Re: I want to believe....... Hamish, in his post relating to this question, has split "self sustaining" into sustainability and self-sufficiency, and answered appropriately. However this is not quite my take on it, nor was it what my original question related to. Using a slightly different definition, being self sufficent does not mean you need to make your own clothes, or even that you need to grow all your own food. It means you need to be able to live by your own means. My family is self sufficient, because between us we earn enough money to buy what we need and can therefore survive. This is touched on by Hamish, in his comments about growing a portion of your own food. My concern is that all the "big" examples of PC that I have seen do not appear to meet this criteria. In the case of an individual or family, if producing 20% of your own food requires 5 hours labour a week, that is easy to accomodate at weekends, leaving the remainder of the week available for a job to earn the money to buy the other 80% of the food and everything else that is required. If, however, producing 90% of the family food requires both (?!) adults to labour full time in the garden, there is no time to earn the money to pay for the other 10%, or anything else required. This was the basis of my original question, if a couple need to work full time on their PC project, then that PC project must produce all their "income" which in turn must be large enough to support them including servicing debts, and buying anything that cannot be produced on site. If this is not the case, then the project (no matter how good it might be environmentally, or from any other view) cannot be called self-sustaining. Every project I have seen had been massively subsidised or externally funded, therefore by definition is not self-sustaining. By extrapolation, it is therefore not sustainable - a project might have improved the soil enormously, but if it did so on the strength of constant external funding then it surely failed. It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul. If we call the external finances "inputs" and look at the process objectively, surely we get: Take required inputs from area A, transport them, install them in area B. Claim area B has vastly improved, ignoring the depletion that happened at area A. To put it another way, if you give me the cash to buy a couple of truckloads of ultra-fertile topsoil every week I will improve any area of land that you choose, with or without permaculture.