unsustainable climate in Canadian deep freeze?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by -, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. Guest

    Hello all, I have just (luckily) found this forum after trying for months of permaculture research on my mind draining computer. I live in a place where winter starts in October and ends in May(if we're lucky). Canada. I realize that permaculture in very viable in a place where the growing season actually exists....ours is laughable. The agriculture practices in my country are against everything that is sustainable. We grow trillions of acres of the same crop. These acres owned by a few people. The rich ones who bought out bankrupt farms and consolidated them. we harvest our grains-(85% of which are genetically modified: Canada has offered up it's citizens as the global guinea pigs on the effects of GM)- and enter a deep freeze.
    most of our grains rot in their silos; dependent on global markets and unable to sell to countries which ban GM products. Living here, it's hard not to become engulfed by pessimism. The small temperate region of Canada is much more sustainable but land is almost impossible to afford (I am in no position to be able to buy some...not for a while) and disappearing fast. I'm feeling helpless and want to make a meaningful change in our society. Can anyone suggest an applicable field of study where one can get the credibility to facilitate an environmental change.(I realize this sounds naive and vague) I haven't formally studied anything yet..being unable to justify paying in the several tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree unless it's something that allows me to help us and earth.
    I've been noticing that most people involved in the permaculture moveme nt already have degrees in other areas, hold jobs in fields possibly unrelated to the environment and often own their own land that they want to make self sufficient. (can't get land unless you have a good job..can't get a job without a degree, can't get a degree without a loan...etc. etc..)

    Permaculture Institutes on the internet hold PDC courses but unfortunately I haven't found any within my area and others only do it once or twice a year...let alone the extreme prices in US dollars. It seems like permaculture has become a very expensive, exploitable 'hobby' instead of a sharing of ideas. I realize permaculture farms must also make a living but...thousands of dollars? which of course i'll invest, but I would like to be sure i'm not being taken for a ride. Are all these 'institutes' credible? or is it just the luck of the draw. I apologize for my ignorance. Many boast of possible permaculture Degrees and diplomas...Can you get either a degree or a diploma? Which universities offer such programs? My search on the internet has been fairly unsuccessful....so, bottom line....

    How can you infultrate the "SYSTEM" of our consumptive society. How can we make manufacturers responsible and accountable for all their wasteful packaging...destructive production ....irresponsible marketing? How can we redesign our current agricultural practices on a broader level?
    Sorry for the rambling. Any direction would be greatly appreciated.

    Frozen in time.... j.
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    May 14, 2004
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    g'day jule,

    where i am gets that many months of summer, our warm season starts september and goes through 'till the end of april and into may. i suppose if the inhabitants were going to look at living sustainably on this planet then there may not be much habitation below around the 30th or 35th parrallel i should imagine the parrallels are the same up the northern hemisphere, but then it's way too late to be thinking along those lines isn't it?

    for me i'm from the school of thought that doesn't see permaculture as design or courses or a way of making money, for me it starts with the mind set of those who want to do things better. then it can all be done with simple common sense practises have you heard the term K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid or silly whatever), we are achieving much along those very lines, you work out what you can do to be sustainable in your current sustem (that is where you live) then go from there. our only form of reference is mollesons intro' to permaculture which mostly collects dust these days.

    i frequent a good many forums and groups under the title of permaculture but like you there is little banter about what people are achieving or what is working there is too much influence toward selling permaculture. what i see as unnecessary courses and complex design systems. and from my experiences this push for money is taking it out of the thought and reach of the little people the very people we need to get this sort of thing working on a broader scale.

    the only way to get the message through to those that dictate how we live is to get the ball rolling get people involved and i don't see that diplomas or degrees are going to achieve that sounds more like some ego push.

    len 8)
  3. Mont

    Mont Junior Member

    Nov 23, 2002
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    G'day Jule. I understand why you might feel helpless and I reckon one of the best things about permaculture is that it reduces that debilitating feeling by giving you some hope. I think permaculture courses are very helpful - and they sound cheaper in Australia than Canada - but not essential. I don't think there's any qualification, permacultural or otherwise, that will quickly give you enough credibility to influence governments that are determined not to listen. Sometimes an idea has to wait for its time - such as water conservation suddenly becoming a serious issue in New South Wales because of us recently having the worst drought in 100 years. Other ideas whose time has come are also giving me little skerricks of hope, such as a growing campaign here to reduce the billions of plastic shopping bags thrown away each year. Our governments are considering ideas from countries such as Ireland where disposable bags cost money at the checkout. We're VERY slowly getting there with lots of issues….I hope! Permaculture's 3 main principles are caring for the earth, caring for people and giving away surplus. Here are some inexpensive ideas - which I hope will generate more - for practising permaculture where you are right now without stretching your wallet:
     Get your household electricity from a supplier who can provide it from 100% renewable energy sources. This is easily done in Australia, dunno about Canada, and saves you $30,000 on installing solar panels and inverters. It costs a bit more per unit of electricity than power from coal, but not that much.
     Save water by installing a water tank - which can cost less than $1000 - and following water saving hints available from water suppliers and other sources such as gardening publications.
     Grow as many herbs and vegetables as you can for yourself.
     Buy as much organic food as your budget can handle.
     Give away some surplus time - if you have any -by doing volunteer community work. Our grannies and aunties have been doing this for generations and not calling it permaculture, but it builds sustainable communities so it fits neatly under the umbrella.
     On a political level, vote for the party that shares your ideals, write to politicians to try to influence their decisions or join organisations that will lobby them for you.
     If the mainstream way of doing something strikes you as wrong, try and find out if there is a better way. There often is. (One example is the tons of disposable nappies that get thrown away each year and take forever to break down. A bit of research reveals that there are affordable greener alternatives, such as compostable ones that break down in weeks).
     Join a permaculture group or forum and keep exchanging ideas. I regularly ask people on this forum all sorts of things because I know they're intelligent, questioning types who like solving problems.
     Keep learning and learning till you drop. That doesn't have to be by studying for degrees. Books in your public library can teach you lots and cost you nothing. Visiting permaculture farms and community gardens and such and talking to people working there will also teach you a lot.

  4. mossbackfarm

    mossbackfarm Junior Member

    Feb 12, 2004
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    Hey Jule

    That's a hard one....there's enough going wrong that it's hard to feel that we can make a difference. As far as formal PDC or other courses, I'd leave that to you. Personally, I'm more of a reader, and less of a joiner....while group learning is immensely valuable, I get deeper into a subject when I do it myself.

    Here in Portland, OR, there's the portland permaculture guild, which is a bunch of folks who get together monthly, help each other out on projects, and generally provide support and aid. As fossil fuels become more expensive, and whatever comes after that, I have faith in this community to take the lead on solving problems, designing sustainability, and having fun doing it.

    My 2 cents.....

  5. Guest

    G'day Jule,

    I too have just begun to look at the best ways to start learning about the permaculture principles, and looked around for course available here in Australia. Unfortunately with a 2 year old daughter, a fulltime job and a house with a garden that has been negelected for 25 years, I have about as much time free as it takes to boil a kettle!!

    Ever since having my daughter, I have felt more strongly the need to try and make the place a little nicer and friendlier and safer (both environmentally and physically), and this has pushed me into looking for the alternatives to conventional lifestyles. It seems a bit trite, but the old slogan of "Think globally, act locally" has more power than some realize. I have only just started on this journey, and talked to my collegues about it at lunchtimes (I work in the Federal Govt dept for Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries) and I am amazed at how many of them have started to read some of my books at work, and the other day one even built his own chook pen...before I have gotten mine! We now have a tomato growing competition going on for this summer season, and for the first time people are growing their own vegetables!! Whilst it is a serious vocation, I think if more mainstream adoption is to occur, then it needs to be fun and light hearted. Don't ram it down peoples throats with doom and gloom, but make it a child like disovery of playing with dirt...and who knows??

    As for growing veges, in your climate there is a range of native berries and alternatives suitable. I spent 5 weeks in Canada this year talking to innovative small farmers, and they have good sustainable mixed small production systems (an inspiration to me), some of whom started out as trying a self sustainability lifestyle and ended up producing more than they needed. They sell to local markets and stores, and have strted up some small cooperative arrangements, so maybe going to the local organic shops or health food stores may give you a link in with some truly inspirational people.

    As I learnt from my daughter, walk a few steps, fall down...giggle...stand up and walk again!

    Have fun in starting the journey

  6. elizabeth

    elizabeth Junior Member

    Jan 19, 2004
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    permaculture - canadian style

    hey jule!

    First: where in canada are you??

    Second: take a deep breath and start small... don't bear the weight of the whole world on your shoulders - i personally find it a bit debilitating. i understand your need to get started, and with loans and whatnot it's difficult in the university setting. i have just graduated in environmental science with loans to pay back, and while i feel a lot more empowered, i am still jobless.
    i am personally just learning about permaculture too and i find there are lots of ways to get involved that don't require payment:

    Everdale Learning Centre (Hillsburgh, Ontario) https://www.everdale.org
    Seventh Generation (near Ottawa) https://www.seventhgeneration.ca
    Kootenay Permaculture Institute (BC) https://www3.telus.net/permaculture
    Falls Brook Centre (New Brunswick) https://www.fallsbrookcentre.ca
    Many more: https://www.planetfriendly.net/learn.html

    Some of these organizations also have permaculture courses.

    Willing Workers On Organic Farms (https://www.wwoof.ca) is a GREAT opportunity to travel for cheap, learn a ton about farming and see canada. a good chance to get back on your feet.

    Check out https://www.planetfriendly.net
    There are lots of good resources, and lots of good job postings.

    And finally, you could go to university. Studying environmental science was a good opportunity to learn about problems, processes and solutions. There are lots of good programs across the country. If you are more interested in agriculture I hear Guelph has a good program.

    gotta go the power is about to go out.
    good luck!

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