Deb Berman

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since Sep 12, 2010
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Recent posts by Deb Berman

I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say that I think it’s a really good idea.  The only big issue I can see, and I think it would be pretty easy to solve, is biosecurity.  It would be really easy to transmit diseases or things like lice between farms without taking proper biosecurity measures.  That said, I think it would be pretty easy to set up a good biosecurity protocol so that never happened.

A mobile fiber processor could arrive on shearing day and process fiber into value added products right than and there, which would save the fiber farmer a huge amount in transaction costs (both time and money).

A good low cost way to start up a mobile fiber processing business would be to start with a good quality drum carder like a Pat Green Supercard, and an electronic spinner.  There are compact three-sink stainless steel commercial sinks that could be easily fitted inside a utility trailer or retrofitted horse trailer for washing fiber. These things can sometimes be picked up on craigslist, for an even cheaper way to get started.

I hope someone will actually do this.  As I said, I think it’s a great idea.
1 year ago
Thanks everybody for contributing to this conversation. I'm so glad other people are interested!

Our idea to date on the covenants is that each site being protected would have a permaculture design registered with the permaculture conservancy (which we've tentatively named The Permaculture Conservation Trust). The design would have all the usual zones, sectors, species inventory, and everything else a good design has. Proposed changes to the design would be submitted to the Trust, and if accepted, would be registered with the original design. There would also be a management plan.

Part of the job of the conservancy would be to go around and check to make sure that what’s going on in the site corresponds to what’s in the design and management plans, so that when the property changes hands after the original site designer leaves it, the site and its design continue to be protected.



I would like to get everybody who is interested in a permaculture conservancy working together to make it happen ASAP. Maybe we could pull together an email list of folks who would like to do this.

Our group that has been working on this has a Board of Directors, an almost-final draft of bylaws, and a draft of a conflict of interest policy. We are almost ready to incorporate, and then the next step will be to apply for federal nonprofit status. We can be a national organization, but we have to register in each state that we are operating in. So anyone who wants to join us in making this happen can, regardless of where in the US they are. (Our bylaws allow us to meet electronically).

We could use more people for the Board of Directors; also we could use a webmaster/social media person or persons, and someone to handle crowdfunding.

I am very interested to hear how the those of you who have been working on this have been thinking about it and where you have gotten with it so far. I would love to be able to join forces and make a really good organization that meets the needs of the permaculture community.
2 years ago
Re: evaporation and duckweed -- I admit it's not scientific as I don't have a comparable tank with no duckweed in it, but I just went and looked at it and the water level is only down a couple of inches from where it was the last time it rained (maybe a month ago), and its been in the 90s or above the last 2 weeks. My impression from filling the livestock tanks and the birdbaths is that this one hadn't had the duckweed in it it would have been dry or almost dry by now. I should think it would be worth experimenting with. I'm sure it does lose some water from transpiration but maybe the humidity level right at the surface of the pond is close enough to 100% that the transpiration rate is actually very low.

Re: BMAA --My understanding is that no one is really sure what triggers cyanobacteria to produce their toxins, which is why I'm uneasy about using azolla in my systems as otherwise it's a very cool plant with lots of potential uses. If we knew what conditions could trigger toxin production we could theoretically control for them. But not knowing makes it kind of a crap shoot.
3 years ago
Theoretically, azolla, due to its cyanobacterium associate, has the potential to produce BMAA, which is a neurotoxin, although nobody seems to know under what conditions it might be prone to do that. It might be more prudent to use duckweed instead if you or animals are ever going to eat it. Duckweed as far as I know doesn't have that problem.

I have a stock tank that I grow duckweed in for my aquaponic system (fish food), and it has made such a thick mat that the water isn't really evaporating much at all, even though our temps have been stinking hot the last couple of weeks. Also, the tank isn't breeding mosquitoes anymore, as they can't get to the water surface to lay their eggs.

Did somebody else mention this link? http://theazollafoundation.org
3 years ago
I've been thinking about using biochar for the medium in my media beds. Seems to me that it might be good as it has such a high surface area (I think hydroton and expanded shale do also, the usual media of choice) so it would have lots of habitat for the nitrosofiers and nitrifiers in the system, and so make a really good biofilter. I think, since pathogens tend to be anaerobes, that as long as you're careful with your DO levels, and make sure your system doesn't have any dead zones, that there isn't any reason why it should be a problem. As far as I know, biochar is pH neutral, which is one of the main things to worry about.

If nobody knows for sure, maybe we should try it and see how it works.
3 years ago
Worked great for me: Macbook, Safari.
Several of us have been talking about what we see as the need in the permaculture community for some sort of permaculture land conservancy that would enable permaculture sites to be protected from future development.

We are all busy developing sites that are planned for the long term, are based on perennials, and are oriented towards developing a long term, regenerative culture (aka permanent culture). We are also, for the most part designing our sites with trees as major design elements, many of whom will not come into maturity until long after the site has passed from our hands.

In addition, we have a generation of permaculture elders, many of whom are, in fact, elders, who have established/developed sites that may be at risk for development when they pass on.

So what we were thinking is that we need a way for our sites to be protected from development, and continued to be managed as permaculture sites, down the years --something like the way land trusts/conservancies do.

What conservancy-type land trusts usually do is to have a mechanism for receiving development rights to a piece of property. They then take responsibility for making sure that no development occurs on that property over time and as it changes owners. We think that it would be pretty easy to do the same type of thing for permaculture sites.

What do other people think? Do you think there is a need for this? If so, would you be interested in helping to make it happen? Is there already something like that out there?

I apologise if there is already a thread about this, and I would love to be directed to it if there is.
3 years ago
That's really interesting. The reference about sagebrush as a nurse plant that sticks in my mind was one which was about growing pinyon pines. It said they needed to have a sagebrush as a nurse plant to get established. As a general rule conifers like to germinate and have their baby years in mineral soil, so maybe one of the reasons pinyons like to grow next to a sagebrush is that the allelopathy that prevents those grasses from growing ensures them a mineral soil spot to get going in.
4 years ago
It's something I keep thinking about. Here in the Palouse we can easily do Mark Shepard -type systems, using native tree and shrub species and their analogs. We have been planning a similar system ourselves (been delayed by land tenure issues but hopefully this spring...). Also someone who is taking my PDC which starts tomorrow is very inspired by Mark Shepard and wants to do a similar system on their farm in Deary. The Palouse was/is naturally a savannah (to the best of our knowledge), so it fits pretty well.

When you get out to the Columbia Basin (in the shrub-steppe, as opposed to the ag-steppe which is what I call the current Palouse wheat monoculture), it seems less clear. There really aren't a lot of trees except along waterways, and most of our perennial systems are tree based. Sagebrush can act as a nurse plant for some tree species, as it is a very efficient hydraulic pump, and earthworks can be put in place for water harvesting, but we are still trying to do the thing that humans always do of trying to superimpose our (usually European) desired ecologies on native ecosystems that are already functioning well and producing plenty of food only we are just ignorant of what it is. So it seems to me that the place to start is to learn about what the native shrub steppe has to offer, and then go from there. Curious about what other people think of this.
4 years ago
People suggested some of these as part of the clothing PEP1, but I thought it deserved its own PEP1. I'm not sure how to allocate skill levels. Please, all, jump in and say what you think, and add things.

Make curtains.
Make a quilt.
Make a mattress.
Make rugs: make a woven rug, make a hooked rug, make a braided rug, make a pile rug.
Make a slipcover.
Reupholster a chair.
Make an upholstered chair from scratch.
Make a feather pillow.
Make a featherbed.
Make a down comforter.
Make a non-down comforter.
Make a woven/knitted/crocheted coverlet.
Make sheets and pillowcases.
Make cushions.
Make towels.


4 years ago