Money of life

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself Here' started by macousin, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    Marc,

    While there is money to be made from the surplus of a given venture, permaculture is not a trade based economy, it is a subsistence based economy. Therefore, it is not a "growth" venture that would yield a ROI satisfactory to meet typical investment requirements.

    The beauty of permaculture is that it's inputs are limited, it's outputs are the input to another system, therefore there is no waste (AKA polution), and it is sustainable with little human intervention once it is established.

    I personally feel the best permaculture investment one can make is in their own system so that they can move away from a trade based economy. The more one can produce for themselves, the less time they have to sell for cash to provide for their needs. My retirement goals are not only off the grid, but also off the economy living.
     
  2. macousin

    macousin Junior Member

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    Hi MelMel,

    This is interesting, thank you. Let me follow the logic: when your apple tree produces fruit, you eat the apples, the pigs eat the fallen fruit and I assume you have a surplus. Now if that surplus is small you give it to your neighbour in exchange for eggs or tomatoes, etc. Once both you and your neighbour have eaten the fruit and eggs, they compost the left-overs and if you have some composting toilets, you recycle that too. So far so good, the loop is closed, almost everything is recycled.

    Now let's imagine for a minute that because you care about the rest of the community, you manage to have a large surplus: a lot more nice organic apples. This would be nice because then, the town burgers could also enjoy some wholesome food, for a fair payment. Nevertheless there is a problem: once the town folks have eaten their apples the left-overs go to a land fill or worse an incinerator; and they use flush toilets therefore all that precious manure is lost. Your farm's resources gets depleted and you need to start buying inputs, the loop is broken.

    If we push the logic a little further and inspire ourselves of what the Germans do, in Germany, ie cradle-to-grave product management, you could imagine that community composters were formed (commercial enterprises) and that organic waste was collected and processed into compost that you could purchase at a fair price (using some of the money you got from the apples). (I know we still lose the human manure). Now suddenly your system has expanded to include the town folks.

    How does that feel?

    Marc-Antoine
     
  3. macousin

    macousin Junior Member

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    Actually, thinking about it: the composters could be permaculture farms which collect organic left-overs for their farm and produce a significant surplus of compost that you can buy or exchange for apples.

    It feels even better, doesn'it? LOL.
     
  4. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    And then we come to what I think is the limiting factor in permaculture becoming widespread and more readily acceptable - the permaculture community.

    Whilst the individual is great and can spread out from there, there also needs to be some seriously good 'town' planning and community planning.
     
  5. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    macousin,

    That is the way I truly wish it were, but when you start throwing investors and investment oportunities into the picture...?

    When the prices of apples are up, then there is pressure to sell more of the apples at a profit, leaving less for you, your family, the pigs, and your neighbors to eat. Granted, you have some money so now you are forced to use that money to buy an inferior food to replace the apples with. (remember, the price of apples is up so apples aren't an option). The loop is out of balance.

    Now the price of manuer is less than the transportation cost, so it is cheaper to send it down the river...yep, your right, the loop is borken.

    I don't think trade based economies and subsistence based economies are mutually exclusive. But I caution against looking at these systems as investment oportunities. When economic pressures influence farming practices then all hades breaks loose.

    The price of wheat is up so everyone plants wheat, then Kansas blows away. The demand for cotton in high so we plant plow up Arizona and now we have a desert where there used to be a prairy. We cut down the rainforest for more land to farm instead of tending to the land we already have, but have seriously damaged. Ecological decisions based on economic pressures almost always lead to disaster. Instead of agribusiness trying to feed the world, I'd like to see the world feed itself and let agribusiness go the way of the dodo.

    So please don't take me wrong, I'm not against our free trade system, or against technology, or even Wall Street. But I believe we all, myself included, could and should do as much for ourselves as we can instead of settling for the status quo of job-money-spend-debt-job...etc. I just think there can be a balance and that investment presures often put things in an unbalanced state.
     
  6. macousin

    macousin Junior Member

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    Hi MelMel,

    Food for thought! Thank you.

    Yes this is a risk. If I pursue your logic a bit further: the price of apples is such that the farmer eats nothing and sells everything. At that point, he realises that he could make a bit more money by adding some synthetic substances to his orchard and then the balance is broken, the quality of his product goes down the drain as well. Lose-lose for everybody.

    As you can see I don't have a bullet proof answer to your objection. Except that the Permafarmer is not a stupid machine driven by greed, otherwise he would not be doing permaculture in the first place. As I gathered from another discussion thread about a $20,000 PDC, education, experience and intellect are critical requirements for PermaCulture. We are talking about seriously brainy apples here. LOL.


    Indeed. And I guess a few centuries will pass before flush toilets disappear. So I don't see how we can fix that leak in the energy recycling loop.

    I have a serious problem with this view. Who will operate you if you break your leg or explode your spleen, who will give you quinine if you get malaria, who will build a reliable pick-up truck or escavator for your farm, who will teach your children, who will give you access to the internet, who will manufacture your sink and your water pump and your solar panels, ... So if I push your logic a bit further, all these people who may be able to grow some veggies but definitely not everything they eat should not deserve the wholesome food that permaculture produces. Can you see the problem here?

    I so much agree with you here. And allow me to share a definition for responsibility: the ability to respond to the opportunities that life brings us to fulfil our heart's calling. "job-money-spend-debt-job" is the shackle that prevents us from being responsible and in particular "debt". However, one person's heart's calling can be to create and maintain productive ecosystems and another's to heal the body and soul of others. I think both deserve respect and access to wholesome food. And this will only be possible if we invite town folks into the system, which may as Grahame suggests require some serious town and community planning.
     
  7. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    Hello All,

    Please let me clarify. I was referring to Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer, and the mono-culture regime as the ones that can go the way of the dodo. What you describe above is precisely how the two economies can co-exist. I will happily sell my surplus apples to the local weaver in exchange for a few coins that I can spend at the local potters shop for a couple of ollas. I don't mind riding the money-go-round as long as it is in balance. But when it turns into a drunken carnival, it's time for me to bid adieu. :)

    Let me say, I have truly enjoyed this thread. I actually expected to get roasted for my views!
     

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