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Is anyone really doing permaculture?  RSS feed

 
steward
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Some people learn by reading an article.

Some people learn by watching a youtube video.

Some people learn by watching a dvd.

Some people learn by listening to a podcast.

Some people learn by participating in forums.

Some people learn by stuff not in this list.


.... some people come to permaculture because of the ethics

some people come to permaculture because of the techniques

some people come to permaculture because it is aligned with their religion

some people come to permaculture because they like somebody that is into permaculture

some people come to permaculture by accidentally stumbling into it



... some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't follow the ethics

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't vote the right way

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't pray the right way

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't stir the concoction clockwise

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't praise the right person

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't take a pdc

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't hate the right person

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't do a technique correctly

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't echo "the truth"

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't read the right book

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't take the right class

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't watch the right video

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't listen to the right podcast

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't study permaculture correctly

some people are driven away from permaculture because they are told they didn't mention the ethics with every technique they used



... I think that there are millions of paths to learning about permaculture


... I think that there are millions of different levels of permaculture experience


... I think there are millions of different flavors of permaculture knowledge


... the real question is: did our words encourage there to be more permaculture in the world? .... or less?



 
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One can learn a great deal.
Until one puts what one has learned into practice, one cannot truly understand what they have learned!
 
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Location: Costa Rica 100 meters above sea level, Tropical dry forest
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Just maybe Permaculture is about giving back. Giving something of yourself to make this world a better place.
There are difficult choices, its natural to want to take and get what we can in life. Doing a job for the money rather than what the job means to the world. Does my work give something back to world? Does work just give me the most money as easy and fast as possible regardless of consequences.
Myself being the hunter gatherer type. i struggle between taking something from nature, or even buying a product. Its important to question these choices. Asking myself if it is in the best interest of all. If I get myself out of the hungry greed thought pattern. I can ask what I can contribute rather than take.
I think if we do give it our all, we may be rewarded at some time. If not ourselves for the future generations that have been sold off. I find after years of learning and struggles. Now I am reaping some of the harvest. It's been damn difficult to get to that point. But very possible.
 
alex Keenan
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If permaculture was restoring the environment than we have a problem.
You see beavers were across North America.
Today their range has been greatly reduced.
You can still see one dam complex in Canada from space.

To restore North America would require restoring millions of beaver dams.
These created meadows and charged ground water.
All those meadows made good grazing.

I can go on and on about how the environment has changed in North America.

So what we can do is create a ecosystem within the constraints that currently exist.
Sometimes we can change the constraints. Many times we are forced to live within these constraints.

By the way, beavers do make not make bad pets.
More work should be done with using beavers in areas where it is practical.
Most of the man's interaction with beavers right now is just removing them when they flood roads or block coverts.
 
pollinator
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alex Keenan wrote:If permaculture was restoring the environment than we have a problem.
You see beavers were across North America.
Today their range has been greatly reduced.
You can still see one dam complex in Canada from space.

To restore North America would require restoring millions of beaver dams.
These created meadows and charged ground water.
All those meadows made good grazing.

I can go on and on about how the environment has changed in North America.

So what we can do is create a ecosystem within the constraints that currently exist.
Sometimes we can change the constraints. Many times we are forced to live within these constraints.

By the way, beavers do make not make bad pets.
More work should be done with using beavers in areas where it is practical.
Most of the man's interaction with beavers right now is just removing them when they flood roads or block coverts.



You can restore the environment without restoring it to the the way it used to be.
 
paul wheaton
steward
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It seems a lot of people wish to compare permaculture to what this land looked like 500 years ago. I suppose some folks have a permaculture design that is to create a museum piece of what was.

I prefer to compare permaculture to moderm agriculture. I think permaculture is, in a large part, about creating something much better.
 
alex Keenan
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I should point out on having a beaver for a pet.
You sort of co-exist with a beaver.

Beavers defecate in the water: That means, unless you can manage a pool in your kitchen, that at least twice a day you will have to put enough water in the bath tub so that he can swim and dive and defecate.
Beavers also like to move things around in a manner only a beaver can understand.
Beavers have teeth that grow so they need to chew, and chew, and chew.

The successful beaver arangement is generally involves a dog door of some type and a outdoor pool or pond.

When the beaver gets old enough they tend to hit the road, traveling along streams till they find a place they like.
It takes planning to establish a beaver colony. But once a colony is establish it can go for decades depending on the food supply.
I have seen some great fishing holes created by beaver dams. The dams are also great for collecting silt, which is how dams turn into meadows.

An experiment in Devon found that a pair of introduced beavers have created dams that altered the water flow, preventing flooding and helping to maintain a constant release of water through dryer months.
“There has been much more of an impact than we thought a couple of beavers could possibly have in such a small site. 650,000 litres can now be stored here. When this was just a woodland with a small stream, that would have been just a few hundred litres.
 
pollinator
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paul wheaton wrote:It seems a lot of people wish to compare permaculture to what this land looked like 500 years ago. I suppose some folks have a permaculture design that is to create a museum piece of what was.

I prefer to compare permaculture to moderm agriculture. I think permaculture is, in a large part, about creating something much better.



I think those people, with their museum pieces, might as well just call them what they are - historically accurate forest gardens...aka "native habitats". If they're not in it to grow valuable food, fuel and fiber products, it's certainly not a food forest, and if they're not in it to become profitable producers, they're certainly not doing agriculture. In fact, some of them may even be restoring "native habitat" that may have outlived their usefulness, similar to the discussion about the prairie and buffalo. That's a whole rabbit hole there that I could get myself into big trouble going down Suffice to say, people are the dominant and most populous large animal in many areas today and treating the world, through our restoration efforts and designs, as though it has no, or few, humans in it would be a very bad decision in the long term.

So that said, I do also like the idea of looking back to get a general idea of what once was, on its own (so to speak), so we know what "could be". Historical perspective can add a lot of value to your decision making.

For example, chestnuts, walnuts and oaks here in Central Maine. You go looking these days and between the chestnut blight and logging industry, you're hard pressed to even find oaks out in the country, never mind chestnut and walnut...it's all pioneer and understory species now. It's increasingly rare to find a tree more than 50 years old in a "forested area" that's anything but white pine. BUT, since they used to grow here, they certainly can again. That means high value timber and nut production *can* be done. Talk to anyone around these parts, though, and they laugh at the mention of chestnuts, walnuts and oaks. "You'd best just plant some pines, son, and wait 25 years" is the answer you get to any sort of attempted discussion on agroforestry.

I've certainly planted/transplanted pines - they're standard fare around here - but such a narrow vision of what's possible is due solely to our lack of historical perspective. Maine, as one good example, can be more than potatoes, blueberries, trout and pine trees. It used to naturally produce, and therefore can again (with a little encouragement), so many more valuable products...products that I can sell for profit in order to support myself over the next 50 or 60 years. The locals getting to exchange their hard earned dollars for delicious, locally grown, better than organic nuts, instead of the wally-world imported crud-in-a-can, is just a nice plus to me
 
pollinator
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I think a person could have an "historically accurate forest garden" or "native habitat" as part of their permaculture project. I think it would be really interesting to see this, especially temperate examples, to see if one could grow all of one's needs with such a design. It may not be the most productive or efficient use of land, but might be valuable as a carbon sequestering area, a kind of carbon farming. Certainly as legitimate a use for land as, for instance, managed grazing.

I'm very interested in native foods, so I think it would be cool. Many of the native food plants of my region have been nearly extirpated by ranching. It would be neat to bring them back, and I'm trying to do so.

So far, in my experience, many native foods are yucky tasting...

 
Todd Parr
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
So far, in my experience, many native foods are yucky tasting...



I agree. Some foods may not be staples of our diet anymore because they don't keep well or don't ship well or ... but I think mainly that our staples foods are staples because they taste good. If something else tasted better, more people would probably grow that.
 
pollinator
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maybe it was another thread where someone was saying that most of america's current applies are bland and have little taste. they have been marketed because they are easy to ship.

that is my experience of the food that are for sale in the supermarkets, bland tasting and lots less nutrients and not very fresh.

as a culture we are like children who are not willing to explore new tastes. in chinese medicine the bitter taste is important for our health.

there was another thread where a study was posted that the microbes in the intestines of the folks in an area less "civilized" than ours eating their "native" foods were more healthy than our intestinal microbes, that there might be a relationships between the foods we eat, our microbes and our health.
 
alex Keenan
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Todd Parr wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:
So far, in my experience, many native foods are yucky tasting...



I agree. Some foods may not be staples of our diet anymore because they don't keep well or don't ship well or ... but I think mainly that our staples foods are staples because they taste good. If something else tasted better, more people would probably grow that.



Andrew Zimmerman has a show bizzar eats.
The culture one is raised in has alot to do with what is yucky tasting and what is not.
There are some fruits sold in American grocery stores that I have a hard time eating. That is because I grew up eating tree ripened fruit when I was not way up North.
Did you know that west coast tend to like less sweet and more spicey so several foods have different formulas and regional brands for those formulas.

Permaculture in America generally does not include eating insects. When insects are used in American permaculture it is as a feed for poultry or livestock.

Here is another example, there is a saying in the east "one can smell the miso on that person". Meaning that they are from a rual area. Real miso can be pungent. To please the west and make miso acceptable enzymes are added to miso to decrease the miso smell. Some say it reduces the pleasure of eating miso.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I have a much higher yuck threshold than my husband. I will eat pretty much anything, but he will only try it (which is great that he will do that!)
 
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About 4 years ago I watched a video series taped during a PDC given by both Mollison and Lawton. I believe it was near the end that Mollison said something like: with this knowledge you gain now it is near impossible to do any worse than conventional agriculture. That's stuck in my head ever since. Some people do big things, other people do little things, maybe even a lot of little things. What they all have in common is that it's already an improvement.

Although we can always strife to do better, there really is no point in discouraging little improvements. The big things and the little things can coexist. I'm pretty sure that if we encourage people who do little things, they will move on to bigger things. I think Mollison understood that quite well. I think Paul understands it too, his comments always point out that people need to respect each other.

I'm always happy to see someone gain an understanding, or making a small commitment, or doing at least something better than before. To get to any destination it always starts with the first step.

I'm puzzled by the title of this topic, because it sounds if we can somehow define what permaculture really is, you know, really really is. It was already defined, in a big book written by Mollison. It's a pretty clear book, it does not leave a lot open, because it defines a framework rather than specific practices. And it's a manual, you can pick it up when you wonder about something and just look up what you needed to refresh in your head.

Lots of discussions on Permies are about techniques. I like that, because there is so much to learn. Others are about opinions, they are interesting too, as long as we all realize we're talking opinions. Opinions are nice to read to reflect your own thinking to. I don't think we should add more value to them than just that. But hey, that's just my opinion
 
alex Keenan
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paul wheaton wrote:It seems a lot of people wish to compare permaculture to what this land looked like 500 years ago. I suppose some folks have a permaculture design that is to create a museum piece of what was.

I prefer to compare permaculture to moderm agriculture. I think permaculture is, in a large part, about creating something much better.



Those who restore environment in USA should be following this lawsuit.

private property owners could be held responsible for damage caused by wildlife.

“Private landowners, basically anywhere, [would] have a duty to control the population and the activities of wildlife on private property, up to and including killing and trapping wildlife.”

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/judge-to-assess-land-in-beaver-dispute-with-school/article_b0ff19fe-3298-5a90-a99a-4fd3e653be1a.html
 
Tristan Vitali
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alex Keenan wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:It seems a lot of people wish to compare permaculture to what this land looked like 500 years ago. I suppose some folks have a permaculture design that is to create a museum piece of what was.

I prefer to compare permaculture to moderm agriculture. I think permaculture is, in a large part, about creating something much better.



Those who restore environment in USA should be following this lawsuit.

private property owners could be held responsible for damage caused by wildlife.

“Private landowners, basically anywhere, [would] have a duty to control the population and the activities of wildlife on private property, up to and including killing and trapping wildlife.”

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/judge-to-assess-land-in-beaver-dispute-with-school/article_b0ff19fe-3298-5a90-a99a-4fd3e653be1a.html



Damned if you do - damned if you don't.... So many rabbit holes. So many conundrums. So many instances of cognitive dissonance.

It really is hard to stand firmly on principals when you think about yourself in the shoes of someone else. For more in-your-face examples, what if that was Gabe Brown's land being flooded by beavers? Or, what if a community food forest and CSA market garden that fed 500 families was killed by inundation because someone just downstream of the creek did a bit of habitat restoration?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think it's more plausible, and usual, for flooding to be caused by habitat destruction.

 
alex Keenan
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Personally I am with the beavers.
However I have seen many examples of rising water tables killing trees.
There are a number of ways of putting limits on water levels in beaver dams.

It is funny all the money spent attracting wild birds in urban and sub-urban homes.
But the second wildlife come into conflict with man it must go!
Bears, beavers, buffalo, etc. they all belong in the wild.
However, as the wild populations are increasing (in a some areas) wildlife and humans are coming into increased conflict.

I do not have an answer. I have a constant battle with raccoon, rats from the horse farms around me, and possum.
All of these animals are at high population level because they can live very well in sub-urban areas.
Neighbor caught 65 raccoon last year in live traps next to their garden.

As I tell my wife, raccoon are always going to be here, so we have to live with them as best we can.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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There might be fewer raccoons if people allowed raccoon predators.

http://www.whateats.com/what-eats-raccoons
 
alex Keenan
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Let's see cougars, bobcats, coyotes and wolves. I would also add bears, and dogs as sometimes predators of raccoon.

I have lived with wolves way up north along with lynx and bear. Raccoon in Ohio are more destructive than any animal I had to deal with way up north.

Eastfork lake is a state park that you hear about a bear every so often. They make their way along the Ohio river.

Coyotes are a problem in my area. They like poultry, cats, etc. There was a den a mile from my house.

Bobcats are not the brightest and you have to work to keep them around.

You can look at Yellowstone if you want to talk about wolves. You will clearly get two sides.

Cougars out west have lost their fear of man in some area and a few like long pig.

So since it is unlikely the society I find myself in will welcome large predator, man will have to be the predator of last resort.
After all, our lifestyles created this unbalanced ecosystem.
They use to trap and release. One raccoon could be trapped in different areas dozens of times a year. As communities paid to trap what other communities had dumped. Now any trapped raccoon must be put down.


 
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Permaculture = Permanent Agriculture. It is seeking to manage one's land it a way that insures maximum sustainability for both humans and the rest of nature. It is about living in a symbiotic relationship with nature.

To do that we mimic the longest sustainable gardener of all. Mother nature.
 
pollinator
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Now I may be drunk, but what about feeding the raccoon to a flock of chickens and turkeys? You might even condition them  to attack predators as a food source this way. "The Birds" for raccoons....20 birds could fuck a raccoon up.
 
gardener
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There is a permaculture friendly form of composting animal flesh.  You keep a tub of a certain kind of maggot. Soldier fly I think.  Then they eat the dead raccoon/roadkill, etc.  Then you feed the maggots to your chickens.  Good nutrient recycling.  Doesn't even smell bad, I hear.  Should even be out of sight for militant vegans or anyone easily offended.
John S
PDX OR
 
pollinator
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Eat the raccoon yourself.  Feed the leftovers to the chickens.  😀
 
Ben Zumeta
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The attack chicken was inspired by my rooster assaulting me while I tried to break up a vicious fight between two drakes. It was like a scene from Platoon, with Adagio for Strings playing in the background and everything.  I was the only one who walked away bleeding though. I've been hitting my keg of homemade pinot gris pretty hard since then.
 
author
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Check out our Instagram to see the proof of permaculture success.  Many farms and homesteads are succeeding by simplifying, organising and focusing on profit from regenerative practices, not just an abundance.

-Zach

A SPECIAL EDITION copy of The Permaculture Market Garden with a hand-illustrated signature is available for a limited time when ordered from our website: www.kulafarm.ca
 
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I would like to add my ramblings to this discussion. 

It's pretty easy to meet ones needs. Desires are a whole different animal. Ill come back to this later. It's been said there are only two markets: desires, and needs.

Marketing to 'needs' is very difficult because there is a world wide industry fine tuned to production of cheap goods/foods using government money ( yes craft, for example gets more money than farmers). Needs producers often produce goods at the cost to our world and future generations.  I don't think even permaculture can compete, really.

Marketing to 'desires', however, leaves room for profit. Like boxes of natural peppers for $3 each to the socker mom and lawyer husband wanting the best and having the means.

Selling value add products over the Internet makes its very easy to make a profit. That is IF you run it like a business with every dollar tracked coming and going. I know a farm that is money powered and would never make a profit because it's input driven. Permaculture can certainly produce volume by layering production, but it's often labor intensive and profitable only with immigrant labor or woofers if selling only produce.  Now, take a $4 basket of blackberries and make two $6 jars of jam or a .80¢ tomato and make a $2 sundried spiced storable product you double your efforts for money.

Our land is stony, thorny, cursed subsoil that was mines for gravel 30 years ago. However, it grows goat weed, briars, crab apple, and tons of unknown fast growing weeds. So, we discovered tall spindle apple orchards and planted 8 rows of apples on trellis 3 foot by 11 foot. Giving us 160 apples trees under planted with 120 primacane blackberry plants. The trees cost $5 each and the berries were $2 each in bulk from a family bases wholesale nursery. $1240 for the whole lot with shipping.  The irrigation system cost all of $300 and $120 for 4 used pickle barrels, $240 for renting a mini excavator, $300 for a homemade apple press, $272 for beer bottles& caps, $1072 for trellis, and $100 for 5 yards of composted wood chips. So about $3644. Cost not included would be the land, $4000 well/pump, truck and fuel. Using the tall spindle system we got 25+ bushels of apples the second year or 875 pounds of apples in the SECOND year which was pressed for 78 gallons of juice. The juice was lacto fermented using water keifer grains and bottled in 480 20 ounce bottles without labels. We sold these bottles on farm through social media for $6 each giving us $2880 cash. You want to see the tax return? Umm No sorry.. 

Did we make money? NO. HOWEVER, next year as per the tall spindle orchard system we expect nearly 10,000(~238 bushels) apples and 24,000 the fourth year. We ate all the blackberries, but perhaps this year we will sell blackberry/apple fruit leathers or cider.

Is this permaculture?  In part Yes! Those 50 gallon pickle drums are used to ferment weed tea and push the apple fertility. Earth Worms have filled the barren soil where the tea is applied. The problem was the solution! No inputs besides power for the water pump. Earth care. We hope to layer in more production as time goes on.  Ducks have been added to bring in fertility and eat snails and provide eggs. Free range animal care.  I also hope to spin off a Bitcoin called community coin where value is based on contracts offered and bid on by community for value making it possible for a child offering dog walks to have instant value to exchange for our cider or berries and other goods, even before they have delivered a single good or service. Ofcourse we would entertain barter as well. People care.

We are doing this in an area about .65 acres. It's possible to get that much land for $2000 in this area in the form of a lake lot. If I had no land I would graft all the Bradford pear trees in the city or plant the public strips and do it with no land!! 

I don't think it's a matter of weather permaculture works or not.  It's a matter of will one choose to take what they have and do it without getting hung up on weather or not it looks like their dream of permaculture. Sure, I would love to just lay in my hammock and wait for the food Forest to fertilize it's self and produce apples, but that is just not going to happen on this land, with what I have to work with. So, I bust my butt to pull every weed I can find and pour weed tea on every single tree, every single week.  Will blight or bugs interfere with future crops and require new solutions or cost? It's possible.

One major factor that helps us be successful by our own definition is that we eliminated all debt a few years back. We built a simple house and purchased small acreage and we can live on $700 a month; half of the fair share amount. So, we are close to living a dream of doing what I want when I want including a yearly trip out of the country. Not having to get up and drag my butt to work. If you want to pay for your BMW and million dollar house, perhaps your life style is not really fitting the ethics or you will need to develop markets and value for many many people to make even more. It's a fair share thing that works! Just take the average wage of the world's people; $1400/month. It's not that hard to reach a fair share.

Could we eat on our crops? With forage, yes! However, it would be subsistence and a boring diet.  Did you know 80% of the calories from the food you eat is used in digestion or passes through unusable? Did you know fruit caloric intake can be almost completely used and requires no insulin response?  So of that 2000 calories diet only 400 calories are delivered to your cells! One apple yeilds 95 calories so 5 apples per day is enough to survive!! Sounds like BS doesn't it?  I have been living and working on 6 grapefruit per day for half a year now and have more energy than ever! Of course I will eat some duck eggs for omegas and b12 as well as drinking combucha...

Well, enough rambling from me.  Go look up the videos and documents about tall spindle orchard systems! The universities have actually done a great job and the system gives yeilds in 2 years and profits in 3-4 years all over the world.  Dream and draw, but most of all DO IT NOW! Even if you gorilla garden or permaculture the back side of your parks and public areas!  Permaculture is people care, and you are the first person that needs to get care and surplus! Apples may not work for you but something will!! Don't be afraid to fail! That's the price of education.

Getting the money:
$47/month Cut off internet and cable
$14/day stopped eating out saved 1/2
$40/month stopped making any extra drives
$24/month stopped going to movies
$300/year kept wearing old clothes
$40/month writing freelance articles
$200/month renting extra room
_____________________
$11,172 year saved!!! Before paying off old truck and land($8000) From dead broke every month to quitting work (I hope) this fall!!!
 
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We started our permaculture project nine years ago and have had several set backs.  Even with absolute disasters (deer, totally depleted soil, tornado weather, bad planning, bad economics, downright stupidity, bla, bla, bla), we've still produced a surplus of food.  I'm a Doctor and have no intention of giving up my practice in town, but what we do out here at our demonstration site is truly remarkable.  Our neighbors are even getting on board.  We don't have livestock (except for the forest maggot - deer), but our neighbors are growing sustainably.  We barter vegetables for other needs.  Our aquaponics greenhouse is more than breaking even.  Now, our food forest took five years to "pop" and the deer have been our biggest adversary, but even our food hedges (fedges) are now beginning to move the beasties through the property, feeding them as well, while protecting our own food crops.  Permaculture pays.  It may not make you that $100,000.00 income, but it is able to provide for a healthy, happy, sustainable lifestyle, and to boot, one without crushing debt and enslaving consumerism.  If supra-sustainability is the goal, I think the W-2 job is a must.  But if it is a matter of sustainability and a measure of self-reliance, it's permaculture that is demonstrating, where other methods continue to fail the test.  Example:  My neighbor (three miles away) grows corn, soybeans and wheat on rotation.  He "inherited" his farm (600 acres) from his grandfather, and went back to school for a degree in agribusiness.  Since he put in his first crop, his debt has grown every year, even though his output is much greater than his grandfather's was.  He calculated his annual soil loss at 4%.  After ten years of farming, next year he won't be able to borrow any more money.  He owes over seven million dollars now and can't see his way out of it.  That's the contrast we should be focusing on.  Lot's of work?  Sure.  Investment in time?  Yup.  Worth it?  Paying off?  Without a doubt.
 
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I'm doing a little permaculture at my backyard and I am very happy in giving some fruit to neighbors and my family. For me, you can always start making a small version by then you can decide to make bigger version of permaculture.
 
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I'm sure someone has already addressed my points, but I have read a few posts and didn't find them made. So please forgive me for repeating something that has already been said.

The question was: "is anyone really doing Permaculture? Does it really work."
My answer is: Yes, and yes. But how well it works depends on the quality of one's observations as well as the skillfulness of the designer who must interpret the observations and apply solutions based on the observed challenges and opportunities.

To say that Permaculture doesn't work is, literally, to say "careful observation and planning are a waste of time." I don't think even the most jaded agribusiness farmer would agree with that statement.

First off, Permaculture is NOT farming. Permaculture is simply a design process based on careful observation, careful implementation, and attention to the laws of nature. Anyone who has read Mollison, Hemenway, or any other Permaculture designer worth his salt, should understand this already. Bill Mollison encouraged people to apply the Permaculture design process to food production, yes, but he was always careful not to confuse Permaculture with farming. Farming can be based on Permaculture, like it can be based on chemicals and combines. But it is no more accurate to say that Permaculture is farming as it would be to say that chemicals and combines are farming. These are all merely tools that can be used in one's approach to farming, or gardening, or whatever else they might be helpful to do. You can use chemicals to create hospital supplies; you can use Permaculture to design an efficient kitchen. It is simply a design strategy.

Permaculture observations, from a garden designer's perspective, can be things like "my water runs this way when it rains; the sun shines here; the wind tends to blow in this direction during the winter; my kitchen garden is currently too far from my kitchen" and so forth. This is all useful information. Have you ever seen a kitchen garden far away from a kitchen? I sure have - and a Permaculture designer would probably try to move it closer, depending on other natural forces she observed. To say "Permaculture doesn't work" is basically the same thing as saying "I observed the sun shining from this direction. I built my gardens factoring in that observation, but now I observe that it shines from the other direction entirely." In other words, Permaculture is only as good as the observing designer.

Are there designers who don't know the difference between a squash vine borer and a tomato hornworm? Absolutely! And sometimes mistakes are just part of the learning process. Due to a fairly lenient certification process, Permaculture practitioners are often still learning about the practical realities of plants. That said, I have observed Permaculture applied to garden design very successfully. Is anyone I know making lots of money from their gardens? Nope. Are they raising more nutritious, organic food than if they had entirely winged it with no design strategy at all? Yes, certainly, no question about it!
 
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Oh boy that was a lot of reading.

OK. how does one speed the whole process up?

Keeping things as simple as possible one needs to build topsoil. Not dirt, but biologically rich material that affords plants all manner of nutrition and protection against microbial insect and animal pathogens.

Test your soil. Fix any mineral deficiency, continue.

The soil fertility comes from humus, which has many sites available for cation exchange. Humus is built from weathered recalcitrant parts of microbial and fungal origin. Plant materials do not make humus they make substrate for microbes that make humus. Much of the humus making will occur in the mulch layer with animals present to turn the mulch allowing wet/dry cycling in conjunction with soil/mulch interface decomposition processes.

Further to this the proliferation of soil microbes is due to plants. The carbohydrates supplied to the root zone ensure the rhizosphere is orders of magnitude richer in soil life than any surrounding soil without roots in it.

Take undesirable biomass and turn it into compost and mulch. Use this to feed and shelter desired plants. Plant everything you want that you possibly can. Each productive tree should be supported by several nitrogen fixers, most of which will be thinned out as the system grows. Each productive tree should also have some floral companion to encourage pollinators, bulbs for beauty and parasitoids and pollinators, and something from the carrot family to flower out and bring in swarms of parasitoids and other beneficial insects. This is a simplified picture, go nuts on diversity.

If the system is severely disturbed microbial innoculants may be called for. Mycorrhizal fungi for most annuals, nitrogen fixing bacteria for legumes, consult for each tree species, see if there's something you might be able to do.

The planets richness is topsoil. Your personal wealth as a farmer is also about topsoil. Support species that you chop and drop should be plentiful so you are dropping plentiful mulch until you have some semblance of a canopy for your forest. In the annual side of things cover crops and chickens can keep beds in high production the cover crops feeding poultry as well as protecting and nourishing soil in your 'off' season.

You could make a really simple productive system if you want a business you don't have to have 1000 species, it's just, with the massive loss of biodiversity we've had, relying on local sources of beneficials may be merely wishful thinking.

A small non-complex system e.g. Nuts as a canopy, banana, coffee and Taro underneath merely requires earthworks, soil building, planting, and husbandry. These crops are very low maintenance with an annual harvest and little to no problems with competition once they are established.

For biodiversity and supplementing your personal diet (and thus wallet) one could always plant a surrounding shelter belt that was actually a food forest.

I supplemented university with a garden. I was saving money while receiving $50 less per week than the unemployed got. I was also dropping food off to the homeless. The only glitch was a pipe burst and the plumbers digger and bulldozer decimated my high production area including many beloved trees. I am rebuilding, I have the technology.

Permaculture works but it is not an easy fix. If well designed however, the up-front costs in labor and materials will over time pay for themselves as the system begins to produce it's own: fertiliser, mulch, propagules, medicines, power...

Also, check out duck rice for a financially successful permaculture system in action.







 
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Ridgedale Permaculture Farm in Sweden! The opening post in this thread asks for examples, and this farm is one of the best. They ackowledge that people need to see the numbers if they are going to jump on the band wagon, so they put in a huge effort in documenting everything they do. And they do great! It is a world class permaculture example, of farm scale permaculture. They balance economy and ecology in an impressive way, and use permaculture design and regenerative agriculture. And pay off their farm in less than five years. That is an example of how to make a living of permaculture.

I was there as an intern an learnt that the hard work it takes is not for me, I'd rather like to go the permaculture homesteading route than the permaculture farming route. I'd rather spend time and resources in beautifying a natural chillout lounge than busting my back in the market garden or dragging lots of Salatin style broiler pens all day. What food I lack from my garden, I'd rather source from elsewhere. And I believe there are more people like me than like the hard working heroes of Ridgedale.
 
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Ridgedale Permaculture Farm in Sweden! The opening post in this thread asks for examples, and this farm is one of the best.



thanks eivind! I found a link to their web site....it looks like a wonderful place!

http://www.ridgedalepermaculture.com/
 
Eivind Bjoerkavaag
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Yeah, thanks, and they have a whopping amount of info out... here's their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mrintegralpermanence/playlists

Here's the link to their fantasticly practical book "Making Small Farms Work": http://www.makingsmallfarmswork.info/

And they have an online training program for farmers wanting to transition into permaculture. And the youtube channel features some of the farmers that have taken the training and done the transition.

edit (again):

Here's the links to the visits to a few of the farmers that have made the transition after the training program:

A trip to norwegian farmer Tore Jardar Virgenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ1lsV7kuDs
An amazing young danish couple that started from scratch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DiWjvn5Bs
A danish girl doing the impossible in the cold mountains of Norway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylvnyls0pdQ
Going no-dig in England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nINo1tKQ67I

And there are several videos more of the people doing after their intern program... but I'll leave those for you to find yourself
 
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Permaculture (PC) = Permanent Agriculture.

Nothing is permanent on the Earth.  In fact the Earth will be incinerated by the Sun (when it turns into a red giant) in a few billion years if a comet doesn't hit us first, never mind the Andromeda galaxy racing at the Milky Way galaxy we live in, on a 'collision' course.

I made some biochar.  (PC)
I created a hugelkultur with wood chips recently. (PC)
I planted cover crops  (not PC?)
But I 'tilled' (really attacked lawn with double digging, flipping soil)  (not PC)
I created a kiddie pool in my back yard to help with drainage away from property, calling it a pond.  Hope to grow the plant that doubles daily and is about 40% protein to feed future chickens, fish, etc.  (PC)
I plan to raise about 3 chickens or buy them in Spring.  I'm a vegan, I plan to sell most or all eggs to a real estate agent I know that wants them, I eat eggs rarely, recently ate 2 dozen from the big stores to get egg shells.  For vermi compost and garden.  (PC?)
I plan to use aquaculture with an IBC I have in Spring.  (PC)
I vermi compost I started this a few months ago with only ~ a dozen red wigglers.  These worms basically if healthy, multiply by 16 over a year.  (PC)

PC is such a broad area.  The word 'culture' can be vast.  Then I think change is happening all the time, so what is permanent?  That is why it is hard to nail down the new word Permaculture.
My first goal was to be organic.  And still is.  A couple of areas in PC are woo woo to me.  Then PC uses the word 'sustain'.  If world is changing, we have to work to sustain our vision.  i.e. weed the garden.

Best Wishes,
 
Don't destroy the earth! That's where I keep all my stuff! Including this tiny ad:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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