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purple permaculture vs. brown permaculture  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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So I decided to reread and reflect on the entire thread which took me about an hour. I have noticed the apple bombs are dropping and from my experience it is because there is either an incredibly brilliant idea or that this subject is polarizing and the soldiers begin to file in ranks taking sides. Because I had the sense that we are debating different ideas, which usually happens when confirmation bias kicks in I attempted to purge myself. It takes a good amount of time to write a well articulated opinion so I feel it's a good practice to refocus on potentially key issues which may not be communicated effectively.



So I attempted to make a list of key divisive issues and insecurities. There are some slippery slopes in each. Also to add, there are a lot of quotes but I selected a small sample that I feel were more concise.

Permaculture needs to be inclusive.

wayne stephen wrote:I think we need to be careful not to alienate people by bashing their personal lifestyles, religions, and philosophies.


paul wheaton wrote:I don't like the idea of excluding folks from permaculture.


Judith Browning wrote:I think that judging anyone by their clothes in a fashion sense especially seem off the mark for forwarding permacultures principles.


Judith Browning wrote:I think what was bothering me was that what I thought I was hearing said was... that many of those who are out there promoting permaculture 'should' change.



Permaculture is a brand.

paul wheaton wrote:Today I learned of another major permaculture voice dropping the word "permaculture" because "it has too much fairy dust and I have some real farming to do.


kevin wheels wrote:Permaculture is a loaded term that means many different things to many people.


Danielle Venegas wrote:If we want the message to reach the people it needs to reach we really need to dress it up in a package they can accept. I try to get over my appearance bias but it can be hard.


Amedean Messan wrote:I think it's an uphill battle in the quest to communicate the idea of sustainability if we choose to present ourselves as the trendy counterculture instead of knowledgeable professionals.


Amedean Messan wrote:Making permaculture more mainstream using the credibility of science in the brand of permaculture is critical for their system, but for our discussion so is the mainstream appearance.



After reviewing the thread I can see where both schools of thought are a means to progressing a common vision. I think the two approaches expose a root cause problem for conflict. It seems to me to be that the problem is with our ownership of the word "permaculture" and what "we" want it to be instead of how it was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Sticking with the definition is why I don't use the "X permaculture" color labeling outside this forum where it attempts to amend for something that does not fall under the umbrella of permaculture's definition. I see my insecurities being triggered when somebody attempts to market a fashionable sense to the word and that is an issue of ownership on both sides.

 
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wayne stephen wrote:I don't understand why convincing a bunch of people who till and spray round-up on large acres is the most important focus for permaculture marketing . Having millions of individuals on small plots of land growing their own food and creating energy on site will alter the agricultural dynamics forever. A guy with a $450,000 John Deere and 1500 acres would be a little archaic at that point. Struck at the root , so to speak. But around here , if you wanted to dress up to preach at the farmers - a pair of overalls and a bill cap will go a long way. You could even wear a cap that says "Fuck Monsanto".



I think you're question is more for me. I suppose because I live in the middle of all their hundred acre farms and I talk to them. They aren't making it rich and I think if they could be taught to farm and make money without putting in more money and effort, they would. They would have the biggest impact on the environment in my area. I find it really really frustrating driving to and from my house every single day and seeing the millions of rows of wheat off contour. We had a heavy rainfall early this year and everything flooded horribly. It didn't have to. The land I look at every single day doesn't have to be dead. These people can still farm, they can still make money from the land. I want to tell them that. I want to teach them. I want to change the millions of acres around me. To do that I need to hit the larger farmers. I've tried discussing it with some of them but permaculture does have a hippy feel about it in my area and the farmers here aren't going to respect that. So if we could change the over all perception of permaculture as a tree hugger thing (though Lord knows I hug my trees!) maybe I could change the outcome of my dead landscape as it's quickly turning desert here and it scares me.
 
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Something to keep in mind here is a tendency to see our situation as universal. A professional person shifting to a permie track may see things very, very differently than a family farmer moving from chemag to permaculture. There is a vast spectrum. The people one person cannot respect are exactly the people another person can.
Look at, say, Ron Finlay (spelling?) and Joel Salatin. Both very competent and capable, but a vent diagram of their audiences would not overlap much, I bet.
So instead of asking for more permaculture spokespeople who fit my personal bias, maybe we should just go for more permaculture spokespeople, period. Those who don't find a niche to grow in will fade, those who do will grow and most everyone wins.
 
Peter Ellis
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As to using the color scale to communicate what style a given function might be - I can like the theory while being disappointed with results in practice. Humans are pretty tribal still. We use labels to hold Us together and keep Them out, much of the time.
When we are all Permies, that is the Us. When we get brown permies and purple permies, each subset is its own Us. Them out there in industrial exploitation land have Us permies pretty outnumbered without Us dividing ourselves.
So I like getting an idea of what approach a teacher might take in their PDC, to help me judge what I might get from them, but I think the best way to do that is to do some research and get opinions from people who have done their course, watch their videos and read their writings as available and get a sense that way. More work but better results, I think.
 
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Hi all. Long time lurker (4 years!), first time poster. I didn't want my first post to be political, but this topic is far too intruiging. Ever since the brown vs purple debate appeared, I've been trying to work out exactly what the purple is. Then it hit me. Purple permaculture is the things that we finally have time to do, now that the brown permaculture is finished. Once the swales are in and working, once the hugelcultures are seasoned, once the food forest hits critical mass and is producing yield with little or no inputs, that is the time to relax and begin the yoga, the drumming, the painting, learning the musical instrument, beginning to meditate, etc.

For me, my purple permaculture is astronomy. When we sold our house in the big smoke and moved out to our 10 acre woodland to begin our new life, I carefully packed up my telescope and stored it in the shed in order to focus on the brown permaculture. One day the hard work will be over, and I'll have all the free time in the world to unpack my telescope and turn my attention once again to the heavens.
 
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Jason, I think you have made a really great point. I like the way you see the word.
In that light, I think a little purple along the way, for some of us at least, is a good thing.............I like some daily purple just to keep my focus on what is important for me and mine
 
Peter Ellis
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I don't want to disagree with Jason because I see where he has a point, and because so much of this discussion is so very subjective. I think, when most people speak of purple permaculture, they probably have in mind someone who is using biodynamics for all their scheduling, or who can't stop talking about what Gaea wants us to do, or who plants herb spirals because they like watching the fairies dance along the spiraling ramp and take off into flight from the tops.

Stuff that does not seem to have much base in science and facts as many of us know them. And I know, biodynamic practitioners can make arguments for a scientific basis to their methods - but they really are not accepted as such generally.

When I think about the nuts and bolts of permaculture; placing that pond at the highest key point and designing the entire system of water management from there; selecting plants for my climate, soil conditions, etcetera and laying out my guilds; determining what infrastructure for what livestock on what schedule - all these things that are all firmly rooted in scientific methods, that are solid and absolutely real with no question - that sure looks pretty brown.

But all the time, in the planning, in seeing places like the Bullock Brothers' home (farm seems inadequate there), Mark Shepard's place, Ben Falk's, there is part of me that is just amazed at how this stuff we can do works. The synergies that happen when you help Nature, work with her and not against her, give that massage Salatin likes to talk about, all that stuff - it starts getting beyond the nice brown comfort zone of things I understand and feel like I may even have control over and out into a much more purple realm, where we are just along for the ride on something way to big for us to ever fully understand and absolutely beyond our control in any meaningful sense.

I don't see fairies on my herb spirals, but then, I don't have herb spirals. If I did, I don't think I would see fairies

But I do see an amazing, wonderful, ultimately incomprehensible Nature, with intertwined complexities that are beautiful, awe inspiring, inspirational and humbling.
In some part, purple permaculture is really just recognizing that Mother Nature is not, and never will be, our personal bitch.
 
gardener
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I find Jason's idea of purple and brown permaculture very useful. There is always established science protocols that no one argues about (plants need water), and there are experimental areas that people are trying to establish. (If I make compost tea this way will it help my plants fight disease better?) This is the nature of science. Some of it is not completely established, and some of it is hard to completely establish. I don't hear anyone in biodynamics insisting that everyone else has to agree with them, but I hear a lot of people out of biodynamics ridiculing it and trying to get others to get out of it. Some people grow flowers because they make them happy. They also help with pollination. Some gardeners do more work in their garden because the flowers make them happy and make them want to stay there longer. Birds flying and singing in the yard make many of us happy. They do eat berries but insects as well, some of which help grow food for us and some which don't. I think many people who don't like "purple" permaculture ruin the whole spirit of enjoying the music, the birds and the flowers in the garden, and those are some of the reasons why we are willing to do the work in the garden. A punitive, Puritanical mindset drives people away from permaculture.
John S
PDX OR

 
pollinator
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Peter Ellis wrote:...
Stuff that does not seem to have much base in science and facts as many of us know them. And I know, biodynamic practitioners can make arguments for a scientific basis to their methods - but they really are not accepted as such generally.

When I think about the nuts and bolts of permaculture; placing that pond at the highest key point and designing the entire system of water management from there; selecting plants for my climate, soil conditions, etcetera and laying out my guilds; determining what infrastructure for what livestock on what schedule - all these things that are all firmly rooted in scientific methods, that are solid and absolutely real with no question - that sure looks pretty brown.



And yet..... chem/ag dudes think that brown permaculture is totally out there, wacky, purple!
 
gardener
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I like the idea of the brown vs purple idea. I don't think it has to be a bad thing to label something.
We have been so swamped with ideas of being "PC" about everything that society has become scared to give anything a name.
Somehow descriptions have become bad no matter what the description is or how accurate it is.
Differences aren't bad. They are just different.

There is the risk that descriptive/labeling words become "bad" but that's all in the user, not the words. What's the point in having a rich language if we can't use descriptive words.

I fall somewhere in the middle of brown and purple. I believe humans have amazing spirituality and that we are all connected in a way that can't be seen or physically measured(yet).

This picture is on my wish list (this thread made me think of it immediately)



(It's from this etsy shop)

Two media-related things recently-ish (within the past couple years) greatly affected how I look at the world.

One was a picture of the earth as seen from space, and the comment by the astronaut that was along these lines -
the world is a small contained planet and we all live in it. It's a bubble of atmosphere and everything we do inside it, affects Everyone Everywhere. It might be minuscule, but it's all important. (Not a direct quote but that was the idea of it)
Looking at that picture of the earth... I suddenly seemed to really understand what he was saying. Our world is not a big place. Nothing that is limited can be big.

I guess that picture woke me up. In a down to the core of me way, not in a I want to protest and march and rant way.

The other thing was the movie/documentary I Am by Tom Shadyac.
I recommend it to everyone. I think it's on Netflix.
Parts of this show remind me that the lines between brown and purple overlap a lot.

Many used to believe it was crazy to think things like plants could talk to each other or that people could sense coming disaster.
Now we have machines to measure waves and compile stats and some of that craziness doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

I think the world needs a bit of brown and purple and it's not a bad thing to distinguish between them.
 
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I see purple breathers everywhere, they don’t know they are breathing purple!

The term was coined by Larry Santayo and most people that don’t like it indeed don’t even know what it means, but most of the time it does mean them. Many of the comments here show that people in general don't know what the term means when some of us use it, in other words what we actually mean when we say it. So I will attempt to clarify.

Ironically most purple people are found of Larry Santayo and have no idea he is the source of the term!

I recently had one person upset with the term and they decided it meant anyone committed to the ethics or anyone that is “spiritual” and said that clearly that meant people like Masanobu Fukuoka and Bill Mollison.

Now the upset party was an absolute breather of purple but absolutely wrong in his definition of purple breather, likely because he was one. He also wants to identify with men like Fukuoka and Mollison but both are about as purple as I am!

The general characteristics of a purple breather

1. More concerned about what they think you do wrong in their opinion then doing what is right for themselves. Also often more concerned with how people think, rather than what they do.

2. Wants to make permaculture about social justice via politics and can’t comprehend that BOTH founders are anarchists.

3. Generally they are highly non productive, doing almost nothing but enamored with a twisted version of Permaculture ideology.

4. Every other sentence has something in it about Carbon Footprints and Global Warming, though they actually do the square root of fuck all for the bettering of the environment.

5. Full of excuses about why they can’t get land, get something done, etc.

6. Generally of the hippy like vibe yet actually I find it insulting to real hippies to say this. I call them drainbow hippies. Even the real hippies would rather not have them around.

7. Far more concerned about feeling than doing.

8. Considers profit wrong, hence has little to no grasp about the realities of economics, farming, agriculture, business, etc.

9. Carries massive emotional baggage, tosses around words like “white privilege” and wants you to acknowledge their baggage and carry some of your own out of some twisted sense of moral obligation.

10 . In general a person that likes the idea of permaculture but doesn’t want to do the work required to actually establish productive systems, wants to live in unsustainable cities while, lecturing others on sustainability, considers people like me “right wing”, etc.

Or the short answer, no real firm grasp on reality and they want to make permaculture about social politics vs. getting meaningful shit done.

One addition if you read the above it will become clear that often indeed a purple breather doesn't know what makes us consider them purple and likely many people we would not call purple think we mean them.

How do you know if you are purple? If you are getting shit done, and more concerned about what you can do rather than what other people should not do, you are not a purple breather!
 
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Here's my thought on this: The reason that Permaculture isn't changing the planet and "feeding the billions" is that the Permaculture movement hasn't done the simple stuff yet - it's the "Purpule Permies" fault. I say this with respect - but the problem is a simple one, but it's also easy to fix.

Farmers - the ones taking the "Monsanto Package" as Paul puts it, don't care about Mosanto - it's not a religion, it's just a path to profit which will feed their families.

The route to making global change is by showing a more profitable path for the farmers. This can either by by boosting revenues ( more crops/acre ) or reducing costs (needing less spend to extract the same volime out output ). If the Permaculture world shows a path to either of these two, then they will follow. But... that path isn't there yet.

"Permaculture" at the moment is a collection of "good" science, "bad" science, quakery and "bro-science". If you have a family to feed and multi-million pound mortgages, then that combo doesn't work.

But... it's super easy to fix. Science is the way to do it. Anecdotal evidence doesn't count. So, if we spend time, effort and money on actual science, rather than self reinforcing urban myths, then the farmers have a provable "second path" away from the Mosanto Path. They will go where the money leads them.

Some examples:
Biochar
- There is some very good science in the Biochar area - low to medium doses of well powdered lump charcoal do add efficacy in the medium term. Yes, it's good for the planet, and as the parent of a young child thats what matters to me personally, but it also boosts yeilds, and, most valuably - it's a single expense - so the farmer can write it off in their books as a CapEx spend - and everyone loves Capex.
- Biochar is.... relatively.... scalable. It's easy to get hold of 10 or even 100 acres worth of charcoal. 1000's of acres - less so. But... perhaps the guys who spend days/weeks/months tinkering with Rocket stoves - which frankly are a toy in the western world ( they DO save lives in Africa - but the guys on youtube are rarely in Africa ) could spend the same effort on tinkering with wood gasification. Or small scale Coke kilns perhaps. Find ways that can scale at a reasonable cost.

Equally, there is good solid evidence that too MUCH biochar causes damage to cropping rates - which is scary sounding. But no one has yet settled on where "too much" actually starts. We could be concentrating on that space and helping out.

- Food forests/guilds etc.
Lots of science work around these, and they do seem to work. But where are the studies looking at increased productivity vs additional harvesting costs? It will cost a fortune to harvest 1000 acres of a 7 layer food forest - is the return they get from better productivy worth the additional cost of hiring a team of 40 people? What are the break even points? There seems to be a lot of solid axiomatic work on companion planting and guilds - but what guilds or polycultures can be created that can be harested with the same machinary at the same time? I bet there ARE combinmations that work, just waiting to be found.

- Covercrops and mulches
From what I can see, cover cropping is becoming the "New Normal" in farming - it's on the catastrophe curve and looks like it will become standard. Next step is obviously mulches. The "go to's" in permaculture today are the likes of straw and woodchip - they are easy to get hold of for garden/small homestead sizes. Straw is scalable, but brings with it huge amounts of additional pests, which reduce profit - and you can't fill 1,000 acres of land with ducks. Woodchip is fantastic and much lower in terms of pests, but not at all scalable - the cost of doing even a few acres is huge, and then you have the reduced productivity in the first 2-3 years.
However, there are ALL sorts of other possibilities. For example, in area's where there is a brewing industry, brewers grains and spent hops are very cheap indeed, and there is an infrastructure for them. Can these be used for mulching? Is there a difference between using, for example normal straw and Haylage in terms of pests? Sunflower plants seem to make a great mulch, but there is an issue of the first year being very low productivty. What cash crops grow especially well in sunflower mulch in year 1 - there must be something symbiotic out there.

Hugelkulter/compost teas/other bro-science topcs.
There seems a generic belief that hugels work and have special properties. Equally Compost teas. But there's no evidence that's actually true - there IS evidence that it's not true. And by evidence I mean solid, peer reviewed science done over multiple years with expensive lab equipment by serious people, not a video on Youtube or a blog post on Wordpress. Farmers don't care about youtube - they care about what the agroeconomists say. And every discussion with an agro-economist which contains Bro-Science like Hugels, compost teas etc ("they MUST work - I read it on the internet!!") is just going to put those guys off. And if you put off the Agroeconomists, you scare away the farmers.


Riperian/holistic farming.
All the evidence suggests that riperian farming is flat out awesome. It fixes the soil, it hugely boosts productivity, in massively reduces requirements for drugs/medications and it reduces costs. It's win win. So why isn't it big? Because right now it needs farmers with both large amounts of land that they can rotate (you need about 80 acres per herd, and move the herd to a new plot every day ) and also a large number of animals. Right now the market for animals is priced as though the animals are roving grazers. For example, in the UK, a 2 year old cow is going for around $2,500 - lets say a farmer has 50 of them - thats $125,000 investment. If they want to go riperian, they need to go from 50 cows to perhaps 150 cows - so they need another $250,000, and they'll need more land. very very hard.
But.... what if we as a group worked out a system of co-operatives. We develop a methodology where groups of farmers and landowners can op-operate and rotate heards and land. What if we use our own personal time to create a dispute management system to handle the arguments that will occur. Initially it'd need to be volentary, but if the service was there, then it would be used.


Ultimately - whether permaculture succeds or fails at making a world wide impact will have nothing to do with being outside at all. It will be made to work with Frameworks.... it needs spreadsheets, framework legal agreements, capital modelling, incredibly tedious meetings with agroeconomists, horribly dull amounts of Powerpoint presentations. It needs lots of hobbyists experiemting in their garden plots, but in some structured manner - which means some people need to stay inside and do emails and organisation rather than experimenting themselves.

If the community pivots to spending even 5% of it's time working on this stuff, then I truely have no dount that Permaculture - or whatever you want to label it - will become the New Normal. Whether it does or not is up to us - no one will MAKE us do it, but if we organise then it will happen.

For any geeks out there - the corralry is Linux vs BSD. Both of them are free software - Linux powers.... everything... and BSD doesn't - it's a tiny niche. In almost every way, BSD is just better from a technology point of view - in an entirely rational world, BSD would power the internet, not Linux. The difference between the two is that the Linux community - all volenteers - buckled down and did the boring stuff. Documentation. Frameworks. Support models etc etc etc.... NO ONE likes this stuff - but it was done anyway, and they changed the world.
 
jack spirko
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Part of this is a continued focus on "techniques" vs. "thinking" which is why Steve is right and still part of the issue at the same time.

Permaculture is NOT just about agriculture, it is a design methodology based on ethics and a trouble shooting methodology.

Now lets look at key line swales as a technique. Do they work? Yes! Can they be designed so that modern farming equipment can be used for harvest and maintenance on a true broad scale multi thousand acre scale? Absolutely! Can they be implemented while the majority of the land is still used for anything from row cropping to hay production to grazing? You bet your ass! I just installed a few hundred acres this way with them!

Now Steve's insight is solid and accurate but not using the design (social and economic) and trouble shooting (fastest accurate route to a solution) that permacultue provides. It is a long slow solution, where none is needed. I can solve the problem with a few better selected words, vs. a scientific study.

Say I want Farmer Paul (pun intended for fun) to install key line swales on his 5,000 acre corn and bean farm. I am willing to take him just to a keyline design first, with tree crops as a long term investment that will eventually let Paul switch to a holistic grazing silvopasture model and make more money and be far more ecologically sound at the same time. What Steve is saying is let us do research to prove it works, not just a few examples but real world hard core, science backed research, then get that recognized, then Farmer Paul will be more likely to do it.

OR CHECK THIS

I can simply LEARN Farmer Paul's language and system and do this,

"Farmer Paul, I can help you install USDA Code 600 Agricultural Terraces on your farm. This will reduce erosion and qualify you for both grants and loans for both the work and the trees we are going to plant in them. Once completed you can still farm corn and beans while the trees grow and you are only giving up tiny strips to the terraces. You will get higher yields with less irrigation after we do this, you will also qualify for soil conservation grants. Now these trees will take quite a while to come into production but when they do as you are looking to transition to a shorter work day we can move into leasing your land at a premium for high quality grazing land. The trees by then provide their own yields and support the grazers. This will require NO investment in new equipment, it can be done so all your harvesting and planting equipment just keeps doing what it always has. We can install the terraces in a week all we need is a bulldozer we can rent one time and a decent operator for it. "

Now some (especially the purple) will wail and gnash teeth because Farmer Paul is still using a combine, a plow, fertilizer, etc. But I figure since we just planted say 180,000 trees, that goes in the damn win column. That land is now perfectly suited to transition and the icky inputs he needs just dropped, all by scratching some lines into the dirt.

You see friends not all USDA Code 600 Terraces are Keyline designed systems but all key line designed systems can be USDA Code 600 terraces. This is farmer Paul's world, his vocabulary and the system he not only earns money in but gets working capital from.

I now see purple vs. brown via the Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

"First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration. Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization."

The thing that breaks the iron law here, is that NO ONE IS IN CHARGE of permaculture. The purples are the types that become the bureaucrats. But unlike the typical corporate/government run organizations, there is no real place for bureaucracy. So the purples must find legitimate roles (become brown, or focus on REAL social design, etc) or they get sidelined and ignored. My entire paradigm just shifted thanks to this age old thread! Big old thanks to Paul.

And NOW WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND why the get shit done browns will quickly use a different word to get shit done, even when we know it is permaculture. It is all about the mission. Sorry bureaucrats, Mollison and Holmgren made damn sure this thing would never ever have centralized authority. My respect for David and Bill's genius just shot up about 20 notches. 15 of those notches I didn't even know were there!
 
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jack spirko wrote:I see purple breathers everywhere, they don’t know they are breathing purple!

The term was coined by Larry Santayo and most people that don’t like it indeed don’t even know what it means, but most of the time it does mean them. Many of the comments here show that people in general don't know what the term means when some of us use it, in other words what we actually mean when we say it. So I will attempt to clarify.

Ironically most purple people are found of Larry Santayo and have no idea he is the source of the term!

I recently had one person upset with the term and they decided it meant anyone committed to the ethics or anyone that is “spiritual” and said that clearly that meant people like Masanobu Fukuoka and Bill Mollison.

Now the upset party was an absolute breather of purple but absolutely wrong in his definition of purple breather, likely because he was one. He also wants to identify with men like Fukuoka and Mollison but both are about as purple as I am!

The general characteristics of a purple breather

1. More concerned about what they think you do wrong in their opinion then doing what is right for themselves. Also often more concerned with how people think, rather than what they do.

2. Wants to make permaculture about social justice via politics and can’t comprehend that BOTH founders are anarchists.

3. Generally they are highly non productive, doing almost nothing but enamored with a twisted version of Permaculture ideology.

4. Every other sentence has something in it about Carbon Footprints and Global Warming, though they actually do the square root of fuck all for the bettering of the environment.

5. Full of excuses about why they can’t get land, get something done, etc.

6. Generally of the hippy like vibe yet actually I find it insulting to real hippies to say this. I call them drainbow hippies. Even the real hippies would rather not have them around.

7. Far more concerned about feeling than doing.

8. Considers profit wrong, hence has little to no grasp about the realities of economics, farming, agriculture, business, etc.

9. Carries massive emotional baggage, tosses around words like “white privilege” and wants you to acknowledge their baggage and carry some of your own out of some twisted sense of moral obligation.

10 . In general a person that likes the idea of permaculture but doesn’t want to do the work required to actually establish productive systems, wants to live in unsustainable cities while, lecturing others on sustainability, considers people like me “right wing”, etc.

Or the short answer, no real firm grasp on reality and they want to make permaculture about social politics vs. getting meaningful shit done.

One addition if you read the above it will become clear that often indeed a purple breather doesn't know what makes us consider them purple and likely many people we would not call purple think we mean them.

How do you know if you are purple? If you are getting shit done, and more concerned about what you can do rather than what other people should not do, you are not a purple breather!


IDK Jack... I see quite a lot of purple people doing a lot of good work out there, and not acting the least bit entitled - at least here in Europe. But many of them are extremely jugdemental - I can't possibly be green if I am not also socialist, and I am "close minded" if I don't buy into their version of spirituality, or I am not green if I am not vegan, if I am not a feminist I can't care about people care ... Etc etc

I don't want to limit permaculture to be only brown, I think the more we limit it the less potential it has to grow. I think eg. that the "food is free" movement is a great altruistic initiative, and they do great work, and most of the people in it are very purple. But many of these people - at least some of the ones I've met - are very jugdemental, and patronizing etc. I feel they are trying to limit permaculture to be their special hippie/leftie flavor - and honestly I don't understand it: If they care so much about the environment, should they not rejoice that someone as "right wing"/brown as you and me were actually interested in the environment, in permaculture - that we were doing good stuff regardless of our political/spiritual place in life? They can have their sun salutes, they can have their moneyless societies, all they want - as long as I don't have to be part of it. I think that is a really big problem - because many mainstream people feel very judged and looked down upon - and that is not a good starting point if you want to teach people something new. And if they feel that they have to buy the whole package to be good enough, they also reject the whole package...

And actually I don't care if some brown people call it something different... So long as they do some epic shit. Because that is what really matters in the long run.
 
jack spirko
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Dawn, did you even read the final line?

How do you know if you are purple? If you are getting shit done, and more concerned about what you can do rather than what other people should not do, you are not a purple breather!
 
steward
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Jack's right about learning to use the conventional farmer's language. When I talk to my alfalfa-growing neighbors, if at all, it's about USDA research on wind breaks and maybe they could plant something that would lower their winter feed bill. You know, like a tree. But nothing I say is going to have any impact around here until I can show the green in my wallet. And as one of my old-timer but open-minded neighbors said privately, "until some of the old bastards die." So mostly I just keep planting...

We are going to have a bad drought year. This is the first year we are really going to exploit the swales with our irrigation right. That should attract some attention.

There's a new controversy that just popped up our corner of the world that is so similar, as the NPS has to rewrite a rule on how a legacy right to graze in Capitol Reef NP is managed. The usual hue and cry between the old-timers and the move-ins. As a move-in, everyone expects me to be on one side. And what I want to scream is, "there is a third way, let's use the cattle to do some restoration." But that's pointless because they are already hollering their battle cries and sharpening their pitchforks. And nobody wants to really think that hard on how to make it work.

So instead of going down that rathole, I'm going to plant some grapes on a very public fenceline this weekend. Wine grape varieties that haven't been grown here, deep in the heart of an abstaining county. And keep talking about how commodity crops are a downward spiral, and here taste this apple...the best I can do right now is keep getting shit done and minding my own business. Heaven knows I have plenty to mind.
 
jack spirko
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Oh and Dawn, can you do me a favor and not refer to me as right wing. You can honestly call me an asshole and I will shake your hand and thank you for it. But being called right wing is pretty insulting,
 
Dawn Hoff
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LOL - I won't
 
John Saltveit
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I think that labeling some people as "right wing" and others as "kooky liberals" does little good in permaculture. I believe that really trying to understand the part of someone's philosophy and practice that you could agree with is very useful in learning and developing our skills and experiences.

Many people who are in the tea party groups are enthusiastically growing their own food, without toxic chemicals, and are active parts of the solution. Many don't like the government backed Monsanto type corporations dominating who can grow what seeds and who can't.

I also think that Jack is using a very narrow version of purple permaculture. I am not upset at Jack for using the term that way, but it is dramatically different than what other people are describing. Many people denigrate people for writing about or experiencing spirituality in permaculture. Some practices that work, like biodynamics and compost tea, are frequently derided as fairy dust and unicorns. I don't like what Jack calls purple permaculture, but many people get upset when people who like to garden permaculture style choose to sing or tell stories about culture. Some people become upset when people who garden are also involved in political activism. Permaculture is about culture. It's about making decisions about what kind of future we want to have. Many people in permaculture say "I only want science", but from reading their writings, they don't really understand the interaction of science and culture. There are innumerable ways that humans have solved design challenges of protecting the earth, providing for humans, and sharing the surplus. Some are even done in ways that are enjoyable to the humans involved, like using art, music, stories and parties. Some use one kind of science, and as modern physics will tell you, others use more ancient systems and also, concepts that modern physics and philosophy are just barely starting to understand. Practices that come from indigenous traditions are not necessarily rainbows and unicorns, even if no double blind controlled laboratory studies have been established on the protocols.
John S
PDX OR
 
Peter Ellis
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At what I think is probably the most fundamental level that allows for individual identity, there is no such thing as "Us" versus "Them". Them is a shibboleth, a made up monster for us to fear and hate.
We are all human beings, stuck on this rock together. I really do not see where there is any benefit in trying to divide us against ourselves.

I think a big piece of differing views in Permaculture - and the entire human population, for that matter - can be found in our perspective on Holmgren's view of an Energy Descent future. If you agree with David, then there is genuinely no point in convincing conventional farmers to shift to permaculture. Why? Because the entire current fossil fuel driven paradigm is already in a slow, inevitable, collapse. In an energy poor future, the entire Big Ag system will disappear, the distribution networks will fail, and everything will need to be provided on a local basis.

Spiritual, non-spiritual, pragmatist, idealist - whatever. When the paradigm changes and we revert back to regional and local systems, when globalization collapses because the energy to transport stuff around the globe cheaply is no longer there, the labels are not going to matter. Boots on the ground getting local systems running on permaculture design principles are going to matter.

I can get on board with Jack in working with people that work and bypassing those that are nothing but talk. I just don't see any benefit in labeling those people, or any other people, for that matter. What I cannot get on board with is making permaculture just another job description within the existing paradigm.

Doing that destroys permaculture, because ultimately, permaculture is the mindset of a new paradigm. A profoundly different, and, I think, better, paradigm.
 
Dawn Hoff
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I'm really sorry that I labeled anyone "right wing", I did not mean to label Jack or anyone (I labeled myself in that same go): What I meant was that I am labeled that way often, because many percieve me as not being "socialist enough" for permaculture, and anyone who doesn't agree with those people's version of the third ethic are labeled that way.
 
Steve Hitchen
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jack spirko wrote:
Now Steve's insight is solid and accurate but not using the design (social and economic) and trouble shooting (fastest accurate route to a solution) that permacultue provides. It is a long slow solution, where none is needed. I can solve the problem with a few better selected words, vs. a scientific study.



No. I'm not saying that.

This discussion is about "purples and browns" - I don't fully get it, but I'm assuming I'm a brown. I am saying that the deep-purple people are scaring the regular folks, and the browny-puple people and the brown people are not putting their effort into the right places.

The fastest route to the solution is money. Show money and things move astonishingly fast - so fast it'll make your eyes bleed. Words do not make money, they just sound nice.

Money needs frameworks and powerpoints and excel spreadsheets - especially excel - the world is not run by governments, it's run buy accountants using excel. The people with the spreadsheets want to see 1) Science and 2) modelling scenarios. Neither of these things come from changing the formulation of your words.

I'll use your example as a counter-example.





"Farmer Paul, I can help you install USDA Code 600 Agricultural Terraces on your farm. This will reduce erosion and qualify you for both grants and loans for both the work and the trees we are going to plant in them. Once completed you can still farm corn and beans while the trees grow and you are only giving up tiny strips to the terraces. You will get higher yields with less irrigation after we do this, you will also qualify for soil conservation grants. Now these trees will take quite a while to come into production but when they do as you are looking to transition to a shorter work day we can move into leasing your land at a premium for high quality grazing land. The trees by then provide their own yields and support the grazers. This will require NO investment in new equipment, it can be done so all your harvesting and planting equipment just keeps doing what it always has. We can install the terraces in a week all we need is a bulldozer we can rent one time and a decent operator for it. "

( the purple) will wail and gnash teeth because Farmer Paul is still using a combine, a plow, fertilizer, etc. But I figure since we just planted say 180,000 trees, that goes in the damn win column. That land is now perfectly suited to transition and the icky inputs he needs just dropped, all by scratching some lines into the dirt.

You see friends not all USDA Code 600 Terraces are Keyline designed systems but all key line designed systems can be USDA Code 600 terraces. This is farmer Paul's world, his vocabulary and the system he not only earns money in but gets working capital from.



Lets see what your actually saying:
"Farmer Paul: I would like you to take 2-3 weeks out of your operation while we survey you land and then do a load of planning. We don't have any normalised GIS tools to do this work, so it'll take you a good while. We then want you to spend $50,000 - $100,000 on serious earth works. These earth works are going to last more than one year, so you're going to want to capitalise them in your accounts, but you can't tell your accountant how long they will last, and there is no agreed depreciation model for a keyline, - therefore no shiny Capital Expenditure for you - so you're going to have to suck it all up as a One Time Operational Expense - so your farm isn't going to make a profit this year.

Oh... you want to go to a bank for a bridging loan... sure thing. You're going to tell your banker you want $100,000, and it'll increase your yeilds in the long term. Whats the first question he asks "What yeild uplift is your agro-economist predicting?" But your Agro guy listen to some of the deep Purple permies talking about burying horns of cow poo in compost heaps and phases of the moon and then wrote off permaculture. You can't argue with him, because you don't have any studies specifically about keylining to put under his nose. YOU know it works - so I do. But you don't have studies of additional penetrations into various different soil types and associations, so he's not going to back you up.

Now - lets say you DO have $100k in the bank you can sink into your books. You want to plant 180,000 trees. Actually you don't - if your planting whips, they have a 10% failure rate at best, so you actually need to buy 198,000 trees. Lets say you get a bulk deal and can get them for $125,000. When they've grown, you need to pick the fruit - which is either manual ( lots of operational expense ) or you have to sell your combine to buy new machinary - more cost. And lets say farmer Paul lives in Iowa and he now has perhaps 2000 tons of various fruits. Where does he TAKE them? Is there an infrastructure in place?" no.


Is it a losing fight? No. Absolutely not. Some of this stuff works. Some of this stuff will cost less money - which will bring farmers to it. But if you think just changing your language will do it then you are daft. As a community we can help sort this out. THIS FORUM can.

We can use our own plots to support experimentation - we could have a Go Fund Me to pay for studies. This forum raised more than $100,000 for a DVD about rocket mass heaters. That same money would pay for two, possibly three small studies by universities. There must be - somewhere - an accountant who is a permie. Who knows - perhaps a bunch of them. They could spend - perhaps - 10 hours and get a dep. model created and start the acceptance process for earth works. Yes - it's dull as all hell. No, it's not "eco", it's not cool and you can't get 10,000 view on youtube. But it's useful.

The point about bureaucrats also argues against itself - the naysayers who like the status quo ALWAYS win. If you want to change them, its honestly easy - you show them a path to advancement. How do they advance? money.

Linking to what Jack and Peter say above: The original discussion was about "purple vs brown" and also talked about how to make permaculture wide spread. What anyone does on their own land is entirely up to them. If you want to do bio-dynamics or use compost tea then absolutely you are at liberty to. "home level" permaculture will lower your personal carbon footprint and is an all around healthy lifestyle choice. It's one of the reasons that this world appeals to me.

But... if you truely want to make world wide impacts, then then need concepts which work on a world wide level - a "paradigm shift" as you talk about only happens when you have a combination of a motivator ( 99% of the time either money, convenience or sex ) and an ability to scale. Some of the stuff within permaculture scales already, some of it WILL scale with some more work/time/thought/effort, and some of it wont.

. If the permaculture movement is primarily focused on large scale, world wide effects, then we need to put the effort in, dull as it may be. If we're focused on small scale stuff, then we're fine as we are, but we don't get to be annoyed that the world isn't changing.

Uncomfortably, it also means that we may need to control our own community. If the "unicorns and pixie dust" stuff scares people away, then maybe we need to control those people from not shouting about it so loud and so often. If that distresses you ( and it's reasonable that it might) then your next step is to make a decision about your personal values - and it's really a black or white decision:

On one side the permie world can continue to embrace everyone equally. Individual right etc. We can position the deep purple person talking about the unicorns stuff on an equal pedastal in front of the USDA/Agro colleges/economists as the deep brown person talking about keylining and earth worm densities per acre following riperian grazing. And no matter whether you are deep purple or deep brown or anywhere in between, you ALL know how they will react.

The other side is that we control ourselves outwardly - we focus on the larger picture at the cost if dis-enfranchising some individuals. The result hopefully will be long term economic and climactic change - our children, or more likely our grand children will live longer and in a more prosperus world.

You can pick. One or the other - there's no fence.
 
jack spirko
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Indeed I think the only reason the term purple is used or even came up is that purple folks write lots of articles, bitch a lot and claim that they are doing "real permaculture".

They have attempted to rewrite the meaning of the third ethic, they used David Holmgren to do it. Of course they didn't know he was an anarchist by his own words and hence saw it as a form of justification for government socialism.

They have damaged the brand in REAL ways by pissing off a lot of good people doing great things, people with large brands that could reach a ton of people but now won't.

One example is Howard Garrett (the Dirt Doctor) and this is REAL DAMAGE here. I was turned down three times when people tried to introduce us, I only found out now it is because Howard Hates Permaculture even though he is like a 80% permaculture guy without knowing it. Why does he hate us? Purples giving a man shit that has been doing organic gardening and landscaping since before most of their hipster asses was born. This man reaches about a half a million people a WEEK on his radio show. Good job guys!

What if purples had been my first intro to Permaculture?

This is not bragging but the following is true...

1. Due to my work about 5,000 people have gotten PDCs that didn't know what permaculture was 5-6 years ago
2. Most of them are "right wing" or at least were before I also influence them to become far more libertarian/anarchist
3. There are 10s of thousands of gardens planted due to our efforts
4. 5 people have started permaculture businesses with at least some of my direct assistance
5. The number of acres put to permaculture type systems is likely high hundreds of thousands, tree count is likely about 1 million

All this in 7 years! Garrett could likely do the same in one year!

That said as I ponder a series of articles on liberation via permaculture and solving many of our internal issues to accomplish it, I am thinking that I personally may stop saying purple all together. As I finally get it, what we really have is

1. Mission permaculture (brown)
2. Bureaucrat permaculture (purple)

The primary aspiration of the mission permaculturist is liberty for himself and those he empowers. The primary goal of the bureaucrat is control of others.

The mission folks just want to plant shit, get anything from gardens to entire towns built. The bureaucrats want to set policy, form committees, worry about what others say and think far more than they do.

So the problem they represent is out facing, not internal, the internal solution can be expressed with a math equation called the Franklin Algorithm.

R = √FA

This is the results a purple breather has on a brown if the brown realizes simply that no one is in charge so the brown is free to just do good shit. The above formula is stated as results equals the square root of fuck all. They key is for us missionaries to get doing and ignore the bureaucrats who have no bureaucratic power. This is accomplished by adding he Spirko Compensator to the Franklin Algorithm.

R = √FA * -40GAFF

GAFF is give a fuck factor!

Missions carry some baggage too, it is being held back by bureaucracy and we still are on the interactive edges with main stream. Needing an earth disturbance permit to plant one tree in some towns for instance! But inside permaculture no one controls shit, bureaucrats are to be ignored unless they offer something we individually value.

Bureaucrats are accustomed to a society with committees, rules, controls, authority and feel the only problems with such things are that they don't use force to do the things that they personally value. So they write articles and tell others what they should think and call for organization and structures where none are needed. They also have two choices. Drop the drama and get on with building, planting, designing, teaching, etc. Or create their own sub unit organizations and sink or swim based on voluntary participation.

The more I think about it the more divisive I feel the term purple can be. And the more confusing too! Bureaucratic though is ACCURATE as hell to the real problem. The current hot button issue is the bureaucrats want more women leadership in permaculture and blame the missions for it not happening and they want the missions to fix it. The suggest start is for all white guys to take a class about white male privilege and learn how we suck because we are racists sexists that oppress women. Step two is for us to take this new found learning, organize groups of women, sit in circles with them and admit we have it easier then them and make them feel better by acknowledging it.

None of us will for a LOT of reasons but the primary one is we know that as to the goal, more women in permaculture leadership this is the result of such action! R = √FA

What actually pisses me off about this stuff isn't that they want me to do it. I have now talked to a dozen or so of these people and they EXPECT ME to and are shocked, appalled and confused when I say I don't have time for that, time for application of the Spirko Compensator! -40GAFF

 
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Steve Hitchen wrote:Now - lets say you DO have $100k in the bank you can sink into your books. You want to plant 180,000 trees. Actually you don't - if your planting whips, they have a 10% failure rate at best, so you actually need to buy 198,000 trees. Lets say you get a bulk deal and can get them for $125,000. When they've grown, you need to pick the fruit - which is either manual ( lots of operational expense ) or you have to sell your combine to buy new machinary - more cost. And lets say farmer Paul lives in Iowa and he now has perhaps 2000 tons of various fruits. Where does he TAKE them? Is there an infrastructure in place?" no.



I think your startup numbers might be a bit off in this example. Let's say those 180,000 trees are going onto 180 acres for a startup density of 1,000 trees an acre. Since that land was formerly in row crops, we'll be using the conservation reserve program and getting a startup bonus of $100 an acre, plus up to $200 an acre per year for 10 years while those trees are growing. With the first year payment and bonus that gives us $54,000 to play around with. We will need close to 200,000 trees so the obvious source would be the state nursery. Looking to my state, the Indiana state nursery charges about $31 per hundred trees, which would run a little over $60,000 for the trees we need. BUT the conservation reserve program does a 50 percent cost share for tree planting, so that drops our cost down to $30,000. There is also CRP cost sharing for the installation of the terraces, so we can stretch remaining $24,000 into a lot more bulldozer time than otherwise possible.

The great thing with this scenario is that even if these terraces turn out to be a total failure, the farmer still gets paid $36,000 a year for the next nine years for them.
 
jack spirko
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And Steve your assessment of weeks, etc, tying stuff up is making a fair amount of assumptions that are simply untrue.

Let me say we can do 90% of the work before we even step foot on the property. We can time the install to not interfere with on going operations.

As to financial models and spread sheets, that is what we do. Our last client could not believe the level of detail, market analysis, etc we provided.

Many things are simplified for general discussions.
 
jack spirko
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Good points John, we just bought 5,000 trees for our WV property from the WV State Nursery. We only needed about 3,500 but with quantity discounts 5,000 cost us about 200 dollars more than 3,000, so um, yea. We turned around and gave 1,000 to a client at cost.

Hell you can get good trees for less than a dollar each on ebay for some things!

Even commercial nurseries can be dirt cheap. I bought 100 black locust from Lawyers for 62 dollars! I could have gotten them for a lot less but simply couldn't figure out what I would do with 500 right now.
 
jack spirko
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Adding to it, Steve.

Pecans and Chestnuts are mechanically harvested.

We are working to plant 57,000 elderberries on one property, you harvest them with a straddle harvester.

We plant large scale tree systems with a tree planter, they are rented for a few thousand dollars or often available on loan from state nurseries for the cost of delivery.

Apples are becoming a cash crop as cider reemerges, no one cares about blemishes, pruning, etc for such production.

These systems can be systems that you harvest with labor, or machinery or with animals.

I can build a system on fast growing oaks, chestnut, mulberries, locust, walnuts and persimmon that isn't even designed to have a human food yield directly. Such a system creates various mast drops timed to optimize grazing of cattle and pork, turning corn fields into PREMIUM grazing land that leases for more than corn can produce on it. Sure it takes 10-15 years, so what.

See that big cloud of brown dust out there on the horizon, that is people already changing large scale systems, what many people are calling for is already being done.
 
Ann Torrence
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Steve Hitchen wrote:
But... if you truely want to make world wide impacts, then then need concepts which work on a world wide level - a "paradigm shift" as you talk about only happens when you have a combination of a motivator ( 99% of the time either money, convenience or sex ) and an ability to scale. Some of the stuff within permaculture scales already, some of it WILL scale with some more work/time/thought/effort, and some of it wont.

. If the permaculture movement is primarily focused on large scale, world wide effects, then we need to put the effort in, dull as it may be. If we're focused on small scale stuff, then we're fine as we are, but we don't get to be annoyed that the world isn't changing.



This is steering far off the distinction between purple and brown permaculture but....
Steve, rooted deeply in this argument seems to me to be a belief that commodity-scale agriculture is inevitable and should be saved. Why else would we be trying to scale up the design methodology?

I beg to differ: I think Mollison's vision was all about decentralizing and localizing food production, fuel production, and ultimately economies and political decision-making. In that vein, a compelling set of examples where design methodology has solved local problems in uniquely local and appropriate ways seems much more valuable than academic journal papers that supposedly influence bankers and land-owners. I say supposedly, because those decision-makers are as illogical and fraught with as much human frailty as the next person.

I used to manage academic research programs so I know something about the motivations of the scientists toward which you would have us direct our energies. Did you know that a responsible scientist cannot in good conscience take on a project that lasts longer than a couple years, because it has to generate results in a timeframe that can graduate a PhD student in a reasonable time? Did you know that most American universities skim a third off the top of all research expenditures ($1 spent on actual research generates an average $.50 additional 'indirect cost' that goes to the university's operating costs)? A set of studies like "additional penetrations into various different soil types and associations" for key line plowing is going to cost much more than you think, just to meet the demands of "controlled experimental design" to get it into the academic literature. While interesting, I don't see that these things have the influence you seem to think.

As far as money driving decisions, that may be true at the corporate level farming, but it's not what I observe here where most land is locally owned and controlled. There is great fear of breaking the traditions, of risk, of what the neighbors will think. I could show them spreadsheets all day that dropping out of the commodity market and doing direct sales would make them a lot more money. But it isn't going to happen until someone in their sphere of influence forges a path. Even with the USDA programs on agroforestry that have scientifically shown that planting windbreaks reduces winter feed costs 15%, they aren't going to plant trees yet.


Now - lets say you DO have $100k in the bank you can sink into your books. You want to plant 180,000 trees. Actually you don't - if your planting whips, they have a 10% failure rate at best, so you actually need to buy 198,000 trees. Lets say you get a bulk deal and can get them for $125,000. When they've grown, you need to pick the fruit - which is either manual ( lots of operational expense ) or you have to sell your combine to buy new machinary - more cost. And lets say farmer Paul lives in Iowa and he now has perhaps 2000 tons of various fruits. Where does he TAKE them? Is there an infrastructure in place?" no.



This argument underscores my point. Your assumption that fruit even needs to be taken to a commodity market is working at a scale that Mollison never intended, and isn't what the bigger producers like Mark Shepard are doing. Most fruit shouldn't go to market as table fruit. It goes into pigs or alcohol . From seed to yield isn't the end point; the designer must extend his/her thinking through the marketing and distribution, or it is failed permaculture design.

I will finish with the immortal words of that great philosopher, Sting. "People go crazy in congregations but they only get better one by one." We need a 100 million local solutions, not global ones, to feed and care for the billions on our planet. I don't see that worrying much about bankers and academicians is relevant in that paradigm.
 
jack spirko
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Ann Torrence wrote:
I will finish with the immortal words of that great philosopher, Sting. "People go crazy in congregations but they only get better one by one." We need a 100 million local solutions, not global ones, to feed and care for the billions on our planet. I don't see that worrying much about bankers and academicians is relevant in that paradigm.




Ann first on the right wing thing, apology accepted and don't worry about it. The LOL meant it was in good humor.

On your above quote though and 100 million local solutions, I want that but one trip to a large grocery will show you swiftly it is NOT ENOUGH and never will be.

We also need massive scale production, and it already exists, we need it transitioned to something better. It can't go away with out the deaths of BILLIONS. It can't be 100% what many see as "true permaculture" yet but it could be done in a matter of a few decades and the results are huge to the positive! Metric shit tons of soil not in the oceans, not in the rivers, no huge dead zone at the delta of the Mississippi every year.

Steve's assertion that the market and facilities for this production is one I shared at one time, then I learned the truth. That same equipment that big food uses to process corn and soy can process chestnut and hazels.

I was working with Mark Shepard on this recent project, in that time he got notice of a tentative close to press about 100 million gallons of oil for a single customer. Hazel nut oil! The market is there, it is waiting, there is no shortage of demand, only sufficient supply of scale to serve said market.
 
jack spirko
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Also one more before I get recording for the day.

Steve also talked about having 125K or 100K or what ever in the bank to buy trees with. If you had the money you still would not do it, we learned this over the last few years. Why? Tax issues.

If I borrow the money, the cost of the money is deductible as an expense. So even if I don't need the money I borrow it! Because it is a financial win. At the end of every year, I have MORE MONEY to do more good stuff with.

Get this, the IRS doesn't consider a tree an expense, it is a land improvement that you depreciate over time, 50 years to be exact with some of what is called an "accelerated depreciation" in the first five.

So what I do is borrow the money, deduct the cost of the loan in the first few years, use the grant money to repay the loan and then also take the depreciation expense long term. Further I defer the acceleration until year six. There by I get to deduct an expense from an appreciating asset!

Farming is a business, you have to understand that to play the game.

So many people griping that they just want a few acres could have a thousand in just a few years. Lease some land, file a schedule F for 2-3 years in that time develop a financial model, find land, take the plan, the model and the land assessment to an AG lender, buy the property, get the grants to fund much of the installation and just do it.

It can't be that easy? Oh but friends it is!
 
Ann Torrence
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I need to add one more thing: Jack's client that he's speaking of is a mega-corporation. While he hasn't shared the motivations of his decision-makers, I assume that while the numbers had to add up, the intangibles of being seen as a corporate leader in restoration agriculture, a PR project that can be held as a model of responsible stewardship, and the advocacy of a single or few thought leaders in the company had as much to do with getting the green light as the bottom line. Who knows, maybe somebody on the board said, my neighbor is Mark Shepard and why aren't we doing this?" Or maybe the local guy in charge of land management had a kid come home from college with the book on permaculture. Or that same 9-5 guy can't stand his job and found Jack's or Paul's podcast, and said, why aren't we doing this here?

Numbers will provide a justification, but you build spreadsheets after you have the vision. I'd love to hear from Jack someday on what caused his clients to say yes in the first place.
 
jack spirko
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Ann first it is okay to name the company and it is Alcoa. The prime contact does indeed have motivations of both PR and simply is a permaculturist himself. Doing it on his own much smaller farm.

That said, this had to be sold to corporate HQ thousands of miles away. The level of verifiable detail for the financial model was far in excess of what a farmer would need to see, a government official would want to see or what a loan officer would want to see. While the money was simply there, the bar to access it was far higher than it would be for a dedicated farmer.
 
jack spirko
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So the short answer to a complicated question is,

They said yes mainly because it is a financially viable model. It both pays for itself in time and increases the underlying asset value of the property in question. Given the plant it surrounds will some day be decommissioned (say 20 more years at best) when that happens they can get more for the property. Just as the best way for a farmer to become wealthy at retirement is to build equity in his land during his working years and sell or lease it in retirement.
 
Ann Torrence
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jack spirko wrote:
Ann first on the right wing thing, apology accepted and don't worry about it. The LOL meant it was in good humor.


I think you meant Dawn LOL.

True, grocery stores aren't going away any time soon, but that can still be the dream, can't it? Ok, we might need them for toilet paper, and junk food, but meat, dairy, veg? From a food resiliency standpoint, I want that grown and sold as close to the consumer as possible. In the same vein, I would be much happier with a biofuels plant co-op in every county in America than relying on the current oligarchy-owned gasoline infrastructure.



 
Ann Torrence
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jack spirko wrote:Ann first it is okay to name the company and it is Alcoa. The prime contact does indeed have motivations of both PR and simply is a permaculturist himself. Doing it on his own much smaller farm.

That said, this had to be sold to corporate HQ thousands of miles away. The level of verifiable detail for the financial model was far in excess of what a farmer would need to see, a government official would want to see or what a loan officer would want to see. While the money was simply there, the bar to access it was far higher than it would be for a dedicated farmer.


I love this-we are all right! One guy moves a Fortune 200 company. (score one for me - individuals lead changes, even in corporations) He didn't do it alone, substantial documentation needed to satisfy the bean-counters (score Jack - business is business). And I think it alleviates some of Steve's concerns. This proves the spreadsheet models can be done at the highest levels of scrutiny, as Jack indicated. I'm sure it was a hellacious amount of work for the guy on point to get through the hoops. Many would give up. It takes real commitment to a vision (and an high level of bravado to be seen as a maverick) within a corporate bureaucracy to instigate this kind of innovation.
 
jack spirko
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Ann Torrence wrote:
True, grocery stores aren't going away any time soon, but that can still be the dream, can't it? Ok, we might need them for toilet paper, and junk food, but meat, dairy, veg? From a food resiliency standpoint, I want that grown and sold as close to the consumer as possible. In the same vein, I would be much happier with a biofuels plant co-op in every county in America than relying on the current oligarchy-owned gasoline infrastructure.



Sometimes I dream that I can fly, it is a nice dream but it is a dream. It isn't that such flight could NEVER EVER happen but I can't plan for it.

the answer to your question is no, with the current population you can't get rid of the current distribution systems, not in our lifetimes. In seven to eight generations if we do things right perhaps a stateless society will exist, but we live in the now.
 
John Wolfram
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jack spirko wrote:Sometimes I dream that I can fly, it is a nice dream but it is a dream. It isn't that such flight could NEVER EVER happen but I can't plan for it.



So I'm not the only one concerned about the troubling lack of jetpacks?

 
Dawn Hoff
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I want to help the farmer next door, because he is a person, he is part of my community and his well and my well connect to the same aquifer. Because when he sprays his avocados bees die and land Iand on my terrace. I could choose to do like Paul and move to the middle of no-where, and not have farmers close to me who spray - or I can hope that he sees avocado and citrus growing on my land (at some point in the future), without irrigation and poison, and understand that he can do it too. So the entire model will break down when we run out of oil - yes, but that means that I will be safer if my neighbor farmers understand that things can be done differently - because the won't starve. Yes we need a distributed model, and big farms will not be viable - but farms aren't that big in Europe (compared to the US).
 
John Saltveit
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We need to have everyone pitching in. Figuring out the accounting is useful for permaculture businesses. The guy who is starting a large scale farm like Mark Shepard is crucial. In addition, we need everyone down to the smallest scale to be pitching in. We change the distribution system by starting a large farm, great. We also need to be growing food at home. Most people are not yet going to quit their jobs and take their kids out to a large farm. Most people live in suburbs or cities, and so local cooperative groups like my neighborhood trading group helps a lot. For example I quit my full-time teaching job and became a substitute teacher. Many people will make an adjustment to ride their bikes more, use public transportation, be involved in local permaculture and trading groups, as well as starting a farm and selling lots of produce, medicine, fungi and meat. We even just share different plants, make cuttings, teach grafting, and share techniques to help everyone grow more a better quality food.

In addition, as you help others in the community, you personally feel better and your interaction with others is more cooperative. Then we can find new ways to store, grow, and prepare our own food. This helps us connect with others. Personal and external community learning help each other. They are not against each other.
John S
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jack spirko wrote:Oh and Dawn, can you do me a favor and not refer to me as right wing. You can honestly call me an asshole and I will shake your hand and thank you for it. But being called right wing is pretty insulting,



Here's another problem with labels... what is one persons left wing is anothers right wing. I live in New Zealand, we're not a representative democracy, we're a Democratic Socialist Constitutional Monarchy. What here passes as a Right Wing Conservative is politicly to the left of the US Left Wing Kooky Liberals.


Just like politics, Permaculture views can vary between countries, What is Purple to one country/culture can look rather brown to a country where the culture is more purple in and of itself. Illinois and it's horizon to horizon sheets of grain will look very strange to a mainstream chemag farmer from the vinyards of italy whose 40 acres of grapes keeps his family fed and clothed with agricultural techniques the romans would have recognised and the Illinois farm consider woo-woo purple rainbows-from-the-arse...
 
Time is the best teacher, but unfortunately, it kills all of its students - Robin Williams. tiny ad:
177 hours of video: the 2017 Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/hours-video-Permaculture-Design-Technology
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