I've heard some great things about the nitrogen fixation and nectary properties of false indigo...I bought seeds but it looks like there are two completely different species. I hear guys like Eric Toensmeier talk more about Amorpha Nana but Baptisia seems more common. Anyone have experience with both of these plants?
Just closed on my new house and am super excited about starting some minor earthworks! The backyard has a gentle grade towards the house and my plan is install a swale about 2/3 up the hill near the back of the yard. I'm imagining the spillway of the swale overflow directly into the pond with fish and edible aquatic plants and then the overflow the pond screened and spread down the hill from there. The other option is to make the pond part of the swale itself and have the pond fill up FIRST in a rain event and then back fill the swale with the fish water. Thoughts?
I am planning on volunteering at the Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute in February and wanted to encourage anyone also interested to reach out to them. I don't know how many other volunteers I will be working with but I figure it would be good to know someone else who is volunteering then. The 16 acre site was only recently acquired so right now there is just a basic building and some swales on site now. Food is provided but there is campground only. Here is the link to the website if you're interested.
I'm listening to Paul on a podcast and he's mentioning how biochar is appropriate for tropical soils because otherwise the wood decomposes quickly and in colder climates you can just bury wood for a similar effect. But does that mean uncharred wood has the same microbial carrying capacity as biochar? I thought the whole idea of the charring process was not just to preserve the carbon but also to create all that surface area.
Just got a few roots/tubers in the mail, groundnut, chinese artichoke, and camas...Eric Toensmeier would be proud! Anyway its getting pretty cold here in Tennessee and I'm not sure what to do with them. I actually planted some in pots indoors to see if they will grow over the winter but I suppose it's only natural that they are stored outside in the soil so that they can begin growing in the spring? I think this is a pretty easy answer but I don't do much planting this time of year and want to make sure its okay. Thanks!
I prefer Apple Maps because I find the level of detail and definition to be surprisingly higher than Google Earth. The 3D is really, really good too. It doesn't do terrain or many different overlay options but I think it's worth checking out if you have iOS
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I am considering developing a product that is essentially a kitchen bin for food scraps but also doubles as a fruit fly catcher. It will be designed for easy harvesting of the dead fruit flies for use as frog, fish, or chicken food. I can't go into detail about how it kills the fruit flies since it's proprietary but it doesn't use chemicals and the dead fruit flies will be free organic fish/frog/chicken food. My question to you is, is this something that you think would actually be useful? Can you see people actually paying money for this product? I am not even sure if chickens will eat dead fruit flies so any input you have would be really useful. Thanks in advance!
I hear the word "Pattern" used a lot in permaculture in a way the goes beyond talking about dendritic branches, spirals, and tessellations. I've heard permaculture authors and instructors use the word pattern to seemingly describe anything. A tree with some shrubs around it is a pattern, a pond is a pattern, the wind is a pattern. I think I have a firm understanding of the holistic permaculture design approach but I haven't been able to wrap my head around why we are defining pattern so broadly and how it applies to permaculture design directly. Can anyone shed any light on this?
Thanks Terri, that makes sense now. Would this hold true for things like coppicing or when you cut raspberry canes down to the ground? It seems to me like when you cut off ALL of the above ground parts of some plants they will actually re-grow to their original size much quicker than before. They must not get rid of as much of their below ground parts
Terri Matthews wrote:According to one rancher, when the corn eats the top of the grass then the grass drops off some of the roots, as the newly shortened plant no longer needs this much root. So the roots are not being lost to diseases or anything, instead the plant is doing it for the plants' own benefit.
He made it sound like cut and come again greens: I pick a fistful of leaves ans the plant grows the leaves back again. The plant that produces the greens does not get weaker at all: it just grows more slowly than the plant I did not give a "haircut" to. I think the roots do the same thing.
AFTER the plants has gotten rid of the roots of course they will decay, as those roots are no longer alive.
Thanks, this was my understanding as well. My confusion comes with the one line you said about the plant that was growing more slowly due to pruning off the leaves/branches. I've heard people say that pruning the plant actually sends energy that would have been directed towards maintaining that part of the plant now can be used to grow even MORE roots and make the plant better off for it. Although I assume you have to do this at certain times of the growing season.
MAYBE what people mean is that if you prune your perennials right before spring you allow for really strong new growth because the plant has this big root system and not a lot of above ground parts so it produces really healthy growth? And then conversely if you prune a perennial in the middle of the growing season, whether it's a nitrogen fixer, fruit tree, whatever, it actually drops off it's roots to match it's above ground parts?
I think this is an important thing to get right because we want to find that sweet spot where we can harvest a lot from our plants by way of leaves, fruits, flowers, stalks, etc but time it right so that we encourage the plant to grow even stronger the next season.
Quick question I've been pondering lately. Regarding nitrogen fixing plants, we often hear about how pruning the branches causes roots to decay underground releasing nitrogen stores to the soil and the surrounding plants. That makes perfect sense to me but I run into problems when I hear things about how when you prune/pollard/coppice trees or cut raspberry canes to the ground etc, you cause them to grow stronger the following year. I would imagine that this is because the plants energy gets redirected to root growth.
So my question is, what are the main factors that determine whether a plant will become weaker and having its roots decay from cutting it back or grow stronger? Is it just differences in plant genus/species? Is it time of year? I imagine the answer is "it depends" but I want to try to get specific here. Thanks!
On Paul's recent Podcast with Jacqueline Freeman, she mentioned that every honeybee has a particular plant that they will pollinate that particular day. So any given bee won't jump from a clover to a cucumber to a yarrow in one day. I suppose evolution would have selected for bee's that didn't waste time spreading pollen to totally different species that couldn't use it. Anyway, my question is this: If a honeybee is only pollinating one type of flower per day, how do nectaries attract pollinators into your garden? That foxglove plant by your fruit tree wouldn't necessarily bring in a bee that is pollinating that fruit tree that day since it is busy with the foxglove, right?
The only answer I can think of is that the honeybees make a mental note that there is a fruit tree about to blossom and will make sure to get to it tomorrow or communicate with the hive to pollinate it the next day. Would they really not have been able to find that fruit tree otherwise?
As a secondary question, do nectary plants ever distract bee's away from the plants you actually want pollinated if both the nectary and the crop bloom at the same time? Do you consciously choose nectaries that bloom just before the fruit tree does?
As a side question....technically aren't all the varieties Symphytum officinale? When we specify a bocking variety vs. Symphytum officinale is really just to distinguish a particular cultivar against the wild natural variety?
Ok, so one side says if you have clay soils, adding sand will improve drainage. The other side says that it's a great recipe for concrete. Most permies I talk to are the latter (including Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier) . But at an Earthworks course I went to there was a soil geologist who said that the claim was ridiculous and that adding sand to clay soils is fine.
Have any of you actually done it or seen it done with success?
Alder Burns wrote:If one observes plants in nature, most often plants of a particular species are found in patches of several together. Not isolated individuals, and not vast fields of just one predominant species (although both of these do occur, and may therefore be appropriate in some cases).
Very true, but here I am speaking specifically about cultivated annual varieties that may not have the defense capabilities of hardy wild plants found in forests or other ecosystems. In addition, it may be the case that those bunching plants HAVE to be close together since they don't spread by seed very easily due to canopy shade or other factors that would make them propagate from the root or stolons etc. We don't know for sure that they wouldn't do better and compete less with more space.
Ever since I started learning about permaculture, this idea made perfect sense to me but I rarely see it put into practice: Not planting the same type of plant next to itself. This applies particularly to annuals susceptible to pests and disease. In all of my gardens, I make a conscious effort to spread out annuals like cruciferous vegetables, or curcubits, etc. I'm interplanting other crops, alliums, wild weeds, and flowers instead. I'm sure you all understand the logic behind this, but do you do it yourself?
Good points John. Your last comment about needing to supplement when the mineral is "just not there". Are there instances where something like calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc, the macrominerals, aren't present in the parent rock material and clay/silt/sand? Could there adequate amounts of micronutrients locked up in the rock but not present in soil that only microbes could get at?
I've heard some interesting research recently from a friend who works with Elaine Ingham. The theory is basically this: Nearly all of the minerals needed for proper plant growth with the exception of nitrogen and carbon can be found in an inorganic form in most soil types. To access these minerals, plants secrete specific types of root sugars at specific times to attract specific microbes that "mine" for whatever mineral that plant needs at that particular moment. In other words, by ensuring adequate compost and compost tea applications and fostering high microbial life, you will mitigate the need to supplement any type of mineral into the soil. What do you all think of this? I'm having trouble confirming the idea that magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, etc would be A.) present in a good balance in all soil types and B.) be abundant enough to support heavy-feeding plants. However, this theory makes sense to me and I want to believe it!
Hey all. I am just renting so a greywater system in my backyard is out the question. BUT I am interested in capturing the water coming out of my sink and using it in the garden. I use natural soap so I should be fine in that respect. The only thing holding me back is exactly how to do it. I can remove the U-shaped piece of pipe and have the sink drain empty directly into a bucket. What I am concerned about is having a big bucket of standing water in my kitchen. Even in the sink cabinet, I'd imagine it will attract fruit flies or other insects. Does anyone do this? I've added tea tree, lemon, and rosemary oil to the soap, will this repel any insects? Thanks
I've been geeking out over this plant for the past few months and I finally got some seeds from Amazon.com a few weeks back. Most of them sprouted and I have them potted in mini containers of sand/perlite/peat sitting in a tray with water up to about an inch. If you don't know about this plant, it's semi-aquatic, grows really fast, edible, and loves water and heat. Apparently they taste pretty good too. I don't really have a pond but I am planning on planting them in a pond-in-pot which is basically a large container. I have a friend who is going to try them in his aquaponic system as well. Has anyone had any experience growing this plant?
Since you can't take out any trees in favor for nitrogen fixing trees, a suitable alternative would be to plant nitrogen fixing shrubs in between the trees. You may need to prune the fruit trees slightly to allow sunlight to get to the new shrubs. Once established, the nitrogen fixing shrubs can be pruned yearly to provide mulch for the fruit trees and also to release their underground storage of nitrogen to the surrounding fruit trees. Goumi, siberian pea shrub, and autumn olive are all good options for cold climates. Goumi and Autumn Olive provide great people food and I believe the peas from the pea shrub can be fed to animals if you have any.
I've made the classic low-tech A-frames before. I know the method of calibration on a non-level surface. For those who don't know, you build the a-frame with a string and hanging bob down the center. You mark where string rests on the cross beam, then you spin it around so the two legs are reversed and mark the beam again. The spot in the middle of the two marks is where you aim while getting your contour marks. This method works whether or not the legs of your a-frame are even or whether or not you are calibrating on a level surface. But you HAVE to remember to keep one leg on the ground as you swing the other leg over to the new contour point. Otherwise, if you lift the whole thing up and shift it to get the next contour point, your contour line will not be correct. Hope that makes sense!
Anyway, my question for you all is about calibrating with a bubble level. I went to a workshop recently where they built an a-frame with a level and assumed that as long as the bubble level attached to the cross-beam was showing level, then the a-frame was calibrated. BUT when you spun the a-frame around on the same two points, the bubble was not level. In other words, the cross beam was perfectly level but the two legs were uneven. I noticed this issue and built a string/bob a-frame instead. I couldn't figure out how to calibrate a bubble level a-frame if you don't have a perfectly level surface to calibrate on. Any ideas?
I'm no expert in this area but I will point out that all the sources/articles on mustard green allelopathic effects are on the germination of seeds. Apparently after a few weeks of decomposing the cut mustard greens, it's safe to start sowing seeds. But I wonder if it is safe to transplant seedlings into soil before that time or even while the mustard is still alive! I'm going to test this and report back
Zach Muller wrote:
I am not sure if those plants 'prefer' one or the other, they are each related to the soil conditions of their natural habitat. My understanding is that you will not be compromising any plant health as long as you have a living cycle of microbes. If there is an imbalance between bacterial and fungal then they will naturally balance out.
Most of the soil people I've talked to say that trees and woody shrubs grow better in fungal dominated soils due to the higher levels of available carbon amongst other reasons I'm sure.
I bet you're right in that a balance will be struck naturally. But it would stand to reason that if a tree would grow best in a fungal soil and you have it surrounded by all sorts of plants that grow best in, and create the conditions for, a bacterial soil, there would have to be some kind of sacrifice one way or the other.
I was listening to Sustainable World podcast today (great permaculture interviews!) and Doug Weatherbee was on talking about soil health. A question popped into my head that I was hoping someone out there could answer. Since soils either tend towards bacteria dominant, fungal dominant, or a blend of the two, does it make sense to try to make guild polycultures of plants that require different types of soils? In other words, would your fruit tree and your woody shrubs prefer fungal soil but your ground covers and herbaceous layer prefer bacterial? Are you compromising the health of some of your plants if you settle for a blend?
Ok so I have a pretty good understanding of how to find the key point, the process of plowing the keyline and then plowing parallel to it. But I am not sure what that achieves. So effectively when you plow the keyline it is on contour, and then the parallel lines you plow aren't quite on contour since they are just mirroring the shape of the keyline. This is supposed to guide water away from the valley and into the ridges right? I can't quite wrap my head around that part. Why wouldn't you just plow a bunch of lines on contour around the keyline to hold in the rainwater?
A few more questions....
-Can you do this type of work on a home-scale with shovels and pitch forks?
-If the parallel plow lines aren't on contour wouldn't they cause water to accumulate in one area?
-The terms valley and ridge are used in this topic and even apply when we are talking about very slight dips and raises in the land. Can the land be TOO flat to even need to consider the keypoint?
Steve Mosher wrote:Hey all my parents have a 15 acre field that they currently only use for hay and they dont even need it all for the 3 horses they have i want to turn some of it into a permaculture garden/food forest we have great soil and 2 7ft tall piles of horse manure with all they hay i could ever use. as well as 2 tractors a disc, 2 rototillers and a large barn 3 horses and 30 chickens. i feel i have all of the major purchases already done and we are wasting the potential of this land with just 700 haybails a year and giving the rest to a local diary farmer for round bails . if anyone has already started a large project like this and has any tips or links to get us on our way it would be appreciated greatly.
While I don't have experience working on big property, I do recommend starting by observing and analyzing the lay of the land. The contours, the key points/ines, the soil type/quality etc. Perform any earthworks you may need before you start planting or cultivating the land. If you're not comfortable doing this, maybe have someone visit your site who has experience with permaculture earthworks.
Kris Minto wrote:I am getting ready to put a few swale on contour using a wooden A-frame I build out of 2x4 I had laying around.
The grass has a lot of dips and depression from the worker and machine that laid the sod out when I moved in a few year ago.
Will those depression not affect the contour reading if the one leg of the A-frame is sitting in it? If so how do I ensure I get a correct reading to find the correct contour?
Well the idea is that when you encounter uneven land like a dip or bump, you have to move the leg of the A frame to the left or right of it until you find the exact spot where it's level. Your swale may be a squiggly line and that's okay. Technically you don't have to 100% perfect when you are making your contour line but you do have to be perfect once you've dug the swale and are evening out the bottom of it. In other words, the bottom of the swale is what you need to make perfectly on contour. By making a contour line you essentially are finding and even path to dig along so you aren't making your swale differing depths as you go. Make sense?
Tony Gurnoe wrote:I'm not sure I really understand what you mean by "activate" a compost pile or biochar. If you're referring to inoculation I don't see what any of those three plants would offer that others wouldn't. It's worth mentioning that the beneficial microbes are the ones that cause the decay of this material rather than microbes coming in after the fact. Comfrey is famed as a biodynamic accumulator and biomass producer. The deep roots of the comfrey plant draw nutrients from deeper in the soil than many plants can access. When the leaves are chopped and used as mulch, which can be done several times in a growing season, they decompose quickly returning these nutrients to the topsoil besides all of the benefits of an organic mulch. Nettles are similar but they're especially adept at accumulating nitrogen in the form of proteins. Dry nettle leaves by weight contain some of the highest levels of protein of any edible leafy greens. This is part of why nettle leaves are so healthy for us to eat. As these proteins break down in the soil the nitrogen that was stored within is released for the plants' roots to take in. Yarrow is a great plant in its own right. It will grow in poor dry soil, has medicinal uses, and attracts beneficial insects.
Thanks Tony. I don't exactly understand what it means to activate either. I just hear of the people doing it! In the case of compost, if you are starting a compost pile where there is no current healthy soil or existing compost, maybe these plants can quickly cause the growth of healthy microbes in your pile increasing decomposition. In the case of biochar, I think the idea is that you want to somehow cover all that new surface area created with beneficial microbes before you put it in your soil increasing its potency.
Geoff Lawton in the PDC video with him and Mollison lists certain things as being compost activators: comfrey, nettles, yarrow, fish, or a dead animal.
I had the idea this year to plant some squash under one of my asian pear trees (its about 5 foot tall). The squash and the tree look like they are doing well. The squash is growing pretty huge and I am wondering if it is stealing nutrients away from the fruit tree? If I cut down the plant after harvest and use it to mulch the tree will it release those nutrients back? Thanks
Ben Stallings wrote:I'm not able to answer this question, but I had thought it had more to do with nutrient content -- these plants are like multivitamins for the decomposers. I would add giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) to the list -- it breaks down exceptionally quickly and cleanly in a sheet mulch or compost environment.
Good point. So perhaps plants that activate compost/biochar are ones that breakdown quick and release lots of nutrients.
First post here. I recently heard that you can use comfrey, yarrow, or nettles to activate a compost pile or biochar. I am assuming this is because the plants attract beneficial microbes when they decay. Does anyone have a more in-depth explanation on this? Why do only certain plants have this property?
I think you got it right. Polycultures are simply the opposite of monoculture. That is to say, you are planting more than one plant within the same growing area. A guild is a polyculture where you have intentionally planted several plants that help each other out. So for example, planting nitrogen fixing plants, broad-leaf sprawling mulch-y plants, a fruit tree, and a beneficial insect-attracting plant together.
So I have this book called High-Yield gardening. In one chapter, it outlines a strategy called "Circle of Cages" promising a massive yield of tomatoes with relatively little input. I have found no mention of this on the internet nor it's inventor Robert E. Sanders so I figure I would be the one to preserve it on the internet. I have not tried it yet, but I want to know what you all think!
Here it is
"One sure-fire attnetion getter is the round toamo bed originated by Robert E. Sanders. Described in Flower and Garden Magazine in (April/May 1981), Sanders "circle of cages" method makes possible incredible yields-upwards of 1,000 tomatoes from a circle 8 feet in diameter while creating an attractive design motif. The round accommodates 5 caged plants planted 2 feet apart and an assortment of low-growing crops that fill in towards the outer edge of the circle.
The high-yield secret of the tomato circle is a 12-inch wide, 24-inch-deep minicircle in its center, which is primed with fish emulsion fertilzier in water, then filled with a rich layering of manure or compost, followed by bonemeal and grass clippings, topped by manure to bring the compost to ground level. Sanders then recommends moving out 6 inches and constructing a 6 inch wide, 9 inch deep watering trough. The bottom of this concentric circle should hold one half inch of bone meal covered with 1/2 inch dried manure. Other nutrients can be added through the growing season as the circle of cages is watered. To complete the basic arrangement, five tomato plants are planted around the 2 1/2 foot space remaining betweeen the outside of the trough and the outer perimeter of the 8 foot circle (Sanders arranges the plants equidistantly with the help of a garbage casn lid and recommends planting the tomatoes very deeply in richly prepared holes 12 inches wide and 24 inches deep. For added beauty, the circle of cages can be ringed by 15 inch high garden fencing and surrounded by colorful flowers which will help ensure pollination" -High-Yield Gardening by Marjorie Hunt and Brenda Bortz
The problem with the Weston A Price philosophy is that it only shows a clear benefit when compared to the standard western diet. Weston Price, if you read his book, was never out to promote animal foods or to bash vegetarian diets. He was showing that processed foods are the main causes of tooth decay and overall disease in the body. Yes, special compounds in animals such as vitamin K2, carnitine, carnosine, DHA, EPA, etc all have benefits but these are all compounds that humans are SUPPOSED to be be producing themselves when eating a plant-based diet. Grass-fed meats, butter, and fish oil only shows a clear benefit when added to a diet deficient in the precursors of those nutrients OR a an abundance of junk clogging up the conversion process. In our case here of omega-3, feeding fish liver to a famished native living on rice and corn would improve their health dramatically. They weren't previously getting adequate nutrition for their body to synthesize all the nutrients that it needs. In addition, giving that same fish liver to a 40-year old overweight computer programmer would improve their health. The high amounts of arachadonic acid from animal products and polyunsaturated omega 6 from oils out-competed for the enzymes that convert short chain to long chain omega 3: desaturase and elongase. This causes an imbalance in fatty-acid profile and thus the need to supplement or eat animal foods. I'll admit, the omega-3 could be even life saving in both cases. I won't argue that.
But what about the third option? What about someone who has their body in good working order and follows a low-fat vegan diet high in fruits and vegetables. What's their omega-3 status like? Watch my my video and find out
Take care not to turn this into a debate. I was having a polite debate about diet on another thread until all my posts were deleted and the thread closed. I'm glad everyone is being civil here though.
In my opinion, fruit based permaculture seems like the most efficient way to go if you are willing to eat it all! At full maturity, many fruit trees can provide hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of food per year with very little input from us humans. I'm glad to see Geoff chimed in with some wisdom. It's interested to hear that root-based poly culture can provide even more food. We should keep in mind, however, that these foods generally will require further work to make them edible such as cooking or drying and they are not the kindest to our digestion and overall health.
So, to answer your question Andrew, I haven't heard of any particular farm or community having abundant fruit all year round enough to feed 811ers, but I don't believe it would be any more difficult to set up than any other polyculture assuming you are in the tropics and have a bit of land. Simply choosing a variety of trees that have harvests throughout the year and the support plants would be particular challenge.
Off the top of my head, I would do something like this (feel free to poke holes in my Eden-like fantasy haha). Almost everything here is a raw edible and would seem (to me) to be able to feed you for a whole year once established.
Fruit Trees: Mango
Ice Cream Bean (Nitrogen fixing)
Oranges and other citrus
Warren David wrote: You spend far too much time reading vegan propaganda. Forget the bonobo. If you want to know about ideal foods for humans, look at other humans.
Some of the things that the healthiest communities around the world have in common are that they are eating a large proportion of fresh foods that they have hunted, raised, gathered or cultivated themselves. Very little if any of processed foods. They are also getting exercise from getting this food and a lot of the other manual work they often do.
Diets of Sardinians and Okinawans. They eat meat and eggs and always did. This stuff is very easy to find out if you look on sites that are not trying to push some diet or other.
"People from the islands of Ryūkyū (of which Okinawa is the largest) have a life expectancy among the highest in the world., although their life expectancy rank among Japanese prefectures has plummeted in recent years. Their unusual longevity has been attributed in part to the traditional local diet, but also to genetic inheritance, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Generally, the traditional diet of the islanders was 20% lower in calories than the Japanese average and contained 300% of the green/yellow vegetables (particularly heavy on sweet potatoes). The Okinawan diet is low in fat and has only 25% of the sugar and 75% of the grains of the average Japanese dietary intake. The traditional diet also includes a relatively small amount of fish (less than half a serving per day) and somewhat more in the way of soy and other legumes (6% of total caloric intake). While pork is a part of the Okinawan diet, almost no other meat is consumed; virtually no eggs or dairy products are consumed either. An Okinawan reaching 110 years of age has typically had a diet consistently averaging no more than one calorie per gram of food and has a BMI of 20.4. (also note that when values - such as caloric density - vary from 1x to 10x, the average is not relevant)"
I never knew Wikipedia was trying to push the vegan diet on us! You can bet that if their fat intake was very low that they were eating VERY small amounts of pork and eating mostly sweet potatoes, greens, and grains.
BenjaminBurchall wrote: We aren't bonobos. Usually, I see chimpanzees as the closet to us on the evolutionary tree. Either way, both chimps and bonobos as far as I know eat insects and small mammals in their native habitats. I think we should be careful about saying what the "one" natural diet is for humans especially if we're doing so by comparing us to another animal. We aren't any other animal but homo sapiens.
Well I suppose it's up for debate about which one is closer but they are both really close to the human DNA. When we look at nature, closely related species ALWAYS have closely related diets. There aren't huge swings such as one branch eating animal-based foods and another branch eating plant based foods. Generally it is simply a matter of WHICH animal foods and which plant foods a particular species eats. So if we look at bonobos OR chimpanzees, we see that there is one particular food they favor above ALL others. I'll let you check it out for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_chimpanzee
As for the incredibly small amount of insects and raw animal guts these guys will eat, I don't have a problem if you are into that. Chow down.
BenjaminBurchall wrote: I don't know about Sardinians, but the Okinawan diet contains quite a bit of meat and much more vegetables over starchy foods than the Japanese diet.
That makes the assumption that humans only hunting game. Think about all the other animals that humans have eaten historically even before modern humans - fish and other water creatures, insects, snails, etc. Humans have been using tools to catch and prepare their food for eating since before homo sapiens. The information we have does tell us that humans have been omnivors for hundreds of thousands of years. Whatever choice we make now about what we want to eat is just that - a choice. And it's built on modern convenience rather than environmental necessity as was in the distant past.
We'll probably attract more new permies if we don't make them feel that we're demonizing their food choices or telling them they are somehow immoral for eating animals. I've found that when people start raising some of their own food, they usually modify their diets because it just makes good financial sense to eat more of what they can grow for free.
I didn't mean to insinuate that we are just talking about game. Fish, seafood, insects, snails, grubs, etc. These are all things that humans aren't equipped to eat. We are permaculturists, lets look at nature as a model. Animals in nature don't rely on anything but what they are born with to survive. Sure a chimp might use a pointy stick to kill a bug or pry open a bark to get to some grubs. But that in no way means they are dependent on the stick to survive. It is just something that helps. Human's aren't born with things that equip us to catch seafood or fish. In fact, it is very difficult. Have you ever tried to catch a fish without a spear or fishing pole? Really tough! We aren't born with oven's on our backs or the innate knowledge of fire. Let's look at the whole taste issue again too. Does a raw grub, scorpion, or wriggling flounder look appetizing? Does your mouth water at the mere sight of these things? Of course not! If you try eating these things without salt, flavoring, BBQ sauce, etc most of the time they don't taste good at all!
I hear what you are saying about newcomers to permaculture. I would never tell someone to only grow this and not grow that. I'm a big fan of growing as much food as you can and keeping things local. But I just believe people should know that if they choose to grow all of their food themselves, but they are dependent on animal foods as a staple, they aren't doing their health any favors.