Neil Layton wrote:Strictly speaking, a polyculture is anything that's not a monoculture. Guilds and polycultures are not synonyms: a guild relates to particular types of relationships in a particular type of polyculture. A forest garden polyculture will consist of many patches, which may or may not be guilds, and this needs to be nailed down, because what I'm describing above will relate to one patch in a broader system with many other patches. You can probaby still describe any given patch (as distinct from a guild) in the same way: the NVC is not designed to tackle guilds in the first place.
I don't think this is a reason to abandon the idea, but this latter question in particular needs to be nailed down before we take it any further. I'm not up to that tonight, but feel encouraged to make constructive input.
Do we take the guild notion out of it, concentrate on patches, and accept that some patches may include guilds?
I'm going to let my intuition work on the problem, but constructive input should be considered welcome.
What do we do about defining the mycota?
Mike Hoag wrote:Wow, very impressive, thank you!
2. Descriptions of such systems could be useful for research, for example, on pest issues.
Mike Hoag wrote:
A data-base of specific plantings sounds like it requires a host, an organization, meetings, continued research and testing.... all things that require ongoing inputs of capital and energy to keep going. Such systems are like "annual agriculture" in that way. In Mollison's terms, they are "degenerative assets" that either break down or require continuous inputs.
Just thinking out loud. Clearly, you're freakin' brilliant. I hope you'll keep us informed of your thinking and work!
I'm just going to sort of run wild in the bush, and type as I leap over stuff here: I guess that your pattern and species description technique is meant to sort of hyper describe an individual system's parts and interactions so that anybody hoping to develop (or perhaps more importantly: sees the potential in their site to develop) a similar system can get the best possible snap shot(s) of this system as it developed. The problem that I foresee and which has been already articulated is that we can try to describe what we as individuals see and what we think is happening, but all of that is purely subjective to our level of understanding as well as what is actually observable. When we add on to this the incredible ecological complexity that exists (or doesn't) in the surrounding biome (I'm developing my food forest with direct access to hundred year old forest which connects directly to old growth and some of the largest protected untouched lands on the continent; as opposed to someone in a similar location but in a very settled space that has none of those deeper possible links to Nature), then we are really throwing a wrench in the gears of pasting one onto the other. I'm not thinking that the last statement is your intention with this. The intention seems to be to give people ideas of systems of things that seem to be working in concert including climatic/location ideas, and the additional description of whatever else is observable adds to the potential of another to understand it. And I think that whether you call it guilds or polycultures, or some new term that you or we make up, is somewhat irrelevant in this developing science. Until these systems have developed beyond their youthful growing pains and inevitable failures and setbacks (which happen all the time in wild/natural settings as they succeed and mature, and even these get replaced over longer periods of time), into stable mature forms we wont really have a claim to successful systems, just-as you well pointed out-snapshots of stage(s). When we consider the incredibly messed up place that Toensmeir and Jacke describe when the visited Robert Hart's forest garden, which had virtually no planning, and seemed to succeed anyway, we can maybe take a deep breath and relax into this a bit more, knowing that we can likely do better if we have some ideas about where to start and what might we be heading for. In the past I think that food forests were developed from plants that were basically in the process of being domesticated or at least managed from local wild useful plants. The patterns and associations that were associated with these plants would probably have been taken into account. The clearings in which these plantings were placed, or allowed to exist, were small 'islands' in a sea of their wild predators/prey/family/friends/foes, and their indigenous climate. This is VERY different from what we are doing with modern permaculture. What we seem to be trying to do with permaculture is try to take plants from similar habitats but from a diverse spectrum of disparate locations, and mix them together, and attempt to sort out the science of how it all sorts out in the wash. If I'm growing Siberian Pine with local alders, with a chinese hardy kiwi climbing them, with potatoes from the andes, and dandelions from France, and a blueberry... how can we expect to really understand it, or what Nature might throw at it, particularly at this young stage? We can describe what we have done and observe as many interactions as we see, and hope that we come out with something usable for someone else, I guess. But even Eisenhower or Darwin would be scratching his hair to a bloody mess knowing the impossibility of the task of even description, let alone understanding. Considering that we are talking about billions of organisms in a cup full of soil, and these vary from one part of the yard to another, let alone across the spectrum of similar climates globally, I think that if such as system is developed it should be opened with a description of just how imperfect it likely is, but it is a snapshot of something that is happening, and that is useful, no matter how it's sliced up or mashed together. Sorry if all this seems somewhat contradictory. Yes, I support the database! It's an awesome idea. I hope that my thoughts have some value to it's implementation, if not simply food for thought about it.
One of the biggest problems is identifying a patch, and taking into account contiguous patches. A suburban back garden surrounded by patio has some biological links to the rest of the world. Patches in a forest garden interact in many ways.
Neil Layton wrote:The notion of some sort of database is secondary to what I'm wanting to do. I'm interested more in defining, describing and comparing. I don't think a database is a bad idea, but it comes later.
William James wrote:
One thing that strikes me about the initial post is the absence of animals. I understand that you're mainly aiming this to deal with plant species, but animals show up even if you don't plan on it. There are ways of planting that may encourage or discourage animals, depending on your goals. An example of that would be Mark Shepard's use of animals, fruit, and nuts.
William James wrote:Even the interaction with infrastructure could be important both for animals and plants. Don't know how or if that fits.
William James wrote:The other thing that strikes me as important is the idea that functions and yields differ from site to site, depending on one's proclivities. There seems to be a disconnect between prescribing a sort of simple template of what would be "the best" in a given area and "describing" how one system is inherently better based on the needs of a specific landholder. In the second case you are basically working by example and each would-be landholder might choose the example that suits them (sometimes despite the fact that the future site is actually not analogous). As for the simple template, that's where you get into the whole database thing.
Neil Layton wrote:...some sort of searchable database, perhaps on a wiki basis with some sort of quality control, might be a good idea...