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Is permaculture going over the hill? A young man's struggle to earn an income.  RSS feed

 
charlotte anthony
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sorry about the title, rather namby pamby but this stuff needs to be addressed:


I AM 31 YEARS OLD

During the past ten years I have studied permaculture and many other fields and disciplines with full dedication. I have attended classes, workshops, seminars, and conferences, engaged in apprenticeships and internships. I am a certified permaculture teacher and designer. I have taught 14 Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs). Several of them I taught myself. All of them I organized. I have developed curricula for dozens of classes and workshops ranging from philosophical and spiritual topics to community-building to activist trainings to land management.

I have been an organizer and activist in campaigns ranging from anti-war to prisoner’s rights to civil rights to environmental defense. I am the co-originator of the Rewilding Design System, an entirely new branch of permaculture science and philosophy with a curriculum, training program, and fully articulated principles, ethics, and design tools. I have designed, implemented, and managed three organic farms, including an urban farm dedicated to youth empowerment. I have foraged professionally. I have studied herbalism and forestry. I have run three different iterations of design and install businesses. I have been a member of non-profit boards. I have trained intensively as an activist, a teacher, a group facilitator, an organizer, and an entrepreneur. I have organized regional convergences, spoken to diverse audiences, managed an intensive online presence. I have spoken on podcasts, written articles in periodicals and blogs, run a crowd-funding campaign to fund a book on permaculture and rewilding, networked with religious communities, Native American groups, poor urban neighborhoods, middle America, supported the work of friends and colleagues, attended large conferences and convergences, and maintained valuable dialogues with leading permaculturists. The volume of correspondences I receive via email, Facebook, and telephone is overwhelming and impossible to keep up with…
And yet, I have made an average of about $10,000 per year over the past decade. Some years, I’ve barely had enough to eat. I didn’t have health insurance until this year. I’ve lived off of odd jobs, welfare, and the support of family and friends. To this day, I work tirelessly, now more busily than ever. I run my own business, and have built all of the infrastructure that such a business requires. Anticipating that more networking, greater exposure, growing public interest in permaculture, and the trending of the economy toward re-localization all would help me attain right livelihood, I have shed the odd jobs and wholly dedicated myself toward my professional goals. But it’s not working.

The Reality of the Situation…

My classes and educational programming, crafted to serve all ages, is more popular than ever. But attendance is not increasing. I spent the past autumn and winter months building a year-long schedule of classes, and doing all of the organizing and administrative work required to launch them. I rolled them out on social media, on my website, with flyers, and word of mouth. The communications in response began pouring in. But the vast majority of people interested in these classes cannot afford them, despite the fact that I offer some of the cheapest permaculture programs in the country. Support in the way of encouraging words, requests for scholarships and work trades, and thousands of “Likes” on endless Facebook pages have been overwhelming. Financial support comes mostly from a small, dedicated group of mentors and former students, and comes nowhere close to meeting my own financial needs, to sustaining the operations of my business, or to building jobs for peers and students ready to step into them.

Through waves of frustration and hope, I have reiterated the meme that says: “Anyone can raise a thousand dollars to attend a course if they really want it badly enough.” But I see now that this is the talk of the middle class, a class in which I was raised, but in which I no longer reside. Nor do I buy into the myths and culture of this class any longer. The more I have built connections with communities of color in downtrodden metropolitan neighborhoods, the more obvious it has become that those who most deserve access to the education I can offer, simply do not have the resources to support my efforts. A young black man who lives in a ghetto and wants to take my class cannot raise a thousand dollars through a crowd-funding platform if everyone he knows is destitute. And his other recourse to answering the nonsensical notion of access to funding “if he really wants it badly enough” is crime. I am blessed enough to have indirect access to the monumental and unprecedented treasure trove of resources accumulated by the Baby Boomers through older members of my family whom have, indeed, been generous with me throughout my pursuit of professional permaculture. But such access is not available to many of the racially diverse communities whom permaculturists have so vocally wished to connect with and help. And that American Dream fairy tale that says “If I work hard enough I’ll make it” has never been true for me during my adult life, despite my indirect access to the last generation’s wealth, nor has it been true for most of my peers.

Despite decades of predictions by the demagogues of the environmental movement, the access to land, to corporate contracts, to a sudden surge of resources as the masses realize the necessity of permaculture in an age of looming catastrophe has not occurred. My design business is not consulting with governments or redesigning sprawling suburban lawns into wildlife habitat or food production systems. Funding for land management experiments or community-building programs has not been made available.

Where To Go From Here…

Despite many years of agreeing to the contrary, I now firmly believe that permaculture education must be made nominally free, at least in terms of the cost in money to attend such classes. The implications of this that I see are as follows:

The non-profit sector, rather than students, must be the source of funding for the budgetary requirements of educational programs.

A multi-faceted infrastructure to identify and select students who deserve this education and will value it inherently must be crafted to ensure that the lack of tuitiondoes not cheapen the true worth of the education.

Other ways for students to “Pay it back” or “Pay it forward” must be cultivated, such as work trades and volunteerism.

To prevent the all-too-common lackluster investment into work trades and volunteerism, these opportunities must also represent further training that builds on the curricula of the free classes.

To provide such professional training to advancing students, which serves as both repayment for initial educational opportunities as well as labor support for real-world projects, localized industries and economies built on permaculture must be flourishing.

In order for permaculture-based industries and economies to flourish, permaculturists must be able to access all the resources necessary to attain to a professional level.

Ultimately, it is not a diploma or a degree or years of training that leads to professionalism, but access to funding via customers; funding required to build real-world businesses and pay for advancing training and infrastructure.

And so permaculture needs a market, and financial support from patrons and benefactors, and without it, we go nowhere.
Not Just a Ride on the Wave…

Because the vast majority of financial wealth is still controlled by the Baby Boomer generation, and because the pioneers of permaculture are of that generation, I call on them to recognize that access to funding is now the primary impediment to the growth and influence of the permaculture movement, and to utilize their collective voice to spur their generation to divert financial capital to the efforts of Millennial permaculturists.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once described the failures of the countercultural revolution of the 1960’s with incredible insight and sincerity:

“That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . . So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
No movement thrives on good ideas alone. Without a massive influx of funding, soon, young permaculturists like myself and many of my peers will have to put our projects aside and the movement will stagnate. The wave will break, and what has already been done may very well represent the high water mark of permaculture as well as the environmental movement. For me, that would represent a decade of wasted effort, and the visions of what could be dashed. For the founding generation of permaculturists, that would represent a gross failure to see their own efforts and vision through to the end of their tenure. And for the world, that would represent a missed chance at a brighter day.

Sincerely,
Benjamin Weiss


sorry my internet accessing skills are not the best. I wanted to add an email for benjamin. i have sent someone a message and i should get his email, but right now do not have it.

i personally am not sure about funding or the direction of going into the colleges. well going into the colleges may not be so bad as long as it is not like regular ag school which is not hands on. the colleges are the usual source of education. (and then we say who funds the colleges).

charlotte, victorygardensforall@gmail.com

this is posted on here because we need to address the problem for our future's sake.

__._,_.___
 
David Livingston
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mmm Is it correct that this chap wants to make a living teaching about permiculture rather than actually having some land and doing some permiculture ?
Its not clear to me from your post.
I dont see permiculture working like a pryamid selling scheme or just by teaching about permiculture . Doing is important too .

David
 
Dale Hodgins
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I don't think permaculture is well suited to becoming bureaucratic. I expect to self finance all of my plans and I won't finance the plans of others.

I think progress will continue to be measured one person at a time, and not by grants, gifts or other publicly funded models.

When I hear that this farm or that is making some positive change, I see that as progress. When a study is conducted, a grant given, a course announced or a politician makes a statement, I don't know where that will lead. My suspicion is usually that the money will be squandered.

If I were to ever hire a consultant, my criteria would be almost exclusively related to their successful "hands dirty" projects. I don't care much about what a person has written, who they have learned from or who they have taught. I must view the tangible results.
-------
You mentioned the idea of going hungry,  so I have to wonder, are you producing any food yourself?

 By the time I was three months in on my first garden, I produced a surplus far beyond my own needs. This occupied about 5% of my time.
 
charlotte anthony
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david, i am not a friend of benjamin, just read this letter that was posted on the net by permawilli. but it looks like you are correct. he has a lot of energy and does a lot of service. the kinds of things that he does seem to be where we are at as a culture now. he obviously comes from a teaching background and he got inspired and wanted to SPREAD THE WORD as many PDC instructors do.

i agree with you we need to move this culture back to producers rather than teachers. i was reading that as cultures mature (can we call this culture mature) they have art, beauty, teachers and forget their farmers and loose their soil and die.

charlotte
 
Mike Cantrell
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That's all very poetic, but what exactly is the author trying to say?

It sounds distressingly like:


Premise 1. Permaculture is correct.
Premise 2. If a principle is correct, then people who have money ought to give it to the teachers of that principle.
Premise 3. I'm a teacher of permaculture.

Conclusion. Therefore, people who have money ought to give it to me.



Probably everybody on Permies.com can get on board with Premise 1, but Premise 2? Jeepers. That's a can of worms.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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If Benjamin has been doing this for ten years, and put this much time and effort into education, organizing, and outreach, and has even designed and implemented three working farms (which I get the feeling he was not involved in long-term)...and yet struggles to feed himself...there is a problem. There is nothing permanent or sustainable about that...and, I do not want to be judgmental because I don't know all the details and circumstances, but I question the wisdom of positioning oneself as a consultant and example for others when one is neither using permaculture to produce enough tangible resources to feed and shelter oneself, nor making enough money to purchase those resources on the market, either through sales or teaching, nor even by designing one's life so that one has some other source of income, whether job or otherwise...and that this has been the case not just temporarily during start-up or tough times, but over the course of a decade. I realize that the difficulty of doing so is part of the problem he is addressing, and it is a real difficulty, but if he has not succeeded at solving that problem in his own life, I would personally not seek him out as a teacher or mentor or designer.

As to the question of making permaculture education free...I think the problem Benjamin is addressing is real, that some people really, truly cannot access resources easily and/or cannot prioritize spending money on permaculture education in the face of other pressing needs...but I am inclined to let individual instructors and students work these things out case-by-case...whether that includes crowdfunding or even subsidies from non-profits or governmental sources is something I think people can try if they want...although I have almost always found such institutional involvement to be both distasteful and constraining wherever it appears...nonetheless, sometimes one must make compromises, and sometimes those compromises are indeed worthwhile.
 
Dan Boone
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It makes me a little bit uncomfortable that we are discussing this person's words in a critical way without any link to where those words were found or first published. Apparently it's being copied around the web some, but I found it here on a web site that lists Benjamin Weiss in the "about us" section.

I agree with Benjamin that too many people can't afford thousand-dollar permaculture courses. But I don't think it follows from that, that the solution is to round up better sources of funding for thousand-dollar permaculture courses. Instead, maybe the solution is to do something with your life other than offer thousand-dollar permaculture courses? Indeed, I'm not sure anybody needs that kind of expensive education in the internet era; I view it as a luxury for the wealthy, like staying in a nice fancy bed-and-breakfast or going to a spa. Nothing wrong with it! But not the sort of things other people should expect to fund through charity, philanthropy, or taxation.

And as others have indicated, nobody who is any good at permaculture should be at risk of going hungry. A permaculture teacher complaining about food insecurity is not a great advertisement for the teacher's services.
 
August Hurtel
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It seems to me that if one believes the poor to be deserving, one presumably believes the wealthy to be undeserving, and thus one would find oneself severely incapable of making oneself wealthy, for to do so would mean making oneself undeserving.

 
charlotte anthony
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dale and david

as i said one part of me agrees with you both. and still i know how it feels or maybe i could say i know how it is to be extraordinarily good at something that the world is desperate for and not to have what i need to do what needs to be done. Permaculture has the answer to the water problems (desertification) we are having and what are we doing about it. Most of us are trying to find ways to support ourselves and cannot look at the bigger picture. Benjamin is looking at the bigger picture.

i know dale that you have found your nitch. and you deserve to have found your nitch. (as if that matters to you) you do what you love and have found a very creative way to get paid well for it (or should i say pay yourself well for it).

i have a need to fit into a community, meaning to serve. when i was younger i remember thinking that one of the problems with "capitalism" or should i say "corporatism" was that i had no help for finding out how all my particular skills in so many directions would ever come together. and then when i was 50 i found permaculture and voila. but wow all those years. And as I look back, every single piece was necessary for what i am doing now.

i think it is a function of our community to help people find their nitch. a community takes care of its own. this is good permaculture. he is not an isolated individual. i know well several other incredibly gifted permaculture folk, grandfathers of the movement, holders of amazing knowledge about land, water, plants and whole systems, who in a tribal culture would be revered, who are just getting by.

another issue. i see a big lack in permaculture. how to train the newbys. i do not see the current courses as the way, even the short term advanced ones. how do we bring people into the whole systems approach where they learn to live “in” the farm. I know many 30 year olds who are happy to learn permaculture on the internet and while i am proud of them, i shudder at what they are missing. we have to have long term land opportunities and connect these grandfathers to them.

Something i am setting up here in india:
1) PDC, although the people i want to teach here are the farmers and they will not appreciate a PDC. They want action.
2) apprenticeship on a working farm with a stipend.
3) finding a placement for the good ones as a farm manager on a start up working farm where they get help from proven permaculture people, ideally 4-5 year placement where they would earn a minimal salary and 50% of the income. (we keep coming across people who have bought land who are leaving it lie fallow which is not good for the land here in the tropics, who have money and want to retire on their land someday).


here is a parallel idea. here in india i am working with narsanna koppola who is putting on the 2017 International Permaculture Convergence. his vision is to have a lot of indians at that convergence. to that end he is having in 2016 a National Permaculture Convergence in India. He has started teaching PDC's so some Indians could come to the convergence part of the program. he wants to have 5 or 6 demonstration farms. to that end he is spending considerable time with any of the PDC students who are doing a farm for these demonstrations. He is overworked and has no visible source of money and not enough support for these convergences but believes that the universe will support him. Some of you know this is also how I live my life, so i cannot believe that we have found each other. This is more of a gift economy way of being. THE UNIVERSE DOES SUPPORT US.

that is part of what i wanted to say to Benjamin. He is coming from a middle class perspective where his money needs should be met if he does good work. Or maybe he is listening to his contributors about this. in the gift economy yes his money needs will be met if he does good work, but he has to relax, trust the universe, be flexible, notice where the universe is willing to give to him, be grateful. If he sees people he wants to teach, teach them for what they can give. i did see that he did manage several farms and i assume they were not paying positions. he also did wild crafting which pays well. He was also supporting himself by doing odd jobs. Anyway that is probably my answer for Benjamin, come out into the gift economy it is great out here, a whole new paradigm.

here is another issue. most of the people teaching PDC's say that you cannot earn money from working the land with permaculture. This is a major snaffu. some even say that by definition you cannot sell your produce except maybe seeds because you cannot retrieve the excreta of the people you sell your produce to. Talk about a rock and a hard place.
the microbes in my land like the many thousands of seeds, can feed the plants without every bit of excreta from all the people i sell to. nature is abundant.

One of my gifts is to be a farmer. I come from a long line of Danish peasants. The plants, the soil, the tree, the water tells me what is needed. I love working on the land. I love it so much that when it was 108 - 2 days ago I was out in the middle of the day making sure the backhoe was on target (and I have never in my life lived where it was hot) I know (much better now that I have connected with the indian traditional farming) how to regenerate dead soil, return the ground water, and I know how to make money doing it. The last seems to be very rare gift at this time in our movement. So I like Dale have found my niche. And I am living on a very small social security check in india doing my service and sleeping in a tent. and i am ecstatic with my life. (and thinking about how i can make a foot pedaled mister in my spare time)

And Benjamin needs our attention not just as a lone individual, I am sure there are hundreds like him. He has a major contribution to make and permaculture needs that contribution.



 
duane hennon
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the "poor" do not need $1000 PDC courses
they need the benefit of them
someone to help them design and build
community gardens,
roof top gardens,
aquaponic greenhouses,
community food forests
co-ops
local markets
ie, those things relative to where they are now

after experiencing these
those more interested may want to take a PDC

on Paul's eco-scale

this is moving "0's and 1's" up the ladder to 2's and 3's
PDCs should be reserved for 5 or above (people with prior experience)
 
Miles Flansburg
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George Meljon
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Keep up the good work Ben.

If re-wilding is your passion, I believe the poor would be a great audience for that and you will need financial support from elsewhere.

In reality, focusing on one class of people to the exclusion of others will always be an alienating force in your messaging. "This ain't for rich folks" isn't the vibe that will send the cash heading your way, LOL.

But I believe the poorly educated who are now in their late 20's and up would be extremely receptive to this form of education that is full of life-hacking, meaning creating inspiration. Usually regret about a bad upbringing and facing a life of low opportunity is a realization that hits after all the fun and mischief of youth is over. I would contact some people in the counseling profession to see what opportunities they think are out there to build a fun program for transitioning adults. Likewise, reaching children before they're completely lost to the system is a big deal.

There are more traditional avenues of getting your message out and there are a lot of people who would like to hear what you're saying, just in a more traditional way.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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I have been thinking about this more, and somewhat regret my earlier reply.

I do still think that were I in Benjamin's place, I would focus more on actually doing permaculture on the ground and creating a resource base for myself--I agree with another commenter that a long-term permaculture teacher worrying about food security is not the best endorsement.

On the other hand, the way the market values skills and products is often totally screwed up, and just because someone is not able to make a successful living doing permaculture does not necessarily mean they are bad at permaculture. I think there are a few different skill sets that are relevant to this situation, although of course there is overlap:

Knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna and natural forces
Agricultural/horticultural/gardening skills
Design skills and knowledge of good permaculture design
Entrepreneurial skills
Teaching skills

It is a rare person who possesses all of these, and someone who is exceptionally good or passionate about one of two of these (say, design and teaching) should not necessarily be dismissed because they are not good at or interested in making money or growing food (to an extent). So I would like to temper the tone of my earlier comment without entirely retracting it.

I also think it is no bad thing to have the money-making aspects of permaculture, whether on an individual property or within a community, subsidize the non-money-making, but still valuable, aspects of that property or community. I am still not convinced that this leads logically to making permaculture education "free" (subsidized) for all, however.

Honestly, I am not hugely enamored with PDCs, but I have never taken one, either, so I am not really in a position to judge. I have, however, known plenty of people who came out of PDCs knowing just enough to be dangerous, or feeling lost, or unable to segue into what they had imagined to be a career in permaculture. I have also known plenty of people who shouldn't really be teaching who were, but I think that the good teachers tend to emerge over time...but often with some casualties along the way. And of course there are people who are great at doing X but terrible at teaching it, and vice versa. So if I were looking for the best way to allocate scarce financial resources as an individual or within the permaculture community at large, providing free PDCs to lots of people would not be my first choice.

All this being said, a PDC with a good teacher with whom one can maintain a relationship afterwards seems pretty darn valuable to me (since true apprenticeships are not accessible or viable for most people), and I would support a selection process where students who demonstrated the most skill, responsiveness, motivation, and potential impact got access to the best teachers, and those who could not fully pay were subsidized or offered alternative methods of payment. When someone really promising emerges, then yeah, I think getting that person the resources they need to move to the next level is a great thing, and I trust the community to recognize that and provide those resources voluntarily. But I don't think that makes sense for every student (or teacher) or in every situation, as a sort of overarching model of how permaculture education ought to be conducted, just because we "need more people in permaculture."

I also don't think that everyone who wants to make a living doing or teaching permaculture is automatically entitled to do so, especially on third parties' dimes, regardless of how passionate or sincere or even skilled they are. I do, however, think that it makes sense for the community to allocate some resources to making sure that the best teachers and best students with the most potential impact (subjective judgments, I know) are not marginalized or excluded or prevented from implementing really valuable stuff due to lack of cash. But honestly, I think a market + crowdfunding approach is actually a pretty good way to address this, within limits.

There are also much bigger and more complicated imbalances (such as disparities between the global South and North) that are a lot harder to address, and I am much more likely to to advocate material support from permies with more resources in those situations for various reasons--but ultimately the goal is the same, to enable people to move forward autonomously and bring things into equilibrium within their particular context--like a piece of land we are regenerating, we eventually want it to be self-sustaining, without the need of massive outside inputs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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My niche has been mentioned. Every time I talk to a new customer or run and add,  I am redefining what that is for me.

 Today's job is the removal of a large Douglas fir stump and soil from behind a shed. I have given all of the wood to one guy and 3 truck loads of compost and soil to another. I will have about 10 hours on this project and will receive $400.

My friend has more firewood and a fellow named Liam has a new garden that is half leaf mould and well rotted kitchen scraps .

Everyone wins and I don't have to write an article explaining why a grown man can't afford to eat properly.

I got some exercise today.
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elle sagenev
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I don't get it. He's worked 10 years barely able to feed himself? I admire the dedication but.....I'd have got a regular paying job ages ago and done permaculture on the side until I was able to support myself off of it. Actually, that is what I AM doing.
 
August Hurtel
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It seems like a case of ideological poisoning.
 
charlotte anthony
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hmm, a lot of comments regarding this particular individual and few comments what this means to permaculture.

as i said i have worked in the commons -- doing things that serve the greater good most of my life. i quit doing paid work for the establishment 35 years ago mainly because the stupidity that i saw in the work place was intolerable to me. also to put my money (or lack of it) where my mouth way.

one thing i might be hearing from all of your comments is that if people do not get my contribution and hence pay me for what i am doing, then it is not a worthy contribution. it is possible that that my watershed work is not of value, it may be that benjamin's wilding work is not valuable, or his PDC's are not valuable. More likely it points out (once again) the inadequacies of our political and economic system. Colleges and universities have the niche for education in our system. meanwhile the corporate folks have figured out that all they have to do is finance what they want in these areas and they control most of us. there are some alternative colleges and some colleges and universities are now teaching permaculture. i would recommend that Benjamin go down this path. There is now an extensive gift economy and again i would suggest this to Benjamin.

i believe strongly in doing what you love and the money will follow. We all have a tremendous number of gifts where we can serve the earth and each other. I for one cannot tie up my energy serving the corporate world. (I would say when i was working in those worlds, i gave up 90% of my energy) Benjamin seems to be saying that doing what he loves the money is not folowing.

Do any of all of you great permies out there see a way for him to continue to serve the earth and its people and get enough money to live on.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Hi Charlotte,

I would recommend that Ben check out the early retirement extreme blog:

earlyretirementextreme.com

If he is averaging $10,000 in income a year as an individual (not supporting others with that money, and barring any major complications such as disabilities or medical conditions), I see no reason he could not live quite well and certainly not be in danger of starving with good lifestyle design. I do, and so do lots of other people. It's not easy, but it's not overly complicated either. It does take a lot of discipline and often a psychological overhaul.

If he can use permaculture to actually provide for a substantial portion of his physical needs such as food and perhaps reduce his reliance on water and power utilities, that would be very helpful and give him a strong advantage, and I believe it might increase his credibility and visibility and hence his ability to attract paying students, which is something he seems to struggle with. If he can attract some more affluent students from farther afield, he may be able to use that money to "subsidize" some of his less lucrative local ventures.

I agree that participation in the gift economy would be a great idea for him, as would bartering, resource sharing, etc. if those are not already things he does in a serious way. He mentioned that he has a core group of students and friends who tend to support his educational endeavors and other projects. Looking into sharing resources or taking advantage of economies of scale with those people might be a good idea. Housing and transportation tend to be people's biggest expenses, so if he could reduce those through sharing, downsizing, eliminating, or by any other means, it would be of benefit. If one reduces expenses, raising income is no longer such a concern.

Examples were given in the thread already of permaculture-friendly work that would allow a young, healthy man to make money in a way that is consistent with permaculture values. If he is having trouble making money through offering PDCs or other classes, I would suggest looking into other avenues. There are three basic ways that I know of to make money: selling goods, selling services/labor, or investing capital. (I may well be missing something, so feel free to correct me.)

For someone into permaculture, "goods" might include farm produce such as fruit, veg, herbs, nuts, eggs, meat, wool, lumber, etc. This is how I make my living. It might also include wild-harvested produce or "value-added" wildcrafted goods such as baskets, walking sticks, or other crafts. I know people who sell these on Etsy modestly successfully.

Labor might include landscaping work, disassembling and hauling stuff off, chopping wood, natural building, acting as a temporary ranch hand, masonry, child care, dog walking, tutoring, tailoring/sewing, or any number of other odd jobs that can be found through Craigslist or other avenues. This is how I made my living when I was in the city. This kind of work can also be a great way of collecting resources for projects or even sale, since other people will often pay you to take away "trash" that is actually very useful.

Investing for income, if that is something he is ethically comfortable with, would be a wise move so he won't have to worry about this so much when he's no longer as young and healthy as he is now. If your expenses are very low and you meet your needs largely through non-monetary means, you do not need huge amounts of capital to become financially independent.

The lifestyle I just described strikes me as a much healthier and more sustainable and resilient option than using wealth transfers from baby boomers to help local permaculturists continue to offer PDCs and workshops at rates unaffordable to their local communities so that permaculture educators can maintain what has come to be seen as a "decent" standard of living--which designation I would question, considering the levels of consumption usually involved, even at what seems to many in the US to be a very low income.

I would also note that I think the "do what you love and the money will follow" narrative can be a dangerous one. In my opinion, it's safer (although sometimes more stifling) to design one's lifestyle so that one is assured enough money to take care of the basic necessities without compromising one's ethics too much. If one does not put in this forethought and planning and discipline, and simply takes the leap and waits for things to work themselves out (which is of course one's prerogative, and something I have done myself upon occasion, and not regretted), it probably shouldn't come as a surprise when one has insufficient money to live comfortably. If after many years the money still has not followed, one would probably be wise to look at other ways of making money or at other ways of meeting one's needs besides paying for them.

I would again recommend the early retirement Extreme blog, I think it's really valuable (especially for younger people) and fits really well with a permaculture outlook.
 
David Livingston
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Charlotte
I am unsure as to your comment " what this means to Permiculture" . Is not Permiculture a design science ? Is there a " permiculture " that can respond to you ?
Could you rephrase your question please as I am unclear as to what you are asking .

David
 
Michael Cox
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I've always viewed permaculture as a mindset that we can bring to problems, such that we arrive at a different set of solutions than someone else who might be asked that same set of questions. Yes, that are lots of specific techniques that a permie might employ, but it starts inside our heads. Unfortunately not everyone is as capable of leveraging that design approach into a worthwhile living as others, in the same way that not all young people leaving education will prove to be as capable in the work place.

What permaculture does not do is replace the need for a business sense.

If you look at all the big name permaculture practitioners who get mentioned on these forums they are primarily business people who use permaculture techniques to drive their business forward.

sepp holzer - applied permaculture techniques to his own land to massively improve yields from what would locally be considered unfarmable mountainous land. Since then his business has been more focused on permaculture design and education, but the bedrock of everything was a financially profitable farm.

Salatin - again, he was a very keen business man who saw that overhead costs were killing him and used permaculture to cut them. Since then his focus has been on increasing farm profits through diversification using permaculture techniques. We look to his work for the techniques, but I think most people miss the importance of the business context.

Savory - his holistic management technique is a "business" tool, but one that includes the wider community in the definition of the business. Basically everyone who has a vested interest is involved. We tend to focus on the grazing systems for improving land, but that is a small facet of the overall technique. One of the principal driving forces behind holistic management is that the underlying business has to be financially viable and they use permaculture principals to ensure that this is true long term. His grazing techniques improve grazing lands, but they also have a big impact on farmers bottom lines.

Frankly, if this guy want to preach permaculture he needs to get his own financial house in order. What farmer with massive mortgages, huge financial exposure etc... is going to take seriously a permaculture practitioner who is struggling to make ends meet? Is he applying permaculture principals to his own life? (It sounds like a resounding "no" as his current trajectory is definitely unsustainable).

It sounds like his approach is to push permaculture education to as many individuals as possible - I can immediately see alternative paths that might be both financially more rewarding and have a bigger overall impact. What about going out and tracking down some individual farmers to consult with? Chaps who manage large tracts of land - propose some changes that will cut their costs/increase their profits in exchange for a proportion of the increased profit. Get a few large scale farmers singing your praises and you will have people knocking down your door to employ you... can the same be said of training 1000 urban dwellers in permaculture who might ultimately go as far as getting a water butt and installing a herb spiral?

Ultimately, if permaculture approaches are to become mainstream then we need to get "big ag" on board, with big tracts of land and big money.
 
Dawn Hoff
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The vest way to teach the poor about permaculture is to build a business where you can hire them to work for you. Not to get other people to pay for education that you deem that they need.

When I can feed my own family, and create a surplus that I can sell from, maybe even hire people to work for me and donate excess food to a local soup kitchen, that is when I will consider myself successful in permaculture.

Books, PDCs etc are all very well and good - but building businesses that can compete in the market is what will bring permaculture forward.
 
Zach Muller
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I am a little confused about this post being a post made by another permie and then posted by a different one, is the ben guy no longer with us?

-----------------

If permaculture is a design science then wouldnt it make sense that its treatment and structure be similare to other sciences? "Yes"

Currently alot of permaculture endevours i see seem to be reinventing wheels....following templates of pyramid schemes, pseudo science schemes, and religions/cults. I wont go much further than to say that no one but the idiot savant is immune to starting with a template before they 'fly on there own'. In the past
i have stuck too long to an old template and later realized what a handicap it had become.

There are some people in this community who want permaculture to be like a legit science, since it is called a design science afterall.

Design science is the application of scientific research to the process of design, and does not seem to have any ideological demands or requirements.

From wiki
There is growing pressure on architects, engineers, lawyers, managers and other design-oriented professionals to act and decide on the basis of a systematic body of evidence.[19] .


link to design science wiki

So designers of all types are facing up to this idea that facts and evidence are going to be the main driving forces behind the design decisions that are made.
Designers before had juxtaposed beliefs, concepts and other structures across a natural system and with varying degrees of destruction and growth we have arrived here at this time and place with all these other humans and animals.
Consider a time when cities were a minority, agriculture was less popular than horticulture and husbandry, this is a time some call " the birth of civilization". Disregard personal feelings and try wondering, why didn't systems of permaculture take over then? When cities came to and started accelerating culture and having this new birth of specialization why didn't people design with efficiency?

Fitting new designs into and on top of old designs causes distortion and in some cases can be incompatible thus creating futile efforts. A futile effort would be trying the same thing repeatedly despite negative feedback from the system. Even strong belief is not enough to mold reality, instead it molds the believers perception. That is how many of the early designs in civilization have endured the ages and been reiterated to such an absurd and destructive point.

It is rare in my experience to meet someone who is passionate about design really. Fascinated in the design of certain objects, yes. But rarely a burning passion for something as abstracted as design itself.

Permaculture design seems like a difficult field to try profiting off. I know of ecological consultants who are scoring bigger land design projects then the permaculture designers.
Lately pc seems like more of a limitation than a good talking point. I avoid discussing it by name with people who do not already know.
 
August Hurtel
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When we see modern designers, devoid of humility, egotistically putting whatever confections they imagine in their minds upon the land without respect for the environment or human life, we rightly notice something is wrong.

We can see a similar dissonance in an ideology. What does this mean for permaculture? It means the design science cannot be done as long as the ideology continues to be adhered to. The ideology introduces error into the design, for it says impossible things- no more or less impossible than dictating that water must travel up hill.
 
elle sagenev
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charlotte anthony wrote:hmm, a lot of comments regarding this particular individual and few comments what this means to permaculture.

as i said i have worked in the commons -- doing things that serve the greater good most of my life. i quit doing paid work for the establishment 35 years ago mainly because the stupidity that i saw in the work place was intolerable to me. also to put my money (or lack of it) where my mouth way.

one thing i might be hearing from all of your comments is that if people do not get my contribution and hence pay me for what i am doing, then it is not a worthy contribution. it is possible that that my watershed work is not of value, it may be that benjamin's wilding work is not valuable, or his PDC's are not valuable. More likely it points out (once again) the inadequacies of our political and economic system. Colleges and universities have the niche for education in our system. meanwhile the corporate folks have figured out that all they have to do is finance what they want in these areas and they control most of us. there are some alternative colleges and some colleges and universities are now teaching permaculture. i would recommend that Benjamin go down this path. There is now an extensive gift economy and again i would suggest this to Benjamin.

i believe strongly in doing what you love and the money will follow. We all have a tremendous number of gifts where we can serve the earth and each other. I for one cannot tie up my energy serving the corporate world. (I would say when i was working in those worlds, i gave up 90% of my energy) Benjamin seems to be saying that doing what he loves the money is not folowing.

Do any of all of you great permies out there see a way for him to continue to serve the earth and its people and get enough money to live on.


I am setting myself up to work only for myself through farming our land in a permaculture fashion. This takes a lot of money to do here. We aren't hopping with natives I can go take. So I work a good job, my husband works a good job and we like our jobs more or less. It funds our ability to follow our passions, for me planting, for my husband the science behind it all. So when you ask me how he can make enough money to live on and still serve the Earth, I wonder how it is not obvious to you. If he is not doing something that people are willing to pay for then he needs to look at that. Perhaps what he is doing IS NOT valuable. The money shows that. Or perhaps he is simply not the kind of example people want to follow. If that's it, he needs to change that too.


I'd also like to say permaculture if very broad. I think people should take from it what they want to and leave the rest. I don't want the religiousish parts of permaculture and I like having a big house, a regular toilet and shower. I'm not going to change those. But I will change how I eat, how I treat the land and how I think about purchases in the future. So, if you are trying to take it all and suffering for it, I'd say you need to prioritize.
 
charlotte anthony
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The State of American Permaculture: A Millennial’s Perspective article This is the original title to Benjamin's article, that I posted at the start of this thread.


this was posted to the NorthEastern Permaculture Blogs and also to the Gaia You facebook page:

The State of American Permaculture: A Millennial’s Persp...The State of American Permaculture: A Millennial’s Perspective. This is a great article. I resonate with many of the notions that Benjamin very eloquently and humb... |

View on dblpermaculture.word... | Preview by Yahoo |

This is Daniel's response to that article.

Bottom line, we need to empower ourselves.

I have recently started in solar sales. The solar industry is booming. This is a good place to make a solid income and be engaged in a responsible way that makes a real difference. Anyone can take a class in solar for about $175 from a community college. Grid Alternatives will get you trained up in solar for free! Please ask me if you would like more advice on how to get into solar

There is some hesitancy to step into the world of sales, but it outweighs the thought of living in poverty for much longer simply because I want to make a difference. I will be able to make more of a difference for myself and others if I have a decent income.

Recently, I have been talking with CA farm link about 0% interest loans. I would like to set up a program where we fund, design and install micro-aquaponic systems in backyards that will be able to effectively pay back the loan and then make a lasting income for each individual. This would also benefit: installers, designers, entrepreneurs, local food movement etc. This would represent solid work for a permaculture designer to do a site assessment, design and install a system, and it would be funded. The trick is, I think, to make sure that there is proper training, education, food handling license etc. for each aquaponic system manager. With the CA Homemade Food Act passing a couple of years ago, the creation of value-added food products from home for sale has been legalized.

Yes, I agree that soil based food production is still really cool, and that you can't grow fruit trees etc. in aquaponics systems.. However, 90% less water consumption, no weeding and food growing 2x faster than soil based food production makes this a "least input for greatest output" sort of a design to adopt. Just grow lettuce, kale and other leafy greens for local cafes and get your own greens from your yard if you want.. at least you will still have a solid income, connections with local cafes/restaurants/grocers etc.
If we grow permaculture from a base of: each designer has their own backyard system that makes $20k-50k/year income in produce sales; then we can show others how to lead by example while empowering ourselves. 0% interest is also a good place to be.

How can we leverage this offer from CA farm link? maybe it's not aquaponics, but it seems too good to pass up.

How can we work together on designs on a social scale such as this from remote locations?

gracias amigos

Daniel Brodell-Lake
MSc Integrative Ecosocial DesignPermaculturePhotography.com
 
Michael Cox
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charlotte anthony wrote:
Recently, I have been talking with CA farm link about 0% interest loans. I would like to set up a program where we fund, design and install micro-aquaponic systems in backyards that will be able to effectively pay back the loan and then make a lasting income for each individual. This would also benefit: installers, designers, entrepreneurs, local food movement etc. This would represent solid work for a permaculture designer to do a site assessment, design and install a system, and it would be funded. The trick is, I think, to make sure that there is proper training, education, food handling license etc. for each aquaponic system manager. With the CA Homemade Food Act passing a couple of years ago, the creation of value-added food products from home for sale has been legalized.


Charlotte - Is this comment quoting the same source as in the original post? We have a "quote" function on these boards that is designed to help keep clear who is saying what. You might be able to go back and edit your posts to make that clearer.

Regarding this proposed plan for installing hydroponic systems... even if he gets all his items lined up I think this is doomed to fail. Not through technical challenges, but through the need to access a viable market for the produce. Capital intensive systems, which even with 0% financing hydroponics is, require reliable high value income streams. The weak point here is not the hydroponics itself, but connecting the backyard producer with a reliable market. Building a speculative system and hoping a market emerges is very risky.

This is pretty much the same type of error that the original quoted comment had - he is putting his view of how the world should work ahead of what the market place will support. And rather dangerously he is also planning on peddling expensive systems to poor people as an additional income stream... potentially trapping them in paying off a system that doesn't work.

Not knowing anything about this guy, other than what has been posted in this thread, my impression is that:
  • He isn't practising permaculture in his own life
  • He is drifting further and further from permculture in what he is advocating, teaching and selling (when did selling solar and hydroponics become a permaculture practice?)


  • Fair enough - he has been doing something for 10 years and is disillusioned, but that speaks for him and his own rut and not for permaculture as a whole.

    There is a principal in business "Fail fast, Fail often" - the failures teach us how to improve and where things are not working. Paul is practising this on the Lab - he has rethought his approach to gappers and interns numerous times and is getting closer to a system that works. Each iteration is closer to what he wants and has stood up to the test of reality. He talks about forward trajectory and trying 100 things in the hopes that a handful of them work out.

    (ran out of time - will finish later...)

     
    John Wolfram
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    Zach Muller wrote:If permaculture is a design science then wouldnt it make sense that its treatment and structure be similare to other sciences? "Yes"

    Back in my chemist days, we had a joke that anything that needed to describe itself with the word "science" in the title probably wasn't.
     
    George Hayduke
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    Time for some tough love.

    You're basically complaining that society fails to provide you compensation for something you value. Your solution isn't to hope society comes around to your way of thinking. Your solution is to sell something people want.

    It's surprising to me that among the many things you list as your offerings, none of them include food that you've actually grown using permaculture principles. If you can't offer a value proposition that is superior to the dominant paradigm --and demonstrate that it works through your own experience-- no people of modest means are going to want what you're selling. Frankly, caring about the secondary impacts of shortsighted agricultural practices is a luxury that only wealthy people can afford. If you're poor, pressed for time, and hungry, generally all you care about is filling your gut with the maximum number of calories, now. That's why for every permaculture calorie consumed, a million industrial agriculture calories are consumed in America.

    In my view, permaculture should not be a system with the primary aim of effecting social justice. It should be a low-impact system for reliable food production. First, actually feed yourself using permaculture principles. Then, we can debate the many causes of income inequality.

    I have serious doubts that permaculture, as often portrayed in some overgeneralized loopy Youtube video, will actually work in the real world. Permaculture enthusiasts often gloss over the many pitfalls of the system, including: 1) how long it takes to grow a productive food forest (answer: sometimes decades), 2) how many crop failures you will encounter from weather, pests, and a lack of adequate soil nutrients, 3) how much less effective nitrogen fixers are than a bag of fertilizer, 4) how difficult it is to manage pests using no chemicals, 5) how much hand labor it takes to eliminate weeds, and 6) how unaccustomed we are to dealing with the seasonality of food and how most people lack the experience or energy to store food when it becomes ready for harvest.

    The reality is that growing food on a meaningful scale using permaculture is only suitable to a very few: those who have arable land, a benign climate, and the ability to live in one place for a lengthy period of time. But, the field is replete with people who will tell you about the many benefits of permaculture but who consume almost 100% of their food calories from sources more closely aligned with conventional agriculture. I think permaculture is very much an experiment that remains to be validated, and I often wonder whether a hundred years from now people will see today's permaculture movement as the beginnings of a transformational paradigm or a curious historical footnote that could never deliver on the outsized claims associated with it.



     
    Dale Hodgins
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    I really like what many have written here. Dawn, Michael, Zack etc. Lots of good sense.
    --------------
    I educate my landscaping customers. They are a very receptive audience and they own land. Some have used hugelkultur as a means of disposing of tree waste. Others replace decorative landscapes with edibles. Pesticide use is rare here. I'm often preaching to the converted, but my skills and network are useful to them.

    The majority live on less than a quarter acre. They see and often help me do everything with cordless electric equipment or with good quality hand tools.

    Once a job is booked, the free firewood and garden stake adds go up. We search the free adds for paver bricks, soil, rock or whatever is needed. Some customers are added to the "firewood hound" list. On hourly jobs, friends and family become my helpers and they learn a little. We often talk about tools. I tell them what to get and what to steer clear of. Yesterday I stumbled upon a sale of Fiskars loppers. I bought the 4 remaining units, so that I can pass that deal along to my customers. I'll buy more today. All of these people will get a short lesson on lopper use and they won't end up with some gimmicky Chinese tool made of tinfoil and promises.

    Garden sales are another way of making money while also spreading the word. Whenever I sell produce, inputs are discussed with buyers. Plants are swapped and knowledge shared. I have never charged for any of the teaching portions of the jobs. Still, education of my customers happens and I make a decent living.
     
    Dan Boone
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    George Hayduke wrote:Time for some tough love.


    This is a phrase we don't see very often on Permies.com, because it's typically code for "I am about to be not nice and imply that somebody at Permies.com is less than perfect."

    George Hayduke wrote:You're basically complaining that society fails to provide you compensation for something you value. Your solution isn't to hope society comes around to your way of thinking. Your solution is to sell something people want.


    Who are you speaking to here? The original poster, or the not-present individual she's been quoting, sometimes rather confusingly without quotation marks or links?
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    I have often said that I'd really enjoy spending my days carving wooden bowls on the beach while chatting up the women who walk by. Unfortunately, society has shown me that they put a greater monetary value on my harder, less glamorous work.

    I can still do the beach thing, but unless I get some arts grant, it's not a sound financial plan.

    For a system to work, it must provide a reasonable quality of life to the worker. I will never involve myself in a business that doesn't provide that.
     
    charlotte anthony
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    this is quoted from george above: sorry i have not figured out how to work the quote function:



    I have serious doubts that permaculture, as often portrayed in some overgeneralized loopy Youtube video, will actually work in the real world. Permaculture enthusiasts often gloss over the many pitfalls of the system, including: 1) how long it takes to grow a productive food forest (answer: sometimes decades), 2) how many crop failures you will encounter from weather, pests, and a lack of adequate soil nutrients, 3) how much less effective nitrogen fixers are than a bag of fertilizer, 4) how difficult it is to manage pests using no chemicals, 5) how much hand labor it takes to eliminate weeds, and 6) how unaccustomed we are to dealing with the seasonality of food and how most people lack the experience or energy to store food when it becomes ready for harvest.


    end of quote from george

    finally something specific i can get my teeth into.

    permaculture to me is not design science, as in it is not a researched or with the current tools available to "science" researchable method.

    all of these folks talking about science. do you know the kind of resources it takes for science to investigate something. it requires millions of dollars and the idea of where you get these kind of funds part of the problem. a lone individual cannot do this, though they may know how and it would be a significant contribution for them to do so. i was reading about Land, who was one of the founders of polaroid who broke into a harvard research lab to perform his research.

    land was an exceptional guy as were many of the inventors. does permaculture have to wait for more of these kind of exceptional characters to demonstrate what we know to the world.

    permaculture is a paradigm (a lens to look at and evaluate the world) that shows us how to work with nature to design a system that includes all of life not just making money. (sorry for being simplistic here).

    when george says:

    1) permaculture is only suitable to a few. this is poppycock. the way i do permaculture -- my current project involves nonirrigated wasteland which only gets 300 ml of rainfall a year. it is a demonstration of what farmers who live in these areas can do to make the money they need and grow their food. the climate is often "too hot -- currently 112 during the daytime" for growing food, especially without water." we do a couple of simple things including plant deep rooted leguminous trees and earthworks for holding the water that is received. we do some homeopathic trace minerals. we use panchagavium which is fermented cow manure, cow dung, molasses, yogurt and dahl and we get productivity within 3 months with no other additions, so this is very applicable to broad acre farming. we plant medicinal herbs so that within 6-9 months we have even more productivity. we then plant fruit and nut trees, mainly from seed, so that we will have in 3-7 years even more productivity. as all of these elements coalesce, yes this is long term, the ground water in the area comes back. this can be done anywhere in the world. the 3 months may need to be 6 or 9 months in a cold climate at certain times of the year. there is already one project like this in my area done by narsanna Koppula. I will soon put this up on the aranya website. he has not documented his returns as he he was interested in feeding is family and his visitors. hence the need for my project. I can email you this document now in its not totally proofread state (but pretty good).

    also we have no illusions. being able to demonstrate this and people adopting it are not the same thing. in the u.s. a massive ad campaign might do the trick. here who knows. i am determined to find out.


    2) how many crop failures you will encounter. with permaculture paradigm, you will encounter much less crop failures, and you have diversity of crops, survivable insects, no problems with soil nutrition the way i do this . if you are a new farmer and do not know how to work with your land, this is a different problem. it is not the problem of permaculture.


    3) how much less effective nitrogen fixers are than a bag of fertilizers. this again is poppycock. nitrogen fixers out of context of a system of feeding the soil may not be that effective, but in proper context they are more effective and do not pollute the underlying aquifers, streams, rivers, ocean.

    4) how difficult it is to manage pests using no chemicals. unmanageable pests are the result of too much fertilizer and too much water. please see my post on this forum:
    again this is a problem of people not knowing what they are doing, not practicing good permaculture.

    5) how much hand labor it takes to eliminate weeds. the permaculture way is not to eliminate weeds. weeds are feeding the soil. yes we want to stop the weeds from stealing the sunlight from the plants, so we have to make sure they do not get taller than the plants. see carol deppe's latest book, the Tao of Vegetable Gardening. . . .regarding when you need to get the weeds to not be overwhelmed with the labor of getting them. again this is a problem of people who do not know how to farm or garden.

    6) seasonality of food and storage. yes we are newbies at farming including eating and growing.. in india people eat what is available when it is available. they have ways to store their food which are proven by time, like their traditional agriculture.
    "
    most of these comments george, are speaking to what it takes to get what in India they call "educated people," what i will call people who have been trained to live in their heads and not taught how to live with nature, into a natural cycle. it is truly a bitch, but the fault is not with permaculture.

    another quote from george


    The reality is that growing food on a meaningful scale using permaculture is only suitable to a very few: those who have arable land, a benign climate, and the ability to live in one place for a lengthy period of time. But, the field is replete with people who will tell you about the many benefits of permaculture but who consume almost 100% of their food calories from sources more closely aligned with conventional agriculture. I think permaculture is very much an experiment that remains to be validated, and I often wonder whether a hundred years from now people will see today's permaculture movement as the beginnings of a transformational paradigm or a curious historical footnote that could never deliver on the outsized claims associated with it.

    end of quote from george

    i sure do wish that you george would preface your remarks with as i know it. again this is a huge amount of poppycock. and you do not know what is going on in permaculture and i sure do wish you and most of the people on this forum would educate yourselfs. permaculture is not a lot of individual technics that you can pick and choose what to practice. It is a system of working with nature that does not work unless practiced as a totality. The farm i am living on has grown their pulses and grains, so i have these and there are some vegetables, but i am buying vegetables. that will end within the 3 month period i am now starting. yes i am a pampered westerner and feel I cannot live without cucumbers (some raw food). i am validating the experiment and what is truly sad is that it is possible with the work that i and many others are doing that permaculture will be looked at in the future as something that could not deliver its outsized claims even though we can and are delivering these solutions. in the current political and economic climate, the media, universities, and governments would rather let millions of people die slow deaths from chemical poisoning and starve rather than show them how to use effective permaculture.

    the last scenario where we go over the hill without getting into the main stream is the scenario i am concerned about. it would be great if someone else took up the torch for education, for getting the word out. i am doing the on the ground proovings and this is what i a good at. i believe people like benjamin with his media skills might be able to take up the torch. following the lead of all the greats, mollison, holmgren, holtzer, fukuoka included, i have to hold the whole ball of wax, not trusting someone else to take up the torch. i have to watch while people like george tell me what is not possible for me to do and when i do it, people do not even pay attention.

     
    charlotte anthony
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    i said in my last post that i would send stuff i have posted on permies which are application.

    posts about science are in companion plants http://www.permies.com/t/45658/organic/Companion-Plants

    post about how too much fertilizer, whether organic or chemical and too much water are at

    i could not find where i posed this so am posting it now

    this is a quote from regeneration of the soil by claude bourguignon.

    normally when the plant takes up potassium from the soil solution and brings it into the membrane, it immediately releases another unit of potassium into the cell sap. the plant has no regulatory system for the uptake of potassium. if you put a lot of potassium in the cell the plant is unable to regulate its uptake and absorbs high quantities of it. consequently you have a lot of positive charge on the membrane. to be sure to have this you have to put in a lot of phosphorus because potassium is pumped b ATP which uses phosphorus. so if you put more phosphorus a lot of potassium gets pumped into the membrane. then when you put a lot of nitrate in the soil, when you put a lot of nitrate in the soil, what happens? the concentration of nitrate inside the cell increases a lot. on the electric side there is no problem as there is a balance: the plus charge of potassium is compensated by the minus charge of nitrate. the big problem however is on the osmotic side. an atom alone has no osmotic charge. it has no salty reaction. but a molecule like nitrate has a high salty concentration and thus has an osmotic force. owing to this the plant is obliged to bring a lot more water inside the cell. we call this turgor pressure. so the plant becomes full of water, extremely fragile and susceptible to attacks of disease, bacteria and so on. then you have to use pesticides. in the end what happens is that you eat plants which are in disequilibrium.

    this is the end of the quote from claude bourguignon.

    this is just one mechanism, the plants also cannot self regulate nitrites. they have evolved for generations using mulch as on the forest floor and do not know how to handle chemicals so their are more applications of the above mechanism. this is just one example.

    again i apologize for not knowing how to properly post quotes.

    --
    At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.
     
    charlotte anthony
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    i implied in a post several up from here that only "educated people" would have trouble applying permaculture. this is not true. to The peasants or the traditional farmers who could have understood how to observe and otherwise live "in* the farm seem to have disappeared. with the more than 100 farmers i have worked with I only found one who observed what was happening and changed what he did according to his observations. everyone else wants to be told by "experts" what to do. so there is a huge task ahead of those of us who are on the ground hoping to work with farmers. we will have to model for them learning from their own farms.

    i am modeling how to grow trees, do some earthworks, thus restoring the ground water (reversing desertification without a lot of public expense) and earn a good living while they are at it. however, it all requires that they pay attention to what is happening on their land. i know that we all have these "primiltive" skills inside us, and how do we wake them up is a very real question.

     
    charlotte anthony
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    In my post 2 up where i gave the mechanism from microbiologist and acronomist claude bourgoureron

    about how plants that are fed with chemicals and readily available organic materials compensate for osmolality deficits by taking up much more water and are thus more likely to have pest and disease problems. plants have acclimated themselves to the mulch from the forest and therefore when they get concentrated available materials, they have not developed self regulation for these items. see the mechanism above.

     
    Michael Cox
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    charlotte anthony wrote:this is quoted from george above: sorry i have not figured out how to work the quote function:


    Hi Charlotte

    I looked but couldn't find a guide to quotes so I put this together. It is pretty simple once you have done it a couple of times.

    Guide to using the quotes feature

    All the best

    Mike
     
    charlotte anthony
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    okay Mike i understand ow to do the quote. now how do i edit the stuff i already posted to show the quotes. Many thanks
     
    August Hurtel
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    It seems to me that if permaculture isn't a design science, then it has become un-moored from Bill Mollison and geoff lawton and has gone on to mean something completely different from what it meant to the person who came up with the word.

    I have seen a similar thing happen in the past few years with the Paleo diet. The internet is now so choked up with inaccuracy that googling for the paleo diet may well get anyone interested in health in trouble. It is quite frustrating to realize that I can't say that word- or maybe I can say that word, but then I have to go and explain everything, so what's the point of the word?

    I know I have heard Lawton say permaculture is a design science, and everything I've heard or read from Mollison suggests permaculture is a design science.
    If I had to guess by context, I would say that a couple of comments take the word 'science' to be defined more or less like the word 'research.' In which case, I would suggest that a 'design science' is going to be more like 'applied science'- akin to engineering.
     
    Michael Cox
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    Akin to engineering is about right... the practice is more important than the theory, but the theoretical framework guides the practice.
     
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