Robert Meyer

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since Jan 23, 2013
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Recent posts by Robert Meyer

Greetings folks!

I thought I'd put this out there and see if anyone else might be in the same
place as I am, and would perhaps like to join forces so that our efforts might
be able to achieve more than they otherwise would on our own.

I'm a beginning farmer, hoping to start farming independently in the next 3-5
years. I have a background in horticulture and landscape design, working for
landscaping companies and a garden center in the past couple years. I'm
currently interning at a 40 acre farm in Asbury, NJ, helping them expand their
orchard and grow annual veggies, along the way encouraging them to grow more
perennials and develop their more wild systems, food forests, riparian
buffers, renewable energy, etc. They're open to the ideas, but somewhat set
in their ways, so it's a challenge. I plan on interning for two more years
after this at different places, getting as many different experiences as
possible, and hopefully earning a PDC along the way, and trying my hand at a
wild crafting start-up as a side business. After that, I'd like to lease land
for two years, hopefully building up enough capital to put a down payment on a
permanent property. I don't have a specific location or general region in
mind, but I would like to have some impact and interaction with a degenerating
urban area, while residing primarily in a rural or peri-urban setting. Camden
and Newark NJ, and Detroit MI are the three regions I've been considering. A
very big recent inspiration has been Mark Shepard's new book Restoration
Agriculture, that calls for the creation of large scale farms that mimic the
native ecology, while producing staple crops for humanity. This is the frame
of mind that I am coming from, large scale systems, intensively and complexly
designed, having an impact on urban areas by providing food security, plant
stock for community gardens/food forests, and education.

Is there anyone out there who is interested in pursuing this same route? A
huge roadblock to my pursuit of this idea is the sheer cost of land in the
Northeast. Perhaps, if we were to combine forces, the two or three or four of
us could afford to purchase a large plot of land (I'm thinking 100 acres
minimum, but the bigger, the better in my opinion), whereas on our own, we
would be economically forced to stay on smaller plots, having less of an
ecological impact overall.

If you're interested, please get in touch, and we'll at least
discuss our ideas. If nothing comes of it, at least let's share our paths and
experiences, and see what we can learn from each other. Even if you're not
interested in joining forces, critiques and analysis of my overall path and
plans is certainly appreciated.
7 years ago
You may want to look into the work of Mark Shepard at New Forest Farm. He's grazing cows and pigs through chestnut, oak, hazelnut, apple, and berry polyculture. They eat the fallen fruits. So any of those plants would be an option as a rotationally grazed silvopasture assemblage, providing great supplement to the pasture throughout the season. The other benefit of a silvopasture system like that is that it extends the seasonality of the pasture, which means less need for off season fodder. Others to consider are bamboo (cattle love the tender tops, so rather than throw them away when you harvest for poles, feed them instead...not technically pollarded, more coppiced for poles), Tilia species (pollard very well, but also a prime human edible, so perhaps you might plant it for your own personal use, with an added fodder benefit), siberian pea shrub (caragana arborescens, seeds only, especially good for poultry), and beech (fagus sp., again also a good human edible, lemony new growth in spring, not entirely positive it's good for fodder, but I know the nuts definitely have been fed to livestock historically).
7 years ago
Hey everyone,

Does anyone know of any commercial models of kitchen stove that runs on renewable energy. The most viable ones that I've considered are biogas (although I've heard that it is difficult to scale, unless you have a very consistent source of fuel), wood burning, and wood gas. I posted this same question recently in a different venue, and someone sent this beauty in response:

I really like this model because you can also heat hot water for sink, shower, or heating use. However, what I noticed is that unlike a gas stove, you cannot increase or decrease the heat, you're pretty much stuck on one heat setting. That's not ideal for commercial cooking. With the kitchen queen model in mind, I set out to create a wood gas stove that has a similar concept, but since it is using gas, is able to have high heat to low heat on the stove top. The oven and griddle will be whatever temperature is being conducted from the combustion chamber, but I feel that this is more acceptable, and it may even be possible to have some sort of temperature control, I'm not sure. Also, when the stove stop is not in use, there is a generator for utilizing the excess wood gas in electricity generation. Something not pictured could be conducting excess heat to a water chamber for hot water or heating use.

What are you thoughts, would this system work? Is there any sort of tweaking that might need to be done to make it work more efficiently or effectively? Would anyone happen to know anyone who could design and/or build such a system? Finally, does anyone have any other ideas for renewable energy commercial cooking stove?

7 years ago

Julie Anderson wrote:Alternative economic methods of exchange other than money are nice to theorize about, but I think that the reality is unless there is a cataclysmic financial event, the status quo of using money for exchange is going to persist.

I have observed that there seems to be a spectrum of beliefs about Permaculture. At one end is the Permaculture as a religion camp. At the other end is the Permaculture as a practical skill camp. I fall more towards the skill end of the spectrum. I have no problem with paying for content. The people that put it together have created a value for me by gathering and presenting the material in an organized fashion. I don't believe that Permaculture content, and the creators of it should be held to different standards than the creator of any other type of content.

It appears to me that the people who are objecting to people being paid for Permaculture tend to fall on the Permaculture as a religion end of the spectrum. If these folks want to go out and proselytize the religion of Permaculture to the masses for free, more power to them. I don't think it's right for those folks to expect everyone to do the same.


Julie, two points. The first is that one could say exactly what you are saying about anything, regarding the status quo persisting unless there is a cataclysmic event. This is especially true about permaculture in general. Growing things in monoculture in far away places will be the status quo until there is a cataclysmic event. People will continue to use fossil fuels until there is a cataclysmic event. People will never grow food in their own backyard until there is a cataclysmic event. All of these statements, while arguably true given the current trends, come from a very pessimistic point of view. If instead, we turn it around and say that while all of these things are deeply ingrained trends of society, we as individuals and a group have the power to change these things if we work towards creating and advocating for them, then we can see that these things are in fact changeable if we strive towards changing them. In addition, just like any other permaculture technique, I would argue that alternative methods of exchange are totally critical to our resilience as a society. Having one currency created from a central location, created through debt, is a very poor way of doing money. On the one hand, it makes money scarce and constantly flowing out of the community, and on the other, it means that the US government is constantly owing money to banks, both of which are not the best of ideas. Alternative economics have found solutions to them, and in fact, there are lots of alternative currencies that you have probably used recently. For example, frequent flier miles are technically an alternative currency. As you fly more often, you get these alternative notes of value that you can turn in later. Same thing with coupons. We can, if we desire, design similar, and perhaps better systems into our own businesses and communities, leading to resilience, an increased sense of community, and more overall well being for our society. If instead, we say "this is the status quo, so this is the way it is", we will remain powerless to the whims of central bank and politicians.

The other point I wanted to talk about was the division of permaculture into religion and skill. I generally agree with this, and you can most certainly see this division in the permaculture literature, most notably with david holmgren on the religion side and bill mollison on the skill side. However, I don't think that you could characterize alternative currencies as part of the religion side. As I discussed above, it is a practical tool that we can use to build resilience in a community, just like any other permaculture technique. It is not some mystical pseudoscientifical notion, but a real thing that we can do, so I do somewhat take offense to that characterization.

Here's a great video if you're curious about learning more. A great quote, very pertinent to permaculture is "Because we use a monoculture of money, that is why it is unstable." These "catastrophes" are not unavoidable. Check it out:

Sorry to derail the thread, I'll start a new one!!
It certainly could, but so could many topics that are relevant to the overall subject matter, but not necessarily the original subject itself. For example, one could talk about building raised beds, and someone could suggest that the person do hugelkulture instead. Would it not seem somewhat suppressant of the idea of hugelkulture if someone said "there are dedicated threads to hugelkulture, talk about it there", especially since hugelkulture is essentially a revolutionization of how one thinks of a raised bed? I'm confused why the discussion of this subject is being discouraged here, as it is definitely relevant.

Robert Ray wrote: The conversation is diluted when we bring in type of currency whether it is LETS, kronas, Euros or dollars. Should it be free or have a cost associated with it, is a seperate conversation as to what to purchase something with.

I think the conversation is diluted already because we're debating an opinion, as I mentioned above. There is no right or wrong answer, and no one can force anyone to do what they think is right, so it's a fruitless debate in general. However, when you start analyzing the structure of money as it is currently, we can start looking at ways that you could argue would make things technically free, or based on other measures of value besides dollars, which gives nuance to the topic, and leads us down interesting and complex paths of discussion, besides simply "things should be free" vs. "no they shouldn't, people need to make a living". When money itself is redefined, making a living takes on a different meaning.
I'd also like to mention that I don't think that talking about alternatives to traditional money is off topic here. To use yet another analogy, the reaction that I've received here would be like someone saying "Should we grow things organically?" and someone saying "But wait, you don't have to just grow things organic, you can grow them using permaculture!!", and the person who asked the question saying "Well that's not what I asked, so I'm going to ignore your answer.". Do you not see the foolishness in this? It's a very relevant topic to the discussion at hand, and to flat out ignore it is absurd in my opinion.
Here's my final opinion the subject, for who ever is interested in reading it. I should have said this right up front to make my position entirely clear.

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. This is basically like asking "should I grow chickens?". Some people may like having chickens, some people may not, some people may like the idea of it, but not actually have them. One thing is for certain in my mind. If you were to ask that question, and get answers in return, the most completely illogical reaction to that situation would be to say "I don't want chickens, stop commanding me to have them, you can't force me!!!"...

Similarly, some people may want to give everything they produce away, some people may want to put a price on all of it, and some people may want to make their stuff available partially free, by suggested donation, or via a complementary currency system. None of these approaches are right. There are as many answers to this question as there are unique people out there in the world. I definitely don't think it's moral (nor actually possible really) to force someone to sell or give away their stuff. Whatever they want to do with it is their business, and people may judge them negatively for it, but who cares? That's what's great about a generally free market system, we have the opportunity to experiment with various business approaches, and no one can force us otherwise (unless you misinterpret a civil debate as someone trying to force you).

paul wheaton wrote:

laura sharpe wrote:Sigh. You asked for opinions. We are not good for agreeing nor bad for disagreeing. Delete the thread if you do not want opinions.

I think there is a difference between people offering opinions, and people commanding me to think their thoughts. Or presenting false information as fact.

Paul, no one is commanding you to do anything, please stop victimizing yourself. Furthermore, me and kari have presented information that you seem to be incredibly opposed to, but have yet to provide a comprehensive analysis of. We patiently await your analysis. Until then, you're just arguing semantics.
I admit my error on that point, and beg your utmost humble forgiveness. I will step away from defending that point, in the hope that we can continue the discussion.

I am not in any way advocating for theft or slavery. What I am advocating is an examination of the monetary system, and a striving towards alternatives. Does that mean we shouldn't be able to make money doing permaculture, especially in the short term? Definitely not! I consider myself an entrepreneur, and am very interested in business planning, and figuring out ways to make money in a permacultural way. However, when I do finally get that business up and running (perhaps beforehand), I would love to be able to take part in a system that makes the flow of goods much easier. One good example was mentioned above, in the form of LETS. This system does not advocate or involve theft or slavery in any way. That's why I was getting so frustrated, because I mentioned this really great set of ideas that one could argue would essentially make things "free" by all practicality (you could get whatever you need whenever you need it, not being restricted by finite money), and yet it was mostly ignored by you Paul. That was my main frustration here. What is your opinion of LETS? It's technically currency, but as I said, non-restrictive, and for all practical purposes, allows things to be based on reputation rather than finite money.

As a final reinforcement, I'm definitely NOT saying you should be prevented from selling anything having to do with permaculture, and that I myself am planning to do so in the near future.