Here are some ideas, maybe.
- On competition, collaboration, and winning:
Since competition is fun on a certain level, but destructive on another, I think the processes should compete, not just the people.
I believe that in a group of folks, everyone needs to play to their strengths and also rise to the challenges they've got. This is difficult when each is sequestered. It should be expected that all primary gardeners will have to help each other to some extent via bartered time or whatever. The documentation of all the transactions will help to show benefits of each plan, as well as reflecting on individual input.
- On plans, and defining "winning":
Everyone has some pet projects and ideas for their BEST permaculture solution for this.
I think part of the hurdle for entry could be a thorough and robust plan (using as much proven success as possible as a basis).
I look at it as a person uprooting their life and immigrating to rural Montana, trying to make a harvest against the local obstacles and within specified constraints. What if this were my only option for feeding myself after harvest begins and had to survive til I could feed myself again the next Spring? That's tough, very tough. I think the idea is that winners stick to the pre-arranged constraints. But the over-arching decision-maker is whether something leads to more success for the group as a whole. If everyone eats and lives, everyone is a winner.
Plans that produce well while staying in constraints provide useful intelligence, which is VERY VALUABLE.
That's the goalpost for me. Did a gardener/player adequately plan and document a truly successful harvest? Are the details, constraints, and narrative informative enough so someone could repeat the process?
- What happens after first harvest, and how does that reflect on the quality of the plan and execution?:
What is the minimum required to look beyond the first year? How MANY trees? Or goats bred or whatever?
This would be part of judging both the quality of the plan, and success even after a year.
Perhaps, instead, the one method or goal is to put as little effort into that first harvest as possible, while still succeeding? "What have you to show for yourself?" - "Well, I just barely got the 1M calories, but also I learned to do a handstand, make baskets, spent many summer days helping my neighbors ..." - that sounds successful to me. So does investing time in whatever will make next year more successful and productive.
- Off-dirt exchange of goods/services, before, during, and after:
It might be also reasonable to use off-farm exchange as a metric of success.
Not only exports are success in communities.
Does the gardener's Permie community have the necessary connections to IMBUE what's needed? What would the hard limits be?
What do we gain through collaboration and connection with the "outside"? Don't we all consume what the honey makers make?
Flexibility there, I suggest, should be biased toward success in repeatable TARGET situations.
That is, a good winning example might culminate in dairy-goat farming for cheese, and that requires cold storage.
I think winning strategies should include connections to outside resources as a requirement, such as finding cold-storage to rent until the cheese-cave is built(?). It goes to commitment and longevity. I don't know if it is objective to deeply limit outside input, if it will amplify a successful plan.
Just thoughts. Cheers.