Productive Permaculture Systems

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by -, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Indeed, the "need" for perpetual growth is the tyranny of our age. Unfortunately though we are currently stuck in a speculative market economy which spans almost the entire globe.

    I think its great that so many people who replied have a broader and more long term sence of words like productive and profitable. The market obviously does not factor the environmental costs into the equasion and treats agriculture like a mining opperation.

    The problem with bringing permaculture (or any sustainable farming) into the mainstream is obviously one of economics though. It is obvious that permaculture is sustainable and environmentally sound and that it will need to play a mainstream role after any appocalyptic scenario or after the oil starts to run dry :)
    The urgent challenge however is to prevent an appocalyptic scenario from taking place.
    Unless an organic farming system can be a commercially viable alternative to the current bad methods it will remain on the fringes of society; a luxury of the rich or a hobby for slightly more enlightened members of society.
    I am aware that the philosophy involved is one which wants everyone to grow their own food. Not everyone is intersted in doing this however and many just wish to buy their food on the free market. It is therefore very important that sustainably grown produce can compete with conventional stuff in that market.
    If all costs were taken into account, including ecological, the sustainably grown stuff would actually be much cheaper.
    In order to make permaculture/organics commercially competitive we either have to
    a) Modify the market to make it account for the whole cost involved (perhaps by political means)
    or
    b) revolutionize the efficiency of our sustainable agriculture so that it remains sustainable while becoming productive enough to compete with chemically grown products.

    We cannot wait for peak oil or the disintigration of society for sustainable agriculture to become mainstream.
    That would be a survivalist mentality based on defeatism and the assumption that things have to get worse before they get better.
    The world is cinderalla and its quater to midnight. We cannot just sit back and watch the clock tick, its too risky. We do not need to feed our souls, we need to save them.
    IG
     
  2. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    my permaculture "farm"

    My "farm" is a suburban backyard about 250-300 square metres of garden converted into something that is pleasant and provides some food and some flowers and fragrances (I believe that permaculture shouldn't just feed the stomach it should feed the soul and part of that is the pretty and smelly things my wife enjoys so much)

    We have the added costs of importing mulch and feed for the chickens, but its getting to where we will soon be almost self sustaining. The mulch is a cost and importing it goes against a lot of the PC principles, but its the only way we can do what we do on such a small area. The mulch is wonderful for the soil - we had a layer of clay on top of a sand dune and until we started mulching heavily we could grow very little.

    The chickens have been here for three or four months and the improvement in the plant growth and soil condition is very pleasing to see. Nothing beets chicken poo for helping to improve the soil and to make excellent mulch.

    We work the compost through the chicken coop for a week or two and then spread it around the garden. The straw under the chickens roost/perch is changed daily as that is full of droppings. Each plant gets a dose of this part of the straw and since we've had the chooks all of the plants have had at least one or two lots of this fertiliser full straw.
     
  3. Allen V

    Allen V New Member

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    Hello.

    I discovered this thread while googling "profitable permaculture". My own interest in this topic derives from my goal of succeeding as a profitable permaculturist.

    My partner and I are looking to buy 5-10 acres with a house in relative proximity to a small city and will strive to achieve self-sufficiency in the sense of food and energy and finances from the land.

    Lets be real: We see at least $1000.00/mo of payments to a bank, insurance and taxes for the next 30 years. This amount is as low as it is because we are leaving the West Coast (of the US) where we have lived for almost 10 years.

    We also do not intend or want to live cultishly cut off from the "outside", or shunning those who do not live the way we do. So more money, over the $12,000/year minimum is needed to achieve a sustainable and healthy social and community life.

    People like us want to be a part of the responsible stewards of the land and the future. To say to us that it is not acceptable to consider money and profit in financial terms is to turn away sincere people who are on your side.

    The permaculture model is good for the earth and for individuals. The more people that participate in this model the better. Realistically, there must be a "middle-class" way achieving this lifestyle.

    On the other hand, I can hardly fault farms that teach, or publish about permaculture, or any particular thing they want to engage people about. I too intend to write books, to give talks, to teach others once I am "successful" in practice.

    However, by successful I mean that I am able to sell products from the farm; compost, eggs, vegtables, herbs, flowers...whatever, and be at least very close to meeting all my financial obligations.

    I agree with lighthouse on this point, there must be a way to utilize organic permaculture to make a humble, but debt-free living in today's world. If their is no way to do this, then permaculture is simply another aristocratic ideal that is not meant for the "masses".

    Ideas and new methods go through several phases, and perhaps it is time for the merchant classes to be more involved in the production of permaculture systems. Afterall, there are a lot of people that need feeding. They are part of the system too, even though they don't live with us on our farm. Taking care of our neighbor in a sustainable way is a part of permaculture as I see it.
     
  4. kathleenmc

    kathleenmc Junior Member

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    Hey all....

    You've started a lively debate there christopher lighthouse, good on you.

    I would like to see Geoff answer the Jordon thing...hopefully he will read this soon....someone pm him to get in here...!

    For me and my life, permaculture principles are the way for me to live from now on, and I feel so inspired by it that I am now working, teaching and living by as many of those principles as I can make work for me...not that it is easy due to so many different factors, let's face it we have learnt to live on this planet taking way too much for granted and now it's time to give it back...so I've started....I know it will take me a few years to be able to be completely sustainable.

    I can see that those principles are now coming into the mainstream with alternative technologies, community gardens, keyline/water for all farms getting a response now etc..... and what about bloody Jim's mowing getting in on the act! Farout! So the word and now the action is out there.

    Retrofitting the suburbs to be more self sufficient energy, water and food wise will be the way to go in the future....farming will have to change to cope with a lot of different problems....weather patterns, water shortages etc....diversity in farming will have to take priority.

    So making a living from permaculture....to me it's as diverse as the rest of the world around me....I make a living working as a permaculture consultant and gardener....is that enough? My own place provides sustainable food for me....and my friends and neighbours....I save my own seeds or trade with the seed savers...I'm part of a LETs system we run very successfully here in the valley....can it be how you choose to live your life as being enough to qualify as successful permaculture?

    I know that it all started with the words Permanent Agriculture....but it is an ever evolving world we live in and one of the basic principles for me is Adapting to Change (from Holgrem's book- Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability)....which we humans are particularly good at...

    cheers Kathleen
     
  5. eyebright

    eyebright New Member

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    masanobu fukuoka the natural farming hero of japan made money from his farm. And i would describe what he did as permaculture principles.

    I haven't actually seen it. Just read his book - "one straw revolution"
     
  6. rhancock

    rhancock Junior Member

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    Isn't focusing just on making a permaculture farm profitable the same as focusing on just one crop? Doesn't a permaculture farm need a polyculture of profit generation lines (eg sale of food products, training, income from visitors, etc), otherwise it becomes a monoculture in a financial sense, which puts it at risk when situations change or new (financial?) organisms appear. Certainly successful ecosystems have multiple systems in order to reduce risk of damage: wouldn't a successful permaculture farm have multiple systems too?
     
  7. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    This has been talked over several times in the last few years, but...

    Most subsistence farming in the developing world in communities with secure land tenure would be classified as "permaculture" if one looked at the practices involved, the energy and nutrient flows internal to the farms, etc. Many of these farms are "profitable" only by the slimmest of currency based margins, but! they are not losing money, and they provide nutritious food, marketables, medicinals, construction material, so the over all avoided cost is quite high, which adds to the value of the farm.

    Further, many such farms also provide valuable ecological services, things like carbon sequestration, soil retention, habitat creation, watershed management, all of which have significant but troublesome to quantify values.

    Most economists do not refer to the value of these services, which brings us to the other end of that string: most "profitable" conventional/chemical/monoculture farms are barely profitable, even with the direct and indirect subsidies they receive in much of the first world, and then, only if true cost accounting, measuring and valuing the damage they do, the cost of transporting material, is not taken into account. These farms are only "profitable" at the expense of natural systems, subsidized by our great grand children's inheritance.

    As rhancock suggests, monocultures are more "profitable" in the domonant economic model, and if you are going into the kilogram per hectar x $$ per kilo - cost of labour + cost of inputs, then you are going to have a very limited species selection and, while you might be a farmer, you will end up buying most of your food. How much corn and soybeans can you eat?

    How much is a poisoned aquifer worth? Who pays for it? How much is a clean water source worth? Until larger economic models are part of the discussion, it is almost impossible to decide what is truly "profitable" and what is merely subsidized by off farm income, the destruction of natural; systems, the loss of topsoil, etc, etc, etc, etc.
     
  8. Ichsani

    Ichsani Junior Member

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    So when is the book coming out Christopher?....... I'll happily volunteer my editing services. Seriously, when?

    This is a great thread. I am heartened to see such intelligent and informed discussion.


    8)

    Ich
     
  9. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Re: Productive Permaculture Systems

    Hi Ichy!

    Hahahaha, no book yet. Not sure where to begin.

    As my prospective editor, write an email at [email protected] with an outline! I have no idea where to start....

    C
     

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