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Is Anyone Really doing permaculture?

Collin Vickers


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 103
Location: San Angelo, Texas
Hey Permies,

Every time I do a little research about the greats of permaculture/sustainable agriculture, (Holzer, Salatin, Mollison, Lawton, Fukuoka, Bullock Bros,) sooner or later I read about how their methods don't work quite as well as they are purported to, or that corners are being cut, they talk all day but don't own an inch of land, or something.

Occasionally, people cite the friend of a brother's former girlfriend who harvested ten pounds of food per square foot, or growing thousands of species together on a quarter acre.

But, I don't see the produce. Where are the videos and pictures testifying to the permie cornucopia? Is there even one person making the coveted $100k annual farm-based income, or feeding the masses top quality food for less than the megamarts? Are the ones that can do it staying home to do it, while those that can't settle for teaching it?

Granted, there are lots of people selling PDCs, selling DVDs, writing books, giving talks and making money on permaculture - without doing anything on their farms.

There are also lots of start-ups that fail and go back on the market in short order. Operator error, to be sure, but they can't all be ignoramuses.

Could there be someone out there doing the unglorified, off-camera, unpublished work of permaculture and realizing the dream? If so, are any of them forthcoming enough to post a copy of thier balance sheets, tax returns, and comprehensive, specific details about how they did it, from the time the first seed was planted? I figure Salatin comes close, but then I read about how chicken tractors are little better than miniaturized, portable factory farms. Holzer has a lot of problems with government intereference, but lets suppose he didn't - how much would his acreage actually produce?

I have no intentions of defaming anyone or starting any trouble, I just want to see some verifiable proof that all this stuff isn't just so much humming, hawing, and wasted time.

What's the truth, from the people who have been there and done it, and didn't fail?
Isaac Hill
volunteer

Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 343
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
    
    8
When you do something revolutionary, there are always going to be naysayers, jealous people and those agents of the status quo who find a problem with something. At the same time, we are all human each of these people is just another human with their own faults. For instance, Bill Mollison smokes. I smoke too. A lot of people really don't like that. I don't really care. Also, permaculture is a design science, not a set of "organic" or "magic pill" practices. Each site is different and what works in one place is not going to work in another.

More importantly, I think you're coming at this from the wrong angle. Permaculture is based on the three ethics, 1. Earth Care, 2. People Care, and 3. Return of the Surplus/Fair Share/ Limits to Growth. We live in a planet that is being decimated by our current agricultural practices. We need to change the way we grow food. These luminaries in permaculture are experimenters, working with what they have to create a better future. A lot of permaculturists are not doing this for the money, farming rarely makes that much money. We're doing this because we have to.

That being said, there are a lot of permaculturists that make a decent amount of money. If you want to read a book on the nitty gritty details of actually setting up and running a permaculture farm, I suggest "Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm" by Darrell Frey. I've been interning with him all summer and it's really eye opening to see how a permaculture farm actually functions. Also, like many permaculturists who design for redundancy, multifunctionality and so on, Darrell makes some of his money from the farm, some from designing and some from teaching. There are lots of way to make money and the more diversified the money flow is, the more resilient.


"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
Suki Leith


Joined: Jul 27, 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Oakland, CA
    
    6
How can you view preserving the soil structure and working within eco systems a failure? What's your definition of success? The yields industrial, chemically enhanced monocultures produces? Everyone not doing this is a success, in my opinion. Did someone tell you this was a road to economic wealth? Surely, a cost/benefit analysis would only show permaculture is the only way to not bankrupt the planet.

I think of permaculture as a learning process that will only get better with the sharing of lessons learned. I'm so glad everyone here is adding to the commonwealth.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
"The kitchen garden is Nadia Lawton’s baby — and very productive it is, supplying the bulk of the 25,000 — 30,000 meals served every year." http://permaculture.org.au/2012/06/01/zaytuna-farm-video-tour-apr-may-2012-ten-years-of-revolutionary-design/


Idle dreamer

R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2484
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  18
Look at the success/failure rate of any business. Then look at farming. Then look at the development time for permaculture--you have a LOT stacked against you so any success is big.

We have had small successes but many more failures, at that is just trying to set up permaculture gardens for the family homestead. Definitely would have failed if trying to be my only source of income.


http://www.treebytheseafarms.com/
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
It's a fair question. How about a show of hands on this forum alone? Anyone truly living a permie lifestyle in every aspect and producing even enough food for their own families without spending more than they would on just buying it from a local grower?

I'm as curious as the OP....
Collin Vickers


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 103
Location: San Angelo, Texas
I didn't mean to project the wrong idea, that money is all that matters, or that having a robust income stream makes someone a fraud. No one should feel obligated to defend the persons mentioned above, as I'm not attacking them - I consider all of them heroes, from an intellectual, "I guess it makes sense but I've never done it myself, and can't confirm or deny anything", point of view.

Rather, I am frustrated that so much information about permaculture is seemingly unverified/unverifiable.

Whenever I find evidence that counters what I presume to have learned, I am forced to confront the reality that I have no way of discerning truth from falsity about anything that comes under the umbrella of permaculture. I must either take someone's word for it, try it and risk failure, or attempt to verify it by sifting through unending minutiae. I find myself constantly yearning for further insight, more specificity, fewer ranges and gradations of hypotheses, more authoritative commentary with proofs of efficacy, and most importantly, more comprehensive examples. Take Salatin's 'Pastured Poultry Profits' as an example - it appears to be valid, and I don't have much to quarrel with concerning the ethics behind his approach, but then I read how practice and preaching are unacquainted with one another. Grain of salt or not, I still don't know jack.

Staggering variability aside, I don't think it's too much to ask for a template to build from - obviously what works in a micro-region of Oregon, for instance, is out of the question in the outskirts of El Paso. However, if X works in arid southwest Portugal, then X will likely be a good reference point for Hudseth county, TX as well. For the sake of discussion, let's suppose John Doe has a great homestead/farm in a comparable arid region, and makes a living for himself in a responsible manner by stewarding the land he has. If farmer Doe would take us through the steps, A-Z, that would be great. If I have to build capital until I'm 50 before I can break ground, and I have to risk huge fines and imprisonment to make it happen, so be it, but at least I'd have an idea of how to follow in his footsteps.

In my own case, I have a silly little polyculture vegetable patch in my yard. I've gotten produce from it - which tastes great, and I'm having a lot of fun, but as Jay Green implies, it probably costs me more in capital expense, water, and time, than simply buying produce would have. Could I have spent ten times as much money to irrigate, put up shade cloth, input composted fertilizers, made my garden a part time job, and had something almost-not-pathetic to show for it after several years? Maybe. I wouldn't call that homesteading, though, let alone farming.

What I see are lots of dreamers subsidizing a fantasy with income made some other way. We are trying to change the world for the better, and I can't think of anything more important than that, but we still have to eke out a living in the meantime.

Perhaps my problem is letting the naysayers get to me.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
True permaculture takes a lot of time to establish..esp if you are including trees.

Prior to our 2002 housefire, we had a huge permaculture food forest that provided all of our vegetative needs except grains, and we purchased our meat and eggs etc locally. We lost all that with our housefire, and had to start over. It took a couple of years to begin planting and we had a lot of losses because of deer damage, but have now gotten some of our fruit trees and other perennials back into production, but it will be a few more years before MOST of our trees are in production, and many of our NUT trees are still very tiny babies as are some fruit trees, so they obviously are not producing all of our needs yet.

At this time we have not put in any animals domestically, we do have game...we also NOW have a pond that we are hoping to stock with protein fish in the near future.

So yes we are doing permaculture, slowly, but steadily, and within the next few years will be back to reaping most of our vegetative food again including vegatative proteins, and hopefully next year will be able to purchase a flock of chickens.

Permaculture, isn't proving to someone that you can sell $100,000 worth of anything, it is a lifestyle


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Judith Browning
steward

Joined: Jun 21, 2012
Posts: 3740
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 stoney acidic sandy loam
    
132
It's a lifestyle choice. You just keep trying because it fits your principles, how you see your place in the world, IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Financial success can't be the only the reason to live this way... it's about the journey...trying to mindfully choose each step...we can't live any other way with a clear conscience. Just do your best for the planet on whatever scale you can manage.

If you are truly spending more growing vegetables in your backyard than it would cost to buy them locally, I think you might want to question your methods rather than permaculture.


"We're all just walking each other home."
Ram Dass

Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3956
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  84
I'm just pottering around on a little suburban place, and definitely not surviving on, making money from, let alone, gasp, pofiting from permaculture!
Basically I use permaculture design as just part of my life, money doesn't really come into it.
We've all gotta make a living, and sometime I think there's more to be gained from being part of the 'normal' world, talking to 'normal' people, rather than 'preaching to the choir'.
While I know there's discussion about making big profits from permaculture, as Isaac points out, I imagine the well-known permies make a lot of their inomes from teaching and designing.
The industrial farms I'm familiar with that make money from straight-out 'farming', are based on a pretty shoddy extractive model, subsidised by the Earth.
I think that can't last, but i have a few other attitudes about 'civilisation' as we know it that include the words 'can't last'
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
What I see are lots of dreamers subsidizing a fantasy with income made some other way. We are trying to change the world for the better, and I can't think of anything more important than that, but we still have to eke out a living in the meantime.


Ah...and there lies the rub. This is a common misconception that I see on other forums about living sustainably...that one must derive their income from it or it isn't worth doing or it isn't real. There is nothing wrong from deriving your income from a regular job and still having a sustainable lifestyle at home that provides you and your family with a healthy food source, a simpler and cheaper way of life and doesn't rob/deplete the land.

Another thing I see is people thinking that, if you live off grid, this means you never leave your homestead to hold down a real job in the outside world. This simply isn't realistic for many people and working off your land doesn't mean you cannot live off the utility grid, grow most~if not all~of your food needs and treat your land like a living, growing, breathing thing instead of something to exploit for awhile until you've drained it of all it's natural beauty and health.

Just because Salatin markets his sustainable practices and produce doesn't mean that the simple, quiet man at home on 40 acres can't be just as self-sustaining and responsible in his farming practices~and still drive a school bus, work as a fireman, have a law office, etc. One doesn't have to go clean off the reservation to practice and live the lifestyle of responsible agriculture and they don't have to have ledgers and balance sheets to prove it's efficacy in their lives....anyone can tell if they have more going out on an endeavor than they have coming in without getting specific and totting up a balance.

The only way you will ever know if it is profitable and sustainable in YOUR life is to get out there and DO it. Don't wait until you have proof of someone, somewhere, doing it and being a success at it....their success and proof of such doesn't insure that you will have the same results. Only you can determine if something is a success in your life.

I too grow weary of talkers and dreamers that never really implement the things they talk down to a rag...they just plan to do it someday. Stop reading, discussing and debating if something really works and just TRY it. Do the heck out of it and not just for a season or two...do it for years, refining it down to the bone and THEN decide if it was worth it all. What have you got to lose, really? Years of your life? Well, you can either dream or debate for years and still have years invested....or you can actually DO for years and have knowledge, experience, real life happening every moment.

I have family that talk and dream and won't actually DO anything because they are waiting until they can afford to do it right...which will never happen. I've been doing what they only dream of on a single, lowly income for years now. Did I have solar panels or windmills? Heck, no...couldn't afford those. Did I have more property with the equipment to work it to develop ponds, swales, meadows, etc.? Nope. Never will, probably. What I did have was the nerve to do it anyway and grow food, raise animals for food, get my living expenses down to a bare nub and use the land responsibly as possible.

My folks did the same back in the 70s and 80s....used all their money to buy a parcel of land and moved onto it with a chainsaw and some hand tools. Homesteaded for many years, off grid, and did it well.....with no big influx of income derived from the land, no wonderfully quaint buildings made to look like Hobbit Houses, no solar panels or windmills, no ponds or other man made adaptations to the land.

My advice? Stop waiting to see if someone else can make it work and be profitable at it...it's not really about earning a living off the land. It's about living, eating and improving on the land~no matter if you have an acre or many acres.
Shawn Harper


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 225
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
    
    1
A penny saved is a penny earned...


She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches changes.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15456
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This reminds me of the whole "we cannot put a man on mars until somebody has put a man on mars" argument.

But, let's throw a few examples out:

Fukuoka's rice production per acre was in the top 5% in Japan. And, from those same acres he pulled off a crop of barley. With zero petroleum or added fertilizers.

Holzer pulls off about $800,000 per year from his farm in austria. And that's just his farm - that doesn't include his other ventures.

I think a big challenge here is that how much somebody makes is not for public viewing.

And then there is this:





sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Collin Vickers


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 103
Location: San Angelo, Texas
I must reiterate that I didn't mean to pose net worth as the measure of permaculture success. What I mean is more like: John Doe grew X quantity of Y range of crops in a polyculture, ate 70% over one year, bartered 20% with neighbors for things he didn't produce, and sold 10% at the farmers market. In his demographic, that saved him #. Meanwhile, he stacked industries A, B, and C, into his system, which contributed #. According to this strategy, he spent X number of hours working, met all of his basic needs for food, housing, etc, and had $X left over from farm enterprises. By the way, he works part time in town, and his wife works full time, they both volunteer in these ways, this is how they address childcare and other practical concerns, and they've been doing it for X years. He financed his ownership/rental of the land in this way, financed the numerous necessities in that way, it took him so long based on these criteria, etc. His first year agenda was 1, 2, 3. Year two was a, b, c. Years 3-5 x, y and z, up until year 10. From there I follow his advances and follow suit, if appropriate.

Now I can compare myself to farmer Doe and make a determination as to which aspects I want to incorporate into my own strategy, and which ones I don't, based on my own values, skill sets, and resources. This account of information is useful to me. Filing away the potentiality of using deep bedding in a portable chicken coop in a paddock shift system might be useful to me in year five, when my perennial pasture is healthy and able to support a flock, but it's no use to me immediately.

A cost flow analysis for Doe Inc. and farmer Doe's personal tax returns are a bit of an exaggeration - I'm just looking for a class of trail-blazers like him who can earnestly say they've done it, and more importantly, guide others like myself along the way in a comprehensive manner. Diving recklessly into a project doesn't constitute good land stewardship, or good financial sense.

What we have right now in the world of permaculture is an accumulation of mostly isolated details, like coupons stuffed in a drawer, but no shopping list. I'm not saying throw away the minutiae - after all, I'm interested in that too. However, because I'm still at the stage of figuring out how to get started, I'm looking for a big picture perspective. A choice I make at the outset could affect the options I have ten years from now, socially, economically, and personally.

Jacob Lund Fisker and his strategy for 'Early Retirement Extreme' is analagous to the kind of approach I would like to see, with regard to disseminating permaculture wisdom. Fisker used a certain strategy to achieve financial independence - while not practicable for everone in the broad spectrum of people interested in early retirement, it will for work for portion of them. He made it to Mars, and then explained how he did it. Now I can follow him there, or at least strengthen the faculties I need to do so.

Likewise, John Doe's way of making permaculture happen on his imaginary plot of land wont apply universally, but it would provide a template for a significant number of people.

I don't see the permaculture versions of Fisker, providing a specific approach to sustainable life on the land, given a range of duplicable parameters.

sepp holzer worked wonders in his little corner of the Austrian alps. If Holzer had another 100 acres down the road to duplicate the Krameterhof, what would he do, and why? What's his ten-year plan? With that detailed information, a copycat in Colorado can begin to do something similar. Knowing a few disparate bits of information about Russian grain and parking fruit tree saplings in the shade to lose their leaves before transplanting isn't going to make things come together for him.

Conversely, no one has been able to duplicate Fukuoka's work. The man is gone, and we cannot benefit from interaction with him. That means two things: 1) he wasn't all he was cracked to be, or 2) information of incalculable value was lost, because someone along the line, perhaps Fukuoka himself, failed to provide an accurate account of every detail. In any case, it shouldn't have happened.

God forbid it happen to him, but if Sepp Holzer died tomorrow, how much would the world of permaculture lose? Sure we have a few cute tricks, but could anyone systematically reproduce the Krameterhof under similar circumstances?

We need regional specialists communicating with one another, sharing and innovating based on the divergent natural and social systems we live in. The beginnings are there, but I want to see comprehensive plans of action. Forget money. Healing the Earth is far more worthy a goal, but we can't do it without a plan, individually or collectively.
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
But...failing having a road map to success, what will you do? Did Sepp have someone leading the way so that he could calculate risks and foretell his financial future....or did he just put his life into finding out on his own?

Sometimes there is no road map into an idea or paradigm and, yes, it sure would be handy to have one....but do we wait around until someone tears themselves away from actually applying what they learned so they can draw a map for others? Or do we pull up our panties and just take a risk?

Farming of any kind involves huge risks and if you aren't willing to step out on that, you probably won't get the full benefit of the lifestyle. You will only tread the safe and broad pathways, the very easy road that anyone can travel...like dabbling with small little weedy garden plots, eating a few tomatoes and calling it sustainable living. Or getting a small flock of chickens, spending WAY too much on building them a cute house and buying breeds that are just so pretty but are not sustainably productive.

And, after all that, you can look around and say, "Gee, I've tried all this and I'm more in the hole than when I started but I feel darn good about my efforts." ~or~you can take the bull by the horns and realize that there is no easy road map to success in nearly any endeavor as there are too many variables to factor in....location, individual people, weather, time, space, etc. Then you can just grit your teeth, take a great idea and make it fit your life, make it even better and, finally, just make it happen.

THEN you can be the first to sit down(although there are many books out there with the exact intention) and explain exactly how you got there and how others can get there too if they only do it like you did it...which won't mean a thing to some guy who doesn't live on the same soil, have the same weather, have the same tools, have the same time to spend, have the same gumption, etc.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 691
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Collin Vickers wrote:Hey Permies,

But, I don't see the produce. Where are the videos and pictures testifying to the permie cornucopia? Is there even one person making the coveted $100k annual farm-based income, or feeding the masses top quality food for less than the megamarts? Are the ones that can do it staying home to do it, while those that can't settle for teaching it?



I agree completely.
I've been working at permaculture for a couple of years, and have yet to see any discernible improvement in my land/property. My 2 year old hugleculture beds would hardy grow even weeds this year!

I'm guessing that permaculture will start working 'some day" because it all makes logical sense, but I also have been questioning "where are the success stories?"
I'm not talking about getting rich or even being completely self sufficient, just the basic proofs of various claims.
I used to believe things with out evidence, but any more I realize I'm not getting any younger and I don't have time to do something for say, 5 years just to see if it works.

My faith is wearing down and my freezer is empty.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1782
    
  11
Lots of good replies thus far.......

I would add that when I first started Permaculture, many years ago, it was in the city and my goals were to 'save money' not to make it. But as we all know, saving is a form of making

My experiments were a great success. I was renting and I didn't want to spend a lot of money but wanted to still have all the benefits of my neighbors, such as - weed control, green grass and beautiful vegetation plus veggie patch (see photos below).
In the end I experienced more success than I had imagined was possible, and saved lots of money while I completely landscaped 1/3 of a acre with nothing more than labor, permaculture and any free carbon material I could find. I made my own soil, fertilizer, mulch, fencing/paddocks, etc. and/or got materials free (that was my price range - free). I am now in the process of buying land, and my goals are changing to include supplying all our food.

I believe someone has mentioned already that we all have different goals for our permaculture endeavors, and that the individual results vary because each person starts at a different place with very different circumstances to deal with. For example, round up may kill weeds all over the world, quickly, in about the same time frame, while natural methods to kill weeds will vary, as will the time frame needed, but will bring success in the end (tenacity and patience).

There are many 'permaculture type' success stories on the internet - do specific searches for permaculture and your climate type to find examples, and/or be willing to try the systems out, document your progress and be the change in your neck of the woods. No easy answers, but answers are out there all the same.

Ultimately the goal for myself, and others is to make money from permaculture type endeavors so one doesn't have to 'work' outside one's own property/lifestyle beliefs. I think the many examples show that it is easier to do in a community set up, even so the greats, a few mentioned in this thread above, have found ways to bring their families, interns and community at large into their permaculture dream thereby making it work.

As we see in nature - nothing stands alone, and neither can we when in pursuit of our permaculture dream(s).





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Judith Browning
steward

Joined: Jun 21, 2012
Posts: 3740
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 stoney acidic sandy loam
    
132
Judith Browning wrote:It's a lifestyle choice. You just keep trying because it fits your principles, how you see your place in the world, IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Financial success can't be the only the reason to live this way... it's about the journey...trying to mindfully choose each step...we can't live any other way with a clear conscience. Just do your best for the planet on whatever scale you can manage.

If you are truly spending more growing vegetables in your backyard than it would cost to buy them locally, I think you might want to question your methods rather than permaculture.


I truly believe we should "question authority" ....but in my opinion, you may be getting caught up in arguement/debate and missing out on the joy of living your lifestyle choice....even if it never reaches some idealistic goal. I question my own actions frequently and try to do "right" by my own standards and they are constantly being influenced by discussion and readings but that's on the side of playing on our land, growing wonderful food, planting trees, working at our craft, enjoying family.

My husband and I are from another generation....we dug into some land forty years ago with little knowledge and no money...but also were influenced by "One Straw Revolution"....The philosophy is old...the techniques are changing as folks learn better ways of doing things...I worry when anyone looks at permaculture as cost prohibitive and therefore not possible until they can afford everything at once.. We found we could live on very little and we were better at that than making much money. Twelve years ago we finally found our ideal place...so we are digging in again, a little slower this time but no less dedicated to being good stewards of this land.
Nicole Castle


Joined: Jul 18, 2012
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
I do think that you have to "try it and risk failure," because no one is going to be able to give you all the minutia they did, and even if they did, that doesn't mean it will reproduce in any similar form where you are. There are so many variables from site to site and year to year and seedling to seedling, that even if you moved in next door to a permie that gave you all this data you'd have a different outcome -- maybe better, maybe worse. You have to find out what works for you as the process evolves. Some stuff isn't going to work -- when those things fail move on, try something else.

Collin Vickers wrote:Could there be someone out there doing the unglorified, off-camera, unpublished work of permaculture and realizing the dream?


Who's dream? Not my dream. Yes, I grow a whole lot of my own food, and I probably give away more than I eat. But I'm not trying to make money at this or change the world on 8/10ths of an acre. I just want to do the best I can for the land for which I am responsible, live in a way which is as good for everyone else' land as much as I can, and engage with my community to help other people do the same, whether they can do one tiny thing or a lot of big things. Permaculture has a philosophy and a lot of practices that support that.

If the standard is that you have to achieve some kind of permie nirvana, that makes everyone else failures.

In terms of engaging with people in my community, I think it helps rather than hinders that I share a lot with them -- a job, a suburban lot, other concerns -- because it makes it more attainable. While there are people that will be inspired by the permie professionals, most people will simply be intimidated. If they are the only ones speaking, who will be the ones that say: it's okay... so DON'T have chickens.
Collin Vickers


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 103
Location: San Angelo, Texas
Jay Green wrote: But...failing having a road map to success, what will you do? Did Sepp have someone leading the way so that he could calculate risks and foretell his financial future....or did he just put his life into finding out on his own?

Sometimes there is no road map into an idea or paradigm and, yes, it sure would be handy to have one....but do we wait around until someone tears themselves away from actually applying what they learned so they can draw a map for others? Or do we pull up our panties and just take a risk?


I'm no Sepp biographer, but he was raised on the farm he is living on now, and I think he gleaned a lot of wisdom from his parents - not everyone has that privelege. Those who missed out will need to get that experience elsewhere, and learning from those who are capable of teaching sharply reduces the learning curve.

In any event, is each of us supposed to reinvent the wheel separately, in isolation from one another? If a substantial number of people have poured lifetimes into observing nature and building techniques from that connection, it would be such a waste of human potential to play Ceasar crossing the Rubicon with our own homesteading adventure, ignorant of everything they have contributed to our knowledge of this subject in previous generations, trusting arrogantly in our own ability to doggedly persevere in spite of all adversity. It's a romantic notion, but mostly people just go bankrupt, give up on their dream and blame their shortcomings on something convenient. Life is risky, after all, we can die from it, but there is a world of difference between calculated risk based on knowledge, and flagrant recklessness in the name of independence.

It comes down to accessibility of substantive knowledge, once again.

I'm not going to dictate to anyone what their dreams should be - any example I gave was just for the sake of discussion.

The point is, if your dream is to live like someone who started out thirty years ago where you are now, they will have the wisdom to point out the things you didn't know that you needed to know. They can tell you how to kill two birds with one stone, and suggest possibilities you wouldn't otherwise have factored into your plans. They can help you avoid pitfalls, and help prioritize how and where you spend your time/money for the best effect, long term. In fairly short order, the younger generation is up to speed and carrying the torch with new ideas based on new research.

This is not what most of us are doing, I don't think. All resources are finite, including time and money, and both are too precious to waste making mistakes. How many of us, in our enthusiasm, have launched half-baked projects that end up worth less than what they could have been, if only we had reduced that learning curve a bit by tapping into the wisdom of someone who has been working on it for thirty years? I've never taken a PDC, but I'm sure some are genuine mentorship opportunities along the lines of what I am describing, and others are just a pyramid scheme, but there can be no doubt about one thing: there exists startling, life-changing information in the world for people who are able to obtain it.

I'll say it again, I don't think it's too much to ask for people to share their permaculture story. If your emphasis is on saving money in the suburbs, cool. If you want to raise acorn-fed pigs and cure gourmet hams on your 50 acres of hardwood, that's cool too.

The idea here is that if the people who have already made it past a few milestones would provide some insight to the newcomers, it would make the world a much better place a lot faster.

Why don't I do so myself? Because I wouldn't have anything to offer anyone. I have no business pretending to be someone else's teacher. Speculating, or parroting what I've heard from others without the experience to understand the underlying reality isn't going to do anyone any favors.

The Sepp Holzers of the world have a lot to offer, and many of the permies in his ranking are accessible, well-intentioned and motivated to make the world better, not just pander to their pocketbooks.

So, I'll make an appeal to anyone who has a depth of experience in some area of permaculture: identify what your area of expertise is, tell us how you got where you are, why you did what you did, how you would change things if you could, and how you solved the problems that arose. No one will ever be able to duplicate it precisely, but nature behaves according to immutable laws. If we can write volumes about individual techniques, why can't we chain them together on a timeline, with a description of which circumstances the scenario pertains to? Someone stands to learn a lot from you.

Connecting the dots for that someone opens a door, it empowers them to venture out and replicate it, with their own ideas included. If that doesn't pay respect to the ethics of permaculture, I can't imagine what would.
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
Why don't I do so myself? Because I wouldn't have anything to offer anyone. I have no business pretending to be someone else's teacher. Speculating, or parroting what I've heard from others without the experience to understand the underlying reality isn't going to do anyone any favors.


I understand the quest for knowledge and the sharing of methods, mistakes, and realities....this is one reason I read, participate in forums, and search for more, more, more. But, in the end, you have placed your finger right on the point I'm trying to make. You have to experience some things for yourself and make your own mistakes before you can ever really claim it as experience in any one area.

One can intern with Salatin for years but never really be able to say they have personal experience with his methods. They were HIS methods, after all, and interning there just leads to parroting HIS knowledge with no real life experience of your own. Sure, they work on his place or with his time or man power..but do they translate into your reality?

Making mistakes, failing at projects...all of these things painted as negatives by your post are the very things that people who succeed have in their back pockets. Their mistakes, their personal experience and their problem solving skills overcame the hurdles to produce their own success...not the pages of some book.

Yeah, some of these guys were born with a ready made farm....do you think they just ran with all the ideas and experiences of their fathers on that farm or did they actually try new things, take risks, make false starts of their own?

Failing having a father to jump start you or books to give you some "reality", what is the best way to find out? Time seems to be an issue here and I notice that for many people, they feel that time is a measurable loss when devoting it to learning things. I don't find that to be true....if you are learning, even by making mistakes(which is invariably how most people learn)then it is not time wasted or spent in futility. This is time spent applying methods and ideas that you or others have had and only time will tell if they are effective...and every moment of that time is of value if you learn something from it.

One can't look at it as "I've been doing something wrong for 5 years and now I've lost 5 years of time from my time bank." You can look at it that way or the way Benjamin Franklin looked at it: "One day Mr. Franklin was asked why he failed 2000 tries to make a light bulb? He told this gentleman that he hadn't failed, he had just learned 2000 ways not to make a light bulb."

I don't find Mr. Franklin to be particularly romantic or poetical, merely practical in his belief that learning and experience takes time and it is time well spent if it yields success....and even if it fails to yield success 2000 times.

If you read a book and it cuts 5 years off your learning curve, that's great! But you still have to take the risk of implementing what you've read and seeing if it applies to your situation. But, reality is that a mere book won't match actual experience. If only farming were like the absolutes found in a light bulb so that we could just screw someone's ideas into our land and there would be light! No effort on our part would be wasted but the turn of a wrist....but farming isn't light bulbs and cannot be duplicated en mass with any degree of health to the planet or to the consumer~that's been proven already.

I can read about a Salatin method and read that he states he has been using this method for X amount of years with great success....but I still have to actually TRY that method for X amount of years also to deem it a personal success. If I try Salatin's method and it doesn't work for me or my livestock/pastures, have I really cut 5 years off my learning curve or do I still need to apply the method for 5 years before I see it isn't going to work in my setting?

In the end, books and forums can give you a rough idea or even a smooth one and that is all valuable....but the kind of experience you are talking about can, in the end, only be gained by putting in your own work and your own time. I'm all for putting it down in writing so others may learn...but I also encourage people to actually apply the ideas for a good length of time before announcing to the world they are good and true, the book/author is correct and these methods will cut 5 years off your learning time, etc.
Collin Vickers


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 103
Location: San Angelo, Texas
Point well taken Jay, I agree 100%. Experience can't be replaced, and cookie-cutter permie farms are an impossibility.

The point of this topic originally was to indicate my personal feeling that there is a broad gap in the knowledge base available online and in books - lots of little tricks and tips, but not much in the way of comprehensive information. I'd like to see more of the nitty gritty, that's all.

I'll stop flogging this dead horse there.
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
Collin Vickers wrote:Point well taken Jay, I agree 100%. Experience can't be replaced, and cookie-cutter permie farms are an impossibility.

The point of this topic originally was to indicate my personal feeling that there is a broad gap in the knowledge base available online and in books - lots of little tricks and tips, but not much in the way of comprehensive information. I'd like to see more of the nitty gritty, that's all.

I'll stop flogging this dead horse there.


I agree with you 100% also about the lack of a good knowledge base on it. I'd like to see more pictures and details of actual permie places that are actively producing what they say is possible...I think the questions posed in the OP are valid and I'm awaiting some personal stories and pics on this forum to show that time and effort is paying off for folks out there.

The same goes for the knowledge base on homeopathic treatments/preventatives for humans and animals....sadly there aren't long term case studies done on the benefits of using this as a health care method for either~but I still use it for myself and my animals with great success. Of course, I'd never have known if they worked if I hadn't invested time and effort into finding out.
Terri Matthews


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 410
Location: Eastern Kansas
    
    3
I have not failed, but neither have I succeeded. I have a chronic illness that prevents me from selling my stuff: I can either sell it or raise it but I cannot do both! I haven't the energy. And, I would rather raise them.

I can say that under permaculture the asparagus yieds every year, but it yields much less. There is a terrible drought where I live and the asparagus is still alive and healthy but it does yield less. It also yielded later than my garden aspargus.

Permaculture daffodils do very well for me, though because of my illness I only planted a oouple hundred bulbs, and that with the help of my kids. I used them for my own bouquets.

I do not consider my blackberries or fruit trees to be prmaculture, as I water them during the month of August every year.

A go-getter in Kansas could probably do well with permaculture asparagus and daffodils, but that will not be me!

Most advances are done following a theory. Permaculture is still in the theory stages. Fukuoka got great yields on his land with crops that have failed on mine. I have excellent tomatos in my garden and he says that tomatos are hard to grow. Obviously the climate has to be taken into account before ANYTHING can be a commercial success, and nobody has the climate thing worked out yet.

Which is why I am saying that, in Eastern Kansas, Peraculture asparagus and daffodils can be done, and probably in large quantities and sold.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I think the knowledge base is huge, the opposite of "a lack." I couldn't in an entire lifetime hope to apply a tiny fraction of the knowledge available to permaculturists from other permaculturists. I see examples of complete systems from suburban yard to farm. There can never be enough examples.

Nicole Castle


Joined: Jul 18, 2012
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
I agree with Tyler. We live in an era where we are flooded with information. The challenge is weeding through it and deciding what to try on our own. Although despite our high-tech world, much of the best information I get is from talking to local gardeners and farmers about their successes and failures.

A set of detailed case studies would be great, but when the OP asks for tax returns and balance sheets for verification, that's a pretty daunting hurdle.
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator

Joined: Aug 06, 2012
Posts: 1031
Location: La Palma Canary Zone 11
    
  12
I think that Collin was quite right with this topic, and also in her demand not to argue about the interest to perm anyway!

A few ideas....

1) Collin, did you mean about permies who can live out of it, not only producing family's meals?
I think most people try first to get the spirit, the way of life, and experiment.

2) Yes that is right, some teach what they do not do... But a good teacher can be just a teacher and not good at practising, especially spending hour on Intenet and course preparing! Yes I know some example, quite sad, and also I have already read about the same arguments as you tell about, let it be....

3) I do not anymore speak about permaculture, I just "cultivate" and that's it, no name about it!

4) MOST IMPORTANT:
Permaculture is about re-organising what was the normal life some time ago! So it takes time, as we do not heritate from our parents the necessary knowledge, not the necessary environment! Who gets from his parents the plot of land that is already manages properly is lucky!

Who can do in a lifetime was has been done by generation? So, the "problem" is normal... I think...


Xisca - Canary - Look at pics! Dry subtropical Mediterranean - My project
However loud I tell it, this is never a truth, only my experience...
Suki Leith


Joined: Jul 27, 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Oakland, CA
    
    6
The original post did seem to challenge the very validity of permaculture efforts, however the later explanations revealed the desire for assurances probably everyone would >like< to have.

Monoculture farming is linear and easy to quantify and . Permaculture, with all its interdependancies is more unpredictable, like the weather, which scientists are only beginning to get a small picture of.

I think what you want is a little beyond the scope of practitioners, whose energies are already tied up. The data you would like would be better compiled as a grad school thesis by someone with the luxury of time for cross comparison and analysis. A self-reported data base could be established, but again that would take significant resources to establish to be done properly. A system of mentorship would sure be nice...That WWOOF network is something that could be permaculture specialized, and those farms could be case studies.

Data in is just garbage out in the wrong hands. Definitely developing community based means of disseminating knowledge could increase a rise in permaculture. Things that work can then inspire others locally. In the meantime, what seems to be developing is a new folk wisdom, which is very much local and appropriate. There's something really nice about that. It's much more efficient and knowledge rich than what little makes it into books.

Maybe new threads on what works (vs. problems people have) in each of the regional sections here would be a start.

ADDED: If you're really motivated, you could try to write grant proposals to start an institute on permaculture research. A system of demonstration farms, documenting experiments might produce the data you're looking for.
Judith Browning
steward

Joined: Jun 21, 2012
Posts: 3740
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 stoney acidic sandy loam
    
132
I agree with the fact that there is an enormous wealth of information available on line. I also happened to think that there must be a lot of permaculture works in progress that are not on line posting their progress. We are aware of at least a couple of farms in our area who would never consider a computer in their lifestyle let alone a "permie " forum for conversation. Some are actually living their "one straw" dream wonderfully wihout the aid of the internet.
I think, in this case, Collin, You should not make any assumptions on the number of folks attempting or even succeeding at a organic/permaculture lifestyle from just whats available on the web....There are a lot of very private farmers in those forests out there.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Even the not-very-private ones are quite numerous ..... http://permacultureglobal.com/
kent smith


Joined: Sep 05, 2010
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
sorry for the rant.
kent


Kent
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2382
Location: FL
    
  74
Traditional Agriculture has been around for 10000 years. The prevailing objectives being monocrops, reduction of labor, elimination of competition, and maximizing production

Mechanical/Chemical/Industrial Agriculture has been around for about 200 years. This is an extension of traditional agriculture and employs machines to reduce labor, poisons to eliminate competition, fertilizers and genetic manipulation to maximize production. It is based on science, with a fantastic amount of attention and investment being channeled in that direction. Science studies a particular point of interest and does it deeply. Results are disseminated, then further research is conducted based on previous research. 'Pour on the N' is the rally call. Later it is discovered that the N leaching into the rivers causes a bloom of algae in the ocean which consumes so much oxygen the fish die off. There are problems with science in that the residual ramifications are not yet fully understood. But since we've been able to build up our societies to such a grand extent, the systems of law, economics, and education have developed which promote this form of agriculture, blindly at times.

Permaculture is new on the world stage, perhaps 40-50 years. It's a step back in time which questions the very nature of Traditional Agriculture. It flies in the face of what the Universities and Extension Offices are proclaiming to be Just and Right. It uses Mother Nature as a guide rather than trying to make her one's personal bitch. It relies on observation and duplication, then lots of trial and error. We've just begun to document the results.

Pioneers take the arrows.
There has barely been enough time for Permaculture to develop in a manner which competes with Industrial Agriculture. Also, there are corporate interests which will do everything in their power to eliminate the competition, making it difficult for this new idea to take hold. In the US, barely 2% of the population are farmers, their average age is 60, and mostly they operate machines and do what the Extension Office tells them to do. Anyone trying to do things differently makes one stand out in the crowd, which draws the attention of Agrimonster attorneys. The system works against Permaculture

If you look around, there are not many sources of information compared to the libraries full of technical papers on monocrop studies. The internet, barely 20 years old, has allowed this forum (Thanks Paul) and a handful of other to develop, adding a new dimension to the development of Permaculture. We are trying to reinvent agriculture in a manner that does not harm the environment. We are trying to reorganize our consumption so there is no waste to pollute the world. This is a notion that is still in its infancy. Give it time.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
John Sizemore


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 96
Location: West Virginia/ Dominican Republic
I feel there are people making a profit with Permaculture but you must define profit. Do you define it as what is left after you pay the bills that are required? Most permies from what I see are making a lifestyle choice rather than a business. My case it is a lifestyle choice out of fear of peak oil, future job loss or what have you. I grew up at the tail end of my family being permaculuturlist with out knowing it. We gleaned much of our food from the forest and grew gardens. If some one was hurt and could not work then a simple care package out of the cellar was arranged from everyone’s excess and the canning jars returned after the product was used.
The laws and regulations are stacked against the small time producer. I can not buy raw milk in the state of WV to make my own cheese. I can not go partners with someone one a cow and we split the fresh milk according to the law.
According to the USDA a family of four living very conservative will spend over $600 a month on food. So let’s break down profit. One household eliminates one job. The former bread winner devotes a full time project to feeding the household.
Two kids so we are starting with a base of 600 now throw in day care expenses saved. $300 plus a month for two kids. We are up to 900. One other car is another $500 or so. So now we are up to $1400 a month. Depending on where one lives the total taxes on income could easily top 50% so the real replacement value of income is $2800 a month.
So the value of Permaculture to a family could easily top 30k a year with out ever selling a thing. Do some home made soaps, preserves, eggs or any other small money making endeavor then the profit defiantly comes through.

I am the first generation of my family to grow up on the grid eating out of the super market. I hope to be the last.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
From my own point of view I'm not sure why a design system for human settlements should make a profit in terms of money. Seems like it should design a way people can live. Permaculture is not a business model, as far as I can tell.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I have to say for me permaculture is not a business model. Though I live by a home business, I do not see every aspect of my life as a business or part of a business. My garden, greywater basin, rain tanks, harvesting branches for the sheep, bringing water to the chickens, etc etc are not a business to me. It might be possible to make most or all of those parts of a business, but to me at this point they are not. They are parts of the system of my household. It's possible we have different definitions of the word "business." And possibly of the word "permaculture."

Collin Vickers


Joined: Apr 01, 2012
Posts: 103
Location: San Angelo, Texas
Someone said it earlier, that permaculture is a way of life. If the question is marketable food production, which is what many permies are interested in, (or any other industry you might single out,) then that makes permaculture a business model. (Not that there is anything wrong with siezing control of your own food supply and using permaculture principles as the basis for that, or a similar personal objective. I define profit as a quantifiable benefit for the interested party.)

To reference the original topic of this thread, it seems to me that many of us are trying to go it alone. Although we embrace permaculture, many of us are still thinking along the lines of suburbanites - whereas housing units each require their own facilities for cooking, hygiene, and so on, permies often seem to be hounding down their own postage stamp of paradise, starting from scratch, and doggedly striving to reinvent the wheel for themselves. Clearly we don't all agree on the preponderance of permaculture successes, but for those who share my view, I think misplaced individualism is the key. Permies tend to be self-starting, can-do types, but is this individualistic philosophy hindering us in attaining our common goals?

So, I'd like to ask a new question, with the theme of my original post in mind.

Among the world's intentional communities, does anyone know of any that are founded on, or reaping the benefits of, permaculture?

How wonderful it would be if the folks who are qualified practitioners of permaculture would form communities around themselves, not only for WWOOFing and other forms of teaching, but for intensifying the evolution of permaculture as a discipline.
Jason Matthew


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 64
I'll tell you about my experience so far. I have been at this location for two years now. I have planted 8 different types of bamboo in various locations on 6 acres, and I have planted 8 apples, 5 peaches, 2 figs, 1 almond, 2 pears, 2 cherries, 2 mulberries, 2 persimmons, 2 pawpaws, 3 chestnuts, 2 pecans, 2 hazelnuts, 6 grapes, 15 blackberries, 5 raspberries, 50 strawberries, 8 blueberries, 1 goji berry, and 1 chokeberry. I have so far gotten 3 peaches, 1 fig, a few strawberries, and a few blackberries off these plants.

On Sunday I potted up a dozen willow cuttings and 8 apple tree seedlings. I have another dozen apple seedlings and some plum and peach seedlings I need to take care of soon. I have at least 20 more peach pits set out to sprout next year. Depending upon how these seedlings grow in the next year, they will be planted out around the property. I have settled on peaches as my favorite tree so far because I enjoy eating them more than all the others. I am planning on buying trees from the state this year; persimmons, and wax myrtles (nitrogen fixing). I would also like to purchase another dozen or so chestnut trees.

Permaculture is a lot of work. Two years I have been at this, and I am only just now beginning to see how things can work together. I am almost done building a small cistern on the hillside where the driveway drains during a good rain. I have two or three other locations where I can capture rainwater in quantity. I can see digging a small pond on the keyline near where most of my orchard is planted. I have enough projects for years of work, but little time to work on them. Time is always a premium.

Two years and almost no results to show for it. I have felt some discouragement; particularly with droughts the last two years. My efforts at a vegetable garden have been an utter failure. The soil I am working has been mowed for 20 years. It is hard, compacted clay that refuses to let roots penetrate. This fall I will plant a soil building seed mix, and a sod busting seed mix from an organic garden supplier. If these do not work... I will probably try at least a couple of years with these mixes; otherwise the only option is to dig in tons of organic matter. Not really viable without heavy equipment for any amount of ground larger than a postage stamp.

Lots and lots of work; the trees and shrubs handle the compacted clay better than annual vegetables. They have survived, but not thrived, yet. I keep planting and working the ground. I have deadfall that I will dig in for hugulkulture beds this fall. I hope to get enough growth from my seed mixes to be able to dig them into the ground after they are cut.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Collin Vickers wrote:

Among the world's intentional communities, does anyone know of any that are founded on, or reaping the benefits of, permaculture?


Searching a bit turned up a few, this doesn't mean all:

http://permaculture-hawaii.com/

http://permacultureperak.com/

http://lostvalley.org/

http://www.5thworld.net/KahumanaSanctuary/HTML/P3.html

more can probably be found through the permaculture global network.

Permaculture, as envisioned by Bill Mollison, is a system for designing human settlements with the permanence and stability of ecosystems. Community is part of the basic concept of permaculture, in my opinion.

If one sees one's way of life as a business, I can see permaculture as a business model. If the definition of "business" is "making a living" then I can see permaculture as a business model, because it enables people to live. I'm probably stuck in some old fashioned definition of "business" as "commercial activity: commercial activity involving the exchange of money for goods or services"

James Colbert


Joined: Jan 02, 2012
Posts: 248
    
    8
Here is my plan to make a living with permaculture (keep in mind that this is just a plan and nothing is set in stone).

Step 1. Grow enough food for myself and build and off grid domicile. (this step lowers my cost of living significantly).
Step 2. Form a CSA with a couple of members (they eat what I eat, ie high quality diverse foods).
Step 3. Plant blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in poly-culture for you pick it. (this keeps cost of production low, no packaging, shipping, or harvesting labor on my part)
Step 4. Expand CSA. more members, same high quality and diversity of food.
Step 5. Farmers Market

This plan is based of the advice of a local organic farmer who has farmed in the area for nearly 15 years. Farmers markets are the last step because they are the most expensive and risky when compared to forming a CSA or having a "you pick it." Berries have a good return on investment and produce in their second year so the "you pick it" will initially center around berry production but will later expand to include fruit trees, vegetables and perhaps ponds for fish.

I would eventually like the CSA to be caloric based for example you can order packages which are 25%, 50% and 100% of ones daily calories. I am thinking of $100 a month for 25% and perhaps $200 for 100% I want the price on high quality food to be very reasonable. 10 CSA members would equal $1000/month. I would probably want no more than 30 -- 50 CSA members per farm depending on size. That is $3000 - $5000 a month, not too hard to imagine if your product is cheaper than supermarkets but of higher quality. On top of that you have income from the you pick it and select farmers markets.

Of course it probably won't work out exactly like the above but you get the idea. Provide for yourself, build a loyal customer base and market in ways that keep costs low.

On a side note I think Collin is dead on. I would love to start a farm with a number of other people and as we become profitable splinter off into individuals or small groups which can start their own farms and help others do the same. I think we can spread permaculture best by showing how the lifestyle is superior to the consumption based rat race. Imagine it, you start a farm with 5 other people after 3 - 5 years you are profitable enough to invest in another piece of land. Half of you stay on the original piece of land while the other half nurture the new piece of land. All the while working together. Get some more people with passion to come work with you for a few years and do it all over again. Build community, spread the culture, rinse and repeat. In the future I see the permaculture lifestyle being a valid alternative for the masses to our current consumer lifestyle. The economic viability of permaculture is important insofar as we want the movement to spread.
 
 
subject: Is Anyone Really doing permaculture?
 
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