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How much compromise is too much?

 
                                        
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Howdy, all.

I've been away from the forums for a while, but it's mostly because I have actually moved out onto 4 acres and no longer have the time to sit at the computer.  (Thanks to a bad bout with bronchitis, I'm finding myself with more time)  But here is the issue.

We have joined a church here that works a 7 acre garden every year to help feed those in the community that are having a hard time getting by.  This is a rural/farming community in West Tennessee so the folks here are not as environmentally conscious as those in Washington, Montana, or other parts of the country.  Here, if you mention the idea of farming without chemicals, they respond with a sort of disbelief.  I have a close friend here who is a farmer, and he says that the chemicals give you a healthier, more productive crop, and that you could not stay in the farming business without them.  I'm not saying he is right, but that is the mentality here.  That being the case, this man donates time, equipment and chemicals to the church garden.  He does so out of the goodness of his heart because he is, in his mind, doing what he can to help feed those who need help.

So, here's my question.  Would you be involved with such an effort if it involved methods with which you don't agree?  How would you work for change, given the fact that the mentality around here assumes the use of chemicals?  What is your demeanor with people who are genuine and caring, but not fully educated about the virtues of organic gardening, permaculture, etc.?

For my part, we are involved.  My goal is that next year, the church will set aside an area in which some of the permaculture methodology can be applied and tested "just for kicks and giggles."  I don't bang drums or make a fuss.  I just ask what I consider to be "thought provoking questions" and work towards doing things better in small increments if necessary.  I have faced the same issue in my marriage.  Since I have been doing most of the building at our new place, most of the gardening has fallen to my wife.  She has never done organic gardening so she is "going with what she knows."  She is willing to move towards a more and more organic approach, but I recognize that it takes time and education to make folks comfortable with doing an old activity in a new way.

In your opinion, is this a sound approach, to move incrementally, if necessary towards a more eco-friendly method of doing things?

First of all, let me state that I have great respect for you and what you're doing here, Paul.  But I remember mentioning (not advocating)the use of Roundup in a thread a few years back and you got very upset. I think at one point that you even threatened to refuse to help anyone who used Roundup.  I get it.  I respect your passion.  But can such a hard line approach actually hurt more than it helps when you are surrounded by folks who have no concept of permaculture or its methods? In shorty, how does one in my position "swim against the tide" and make allies for the cause, rather than enemies against it.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20425
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think this brings up a good point, although I would change the subject line.

There are a lot of folks that think they are gonna change the world for the better, by telling everybody else how wrong they are and using hostility to get their point across - all in the name of hearts, flowers and rainbows.

I think you are sitting on an enormous opportunity.  To be able to set up a half acre as a permaculture food forest is brilliant.  Then to talk to folks about the idea of getting more food per acre with less effort and less expense (you don't have to buy the chemicals because there is no need).

I still think that the road to changing the world is gonna be to show the chem folks that there is a better profit path in permaculture.  One day all the food at safeway is gonna be chem free because farmers just make more money that way.


 
Burra Maluca
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You have to find out what you are comfortable with - no-one else can do that for you. 

Feeding people is important, but I'm not sure that refusing to help unless they play by your rules is appropriate.  If  you can work towards getting an area set aside for permaculture growing, then I would concentrate my efforts on that, kind of 'leading by example'.  I think if I was in your situation, I would probably help out with the other parts of the garden, but not with actual application of chemicals.  On our own land, I'm the one who is more 'organic' and my husband is inclined to cheat with a bit of nitrate if he thinks I'm not looking.  It isn't really much of an issue between us, but it's his land as much as it is mine, so I just accept it (maybe with a bit of a wrinkled nose) and work hard on the composting so that before long he won't feel the need to keep doing it. 

Swimming against the tide is exhausting - it's something a lot of us indulge in when we are in our twenties.  By our thirties we mellow out a little.  I'm in my forties now and am more of the opinion that it's a waste of time arguing with people and trying to prove anything - my time is better spent doing what I believe is right and hoping others will follow when they see that it's working.  It's easier for me, and more productive too. 
 
John Polk
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Since this is a church effort, without "singing to the choir", you can mention:
"On the 7th day, He created man."  He created Adam to tend His gardens (making gardening the actual world's oldest profession).  Adam did not have chemicals to use.  Instead, he had all of the creatures, in balance, to help him.  Modern farming has used chemicals to kill most of the creatures that help us grow healthy crops.  By reverting back to Adam's methods, we can grow food as He intended us to.
(Just don't eat the apples!)
 
Tyler Ludens
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Nature and Christianity can go well together, in my opinion.  Just be patient and gentle. 

A resource that might help:  http://creationcare.org/
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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It has taken over eight years….but by example people are starting to come to me – instead of me preaching to them.

I politely refuse to eat chemical foods, and am always careful to try not to ‘judge’ or insult.  If I am helping to prepare a meal, in a charity or social setting,  I do my best with a smile but bring my own food.  When asked I simply say ‘Due to past health issues I do not eat foods with chemicals in them’; no further information given unless they ask.   Eventually they do.

Since I have lost a noticeable amount of weight, and (for my age) my skin looks incredible, I run regularly and am managing several health issues without drugs – quite a few people end up asking what I am doing and why. 

There are still those who roll their eyes, make snide comments, and rude remarks about my food.  But if pressed by the rude people I usually say, “Well, whatever it is you are doing seems to be working well for you – this is what has worked for me”.  Every single person who has been rude or obnoxious has some sort of obvious health issue.

The strange part of it, for me, is that a lot of people seem to be dead set against doing anything that could be considered healthy or beneficial.  They WANT the cure in the box, lifestyle in a pill, and the machines to carve out the earth.  You can preach all day but until they actually see something that you have – that they want – they will never change.
 
                                
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Location: Missouri
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Burra Maluca wrote:
Swimming against the tide is exhausting - it's something a lot of us indulge in when we are in our twenties.  By our thirties we mellow out a little.  I'm in my forties now and am more of the opinion that it's a waste of time arguing with people and trying to prove anything - my time is better spent doing what I believe is right and hoping others will follow when they see that it's working.  It's easier for me, and more productive too. 


Here, here!  I don't even bother trying to explain to anyone anymore unless they ask.  As for the church, I would get on with the permaculture site, and help on the other plots if asked.  Home is another matter, depends on what kind of relationship you have with your wife.  My husband isn't allowed to ask me to do things he is not willing or cannot do himself, and the same goes for me. Which is why the wide of outside is solely my domain.    If you can draw the line, and it doesn't hurt anything else, including your wife's feelings, then do it.  Nothing more important than doing it the right way the first time.
Life is a series of compromises, no avoiding that.
 
Brenda Groth
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Jim you are right, just like people have differences in religious beliefs that you have to approach with kid gloves, same goes for permaculture.

Sometimes it is hard to stay with a church that has differences in beliefs from yours spiritually and often you have to learn to keep your mouth shut, same thing may apply here.

I think a good way would be to ask for a part of the community garden that is chemical free for you to work along side theres..put up a little sign on that particular plot and state that it is chemical free ..or "organic" and see that no chemicals are used on that particualr plot.

it MIGHT SPREAD to other plots..people aren't stupid and eventually they'll "think about it"

if they come to your home you might have some little signs up on your property that there are no chemicals used, kinda like some people have no smoking signs.

it is a subtle way to let people know things that you'd rather not argue about.

 
Gord Welch
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
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If one believes that God designed the world and created it perfectly...

Then one must believe that God did well, and that that perfection at the moment of creation runs through to today...

If we try to change that perfection we are tinkering with God's design, no?

So the only logical choice for one who believes these things is to observe how they were designed and fall in line.

Using chemicals degrades the perfection and breaks all natural cycles.

But then again, so does this ruddy computer. It's not so easy, but there are issues where no compromise can be tolerated. In the church matters of practice are not as easy to deal with as matters of purity of faith.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think God made the garden.

And, i think God made me.

And i think God wants me to make garden symphonies.

I think a field full of corn sounds like this:  beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.  I think God thinks that makes a really lame symphony.

But, of course, I could be wrong.

 
William Roan
Posts: 40
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Hi Knockledragger
I too am trying to figure a way of sharing permculture methods with very religious people in Arkansas. So ask the congregation how old do you think the earth is?
If they say the earth is ten thousand years old, then they believe in “Intelligent design”.
If they say the earth is 4.54 billion years old, then they believe in evolution.
Humans have been using petro chemical fertilizer salts for 55 years.
Now who do they think is wiser, God or man when it comes to growing a garden?
Now who do you think has a better track record, nature and all its complexity, or man?
OK so that maybe a little heavy handed.
 
Gord Welch
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
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Paul, I see why you need that vacation now...
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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I have been working with my organic gardening and permie concepts (as best I can) since the mid-90's.  In all that time, my husband has gone from outright scorn, to ambivalence, to full-fledged supporter.  So much so, in fact, he lectured a neighbor on the value of the moles in our lawn

It takes time, patience (LOTS) and persistence to change the perceptions people have carried for generations.  Work with purpose and keep your sense of humor at the ready... in the end people will notice.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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