View Full Version : Permanence in Permaculture
27-01-2006, 12:52 PM
Other other day I came aross the topic where is was mentioned both Masanobu Fukuoka's and Bill Millison's Tagari property had been reverted back to non permaculture or common style farms, sorry I don't know if this is ture or not but it got me thinking.
How can you develop a property and keep it that way or close to it when it's ownership is in anothers hands. How do you create real Permanence in Permaculture?
My Property here has one benefit, it's on a drinking water catchment and is protected by local laws, so all trees have VPO's on them (vegetation protection order) so it's hard work getting the ok from the local council if you want to cut down a tree here. Mind you most people just push em over the burn them so no one knows.
I'm developing some new native tree areas which i'm hoping will be protected in the future, hopefully the VPO will protect them.
How do you see Permaculture lasting if it just gets ripped out by the next owner of your property?
27-01-2006, 03:22 PM
Thanks for the great topic!
My thoughts on the subject are:
All must change; nothing stays the same. Sure, some things may remain in situ for many years (The Great Pyramids of the world spring to mind), but eventually all things will decay and in their formar place of existence new things will emerge. Why should permaculturally-designed properties be any different?
Of course I understand your sense of displeasure at seeing those once great permaculture properties transfomed back into chemically-laden, and environmentall unsustainable ventures - all that hard work seemingly for nothing. I too share your pain. However, the idealogue that created those properties will continue to influence the minds and actions of others - right around the world. And for who knows how long into the future?
There are environmental protection laws that you will investigate to see if you can protect and enhance the native spaces on your property in the interests of intergenerational equity - You're doing your bit, and I encourage you to continue in your fight. But I also wish to remind you that even the 'law' is subject to the natural and universal rule of 'all must change', and as is often the case with environmental law, seemingly at the drop of a 'change-of-government' hat (for example see: Tasmania Forestry Bills). Of course the latter does not stop us from attempting the former; we continue to try and make a difference, and in doing so others may see our work as a guide in their own lives, and they may decide to continue on once we are dead. That's all we can ever hope for.
Of the many things that I came away with from last year's PDC, there is one thing that remains firmly embedded in my mind; David H. stating, "Permaculture begins under your own two feet". I take this to mean that we can only ever hope to change our own unsustainable living practices, then live with the hope that our example will inspire others to change theirs.
The (my) simple aswer is: There can never be "...permanence in permaculture", because there can never be permanence in anything. All must change. Lets just hope that this change is for the better of all beings.
Thanks for the opportunity to express my personal view on the subject, Bazman. I look forward to any further discussion on this topic with you and with everyone else.
27-01-2006, 03:31 PM
Yeah I can can accept that as ok........Still a pity though about bills place,we need more models to be inspired by.
27-01-2006, 04:42 PM
Permaculture is said to mean permanent agriculture/culture, I understand that all things change over time and the systems of permaculture are designed to reduce some of the negative changes we do to our environment, but the fact that these two pinacles fell over in one generation is in my eyes a negitive one.
I'm still learning/reading permaculture design and i'm yet to do a PDC , does permaculture push for the development of properties that can hold fast and at least show future generations how these systems work, I see places like crystal waters on the sunshine coast as the best chance to create hold fast development for the future, but as most permaculture designed properties are not set in these wonderful outposts, how can they be protected, is it not worth trying to protect them?
Developing in areas that can be protected would be a good start but how can we do this?
I throw the ball back into your court :-)
27-01-2006, 09:39 PM
G'day again Bazman, All :)
The short answers are:
1) Yes, most definately!
2) Dunno! How can we tell if an area is ever going to remain "protected"? (Sorry to partly answer a question with another question)
The longer version:
The fact that many once-great environmental flagships have fallen by the wayside is sad, but we can try to use these 'failures' in a positive light. Perhaps we can learn from their demise and apply our newfound knowledge to our own situations in the hope that own our developments continue to do what they were designed to do - sustain!
Why did these properties revert back to their pre-permaculture/fukuonian states?
Could they have been 'saved'?
Was it a 'economic' decision that was to be there eventual downfall?
Yes, I think permaculture (in the general sense) does push to foster sustainable development and thus encourage future generations to continue the good work. I don't think I've ever had a serious conversation about permaculture, read a serious book about permaculture, or met a serious permaculture person that wouldn't believe this. However, for every 'serious' interaction I've had, I reckon I've encountered another 10 situations where the people I've been in conversation with, or the book/article I've been reading have been in varying degres of ignorance as to the actual true 'meaning' of permaculture.
Therefore, I think it is paramount in our practice of permaculture that we develop our own understanding of the principles to the highest degre in order to ensure that the work we do shows permaculture in its best light possible. We must be prepared for the times (and they are a comin') when people come to us and ask for our help. We owe it to the concept of permaculture, and we owe it to all the work that has been done in refining and honing it since its inception, and most of all we owe it to our selves to do our best.
But we can only do our personal best. I can't change the fact that once great showcases of permaculoture design and development fall over. I wish I could, but I can't. Maybe if we all got together, then things would 'change' in a lot more positive directions than negative. This is my hope, this is what drives me forward - The hope that people will get together and make 'change' for the better. Until such time, all I can do is continue to make myself as available as I can so that those other people can make contact. And at the same time, keep working away at the ground "under my own two feet" - whether that be on our 1-acre here, at my neighbours property, at one of the property's I consult at, or on a global or universal scale.
I will one day 'own' a patch of dirt myself (or at least I'll have a bit of paper that says so), and when i die I hope to leave that patch of dirt in a better state than when I found it. That's one thing that we can all do. How do we get all the world's people interested in doing this? Well, this is a question that I've been working on for a long time. I have not yet come up with one difinitive answer, but I sure are having fun finding out :)
Peace to you all, and cheerio for now,
Richard on Maui
28-01-2006, 02:47 AM
Don't know exactly what is going on at either place, but I am quite sure that many of the changes wrought by Mollison et al at the Tyalgum property are fairly permanent. It is possible that someone would go around knocking down the all trees, dams, canals, chinampas and swales, but it would take a lot of work!
My main point about this though, is that Permaculture is all about designing for sustainable human settlement. When you look at a piece of land and its potential uses, you also have to be thinking about the people who will use it... Tagari farm in Tyalgum was a research experiment in more ways than one I guess... There is an article Bill wrote in one of those early PIL journals where he talks about how dwellings for people on that land would be "a blot on the landscape". I remember being quite shocked to read that 10 years after the fact when I was living on that land! Bill had all these ideas and schemes about people living in town and leasing livelihoods from the farm, commuting out there to look after their chickens or their herbs or their fish farms or whatever. Which is obviously (to me) a bit contrary to the design methodology outlined in the books, where your most common daily activities are situated within a fairly small radius...
Anyway, I think that the answer to the question Baz puts up is actually a challenge to us as designers, to design for sustainable human settlement, to create landscapes that are good for people to live in. If you can do that, then people will perpetuate what start. I think. I hope...
PS the tagari farm is for sale. I still have hope that the right people will get their hands on that place and make into one of the most productive farms anywhere...
28-01-2006, 07:34 AM
once you sell up all you can do is turn your back and not give it another thought for the main that is how i see it. some of the pc practises you implemented will linger and no doubt the results of those practises is probably goin got be the reaon the new owner buys your place as against another, but as i have found they can ruin the superficial parts rapidly.
the only way ones good work can be carried on is keep it in the family or hope a like minded person buys, and the likely hood of that is low as the type of care we ahve under the pc blanket is not main stream. we have been fortunate to have found a buyer who has eco' ideas so what we have done will be left to develop (the tree planting mulching) and they will add to it by having their own input.
but bringing land back to value as i see we do it can all be raped by the run of the mill thinking that is out there.
guess in short nothing is permanent hey?
28-01-2006, 11:11 AM
You really can't control what you don't own. If you put your place up for sale in the newspaper, etc, you are offering it to anyone who can meet your price. What are the odds that the buyer will be a permie? Probably not good in Oz, probably impossible in the U.S.
When I was about sixteen, the English neighbors sold out. They had put years of work into their property. It was really a beautiful place. The guy that bought it was in construction. He brought in a Caterpillar and leveled the whole place, knocked down and dragged out the trees, until it was dead flat and absolutely, disgustingly UGLY. Then his busy season arrived, so he left it dry and bare. Every weed seed from the windward side of the property migrated there. In a few months, the weeds were waist high. A year later, he was barely able to keep the weeds down. He and wifie got divorced, and they sold it for less than they bought it.
I wonder why people buy places that people have put so much care into, just to destroy the whole place?
Some people leave their property to a land trust, but I think they have to leave money, too. And there's no guarantee that the land trust will be able to take care of it, and they might sell it, too.
The closest thing to perfect would be to sell it to someone you've known for a long time. Maybe.
Our world is not in the shape it's in because most people are SMART, you know.
28-01-2006, 01:47 PM
Sue made an excellent point, she said "Our world is not in the shape it's in because most people are SMART, you know"
I think that what we do create (that remains permanent beyond our direct involvement) is the 'culture' of respecting diversity, treading lightly, minimising consumerism etc etc etc. To me permaculture is not just about the landscape - its as much about the philosophy. How many pple ask you questions about all the crazy things you do? People see what you do - and you plant the seed of an idea. If that idea takes hold, then it doesn't matter if the developments to your property (or Bill's) are permanent or not - the influence you've had on the beliefs and actions of another may well be.
I consider how far permaculture has moved in the last 20 years and I'm encouraged.
28-01-2006, 02:03 PM
Macree may have something there. The "permanence" may be in the brain, rather than in the land itself.
I wanted to look up something in Mollison's Manual, so went to my library's website, and ALL THREE MANUALS ARE CURRENTLY OUT, and I would have to go as #7 on a waiting list!
WHOOOOEEEEE!!!! There are at least TEN whole people in this jerkwater-psychotic-meth-junkie-capital that are interested! YEEEEHAWWW!
Did I mention that the motto of this part of the U.S. (like many others, I'm sure) is: "If it moves, shoot it; If it stands still, chop it down!"
TEN WHOLE PEOPLE who know (maybe) what the word permaculture means!
Oh..... do you think I should take some Valium?
29-01-2006, 06:21 AM
:lol: You're a pioneer!! In the eco-counter-revolution!!
Richard on Maui
29-01-2006, 07:21 AM
Well, yeah, sure, we can change peoples ideas by talking about what we do... But if we are going to talk about permanent agrriculture, and then set an example where noone sees through their projects even for one generation then before too long noone is going to be much swayed by anything we say. I think in many parts of Australia there is a bit of a backlash against P/c, a kind of Permaculture fatigue... I do take your point, that philosophy is as important as landuse practises, but I would contend that we can philosophise all we want and it won't be worth a damn if we don't have sustainably productive landscapes!
Actions speak so much louder than words.
29-01-2006, 09:55 AM
the long term use of land under p/c guidelines is the ideal but difficult for many. I bought here with the intention of a community being established but dont think I have long enough on this earth to see it out. So far very little and most of that negative response. Even permies mostly want their OWN personal 5 acres. The concept of sustainalbe living with the land being able to produce your fruit and veges and meat is possible if people could get their heads around a group ownership of land and still having some work off farm. Guys ...there is a whole world outside Sydney/Melbourn....go visit it.
If Bill's place is for sale....get a couple people together and go buy it.
Cathy (slightly ranting this morning) cant do the emoticon thinghy
29-01-2006, 10:39 PM
One thing, life is change, and things grow, and stuff happens, and nothing, nothing is static.
It is a shame that those two properties have changed ownership, direction/vision and management style.
My grandmother had her farm get a conservation easement, which dictated where on the land any buildings can be built. One site was by a cabin down near the lake, the other around her house and barn, and one more across the road. She had 175 aces of land, locked up, for eternity (or as long as the laws remain in effect that control development...)
There are legal tools you can use to try to retain wildlands through setasides, which limit what you and anyone else who owns the land can do, but I have only heard about habitat and woodland protection, not permie land use protection....
30-01-2006, 06:45 AM
I have been thinking about my question over the weekend while slaving over the large area of sheet mulch in my orchard.
The people in the highlands of Papua New Guinea live a ture sustainable life style, they live in groups or tribes and the land they farm they own as a tribe, this land is passed down to the next genaration as are the skills of sustainable farming and their culture.
I think the only real way of keeping a property organic and styled in permaculture is in a modern day tribe like Crystal Water where controls are in place to keep the land and what is done with it in place and no D10's flattening the land for what ever silly reason the new owner has.
I see the only ture way to keep my property in an organic state would be to either pass it onto my family in many years to come or be very picky about who I sold it to which could be a nightmare.
30-01-2006, 03:03 PM
It's hard to predict the future, even with friends and family esp due to the current state of pervasive worldwide materialistic greed that everyone seems to be trained into. So you have 200 acres of land that you spend your live pming. It's a growing example of all the right stuff, and you think it SHOULD be obvious that it must continue.
But... the land around it has built up twenty years later, and all the developers are salivating after your 200 acres, offering money in amounts that your future generation feel that they may never see again. How do you control that?
I certainly don't know the answer. If anyone does, please post!
30-01-2006, 04:14 PM
perhaps one small part of the solution to preserving permie properties for the future would be to place them under some sort of covenant. Unlike land trusts these require no capital input although they can "devalue" the resale price. That way you could at least be assured that no further subdivision or clearing of native vegetation occured.
I will definately be doing something of the sort with my place, there is too much subdivision of rural properties going on near me. As land sizes get smaller the amount of remant native vegetation you can effectively preserve is reduced.
Still while attitudes remain like that you relate Sue nothing will ever be entirely safe.
just my small thoughts
30-01-2006, 06:09 PM
I had an interesting incident over the weekend and it is somehow related to non-permanence.
I received a call from my new neighbour informing me he wants to replace the fence and I should pay half the costs (btw the fence is 950m long). He said he would build the fence after getting someone in to clear the fence line.
Knowing there was lots of good timber (100 cu m) and habitat trees along the fence I proceeded to spend my entire weekend carefully pruning and removing trees to allow a team to work unobstructed. Just as I was leaving, I spotted him in the next paddock and decided to have a chat.
Well, I didn't realise his idea of getting someone in to clear included using a D9 bullbozer. I was mortified but as he pointed out "he had a legal right to clear 3m either side". He also pointed out that the land didn't actually belong to me because it is a designated laneway. We walked the fence and compromised on what trees should stay and what should go.
Not feeling overly happy, I rang around various government departments and ended up speaking to our local forestry ranger. He will visit and estimate the volume / value of the timber and approach the local sawmill.
To cut a lot story short, while I accept that trees must go to fix the fence I would hate to see such a resource wasted. I also hope the ranger will ensure all the necessary permits are in place to prevent any illegal removal or destruction.
I always looked upon the laneway in awe of the how large trees can grow without disturbance and pained over seeing several damaged by storms. Nothing is permanent we can only minimise waste.
Anyway, I justed wanted to share this with you guys.
31-01-2006, 11:50 AM
So, Derek, what happens if you refuse to pay for your half of the fence?
And does he really have the right to bring in heavy equipment, and to go on your property with it?
I would also be very, VERY careful that I was there when the work was being done.
31-01-2006, 12:23 PM
This piece of land is 15 m wide and 950 m long and is a designated laneway that is enclosed within my boundary fence. Legally it is crown land and is not mine but I feel a degree of responsibility to ensure it is managed properly.
Because it is crown land the ranger assured me I am not obligated to pay half otherwise the "Dividing Fences Act, 1953" dictates I would need to pay half. If I am satisfied the neighbour has acted responsibly, I will pay half just to maintain good relations.
Unfortunately I live 500 km away so I cannot be there to supervise.
I can only hope that the neighbour and the ranger do their duty.
31-01-2006, 12:37 PM
Here is where you have to look at the design of the invisible structures.
By far and away the best method available now in most Australian States is having the land owned by a strata company, under some variation of the Strata Title Act/community title Act/Group Title Act... It is what we have used at Rosneath farm, and already we have proved that it is very resilient.
I have a huge concern as to how we can retrospectively preserve your efforts. I have two examples in mind: Both wonderful examples of hard work and careful observation over many many years. The owners are getting tired, and worn out, well into their sixties...
A crucial part of this issue is to find the funds for someone to "sit beside" these people for at least two years, to learn what they know. The unconscious knowledge inside their heads is now a major part of the success of the system, and someone else just taking over could make bad mistakes, even if they were willing to continue the good work.
The strata titling allows the new people to have (and build) an equity stake, as well. Any further thoughts on this vexing issue??
31-01-2006, 12:57 PM
... I do take your point, that philosophy is as important as landuse practises, but I would contend that we can philosophise all we want and it won't be worth a damn if we don't have sustainably productive landscapes!
Actions speak so much louder than words.
Excellent thread! Thanks everyone!
Point taken, Richard. However, bulldozers do not destroy PC properties, people do. If we do not have a philosophical foundation on which to build our practices upon, then our practices (regardless of how well executed) will not have a sense of purpose or direction.
True! Actions do speak louder than words. However, the pen (or the writings of, which stem from the mind) is mightier than the sword.
From the above fantastic contributins to this fascinating topic, we can begin to see that sustainable PC development must incorporate both 'philosophy' (principles) and 'practices' (pathways).
If people have the opportunity to read David Holmgren's book: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, they will learn that the co-orignator of the permaculture concept believes that we must look beyond our current practices if we are to ever find true sustainabilty and harmony.
"Permaculture is a dynamic interplay between two phases: on the one hand, sustaining life within the cycles of the seasons, and on the other, conceptual abstraction and emotional intensity of creativity and design. I see the relationship between these two as like the pulsing relationship between stabilty and change. It is the steady, cyclical and humble engagement with nuture that provides the sustenance for the spark of insight and integration (integrity), which, in turn, informs and transforms the practice. The first is harmonious and enduring ; the second is episodic and powerful. The joyful asymmetric balance between the two expresses our humanity". (Holmgren, 2003: p.271)
31-01-2006, 01:35 PM
Spending a few days in a wonderful garden like Jade Woodhouse's on the sunshine coast has inspired me to start learning permaculture design, the designs i'm bringing to life here are more based on what I have seen in the fresh as opposed to those I have read in my permaculture books to date. Everyone is different in how they learn, I like to see how something works so seeing a system in the flesh suited me better.
I'm still learning and i'm yet to do a PDC, but I feel properties like this can inspire people like me into action, an action that has now changed my life.
Jade sold her property last year so I don't know if it's being kept the same.
01-02-2006, 05:48 AM
The Tagari Farm property at Tyalgum got sold, because the local authorities made a hard time for the permie guys to run the place.
Bill Mollison had to move back to Tasmania because of health problems (he had a couple of hardattakcs).
Geoff Lawton and a group of other people managed the place for a few years, but decided to mve the PermaCulture Research Institute to the council next door, The Channon in Lismore. The Tagari property got sold.
People, who had been connected to the place, actually think it is good it closed, because there was a lot of bad energy connected to the place.
But it is not just a waste. Many things have been tried there, and the experinces and knowledge gained at the place is not lost.
Richard on Maui
01-02-2006, 06:42 PM
Karsten, are you that bloke that ran around in the full rain gear planting trees in the torrential downpour, and brought the aracacha plants with from the last place you were wwoofing?
You make some good points. However, I remember hitching a ride with an old conventional farmer from the area, who mocked Permauculture, saying that Bill never grew enough food on that place to fill the back of a ute. I kind of really wish that Bill's vision had survived there and that Tagari Farm had produced many truckloads of many different kinds of food and proved that old farmer that there are better ways than spraying etc...
Are you sure it has sold? The five acre piece went to Doug Dourough I think, but isn't the 148 acres or whatever it is still for sale?
Warwick, your experiences with strata title/ group title/ community title and community living are very interesting to me, and I am sure many others here. I hope you elaborate on your thoughts at some stage.
02-02-2006, 03:28 AM
Yes, I am that Karsten :D
I´m actually not sure if the big property is sold, but I know one of the farmers next door was interested in running some cattle there. That was in 2004. I went there to see how everything was growing about one year after it had been left. It looked good I will say. There was heaps and heaps of ripe fruit, just waiting to get eaten. The area where we put in all those trees (in the rain) was in a good balance. The paths between the houses where gone though (eaten by nature).
Good to hear from you again Rich!
Richard on Maui
02-02-2006, 03:36 AM
Yes, great to hear from you too Karsten. :D
09-03-2006, 07:53 AM
Does sound like a lot of negative energy about that place :cry:
Richard on Maui
09-03-2006, 03:29 PM
Well, the story I heard was that he bulldozed the food forest that appears in Bill's videos. Later Geoff Lawton clarified on this forum that he really just "widened the driveway" and that most of the trees are still there on the five acres.
I think all told that there was way more positive energy put into that place than negative...
12-03-2006, 08:30 AM
Maybe if people don't want changes made to their property they shouldn't sell it!!
Sorry if I rub people up the wrong way here but with all due respect, you guys are standing to walk away with a heafty profit based on current market values - cash in your pocket!!!
You can't have your cake and eat it too!!!
12-03-2006, 09:58 AM
The Power of the Dollar those who live chasing dollars will die chasing dollars
We musnt give in....Its a pitywe as a body"Permaculture" cant buy it/anything
to save us from ourselves....Normal aussies can have things listed on a heritage trust etc.....Lets just take over power from the established parties and change the countries rules so we can save everything
Richard on Maui
12-03-2006, 03:19 PM
Which guys? :lol:
Richard on Maui
13-03-2006, 10:04 AM
Aha! So well said there EmG.
But of course, the northern NSW property did grow a lot more than a truckload of food. Probably this year the fruitbats will do extremely well on all the unharvested mango's, black sapotes, bananas etc etc etc.
I think that a lot of the problem is that Permaculture systems don't really mature until they are 10 to 15 years old, so with all the false starts and given that the idea is only 30 odd years old, it will take time for it to "crack the mainstream". But in the long run, a Permaculture farm is going to be the place to be... both in terms of actual local food security and income making potential.
I disagree that grazing, forestry, horticulture and market gardening can't be called Permaculture. They are all aspects of it... But you know that.
13-03-2006, 07:58 PM
I do not know about Mollison, nor Tagari; I have never met him, and never been there. So I do not feel that I am qualified enough to make comment on either. But I have met Holmgren, and I have spent some time at Melliodora, and this is what I think in relation to he, and to Melliodora: Philosophy must exist if PC is to survive, and indeed thrive!
After reading Holmgren's latest book (several times), "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability", and viewing the eBook, "Melliodora - Hepburn Permaculture Gardens" (likewise, several times) I think I am starting to get a handle on what it is that Holmgren means when he says, "...that a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic, attractrive and powerful alternative to dependant consumerism.".
Only 'starting to', mind you, for the personal journey back from a consumerist-led lifestyle is a long haul, and one fraught with many a temptation to someone who was spoon-fed up to 6-hours of TV a day, and all the 'lollies' one could eat as a child of the 70's.
I stand by my original statement in this very thread: "If we do not have a philosophical foundation on which to build our practices upon, then our practices (regardless of how well executed) will not have a sense of purpose or direction."
What use is mindless action? It is mindless action that has driven we humans (and countless other spp.) to the edge of destruction (and in the case of the other spp. - over the edge!) It is therefore (I believe) imperitave that we base our actions upon our thoughts - in other words, we philophosise! So when I suggested that, "...sustainable PC development must incorporate both 'philosophy' (principles) and 'practices' (pathways)", I meant just that! The incorporation of both these elements. Surely you must agree that in order to have a positive action occur there must have been a positive thought preceding this action? Even your own 'signature', "Think global, act local." suggests this.
Yes, Mollison may say that PC begins at our own back door. And yes, Holmgren has said (in my presence) that PC begins under our own two feet. However, l like to say that PC must begin in our own mind - for why wait until we get through the back door, or for that matter, look under our own two feet? Often by the time this happens, it's too late.
As you say, "Think global, act local.", and I don't think you can get much more 'local' than our own mind.
I enjoyed reading your post, EmG, it made me think :) . I especially like the "Relax, enjoy" bit. Same to you.
13-03-2006, 08:20 PM
well stated emG and to the point
14-03-2006, 07:12 AM
Well said Tam & EmG,
Hope this isnt too long, I found this permie project absolutely awe inspiring yet it too has 'failed'.
"Dr Venkat (did the first PDC in India taught by Bill Mollison & myself) working a very poor semi-arid zone with around 40 villages set up a demonstration farm at Pastapur which over the years inspired many local farmers - he encouraged farmers to convert 10% of their farm a year to permaculture and discussed with them which strategies would maximise benefits with minimal input. For many it was simply starting with planting legumes in non-productive areas for fuel and fodder, and/or planting coppice legumes, bananas, taro, ginger and other water-loving plants along the edges of their little open earth irrigation ditches which are otherwise loosing vaste amounts of water through seepage and evaporation.
His main work however was with the women through the Sangams (village women's councils). One of the first things was getting kitchen gardens going - no vegetables were being grown in the villages and many health problems came from poor nutrition (no fruit or vegetables in the diet). The sangams also set up micro-banking systems and food co-ops on the village level. Venkat's assistant, Narsanna, was funded to come to Australia for IPC in 1996 and told me that they had over 2000 barefoot permaculture teachers - all village women - engaged in establishing kitchen gardens and reclaiming wastelands that had formerly been common forest areas cleared by the government 70 years ago - these women were hand building kilometers of swales and planting mixed species forests on the barren slopes for food, fuel, fodder, medicine and craft materials. The women also set up a building collective and built the houses with local materials.
It is an incredibly empowering story and unfortunately the demonstration farm and training centre at Pastapur is now closed - not due to any failures of permaculture but from internal corruption in the umbrella NGO.
I am not sure if it has 'failed' if the women are continuing on.
Oh the foibles of man!!
14-03-2006, 01:11 PM
EmG. Your thoughts are all valid, but I think the base assumption that these systems don't work has more to do with the larger paradimg of agriculture, the relation the average consumer has to his/her food, and the subsidized costs of those "conventional" models of food production.
It takes time for complex systems to get to the point where they function without "life support", something like off farm income, non-agriculture income on site (teaching, workshops), sustained access to cash, etc, and the pressure to "make money" from land, the trend towards income from the site, leads to simplified systems that do not adress all of the on site needs a more diversified farm could address... In simple terms, production frequently comes at a cost to diversity, and diversity frequently comes at a cost to production.
So, perhaps Permaculture is a generalist approach, and in an era of specialization, perhaps generalized knowledge is not valued as highly as the specialist mode of agriculture, which flows from the kilograms per hectar model, which "externalizes" true costs (erosion, pollution, genetic erosion, introduction of endocrine disruptors, mutagens and carcinogens) onto the world, and claims that the farming of a limited number of plants, dependent on a massive subsidized energy input, as something that works.
And we move forward, producing denatured food, from less varieties of less species, chosen for qualities like size, packability, "keeping" before ripening, and other considerations, things that have a larger value than "the bottom line", like taste, nutrition, sustainability in agricultral practices, reduced environmental foot print, decentralized and local food production, are not factors that weigh in in many accounting practices.
A food system that provides the owner with a maxiumum number of calories, with a minimized quantity of calories in its production, with no adverse effects to the larger environment, on a farm that provides ecological services to the larger community around it, on the local, regional, national and global levels, as a carbon sink, pocket of biodiversity, as habitat for birds and other animals, as water retaining acreage, soil holding land areas, food production, etc, etc, etc, all combine to give that land more value than simply the dollar value per kilogram coming off of that land.
Unfortunately, there are no mechanisms that recognize and reward those land owners for their practices, other than price premiums paid on certain commodities coming off of that land, organic certified products, Fairtrade certified commodities, bird friendly coffee and cacao, etc, etc, which, again, plays neatly into the whole kilograms per hectare X dollar value per hectar simplified model that is the root cause of many of the problems of agriculture today....
Cattle, timber, flowers and veggies all have specific markets under organic certification, and market mechanisms to obtain substantial price premiums built around that certification.... however, that is still just the kilos per hectar model. Combined so that energy flows between cattle, timber, flowers and veggies and nutrient cycles are a part of the whole, then all of these are parts of permaculture.
We need a way to recognize and reward good practices, to give farmers a reward on their land use patterns, their carbon sequestering, soil retention, genetic banks etc.
Conversely, we need to make people using offending practices, the use of synthetic fertilizers to make marginal land productive, resulting in damage to down stream aquatic communities, the use of herbicides to make innappropriate cropping regimes "cost effective", resulting in the introduction of persistent toxins, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and mutagens, the "unintended" release of GMO pollen into neighbors land etc, all pay their hidden costs.
That means taxes on these chemicals, expensive lisences for their use, biotech companies to buy huge insurance policies to protect farmerw hose crops are contaminated, and this would help defray the cost of cleaning up the results of their use, including the blossoming of cancers in agridultural regions, the cost of unjustifiable, immoral and illegal "preemptive" wars to "fight terrorism" while being naked grabs for oil (and the kilos per hectar model is drowning in oil), and the loss of entire crops and seed lines to "accidental" contamination of non target crops by GM pollen.
The value of a farm steeped in permacultural principles is significantly higher than just the value of its food in terms of kilos X price per kilo. Unfortunately, it is hard to make a well diversified farm make any money, and simple farms that produce food soaking in oil also don't make much money, either, even before true cost is considered, and the economics are ALWAYS against those models if we consider the true cost of their practices...
I have lived and worked on what was, at one time, a cattle and citrus farm, for over 17 years. Right now we have well over 300 species of plants we grow or encourage, and we also have many varieties of many of those species. As a result, we have a highly diversified and resilient farm.
The farm is not "making any money". But it is not losing money, either. We eat really well, and we buy very little of the food we eat. We have many trees, and we have gardens, chooks, and ducks, and it all works. We both work (Dawn is working for Uof Floridas Ethnobotany program collecting specimens with Kekchi and Mopan Maya names, and I do consulting work and install renewable energy systems, and our project works with local communities and does training).Yes, it has taken a long time to get here, but, the farm is now a system that requires some maintenance, not much establishment work, and provides for us very well.
What is the value of this farm, in terms of the food coming off of it? Probably not that valueable, in the kilos per hectar model, but in terms of the calorie based accounting, the amount of work we do to get the food we eat, we are way ahead... in terms of ecological services, the farm is providing a lot of services to the larger world, and those services have value... in terms of avoided environmental cost of the calories comingg off of our land, this land is extremely cost effective.
This is why permaculture is so important. It is not that these farms are not productive, they are, it is that as a global society, we have systematically undervalued food, we have selectively embraced "cheaper" and "more productive models" of food production that come with high costs, and those costs are hidden, and are not written on the price tag. We pay those costs though higher taxes, destroyed environment, exposure to toxins, diets poor in nutrients.
So, perhaps permaculture is cost effective :lol: after all. It is the framework, the "philosophical foundation", the paradigm that needs shifting.
Richard on Maui
14-03-2006, 02:24 PM
Oh Christopher, you said it. 8)
14-03-2006, 03:46 PM
Well......these posts will take a few reads to digest.....and yes I was having some issues with the greater PC application...
Will know more when I finish Bill Mollison's Permaculture Design Manual...1988 edition but was only $4 at a 2nd hand book sale...
14-03-2006, 05:56 PM
All good posts, I suppose I should finish mine.
I always saw permaculture as food security and it does that in a fabulous, fun and safe way. I also saw it as a way of minimising impact and living close to nature.
I didnt see it as being able to provide financial security, not in a cash based world. There are other things that you can do that will provide financial security but Permaculture will lessen your dependence on this world to a huge extent.
I went thru a huge flood in 98, we lived out of our garden & cupboard for 4 weeks, bartered a bit for cigarettes [i know, i know] and we not dependent on the food handouts. Fact is we attended on the last day for fresh meat. We had no power [from memory] for 4 weeks, a friend lent me his generator, after 2 weeks, which I ran for 2 hours a day on fuel syphoned out of a little store I kept and the family car. One small shop survived.. I remember buying a newspaper, batteries & tobacco and a treat for the kids. I dont think they had any food left. A staff member called out one day with 3 boxes of candles and some meat.
We still hadnt emptied our pantry or started eating the pets/poultry. There were 5 of us with a stand-up fridge and freezer. After week 2 I opened up the freezer which was still frozen and we had a community barbecue. Some funny things finished up on the barbecue that evening. We fed 21 people.
Some things we ran out of... yeast, olive oil, sugar and shampoo...none of these really mattered as we had subsitutes. Anyway I am waffling but I know of 2 other permie families that, for want of a better word, sailed through the flood and its aftermath.
Agricultural history is littered with a litany of 'grand schemes' that failed, it didnt stop people farming. Same with Permaculture. Show me a failed grand scheme and I will find a dozen permie examples that are doing just fine.
My point is permaculture is very pragmatic, make of it what you will. Take from it what you can and share your success around.
15-03-2006, 10:10 AM
I don't know about the rest of you, but I find there is an AWFUL LOT to learn about permaculture, if you want to do it close to right. Sort of an educational form of complicated basketweaving.
But I also suspect that the people who are adopting PC are also trying to do too many projects, and spreading themselves too thin to do a really good job on any of it. And this may especially apply to those who want to jump right in and have enough to sell at market, etc, and make a profit. I don't see a thing wrong with having a market garden, but it's going to take time. Everything does. And if you're dealing with poor soil (from whatever cause), it's going to take time to build it up --- if you're trying to mine it and build it up at the same time, it will be slow going.
I know someone said that Tagari couldn't produce enough food to fill the back of a ute, but is that actually true, or is that just someone shooting off their mouth (so to speak)? I really can't see it being true, to tell the truth.
Also, the non-believers, the nay-sayers, and all the other folks who insist that PC won't work, can't be kept up or won't work on a larger basis, all have their own axes to grind. If they keep saying it doesn't work, can't work, will never work, and that message keeps being passed along as gospel among the people who are getting into PC, you know what is going to happen.
But it isn't as if Mollison & Holmgren actually INVENTED the PC practices -- they just put things together that have worked for thousands of years. Just because a few people can't get the concept going in their head properly, then can't seem to get the concept going on their property, doesn't mean it doesn't work. Doing one major thing wrong can destroy the concept of PC as easily as any other business. If you have a sawmill and install the cutting blades wrong & refuse to change it, are you going to have an active sawmill or a useless sawmill? I'll give you 3 guesses and the first two don't count!
Richard on Maui
15-03-2006, 11:15 AM
Goodness, I feel a little bit bad for propagating that redkneck (term used most repectfully) farmers comments about Bill not growing enough food to fill the back of a ute.
I know for sure, that one yam plant (dioscorea elata) from Bill's food forest yielded enough tuberage to fill the back of the ute and then some... I know cause I ate a lot of it!
But the farmers point was that that farm was never a commercial success in terms of growing food for the market...
15-03-2006, 12:40 PM
Oh, so it was YOU! :oops:
"But the farmers point was that that farm was never a commercial success in terms of growing food for the market..."
So.... was it supposed to be?
I got the impression from his books that it was more of an experimental composite of methods, a learning center. And it was supposed to make him rich, TOO??? :twisted:
Hmmmm..... I guess I got it all wrong! :shock:
Richard on Maui
15-03-2006, 05:24 PM
Well, no I don't think it was intended to make him or anyone rich, at least not financially, though perhaps in terms of a rich lifestyle and a right livelihood. Do you know of any rich farmers? Plenty of rich bankers, rich tractor dealers, rich seed and fertiliser and chemical dealers, but not too many rich farmers... But iTagari Farm, Subtropical Research Farm was for sure intended to be financial viable, and prove the thesis that you can grow food sustainably and profitably at the same time.
There are some interesting articles by Bill in the PIL journal from back in the day when the farm was getting established. At the time his idea that various livelihoods would be leased out to various individuals who would together comprise the small working group that would effectively manage the farm. For instance, and I am paraphrasing here, one guy would be growing mango's, olives and pomegranates, another guy would handle the poultry and the rabbits, another guy would take care of the aquaculture, some sheila the bamboo forestry, some other bloke the publishing house etc.
Weird thing though, was that he wasn't designing for their whole lifestyles - by developing zone 1 hamlets and villages or anything; he was suggesting that they rent or own accomodations in town and commute to the farm to work. I remain perplexed as to why he thought that would work...
16-03-2006, 02:43 PM
That is kind of odd, isn't it? It seems peculiar that he would try to intermesh all the facets of permaculture together so they would work properly, and then piecemeal the lives of the people expected to do it. Hmmmm...... Maybe he is more familiar with animals and plants than people. That's kind of like trying to jump a canyon in two big hops.
16-03-2006, 03:00 PM
All this second guessing is no good Its a Shame Bill cant/wont answer in here
Now dont get me wrong I have upmost respect for Bill But i cant accept these versions without his words too.....
Its like rumours I dont take em seriously anymore......as we all know rumours are just that.........
Richard on Maui
16-03-2006, 03:14 PM
Fair enough Tezza, I can respect that. If you can find some old copies of the Permaculture International Journal, maybe you will find the articl Bill wrote that I refer to. It was one of the earlier ones, before they went to the colour, glossy covers... He says something like, "to house people on this land would create a blot on the landscape".
The hardest thing about Permaculture design is that it is for people...
16-03-2006, 04:05 PM
GO RICKY GO RICKY...
How are ya mate long time no chat lolol
Sounds great Thought from Old Billy Boy How true that phrase can be...
Ever been somewhere and thought about that phrase?....I did it on my trip around ..well allmost 1/2 way round 8) 8) Oz buetifull landscape with nothing for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and ooops er hum, then see a house/building, a Motor vehicle,a Person, and think "gee thats a blot on the landscape"
Sorry, But i could agree with Billy Boy on that one. Humans are/can be a blot on the planet...............
Bill Is, well, Bill is something special,he was meant to be Bill,a Living Legend, He knows what hes saying,thats why the system hates him,He Definatly sees the """"" BIGGER Picture""""""
When we all become Bills, we,ll all understand better.....
We can all find fault in Someone, even ourselves, if we try hard enough :shock:
We shouldnt blame if we dont understand a person..... :lol: :lol: :lol:
19-03-2006, 05:14 AM
Bill Is, well, Bill is something special,he was meant to be Bill,a Living Legend, He knows what hes saying,thats why the system hates him,He Definatly sees the """"" BIGGER Picture""""""
When we all become Bills, we,ll all understand better.....
Tezza, I think what Bill and David have achieved is fantastic and an amazing, important achievement. To be the initiators of what has become a world movement in such a short time (and one that offers so many positives in so many ways) is something special, I agree. But I don't think putting anyone on a pedestal is a good thing - ever. In reference to a community/ideological leader, it has too much potentional to lead to dogmatism to my way of thinking.
IMO unless you question what has gone before, you can't adapt and improve on it and no matter how insightful Bill and David are, no one is infallible and collective (systemic) learning is always superior to the efforts of any individual. I love diversity of thought - and picking out what fits for me.
Richard on Maui
20-03-2006, 09:27 AM
EmG, what a fabulous holier than thou attitude you are reeking today! I dig it!
Look, sure, airplanes suck, but so do cars. Have you managed to completely eschew the modern industrial etertainment complex? You aren't personally responsible for just a little bit of pollution. Those guys and gals out there jetsetting around exposing themselves to malaria and so on are such selfish bastards aren't they?
Anyone can justify any kind of expedience/pragmatism, given noble enough ends, and urgency of impetus. The jetsetting "Permaculture Activist" could well argue that by consuming such gross amounts of fossils fuels and creating such huge amounts of greenhouse gas, they are able to teach a wide audience how to avoid doing just the same in order to grow food, provide shelter etc...
Permaculture is of course more than a cute gardening method, it is a system for designing sustainable human settlement.
Yes, it will probably require some financially successful farms to "convert the mainstream", but I believe that part of this process will involve the mainstream coming to a more realistic accounting of financial success. For example, when we take soil health into account, Permaculture farms will be among the only farms to break even, let alone be profitable.
20-03-2006, 10:23 AM
I see what you are saying, but the world is not black and white, it is many ues and shades, and compromise is a a reality. So, if you want to get a PC message off to a country that could use that message, and you need to g overseas, so the horse and buggy will stay at home, and there are no wooden sail boats going there, and the tramp steamer will take too long, and you don't want to try an ocean going kayak, you take a plane.
Now, I agree that the eclogical foot print of air travel is very high, but the net benefit to the planet of sending someone with the skill set and tool belt of knowledge many PC people have can be significantly more than the cost of sending them.
To think that I could not work in North America in PC because I wasn’t ‘recognised’ by my peers there is beyond the pale.
Not sure ehere that is coming from. We just had a course here in Belize and in discussion about that sort of thing, it didn't come up, so not sure that is an issue.
Perhaps one of these degree people could do some research on PC farms and let us know how profitable they are.
That might interest the world a bit more than mandela gardens. Again, if they are trained in what I consider knucklehead accounting, then their opinion of "how profitable they are" is nt worth a whole lot. One of the things about permaculture is that it opens our eyes to larger pictures, like natural cycles, energy flows, nutrient cycling, and true cost accounting. If the person researcdhing the farms isn't up to speed on that modality of looking at the situation, like, for example, this horrid women, Jennifer Somethingorother, who thinks that organic is an indulgence (and, BTW, sher is a paid agrochemical mouth piece), she isn't going to understand the value, in part because she is so stupid, and paiud to be stupid, but, also, because her value system is disconnected from the planet. So they would need to have a degree of understanding of true cost moedls to even begin to approach the subject objectively.
I live and work in the developing world, and I use the tools I learned through permaculture in my work. Is it making a difference? Yes, and no. If the target community is already interested in some of the concept, or has a background that values the principles of permaculture because it fits in with their worldview, then it will make a difference, either by placing what they are doing and trying to do in a context where it is valued, or by giving the tools to see relations between components and energy flows, nutrrient cycling, etc, which enable them to improve their agricultural practices. To try to teach someone who is commited to stupid agriculture, who thinks that farming can't be done without chemicals, is very hard. Those people are very hard to reach, however, by showing working examples of agriculture that DOES work, they can be reached.
Examples like the diesl from algae are important, and so are things like Dr Joels wonderful aquaponics system :wav: (available NOW at http://www.backyardaquaponics.com !)
As far as the degree, well, I am glad that there is some requirement for certification, or any yahoo or bozo could hang up his shingle and proclaim him or herself a "Permaculture Consultant". I am also glad that there are teachers who are good at teaching and have made teaching permaculture their life. The skills and mind set, the tool boxes, if you will, that they disperse, are becoming more and more valuable.
Perhaps PC is becoming more insular, but some form of standardized requirements for PC teaching would be a good way to go, in my opinion. And, I fully agree that examples of profitable permaculture farms are critical to the propagation of this knowledge, but "profitable" is defined depending on POV, and most people do not have the understanding of why a farm that doesn't require any inputs, that gives more calories out than requirtes calories in is profitable, because their concept of profitability is limited to wether or not there is a large cash flow attached to the produce leaving the farm. In terms of something like calorie based accounting, PC farms (like ours, if I can throw all humility aside) are extremely profitable....
20-03-2006, 01:52 PM
"As a PDC graduate, apparently I am able to sue anyone whom I consider to be misusing the name Permaculture, eg running substandard courses, giving bad advice."
Maybe... if you've got a lot of money. And the money doesn't necessarily mean you would win. You can sue anyone, but winning.....? If you're looking for justice (an archaic term), I don't know how it's going in Oz, but here in the U.S., it's long gone.
BTW, why do so many people believe in only PURE permaculture, and not pure anything else? Is doing half permaculture better than none? How about three-quarters? What if you mix permaculture and bio-dynamics? What if you do pure permaculture in zones 1 & 2, but grow crops in rows by organic methods in the rest of the area? Do you get any points for that?
How about doing the best you can with what you've got?
Come on, folks! 95% of the so-called Christians (as one example) can't even stick to 10 simple Commandments they've had for 2000 years or more! America's government can't stick to the 10 basic Bill of Rights! And you expect pure permaculture?!! :oops:
If you really expect masses of people to turn back to the land by next Tuesday, do it with pure permaculture and immediately start making a profit, I SUSPECT you're doomed to disappointment!
Why not just get a nice drink and put your feet up and relax for a while? The world will continue to turn for a few more days, the sun will probably shine for at least a couple of weeks, and even though you don't see them, there are people in places all over the world who are looking at permaculture and thinking, "Hmmm.... that sounds like it might work..."
You sound kind of stressed... it's probably time to just watch some ants and bees and admire their work ethic.
20-03-2006, 11:27 PM
The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary (1976): The pursuit of wisdom or the knowledge of things and their causes; the study of ultimate realities and general principles; a system of theories on the nature of things or of rules for the conduct of life.
Collins Pocket Reference English Dictionary (1988): Pursuit of Wisdom; study of realities and general principles; system of theories on nature of things or on conduct.
And my personal favourite...
The Budget Macquarie Dictionary - 3rd Edition (1998): The study or science of the truths or principles underlying all knowledge and being (or reality); a system of principles for guidence in practical affairs.
22-03-2006, 07:49 AM
I was reading with much interest the posts on "permanence in permaculture". I note your entry regarding Jade Woodhouse. I too, have had the most fortunate experience of attending courses on Jades property. It is truly and inspirational place for anyone wishing to become as self sufficient as possible. As were it's occupants including Karma the dog.
We all miss Jade's wisdom, knowledge and free spirit. However, the good news is that she sold her property to some previous students who are looking after it just as beautifully as she did. She even comes up now and then to do courses at the property. For that we are eternally grateful.
If you are thinking of doing a PDC, Crystal Waters is a wonderful classroom. I just read in the latest edition of Earth Garden that Morag Gamble and Evan Raymond are running courses there in Sept this year I think. I saw Morag speak at a function regarding Eco Villages, and she is truly remarkable. Full of energy and life. I just completed a PDC with Max Lindeger at Crystal Waters which was fantastic. Learnt so much and re-ignited my passion.
22-03-2006, 08:13 AM
I was up in the sunshine coast a few weeks back doing a moon planting and soil improvement course with Jade, the lady who brought Jade's property also did the course and I heard all about it then, she is also holding courses from Jade old place. Sounds like Karma is also enjoying the wide open spaces of Jade and Pauls new adventure.
I'll keep my ear to the ground about PDC's later this year as it might suit my time line.
Have you done a composting course with Jade? she is combining her worm and composting course into one day now, I have done the compost but not the worm, so I would like to do that one.
22-03-2006, 12:20 PM
I did do both the worm and composting course. Of course they were both fantastic. There is so much to composting as I am sure you know. I was really blown away. For me, this is where I felt Jade had such incredible passion. She puts everything into it. How lucky we are to learn from a real master.
I am assuming that if she is combining the courses it will now be a full day? Do you know exactly when it is, I wouldn't mind doing it again???
22-03-2006, 01:42 PM
Shoot Jade an e-mail
Looks like the course will be in May sometime.
Compost to make Humus
~ the end product of a successful compost
- Humus the essence of soil fertility
- Make quality Compost
Backyard small-scale worm farming
- complete your gardening method, give life to your soil
Yes Jade changed my life and has given me direction like no other, it was wonderful catching up with her at her last course, I think of Jade as my Green guru. I would love to go up to Dorrigo and see her new place before things really start to take off, she has learnt a lot more from her time in the cooler climate.
Orchard before Jade's courses
Feel free to have a look around the rest of my place if you have a spare miniute or two.
22-03-2006, 05:42 PM
Will put it in my diary and hopefully can get there. Had a look at your photo's. Gotta say, you have some great idea's. Just lurrrrrved your chookies too.
Your progress is fantastic. If you have the time, the inspiration just seems to appear.
Especially loved the shade house for the summer time. At the PDC, Max grows lettuce all year round under suitable shadecloth which was good to know. Keeps out harsh rays, and lots of bugs too.
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