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If I Were Parachuted into the Third World, the First Thing I Would Do...  RSS feed

 
                                  
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Location: Suwon, South Korea
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If I were parachuted into the tropical third world with a small plot of denuded land and with little money and a hut, I think I would do the following:

1.  Think water and sanitation.  Setup rainwater catchment and a well if needed and possible; dig a swale or rip a keyline if necessary.  Set up compost toilet.  Save gray water.

2.  Immediately plant potatoes or the local equivalent/strain (and/or sweet potatoes, yams or starch plant).  Cut up the potatoes, one eye per piece, and plant them in a pile of straw, hay, and/or compost.  They'll grow no matter what the soil and provide carbs for energy to enhance human capital.

3.  Mulch every piece of ground in sight as high as is realistic by chopping down anything that doesn't move that I don't immediately/otherwise need.

4.  Set up a simple moringa tree bare root nursery plot and plant moringa trees and fruit trees like there's no tomorrow.  (I would first go to the Trees for a Future site and tattoo their excellent resource archives on both arms and legs so you'll know how to do this.)  http://www.plant-trees.org/resources/information.htm

5.  Make a raised keyhole garden from scrap and compost.  Add more as possible and link them into a mandala garden scheme, as shown in Gaia's Garden (I would first go to Send a Cow site to learn how to do this.)  http://www.sendacow.org.uk/keyhole-gardens

6.  Fence all the above from critters and thieves as necessary.

7.  Bring in some chickens or ducks.

8.  Dig and seal a fish pond.  Plant edible water plants.  Plant mulberries or equivalent around the pond to feed fish.  Get tadpoles and stock pond with fish.

9.  Plant small grain plot.

10.  Use the above as a demonstration permastead and teach others.

What would you do?
 
Brenda Groth
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sure wonderful there are so many  resources on your denuded tropical island !!

first yes would be the freshwater, gonna be tricky to catch it with no containers but you could line a depression with some green foliage that might make a gley.

hopefully there is food  growing in a few trees? otherwise you won't last long enough to order from trees for a future or grow a nursery.

i think i would be ..after the water was realized..looking for a way to trap or catch some fish for tonight's supper (hopefully it won't have to be sushi, do i have any fire avail?)

leave me here in Michigan..i'll watch some old island movies while i sit in my little hut.
 
            
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After water comes food.  Best you forage to find what's available before you starting planting.  You'll need the energy.
 
Burra Maluca
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I guess if I could afford a parachute drop then all those things would be affordable too, but in the meantime I'm still dreaming of a lot of that stuff for my own place.  Just think - a predator proof fence to protect the chickens, all that mulch, enouch 'scrap' to make a load of compost, being able to afford to hire a digger so I can dig deep enough into the rock to make a permanent pond.  I think your idea of little money is a little different to mine...
 
                                  
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Good ideas, all.

I was kinda thinking of what I would do if I landed in some poor country in, say, Africa or S. Asia primarily.  I was intrigued by those permaculture videos on YouTube that show our people going into a village and making progress almost immediately.  Probably too good to be true in some ways, but inspiring nonetheless.  All of the things in the original post I don't think would require outside resources (unless I actually did need excavating equipment to dig into solid rock), but they would require lots of labor to be sure.  And yes, I would need some kind of sustenance while things were getting up and running, no doubt.

I'm actually getting ready to buy a property down South where I'm going to have to start from scratch w/o much money, so for me at least it's more than just an intellectual exercise.  I really need to come up with a step by step plan so that I don't waste time and resources and also have to do things over again because I didn't do them right the first time.  So I think maybe the order might be something like: Water Catchment/Swales; Chop 'n Drop Mulching and Composting; Home Insulation and Shadehouse; Plant Fruit Trees and Plan Guilds; Plant Perennials in Keyhole; Herb Spiral; Attached Greenhouse before Winter; Pond -- Dig, Plant, and Stock Next Spring; Plant Annuals.  It's a tall order, but might be possible in a year's timeframe.
 
Burra Maluca
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I think the important thing is not to be too rigid when it comes to sticking to your plan.  For instance, if you get there and there just isn't anything to mulch with, try planting some stuff anyway just to see if it's possible, but keep researching your area to see what mulch materials are available.  Build your raised beds as planned, but if they end up like mine and are completely unusable for five months of the year as it's not possible to keep them moist during long dry spells, then be prepared to change tactics.  You'll find a compost toilet kind of a neccessity - what else could you possible do except just poop on the ground?  Save gray water?  Again, if there's no plumbing it's kind of a no-brainer, you have to do something with it.  We end up showering by a different fruit tree every time, kind of two jobs in one!  Get to know your chicken predators - we ended up with most poultry inside chicken tractors with tiny square mesh on all sides and underneath because we seriously underestimated the range of local predators, the genet climb walls, the foxes and mongooses tear down insecure mesh and dig underneath, snakes squeeze through tiny gaps, stray dogs take stuff from under your nose...  Be wary about chopping stuff down just to make mulch - shade is sometimes at least as important.  When you've found which fruit trees grow well, plant loads of them just to get shade and leaf - we ended up with loads of apricot, almond and cherry trees because they seem to love our place and do better than the 'nurse trees' we've tried to grow.  Study what the locals grow and frequent any local markets - anything that they sell cheaply is obviously suited to your area so buy some and figure out how to grow it yourself. 
 
Brenda Groth
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in many years we have lived on $3000 or less, and never had a yearly income of more than $25000, so I guess maybe my idea of a little money ..is a lot less than most people's. You are probably right there.

Had we not had an inheritance when my MIL died, we wouldn't have a tractor and probably wouldn't have a running car or truck..so I think of a little money as enough to buy some seeds, a little fuel and some extra food supplies.
 
Frank Cetera
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Care to share links to some of those videos?

bruc33ef wrote:
I was intrigued by those permaculture videos on YouTube that show our people going into a village and making progress almost immediately.  Probably too good to be true in some ways, but inspiring nonetheless. 
 
                                  
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Brenda Groth wrote:
in many years we have lived on $3000 or less, and never had a yearly income of more than $25000, so I guess maybe my idea of a little money ..is a lot less than most people's. You are probably right there.
Had we not had an inheritance when my MIL died, we wouldn't have a tractor and probably wouldn't have a running car or truck..so I think of a little money as enough to buy some seeds, a little fuel and some extra food supplies.


One of the things that attracted me to permaculture in the first place was the promise of being able to thrive (not just survive) on fewer and fewer inputs including money.  As I inch closer to retirement, though, and since I don't trust our leaders to either keep us safe or keep the economy from imploding, it starts to become clear that I have to start doing more things for myself.  I wonder if that's not what attracts a lot of people to permaculture (i.e., the idea that you can take the bull by the horns no matter where you are on the earth and what your situation is and live a harmonious life) aside from the idealism of wanting to purify the environment and feed the hungry.  My ideal of the absolutely perfect permaculture homestead is one that no longer requires money.  That's probably unobtainable but I think goals are important and that seems like a good one to strive for nonetheless.  But, yeah, money always seems to wind up being a problem for me, too.
 
                                  
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franklen wrote:
Care to share links to some of those videos?


Frank, I'd take a look at the Global Gardener series, especially the one where Mollison shows up in Africa and uses scrub brush to fence out the animals and starts in on a garden.  And the one (it may be the last) where Dr. Dixon reverses desertification in the Arizona desert.  Also, geoff lawton's video of reversing the desert in Jordan.  Finally, the videos from Send a Cow where they go into African villages and set up keyhole gardens.  Just search for them in YouTube and you should have no problem getting them.
 
                                  
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Burra Maluca wrote:
I think the important thing is not to be too rigid when it comes to sticking to your plan.  For instance, if you get there and there just isn't anything to mulch with, try planting some stuff anyway just to see if it's possible, but keep researching your area to see what mulch materials are available.  Build your raised beds as planned, but if they end up like mine and are completely unusable for five months of the year as it's not possible to keep them moist during long dry spells, then be prepared to change tactics.  You'll find a compost toilet kind of a neccessity - what else could you possible do except just poop on the ground?  Save gray water?  Again, if there's no plumbing it's kind of a no-brainer, you have to do something with it.  We end up showering by a different fruit tree every time, kind of two jobs in one!  Get to know your chicken predators - we ended up with most poultry inside chicken tractors with tiny square mesh on all sides and underneath because we seriously underestimated the range of local predators, the genet climb walls, the foxes and mongooses tear down insecure mesh and dig underneath, snakes squeeze through tiny gaps, stray dogs take stuff from under your nose...  Be wary about chopping stuff down just to make mulch - shade is sometimes at least as important.  When you've found which fruit trees grow well, plant loads of them just to get shade and leaf - we ended up with loads of apricot, almond and cherry trees because they seem to love our place and do better than the 'nurse trees' we've tried to grow.  Study what the locals grow and frequent any local markets - anything that they sell cheaply is obviously suited to your area so buy some and figure out how to grow it yourself. 


Thanks for all these suggestions, they're great.  I think my weakest link will be managing the animals.  From all that I've read on this forum and elsewhere, it seems as though as soon as you introduce animals into the equation, all hell breaks loose.  For example, chickens are great for eating insects and weeds, and for scratching up the soil and providing eggs and meat and manure.  But it seems like they're such a pain to care for and manage.  Look at all the inputs you need just to keep chickens sustainably:  You have to grow plants and buy grain to feed them, you have to securely house them and maybe get a livestock dog which uses even more inputs, you have to break up the fights, you have to fence off the plants you don't want them near, you have have someone at home pretty much all the time, etc.  Is it worth it?  I think someone could make a good case that it is not.
 
Burra Maluca
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We have found that yes they are worth it, despite all the fuss and expense.  I'm not sure it would work in a truly third world scenario, but for us they supply us with meat and eggs which we would otherwise have to buy, thus offsetting the cost, and we view the food that we are buying in for them (system not yet mature enough to be feeding them) as adding nutrients and fertility to the system.  We've found that trying to improve the system 'naturally', without any inputs, takes far too long given our poor soil fertility.  Trying to grow mulch instead of bringing it in was basically a waste of time as not enough would grow, but after two years of mulching we now get a reasonable mulch just by cutting surplus grass.  Another couple living nearby are trying to do it all without spending any money or bringing an any inputs, which is a fine aim, but so far they have actually managed to lose most of their established fruit trees as they won't even pump water during droughts.  For us 'cheating' is kind of essential to get the process going, and we pump water whenever we feel the young trees need it.  The stronger the trees get, and the richer and more water retaining the soil gets, the less water we'll need to pump and the aim to be totally self sustaining, but to acheive that in our lifetimes I think that, in my system at least, inputs are necessary, and chickens are justified.  And donkeys essential

One more thing to bear in mind, you may be hoping to teach others, but don't be surprised if you end up learning more from the locals than you expected.  And don't be scared to try out their techniques alongside your own - sometimes a mixture of local ways, established permie ways, and your own discoveries turns out the best, but if you don't experiment you'll never know. 
 
                                  
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Interesting case study.  Sounds like you're doing everything you can.  It would be interesting to know which hardiness zone you're in.  When growing mulch, of course it depends what plants you choose and the climate, as well as the other factors you mention.

In zones 8 or higher (I would probably try it in zone 7, too) you might be able to grow moringa trees (moringa oleifera), which are known to be very drought tolerant.  It's a great mulch and wood tree, grows like wildfire, and is amazingly nutritious.  The leaves have:  7 times the vitamin C of oranges; 4 times the vitamin A of carrots; 4 times the calcium of milk; 3 times the potassium of bananas; and 2 times the protein of yogurt; and several other vitamins and minerals as well.  The leaves also have all of the essential amino acids -- very unusual in a plant.  In addition, it's a very good livestock fodder and plant the 'tea' is a good fertilizer.

 
Brenda Groth
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managing domesticated animals is something we haven't done here (other than 2 cats and early on we had dogs).

my husband was raised being forced to care for a huge row garden..several acres..as well as chickens, pigs, horses, cows..etc..in a family of 5 he was the only one required to care for these animals and plants..so he resented it.

now as an adult he doesn't want any animals around..even though he is disabled and i do all the work on the property, still he has a fit if i ever talk about having animals (other than our wild birds, wild rabbits, wild deer, etc.

i would LOVE to have some chickens for eggs and maybe a beef ..to put in the freezer..but he would just have coniptioons, doesn't even want me to have a dog any more.

they say women live longer than men, so when he passes on..sometime in the future..first thing i'm going to do is get me a dog..and then in the following spring a flock of chickens !!
 
                              
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If I found myself in the situation suggested in the original posting, I'd seek out some indigenous people and see what they were thriving on...hopefully there'd be a river and a sea nearby so I could have food and water readily available. 
 
Nick Peihl
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http://www.cd3wd.com/

This website contains a HUGE collection of resources for developing a sustainable economy in a 3rd world country. So I'd definitely want to have this resource available. I'm currently downloading the entire 13 gigabyte collection to a local hard drive for future reference.
 
paul wheaton
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(let's make sure that we keep the focus on permaculture practices and not on politics)
 
Marsha Hanzi
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I actually DID "parachute drop" onto 23 acres of pure white sand in the tropical drylands of Northeast Brazil-semi-arid, about 500mm rain per year.

Most of what was suggested here is valid, I would think. Here is my experience:

You talk as if you are going to a deserted island. There are people living all the places you dream of going to, probably for hundreds of years.  So my first suggestion ( which I should have done!) is to do things like they do - only better! It´s much more eficient to improve on already-established practices than to start from scratch. The learning curve is smaller, and you don´t shock or offend your neighbors - they will actually be most happy, probably, to help you with information and techniques. They actually know much more than you do, for their situation.

I would definitely get to know the native plants and their function, many are accumulating certain nutrients, especially in the poor tropical soils. So composting them is definitely a good idea. In the humid tropcs you don´´t need to compost anything - just lay it on as thick as you can! Here in the drylands we have no decomposition going on for about six months of the year, so we do make compost to take better advantage of the four month planting season. In the tropics there are many trees which can be lopped for this, enormous quantities of material!

Cutter ants gobble up moringa trees, by the way, and they do have a high oxalic acid content, The animals don´t like them much. We use them from time to time, but not that often - too much oxalic acid can cause kidney stones, and most of our plants are high in this !...

You will take around 5 years to get your show together, probably, but the process is really fun!



 
                                  
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Marsha wrote:
I actually DID "parachute drop" onto 23 acres of pure white sand in the tropical drylands of Northeast Brazil-semi-arid, about 500mm rain per year.
Most of what was suggested here is valid, I would think. Here is my experience:
You talk as if you are going to a deserted island. There are people living all the places you dream of going to, probably for hundreds of years.  So my first suggestion ( which I should have done!) is to do things like they do - only better! It´s much more eficient to improve on already-established practices than to start from scratch. The learning curve is smaller, and you don´t shock or offend your neighbors - they will actually be most happy, probably, to help you with information and techniques. They actually know much more than you do, for their situation.
I would definitely get to know the native plants and their function, many are accumulating certain nutrients, especially in the poor tropical soils. So composting them is definitely a good idea. In the humid tropcs you don´´t need to compost anything - just lay it on as thick as you can! Here in the drylands we have no decomposition going on for about six months of the year, so we do make compost to take better advantage of the four month planting season. In the tropics there are many trees which can be lopped for this, enormous quantities of material!
Cutter ants gobble up moringa trees, by the way, and they do have a high oxalic acid content, The animals don´t like them much. We use them from time to time, but not that often - too much oxalic acid can cause kidney stones, and most of our plants are high in this !...
You will take around 5 years to get your show together, probably, but the process is really fun!


Very interesting about the cutter ants, Marsha.  I hadn't read that before.  As for the oxalic acid, apparently, the level varies depending on the growing conditions (plants with a lot of ammonia available have lower concentrations) and cooking method.  The supposed dangers are apparently minimal for healthy individuals eating normal amounts.  (see http://oxalicacidinfo.com/)

Finally, you of course make a good point about listening to the natives and combining our knowledge with theirs. 
 
Marsha Hanzi
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Bruce, thanks so much for the oxalic acid info- it is something I have been looking for  for some time now! 
 
                      
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Wow!This thread is close to my heart. My husband and I are about to “parachute” back to my home country Philippines (we are in Italy now), hope to build our bamboo house in our little beach lot, with very poor and sandy soil, and we have very very little money.

First thing that I would do, to answer bruc33ef’s theoretical question is to understand what the local people grow (if there are people nearby) and eat, or  observe the vegetation nearby and have those plants planted in my little piece of denuded land, with the intention, first, to produce organic matter for the next vegetative generations, while I feed myself from maybe birds, lizards, crickets? Or have I brought some canned beans?

Anyway my real personal plan is this: fence the area (done) to discourage trespassers who might rob and/or damage whatever I have inside, have plenty of local trees planted in circles and near each other (done, and continuosly being done by a local farmer I have payed for the job) hoping that by the time I arrive, at least some parts of the area can host some vegetables. I’d build my house out of local materials (mostly bamboo), organize water and sanitation system (catch rainwater, or pump from underground using a windmill). And while my husband is into these tasks, I’d organize the food garden (of local varieties) and composting system. I wish I could immediately do the the earth works done; to dig a pond, and improve the drainage system (some portions get flooded during heavy rains), etc. but remember, we have no money. Later these would come, anyway I have already indicated which part of my area ( I have a little more than 1 hectare). After the establishment of the vegetable area, I’d introduce the native chickens, fenced inside their haven, where there is grass, pond, trees. I’d have native chickens which are good in managing by themselves, just give them treats from time to time (left over rice for example) and they’d still provide  some eggs and meat. It is important though that they are contained in their area. Native chicken, at least in my home country are agressive food hunters. They can fly high and can damage your vegetable garden in half an hour. I have thought to introduce a few other animals such as two pigs and maybe three goats but they can come later because they need more attention than rustic chickens.

What worries me for now are: how we would survive strong typhoons, plenty of rains (and humidity), and how we would live with very little money. Along with our parachute, we bring  with ourselves mostly experiences, knowledge, and courage.
 
rose macaskie
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  THe natives don't want you to copy them in some things they want you to do exactly what they do, to like their ways in every particular. It is the story of the father and son and donkey and how the three should get to market.
  I tried being nice to the native, my family, my husbands family and other natives it was heart breaking, i had rather be had for mutton than lamb anyway you become inefectual. MOst of them are spoilling for a fight and only want to find you stupid anyway.  WHat happens to you with the native is that they  will castrate you if they can your hat will end up floatign in their soup. the only sign of you inside the soup, they are cannibals.
i know how the natives grow their Vegetables in spain as far as i know how anyone does, the same way the english ones do and probably with a lot of herbicides pestricides etc. They can keep it. I also  know what they do that i think really positive they would have me like their less positive methods too though.

bill mollison introduced to the dry land village he landed in the use of a euphorbia tirucalli as hedge thanks to his knowledge of botany, so saving the acacias that were when cut the traditional fencing material and so giving them a fence thay could not other wise have as there are now a reduced number of acacias.
  he taught them to make aa area that is paved to catch rain water. Remember Brad lancaster of tusson arizona says one inch of rain on an acre of land is equal to twenty seven thousand galleons of water !!!. Pave a floor with a 3-4 gradient that runs into a underground tank giving you some water. In India they have big areas paved like this to collect water with pretty doom shapes as roofs over the water collecting tank in the middle. Look up kunds of the desert - Rainwater harvesting. org . about water collecting thar desert. 
    They use things like paving stones, "murrum" laid at the begining of the rains and trampled down by sheep and goats, or with the silt from the bottom of ponds i should think that is the gley technique to pave the area with  or with  charcoal ash, i suppose they add that to mud or manure to make a sort of concrete. they use lime or ash plaster for the tank walls. When Wangari Mattai replastered her mothers walls as a teenager in Kenya it was with ash and cow muck. Some when making a bund they use times with a gravel base to the flooring they lay  if they have gravel  or it is necessary.

  Bill Mollison taught them to make a woven sort of upside down baskets to protect the seedlings from the sun.

  He also taught them how to make a raise bed in order to raise the vegetables off the salty soil with a lot of vegetable matter in it to hold moisture an d feed the vegetables and planted new acacias for them.
  bill mollison had collected a lot of information before he landed on othe rpeoples cabbage patches to help htem and probably he went for some charity or other.
  There is also a you tube video with the embarassing name likely to bring all the police of the world on your head -the desert jihad -about finghting the desert with a mulch of petrol in Iran. If you knew how to do it you could be usefull in dry countries. agri rose macaskie.
 
Brenda Groth
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Rose your post reminded me of all of the crafting materials i have on my property that go unused..i really should learn more about basket making as i have lots of willow and cattails..etc..that could easily be made into baskets if i knew more about what i was doing..i have actually read a lot of books on basket making just never really tried my hand on it..my BIL used to make baskets but that was many many years ago..don't know if he would remember how (more than 30)

maybe this year i'll give it a try..it would be nice to have some baskets to use around here for those types of things..
 
rose macaskie
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  brenda groth , i made baskets at primary school and it was easy, maybe it would not be so easy if you wanted really pretty ones. You have to soak the canes in a bucket of water coiled round in the bucket and then they are easy to use.
      I find things so much harder if i do them on my own than when i am in a group doing them in get confident with others around and on my own gvet full of doubts that cripple me i don't jump at things in the same way on my own so to talk of what i did at school is not much help bas doing it in a protected situation like with a techer is no gage of what its like to try it on your own..  It is a thing that so many people in the third world do well and cheaply that I am not sure its worth trying. Maybe it is worth trying to make things they don't make like up upside down baskets you coud pop over your more delicate plants to keep the frost off them. No one else makes them so maybe you could sell such and object.
  wangari mattai ssaid they used to  have beautifull basket work containers in Africa and there they did make things with impressive shapes and she regrets that now everyone uses plastic containers.
    If you had time to mess around with your branches till they looked like somethign it could work i get so busy writting here and so do you that i am not sure that i could give ti what it needs to come out really well.
    My grandmother a country woman all her life said just a thin net was enough to provide a lot more protection from frosts to a plant than you could imagine, so i imagine a basketwork cover  would be good as protection for plants. The plants woudl get some light and air and some protection from frosts under a basket work top. Same gioes for basket work to protect them from sun and i imagine that you coudl stick stakes in the ground and wrape the basket work round the stakes and that way get some tall plant protectors for places that are too sunny.
  There was a man on you tube making garden furniture and arches out of supple branches cut off bushes and trees. I think it was arizonica branches he was using.
  There were some women  on you tube making like trellis work props for plants with ties to hold the crossing bits of wood in place and tha twas nice and easy  and loooked smart..rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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The first thing I would do, would be to find an economic niche that suits my abilities and supports as large a network as possible of interdependent jobs.

I know a thing or two about machines of all sorts, so I might try to start a business in rocket stoves, foot-powered irrigation pumps, and culturally-appropriate hand tools. For hand tool raw materials, I would have a better eye for scrap than most: the HSLA steel from body panels of junked cars has real potential, for example, and if enough were available I would learn enough about its heat-treatment quirks (through trial and error, if necessary) to make the most of that potential. I think pattern-welding with plain carbon steel could make for an uncommonly durable edge.

And I'd learn all I could from my customers about the way they work, both to know my market's demands, and to have some hope of a worthwhile backyard garden. It might take several years of living off of grain imported from the US, to develop the skills and the soil for a more local food security.
 
hendrik zaad
Posts: 4
Location: Den Haag, Netherlands
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Been there, done that...

In a perfect world... i.e. in a vacuum many of the original suggestions are very good, well thought-out and should do the trick. I believe, however, that some harsh realities will soon present themselves that you need to be equiped to deal with. Therefore, i have the following suggestions:


First off, local goats and sheep will eat whatever comes up even if no people come around thieving. GET A DOG. Dogs are everywhere so ask around for puppies or start feeding a stray.

Assuming you have seeds or can get them, PLANT SEEDS ASAP; of course now you need to protect them and soil to put them in:Dried and pulverized cow dung does the job.
Do not procrastinate; it'll take months for your seeds to mature into harvest. They can be growing while you're digging.
PLANT THEM APPLE SEEDS YOU JUST FOUND IN THE APPLE YOU ATE or whatever fruit you find where you are. You know what Paul said, right? 20% of those seeds will produce good fruit and the rest you cut down as sacrificial trees as part of the soil you're building.

If you have to arrange food, you're going to be needing CALORIES. What contains most calories? Fats, then proteins. Since meat is 50% of each, you need ducks or rabbits or something similar. Without enough calories you will be hanging around all day like the locals...
If you aim to eat vegetarian or vegan, FORGET IT; you don't have that luxury in the situation you suggest. You can get back to vegetarianism or veganism when you've established a steady flow of fruit and stuff. Until then it's 'back to the stone age' with your dietary options.

Contrary to popular opinion apparently... Ignore the locals and keep them at arm's length. They will give you their ignorant opinions and distract you from what your own two eyes and permies knowhow are telling you. In the rare case they have something to offer, you'll recognize it as such and can go with it, but as a rule the locals will just be giving you the bs they themselves grew up with and you should be much better informed than they are. They will make you doubt yourself, particularly because they're so adamant and convinced of their own truths and because it's all of them against 'your crazy notions'. Better to keep contact to a minimum. Later, when you've proven to them and to yourself that you know what you're doing, you can relax a bit.
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