Where Will Food Come From?

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  • Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - 02:25pm

    #11
    switters

    switters

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

While I agree with the premise of the original premise, I do not agree that yields from organic agriculture must be half of what they are with industrial agriculture.  That is an old paradigm.  Many recent studies have shown that by using biointensive  methods and permaculture design organic methods can match and even exceed the output of fossil fuel-based agriculture in both the short and long term.

This isn’t going to solve the food problem, but it’s important to point out.

  • Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - 05:29pm

    #12

    tom.

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

[quote=DurangoKid]

A good crop to grow in terms of calories per acre and nutritional value is the potato.  It has carbs, vitamin C, a bit of protein.  It will keep you alive longer than almost any other single food.  Current conventional yields provide about 45,000 pounds per acre.  At 0.8 calories per gram, I did the math, it works out to require 2434 sq ft of garden plot to get all of one’s calories from potatoes.  By conventional, I mean fossil fuel inputs for traction, weed and pest control, processing, but not cooking.  Organic has about half the yield per acre.  In one of my examples the yield was 24000 pounds per acre.

[/quote]

I will just add that you can grow more efficient potatoes in a 55 gallon barrel, than in the ground. You drill holes for drainage in the bottom & line with plastic screen. lay down 6 inches of composted soil. Plant one potato seed (two eyes) in the center & one more in each corner, (5) total. When they have sprouted 2" above the soil, cover with more soil, or straw (I use wood shavings) Keep this up until they reach the top. Meanwhile, you can make doors in the barrel, and reach in whenever you like, to harvest some new potatoes. That’s why I use the shavings. the potatoes grow up branching out from the stem. When time comes to harvest, you just flip the barrel …

HERE’S one article about it … definitely a thought for those with not much space, and even if you have a lot of ground, you can save your ground for other plants.

  • Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - 06:04pm

    #13

    SkylightMT

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

Its very challenging to make your yard entirely self-sufficient (crops to feed the livestock, livestock to provide protein and manure to feed the crops, etc).

But as Chris advocated in Chapter 20, remember your neighbors:  a neighborhood plan could work pretty well. If your neighbors are fed, there’s less worry about theft. If you’ve got bad soil, your yard does the water collection network. Another neighbor does the chicken and eggs. Another does the potatoes (actually, you switch from yard to yard for the potatoes – you don’t want to grow season after season of potatoes in the same field or the diseases and bugs will build up in the soil). Another does the animal feed. Another keeps the massive composting projects moving along. And so on.

We’ve already started a bit in our neighborhood. Our rabbits make excellent compost (their poop is high in nitrogen) and our neighbors help feed the rabbits with their weeds. Four neighbors have planted small apple orchards and we already share the apples. One neighbor dehydrates the apples and blackberries (we also have tons of wild-grown blackberries) into tasty snacks she passes out to the rest of us. We’re working on getting some laying hens. We’re growing potatoes already – great in our climate, because the frost line doesn’t get deep enough to reach the potatoes, so we just leave them in the ground all year round and dig them up as needed.

Its kind of fun!

  • Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - 06:18pm

    #14

    joe2baba

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

great posts.

hey katie i am planting my fruit trees and berries now. i am not in a pinch as i have a great bunch of neighbors who have plenty and we share. 

we can grow a huge amount of food in a very small area. permaculture and french intensive methods are two very good methods. i have been studying traditional indian methods which are organic and very effective. i dont know where the notion comes from that organic methods are less productive. in my experience that is bs. i grew up as an organic gardener in mid town manhattan it works. i suggest people interested in farming read about findhorn.

my plans include growing large amounts of sweet potatoes(the single most nutritious food) white potatoes, acorn and butternut squash, and beans. these are all things which will keep a long time with proper storage. i will be drying things like fruit and berries and tomatoes for long term storage. solar dehydrators are pretty handy.canning is a great way to store summer produce.

of course it is important to grow a good amount of medicinal herbs. my basic book for that is back to eden by jethro kloss.

they can be grown indoors all year round in pots. as for year round crops at least here we can grow quite a bit in cold frames. i mentioned this before in my forum topic on frankenstein food……..use heirloom seeds so you will not have to keep buying hybrids from monsanto. lots of mulch and drip irrigation will make the work easier. there is a wealth of wild food just waiting for the picking. i add redbud blossoms to my salads, i add lambs quarters as well. poke salad is a great spring tonic. jewel weed is a cure for poison ivy wild mint is great for the stomach.wild plums wild strawberries. huckleberries the list is huge depending on where you live.

obviously this is not going to feed 7 billion people which is why the point krogoth raises is very important. being isolated is not the answer you just stand out even more. this was brought up in an earlier post talking about the flatlanders.you cant be isolated anyway

chris makes the case for a strong community. having been involved with this for 40 years i agree. all the conversations always came down to security. get to know your neighbors, not only get to know them but work with them. 

as an idea we could get a space on this site where we share this info …….we all have ideas and knowledge we can share. after all we are all neighbors.

plant a seed and love it. it will treat you right

  • Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - 10:47pm

    #15

    Damnthematrix

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

Sorry, but this is precisely what you should NOT do…!  Sure engage the neighbours by all means, but if you have bad soil, then you turn it into good soil.  To do that you use the chickens.  I’ve seen rocky ground barely better than concrete turned into an incredibly fertile veggie garden using nothing more than chickens, hay, food scraps, and of course water and some grain for the birds, within twelve months.  Bad soil should never remain bad soil, it should always be managed to eventually become great soil!

The animal feed should be INTEGRATED into the yard, not excluded and put somewhere else…..  once you’ve harvested the grain, you can chop and drop the stems to mulch/fertilise your soil…  the best feed is stuff you can also use as green manure.  For instance, we grow a tree here called Ice Cream Bean (Inga edulis) They need to be pruned hard to keep them in check, but the prunings
make great compost and the larger limbs can be used as edging in the
garden as they slowly break down and add nutrients to the soil.  Goats love to eat the leaves, and we are currently growing a couple of dozen.. So we turn solar energy into food which the goats turn into manure, recycling all the minerals that exist in the soil with immense efficacy.  THAT is the essence of permaculture.

We also use ducks to keep the grass down in the orchard.  They turn the grass into great manure, and I also use the water they bathe in as liquid manure all over the place. 

We also have a compost toilet in our house.  NO resources ever leave our property, and when we DO buy resources, whether it is supermarket food, grain for the chickens, or even paper (used for mulching) I look at them as RESOURCES which stay here and enrich our property. 

The problem with totalitarian farming is that it’s all monoculture.  Monoculture, especially on the scale it is now practiced is only possible with huge quantities of fossil input.  Intermingling crops is of course not doable with machinery, which is why totalitarian farming doesn’t do this!

The best part of Permaculture BTW is that once established, it hardly ever needs much work…  we have stuff self seeding all over the place, nothing goes to waste, once it’s no longer useful it’s simply composted one way or another. 

  • Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - 11:00pm

    #16

    Damnthematrix

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

[quote=switters]Many recent studies have shown that by using biointensive methods and permaculture design organic methods can match and even exceed the output of fossil fuel-based agriculture in both the short and long term.

This isn’t going to solve the food problem, but it’s important to point out.

[/quote]

The problem is that so many (WAY too many!) people now live in totally unsustainable places.  For instance, Canada was originally settled by extremely hardy people who were prepared to put up with diets no one today would even recognise as a diet!  The ONLY reason anyone lives somewhere anywhere near as cold as Canada (unless they are Inuits!) is because of the freedom cheap and abundant fossil fuels offer.  Back then, there was also far more pristine wilderness you could hunt and gather in.  AND people still had those skills.  Just send someone out in the sticks with a bow and some arrows, and tell them to get a moose and see how far they get!

Desert areas like Arizona and Nevada, whilst not totally impossible to ‘green’ (watch this  http://www.permaculture.org.au/?p=230) would require amazing tenacity to keep settled, and basically, I think modern man is simply not tough enough now, too much sitting in cars and in front of TVs and computer screens….

  • Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - 02:36am

    #17

    DurangoKid

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

Very good comments, all!

 I heard it said that gardening is primarily about growing soil.  Rich soil is like a sponge filled with bazillions of bacteria, molds, and other critters.  Heathy soil is almost a living thing in itself.  The real sign of healthy soil is fungi.  They are the key to breaking down big molecules into plant friendly sizes.  Celulose being one that comes to mind.  They are also remarkable regarding alkanes, too.

I found two examples of orgainic potato farming in one short search session.  Both agreed with each other within about 10%.  Organic may be lower yielding from year to year, but in the long run, it builds soil rather than treating it as a mining operation.  The so-called conventional methods yield more only so long as the growth medium (I won’t call it soil) can be pumped full of agro-chemicals.  It’s basically a dead substance for holding roots.  Remove the chemical inputs and yields tumble.  Orgainic horticulture must also include crop rotation to rest the soil every few years and add nitrogen in the form of legumes like alfalfa or clover.  Cattle and horses love it.

I don’t know enough about bio-intensive horticulture to really make an informed comment.  If bio-intensive is labor intensive, the yield per human labor hour may be on the low side.  I like raised beds.  Seems like it would reduce the stoop labor issue.  Some institute in Willits, CA studied the problem and decided that bio-intensive must include all forms of waste including human remains if we are to have a chance of feeding 9 billion humans.  Real skanky.  Without returning the phosphorus to the soil it will eventually fail.  Bones are a good source of P.  Go to http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8957268309327954402 to view Robert Newman’s "The History of Oil".  Well worth it.

There is a Zen Buddhist enclave near San Francisco that provides almost all of its own food.  They run a bed and breakfast operation for those interested in Buddhism.  The food is suposed to be amazing.  I’ve seen their operation.  They take composting very seriously.  Huge mounds of it.

If you want to keep draft animals, expect to devote about 25% of your arable land to the maintenance of horses, less for oxen.  My father’s father farmed with a team of horses as did my uncle for a couple of years.  Horses are spooky and can be extremely dangerous.  Even mild tempered breeds like percherons can destroy valuable equipment like plows and wagons and anything they run into if they decide the next stop is the closest far away place.  A well placed kick from a large horse can be fatal.  If you want to breed horses, then you must keep stallions.  That’s a combination of spooky and aggressive.  Don’t get me wrong, I love horses.  I respect them, too.  The Amish have done well with animals for traction power.  Their religion prohibits mechanical traction.  Horses limit the acreage they can farm.  It also prevents them going into debt to acquire new land.  A lot of the Amish are poor, but they may one day be considered well off compared to those who didn’t see it coming until too late.

 For those of you who think raiding the settlements is a good idea, don’t get caught.  You will be made an example of and it won’t be pretty.  You may find yourself upside down on a pole feeding the crows.  Look for two movies called "The Ballad of Narayama" or Kurasowa’s "Seven Samurai".  I have no sympathy for briggands.

  • Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - 04:00am

    #18
    MarkM

    MarkM

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

NIce thread.  I appreciate the "potato in a barrel" idea.

 "Brigands are my favorite protein source", said the well-armed, slightly crazy, self-sufficent provider.

  • Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - 04:57am

    #19

    Tom Page

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    Re: Where Will Food Come From?

I’ve been working hard since last summer on compost production.   One of my neighbors let me have a huge pile of leaves, clippings etc. from many years – an absolute gold mine in lower part!  My soil is poorly draining clay  so I do mostly raised beds.  I extended the harvest this year with cold frames built with sliding glass doors salvaged from another neighbor (shows how valuable community relations are!)   I have some rain barrels to rig up to the downspouts, and may dig a pond at the bottom of my land.

I like winter squash like butternut:  easy to grow, stores well, high calorie,  high vitamins.  Will try Potatoes next year definitely also. 

I’d like to get chickens and pygmy goats, which I’ve had in the past, but first need to figure out how to avoid depending on the feed store for processed feed, hay, etc.

Matrix, did you build a composting toilet or get a commercially made one?  Setting one up is high on my to do list.  Urine goes in the compost whenever possible righ now; great source of nitrogen! 

The land issue brought up is a concern to me since I have only an acre.  If my job starts looking shaky and things start deterioratiung fast I’ll be looking for a larger lot.  Besides crops, I need firewood too.

  • Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - 06:08am

    #20

    Damnthematrix

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    Re: Home Gardens will not work for long

Oooh Krogoth mate……  I dunno my wife would go along with some of those…!

Mind you, some of those we already do, like the nap.  It’s miles too hot to be outside between 10:30AM and 3 PM.. I have breakfast before 6AM

Viewing 10 posts - 11 through 20 (of 36 total)

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