Broad area crop - how does this differ in permaculture?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Tim R, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. Tim R

    Tim R Junior Member

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    I just watched What if we change #15 on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZDnKwHQBp8 which is a 30 minute video of Geoff Lawton talking about Zaytuna.

    Please note, this is not a criticism or a troll, I am trying to learn and this portion of video really struck me when I saw it.

    Starting from around the 17 minute mark of the video Geoff starts talking about the broad area crop. He makes the following points:

    - This is the main crop area
    - It produces the bulk food
    - (when referring to this area) You can't take too many risks and you can't experiment too much
    - Provides most of the main food for the farm

    I have no permaculture training and don't claim to know better. It sounds to me like he is saying in order to get the main bulk of food we need to use standard large scale farming techniques (large area, single crop). The part of "can't experiment and too many risks" sounds like, "I won't be using any permaculture techniques, I'm just going to use what works, which is a bunch of potatoes in rows". Which ultimately has me hearing: "In order to provide the bulk of the food for the farm we use large scale rows of single crops potato, beans, cabbage etc. and we just do it the standard way".

    Am I hearing correctly. Is this the way that the bulk of food is produced in places like Zaytuna?

    Also, does permaculture currently have a solution when needing to provide a stable diet for a large number of people without having to resort to rows of single cropping vegetables?
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I have seen the broad acre crop area. It is less than 1% of the total area of the farm. A polyculture approach (as that is tried and true not experimental) is used in the broad crop area. Plants that they know to yield consistently well are used. No artificial sprays / -icides etc are used. From my understanding this is used for the farinaceous type crops. Greens and beans and tomatoes and everything else is grown in the 'Kitchen Garden' area.

    So no - they aren't using large scale conventional ag approaches in the broad acre area.

    It is also worth bearing in mind that the main crop out of Zaytuna are educated people, not plants and animals for human consumption. So there are many many mouths to feed that pass through quickly without being able to contribute to the productivity of the farm (like me when I did the farm tour and ate a few meals and then left again). It is not like a permanent community feeding its local inhabitants.

    Permaculture IS the solution to providing a stable diet for a large number of people without having to resort to rows of single cropping vegetables. It is just that no one application of the principles fits all. What works in the Arctic circle is different to a small tropical island is different to a verandah garden in a city in a temperate zone is different to a low rainfall area in Jordan.

    Does that clarify the situation any?

    You can get another look at the broad acre area (and everything else) on the most recent farm tour video posted a few days ago on the Home page.
     
  3. NJNative

    NJNative Junior Member

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    It seems like they do things much differently than even extensive organic agriculture. From my understanding of the most recent video, they never till, but rather simply cover the beds/furrows in compost, and then mulch with straw and plant right into that. It seems that they are doing more monocultural stuff, but even so, it's still pretty diverse, with summer crops including various squash, sweet potato, taro, pumpkins, salad mallow, Jerusalem artichoke, and winter crops of broad beans, cabbage, kale, peas, and potatoes, to name a few. The could easily follow the principles of biointensive farming and be more diverse and closed loop still, and I would personally like to see that, but I don't think that they stray too far from those principles, and in my experience, most permaculture farms tend to have more of a focus on small scale intensive systems for the bulk of their food, rather than large scale extensive. There are some cases where you see it, like New Forest Farm in Wisconsin, but by and large, most of what I've seen is much smaller and more diverse than this.
     
  4. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Permaculture doesn't use chemical fertilizers and pest controls for one. The soil is given the upmost(for a lack of a better term) respect and the soil is where you start. Permaculture rows are on contour, and the paths act as places to harvest water(swales). While some people will use the plough, it can cause problems further down the line, so sheet mulching and no-till gardening usually comes up a lot. While we can easily get the nutrition from many different plants, it's still the high caloric crops such as grains and potatoes that get us a complete diet. There probably are ways to eat no grains, but you're substituting those empty calories with something else(high fat maybe?).

    However, it's the scale that's important here. Acres upon acres of corn is large scale. 20 short rows of corn blocks is not. Go back to youtube and search for Zaytuna farm. There are 2 tours up now, so you should get a grasp of the scale. I think Geoff shows amaranth in rows.

    I think the comment on experimentation might need a little more explaining. He's not saying don't experiment at all, just grow what you know will do well for the bulk crops until small plots of experimental cultivars have proven themselves(a new cultivar should be tried over multiple seasons before being accepted). You don't want to replace all of your wheat with amaranth only to find out that the amaranth dies a miserable death in your area because of some larger climactic/weather cycle.
     
  5. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    broad acre factory farming = ruination pf habitat and destruction of the eco' system. in the end many farms leave desert. heart feels pangs when broad acre pic's are shown not a tree in sight. also measn mass chemical use and encourages GMO

    len
     
  6. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Tim

    It is simple, people have to eat. And while the ideal might be a fully functioning, human-input free perennial polyculture (food forest) supplying all of the tucker, in reality, in many locations, and due to many differing circumstances, it is just not feasible. For this reason, many people implement the principles and ethics of permaculture to a greater or lessor degree in order to achieve the best possible, most sustainable outcome that they and their site can deliver.

    Example: Captains Creek

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  7. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I am in the Pacific Northwest, and my Food Forest area which is still being tweaked is nothing like Zaytuna or any other farms around here. My 100'+ tall douglas firs are my overstory, apples & plums in one area currently are the next layer down, underneath is huckleberries, blueberries, rhubarb, potatoes, salmonberry, thimbleberry, blackberryies, and raspberries, & herbs like Orris, mints, nettles, and unlike many other farms, Oyster & other mushrooms.

    My main kitchen food crop area taught me a lesson this year.

    [​IMG]

    Keep asking questions. Please. :) Because what works at Zaytuna, doesn't work everywhere & that is where observation of your own property, constantly, in all zones, comes into play.
     
  8. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    we don't need to ruin our habitat to eat, we grow too much food as it is, and it is getting further away from our tables, at this rate we could go hungry and farm go bankrupt, unless sense and sensibility come into play.

    if you can't grow any of your own or ride a bike to get it then you are on shaky ground, good to have dreams but we need reality.

    len
     
  9. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Given the huge amount of wasted food tossed out somewhere between when the crop is planted and when it gets eaten in conventional ag, you can see why we don't need huge tracts of land to feed everyone.
    I just popped out to the garden and in 5 minutes picked enough food to make my dinner. If I can do it, everyone in my street could do it too....
     
  10. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    I would sugest the main crop area is constantly evolving
    There are a large variety of things growing there
    if evryone woke up when Geoff does i doubt if they would need to use the rotary hoe at all!
    the perenials are taking over,eg a bamboo stake was shooting when i was there last!
     

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