I'd love to learn more about the Main Line method, but I'm not finding it on Google.
It might help to know exactly how to spell Mark Sheppard's name... Sheppard like the actor, Shepherd like the word, Shepard, and Shepperd have not gotten me there yet.
Would anyone who has studied this main line water management be able to point me toward a book, or a link, or a YouTube video that shows the particulars?
[Edited] = and now that I asked, I'm finding it.
Thanks for this insightful series and the discussion.
One of my first questions upon learning about permaculture was, "If it's so great for production, where are the old farms being converted? Where are the orchards with trees over 10 years old?"
I learned a lot from a survey of my grandma's backyard (turns out that when a couple of former farm kids plant a retirement garden, the results tick most of the boxes in Toby Hemenway's book...)
RedHawk, I am delighted to hear about your efforts with the larger-scale farms, incorporating access for mechanized farm equipment, feasible harvest methods for polycrop planting, and other problems encountered and solved.
I'm currently mulling over some advice, that might be a good element to discuss in this thread:
I have an uncle who's spent a good part of his lifetime working with business development - contract law, sustainable investment.
He recently sat down with me and Ernie.
Part of what he had to say went something like this:
"Being raised in a liberal, West Coast family, you will have internalized the myth that Profit is Evil. And you may have begun to recognize what a crippling falsehood this is, if you want to make things happen in the world.
"You may also be aware that many parts of the world have written into law that the primary obligation of business is to make money - that corporations must consider their shareholders' profits above other factors.
They have it almost exactly backwards. I find those laws reprehensible."
(People are working to change them, or at least to create alternative models that allow businesses to legally define their values and include social impacts, environmental impacts, or other values as legally-protected priorities for board decisions.)
"Money is a tool for bringing the benefits of business - of trade, and working together - to communities. Many benefits we enjoy would not be possible, or would not work nearly so well, without money or something a lot like it.
"In order to move forward with your vision, your mission in life, you need to profit from your work. The money you make at any given stage is what you can draw on to move into the next stage.
If doing your work in the world does not bring you money, you will end up stuck - unable to continue, unable to progress, or worse, losing ground and having to start over."
"However, don't get stuck in the trap of working just for money. Don't give yourself permission to work at anything less than the most powerful work you can do, toward those most important results you want to see in the world."
There was more, but I think that's enough to chew on for now.
Working the numbers is a powerful, essential skill for surviving in the modern era. It's hard to keep your rights or influence others without money or statistics to back your claims.
Kind of like literacy is an essential skill - both of those, plus an instinct for when people are not planning to honor their word, are essential for anything involving contracts (which is almost everything, these days).
Not everyone needs to be a certified accountant or licensed contract lawyer. But we do need the basic skills to check over their work, and hopefully to spot something fishy before it has a chance to really stink up our lives.
My first exposure to permaculture was via a guest speaker who was helping build aquaculture ponds in the Amazon, to help Secoya tribal people raise some edible fish despite the poisoning of the main rivers by oil industry. (the consultant's goals involved preserving native food fish; the recipients often stocked tilapia once they found out where to get it, as protein and profit were more immediately interesting.)
This guy arranged for a tribal spokesman to speak at our school, and one of his points was:
"We don't need more willing hands or strong backs. If you really want to help us, stick with your education, get a degree in law or engineering, and bring those skills to our aid."
Implication: We are fighting oil companies, this is a battle we need to win in the courts, not just in the jungle.
We are fighting the effects of industrialization, overpopulation, and ... something I want to call de-humanization, or even demonization, of human life experience.
We need to win this fight not just in the backyard, but also in the supermarket, and in the electronics store, and in the factories that supply our tools and farm equipment, and in the education and parenting systems that teach us it's OK to isolate people from their parents, grandparents, and community members in order to make the economic wheels spin faster.
Plenty of people connect with Mother Nature on Saturdays, go to church on Sundays, and spend the rest of the week commuting, shopping, and working a job that they are pretty sure is not good for them or the rest of life on Earth.
People must have ways to make their living, raise their children, and save the farm by doing business - that makes a profit, and that is compatible with life on Earth.
Even if you grow 100% of your own food, you still need to interact with the tax man, and have some reserves in case of emergency (medical, legal, or otherwise).
Being independent of the system is a good training ground, and a good backup plan, but it does not protect you from damage in case of regional or global systemic collapse.
The rain, the bombs, the North Atlantic Current won't distinguish between 'deserving' permaculture sites or smug suburban ChemLawns.
A farm that costs $150 for every $100 its produce earns, or that puts in 10 calories of fuel and fertilizer for every calorie of food produced, make "commercial" farming look like a national-scale version of hobby farming.
More sustainable methods, both financially and nutritionally, are essential for food security let alone ethics and pride.
This work is critically important, so thank you to everyone who is contributing to it.