Horticultural people... do some hunting & some agriculture, but they're really in an intermediate ground between agricultural & hunter-gatherer societies.
Horticulture is the practice of "culturing plants" not "culturing fields",
Horticulturalists tend polycultures,
Horticulturalists encourage succession,
Horticulturalists love shrubs, trees & vines,
Horticulture ecosystems still function,
Horticultural societies locate spirit right here on earth. They tend to be spiritually grounded right here on the planet,
The forest is where horticulturalists get most things: "the forest is my Wal-Mart" – Central Asian man,
Horticultural hill dwelling people grow polycultures (tubers, bananas, beans - all much harder to measure). Hill folk don't grow as much grain as valley folk,
Foothill people grow maize. Their primary hillside grain is usually maize/corn, but they didn't grow as much grain as valley dwellers,
Forest gardeners & milpa tenders were seen by Western scientists as "hunter-gatherers" because they couldn't easily [see and] measure the value of their polycultures. Westerners saw the "wild" even though it was an incredibly sophisticated & manipulated food forest that behaved like an ecosystem,
Food forests have multiple yields & multiple benefits happening all at once,
Horticultural societies have much flatter hierarchies,
Horticultural rulers rule by competence rather than by force,
Horticultural societies have processes for removing rulers,
Foraging & Horticultural societies have specific mechanisms in place to stop "aggrandizers", people who are making themselves "grand" (aka: status seekers, bullies, accumulators of material goods),
Horticultural societies have a culture of conservation,
Horticultural societies have a culture of cooperation.
Agricultural people have fully domesticated plants, animals, & themselves...
Agricultural societies develop technology, granaries, processing,
Agricultural societies form sedentary cultures,
Agricultural societies need police & armies to protect communal grain silos/stores,
Agricultural societies have Lords (hierarchy) to decide who gets grain. The word 'Lord' is a portmanteau of Loaf+Ward (the keeper of the grain). The person who controls the grain, literally,
Agricultural societies have accountants to measure trade,
Agricultural societies have a ruling elite,
Deities in agricultural societies are "somewhere else" usually in the sky,
Renaissance/Enlightenment: rationality – data, proof > received knowledge,
The state sees the forest only as timber/fuel (eg. Romans cleared North African forests for building warships, etc.),
Scientifically managed forests arise. Forest = military power,
A king can look at a forest & ask "When can this forest grow me enough timber to build warships to beat that king over there?" & Charcoal to build weapons,
As agricultural societies began to dominate forest dwellers, people no longer made a living in the woods. Industrialization occurred,
The state has rationalized the forest, making it "legible" so you know exactly what is there. You can "read" it. You make a village legible so you know who owns what. This facilitates taxation,
Eliminated communal land tenure (The Commons) because value cannot easily be assessed. Eg. Enclosure Acts in England: created rich land owners, barons, landlords, etc,
Land ownership simplified taxation. The Great Wall of China was to keep taxpayers in. Outside the Great Wall was "wild" = not taxed,
Civilizations formed in valleys: flat, navigable bodies of water – the state can easily control them,
Valleys became state-controlled areas with grain-growing people,
Valley people grow grains because they're storable, transport well, lightweight, easily measure its yield in a field,
Agricultural societies worship aggrandizers (accumulators),
Agricultural societies adopt a reductionist worldview,
There is no ecosystem on the planet that over the past 10,000 as use for agriculture, that is better because agriculture was there.
-Toby Hemenway, Liberation Permaculture (Permaculture Voices by Diego Footer)
Needless to say, this talk got me thinking, & I wanted to ask fellow permies...
What are some other examples of horticultural societies? Historical examples as well as today?
Unfortunately, I can't think of any period in history when an Agricultural Society was defeated by hunter gatherers or this transitional group. Agricultural societies have tended to overrun the others. It is still going on, with agriculture and other industries pushing deeper and deeper into wild lands.
I think it mostly has to do with population pressure. If I worked with the wild plants on my 7 1/2 acres, I would be able to get some percentage of my own diet from it. My place is mostly forest. If I mowed it all down and it were farmed intensively, it could probably produce enough food for 50 people. There would be little room for wildlife, as humans would occupy every corner.
Food forests represent a middle ground, where greater human population is possible, without excluding almost every other living creature.
Dale Hodgins wrote:I don't think there is any inherent difference in the people in these various societies.
The way I interpreted Toby's talk, he did not make an argument about inherent differences in the people in horticultural societies & agricultural societies. He brought up the fact that where they lived (mountains, foothills, & valleys) created certain conditions for distinct societal structures to emerge.
Dale Hodgins wrote:They all used what they had and whatever knowledge they had to control nature to whatever extent they chose. Some chose a less destructive model.
Agreed. And from my interpretation of the talk, the agricultural model is demonstrably significantly more destructive. See topsoil depletion, expulsion of freshwater, snow melt, rainwater to the oceans causing the drying up of the continents, dominator cultures, etc. One can look to the "Fertile Crescent" today to see agriculture's long-term effects.
Dale Hodgins wrote:Unfortunately, I can't think of any period in history when an Agricultural Society was defeated by hunter gatherers or this transitional group. Agricultural societies have tended to overrun the others. It is still going on, with agriculture and other industries pushing deeper and deeper into wild lands.
Because they need strong men to guard the grain, dominator reductionist societies seem to emerge with agriculture.
Also, as Charles C. Mann points out in 1491, small-arms were more advanced in Native North America than in Europe. European rifles were less accurate & took more time to reload than a bow & arrow. A huge percentage of Native North Americans had succumbed to diseases they weren't immune to (Europeans, who lived in higher concentration groups of people near cattle -cattle packed tightly together creating & harboring diseases-, maybe bathed once a year, while Americans bathed sometimes twice a day) before the outright genocide of the small percentage of indigenous peoples who were left after the great majority died of European diseases. Consequently, the European diseases played a major role in their demise.
Dale Hodgins wrote:I think it mostly has to do with population pressure. If I worked with the wild plants on my 7 1/2 acres, I would be able to get some percentage of my own diet from it. My place is mostly forest. If I mowed it all down and it were farmed intensively, it could probably produce enough food for 50 people. There would be little room for wildlife, as humans would occupy every corner.
Farming intensively (aka: grain agriculture in the valleys) does create a surplus &, in fact, gives rise to higher populations. Toby brings this up in the talk. The point seems to be that grain surplus created by valley agriculture is the root cause of the population pressure issue, as well as the emergence of dominator culture. Horticultural societies looked down upon hoarders & aggrandizers while agricultural societies looked up to them and, consequently, hoarded grain. Horticultural societies formed forest communities, not forest homesteads.
Dale Hodgins wrote:Food forests represent a middle ground, where greater human population is possible, without excluding almost every other living creature.
Precisely, food forest societies -like the milpa tenders, Hopewell, and Jōmon- being what Toby defines here as horticultural societies.
The direction I hope this thread to take is of examples of horticultural societies of the past & present.
Each of these had elements of sustainability lost in today's modern world
As for Eastern Europe, Marija Gimbutas did some amazing research on peaceful pre-Greco-Roman societies.
The documentary Signs out of time, the story of archeologist Marija Gimbutas profiles this period as well as Marija's biography.
In the New World, much of the Amazon basin was human controlled to some degree. By the time Spanish and Portuguese explorers made it deep into those forests, many of the people had succumbed to disease and the forest had begun reverting to a more natural form.
Hedgerows in England were a refuge for animals and source of fuel and building wood for humans. I wonder, if you go back a thousand years, if there was more food production within the hedgerow. There are certainly many plants that could thrive. Also, were hedgerows wider at one time? In recent history there have been attempts to make them narrower or to completely remove them, to accommodate large farming equipment. I imagine that when Britons were first becoming agricultural, that the plants and animals on the edge of fields, would have been much more important to them, then they are to modern farmers of that land.
Mercia and Northumberland might warrant a look at . These kingdoms although large were well organized on a political level and religious level yet quite horizontal in structure compared to the later Normans . The number of inhabitants was very small for example England still had wild bear beaver and wolves . Yet the society supported such artistic treasures as Lindisfarne . Producing world famous illuminated manuscripts
- Solomon, Dawit, Johannes Lehmann, Janice Thies, Thorsten Schafer, Biqing Liang, James Kinyangi, Eduardo Neves, James Petersen, Flavio Luizao, and Jan Skjemstad, Molecular signature and sources of biochemical recalcitrance of organic carbone in Amazonian Dark Earths, Geochemica et cosmochemica ACTA 71.9 2285-2286 (2007)
More info on human-generated soils of the Amazon:
Back to the Future: Terra Preta - Ancient Carbon Farming System for Earth Healing in the 21st Century by Planet People Passion
terra preta on Wikipedia.org
In the early 1950's, the Hanunóo mountain people of Mindoro Island in the Philippines were studied by the ethnographer Harold Conklin. These horticulturalists recognized 10 principle and 30 derivative soil categories. They also understood the suitability of each soil for their crops as well as the effects of erosion and over-farming. They distinguished 1500 useful plants including 430 cultigens and they identified minute differences in plant structures. All of this detailed knowledge was unexpected among horticulturalists. The Hanunóo usually grew as many as 40 different crops in the same field. As a result, their vegetable gardens looked more like a tangle of wild vegetation than our modern rows of crops. This multi-cropping allowed them to have successive harvests throughout the growing season, while the dense vegetation of their crops broke the erosional force of rain and shielded delicate plants from the sun."
"The Hanunoo inhabit southern Mindoro Island, particularly in the towns of Mansalay and San Pedro. Their language is known as Hanunoo-Mangyan, or simply Mangyan. Unlike many other Filipino languages, Hanunoo-Mangyan has a written script, so that many members of the tribe can read and write. Their system of writing is descended from the ancient Sanskrit alphabet. There are 18 characters in the syllabary, three of which are vowels; the remaining 15 are written in combination with the vowels. Hanunoos use a bolo-shaped knife for inscribing on bamboo."
Another example of the practical farming knowledge of horticulturalists was found among the Birom people of the Jos Plateau in north central Nigeria. An important food of the Birom was the tiny seeds from a grass that they called acha. This cereal crop was traditionally grown in fields without the use of added fertilizers. During the first half of the 20th century when Nigeria was still a British colony, colonial officials concluded that the Birom were ignorant of the effects of fertilizer because they did not put manure on their fields. In fact, the acha crops failed when the Birom were induced by government officials to fertilize them. Acha grows too quickly in enriched soils, falls over from its own weight, and rots before its seeds are ripe. Following this failed experiment, the Birom were allowed to return to their traditional farming practices."
Hanunóo woman moves her goats in a field near her home after arriving from her kaingin field by JacobMaentz, JacobImages.com
Mangyan permacultural infrastructure - floating produce down river on tire tubes twice a week to be sold in town by JacobMaentz JacobImages.com
Shouldn't we all be going to the farmers' market this way?!
Hanunóo horticultural mountain peoples' house, Mindoro Island, Philippines
"PRE-CONTACT: 10000 BC - 1542
HARD ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE clearly suggests the Kumeyaay Indians have lived in the greater San Diego and northern Baja California Mexico area for some 12,000 years (600 generations)!
The earliest documented inhabitants in what is now San Diego County are known as the San Dieguito Paleo-Indians, dating back to about 10,000 B.C. Different groups later evolved as the environment and culture diversified. It is from one of these groups that the Southern Diegueño emerged at about 3,000 B.C. The Southern Diegueño are the direct ancestors of the Sycuan Band currently living in Dehesa Valley....
PRE-CONTACT Kumeyaay Life:
Southern California has always been a haven of good weather, and good life. The Kumeyaay of Pre-Contact wanted for nothing. With ideal climate, and a land that they cared for and in turn provided a bounty of crops, game, and medicine. With little to no thought given to hardship of survival, the Kumeyaay were able to turn their thoughts to ways to improve their life. This was a world of astronomers... horticulturists... healers... scientists... and storytellers....
Traditional Kumeyaay food sources such as acorns and pine seeds, for example, were placed in these holes, then smashed and ground into meal using a mano stone tool. Acorns were a staple food source of the traditional Kumeyaay diet, as such, oak trees were rarely cut down by the Indians because they grow this important food source."