Though learning and dreaming of homesteading for the past year, I am new to the term "permaculture". I found this site a few days ago and have been reading the information. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.
I would value any opinions and thoughts on my current line of thinking.
I thought an Amish farm of 20 to 30 acres in Ky, Tenn, or Missouri would be ideal. I was thinking the Amish are already thriving living semi off the grid, so why re invent the wheel. Of course we would be re working the buildings, etc. to fit our needs. I am single with a young son at home ( unschool ), and a 23 year old son and his partner. My adult son's family unit would have their own place on the land.
As far as I know, the Amish concentrate on annual plow agriculture, which is very different from permaculture, so the land needs might be a little different. In my opinion, permaculture is suited for land which is not especially well suited for plow agriculture. Land which is a little sloping, maybe a little rough with some established forest on it as well as open spaces and pastures, might be better suited for permaculture than a farm with mostly flat plowed fields. This kind of rough land is also likely to be less expensive than "agricultural land" which has already been cleared and plowed. Unless one plans to do a lot of plow agriculture, it might be easier to find a place if it is not an established Amish farm, but maybe a rough corner next door to an Amish farm.
I'm personally a very slow learner and seem to learn better by watching images than by reading words, though I'm an avid reader. I've found watching a lot of videos about permaculture has been extremely helpful. If you can afford it you might want to get the DVD set from PRI: http://www.permaculturenews.org/store/cartview.html?id=53 I've only purchased the Food Forests one so far, it is super helpful; although I know I've read about all the techniques it covers, somehow seeing it made a lot of difference to my absorbing the information. I'm also finding a lot of helpful info in Paul Wheaton's podcasts: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/category/podcast/
I'm also pretty new to the permie ideas - been reading and researching techniques for years but never the whole concept until now. In fact, I wasn't even really aware of the TERM "permaculture" until I found Paul's vids on youtube and eventually wandered over here to the permies site
What I can say is that as you watch videos, read threads and articles, pick up books on the subject, etc, things will start to "click".. I had the epiphany of all epiphanies the other day watching a presentation on Soil Biology I found on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGxjcxVMbsg)...when the presenter started talking about mutualist fungi, something happened in my brain that is hard to explain. A couple days later, I watched another youtube I stumbled onto (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zojnUXXOEuA) and the "click" completed.
I recommend watching one of Bill Mollison's permaculture design courses (http://www.networkearth.org/perma/culture.html linked in another thread but couldn't find the thing) was invaluable to me in getting a "whole picture" view of what permaculture is since I can't afford books, DVDs, etc. Once you've got that down, everything else is just getting the many varied things permie to "click"
Funny how things come together. I spent the past forty minutes on youtube. I watched four videos from midwest permaculture and discovered how ignorant I am. When I said I was new and learning, I was ( and am ) in the "don't even know you don't know" space.
I watched the video about soil loss and got sick. I had been thinking about water with little to no thought to soil. So, armed with the name Bill Mollison and a few other links, I begin my journey. I must admit that it is so emotionally overwhelming and draining that it will likely be an hour or two every other day right now.
I am so appreciative that this is coming together for me before I found my homestead. The info you provided will help immensly.
You might want to have a read of Sharon Astyk's work online too. She examines alot of issues around choosing where to live vs adapting in place. Try her personal blog first I think before the science one.