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Summary

Paul continues his review of Sepp Holzer’s Desert or Paradise with Opalyn, Mark, and Katie.

The group switches to talking about Geoff Lawton, who has mostly the same idea, but a different way of saying it.  There are the odd disagreements between Geoff and Paul, such as swales and for-profit permaculture – the former of which Paul managed to convince him into his line of thinking.  Geoff believes that profit isn’t a good motive for permaculture as it inevitably pulls towards shortcuts that compromise the point of permaculture, whereas Paul and the group believes that profit is valid, so long as it isn’t pursued in excess and permaculture standards are maintained.

“I am often asked what proportion of a property should be given to water, and how big does a water retention space need to be in order to harmonize the hydrological balance?  Each landscape is different, and so is the climate, the soil and the geological conditions.  Annual rainfall needs to be factored in as well.  For people wanting to go all the way to full restoration, I would estimate about 10 percent of the land.  Yet, depending on the landscape and desired end use, possibly more.  Upon hearing this, many landowners and farmers protest that they also need to earn money from the land.  I take this very seriously, as every farmer should be able to live with and off the land.  Should be able to feed his or her family, and make enough money without needing to be dependent on subsidies and other aids.  However, I’d like to point out that water landscapes are economically sound.  People can actually make more money from them, than by cultivating the land, and it’s also less work.  Knowing how to do this is the answer.  The Krameterhof shows just how productive a water landscape is.  […]  The projects in Spain and Portugal yield more vegetables from the terraced banks than the whole properties used to before the conversion, with less work and lower costs.  A water retention space ensures economic success as it increases the fertility of the whole area.  […]  By thinking creatively and flexibly, huge gains can be achieved.  Everyone can decide for themselves how intensively they want to use a water landscape.  A full-time farmer would probably like to produce as much as possible in and on the water as well as around it.  There is no contradiction in making good money and protecting the environment at the same time.  Quite the opposite.”  Paul quite likes how Sepp’s response to farmers concerns about income is a flat “nuh-uh”.  

Relevant Threads

Ponds forum
Tamera and their Water Retention Landscape

Podcast 089: Geoff Lawton Part 1 - Seems to be the Podcast in which Geoff talks about profit

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Location: Upper Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia: K-G class Cfa; NCC zone 6; USDA zone 9b
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I'm loving these smackdowns!  

I just wanted to add a thought on the profit debate.  I recently listened to an Oliver Goshe podcast (Regenerative Skills - The history and future of agroforestry) with Patrick Worms, and he raised that one of the big problems with getting conventional ag to switch to regen ag was getting them to start thinking in terms of profit and to stop thinking in terms of yield.  When considering purely the yield per acre of a crop, regen ag does not look good next to conventional ag.  However, when you consider the far lower inputs to achieve that yield per acre, the yield per input dollar is much greater.  

Speaking as someone exposed to current "Australian permaculture", there is an increasing emphasis on "fair share" with the inevitable 'debate' on land ownership elitism, white privilege within permaculture and the 'outrageous cost' of permaculture education when it should be free... blah blah.  It seems that those less financially fortunate feel that the financially fortunate can only have become fortunate through nefarious and oppressive means and thus must be severely criticised at the least, or have their excessive stuff redistributed to the more worthy...  I'm pretty sure this is not the way to encourage people to engage in permaculture.  

Anyway, I think the reluctance to use the 'profit' word is related to the negative reactions of this sector of the audience, as they associate it with evil capitalism (or more correctly "corporate capitalism") rather than the very thing which is required to make it sustainable without subsidy.  So, perhaps yield is being used as a euphemism for profit to avoid triggering this demographic.
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