Eric Brown

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Recent posts by Eric Brown

Tyler Ludens wrote:he was rejected as an example by a previous poster because he doesn't yet produce the maximum tonnage of food that his acreage could possibly produce, or something.



There are surely a lot of different things that people are looking for out of permaculture, some of them probably at odds with each other. You may be right that my questions can't quite piggy-back on this thread very well. There were multiple interesting stories in this thread, though.
4 years ago

R Ranson wrote:My next step in this process took me to the local library where I found two books: Small Scale Grain Raising and Homegrown Whole Grains by Sara Pitzer. Later on I also discovered Uprisings : a hands-on guide to the community grain revolution by Sarah Simpson, which has a lot about communities getting together to grow their own grain.



Ranson, what do you think of these books? I've read Logsdon's book, but I haven't seen the others yet. Do you think they offer much more, particularly details on small-scale harvesting and post-harvest processing? I wouldn't really be looking for recipes in a book like this, but detailed advice on options for most efficiently threshing small grains on a small scale or how regular oats (with hulls) would have been traditionally/historically processed to be usable for human food... those kind of processing type details are what I would find especially valuable. I liked Logsdon's book a lot, but it left me with a lot of those kinds of questions.

R Ranson wrote:when I don't feel like malting my own grain and brewing my own.



I'd love to hear more about malting your own. I've gotten as far as growing and harvesting and threshing the barley, but then I was unsure about where and how to let it start to germinate without it molding or running into other problems, and then I wasn't sure how to kiln it. I have a friend with a cob oven that I thought might be ideal for kilning at the very end of a baking/firing, but he's not super close, and getting everything to match up in terms of schedules is tricky. On the other hand, I couldn't really figure a good way to do the kilning on my own.

R Ranson wrote:You give some great examples of what that diet looks like, and the challenges to acquiring the ingredients.

I'm completely oversimplifying the issue, I know. I would love to understand the heart of the issue in two sentences or less.



I didn't mean to say anything about diet really. Personally, there aren't any halfway normal food categories that I'm opposed to. I think my lists covered about every food category anyone anywhere in the world or in history has ever built a diet from except for vegetables, mushrooms, and insects (grasshoppers...), and I'm not opposed to those either. (I guess I didn't talk about coffee, spices, herbs, coffee, other flavorings... either.) If I missed any other categories, I don't think I meant to. I do have strong beliefs about responsible agricultural production, though, so how food is produced definitely matters to me, and that indirectly influences my diet choices. For example, although I'm not at all opposed to fish, I feel like my current options for fish are relatively poor and/or relatively expensive, so I hardly eat any fish, but I hope to develop better options for myself with time, and I certainly wouldn't discourage someone else from eating a lot more fish than I currently do, even if I'm mostly talking about the things I know more about. For another example, I would have no trouble understanding if someone else wanted to avoid grains because grains weren't consistent with his vision of permaculture, but that raises the question of how those calories can otherwise be met in a way that is fairly consistent with permaculture principles.

So as far as my discussion of food categories, my intention wasn't to outline any kind of diet in any way. My intention was to point out how huge the challenges would be (how many things would be unavailable to purchase) if one wanted to reach the 90% (and really even the 50%) mark, certainly the way I think makes sense to count it (as I described before), relying on what one could currently buy in locations like mine (and I think my location is as good an example as any.) In other words, it's not that I'm at all opposed to trade, but I am opposed to being content with the best of what's currently available on the market if we could make major improvements by doing things for ourselves instead. If the choice is between a narrower vision of self-sufficiency, on the one hand, and either accepting compromises to the basics of organic principles across a large part of one's agricultural footprint, or accepting USDA organic (or the equivalent in other countries) as the complete answer to responsible agriculture, on the other hand, then I don't think it's at all unreasonable to at least consider a goal of growing (foraging, etc.) 90% of one's food, especially if one values permaculture principles. So my point in discussing the various food categories was to make the case for why permaculture principles would reasonably lead some people to want to pursue a 90%+ self-sufficient diet.

And so my question, then, to put the heart of the issue in one or two sentences is this: I want to hear/read about clear (but not necessarily super detailed/lengthy) examples of people that have reached the 90% mark following self-identified permaculture principles. It seems like those examples shouldn't be that hard to find (especially if there's any merit in calling that a mid-level achievement like having taken a PDC), but even after reading most of this thread and following several links, I still haven't found any examples that come close. That's the heart of what I'm getting at.

That's not to say that some of the people mentioned in this thread don't fully meet the mark, but if any of them do, I haven't found so much as a simple assertion that any particular person has met the mark, even to the extent that one short interview-video was clear about how much food self-sufficiency that one couple in Oregon had achieved. (That simple interview was clear, but they weren't claiming to even meet the 50% mark, let alone 90%.) The seeming lack of comparable success stories, particularly by the 90% metric (which is a metric that makes sense/seems valuable to me), does make me wonder how effective self-identified permaculture ideas are when it comes to food and agriculture.
4 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:it would be great if everyone were practicing permaculture!



Tyler, thanks for your responses before and after my last post. I didn't see the one immediately before until after I posted the last post.

You said a couple things about "everyone." I think those are fine questions to consider and try to answer, but I don't think I meant for any of my questions to be applied to "everyone." My main question is all about the best examples that can be shared and talked about. Obviously some people will have accomplished more than others, will be higher on the eco scale, etc. I'm not trying to lay any criticisms on the low level people, but I would like to hear about people that have accomplished Paul's mid-level metrics with food (either individually or in community, particularly in some location in the US or similar to the US that I could relate to.) So to respond to your comment that I quoted, I'd like to see some examples of where permaculture can take people. It's a fair question, but I guess I'm personally not so interested in the hypothetical question of what it would look like if everyone started with the beginning steps. I'm most interested in what kind of outstanding examples there are from the mid-level steps, particularly when someone's food-agricultural footprint is 90%+ shaped by reasonably mature permaculture principles, free of the kind of compromises that may be commonly necessary/unavoidable in the earlier stages. Of course, food is just one aspect, but it's very important and fundamental, and it especially interests me.

Kurt, thanks for your very careful and thoughtful point by point response. Instead of talking about myself, I really meant to speak much more broadly to the question of the potential for buying and trading in contrast to more narrowly defined self-sufficiency, merely using my own location as an example of the kind of limits that are more or less the same in lots and lots of places. So consider my responses here in the same light. In other words, I'm content to grow/work towards the goal of growing (or foraging, etc.) a lot of these things for myself, but that's only because I don't seem to see as much potential in trading as you do, especially not without people primarily doing these things for themselves.

That's not to say I don't informally trade with neighbors. I've actually done quite a lot of that. Neighbors have also been very generous with me just giving me things (not that I'm needy, but I just have generous neighbors.) However, almost all of the food things I've gotten from neighbors aren't things I (or anyone else) could buy from them, and they're almost all things that my neighbors are primarily doing for themselves and merely sharing the perishable surpluses from the good years with me. So they're not available to buy. They're extremely unreliable. They're often just token quantities (although cumulatively they're significant.) They hardly ever consist of grains, pulses, or oil/oilseeds (precisely because people rarely grow these things for themselves), and if they do consist of dairy, pork, poultry/eggs, alcohol, or honey, they're almost always major compromises of the standards I laid out, i.e. generous gifts but generally a step backwards on the eco scale from supermarket organic.

As far as what can be bought:
1. Grains can, as you suggest, certainly be grown here local-organically. Like I said before a wide variety of items from almost all these categories used to be grown here before local agriculture was subsumed by industrialization and globalization.
2. A variety of pulses can also certainly be grown here as in most places people live, but the extreme rarity of local pulses on the market in any "first world" location indicates to me that the current market potential for pulses anywhere except in the home garden is extremely limited. Selling to alternative, niche markets and growing at that scale, even before forfeiting any cost-saving shortcuts for the sake of permaculture principles, adds substantially to cost/price. Where local pulses can be found, I think the relative price compared to the most affordable USDA organic pulses is greater than about anything else (at least 300% and probably 500 to 1500% of USDA organic prices). I believe in the value of community food sovereignty and organic principles no matter how cheap industrialized food gets in comparison, but customers are really going to have to know and trust their farmer before they pay 10 times the price of USDA organic for something that probably doesn't look or taste any better.
3. Raw milk from minimal grain dairies is available here locally, but I'm not aware of any such dairies that feed organic grain, let alone grain that represents any improvement over USDA organic minimum standards. Pasteurized all grass fed milk is also available, but all grass fed still allows for synthetic fertilizers, herbicides (used especially to prepare for planting annual forages), heat synchronizing hormone injections and other organically disallowed medications... things that may be used on raw milk dairies, too. There are also USDA organic dairies locally, but all of that milk is shipped to a processing plant three states away.
4&5. There are lots of pastured pork and poultry, but similarly, in every pastured pork/poultry operation I've heard about, the grain inputs are very significant in all of these products, and I've never heard of any grain that represents an improvement over commodity organic (and it's mostly far inferior.) That's not to say that I'm currently do much (or any) better, but it certainly leaves clear room for improvement over what's available to buy on the marketplace.
6. Lamb (and goat meat) might be more feasible in other parts of the country. Parasites may be a bigger limitation in the Southeast. Sheep can be managed here without organically disallowed medications but the solutions (careful rotation schedules, rotations that involve other species, including more browse in rotations, etc.) are relatively labor-intensive, and most organically inclined customers don't understand or care enough about these details to pay an additional premium for these steps, so the producers willing/forced to use synthetic de-wormers (and synthetic fertilizers, herbicides...) are the only ones I'm aware of in the marketplace.
7. Yes, there's plenty of potential for growing and wild harvesting a nice variety of tree nuts and peanuts, limited only by the time it takes some species to reach bearing age; they're just not for sale, probably for cost reasons similar to but mostly not as extreme as with pulses.
8. There is a malt house about 120 miles away that opened up within the last 10 years, and I think they have malted some local rye or wheat. I can't remember if it was USDA organic, but it's difficult for those kind of operations to justify paying a premium for local and then an additional premium for organic standards... and it's difficult for them to reliably source the quantities they need locally, which makes it hard for them to market the "local" at all, and the only organic type standards they can effectively communicate to their customers are USDA certification standards, so growers are pretty much forced to compete in the race to the bottom of those minimum standards, unless the malt house chooses to push the local angle instead, in which case there's no premium for any kind of organic. I don't know of anyone that's growing and malting barley on a smaller scale. A smaller scale gets to be very labor-intensive, and most people are focused on the craft of the brewing so much that the agricultural footprint is forgotten. Even "organic" supermarkets frequently have pathetically small selections of organic beer and wine, it seems to me.
9. Tallow (or beef fat to render into tallow) is the fat one could best hope to buy, but I think lard and oil are much more versatile in the kitchen. Oil seems particularly essential for mayonnaise and salad dressing.
10. I think the biggest issues with buying local fish are legal issues with selling game fish. Those aren't really issues for personal consumption, though. There are other possibilities, but I'm pretty sure they haven't found a way to market here locally.
11. Maple syrup is very doable here on a small scale but not done commercially, probably because there aren't woods full of sugar maples here. There are lots of beekeepers here, but they almost always have a heavy footprint in conventional sugar or corn syrup as feed, especially if they're trying to compete in the marketplace (similar to the issues with lamb.) Robbing honey hard and feeding lots of cheap syrup just makes a world of sense from a profit perspective.

Thanks for all the shared thoughts and ideas!
4 years ago

Kyrt Ryder wrote:Can you please list these products you mention being unavailable?



Let me first be more specific about what I consider the minimum standards for being content to buy or trade for something instead of growing it or earnestly trying to/working toward growing it myself. This is just how I personally come at it, but I've heard plenty of very compatible things said by permaculture people. First of all, although I couldn't care less about whether something is certified organic, it should at least meet the basic requirements of organic. (I read in another thread that if it isn't OMRI-approved, then it's not even fit to enter into discussion on these forums, so I don't feel like I'm stretching the ideas of this forum by applying the same kind of principles to the question at hand.) That means, in my words, no organically disallowed fertilizers, pesticides, medications, GMO's, and no animal products using any of those things for the feed. That's what I mean by the basics. Secondly, it has to be local, but my definition of "local" has a different emphasis than when most people talk about local. For example, if I happen to live close to some big USDA organic farm that's producing something to sell all over the country, I don't really consider that local, but if my mother-in-law, who lives far from local, is coming to visit anyway, and she offers to bring me some no-spray pears from her tree that she canned, sweetened with honey from my own bees, that completely meets my standards. Most of the time the different definitions of local overlap, but to me the essential value in local isn't about how far something traveled to get to me but rather the connection between the producer and the consumers that shapes how the farmer farms. If a farmer is having to compete in the USDA organic marketplace, then that's going to have a huge influence on the decisions he makes about how to farm. The chief value in local to me is that the farmer can reasonably communicate his reasons for farming the way he thinks best to his customers, and his customers can choose to pay whatever it takes to support those choices. Otherwise we're never going to improve on the cheapest possible way of meeting the minimum USDA organic standards (and those standards are probably going to erode and get corrupted over time anyway.) For animal products, to meet these standards, I expect animals to be fed predominantly on feed that is both local and organic. So those are my standards.

And so by those standards, here's my list of things I don't believe I could buy at all, in answer to your question. (I'm located in the western Piedmont of North Carolina, by the way, which I'd say has a relatively strong local food scene.)
1. Any kind of food grain or grain product other than possibly corn and popcorn -- I'm not sure on this one, because I've grown my own for a long time and haven't had much reason to search -- and if I drive 80 miles also wheat flour. One could make those one's primary or sole grain staples, but it would cost at least $3/lb (plus the drive), so if I can grow it for any less than that, then I'm certainly better off growing it myself. That completely leaves out any kind of rice (except possibly for $15-20/lb at about 120 miles away), oats, buckwheat, millet, or any of the less common grains or pseudo-grains. And it definitely excludes any processed grain products like ready-made bread, tortillas, granola, pasta, crackers, breakfast cereal, etc.
2. Any kind of dry bean/pea/lentil at all.
3. Any kind of dairy, cow's or goat: milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream, cheese, etc.
4. Pork (lard, bacon, ham, etc.)
5. Any poultry or eggs.
6. Any other kind of meat besides beef.
7. Any kind of nut except possibly pecans maybe once in three years on average.
8. Beer, wine, or any other kind of alcohol. There is a local USDA organic vineyard that grows mostly native grapes and hybrids, but they add other non-organic things to all of their wines, despite growing the grapes organically, because they feel that's the only way they can appeal to a minimally necessary volume of customers.
9. Any kind of oil or oil seed (or animal fat other than beef fat and only by buying at least a quarter share of a whole beef and not very reliably even then.)
10. Any kind of fish.
11. Honey or any other kind of sweetener besides sorghum syrup and that not very reliably (only about every second or third year.)

Fruit would be limited (in comparison to the many fruits one could easily enough grow organically for oneself) and very pricey if you wanted to do things like dehydrating figs ($5-6/quart for fresh figs) and persimmons (native and Asian persimmons are both fairly easy to grow organically here, but one could only buy the natives for probably about $4-5/quart.)

Back before chemical fertilizers and pesticides, etc. there would have been lots of options for almost every one of the above categories, so it's not that a wide variety of these things can't be grown here organically; it's just that profitably growing these things for market is extremely limiting.

I'd note, too -- this is probably obvious -- that the above list covers a huge percentage of what almost everyone eats, no matter what kind of diet he follows, and no matter how you measure things. I do, however, think that counting by calories (or acreage footprint) makes more sense than counting by pounds, especially because water weight/moisture content is minimally significant but has a huge impact on pounds. Dollars would be another potential metric, better I think than pounds, but not as good as calories or acres.
4 years ago

Andrew Mateskon wrote:Trade has been necessary for human cultures since the beginning, why would you characterize permaculture as somehow only successful if it can eliminate trade from human endeavors? Why is success measured, for you, by how independent the farmer becomes with permaculture? What kind of permaculture designer implements a (in this case cultural) system thinking that the system is closed, and no parts should be interconnected?



Kyrt Ryder wrote:There is a middle ground, Eric, of producing much of one's food but having a few specializations for the sake of trade [aka commerce.]



Tyler Ludens wrote:I've never seen any claim that permaculture demands the practitioner to provide every single thing they may want, that they can never buy or trade for anything with anyone.



I'm assuming this string of responses is in response to me, but I don't see why you all think my understanding of permaculture success is inconsistent with trade. I did ask, "Or a community of permaculture people that collectively accomplish these things, truly going beyond minimum organic standards in pursuit of permaculture goals?" Secondly, the 90% of your own food metric wasn't my metric; that was Paul's metric. Am I to understand that most permaculture people would take issue with Paul on that metric of advancement?

A major difficulty/challenge I see with common notions of trading, though, is that the idea of trading frequently seems to wind up being an excuse to abandon responsibility for our agricultural footprints altogether. In other words, it's mostly not as if Pemaculture-Bob is growing permaculture barley and trading (or buying and selling) with Permaculture-Joe for permaculture beer and with Permaculture-Sam for permaculture acorn flour, etc. Most of the food items I asked about aren't available for trade/purchase in hardly any of the locations where the people on this forum (myself included) live, not grown to standards that can so much as compare to USDA organic, and they represent a huge portion of most people's (in or out of permaculture circles) calories.

If commodity organic is good enough, why concern ourselves personally (or as a community) with any questions of agricultural responsibility at all? If there's a lot more that's worth working for, how and where are we ever going to begin? How are we going to change the world if we're not going to seriously change our own agricultural footprints?

The trouble, as I said, is that so much of what most of us are used to eating isn't available to buy/trade except from the likes of Walmart (maybe sometimes with classier brand management and misleading marketing gimmicks to appeal to eco sympathies but still representing the very same system of agriculture), and since so many people would rather trade than grow (and process, etc.) most of these things for himself, no one does them, no one develops alternatives to any of these things (and the few that do are considered too expensive or their products are considered too time-consuming in the kitchen or too different from the corporate-industrial food people are used to), and so there's no one to trade with that represents a level of agricultural responsibility substantially different from Walmart. If people sympathetic to permaculture's goals are ever going to grow anything close to a whole responsible, alternative food system, they're going to have to mostly start by feeding themselves, and then they can try to expand from there. And people are doing just that. I don't personally happen to know of any that are doing so even to what Paul calls a middle level, at least I don't know of any yet, that identify with permaculture, but if and to the degree that permaculture is facilitating these kinds of steps toward agricultural responsibility, I think it will be to the permaculture movement's credit and credibility.

I've shared some of my thoughts on trade, but please don't take that as my central point. If you can accomplish the same goals some other way, great. But if the permaculture movement is moving anyone in the direction of growing 90% of his own food (individually or in community!), and then going orders of magnitude beyond that with the higher levels of the eco scale, there must be summaries of some prominent examples. A 3 minute interview like of that couple is about all it would take or a comparable written summary.
4 years ago
I don't think anything I've said has anything directly to do with the pro- vs. anti-GMO debate. When you say you're passionate about "it," it seems like you mean something else by "it" than what I was talking about, namely the "strict and particular" question of which species and varieties in supermarkets are GMO. If it were a muddy and contentious issue, why are answers uniformly recognized by the prominent voices on all sides of GMO debates? Let's not stir up contention where there is none.

Sure, it's possible that regulated genetics that weren't approved and released for commercial production could have snuck out anyway, but I don't believe that's really pertinent to any questions about using seed from the supermarket. If things have snuck out they could be anywhere. No matter how much reason there may (or may not) be for wanting to avoid the kind of unknown possibilities you talk about, I don't see any reasonable way to avoid them without first identifying them at least as far as the species.

I don't know the technical details, but I'm sure it's the case that the kind of tests you mention for corn wouldn't even be available for the kinds of risks you talk about (not that tests couldn't be made, but what the test specifically would be testing for would very probably have to be known first.)

4 years ago

R Ranson wrote:GMOs are a very difficult topic to talk because a lot of people are very passionate about them. If we go too deeply into this, there's always a chance things might get messy.



I think the only question that concerns this discussion is which species and varieties are and are not present in supermarkets as GMO's. I don't think that's a question that people are strictly and particularly passionate about, as evidence by the full agreement of lists on pro- and anti-GMO sites like I've already referenced. As it concerns the questions in this thread, I also don't see how we could "go deeply" into this; the answers that would have any applicability to the questions in this thread seem very simple and non-contentious.
4 years ago

R Ranson wrote:I knew the growing parts were present in the seeds, but I didn't know they could grow without going through dormancy first (like drying down).



If we're talking about peas and beans and corn, seeds that are normally harvested dry, as opposed to tomatoes or watermelons, for example, then I think it's important to recognize that seeds commonly continue to dry down after they go fully dormant. It's very common for farmers to harvest field corn less than storably dry, artificially dry it (e.g. with propane heat), and then store it. Traditionally corn cribs accomplished the same thing with natural ventilation. Traditionally small grains (meaning wheat, barley, etc.) were harvested and shocked in the field to finish drying. They weren't storably dry yet, but that doesn't necessarily mean they hadn't gone dormant in the sense of nutrient exchange between the seed and the plant ceasing. I frequently put desiccant packs in jars with seed to further reduce their moisture content from normally-storably dry to even drier in order to further extend their storage life. One could do the reverse, too, without necessarily reaching the tipping point where germination begins. Perennial (tree, etc.) seeds, garden weed seeds, etc., commonly remain dormant all winter, largely due to temperature. I would assume that they commonly gain moisture after first making contact with the soil.

So, obviously, the point at which seeds become viable is frequently (if not always) short of the point of having fully dried down (sufficient, in the case of most vegetables, for us to store them in a sealed container) and not precisely the same question. (And, as perhaps with cactus -- which I know nothing about as far as seed saving -- some seeds, especially tree seeds, actually need to stay moist in order to maintain optimal viability.) But if we're talking about less than fully mature seed, I think we're talking about more than just moisture content. I certainly believe what Joseph said about it being possible for seeds to germinate even before full and actual maturity, and in some cases -- particularly with vine crops, for example - I suspect seeds can continue to mature (by which I mean more than just drying down) to some degree even after separating the fruit from the plant. The question with things like sweet corn or sugar snap peas (or any other garden peas -- I only say sugar snap peas because they would seem like the best bet to find in a supermarket) is how early these things can be harvested, i.e. a question of degree. The fact that less than fully dry seed can finish drying down doesn't speak directly and precisely to the question of maturity. I don't think anything other than actual trials and observations can speak to the question of actual maturity (although, then again, I suppose anything might theoretically be explained in terms of the molecular science, but that would likely be too technical for this context and for me.)
4 years ago
A couple nights ago I read almost every post in this thread, followed several links, watched a video where a woman and a couple were separately interviewed about how much land it would take to grow all of one's own food, etc. I hope I'll be permitted to give a little personal background and ask some challenging questions here.

I've been a full-time homesteader/farmer for several years, so I've run into some permaculture people but I've never gotten very deep into anything calling itself permaculture. My impression of permaculture so far is that permaculture's goals are admirable (and very similar to my own) and that there's a neat willingness in permaculture circles to think outside the box, but there also seem to be some permaculture "thought boxes" -- hugelkultur and swales, while they may have substantial benefits, seem like possible examples -- and I've been suspicious of how proprietary permaculture is, especially when, as I think Paul quoted Mollison as saying, permaculture doesn't have anything new to offer (or something to that effect, if I remember correctly.)

Despite everything I've read in this thread (and linked from this thread) and everything I've heard about permaculture people before coming to this forum, I feel like I still haven't found any examples of "permaculture" farms/homesteads that I find notably impressive in terms of what they've attained by permaculture standards (as I understand them), particularly looking at things from an agricultural perspective, even to the extent I have found such information about farms and homesteads outside permaculture circles.

In another thread Paul talks about a "Wheaton eco scale" where merely mid-level people would grow 90% of their own food, but the way I'd count things (not counting things that weren't at least grown to standards comparable to USDA organic and not counting animal products from animals raised on commodity organic feed), I haven't found a clear summary account of anyone in permaculture circles that would meet that mark. I'm not saying the people aren't there -- I don't know; I'm just saying I haven't found any clear, basic descriptions yet -- but it wouldn't be that hard for someone to describe (or have an article written about them) about what they eat and how independent their food supply is from conventional and even standard USDA organic-type agriculture. For instance, is there anyone in permaculture circles that produces (including wild foraging, etc.) all of his own grain products, all of his own animal feed, makes his own beer from his own barley and hops, presses his own salad oil from oil seeds he grew, leaches the tannins from enough acorns to replace the amount of wheat that normal Americans eat, makes his own fermented sausages without purchased additives (beyond maybe salt), makes his own hard/aged cheese with "homegrown" cultures and rennet, etc.? Or a community of permaculture people that collectively accomplish these things, truly going beyond minimum organic standards in pursuit of permaculture goals? Does anyone even meet the 90% mark counting by calories (and not counting animal products from animals raised on commodity organic feed (or less-than-organic))?

It seems obvious to me that running a farm/homestead that was that diverse would be very labor-intensive compared to highly specialized and mechanized farms (standard monocrops, etc.), so it seems conceivable to me that there's currently enough demand for workshops, speakers, books, etc., that the people that theoretically might be most capable of providing the most impressive farm/homestead examples, particularly in terms of food, would rather spend their time teaching than actually living the permaculture life themselves and doing all the manual labor year after year. On the other hand, I've heard talk about how smart permaculture design can create a farm that achieves permaculture goals without the labor demands that seem obvious to me. But again, I haven't seen any accounts of farms that have been able to redefine labor and input cost per unit of product equations by applying permaculture design principles.

The couple in that one video (embedded in this thread) seemed like they were being highlighted as an outstanding example of permaculture -- and I don't mean to say their homestead wasn't outstanding -- but they admitted they weren't even providing close to 50% of their own calories. Where's the comparable 3 minute video or short written summary of the Wheaton eco scale mid-level permaculturist? Or the higher level permaculture people that go beyond 90% and do so without tractors, combines, and other industrial machinery? Maybe the highest level people don't have time to answer these questions, but surely someone else could give a reasonable summary (or already has) of their operations (someone that has interned on these farms, visited them, read their books, or whatever), or not? Are my perceptions justified? What am I missing?
4 years ago