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broadscale, permaculture zones 3 to 5

Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Toby, thanks for spending some time on the forum, I will look for your book and look forward to reading it...

Much of the permaculture material I have read so far has a strong bias towards very small, garden-scale self-sufficiency. This is great, but until we have a massive redistribution of populations and re-education of lost skills, we are going to need farms and farmers. Even when I read permaculture thoughts on zone 3, there are frequently ideas that would require massive labour inputs from communities that don't exist. Often there is something close to hostility towards feasibly efficient work on larger acreages, but I have to believe that permaculture and farming are not fundamentally incompatible.

I think farming desperately needs permaculture. Those of us left on the land have such a responsibility to be good stewards of soils and habitat, to provide healthy food, to preserve knowledge and heirloom technologies... I am interested in family size farming of 60 to 200 acres, with diverse crops, livestock, and native areas, powered by draft animals...essentially the organic farm of 70 or 80 years ago, combined with better understanding of soils and ecology.

What do you think are the most essential principles (attainable ones that will give the greatest benefit) that we can transfer practically to large (not huge!) acreage in the permaculture zone 3? Can you suggest any authors / references out there that address work at this scale?
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
I'm not Toby but I do live in zone 4/5..and I do find that trees and shrubs do the best for us..so might I suggest maybe some varied orchard trees with some edibles under them for part of your acerage. I do know that trees do really well here, but zone 3 might be a bit iffy. do you maybe have a gentle north or west facing slope that you could put to trees? I'm in the process of regrowing another food forest (lost mine when we had a housefire and also had son move to part of our land)..so I'm up to about 4 years of baby trees now growing, and plant more every year..but putting shrubs and perennial plants and vines in the area has also helped me round it out..

Yeah it would be more harvest intensive than a one crop field..but..you could also allow pick your own for part of it too..??


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I feel like I'm kind of butting in here, but anyway..... I think animals are usually the product of zones 3 and 4 in permaculture....grains are usually not a broadscale crop in permaculture, though Wes Jackson and the Land Institute have been working on perennial grain crops. http://www.landinstitute.org/

Even returning to a style of agriculture (not permaculture) of 70+ years ago using draft animals would require a massive redistribution of population and relearning skills, as the farming population was much larger back then, now in the US it is about 2% of the population who are farming, versus something like 25% in the 1930s, when the transition from horses to tractors was occurring...

Walter Jeffries is a member of the messageboard here who is doing broadscale raising of livestock (pastured pigs) who may be able to offer some insights. He is making his living from it.


Idle dreamer

Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
thanks brenda...that was confusing of me, i was ranting about permaculture zones not hardiness zones, i just edited my post.... i'm really interested in thinking beyond the homesite and surrounding intensive garden area ....but it did turn into a rant, didn't it?? i think i'm in 2 as far as hardiness goes, we can grow a few hardy apply varieties and berries.....good luck with your orchard, and enjoy!
Toby Hemenway
author


Joined: May 06, 2008
Posts: 93
    
  17
Permaculture began as an approach to broadscale ag; if you read Mollison's Permaculture One and Pc Two, and even the Designer's Manual, most of what is in there is for multi-acre farms. It was us Americans who pulled the methods down to home-scale (I was one of the main culprits by writing that book) so it's ironic that now, I get inquiries from farmers as to whether it can be scaled up. Alley-crops in pastures, Yeomans keyline (google it if you don't know it), agro-forestry, rotational grazing, large scale ponds and aquaculture, all of those lend themselves to permaculture design. We vary our techniques based on where and how they are used, so, no, we wouldn't try keyhole beds over 40 acres; we'd want something we can use a tractor on (and maybe later, horses, if fuel gets too expensive--although on-farm fuel can be part of the mix: ethanol, oil crops, etc.

So check out the earlier Mollison books. And there are a fair number of farmers using Pc, mostly doing grazing, nut and fruit crops, and poultry.


I'm offering weekend permaculture courses in the SF Bay area. Info (and more) at http://patternliteracy.com
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Thank you for the leads and keywords. Some familiar ones and some new, I have homework to do. I am excited about the keyline. Alley crops, rotational and mixed species grazing..all of that just makes sense. I wish the very diverse, jumbled, zero till polyculture stuff had a larger scale analogue....mixed species cover crops and undersowing / oversowing are, i suppose, gestures in that direction.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3011
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  51
Have you read Intro to Permaculture (Mollison)? What animals/plants are you currently raising?


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: I wish the very diverse, jumbled, zero till polyculture stuff had a larger scale analogue....mixed species cover crops and undersowing / oversowing are, i suppose, gestures in that direction.


sepp holzer's Krameterhof is pretty large at about 90 acres. http://www.krameterhof.at/en/index.php?id=holzersche_permakultur

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIuaGojewMM&feature=related
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Nice to see sepp's website and the video...that's a crazy bit of land he's on..perfect for gravity water. I don't have near that much topography, and am much drier (about 16" of rain per year).

I have native grassland, woodland and riparian areas. Some acreage is in permanent hayfields (agronomic species). The rest of the land i have rented out, and someone has it in commercial monoculture right now. I want to gradually take this back as I feel I can handle it. I am starting with twenty acres this spring. I plan to split this area into smaller fields, rotating green manures / annual forage mixes (which will be grazed) with some crops (interested in a dried beans and small grains or flour CSA, perhaps some vegetables, garlic). I want to plant some shelterbelt /hedgerows on field divisions, and perhaps get some apples and berries started. I have an area for a mid size dam and pond if i could only afford to get the equipment in..

Right now i graze Highland cattle and keep a team of draft horses. I want to add dual purpose heritage variety sheep to the grazing mix if i can come up with a decent predator protection strategy.

I haven't read much mollison yet, but i'll hit the library when i get to town again.

Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3011
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  51
Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote:
I want to add dual purpose heritage variety sheep to the grazing mix if i can come up with a decent predator protection strategy.


Meat/fiber? I have Black Welsh Mountain Sheep with LGDs protecting them.

Where are you located?
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Yep, meat/fibre. Those black welsh mountains are nice looking sheep, I hadn't heard of them before. I was thinking icelandics or shetlands. I'm on the canadian prairies.

I have an LFD (large fluffy dog)...he's not bred for protection and spends too much of his time with the family to be useful. Thinking llama or donkey. I would like to 'bond' the sheep and cattle together 'flerd' style and see if that would offer some protection too. But I keep the cattle on pretty extensive rangelands and i think the coyotes might decimate sheep. But i'll figure out some way to fit them in somewhere on the farm.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Folding the sheep at night (bringing them into a secure pen) may help reduce loss to predators. This also provides a handy source of manure for the garden.

I've never left my sheep out at night, though most people leave their sheep and goats out all the time. Sadly, many also feel the need to trap or poison predators. We have coyotes and mountain lions in the area.



Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3011
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  51
Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote:Thinking llama or donkey. I would like to 'bond' the sheep and cattle together 'flerd' style and see if that would offer some protection too. But I keep the cattle on pretty extensive rangelands and i think the coyotes might decimate sheep. But i'll figure out some way to fit them in somewhere on the farm.


The cattle will not help the sheep. 4 days after I got mine, 3 out of 4 were killed by coyotes... with 2 cows and an LGD in the paddock. You do need 2 LGDs because a coyote will draw the dog away while the others attack.

Llamas and donkey are no good against feline predators and could be dangerous to your dog.

Since I've had more than 1 dog I had several years w/out a death till this summer. I suspect the sheep wondered too far (they were "free range") or she got into trouble/stuck/injured first and was attacked later.
 
 
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