food per person without external inputs

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by paul wheaton, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    This has been my most important video to put out for the last five months. But it required a LOT of editing. I whittled it down from 60 minutes to about 12. I went through several hardware failures and software failures and ended up starting over twice. And now the end still seems weird, but this information is too important for me to spend another week picking at nits.

    Helen Atthowe, Norris Thomlinson and Tulsey Latoski convey their very experienced opinion on how many acres does it take to feed one person when there are no external inputs.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8zNfiNA-3A
     
  2. Hobbo

    Hobbo Junior Member

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    Thanks for the big effort Paul, its good to see some folk telling it how it Really is and the problem with producing enough protein. I have been looking at Hobby Farms to buy, I think I need at least 15 acres for the 3 of us to be comfortable, being able to trade your produce locally is super important, so now I will be looking closer to the edge of bigger country towns to save on fuel.
     
  3. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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  4. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I think this sort of discussion can be a bit of a furphy. The key to successful permaculture is going to be tied in very closely to the development of self-supporting communities, not isolated families doing the same work disparately. 'Many hands make light work' We have to get away from this 'how much land does one person need, or does one family need?'. We need to work more on, what is an ideal village size, how can we better plan townships, how can we integrate in order to become self sufficient.

    The question of 'what I need' needs to fall by the wayside and become 'what do WE need?'.
     
  5. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    There was the part about one person needs one acre and ten people needs six acres.

    The point of the video is that there are some folks in the permaculture world suggesting that you can feed 300 people on 2 acres. And there are some that say you can feed ten people on 0.1 acres.

    This video is presenting the idea: if you super optimize and have good luck, you could feed one tiny person with 0.2 acres, but that's not realistic. 0.4 acres would be far more realistic.
     
  6. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    Thanks for putting this together. I tend to agree with Grahame's sentiments. That said, it saddens me to think anyone would claim they could feed hundreds of people with a tiny plot of land. Outlandish claims do us no good in getting the message out, thats for sure.
     
  7. Hobbo

    Hobbo Junior Member

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    There used to be lots of such villages back in the Hippy Days but is there successful examples of such villages today without the Hi Tech Developers behind it? I'd like to be part of one myself in the Riverland or South Eastern South Aust.
     
  8. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    So how many people can be fed with 1,000,000 pounds of food on 3 acres then?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV9CCxdkOng
     
  9. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    That's an impressive example but requires extensive external inputs (compost, electricity, etc).
     
  10. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    No it actually doesn't. He stacked his system properly. He has an obviously huge production yield, the aquaponic system provides not only food production but he stacked the system here using the water for not only thermal mass, but a source naturally occurring source of fertilizers for the plants as well. His compost comes directly from working with the plants which feeds the worm beds which feeds the fish which feeds the plants. Even the duckweed which I saw all over the place in the water is edible... ..tastes kinda like lettuce. ;)

    The only thing that could possibly considered an external input in his situation would be electrical energy, which he could provide himself by using a combination of solar and wind energy. He is already tapping into the massive amount of solar energy on his property using it in the greenhouse to produce all that food.

    So personally, I don't see the extensive external inputs you do.

    I do love his example of the 3rd Ethic btw... he shares his surplus while helping the community. It's beautiful.

    In a sense, this system has been replicated.. let me show you 2 more examples.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRnulbOqo0k

    as well as, and this surprised me....

    https://video.nationalgeographic.co...omsday-preppers/ngc-self-sustaining-suburbia/
     
  11. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    Ok sorry, I thought much of the compost ingredients was coming from the larger community....my mistake! :)
     
  12. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    It says right on the video that he made 500 yards of compost on site.

    If I remember correctly, his is pulling out a million pounds of food per year on 3 acres.

    This is the fourth time I've watched the video. At no point do they say "we're not bringing in materials from off site". If there is a link or something that mentions the stuff not being brought in from off site, that would be really cool to see. Otherwise, the whole thing sorta strikes me a type of CAFO.
     
  13. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    It's all good. :) I think it is one amazing system we can all learn from. :)
     
  14. TheDirtSurgeon

    TheDirtSurgeon Junior Member

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    That seems to be the perennial question on your forum, Paul. "How much land do I need?"

    How long is a piece of string?

    I've developed a theory that land area is the least relevant question. I could, for example, very easily raise eggs and meat chickens to feed a family with the space I've got right now. But in the city where I live now, it's illegal to own chickens. I could make 100% of my calories with chickens. Definitely not with vegetables. So there are legal issues, always. I posted in another thread about water catchment, which is also illegal here. Water is a factor in food production.

    Also there's a bit of difference between somewhere with a 365-day growing season, and one with a 100 day season. The colder climates not only leave a time crunch, but require a higher calorie intake per body weight.


    So I'm with Grahame. It's a good question, but maybe not the one we should be asking.


    Considering external input or not... where do you draw the line? Should your gardening tools and housing materials come from the site too? Couldn't seeds from the catalogs be considered an external input? That's ad absurdum of course, and less is better, but I wonder if some folks try to take this a bit far. Human societies tend toward specialization. We might in some ways think of that as entropy, but there is a large upside.
     
  15. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    On that topic, for me, it matters more that if someone is relying heavily on external inputs- say, trucking in material year in and year out without a plan to stop- that they are honest enough to tell other folks that their fertility (or whatever) comes from somewhere else. I guess it just bothers me if someone says that they did all the work themselves and don't acknowledge the efforts put in by someone else, even if that person is a nameless nobody that they've never met who ran the chipper for the company that dumped the mulch off. "Self-reliant" is a bogus term.

    Just my opinion (which doesn't count for much more than 2cents).
     
  16. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Not surprised it was called a CAFO, it doesnt go against Permaculture, but goes against the bullshit others put up. The man worked his ass off to help his community, and it gets glibly called CAFO despite all the permaculture systems. Amazing.
     
  17. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    Seems to me as if it might be a symbiotic relationship - the garden provides food for the community, the community provides compost ingredients for the garden. It might not qualify as "without external inputs" which is the topic of this thread, but that doesn't mean it isn't beneficial, in my opinion.
     
  18. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    This is a very important video. Thanks for posting it. Good to have some natural limits pointed out. Realism. I think it becomes obvious after hanging around on forums for a while that sometimes the ones who do the most talking and have all these theories sometimes do bugger all in reality. Arm chair permaculturists if you may.
     

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