Andrew Yansen

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since Feb 02, 2013
Pacific Northwest, USA Zone 8b
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Recent posts by Andrew Yansen

I've been following this conversation with both interest and frustration. I would consider myself a "post-primativist" feral permaculturarist at this point in terms of mindset, and while I am completely in support of the OP's mission and would love to see it come to fruition, I find it troubling how linearly the relationship between horticulture and hierarchy is being viewed here. I also would like to speak out about the role that ideology has been playing out in this discussion, and how dangerous it can be in the context of a larger movement (the permaculture movement). The primativist ideology, like all ideologies, tends to see things in black and white, and I don't think this is a constructive way of looking at the world, especially within the context of our shared global struggle. I was deep into the primativist ideology hole until I read Ted Kaczynski's critique of John Zerzan's work (http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ted-kaczynski-the-truth-about-primitive-life-a-critique-of-anarchoprimitivism). He rips Zerzan's work apart by looking at his sources and realizing that most of what Zerzan quotes as proof of primative human's wonderfulness is no where to be found in the sources cited! I have noticed the same thing going on in this very thread, the references to "The Art of Not Being Governed" (which I started reading after following this thread) must be to a different book than the one I picked up!

A suggested "post-primativist" work is Ran Prieur's "Beyond Civilized and Primative" (http://ranprieur.com/essays/beyondciv.html). Good exploration of why go beyond the ideology, and of how much that opens up the possibilities for us!

Hunter gathering and horticulture can both exist in harmony, in fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find an example of any society that explicitly practiced one or the other (barring the Inuit example). From my perspective, something as small as breaking the stems of certain plants, or staying in one place long enough to build up a concentration of seeds from food plants, would be enough to count as a form of horticulture. I would like to propose that a new term gets used to remove the charges behind the terms "HG" and "horticulturalist." For example, indigenous land management, with that term representing a whole range of possible ways of subsisting.

Primativist ideology sells the idea that simply by adopting a hunter gatherer lifestyle we will reach the optimal state of human being, and cure all of our earthly woes, but I consider that a cop out. It is a much more difficult (and in my opinion, important) task to actually form a relationship with a landbase and to form a unique culture that inhabits and takes part in that ecosystem, and that relationship will not simply fit into some linear model of (HG/non-hierarchal<--->Horticultural/Hierarchal). The ideology says that if we live as hunter gatherers that an egalitarian lifestyle will be assured and life will be gold, but the world just ain't that simple.

Much more to say on this topic, but the library is closing down and it's back to the woods for me.
4 years ago
Hi there Chris, thanks for coming out to the forums.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and our characteristic long damp humid winters can cause problems with long term durability of structures. It seems like earthen and cob based construction would be even more susceptible to these problems. Do you have any wisdom or common mistakes you have seen that you think would make a difference in long term structural durability in our climate?
4 years ago
The Bullock brothers recommended I check out Huerta de Vida in Mendoza (NE Arg) area --> http://huertadevida.blogspot.com.ar/
I have been in contact with them and will visit in late March. It sounds like they are pretty open to being more flexible with people visiting out of their set schedule as well.
5 years ago
Kai's blog is great, he's definitely doing some awesome work over there. Looks like he wouldn't mind a hand though! I have often thought about how powerful the establishment of an strong urban permaculture movement in Tokyo would be, especially seeing as what happens in Tokyo by and large determines the popular culture of the rest of the country. Oh the possibilities

For anyone interested in checking out more permaculture in Japan, Kai (the writer of Tokyo Urban Permaculture) has another blog called "Living Permaculture" where he has posted a list of permaculture and/or interesting sites around Japan --> http://livingpermaculture.blogspot.com/2013/09/permaculture-in-japan-sites-to-see.html

I can personally recommend Dion Workman's writing and forest garden (http://nakazora.wordpress.com/). Spent a week there in 2012, totally changed my life.

Ken Elwood's blog is also excellent (kenelwood.wordpress.com). I haven't met him in person, but by the looks of it he has a great forest garden going on, and has been doing some really neat work including starting his own sovereign micronation in Japan (http://woodlandpatchwork.wordpress.com/). He's also got a great collection of links to various people doing cool stuff in Japan.
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5 years ago
Hey Permies,

I’ve been rereading the One Straw Revolution and listening to Paul’s podcasts with Larry Korn, and a question has come up that I hope someone here can help me clarify.

Fukuoka writes that the natural state of a tree is best, and that even the smallest human alteration to a sapling will necessitate pruning and other care for its entire lifetime. However, it seems obvious that for fruit trees, grafting is the only way to go to get consistently good trees unless you have a large acreage and can afford to have some lemons. Larry even mentions in the podcast that Fukuoka was mostly growing specific grafted varieties of citrus for the market, while also mixing in trees grown from seed for genetic diversity and food for the wildlife.

So, how does this compute? Can a grafted tree actually grow into its natural form, or was Fukuoka only referring to trees grown from seed? (And thus pruning and giving other additional care to his grafted trees)
6 years ago
Hey yall,

I'm currently interning at a homestead out in the Kapoho area of the big island of Hawaii (zone 12A). I've got a nice garden space out front of my living area that is totally unused on account of the flock of 12 hens that free range in the area. Previous occupants have tried (unsuccessfully) fencing in tomatoes and other vegetables, but for crops like that we have another chicken-free garden area. I'm still determined to use the space however (seeing that square of empty soil every day is unbearable ) and so I’m trying to draw up a list of potential herbs or edibles that the chickens wouldn’t be interested in. It would be especially nice to get a perennial kitchen herb garden going; make the place more comfortable for future interns and all.

So far I've been planning on propagating mint, tropical thyme, and nasturtium (there is a trellis area for them to climb). I’ve also heard basil isn’t their favorite, so I was thinking of perennial (holy) basil. I’ve seen several bird pepper plants doing well around the chickens here too, so I might give them a go as well.

Does anyone else have recommendations for plants the chickens won’t touch, especially perennial herbs? I know it will be a challenge getting most plants going with the chickens scratching around, but I’m looking for things that, once established, won’t be so appetizing to the chickens, but will add variety to my and future intern’s diets.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice 
6 years ago
Thanks for the ideas Matt!

I actually spent a week with Dion last fall at Shikigami - they're doing some amazing stuff out there.

Do you happen to keep any sort of blog? I'd love to hear what your experiences are like at the other two farms you linked too.

I've found it can be hard to tell from website exactly what kind of natural farming a farm subscribes to. For example, this farm:
http://ureshipa.com/about/about_ureshipa.htm
It's apparently a really great place and they are really into their natural farming ethic, but according to Dion they are members of this natural farming network where you basically pay and buy certain products in order to be a natural farm. It sounds like there are a lot of farms in this network as well, but the idea of using certain "natural farming" techniques and certain "natural farming" products seems to be going against the whole philosophy of Fukuoka's natural farming in the first place.
6 years ago
Thank you for the thoughtful response Larry.
I've also found that many farmers seem unwilling to let go of their ideas of typical organic farming and accept Fukuoka's teachings or permaculture concepts as anything more than just an "interesting idea." The lack of other existing successful Fukuoka-esque farms doesn't help either.
If I do find any particularly inspiring examples in my further explorations of Japan I'll make sure to update you on them.
6 years ago
I just created this account last night with Firefox and have had no trouble posting.

Edit: Running Windows 7
Hi Larry, thank you for coming out to the forums, and thank you so much for all your work in bringing Fukuoka-style natural farming into the English speaking world.

I'm not sure if you have continued to be involved in the natural farming movement in Japan much, but I was wondering if you are aware of any Japanese natural farmers still in practice who follow Fukuoka's methods and philosophy closely, or was Fukuoka's orchard really a one time phenomenon?

I know there are many natural farmers in Japan now, but so many of them are more Kawaguchi style, or EMS microorganism "natural farming" or just a member of one of many other organizations that refers to themselves as "natural farming". After reading Wara Ippon, I searched for a place in Japan doing work like Fukuoka's where I could learn, and after much fruitful searching ended up spending some time working at an ecovillage in Japan that professes to follow "shizennouhou," but their idea of natural farming was little more than your standard organic farming with lots of EMS usage. When I asked them about their thoughts on Fukuoka, most of them felt that he had a nice idea and had been a big influence, but that his work had been mostly a failed experiment and that their form of "natural farming" was much more successful and realistic.

So, to expand my question, do you still see straight Fukuoka-style shizennou as a valid method of farming now, or would you also say that it has been surpassed by these other movements and should be seen more as a source of inspiration than a practical idea?
6 years ago