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what has permaculture become?  RSS feed

 
Heda Ledus
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let me simplify this paul as it seems my words where ticking your nerves; nerves i guess just weren't to be messed with 

permaculture does not have the facts, figures or in my mind, the data to support and raise this design system from perceived hocus-pocus (biodynamics) .

this forum doesn't seem to have many people discussing yields/crops (in companion planting [with its supposed increased pest resistance & mutual benefit ] ),  inputs (the amounts, sources, nutritional composition, etc...), water usage (with or without mulch, hugelkulture or hugel-like anything, dense planting, in polyculture or monocrop, etc...), soil (its profile, mineral content,  fungal vs bacterial dominated soils, etc...).

its more than this honestly (i'm just not sure i will be told that i have to change my response because it hurts) and for those who still have questions than i am answering them now 

like really i am asking where is something like this in permaculture

http://aciar.gov.au/files/node/11098/TR71%20part%202.pdf
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010141.soil.fertility.animal.health/010146.albrecht.animal.health.pdf
(this is just on earthworms  ) http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010115darwin/fvm3.html
http://books.google.com/books?id=QYBSfUJPQXcC&pg=PA62&dq=kerala+forest+gardening&hl=en&ei=utwOTp-7KajTiAK0-dDeDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false
 
Leila Rich
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Ahipa,  I don't seek out cutting-edge stuff, mainly through laziness I think...
I respect and appreciate scientific methodology, but for the layperson, it can make for a pretty dry and possibly unhelpful read.
I live on a tiny place and realistic controls etc would be a major challenge, but I'm a big fan of an occasional lab soil-test. I have good results on paper, as well as 'in the field', so maybe I'm biased...
I'd love it if you'd expand on this:
Ahipa wrote:
being on a permaculture farm i can say for fake the absolute bullocks people are being taught.

Do you mean 'the big stuff', or more prosaic things, say, soil science, or all of the above?
I frequent a few permaculture sites and have no particular, shall we say, philosophical affiliations.
Mollison, Holzer et al are inspiring in different ways and I think all have valuable insights to offer and it would be silly for me to disregard the ideas of one, while hero-worshipping another.
I'm not involved in the big environmental, political and social issues when it comes to permaculture, I'm just pottering away in my local community and my own garden.
 
Terri Matthews
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Science has 2 parts: theory and practice. I come here for theory, and I practice it on my land.

One sticking point of permaculture is what works out in practice in one country may not in another: Japan comes to mind. My land will *NOT* grow rice using the same practices that the permaculure Japanese do, plain and simple. I expect that others have often found that a permaculture that works in one area might not in another.

This can be a pretty major sticking point in developing permaculture as a science: the lack of reliable and repeatable results. When a theory is proved out, isn't one of the tenants is that the results of the experiment are repeatable? Well, what is repeatable on one continent might not be on mine. In fact it isn't: I tried Masanobu Fukuoka's methods many years ago and I got VERY poor results! The plants all looked like they were not getting enough water.

This impairs the advancement of permaculture as a science, and it encourages the advancement of permaculture as a philosophy.

Now, I am a relative newbie to permaculture, but I *AM* approaching it more as a science. I take a few ideas, try them out, and make a note of what works and what doesn't. Sooner or later I expect a good permaculture farm for myself, though not something that can be used for a saleable crop. Developing permaculture as acommercial farm would be a lot harder. For instance, I have already planted a lot of conservation-grade plums, but I do not know yet if the plums will live on the higher ground without being watereed or only on the lower ground: it would be reckless for me to plant all of my land to plums at this time  but the surviving plum trees should give me a  lot of fruit to put into my dehydrator. The same has occured for asparagus: I collect some for my family but practice has shown me that the yield on most of my land will be too poor for commercial agriculture.

What HAS done well on my land is daffodils, they have naturalized beautifully, but daffodils would have to be dug as my land is too steep and erodable tfor me to want to plow. So that is out. DARNE it!!!

Theories of permaculture aboud, but the science is a lot more complicated. The science part of permaculture is HARD to find, at least for my area, and so I am mtrying out the theories one project at a time! If I get a chance to pass on what I learn, good!  But, I am finding the science end of permaculture to be very time consuming, and I am no longer young. We will see!!!

As for PH testing and such, I find that without constant inputs the PH of my soil tends to hold steady and so I no longer test it. I can add all sorts of things to make my soil more acid, but the PH WILL return to where it was when I started, in time. I now choose plants to the PH, instead of trying to change the PH. It is easier, more successfull, and it does not require me to add x amount of inputs every year. Other people, in other areas, might have other results. But, my land does resist  a change in PH.
 
Brenda Groth
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I totally love to read and study  every possible area of gardening and forestry I can get my hands on, I'm addicted to books, however, I'm not overly concerned about the "science" of things but rather how they work out on my property.

I have tried several permaculture and organic gardening type techniques over the years and I continue to try new ones, and I stick with the things that work and abandon those that do  not work.

No I don't get a lot of soil samples, ph readings, etc..I just try to do what I can with the tiny amount of money that I have to make my property work best for me in as close to sustainable as I can ..although having a housefire with a lot of property losses I did have to start over in 2002 and am just now getting to productiveness again at this point.
 
                                      
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hi,

paul, i agree, a nuanced story carries more weight
the same goes i guess for everybody else on this forum, because dismissive sentiments towards the other well known permie names have repeatedly been expressed on these forums, in what case nobody of the mods would say anything about that. (not judging to anybody, just pointing it out)

as goes for your idolization of sepp, even though it is obviously done with a wink, and youre being humorously over it. I think it is a bit out of proportion, can you understand that people could get weary of the name when hanging around here a lot?


i myself dont share ahipa's concern about the lacking of scientific aproach on permaculture. But i also didnt really get if ahipa's concerns were about pc on this forums, or pc in general, if the latter, is that worldwide? or just in your own surroundings?

grts
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I see us all conducting experiments in our own gardens and comparing results from diverse ecological and climatic regions.  Lately many of us are conducting experiments in hugelkultur.  Is this a bad thing for so many of us to be conducting experiments about the same technique using diverse methods in diverse locations?  Personally I think it is an extremely good thing!  We have had people pronounce "You can not do hugelkultur in a dry location" and then at least two of us can point to our own successful hugelkultur experiments in dry locations!  Same with all the people who have tried to emulate Fukuoka's methods in their own location, with varying results which they share here on the boards.  To me these boards seem like a big clearing house of experiments.  If these are not presented in a proper scientific format it is because very few of us are scientists.  But the information is still useful.  If people need more detailed information from specific experimenters, perhaps they can ASK for more information.    People who want more scientific method could conduct their own scientific experiments to model the format they prefer to see.

I have many experiments I want to try - just got interested in another one; edible prairie garden (an actual prairie landscape, not a food forest in a prairie region).  But just learning how to grow food here at all is being sufficient challenge for me without having to conduct stringent scientific tests! 
 
paul wheaton
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Joop,

I have deleted a lot of posts that said nasty things about other permaculture names.  And caught hell for it.  So when you suggest that I am falling short in this space, it makes me think that you are expressing a point with limited information.  Further, if you ever see any post that you think would not meet my standards, I ask that you click on "report to moderators."  If you do click on "report to moderators" and the post still stands, then it would seem that my judgement is different from yours.

As for the sepp stuff:  I think the admiration for Sepp on this site is at just the right level.  And, keep in mind, My posts probably make up less than 1% of all posts.


 
paul wheaton
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People who want more scientific method could conduct their own scientific experiments to model the format they prefer to see.


Pure poetry.

If somebody wants to have more scientific reference, it is up to that person to add it.

Frankly, I see a lot of good scientific information getting added all over the site.  And I see a lot of very knowledgeable people exchnaging first class information.  And the scientific method starts with people getting ideas, then trying things, then trying to repeat the things so that they can be repeated elsewhere.  Frankly, I think that a lot of things that we talk about here have not been tried in an official scientific capacity.  Further, a lot of this stuff might never be verified by some official source.  Further still, Jocelyn and I just finished a podcast where we explore scientific method that changed the way most americans eat only to find out that the research was skewed by bad science.  The moral of the story is that it is really hard to believe "official" science because of all the shenanigans going on. 

So when we do have something reported in a peer reviewed journal, it still needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
 
Terri Matthews
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Ahipa?

I would be FASCINATED to learn what the Permaculture farm raises that yields enough to sell. And, how it is produced.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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  Well, the simple fact is that natural systems generally have far too many variables to be easily understood by science. This is why scientists understand less about Earth's ecosystems than they do about atomic forces. A forest has countless variables, and if you isolate one, you no longer have a forest and the said variable functions differently. That is why permaculture is less precise than science at large; sure, permies observe and experiment, but if your tomatos all die it could be any of countless insects, fungi, disease, soil nematodes, lack of water, poor soil, etc. So permaculture is more observation and trial and error than other science. Indeed, "prolonged and thoughtful observation" is one of permaculture's central tenets.
    You seem to have a biased negative outlook towards permaculture plant breeding methods. I think most permies just select seeds from plants that are tasty and hardy, which is how we got almost all of our best plant breeds today.
   
 
Christina Darling
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"Further still, Jocelyn and I just finished a podcast where we explore scientific method that changed the way most americans eat only to find out that the research was skewed by bad science.  The moral of the story is that it is really hard to believe "official" science because of all the shenanigans going on."
Paul, I couldn't agree more. There is a lot of 'so-called' science that is totally untrustworthy, i.e. the global warming fiasco, BIG pharma, harvesting Great Lakes water, 45 years of questionable cancer research. What university is doing dependable research in permaculture? I don't believe there would be any grants for that kind or research because it doesn't benefit the factory farms or Monsanto and it's ilk.
I'm married to a scientist and he agrees with me. It's not science in many cases - it's collusion.  Follow the money.  
 
Christina Darling
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I am new to this forum and I LOVE it. I want real life experiences told by the people who have them, those who get their hands dirty and eat what they produce. I want to hear from people who have no hidden agenda. This is my agenda - learn and share, to benefit all.
 
                                      
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paul,

if that posts háve been adressed, i take back my remark about that, i might have visited the forums less (and missed it) after that type of posts, since it put me off.

youre right, my judgement might be based on being poor informed (read: not having informed myself): apologies if i was wrong

concerning the sepp stuff, u think the sepp admiration is just at the right level, my obnoxious opinion is that is is a bit overdone 

thats just having different opinions, we can have different opinions on these forums, and still respect each other, i presume.
 
Burra Maluca
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:
concerning the sepp stuff, u think the sepp admiration is just at the right level, my obnoxious opinion is that is is a bit overdone 

thats just having different opinions, we can have different opinions on these forums, and still respect each other, i presume.


Course we can have different opinions.  I agree though that on a scale of one to ten, sepp holzer should be at ten.

It's just that I also think that Willie Smits goes all the way up to eleven!
 
                                      
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getting offtopic here: willie is great! (also dutch by the way)
 
Burra Maluca
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Maybe it's not as off-topic as you think. 

It does seem to me that some of the best examples of permaculture are produced by people, like sepp holzer and Willie Smits, that just figured out what to do by themselves, not by copying anyone.  I'm not even certain either of them had heard of permaculture when they set their systems up, and certainly aren't 'qualified teachers' like the OP seems to suggest is a good thing. 

I've no idea what the 'absolute bollocks' are that he claims are being taught, so I can't really comment, but mabye the problem is that that there are too many followers and not enough leaders.  I get really annoyed when people say I should test pH and record my yields- if someone wants that knowledge they should do it themselves.  I have quite enough to do thankyou very much.  I want to learn to grow things in my climate, so that's what I do.  I want to establish a stable system for my farm, not anyone else's, and then share how I did it. 

Science may well be a way of thinking, but it's a way I'm in the process of rejecting just as I rejected the religious indoctrination I was force-fed as a child.  Knowledge is great, but it needs free thinking to go along with it. 
 
Robert Ray
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The size of the experiment is so large and diverse. A study would be limited to like environments/climates/elevation. A study on the west side of the Cascades would do little to make me embrace their choice of plants or methods while living on the east side.
How would you develop a study of such magnitude, without enlisting those in the area of concern?
Stagnant water as well as ideas come when you fail to keep it moving.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I guess I'm not sure where the "stagnation" comes in.  I keep learning new things to try - it would take me more than a lifetime to implement all the permacultural ideas I get here and elsewhere....
 
Robert Ray
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I'm not sure of where the stagnation reference comes from either. I see endless possibilities.
 
Jonathan Byron
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If anyone has an inclination to start more threads that point to scientific research or which illustrate how scientific or design principles can be used and tested, I'd be much obliged. That certainly is one activity that would be great to expand on this board. I do recall such discussions here, sometimes they are the central theme of a thread, sometimes they are added into another discussion.

Of course, this isn't just a science forum. Practical questions based on tradition or experience can also very useful for people who are doing permaculture. Science does require an extra investment (formulating a hypothesis, measuring extra things, doing math analysis to test for significance, writing it up in the proper style and getting peer review) -  it is not something that the typical gardener, farmer or businessperson engages in to get the job done, even though the good ones will look to science (formal or informal) to improve their processes.

 
                                
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Terry,
  you say you tried fukuoka's method many years ago, how many years did you do it for? because the 'soil goddess' was saying in the podcast that it takes a number of years to start getting the nitrogen back from the clover.  so yeah the first few years are going to be marginal.
 
Terri Matthews
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Spencer wrote:
Terry,
  you say you tried fukuoka's method many years ago, how many years did you do it for? because the 'soil goddess' was saying in the podcast that it takes a number of years to start getting the nitrogen back from the clover.  so yeah the first few years are going to be marginal.
I already had clover on my land, and it looked like lack of water to me. Not lack of nitrogen, as the weeds next to the grain were fine and happy.

Soil balls just did not work for me.

I experimented with scattering the balls, with scattering the balls and stepping on them for better soil contact, and by planting the seeds in the usual way. The planted in the usual way grain did the best.
 
Steven Baxter
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What would be an example of science in permaculture? Like soil science and testing the soil?

Isn't plant life itself a science, like the process of making compost, the growing of trees, guilds, and aquaponics. I think of permaculture as nature doing its thing, we just nudge it here and there for a greater production in yield.

Isn't experimenting, trial and error a scientific approach. Im sure over 90% of people on this forum are doing experimenting, trial and error.

I'm just confused as to what you mean by more science Ahipa.
 
John Polk
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Most "true" science experiments are conducted in a controlled environment.  Since I have little control of my environmental factors, I just have to experiment by trial-and-error.

To me, one of the biggest flaws in "Science" is that most of it is conducted by universities, whose budgets are largely supplemented by major corporations.  If "State U" is receiving millions of $$$ from a certain corporation for research, I seriously doubt that "State U" will produce results that show the corporation's product/practices are harming the environment, nor consumer.  How do you stab somebody in the back that just put up $10 million for a new science lab?
 
Tyler Ludens
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John Polk wrote:


To me, one of the biggest flaws in "Science" is that most of it is conducted by universities, whose budgets are largely supplemented by major corporations. 


In the past, science was often conducted by individuals who were interested in learning something.
 
Gord Welch
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Totally. "scientists" have had a monopoly on science for too long. It was certainly the original situation that anyone could conduct an experiment and have peers review it. The exact same thing could happen here. Do an experiment, collect data, and have others try the same thing and we'll all benefit. Why not? That's all "scientists" do anyway.
 
Tyler Ludens
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gordwelch wrote:
Do an experiment, collect data, and have others try the same thing and we'll all benefit.


I think that's what's already happening here! 
 
Paul Cereghino
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A couple thoughts. 

Ecosystem science has suffered greatly since the 70s and 80s -- the heyday of vegetation ecology was 10-20 years ago -- A lot of biological/ecological research has become focussed on genetics.  I think some of the best research today is in in restoration ecology or organic agronomy, or related to old field ecology in europe.  Just reading the historic work in veg ecology seems important to someone wanting to attempt complex woody polyculture.

The scientific method when applied to ecology needs to start with protracted observation, so that you understand what you are studying, so you can correctly design the experiment to test the aspects of the system you are interested in.  I have read ecological studies where it appears that the ecologist may have fooled themselves by not understanding their system.  Just like someone experimenting with polyculture might make assumptions about what is causing the effect, or even if there really is an effect.  For example, there was an interesting hypothesis that salmonberry thickets prevented conifer recruitment in OR foothills -- and a subsequent researcher found that distance from seed source appeared to be the stronger control... with conifers not dispersing as far as thought.

That what this site is good for... building a broad understanding of likely system dynamics based on informal but systematic observaiton before investing in a big experiment.

Good 'evolving woody polyculture design' is VERY hard one.. Fukuoka reports he failed over and over again for years.  I think the principles are useful guides for pattern recognition, until they become gospel and are preached as some kind of silver bullet.  I would agree with Aphia that I find the 'preach' to 'documented design' ratio is about 10:1.  I'd even have more scientific respect for what premacuture if have seen if there was more documented failure... since failure is common when you take risks. 

One problem with perennial systems is the response time is so long.... it might really take 10 years to play out a food forest hypothesis... and best practice requires fiddling with your experiment, and you can't have 'fiddling' as a treatment.

Just because you have a scientific hypothesis that seems to hold water, and that reveals something important, doesn't mean that you can use that knowledge to predict outcome in a specific case.  It reminds me of a story I remember (without citation mind you) where traditional corn planting would be done with the toes feeling for soil mositure to control seed density.  Some things are not quantifiable in a useful way. 

Just tracking area/labor/input/yield with photopoints would be a tremendous advance.

I suspect that most of Permaculture is in the individual controlling your desires and hungers.
 
William Roan
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Hey Ahipa,
Great posting, you really hit a nerve this time. Thank you for the reference, I bookmarked the site “Western Institute for Study of the Environment. I like the JSTOR web site for scientific study, myself.
I agree with you a 100% we should be treating our gardens as a scientific research sites. The first step is keeping a daily journal of our observations, experiments, videos we’ve watched, news casts and off the wall comments that people will make. They are all part of the puzzle.

A few years ago, the radio program “Human Kind” had a professor talking about "What made Geniuses". He claimed that there are two types of geniuses and they seem to be age and occupation related.  Those that are really smart tend to get that spark of insight in their early 20’s, make their mark and spent the rest of their lives refining those early discoveries. Usually Mathematicians, Musicians and Fine Artists.
Ecologists, Botanists, Zoologists, Anthropologists and Archeologists all tend to be declared genius in their later years. These are fields that require years of observation, research and fitting the puzzle pieces together. Those founding fathers of Permaculture Mollison, Fukuoka and Holzer have spent a life time observing, before they could finally formulate a theory. Between the three of them they have preformed their experiments successfully maybe a hundred times. Impressive but not enough to make it scientific theory, that would take replication a thousand times more, in locations all over the world. So we are the Permaculture foot soldiers, replicating their methods, but adapting them to our needs and environments. By keeping garden journals and sharing, we are advancing the science of Permaculture.

There are three methods used to present a scientific study, write a paper, hopefully getting it published, making a poster and having it seen at a scientific conference or giving a presentation at that conference.
If your subject is considered cutting edge enough and your presentation has sparked enough interest then maybe a few Professors will take your experiment back home to have their under grad and grad students work on similar experiments. Hence replicating the experiment a thousand times.

To be fair if you want people to use scientific methods in their research, then you need to give them the basic tools to start. If you want them to do a specific experiment then you have to give an example of what you have in mind. If it is of interest then you will have people willing to replicating that research.

Oh yes, an interesting thing that can be found at scientific conferences these past years, the Oil companies have been setting up tables in the lobbies and offering $25,000 grants to anyone who wants to do research to disprove global warming.
 
Jeff Mathias
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Ahipa wrote:
why is everything around here now going the way of holtz and hugel-whatever. why is there no mention of scientific journals or book references that are not regurgitated observations from untrained and i would say unqualified teachers?



Hi Ahipa,

In the case of Sepp specifically there is in fact much well documented information. The professors and universities local to him have been observing, studying and documenting his methods for something like the last 30 years. The only problem is much of the research is not published in English. Additionally much of the science of permaculture has been around since the 1920s-30s so really there is no immediate need to keep proving the science over and over again to people unwilling to revisit history. Unfortunately many of these books are hard to come by today and many mainstream modern scientists look beyond this information as being too outdated or simply false.

Fukuoka once said something that I think addresses the jist of your post best. I do not have the exact quote available sorry. But when asked a similar question he responded to the effect that science has been broken into so many disciplines today that it would take teams of scientists all experts in their field working in close connection to each other for many years to even come close to explaining what was going on out in his fields.

Beyond all of this though you might also notice that many people practicing permaculture are not exactly supported by any major industries or printing establishments which of course makes it much harder today to get this information out there in a scientifically acceptable manner. I am sure there are many established permaculture setups that would love for someone to come out and do the science. But there is not exactly a lot of scientists banging down their doors either is there. Most scientists want to get paid to do their studies, most people in permaculture are not in it for the money. Makes it tough, fortunately there are a number of people in college today that are majoring in the sciences that actually take permaculture serious and are designing studies that interest them that further the science around permaculture. I think soon there will be a lot of information resurfacing from the past that will mesh with present and take us into the future.

On a personal note: In my case specifically I use science to help me better understand what is going on around me. I have no need to prove anything to anyone but myself so there is no need to design rigorous trails. Besides I am not looking to single out any part of nature I am trying to understand how the whole works together and unfortunately there isn't a lot of science doing that today. Finally nature will show us the path if we will observe, books and studies and journals never taught nature anything.

Jeff
 
Heda Ledus
Posts: 71
Location: San Francisco
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i just wanted to send a message asap as i don't want it to seem as if i just said some off the wall thing and then jumped ship. so over the next few hours i hope to respond to as many people as possible.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 179
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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The paradigm in which we think makes all the difference.

What’s the purpose of scientific experimentation in permaculture?  We won’t be able to answer this question until we answer the following one:  What’s the purpose of permaculture (or other Earth-friendly systems of cultivation)?  Is it to provide subsistence for those who practice it, to create a small surplus that is distributed (=sold / bartered) in a small community, or to produce large amounts of food that can support the existence other, remote, non-agricultural, urban communities who are not directly involved in food production?

There is a large camp of people who would like to see the world fed by an Earth-friendly, organic, sustainable etc. agriculture, and these people are hoping that permaculture will play a big role there.  In that context, they think of scientific experimentation to help increase productivity, yields, etc.  This group of people hopes or believes that such a “new world order” is feasible (heard the stories about large scale successes of organic agriculture in Cuba, for example?). 

I think this camp is only perpetuating the current paradigm, where a small section of the population living close to the land is producing large surpluses of food that feed the masses of urban dwellers who are unable or don’t want to produce their own food.  This is a paradigm that still involves farming on a fairly large scale and dependence on high energy inputs for getting the food to the urban consumers where it is needed, if not for production per se.

I don’t think that any of the examples of permaculture projects that we have seen until now (Holzer, Saladin, Smits, Yeomans) can fit into that model. Not if you want these models to be generalised and applied systematically as a standard method of food production.

A truly revolutionary paradigm would be one where most people live close to the land and in tightly-knit, vibrant communities that are largely self-sufficient and trade / barter goods to obtain what they cannot personally produce.  The successful examples of permaculture that we know of could fit well into this model. 

The relevance of science in this paradigm could be largely diminished.  For the subsistence farmer scientific experimentation is not practical or economical, perhaps not even necessary.  Observation and trial-and-error in the course of everyday work can provide all the answers...

Question is, can this second paradigm be replicated to a global scale? Other than after a radical reshaping of the planet's demographics following some cataclismic event (man-made or natural) ? 
 
Heda Ledus
Posts: 71
Location: San Francisco
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:
hi,

paul, i agree, a nuanced story carries more weight
the same goes i guess for everybody else on this forum, because dismissive sentiments towards the other well known permie names have repeatedly been expressed on these forums, in what case nobody of the mods would say anything about that. (not judging to anybody, just pointing it out)

as goes for your idolization of sepp, even though it is obviously done with a wink, and youre being humorously over it. I think it is a bit out of proportion, can you understand that people could get weary of the name when hanging around here a lot?


i myself dont share ahipa's concern about the lacking of scientific aproach on permaculture. But i also didnt really get if ahipa's concerns were about pc on this forums, or pc in general, if the latter, is that worldwide? or just in your own surroundings?

grts


my thoughts were permaculture in general; i accept most people in this forum just can't get that detailed but when i hear research institute i want research. the bay area permaculture movement is very... different more chapter 14 focused and at least from the people who speak and the permies i meet i think that the food forest concept has taken over.

it seems to lack people with the knowledge, know-how and experience of disciplines relevant to permaculture. i know a few people who were/are agronomists, biologists, pathologists, and the like; they really want the research  but its hard talking to and collaborating with people who only know about cultivation because of a pdc 

i was speaking of permaculture in general though; i haven't read any papers  from any farmer practicing this design system
 
Heda Ledus
Posts: 71
Location: San Francisco
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Terri wrote:
Ahipa?

I would be FASCINATED to learn what the Permaculture farm raises that yields enough to sell. And, how it is produced.


we were a non-profit there was no need to make money; the bulk of the produce were leafy greens (mostly brassicas and lettuce; tubers, roots and fruits being negligible. i believe because the soil  was so deficient other than nitrogen), i was not able to get any proposals implemented regarding yields or figures.

we used finely shredded tree waste, horse manure, worm castings, and compost teas as our main mediums and fertilizers. essentially everything was hugelkulture; most plants were planted as seedlings kept basically in a large cold frame (an unheated greenhouse)

the seedling mix was variable with the first batches being almost entirely imported coir from south east asia, bloodmeal, rock powders, etc... in varible measurements depending on the website/individual  to last time i checked tree waste, castings, compost  &  coir  2:1:1 were the main and sometimes only ingredients; all gathered from site, the city or the next city south .

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Ahipa wrote:
. i know a few people who were/are agronomists, biologists, pathologists, and the like; they really want the research 


Why do they not conduct the research then?

 
Heda Ledus
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Location: San Francisco
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well for one its volunteer based and run; i was a plant researcher and was scouting what would be best for the site. but part of being a urban farm in sf is many people want to know what going on. i spent a large amount of my time just teaching people the basics of not just permaculture but of growing food in general.

we also had to deal with the issues of limited funding for a site we knew would be temporary. most of the core volunteers decided to focus on fun and advocating the pdc's around the bay area when visitors came.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Isn't most permaculture volunteer?  Is what you're wanting some kind of funding organization for permaculture research?  Most science used to be conducted by volunteers - why don't these people you know want to do the research they're interested in, as volunteers?  Or, they want research and they want to be paid to do it?  I'm sure a lot of people would like to be paid to do permaculture! 

 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I guess I would like to know Aphia is do you see any value in the practice of permaculture?
Most of us here I think are working small 10 acre or less plots. Many in backyards. Most big farmers aren't multi- cropping to the degree that a home permaculturist is. Convenience of scale could be an issue.
How big was the plot in SF that you participated with. Is data available from a conventional farm or garden of the same size within the same vicinity and how did it compare as to variety and yield?
Does the lower impact of permaculture gardening have value greater than chemically enhanced gardening? Yield is only a small part of the picture responsible practices in my mind are part and parcel of permaculture.
What size of comparison are we talking about 1-5-20-2000 acres?
I can safely say that in my case a comparison of a conventional row crop set up and my using permaculture in combination with conventional gardening my yields are greater than my gardening friends that just use conventional techniques. What have your observations been in that respect?
  Were there any animals involved in your particular situation?



 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I agree with Ludi it appears that you have or had a perfect situation for making the scientific observations you are asking for.  What an incredible position to be in. The ability to answer and enlist the help of those volunteers to either prove or disprove the "hocus-pocus" of whether or not permaculture is a valid movement.

What type of data did or do you collect at the site? Does that data support what I see as  perhaps your emerging hypothesis that permaculture is far less efficient than current farming techniques.

Is there supporting data that shows that permaculture is less efficient than conventional gardening/farming that you are aware of?

If your description is an accurate picture "mostly leafy greens", that doesn't seem to accurately describe what I envision or am trying to accomplish through my permaculture plot.  The absence of other types of plants is telling to me that there is an issue with whether or not your experience at that SF garden plot was permaculture. Do you have experience at some other true permaculture venture that has not yet been described?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Ahipa wrote:

permaculture does not have the facts, figures or in my mind, the data to support and raise this design system from perceived hocus-pocus (biodynamics) .


Really?  Seems to me there are a ton of references in the "esigners Manual".  Can you describe why you feel those are not relevant to support the design system?

Do you feel the references in Hemenway's "Gaia's Garden" are inadequate?  If so, why?  Are the references in Lancaster's "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands" inadequate and why?

Do you feel Jacke's books on forest gardening are inadequately researched and can you indicate in what way?

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