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Willie Smits, permaculture superhero in Borneo

 
steward
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We've posted this video here before, but I specifically want to create a thread dedicated to this guy and his borneo project.

Here is the starting point:  after three years, his permaculture-esque efforts have increased the rainfall in the area 20%!  He has created permanent jobs for the local folks.  He has solved all sorts of problems.  All on a huge scale. 

My hat is off to this guy.





 
paul wheaton
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a tiny update:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhcRKlGuCA[/youtube]

 
paul wheaton
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this video with stephen fry is about the willie smits project in borneo:



 
steward
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Thank you, Paul.  Willie Smits is kind of a folk hero to me.  Though he does not call it "permaculture", it is much closer to permaculture than what most people are doing.  His work stands out as a fine example of what permaculture, on a large scale, can do.  I believe that a huge part of his success is directly related to his involving the community into his program.
 
gardener
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holy fishstick, now I'm a man that will commit sepoku if anyone approaches Sepp in any derogatory terms.
But this guy EATS SEPP alive if where talking about the real culmination of what permaculture covers.

All that he's talking about is like the culmination of what happens if someone actualy listen's properly to Bill Mollison and actually applies all the knowledge of the 1983 PDC audio recordings. Nobody talks about common work system's, rarely do people go into Institute structures. I was in the middle of watching the Sepp Docu online just to sneak another view of the background plants when Paul posted this Bomb and now I can't eat dinner.

All I know is this guys got warbucks, when I tried to get the sat data and the man told me 20 thousand dollar's once you get all the doogits I pretty much settled for gps photos from my phone and bought a tree climbing harness so I could take photos. 

I can't even talk about this kind of scale, it's not that the pattern's change, it's being able to be a progenitor of system's to actually make it happen.

I don't know what time I'm going to get to bed now, but after 5 hour's of compost tea spraying, 3 hours of sifting, and 2 hours of planting I'm gunna hit the fridge and tare up the net
 
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Here is another superhero or superpermaculture project being discussed on TED:

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish.html
 
John Polk
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The European Space Agency (ESA) needed a land based calibrating system in that general region for their satellites.  Willie, being a pretty good promoter, probably got them to install it free on "his land".  As a courtesy, they are probably giving him free imagery.  They probably would have had to pay millions in fees to put the station on public land.  He "sold" them a better option.  It takes a lot of hustle to get things done.  He seems to know how to get things done.
 
                                
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This is the kind of work that has re-inspired me to pursue a Forestry degree.  Many climate scientists have so little faith in people's ability to reduce the activity that causes global warming that they discount large scale forestry operations in favor of more green revolution.  I wish this guy could get more press.
 
paul wheaton
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Anybody have any more information about Mr. Smits?

 
                      
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Here is the Bio on Mr. Smit that is on TED.com.

http://www.ted.com/speakers/willie_smits.html
 
John Polk
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Willie Smits is Dutch.  Part of Borneo is under Indonesian rule, and Indonesia gained their independence from Holland in December, 1949.  I speculate that he may be Indonesian born, or raised, since there is still a large Dutch population in Indonesia.  He certainly seems to know how to "work the system" there.
 
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A deep understanding of how everything is interdependant !
Integration in his own words .
I have long thought that a village style permaculture suburb would work really great.
The knowledge and undestanding of these systems is sooo valuable .
 
paul wheaton
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which led me to another:



 
Jack Shawburn
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One question in my mind is;
What is the Sub Tropical or Temperate equivalent of the Sugar Palm?
 
pollinator
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Paul's presentation on Replacing Irrigation with Permaculture at the Inland Northwest Permaculture Convergence: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/508-podcast-087-replacing-irrigation-with-permaculture/

Paul talks about Willie.
 
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As far as I can tell, there is no temperate/sub-tropical equivalent. I'd say Jean Pain methods are probably about as good as you're going to get.

There is an Australian sub-tropical (zone 8 or 9 I think) plant that produces sap with about 20-30% sugar content but I've forgotten it's name. It's in Edible Forest Gardens volume 2 in the appendix. Sadly I don't have the book with me at uni.

When I think about it though, these sugar palms have been bred by the Christian Indonesians for several hundred years to yield the highest sugar content so they could make the best palm wine. If similar breeding efforts were applied to sugar maples (I'm from Eastern Canada), the best cultivars of which already yield about 16%, then you might be able to get to 40% eventually. I doubt you could ever match the day-in day-out production of sugar palms in non-tropical areas though because the maples only run in spring...

Jean Pain's techniques are probably what we should be looking into in colder regions.
 
Jack Shawburn
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Josh, I'm only aware of Jean Pain's compost to heat efforts and methane production.

It there is more besides that , please post for us to read. - tks

What is amazing is that the Palms die after flowering,
once they cut the head of the flower off,
it will just keep producing sap and not die..
 
Joshua Msika
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Jen, the biogas and composting combo was all I was talking about. This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHRvwNJRNag

I guess the principle behind the sugar palm's success is a high sugar content sap produced year-round. The limiting factors are:
- The proportion of the year that a plant actually has leaves to photosynthesise.
- The proportion of sugars that go towards growth.
- The availability of water for photosynthesis.
- The temperature variations of the environment. Every plant has an optimal temperature for photosynthesis.

I think the optimal combination of those factors can only exist in the tropics. In other areas you'd have to look for different opportunities rather than trying to emulate an inappropriate solution.
 
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He is an agro-biz as well as a conservationalist, they are franchising their business model, from what i could tell per their website. Loved his TED talk. His modeled system looks great, i want to know if he can replicate it in other areas, hopefully yes.
 
Suzy Bean
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Geoff Lawton talks to Paul again (part 2) in this podcast: Podcast 090

Paul shares about Willie Smits with Geoff.
 
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Thank you for sharing this..... It literally blows me away to see how he has managed to bring so many different threads together to make such a great change in so many areas of life..... WOW.... I wish this was "out there mainstream"...Who could not be inspired???
 
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So you guys knew about Willie Smith and his project already seven years ago?
I heard Paul praising him on Paul Wheaton permaculture podcast 432 yesterday, and thought who is this guy then?
I find it so astounding that no-one has heard of him and his super project.
Rebuilding a rainforest, the guy should be getting a million nobel peace prices.
The solution to biodiversity loss, desertification, soil erosion, people moving to the cities in droves, poverty, crime etc,etc,etc.
Where are the political parties, the journalists, the writers of books, the documentary makers?
No-where. Why?  
 
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