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Embracing Carbon Farming concepts as you begin your Permaculture journey...(advice?)

 
Jen Gira
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Location: Northern New Mexico/Heart of Espanola Valley
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Although I have spent the past 4-5 years, reading/studying/experimenting on small scale (community gardens/rural backyard, etc) during my years living outside of NYC (some constraints to certain things I wanted to explore with Permaculture-simply due to space/time etc) I now have arrived at my property, and am ready to hit the ground (but not till-ha!) running. I've post in other forums that my level of experience would be of someone in the midst of gaining a "PEP1" badge, so certain tasks/concepts are comfortable, but I have a long way to go. Obviously, like everyone on this great forum, I am concerned about climate change. "Concerned"-is not even the word. I try to use my dollars, talents, vote(s) to make choices that lend themselves to the good fight, and not contribute to the downfall anyone who is willing to open their eyes to the scary changes on earth.

That leads to my question, I saw the post on Eric's book (and of course, the rave reviews! awesome!) and went immediately to Chelsea Green to check it out. The intro page was fantastic, and very thorough. Admittedly, even in reading some discourse Eric had with (obviously from the conversation) seasoned members/practitioners of Permaculture, I had some difficulty at moments following the conversation/subject matter. No criticism there, as it was very in depth, academic in nature (which I love, even if I am not as well versed in a subject, I do think, listening to educated individuals discuss an issue-you pick up a few things) Luckily, I "picked up" some things from reading the thread- (The thread was about Annuals having their place in carbon farming) and due to my own desire to contribute to such a good concept/a necessary intervention of mankind to slow the degradation down (hopefully stop and heal!) I slowly read the Chelsea Green page. I was still a little lost (once again, my lack of education on the matter, not a criticism) until I got to the part where some of the concepts were broken down, (mainly when the activities and changes/modifications were done at Las CaƱadas, the positive results from specific interventions) bells started to ring. I guess, since it was simplified down to "planting this, and doing this, and rotating this, eliminating this, etc etc"-It was in a language I could understand, at this point in my journey.
I purchased the book. (and though I'm sure folks on this forum have it, or want to, it is currently ON SALE right now ) I wouldn't have given up my cozy but stressed out nyc urbanite life, and moved to rural new mexico to start a permie journey, if I was intimidated by things I don't understand, difficult (at first) concepts, or having to really hunker down educate myself-so despite the fact I do recognize that some of this book may be 'over my head'-I want to support the author, the mindset, and the implementation of such ideals

So this moves to my question! Since I haven't received the book (sorry if this is covered! ha) but I really liked what I read in the excerpts, on this forum, and other sites (linked via both Chelsea Green Publishing, This Forum, and On Eric's site CarbonFarmingSolution.com) I hope it is okay to ask, very simply, think, just starting out. How a person like me (and I figure a fair share of others) who have a little space, or are beginning to design their zones, embark on a larger scale implementation of Permaculture principles for the first time. How can I contribute/integrate these ideas right off the bat? Even if I am combining them with other concepts I am currently exploring to work for me on my land. (For me, that is Northern New Mexico High Desert 6,000 ft specifically)

I'm asking this, as I do often in my life, lean on the realization that if I have a question, there are probably countless others who may as well. I'm not afraid to ask! I hope I don't sound like some dabbler or like I'm asking Eric, or anyone who is implementing these concepts, to do it half heartedly by any means- I guess, I'm more coming from a place of positivity, where I have just been introduced to your book, and many of the concepts, (and glad of that, since I just arrived on my land) and would like to integrate them into systems I am working to put together now. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated! Anyone that responds please keep in mind you are talking to a person who is middle of the road "Pep1" but not afraid to spend an hour or two doing research or exploring an idea or concept you speak of! In fact, I'd like to.

I hope that this book gets a great deal of attention from the sustainable/renewable resources/eco action (blah blah) communities, because from what I read-it's great stuff, and I am sure others who have more experience than me, working farms, do sustainable design, etc etc-would be able to implement this faster and at greater scale than I. Regardless, I'm into it, little newbie over here, and am receptive to direction.

thanks!
 
R Ranson
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Welcome, and thank you for your great post.

Jen Gira wrote:

So this moves to my question! ...How a person like me (and I figure a fair share of others) who have a little space, or are beginning to design their zones, embark on a larger scale implementation of Permaculture principles for the first time. How can I contribute/integrate these ideas right off the bat? Even if I am combining them with other concepts I am currently exploring to work for me on my land. (For me, that is Northern New Mexico High Desert 6,000 ft specifically) ...


These are great questions and ones I think need to be asked often and loud. I know I need constant reminding that everyone started somewhere... even me. It's easy to get engrossed in a subject and forget what the starting point looks like.

Truth is, I have more questions than answers, so I'm looking forward to reading everyone's thoughts on this.

The most important lesson I've learned is to observe what you have already. For every minute spent doing, spend 10 hours observing. Observing helps to understand what you already have, and gives you the tools necessary to work with the natural flow for your location.

Location - that's another thing to keep in mind. There is so much good advice out there, especially on permaculture sites like this one. The thing is, not all of it will work for you. What works for one person in one location, may not work in other locations - and they may not work with other styles of action. Basically: there is more than one right way to do things. Try everything.

Try everything! Experiment! Don't be afraid to try something! Maybe you read a passing comment in a book somewhere about this nifty thing, but can't discover the 'proper' way to do it - try it anyway! Cotton cannot grow in Canada! It won't grow north of the 47th, ever! Of course, I grew it north of the 48th latitude, and got a harvest.

Small Actions often have much larger benefits in a wholistic system than large ones - and small actions are easier to reverse. This is the second half of the try everything advice. Observing the effect will help you know if it's worth implementing on a larger scale.

A bit of general advice to get you started.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Erica Wisner
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I would add, "Connect."
High desert is not an easy climate to work with, many lessons from other climates will not be applicable, or may even backfire.

Connect with established permaculture farmers, century-farms, tribes, ethnographic or historic references for what has been done in the climate.
Talk to people in similar climates, if not in the extact same area, to discern what historic practices are worth maintaining, and what practices are known to cause long-term damage.

Connecting with locals who have relevant ideas will spur your observation - for example, I asked about good wetland plants to restore a damaged pond, and everyone who suggested a new one that I hadn't heard of, I was then able to go out on the land and identify remnant populations of that new plant. Small actions make relevant stories to tell your locals and climate-experienced neighbors, to have a meaningful conversation instead of just a one-way free consulting session.

Connecting with climate-experienced locals will also spur your ideas about experiments to try.
Don't be afraid to try something new, or something that seems like it should work for your microclimate even if it didn't work for a neighbor.
You will get a lot of people who say "it can't be done" who, it turns out, never tried it, or tried it without understanding some key point that you already know.

But pay close attention to local knowledge about "Type 1 Errors" - things like breaking the water-holding capacity of your land, or planting an invasive weed that's on the local ban lists, that can set you back so far on your work agenda that you may never catch up again.

Clearing away shade trees in order to plant a garden in "full sun", in an arid or desert climate where the sun is deadly intense, is a Type 1 error often committed by people moving from wetter, cloudier climates.

There are a good handful of others. Experiments you don't need to duplicate, because the bad results are well-known and widely regretted already.

-Erica W
 
Jen Gira
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Location: Northern New Mexico/Heart of Espanola Valley
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chicken greening the desert hugelkultur solar
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Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions/links. I am happy to see that I am "on the right track" in terms of reaching out, research, and implementation. I think I am so concerned about making a "type 1" error, that I have gone into overdrive in that respect-but happy for the most part, I avoided some major blunders that would be nightmares later. I look forward to reading The Carbon Farming Solution book- and I will share later my own impressions, as a 'newbie' Permie, in utilizing things I learned-as I go along.

I like that I am getting this book, right when I am starting to design my land-a nice bonus when the slate is clean, to incorporate progressive thought/action in an already monumental personal and lifestyle change.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Also, geoff lawton's videos are helpful in planning: http://geofflawton.com/
 
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