Ludi, you asked for successful examples of permaculture and people have pointed out that traditional agriculture are not exactly perfectly successful ways of feeding people, without even touching on the water depletion, pollution , soil erosion , contributions of fossil fuels to greenhouse gases and that entire enslaught of feedbacks that have been results of conventional practices . So I offer there are millions examples of permaculture feeding people, through history even small garden plots , foraged patches of herbs and fruit trees planted here and there, naturalized nut trees have supplementally fed people and even if it is supplemental THAT is a success! In my own small way I managed to eat greens daily and pick a few herbs like cilantro and parsley all winter north of the 49th parallel and I saved my own seed from things which seems a damn sight more successful than anything monsanto has done for the world , that is successful permaculture no matter how small an example . Just as conventional agriculture feeds people collectively, so can permaculture . Time to set aside the arguments of whether it can feed us , as Rebecca Hoskins documentary Farm for the Future pointed out , can permaculture feed people , well perhaps we need to ask can conventional agriculture feed us moving into the future ?
Who is growing a food forest ? Well I will timidly raise my hand that my intent is to. I have varieties of fruit and nut trees planted interplanted with things like hawthorne , cedar, willow, honey locust, fir also planted in what was an empty pasture . Most of my plantings are tiny whips and saplings with some mature apples, walnut , spruce and fir , plums, figs, hazelnut, peach, nectarine , grapes, kiwi . I have two ponds dug and a liner salvaged to put in the larger 20 ft x 40 ft pond this summer out in the pasture area which hopefully will one day be denser food forest with small avenues and clearings left for small livestock grazing and or other food production like small lots of grains perhaps . Right now it looks more like a hopeful orchard planted with salvaged pallets tied to form boxes around the planted trees to give protection from the horses I currently have. It is a challenge and I have as many fails as successes . Being in Canada , nothing seems to grow as fast as I would like .
I can also confirm that chickens will eat alfalpha and the egg yolks are a rich apricot colour .
I was surprised my free ranging hens loved privet seed when it was falling , a hedgeplant I only have near my house as I had read its greenery was toxic for horses.
I am planting amaranth , millet and quinoa , thinking to harvest the seedheads on the stocks, hang them to dry from the roof of the poultry shed until i throw them to the chickens in winter to let them do the seed harvesting .
More than anything I think my focus will be alternating avenues of shelterbelts that provide feed and safety , with avenues of open pasture for other grass foraging stock . I am hoping that the insect life in the leaf litter mulch will be a primary source of protein rich chicken feed as per their natural forest forage . I am not thinking this will be adequate in winter in my cold climate and i absolutely will be supplementing, as I mentioned trying to grow supplemental seed head plants to keep until winter use. I have seen so many mentions of the advantages of optimizing nutrition through fermenting or sprouting grains , I am then thinking of experimenting with that a bit with the winter feed but have not thought that through much at this point .
I definitely think that when we think chicken feed, we might benefit most thinking planting things that benefit other animals to move through a space in rotation to browse leaves, forage grass , and think of the droppings as host to the insect reproductive cycle that will feed chickens for a good part of the year and I am wondering s mentioned if chicks raised by the hens in protected small paddocks or tractors would not be much better foragers ?
I love the idea of worm bins or some sort of meal worms that might process rabbit droppings in bins and then be dumped to fertilize plants and have the chickens scratch up and eat the worms in sort of a worm farming rotation too.
This is just a fllippant idea off the top of my head and may not be feasible but if there were chilli flakes sprinkled and the ducks ingested them I bet the would reconsider foraging there. I am tying blue beads from thrift shop necklaces in clusters on my blueberry bushes before they ripen in hopes I frustrate many of the resident birds that try to peck them before they get my ripening crop so that idea sort of creeps into my head of deterants .
I am sure that comment was not meant in any way to be disrespectful but more a comment on Indias' huge potential to be a leading powerhouse with adopting more permaculture over modern conventional practices . Not to be taken as they have not been contributors already . I may be stretching the definition of permaculture but didn't the video mention this practice being a very old and perhaps abandoned system they were employing again , water capture on contours ? I think India can be acknowledged already for its contributions in leading the world , even in permaculture . Dr. Vandana Shiva is listed as one of Forbes most powerful women and she is very much involved in aspects familiar to permaculturists around the world starting with her support of the Chipko movement to save high elevation forests to capture , hold and clean water and sequestering organic matter , preventing erosion etc. and to this day she spearheads movements to save biodiversity and open pollinated seed genetics . She is one of the world leaders I would bow to , I don't care if she is officially recognized for it or not.
Australia is a huge leader in bringing movements to being globally recognized but I think these endeavours in India and other places around the world using terracing traditionally are just as much to be recognized . Kudos to them all .
I could be described as being a high raw diet omnivore who follows no rigid diet or belief system pertaining to this . I wanted to mention I recently defended this forum to someone in that vegan interests are part of permaculture and animals do not neccesarily have to be represented in permaculture systems as being exploited for food in order to have a role in permaculture . I hope vegans and vegetarians feel respected for their ideas here as integral to the idea and existance of permaculture as those who do chose to be omnivores .
I gardened a little as a child exposed to it from my parents small endeavours in a tiny back yard garden and I loved animals and engaged in thier care . I was motivated that we individually needed to strive to be informed and take proactive steps towards what we want in our lives and on this earth by Helen Caldicotts example decades ago when I was still in my teens . In the 70's I believe I read 'Our Next Frontier' (part of the title) by Robert Rodale which is pivotal in my thinking to this day and I collected Organic Gardening magazines . But the practical thing that kicked off planting in a a half baked permaculture fashion was nothing more than being a single mom of two wee toddlers who decided to stay home on my small acreage and earn a living from home by following my passion working with horses and the need whilst going back and forth to the barn from the house, to have time to actually eat motivated me to plant food plants all the way up and down the driveway I walked between the two points.
From my perspective permaculture is more than a singularly defined thing, it is made tangible by each persons understandings , needs and actions adding to the original function of it being a design system . I think it is a universal idea as much as that of the words 'urban homestead' and the idea of copyright or patent has all the legitmacy as patenting seed genetics . Anyone can claim intellectual property for any thought but is it soley a thought or movement originated and thereby accredited by only one entity ? Certainly there are outstanding people who pioneer bringing it to the forefront . The word permaculture never really was presented to me until about 5 years ago via the internet after I was already living some of it through practical need and life experience.
I agree about not wanting to lead with anything alienating or excluding anyone in an invitation to learn more or discuss the topic of permaculture . I am not sure people who have no idea about the depth of permaculture would not see leading with the idea of ' creating utopia here on earth ' , it might be viewed as so pie in the sky and off the cuff from someone they don't even know that they would quietly exit the elevator without engaging a response other than a friendly nod or smile . Most executives on an elevator do not have time to draw out a conversation with someone who has no credibility with them unless they say something relevent to them , though don't get me wrong , I personally I am not far off in seeing it as a means to create a utopia myself . I just don't think that mindset that attained their jobs dealing with facts, bottom lines and such as grasping it in the elevator speech. I think the idea is to craft it tailored to their executive postions and priorities, the bottom line of resource managment they understand , from my experience working in urban planning as a consultant. I would craft it from that perspective and let their own exploration further lead them to appreciate the farther reaching and deeper aspects and facets. If you took the same statement and conveyance of the excellant points offered by kirk dillon and restructured it to say something like the following, it might catch their attention and basically is exactly the same packaged a little differently :
"Permaculture is a multifaceted design strategy rooted in careful observation of natural systems, that aims to create methods of human living that have the stability and resilience of natural ecosystems . Its objective is to save money, optimize resources such as soil and water, increase food production and quality, increase security, increase health and reduce health costs, reduce fossil fuel use and our carbon footprint, control erosion and clean the environment by promoting better stewardship by all people networking to assume responsibility together ."
Further you could take what Bill Kearns quoted and work that in too as I borrowed from as well , and still appeal to the same types of people in municipal management positions . It is not about what we would like to say or throw in their faces to get attention, it is what offers them a reason to explore it further from their own professional interests and perspectives.
The idea of a flyer of business card is not a bad one because it might be something they would look at and actually take the time at another point to learn more if they had some reference point. I wonder if some shared design could be crafted on an international printing company website like vistaprint that could be a template used by people here and could be customized ?
On that level you are talking about Dale we desperately need some heroes : )
A recent experience at the municipal garbage transfer station in Langley , I saw the closet hardware of my dreams in an inaccessible bin for recycling the metal and the waste just strikes me as so wrong. I would like to hear more about your endeavours if you have them posted on here or would consider it .
I was always fascinated by this endeavour and read somewhere they grew 85 types of citrus and where further north than I am on the west coast of British Columbia. If anyone sees more on this I am really curious what is growing well for them. I suspect perhaps the citrus is in some poly or glasshouse protection.
I posted this as a source once and got similar remarks about really poor quality trees . Looking at their website, the scope of the place, it strikes me there is a lot more going on there than most projects I know of that are actually legitmate hard working folks and it just brings to mind the old adage if you want to know what really is "follow the money ".
Anyone else get that sense from it ?
I also live in BC and find the excess of the society is reflected in the really nice quality items you can find at our local thrift shops . While I try to shun excess retail spending , I wince at how "enabling" it is for me to resort to a little retail therapy on a budget there . I may buy fairly practical things but I definitely buy more clothes than than most people will wear in a lifetime . So, yes it is optimizing reuse of a waste stream but maybe there is a down side for some people , like myself. I manage to rationalize this over and over again , but no doubt it does encourage some consumerism and materialism in myself .
'Glamping' came from Mary Jane Butters successful enterprise where she promoted glamour themed - camping on her farm , and put various facets to it, from being all female , to weekend culinary camping retreats , specialty social events ( much like the Urban Homestead people seem to be doing right now ) which lead to more media branding , books etc. as a revenue means .
It is a complex balance , as far as having more diversity and less monocropping in areas, he is dealing in part with what he has in place already there and yes moving forward incorporating more food forest ideas may work replacing even more monocropping but competing in a market where the product has to be refined and distributed and the thousands of details that go into that , they do have to compete in economies of scale. For sure this approach is a step in the right direction. I think the food forest idea works on many levels especially individual homes with small holdings of land but I am not sure it is not going to have to be modified as he is doing, and maybe taken further for sure, but may not produce in a manner that functions for larger distributuion or marketing of product when done as the examples of food forest we are idealizing? Somewhere there will lie a balance that is workable , hopefully that more and more seek.
I found it interesting that that operation has been long established and not facing the same initial start up costs some are going to have to deal with and it is a very large scale comparably to most individuals endeavours here and yet they still have to explore things like the glamping because the farm revenues are marginal .
I agree, this is really good information, thank you for pointing it out . I think we need a lot more human scale integrated operations and it is always helpful to me to see an example of what a successful one looks like. I also agree we need millions of people watching this and taking it to heart in their chosen daily behaviours.
I came upon this article below on bird flu being suspected to rise to pandemic levels and it gave me pause to think how I can design biosecurity measures into my poultry and waterfowl raising shoudl I need to incorporate it , and do so utilising permaculture type ideas for this as well as making planted perimeter areas function as herbal supplementation and give some aesthetically pleasing and discrete landscaping effects to contained poultry coop areas . Anyone have any thoughts on actually incorporating biosecurity into their systems ?
I have been adding hawthorne and mountain ash and willow in addition to the varieties mentioned above for a very mixed , multi layer perimeter hedgerow that is slowly taking shape, being added to piece meal. The idea of training and interweaving branches to form a more solid barrier to deer or keeping livestock in, is something I hope to try . I hope to be able to obtain food, and coppice or pollard for wood fuel as well making it multifunctional . You can look up the practice of weaving living branches and trunks into structures by searching for 'pleaching' .
In one of the most recent videos at Geoff Lawtons website www.geofflawton.com there is mention and brief video footage of keeping what looked like riding type horses present day for a future possible role as transportation. In my own situation , due to the location, climate and size of my own property as a resource , I do not view my own horses as sustainable . As I mentioned they need vast inputs off of my own small property and we have a very wet coastal climate north of the 49th parallel where if my horses ran on the pasture day in day out , I doubt there would be vegetation. I do deal with issues of damage the horses do to vegetation and I currently plant shelterbelt and orchard- come - future- food forest planting with pallets wired around them to protect them from the animals integrated around them on the grass pasture. My situation is one of having a small self sustaining horse farm that is transitioning to more and more permaculture aspirations. There is also the issue of soil compaction. So while I have reasons to transition away from horse keeping on my own property in favour of smaller livestock and bicycles as nonpetroleum transportation, I would say that horses in the right setting, well utilized , absolutely could be a fit with permaculture design and lifestyle. Right now many a permaculture swale is cut by machinery which is essentially a petrol fueled tool to provide 'horsepower' using masses of inputs of fuel etc. It makes sense to me that a horse could be accomodated in the right permaculture setting but not every one .
I have bred show hunter and show jumper as well as dressage horses for decades and slowly incorporated permaculture aspects into our intensely used 4 acre farm in zone 8, coastal British Columbia Canada. It started decades ago with planting perenial food plants on the way from the house to the barn so I could graze without stopping to go in the house much. We have derived our entire income here from the horses but I honestly do not see show horses in sport as a sustainable practice into the future . Horses require a lot of inputs , in the right circumstance your land may provide for many of them or the utility of the horses themselves may compensate for their input requirements . They can be fodder/grass fed and do not neccessarily have to have shoes so you can reduce some inputs but the toughest one here is the supply of year round hay . For the utility, they can work herding, transportation being ridden or pulling a cart or sleigh , harnessed to turn a wheel for grinding or pumping water, hunting , plowing and use with various farm implements and skidding logs , they can replicate themselves so are a renewable resource and you absolutely could havest horse milk or meat but they are likely far less efficient at production of either than other animals . Milking a horse can be by hand or by machine and once trained to it, mares can be easy to deal with, my friends use the milk commercially to make medicinal shampoos and soap and I know a few other companies use raw or pasteurized horse milk as well. http://www.spacreekranch.com/maresmilk.htm As our stallions can be intimidating, we do not have any two legged trespassers wander onto the property to date either but plenty of wildlife call it home for such a small pocket of a farm.
Traditionally they have served in battles as well and of course in various industries again mostly in harness .
Since my job was breeding and training horses , we have integrated poultry that go through the manure piles in the pastures for food, ponds and waterfowl , gardens with bees and food production , an orchard the horses graze, multipurpose shelterbelts started which include feed for the animals in the form of willows and bamboo for example, into our space here . We have even planted food 'islands' consisting of 45 blueberry bushes in our riding ring . We have other specializations that make managing the horses and other aspects more congruent as well , like planting nuts and other trees in the actual pasture to start more of a food forest that as the trees mature will have glens for the animals to graze and still keep avenues open to ride and rotate various beasties on the grass and even a lane between two stallion pastures that is planted either side with fruit trees and is used also for freejump training down the center . We use a movable hot rope system powered by a solar charger to configure pastures accordingly to the availability of food and footing .
We have traded breeding services for hay as well . And we repurpose a heck of a lot of things including reusing free ground coconut fibre from a local green house operation as an absorbant bedding and then using that again in gardens, orchard and for trade this year for canning jars and plants . One thing that would be an additional benefit would be the use of the manured bedding in a biodigester or compost water heating project . So while it is a bit of a stretch, horses can be of utility and be integrated into the permaculture type aspect , or in our case permaculture is integrated into our small horse farm and we are adding more to it all the time . For instance this summer as my horses are kept more an more outside , we will be raising batches of organic meat chickens in the horse stalls for subscribers in our family that is another source of income and trade goods and we will be starting meat rabbits .
I was very taken with this beautiful documentary , much like the Farm for the Future one, it made a big impact on me. I am curious if any science has been done regarding if there are sugars in chipped green material or what attracts beneficial microbial, worm and insect life ? (besides the 'covering' of the bare soil). I dug around in an old rotten wood chip riding ring and found no life but plenty of water retention despite the dry lack of raint for over 5 months . So the value of the fibre under the ground and as a cover to prevent evaporation was really impressed on me. But I find rotting vegetaion is what attracts worms and life best. Also I am curious if the chipped wood introduces mycorhrizal life to the soils ?
I struggled to find mulch sources this year but will keep trying. I got one load that was quickly used up mulching young fruit trees to the drip line and applied over corragated cardboard to weight it down as a mulch to cover the ground. So I will see how it goes.
We have about a 30 year old Alberta Spruce planted near our front door that is now over 7 feet high that is the perfect symetrical conical Christmas tree most people dream of , decked out. At our back door we have a white needled pine that is growing in a concrete pot and is about 16 years old and only about 4 feet high and looks exactly like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree decked out in more lights and balls than it has needles I think. I love having both trees .
I am hoping to get a few more Alberta Spruce to plant just in case something happens to the one we have , we will have a few extras growing,
Awe Dale, I can only imagine looking back at that shaking your head. Like others I will be embarking on planting more nut trees in 2012 on bare pasture on a small 4 acres that is intensely used in multipurpose ways . Excavating a pond lately i was delighted with our soil so that is a plus. I have planted northern pecan whip size trees twice in the past and they did not survive our west coast climate but it may have been neglect . I have had much better success planting hazelnut in deep fall/ winter here since our ground is rarely frozen. Our walnuts spring up everywhere so I have planted more. I have ordered from Rhoras in eastern Canada for 2012 japanese and chinese chestnut, russian almond, heartnuts, yellowhorn and 2 pine nut species. So I am just starting out . My biggest challenge is keeping deer and livestock off the immature trees to give them a good start and I will be employing salvaged pallets and salvaged sections of wire fence .
July 24 , these fruiting fungi are growing in my riding ring after we spotted one last year and hoped to innoculate more wood fibre with it. Can anyone help identify it as I believe it is Oregon black truffle?
If so I would like to cultivate more of it and I am open to suggestions . I spread a tiny sample on some more wood fibre and the inside has a liquidy viscosity :
Due to our damp climate , I think ducks and geese might be a better alternative to chickens. A lot depends on your soils , if they will stand up to foraging animals hooves punching through the pasture in winter and how much land you have to work with. I too grow willow , hazelnut and bamboo as additional fodder in the hedgerow plantings.