A Case Study in Cool Climate Permaculture 1985-1995

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by PeterFD, May 11, 2010.

  1. PeterFD

    PeterFD Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Sustainable Living at Melliodora Hepburn Permaculture Gardens: A Case Study in Cool Climate Permaculture 1985-1995 [Paperback]
    David Holmgren (Author)

    Anyone familiar with this book and could offer an opinion?

    For someone with an existing farm containing both plants and animals, and living within France, such a title is very enticing!!!!!

    However, the comments on Amazon.com are less than glowing, and its expensive.

    Any help much appreciated,

    Peter
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,456
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Farm manager/ educator
    Location:
    Hunter Valley New South Wales
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    warm temperate - some frost - changing every year
    I have not studied the book Peter but have read several of his books and find them good value - it may well be worth the investment.
    Mark
     
  3. PeterFD

    PeterFD Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Hi Purplepear

    As always, many thanks for posting a response.

    The three reviews on Amazon.com range from the positive to extremely negative;

    Response 1; David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, has made a valuable contribution to ecological design by documenting the planning and construction of his 1 hectare homestead in Victoria, Australia. This large-format book details his site analysis using zone-and-sector and other permaculture tools, land use history, microclimate and soil types, and other criteria that guided his home-site selection, planting strategies, water systems, and passive-solar design.

    Idealists may quibble with Holmgren's decisions to use nearby grid power (off-grid systems being far more expensive), small engines (indispensible to all farmers), and a farm truck (the only vehicle shown in the book), but these choices point to the real value of the work: what happens when sustainable design is attempted in the real world. Holmgren is honest about where he compromised and where he held fast. What distinguishes his efforts from a typical back-to-the-land farm is the use of sophisticated design tools that reduce energy use, conserve soil and water, emphasize perennial species and natural materials, and apply patterning tools to the overall design. One look at the design and implementation and it will be obvious that permaculture design offers a far better toolkit than conventional methods.

    A fine field report from a master designer. I wish there were more such site reports from ecological designers.

    Response 2 ; Hey, guys. This manual describes the design of a small farm, listing all the plants and animals that have been introduced and the various earthworks that were carried out. The whole enterprise appears to be extraordinarily expensive and beyond the means of all but the well-to-do middle-class. Moreover, the large size of the property to feed a mere handful of people seems extravagant.

    The author's views regarding what should be done and what shouldn't be done at times appears to be as much hearsay as anything. Some of it is blatantly absurd in the context: For instance, the farm relies heavily on the import of organic grain in order to feed the chickens. Far be it for me to recommend for or against purchasing this book; at least it allows one to daydream about having such a place, however unlikely it is (in my opinion) that permaculture constitutes a formula for a more sustainable world.

    Response 3 ; This large format book discloses a lot of the more questionable claims of the Permaculture movement. Holmgren is neither a highly qualified nor a particularly scientific advocate of the system that he claims joint ownership of originating. In this book we discover that using Permaculture a small family may still possess two cars; it's okay to be on the electricity grid and any number of modern appliances from computers to light engines may be used in your 'Permaculture' system. Really the whole thing amounts to little more than recreational farming. I have rated this book as three stars because it is an important read for anyone interested in the truth behind the field. However, in general it is an unimpressive collection of notes from someone designing a small farm.


    As someone aspiring to the Permaculture concept, Response 1 seems to be the most pertinent.

    However, it’s necessary to be realistic and maintain a true perception of the real world

    I would like to buy a copy but don’t have 60 dollars, plus delivery to France to throw away.

    Perhaps a little more reflection.

    Many thanks,

    Peter
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I'm assuming that the T Hemenway who wrote the top review is Toby Hemenway, prominent US permie and a permie author himself. You can have a look at his work to see how you value his opinion.

    I don't know the book but am familiar with Holmgren's work and have seen him speak. I found the other two reviews a bit bizarre.

    eg "the large size of the property to feed a mere handful of people seems extravagant."

    Holmgren lives in Australia, a large continent with a small population. So it's not extravagant so much as just being the norm.



    Have you looked around to see if there are secondhand copies? The cheapest copy I can find is $31 https://www.bookfinder4u.com/IsbnSearch.aspx?isbn=0646269909&mode=direct&option=all (don't know if that's a permanent link but you can search by book title on that site).

    Are you familiar with Holmgren's work? He's got quite a bit online. Given you are needing cool climate resources, maybe it's worth the risk of buying the book? I think it does need to be taken in context though - the time period it covers, the fact that it was earlier in Holmgren's professional life, and he's not doubt changed in his thinking and approach somewhat.

    Let us know what it's like if you buy it!
     
  5. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Holmgren has an ebook copy available from his website for $AU25.

    https://www.holmgren.com.au/framese...en.com.au/html/Publications/Publications.html

    Also, they've done an ebook update to the edition you are looking at.

    Can't quite follow exactly what's going on, but I think this is the full updated version as an ebook:

    https://www.holmgren.com.au/framese...en.com.au/html/Publications/Publications.html

    There's a demo on that page that's worth looking at.

    You could email them and ask if that last link is the full version plus update.
     
  6. PeterFD

    PeterFD Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Hi Pebble

    Many thanks for doing the research on this one, I appreciate it!

    Unfortunately my background knowledge in Permaculture is not sufficient to allow me to recognise the name of Toby Hemenway, however I think you are correct to assume he gave the initial review on Amazon.com

    As always, its important to understand the context in which a “Case Study” is undertaken and your comments certainly helped me understand the reasoning behind some of Holmgren's decisions.

    I will check-out the link and see if I can ascertain exactly what the e-book consists of.

    The piggy-bank is starting to put on a bit of weight so it may be an opportune moment to have discovered this work.

    Many thanks again for your help,

    Peter
     
  7. Woz

    Woz Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I must admit I also found the other two reviews not only bizarre but also showing their lack of knowledge of Permaculture and lack of understanding of David's property. It was not an extravagant build by any means. David and Su eat almost exclusively from their land which now also supplements a local CSA operation.

    The book is well worth buying for some serious research as it details the history of the property and all the steps taken to build what is now a very productive operation. Having said that though, I'm not sure it would be my first book on Permaculture. Perhaps Toby's book "Gaia's Garden", perhaps "Earth User's Guide to Permaculture", perhaps "Introduction to Permaculture", perhaps "Permaculture in a Nutshell", perhaps "Getting Started in Permaculture" or perhaps all five. Once you have a well grounded understanding or Permaculture in General, then perhaps David's Case Study would be more useful.
     
  8. PeterFD

    PeterFD Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Hi Pebble

    I e-mailed Holmgren Design Services and asked if the e-book was a full copy plus updates and got the following response;

    QUOTE >

    However, there seems to be a problem with the A3 size format on some of the plans and getting them into a PDF format.

    Hi Woz

    I take your point about my lack of background in Permaculture. However, I have read “The Basics of Permaculture Design” by Ross Mars, twice now but I’m not sure that I’m much the wiser – however, it is a basics book. I’ve also got about a third of the way through the classic “Permaculture, A Designers’ Manual” by Bill Mollison.

    I do have a bit of a problem with Bill Mollisons style of writing, but if I keep going I’ll probably make the necessary adjustment! Having gained a degree in Ecology many years ago, and having spent about 10 years working as an Ecologist for the British government, I realise that most of what Bill has written would not be acceptable because it lacks sufficient background detail and lacks the quantitative research necessary to support most of his claims. A lot has to be taken on trust.

    However, if you are prepared to accept Bills work as a synthesis of many other disciplines, such as Organic chemistry, Environmental science, Ecology etc., then everything falls into place. His tendency to interpret the actions of tribal people, and his claims concerning the activities of ancient peoples which allowed them to survive extreme environmental conditions, neither of which can be substantiated, tends to marginalise Permaculture from mainstream thinking in terms of renewable, sustainable agriculture.

    David Holmgren, co-founder of the Permaculture concept, gives the impression of someone who is prepared to accept the criticism and work to “fill-in” the gaps and thus help place Permaculture at the centre of current thinking. His early (and subsequently updated) attempt to provide an actual case study proves ever more tempting!

    Thanks for your help,

    Peter
     
  9. Tropical food forest

    Tropical food forest Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    re review criticisms
    FWIW 1 ha is the upper end of normal for a home garden system

    unfortunately many people have less but in places like Java, Sri lanka, the amazon

    1 ha for a family unit is a good size to get a good deal of your food, most fuel, significant extra income and absorb all your wastes

    1 ha is very modest to support an australian level lifestyle. if there were more people living on it , production would intensify without needing more land.

    people who whine about him using a truck and buying organic grain
    lol
    what fools. NFI lol

    i think i may be needing this book myself now, as reference

    i also like Eric toensmeiers and dave jackes book on Forest gardens

    https://www.edibleforestgardens.com/
     
  10. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day Peter

    As a social ecologist and longtime advocate of the Holmgrenian school of permaculture, please allow me to add my opinion on 'Melliodora' (the book, e-book, the 'farm/homestead', and the family unit behind its development):

    The original book in A3 format allows for the detailed viewing of plans/designs, however with the advent of digital technology, the e-book also allows for this degree of close inspection by using the in-built 'magnifying glass'. I have an original copy of the e-book. I use it often, and find that it continues to be an excellent resource in my work/study.

    The 'farm/homestead' is an actual living, breathing permaculture demonstration site - In time, I believe it will become one of the world's most respected and revered examples of 'cool climate permaculture'. To see it, walk its boundaries and explore its many unique and original permaculture components, eat from its gardens/orchards, drink from the nearby springs, and mix with its human and non-human inhabitants, is a privilege that I will always cherish.

    Of its human inhabitants, the 'Melliodora' family unit (David, Su, Oliver and other extended family members/friends) is likewise in my opinion one of the world's finest examples of 'living permaculture'.

    Do yourself, your family unit, your local community, and our shared world a great favour and get yourself a copy, and let the study of it help you in your own project planning, design and development/s.

    Reading your posts (and understanding that you are an 'ecologist') suggests to me that your thirst for knowledge comes in at the higher end of the academic spectrum. As such, may I also suggest that you get yourself a copy of Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. Study from it and I personally guarantee that you will soon see that the co-originator of the permaculture concept is very much across the broader issues, and is indeed in a very good position to '...place Permaculture at the centre of current thinking'.

    Thanks for reading, Marko.
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Marko, how much detail is there in the Melliodora ebook on the cool cupboard design and build?
     
  12. PeterFD

    PeterFD Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Hi Marko

    Many thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge on “Melliodora”.

    I certainly love the idea of an A3 size book containing the details of a case study so I expect this will be my starting point.

    I take your point regarding my background. Perhaps it’s an unfortunate side effect of being a graduate Ecologist, however, I always need some form of theoretical framework on which to hang the principles of Permaculture.

    Recently I’ve been reading a lot of the more recent research, which may offer the possibility of such a framework.

    When I get a moment I will post a few ideas and see how long they last!!!

    Thanks,

    Peter
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day pebble

    Nearly half of p. 26 is devoted to text describing, and a picture of Su accessing, the 'convective cool cupboard'. The entire p. 29 is devoted to a summer/winter cross-sectional schematic of the house, part of which shows the direction of the 'cool air mass' that feeds the 'convective cool cupboard'.

    Cheerio, Marko.
     
  14. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day again, Peter

    My reference to your academic background was not meant to be demeaning in any way. There is plenty of room in a permaculture world for both theory and practice. Indeed, to try and achieve one without the other is akin to spending the rest of your life walking around with only one boot on.

    I reiterate, if it is theory that you seek, then Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability is my first recommendation.

    I look forward to learning more about your ideas concerning 'a framework'.

    Cheerio, Marko.
     
  15. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Seconded
     
  16. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Thanks Marko :)
     

Share This Page

-->