After hearing some mentions of paleo at the Permaculture Voices conference a few weeks back, it was nice to hear mentions of permaculture at the PaleoFX conference in Austin, TX this weekend. Since permaculture systems almost result in a paleo diet by default, bringing the two worlds together seems obvious. Having attended events on both sides of the fence, I can definitely say there's mutual interest by many individuals in the audience, and by the speakers.
Permaculture was discussed in PaleoFX talks on sustainability, self-reliance, rewilding, and various other panels and private conversations.
Andrew Scott wrote:Since permaculture systems almost result in a paleo diet by default
I think there are some people who would argue with this statement. Permaculture systems result in whatever the permaculture designer wants combined with what works within the ethics and principles of permaculture.
'Almost' might be the key word there. For some people that statement will work, for others it won't.
Anyway, good to see paleos interested in permies and vice versa. Definitely compatible.
William James wrote:Permaculture systems result in whatever the permaculture designer wants combined with what works within the ethics and principles of permaculture.
Permaculture has always seemed to me to draw more heavily from taking a lead from nature than being an outlet for what a particular human wants to impose. When taking the first ethic, the design yourself out of the system concept, and natural succession into consideration, modern (i.e., non-paleo) staples like annual grains and sugar are mostly relegated to temporally fleeting and/or minor roles.
Andrew Scott wrote:the design yourself out of the system concept
Hmmm. I don't know that concept and I'm pretty sure it's not a principle of permaculture. Perhaps what you're eluding to is this:
2.14 Principle Summary
A Policy of Responsibility (to relinquish power)
The role of beneficial authority is to return function and responsibility to life and to people, if succssful, no further authority is needed. The role of successful design is to create a self-managed system.
I think many people would say that one goal of permaculture is to actually do the opposite, to design the human into the system in a way that is beneficial to the system (or the natural world if you like). I think a 'self-managed system' is intended to include humans, simply because 'function' and 'responsibility' are to be returned to life and people. Mollison did (in one audio course I listened to) say that he was interested in designing a natural system which was abundant for itself only (excluding the human element) but that it was a sort of pet idea of his, and that designing with humans in mind was much more important given the current situation.
One quirk in the whole discussion is the differences between
-Hunter/Gathers who live on what the can hunt and gather and had a beneficial impact on the environment without actually trying (ex. Pooping in the same spot every year > growth of blueberry bushes).
-Horticulturalists who hunted and gathered but also 'horticultured' in the sense that they interacted with the environment in some way (ex. replanting blueberry bushes by taking cuttings).
-Agriculturalists who limited their diet to 14 (total) domesticated animals and 3/4 major crops (ex. blueberries are a minor crop when compared to corn, soy, and wheat).
Paleos are (I assume) shooting for the H/G approach, whereas permaculturalists are probably shooting for the Horticulturalist option. Both are suspicious of Agriculture as a concept. Both are compatible forms of interacting with the environment. Paleos or H/G are probably more interested in letting 'nature take its course' and letting nature dictate how many humans are appropriate for this planet (the number is surprisingly small, when the state of the current planet is taken into consideration) whereas permaculturalists or horticulturalists might be more inclined to believe that we can have abundant ecosystems in any place (given good design) that can support the current population or more.
There are differences to be taken into consideration but we should be striving for integration and not separation (another good principle).
whatever the permaculture designer wants
Wasn't said to mean that if the designer wants a parking lot, she or he should get it. It was to mean that permaculture design can take many paths. Human diet or food procurement is one function that can be designed in a myriad of ways (and functions should be supported by many elements). That might be 'paleo' for some designers of permaculture systems or not, simply because their context is different. If someone's design is situated next to a grain mill with a surplus of grain they might insert that grain as a potential element of their overall food procurement strategy, even if they would try to include more elements to support that function, like nuts, roots, and meat. Or maybe their design includes a person who really doesn't want to eat meat. That can be designed in too.
I didn't at all mean to imply literally designing humans off of land or out of ecosystems. By designing ourselves out of the system, I'm referring to human work as an input that might be used in a calculation of yields. It's certainly not a concept I originated, but I can't recall the source offhand. It seems to me that, all other things being equal, a design requiring less human input (work) will always be a better design. Failing to, or lack of thought toward, designing work inputs out of a system can be seen as a violation of the second ethic. Of course implementing a design requires work inputs, but if those don't decrease over time, I'd say we're not really designing and implementing systems. Agriculture has always been about baking toil (often by slaves) into the system, and I think that mindset runs counter to permaculture.
Designing a system with large amounts of annual grains is designing work into the system. Designing any annual into a system is designing work into a system, but grains tend to be particularly high in processing work, and end up being relatively poor choices compared to other plants available to our design palette.
so exciting. I heard tons of great talks at PaleoFX. Some I liked more than others, but in general the direction people with a Paleo mindset are heading in is the right one. Can't wait to see permaculture knowledge spread as rapidly as the Paleo craze has.
It will give me the powers of the gods. Not bad for a tiny ad:
2019 ATC (Appropriate Technology Course) in Montana