Once upon a time, I had the run of 365 acres, but at that time, I knew very little about land and its potential. Now I work in a small company, wear lots of hats as a network engineer, book keeper, tech support, HR admin, payroll specialist, inventory analyst, generally "keeping the wheels on." I'm no scientist, but I suggest all permaculture laboratories record data, to help make the case for change, and to move public opinion and perceptions forward about production in the landscape.
How many ways can we use data?
Can we trace the flow, from the the harvest areas of each property, as products funnel into pre-prep, for either immediate use or storage, where dedicated space and the tools necessary are found for recording preliminary data related to the harvest? Such notes might include: area on the property from which the harvest was taken, and species/weight/volume/season, other pertinent observations about the season, weather, etc. that formed the harvest, results obtained from new techniques. Include here a seed saving/processing area, collections of containers, markers, journals. Notes from all areas can be gathered later, processed and consolidated (during winter reviews?) to help inform future planting/development decisions.
Into and out of the pantries, cold cellars, or larders, similarly record: the consumption, up or down, by the group of particular foodstuffs, and positive or negative reviews, for later analysis in the same manner: what are we eating that we like, don't like, are curious about, is worth further effort, should be discontinued, improved from last season, can be improved upon further, etc. The better the feedback loop, the more efficient the expansion and development.
Extend throughout the landscape and homestead. Record voice, sketch and draw, include short video clips, transcribe.
Periodically gather the data in, and either casually or formally analyze it, to grow an organic, ever evolving relational database to paint the big picture. What better place, than around the kitchen tables and prep areas, to hash it all out? Present a few quick notes at the start of meals, "These scarlet runner beans are from x location, they seemed to produce better this year because we did xy instead of z." "We only got a few artichokes because we think the location is not quite suitable, note to try and establish some on the south end, near the rocky wall." "The bacon is finished smoking, and is from x batch where the pigs were permitted this year to forage over by the stream." Or just have a dining room journal, for a more casual response from thoughtful diners.
I have been following permies for a few years now; such inspiring stuff! Thanks very much for all you do.