Travis Schulert wrote:For the market garden- I used 20 year landscape geotextile fabric, and a fully automated drip irrigation system. We applied this to a no-till garden. Yes I know there are other ways to do it, and other ways to make money without using any plastics of any kind, and I encourage you to go out and be the example needed to show you dont need any plastic to be productive. But let me tell you we battled weeds and native rhizomes for 5 years, spinning our wheels. The first year on our new property, we tried doing the 20 year fabric and drip irrigation, this literally quadrupled the profits, for about half the work load as previous years. It literally saved our garden because I dont know how long I'd be able to farm and not make a good enough profit. But, that was my decision to use plastics on a half acre of my 10 acre poly culture food forest. But that half acre literally pays for the other 9.5 acres, and paid to have almost 500 trees planted in the last 2 years, another 500 this fall...
I can completely relate to this. Where I'm from in Western Oregon, all of the sunny section of our property was habitat for the extremely aggressive perennial buttercup. We ended up using a bit of landscape fabric around some of our raised beds, and in the annual/biennial section of the garden we tried cardboard and a foot+ of woodchips surrounding no till beds. We had a spectacular garden for two people, though nothing like your production.
Buttercup is a plant with a very dense root system, where any bit of root about 1 cm long will sprout into a new plant. It's sort of like a starfish. We also had bindweed and blackberry, but those were nothing in comparison. Initially, I didn't even realize people considered bindweed a "weed" because the rhizomes pull so easy, plus you can feed them to animals. Most animals can't eat buttercup, and if it grows to more than about 2 inches tall you can't pull it without many little rootlets breaking off and what's left in the soil turning into about 10 more little plants. If you put it in a compost pile, unless it's smack dab in the middle, you end up with a beautiful pile of buttercup. We had to have a special buttercup-bits pile in an area far from the annual/biennial garden.
The cardboard and woodchips only made it just barely manageable in three years of pulling and pulling and pulling. After we moved, in two years it was a field of buttercup again. An organic farm about 3 miles from us as the crow flies used landscape fabric in order to be successful. Where buttercup thrives, farming is very challenging.
I'm going into this amount of detail to try to point out that permaculture is hyperlocal, and every location will require it's own special solutions - many of which take years to figure out the best way. Kudos to you for making a commercial enterprise work, for continuing to strive for a greater goal, and for sharing your experience with others. We need these examples in the world!
Travis Schulert wrote:
New outlooks: I hate to say it, but permaculture folks have left a very bad taste in my mouth in the last couple years. I considered myself a permaculturist since about 2008, I took Lawtons PDC. But then I started using landscape fabric on a half acre, which has upset dozens and dozens of people online, and many permaculture instructors have made it a point to attack us and our farm. It's kind of sad really, that we went through all this work, all this sacrifice, only to be booted out of the community because 5% of our paradise isnt perfection... I was told by multiple permaculture educators that my methods and systems are a complete failure, and terrible advice.
This is so painful to hear! Permaculture does attract a sort of black and white, right and wrong, mentality at times. Almost all future-thinking, revolutionary concepts do. Please don't let the haters and criticizers diminish your enthusiasm, make you doubt yourself, or create hostility within you. Their hostility is their problem.
I'm going to make some statements here that I have found to be true in my own life when I've been faced by intense criticism. These personal truths have helped me a lot over the years:
You do not need to defend your actions. Your successes speak for themselves. And you will never know how many people you've inspired, but I'm willing to bet that they are much, much greater in number than the people who've criticized you.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring update. If you can continue to manage it, please keep giving us who dare to call ourselves permaculturists a chance to hear your stories and experiences. :-)