numbers quickly, but sometimes a sheep farmer has to sell some sheep to make the bills for the month and live to fight another day. I think it is easy on the internet to state the way things should be, but maybe even harder for people to admit...they are struggling; and I have been guilty of both of those things.

This gets into the sticky situation of liability though. I have said before I have an ideal situation for a Permie: existing house and 30 unused acres I have no use for in the foreseeable future. In a perfect world you could rent that out, but as Paul Wheaton himself once stated in a topic called "Did You Just Should on Me", it showed that people are unreliable. If the renting family had kids the laws are against the landowner should they ever want to evict them. And what about if their child fell down a well or such? I would never want that to happen of course, and would guard against it, but things happen, and when bad things happen to even the best people, they can use the courts. When people are in pain; such an accidental death, no income, or are facing homelessness; they react in unexpected and nasty ways...even the best of people. This is understandable, but ends up being more liability then my wife and I are comfortable with, so we do not rent out or second home. I cannot farm alone, so I get help from petroleum.
 
master steward
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Maybe commodity or people might be a different or more interesting way of looking at it :-) .
Comparing growing stuff for you and yours is a different kettle of fish to trying to make money and pay taxes never mind the time taken to fill in paperwork ( and you guys should see the stuff here in France ,pushing paper is a major industry I kid you not :-) )

David
 
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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One time, I spent an hour harvesting grain. During that time, I harvested and cleaned about 5 pounds of rye. It was a joyful, pleasant experience, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Enjoying the gentle touch of the breeze. Listening to the birds and the insects. Smelling the odor of the tobacco plants flowering in the next row over. Nibbling on lambsquarters weeds. I enjoyed the sensations of a supple, flexible, and strong body working in a peaceful, pleasant environment.

Then I went to work in a different field. My neighbor was harvesting his wheat. He harvested more in a few seconds, with his combine,  than I harvested in an hour.  Dust filled the air making breathing difficult and unpleasant, and triggering allergies for days after. The  odor of grease and a burning belt filled the air. The deafening roar of equipment thundered through the field. His fat, weak, stiff body was shaken like a rattle by the bumps in the field. He harvested in a state of dread and anxiety. Would the harvest be enough to pay for the mortgage on the combine? And for the fuel, fertilizers, poisons, and seeds? What if the equipment broke down? Would parts be available?

There are hundreds of technological things that can go wrong with that farmer's harvest: Lack of spare parts, fuel, greases, poisons, fertilizers, financing. Etc etc etc... If you dropped me off in the mountains, naked, and with a one pound bag of rye seed, that would be sufficient for me to grow enough bread to feed myself for a year.

On my farm, I am choosing more all the time to farm without petroleum. I don't use poisons nor fertilizers. I travel to my fields on foot, or bicycle. I let weeds grow rather than cultivating with a rototiller. Heck, I even stopped wearing shoes. I smile when people make comments about how they could never go barefoot, because _____________. Then they name a  symptom of foot damage which was caused by wearing shoes, and could often be resolved by going barefoot. I'm coming to believe that a lot of technological fixes are the same way. That they cause more problems than they solve.

I'm also moving more all the time towards biology to solve problems rather than mechanisms... For example, I grow covercrops rather than apply fertilizers. I use genetics to deal with disease and pests rather than poisons or sprays.  I select for plants that thrive in my soil exactly as it is today, rather than trying to change soil chemistry. I use plants to supress weeds rather than herbicides. I harvest and eat weeds. I believe that we  are living in a finite world in which petroleum is becoming scarcer. Seems like it becomes harder each year to live in the petroleum meme. Biology however is self replicating. It won't run out any time soon.



 
Always look on the bright side of life. At least this ad is really tiny:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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