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What are the key personal and psychological habits for successful permaculture market-gardening?

 
Dooley Tunner
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Permaculture is a simple idea with a complex reality taking into account so many of the variables that conventional and one-dimensional organic farming do not. It is so easy for busy growers large and small to be seduced into one-size-fits-all and magic bullet approaches to farming that improve their bottom line or make their lives "easier" but externalize a lot of the cost. Market farming has always been a major hustle to make a living and integrating it with the expanded reality of permaculture design often feels overwhelming. Micro-farming offers to make the farm around us slower and more human-scaled - allowing us to pay very close attention to detail. What are some of the key mental, emotional, psychological, personal (etc) habits for successful permaculture market farming? What practices do you cultivate to stay balanced, aware and connected? What does it take to keep it all together and in perspective? What does it take to "stay ahead of the ball" if that is possible? Working proactively with focus and observational awareness and not always in disaster management mode? What does it take to stay in "the flow" i.e. open-focused, equanimous and ENERGIZED by your work?

Of course there are some obvious and generic answers to this question that come stright from the principles of PC, and that translate right into mental PC, such as "observe" and "start small" and "go with the flow." And I have my own ideas about this question, but I am here with beginners mind to see what some others with deep experience have to say. These aspects of psychological or inner permaculture are not always discussed. The implication in the typical permaculture conversation is that it's all about design and techniques in the "outer" landscape," but I am just as curious about the inner landscape and how we can intentionally cultivate and integrate the two. It is not a given that growing a garden makes you a permaculture super-hero. For most of us, many old mental habits must be broken down and inspected, and new ones put in place, to truly flourish and take permaculture to the edges it wants to walk.

Many thanks to anyone who can answer these questions out of their experience in this work.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Dooley Tunner wrote:Permaculture is a simple idea with a complex reality taking into account so many of the variables that conventional and one-dimensional organic farming do not. It is so easy for busy growers large and small to be seduced into one-size-fits-all and magic bullet approaches to farming that improve their bottom line or make their lives "easier" but externalize a lot of the cost. Market farming has always been a major hustle to make a living and integrating it with the expanded reality of permaculture design often feels overwhelming. Micro-farming offers to make the farm around us slower and more human-scaled - allowing us to pay very close attention to detail. What are some of the key mental, emotional, psychological, personal (etc) habits for successful permaculture market farming? What practices do you cultivate to stay balanced, aware and connected? What does it take to keep it all together and in perspective? What does it take to "stay ahead of the ball" if that is possible? Working proactively with focus and observational awareness and not always in disaster management mode? What does it take to stay in "the flow" i.e. open-focused, equanimous and ENERGIZED by your work?

Of course there are some obvious and generic answers to this question that come stright from the principles of PC, and that translate right into mental PC, such as "observe" and "start small" and "go with the flow." And I have my own ideas about this question, but I am here with beginners mind to see what some others with deep experience have to say. These aspects of psychological or inner permaculture are not always discussed. The implication in the typical permaculture conversation is that it's all about design and techniques in the "outer" landscape," but I am just as curious about the inner landscape and how we can intentionally cultivate and integrate the two. It is not a given that growing a garden makes you a permaculture super-hero. For most of us, many old mental habits must be broken down and inspected, and new ones put in place, to truly flourish and take permaculture to the edges it wants to walk.

Many thanks to anyone who can answer these questions out of their experience in this work.


Psychologically, I think is one of the hardest changes for most "farmers", they grow up seeing and being told monoculture is the only way to get a large enough crop to be economically viable. They are also indoctrinated that tilling the soil to make it nice and barren, prior to planting seeds is how you plant seeds.
By the time I get to talk to these folks, they have a very rigid mind set on how farming is done and how machine harvesting is the only way. The exception to this is Vinters, they are used to the ideas of hand harvesting being the only way to get a proper crop of grapes suitable for making the best wines.
The "farmer" can have their thinking changed by being shown that they can get more than one crop from the same field without having to plant. grow, harvest the first crop then till, plant, grow, harvest the second crop. When I convince them to give me a trial field, they get to plant, grow, harvest, wait, harvest. This saves them a lot of fuel and time as well as giving them the cash flow from the crops. Currently I am trying to get one farmer that does vegetables to give the traditional three sisters a small, 100 acre trial patch. If I can show him a triple crop harvest from one planting, he will spread the word and I'll get to help other farms increase their harvest quantities while reducing their fuel and time inputs for those harvests.

For the Market Gardener, this can even be extrapolated further by two methods, the alternate rows method or the multi plant row methods. both will provide more product for sale than the traditional mono crop method. At the same time, by planting a wider variety of crop plants it is possible to reduce insect damage by planting deterrent plants among the desired crop plants thus reducing the number of insects that come to devastate the field. If we plant wheat then we need a secondary crop that can hold in shade until the wheat is harvested which then opens up the secondary crop for sun availability and thus rapid growth and maturity.
We have had success with some squashes, Sorghum, and other shade tolerant plants that were second pass seeded,  once the wheat had come up but was still short.  It is also possible to plant peas/beans, corn and squash in a single pass planting and then reap all three as they produce, it seems to work pretty well since those that use this planting are used to worker harvesting of the squashes already, but by giving these workers more and longer periods of harvesting the overhead ends up reduced when the books are settled.

The real beauty is that the farmer is building his soil all the time he is growing and harvesting, so that little inputs end up being needed if any at all.  For me, this is the future path that current farmers need to take, it will keep them viable and produce better nutrition while also reducing fuel needs and equipment repair costs, along with a large reduction of chemical abuse of their soil.

Redhawk
 
Zach Loeks
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Location: Cobden, ON
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For me, one of the clearest habits for successful Permaculture Market Garden is simplifying.

For instance, simplifying your ideology so you don't stretch yourself too thin trying to do EVERYTHING.  It is better to develop a Guild Enterprise Production and succeed and then trade, purchase and cooperate with neighbours for other goods and services.





-Zach

A SPECIAL EDITION copy of The Permaculture Market Garden with a hand-illustrated signature is available for a limited time when ordered from our website: www.kulafarm.ca
 
Dooley Tunner
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Than you Zach for weighing in. Simplicity is much needed needed in our culture. I agree very much that a village style approach to Permaculture is of paramount importance for culture shift - different folks filling different niches, within reason. However, it is so easy for me to get excited about so many elements and patterns (not to mention species of plants and animal!) and how they interact - which is why permaculture is so very appealing. It is not just a lettuce farm or a pumpkin patch. There is the impulse to produce as much of your on livelihood as possible: vegetables, meat, fruits, shelter, fiber, fuel. It all comes together in the homestead design. But all of a sudden there are 10,000 projects to do and systems to check in on. As with any thing, it is of course a matter of balance. I want to learn how to embrace simplicity but at the same time increase my tolerance for minor chaos and build my skills of focus and attention to detail so that I have increased stamina in shifting clear focus from one element to another to another, while keeping the big picture in mind and not getting overwhelmed by the details. If there are any practices or mental patterns you (and anyone else) employ intentional to cultivate this kind of sharpness of mind, I would love to learn about it.
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