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podcast 398 - Review of Gracie's Backyard - Part 2

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Credit: Eric Tolbert

Part two of a two-part podcast by Paul Wheaton and Julia Winter discussing the movie "Gracie's Backyard". "Gracie's Backyard" is a documentary about Richard Perkin's Ridgedale Permaculture Farm in Sweden, by filmmaker Olivier Asselin, that follows Richard, his wife and their daughter Gracie around Richard's farm and describes some of the things they are doing on the farm, why they do things that way and plans they have for the future.

Paul and Julia pick up the discussion with an in-depth overview of the chicken processing operations and Paul's take on chicken raising, the pros and cons of using Salatin-style chicken tractors and the possible advantages of paddock shifting chickens in the same manner as recommended for other, larger, farm livestock.

The review progresses and we discover that Paul's current mission is "Gardening Gardeners" and how his current passion and vision for expanding community occasionally bring his views and observations into conflict with some other people's level of knowledge about particular jobs and skill sets, what their expectations of intentional community life should be like and how to best achieve that.

After a short discussion about Ant Village expectations, realities, infrastructure and food systems Paul and Julia return to the film and talk about Richard Perkin's Keyline plowing techniques, the limitations of the types of trees that could be grown at the location of the farm, and when Keyline is and is not appropriate based on land and environment. Milking cows, proper use of electrical fencing, transforming a coniferous forest and how to properly store an intern (intern housing) are also covered.

Later in the documentary Richard Perkin's wife's discusses her experience with prior farming community which leads to a lengthy discussion of the impact of community, how best to try and work within the community structure and minimize the stress on community by neighbors that have drama. Paul explains it is understandable that Richard has "thrown out all the old community building models" and discusses the benefits of community with a central leader model.

Wrapping up the podcast we find out Paul's opinion on scything of hay, why it would probably be of value if Ridgedale Farm installed some berms, the near-glamourous facilities available and changes to the infrastructure at Wheaton Labs, a recap of some of the recent and upcoming events and a shout-out to Justin Rhodes and his "adorable family" (Julia's words).

Paul and Julia agree that Richard's stated motivation, of being able to move to the farm to be able to raise his family on the land, is a worthwhile goal. In summary while Paul finds that he would do some things differently he thinks "Richard is an artist of seed and soil" and the film has many positive and uplifting messages and is well worth watching.

Relevant Threads

podcast 397 - Review of Gracie's Backyard - Part 1
Ridgedale Permaculture Farm
Joel Salatin & Polyface Farm
Justin Rhodes

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I believe that Richard Perkins is British... not American.  And I think he's trying to describe 'generally' a way of life, at it's most appealing, that actually provides a living - he's selling the 'it's possible!' idea.  I'm not sure there are any 'commercial' permacultural farmers that are doing that without the added income from  PDC's, workshops, books, etc.... even Sepp!  (Maybe Salatin? Neither C Stone nor JM Fortier have animals.)  We need to see way more of those, I think.  

And it seems that Paul is on a whole other wavelength... really wants to do the next-to-impossible - grow a very pure village!... so it's the apples & oranges.... no comparison! : )  (If anyone can, Paul will.)
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The full movie is now available in the digital market:


Being a smart alec beats the alternative. This tiny ad knows what I'm talking about:
Wood Gasifier Builder's Bible, Ben Peterson --ebook
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