Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

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Amanda V's picture
Amanda V
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Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

I asked this question in another forum but it was getting off topic a bit and I think it is very important:

In order to satifsy my idealism that everything could actually be OK: 

Is there enough land in suburbia to support the whole population there without any transport input of other food ?  Say, it is a sprawling suburbia and there is no peripheral farmland.  And if the average lot is 800 - 1000 m2 including the house.  And most houses these days are big.  My understanding is you need at least an acre per family and that is if they are really knowledgable at permaculture and do everything really well.  If it could be done with the average suburban lot then infact once they learnt to grow food, it would all be OK ?????  Yes ??? ..... please say yes .......

If we need more land than the average person has got to grow food - then really we should be recommending a mass migration to rural small holdings now ??

I am assuming we could use road verges to plant fruit and nut trees, and public areas to become commuity gardens etc.  Although my concern about this is that it would have problems being distributed fairly.  And some people would end up doing all the work ??

The other thing is are these huge sprawling suburbias actually too big a community to work ?  I don't know what the optimum community size would need to be to work - but I think all the members need to know each other don't they?

Does anyone have a vision that we could all actually live where we are now - and that it could work ?

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Sorry, but no facts here, I just have read in two different sources that organic gardening/farming will support much fewer people than on the earth at present. One source said 3 billion tops and another said 1 billion. Most likely, the population will have to shrink, substantially. Again, this overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing the world.

It isn't a pleasant scenario, but I imagine, depending on how quickly "the changes" come, that many people will choose suicide. We may even see entire families "offing" themselves- parents can't stand to watch the kids starve to death; so, they take matters into their own hands, then suicide. I believe, in a worst-case setting, that suicides in large, metropolitan cities will be uncountable. People will simply not have any idea what to do or where to go; they will be hopeless.

If the estimate of 1 billion is correct, then as you look around you, 5 out of every 6 you see will "disappear" (in rough terms). 

Please, everyone, tell me I am horribly wrong. 

 

 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

I don't know about what can save us from what, but I think permaculture and communities can only help. Have you taken a permaculture course or attended any permaculture gatherings? There's lot's to learn and good folks, good food, good fun.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

I don't believe suburbia will be able to feed itself and that population
shift will be necessary to provide labour (energy) on larger farms to feed city
populations.

Whether population numbers are/will be too high to be supported in a post
peak world is debatable (I think they are or will be when PO
really hits).

An interesting article - though no solutions is at:

http://www.agricultureinformation.com/forums/organic-farming/16754-agric...

The oil drum and such sites discuss this issue in depth.

On a personal level, my elderly parents 79 and 77 are self sufficient in
f&v and eggs on a 1/4 acre block (small house) and also provide f&v for a
couple of other families. My father is almost blind, suffers skin cancer and
has emphysema - can only walk 10m without resting - yet he manages their
organic veg garden, which puts my able bodied tended one to shame.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?
Quote:

Is there enough land in suburbia to support the whole population there without any transport input of other food ?

I think you'd be amazed at what can be done with even a quarter Acre.

If you use and manage your space well, you can do quite a lot, and rely on larger farms to suppliment the things you can't grow locally - perhaps chickens and fish and the like.

This is "suburban" areas.

The cities... I don't hold out much hope for, and I think HorstFam is probably correct... especially considering that most of them hold degrees in arbitrary topics made necessary by endless, fragile bureaucracy.

Tom Loftus had some great threads on permaculture which could probably answer many of your questions.

See here:

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/permaculture/10112

Cheers!

Aaron

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

everyday I strive to avert the result that I see, but the coming storm I perceive to be on the horizon involves a mass loss of life. There is no two ways about it. The root problem is not based in the unsustainability, economy, or oil addiction of our gov't/world, but in our very consciousness, our way of being. One of the only ways to change this barely tangible attitude is a grand and utter collapse and failing of all that our western civilization holds dear.

So yes, Community and the principles of permaculture will save us, but if your very way of thinking about things is not shifting as well, you may as well be playing x-box. In short, no, we will not be able to live where we are now.

Things will get SO bad. Suicide will be the easy choice.

Remember the hopi prophecy that says that water will be more valuable than gold.

I do not want to hold a vision of armageddon, I firmly beleive that we as amazing humans can make an amazing transition, but the odds are probably not in our favor.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Crikey all this talk about suicide is depressing.  But so sadly probably going to be true.   Expletives expletives.  If I type the words about how frustrated I am I would get kicked off the site.  Isn't the government going to do something ????

I mean **** has it come to the point that we need to have a thread about the best way to kill our kids and ourselves because they are starving to death ? 

And why does the majority of humanity not get it that it is all not sustainable ?  Is the human condition that we are just such sheep that we can't think for ourselves ? 

More questions than answers.  I don't know if I am more angry or more upset.   OK so we all tell as many friends and family as we can about Chris Martenson, and we learn permaculture, and we join transition towns.  And we still have to watch billions of people die because that is not what they did.  I care about everyone.  I care about all those kids in America whose parents haven't got a clue about any of this.  And I blame the authorities.

Thanks for listening to my rant.  I shall go and do some deep breathing exercises.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

AmandaPops, there is nothing to worry yourself over.  Obama has brought change to the world, and as soon as the porkulus bill is passed and implemented, everything will be fine.

 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Thanks so much !  I feel so much better now.  Obama is "the one" after all and he can single handedly undo all the damage of the past 100 years or so.   Phew !  All that worrying over nothing.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Yes permaculture and community could save some of us but no they probably won't save many. I don't know about you but I am certain I could not live next to people who are starving. Their fate is mine. Even though we have solar power, water, productive garden and heaps stored. Unless we can get our act together in time we are history and time is running out very fast. I want us to form groups of neighbours but my neighbours don't see a need.

Our group size is the problem. We are simply governed and governable in our thousands. Monkeys live in troops, rhino in herds, fish in schools and humans in tribes (after Daniel Quinn). In a heirachy we wait for the top to act to save us. It is a long wait.

Hoping there is a crisis sufficient to encourage community but not destroy it completely. 

Don

____________________________________________________

7 billion people can be wrong, very wrong

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Hi Amanda,

 

if you are looking for positive visions, can I suggest the Ringing Cedar of Russia books by vladimir Megre about a modern-day prophet living in the Siberian Taiga

www.ringingcedars.com 

 

Crash 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

As a more positive follow-up on my previous comment, I have discovered an absolutely incredible book on raising vegetables in an intensive manner, along the lines of what Aaron mentioned above. There is no doubt in my mind that if you put what this book teaches into practice, you would be able to survive on a regular house-sized lot. The title of the book is: "How to Grow More Vegetables" 7th Edition. Here is the ISBN: 978-1-58008-796-4. Go to Amazon.com and look it over. I just got a copy yesterday and it is amazing. I'm very anxious to put it into practice. (I have no connection to the author in any way.) Organic gardening is all about growing the soil. If the soil is healthy, then the plants will do well, too. The book lays it all out with lots of helpful charts and diagrams, too. Here is their web site: www.growbiointensive.org

I would like to throw out to everyone to share your best book, perhaps in each category (gardening, survival, gun maintenance, etc.), as possible in the appropriate discussion(s). I know I need to learn a great deal quickly, and knowing what you think is the best book on the subject might speed up that process. Thanks, in advance.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

We just got The ogranic Garden by Christine and Micheal lavelle for a 5er in our local garden centre Jan sale bargain. Filled with useful stuff and at the end a plant-by-plant reference with growing info and tips.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Does anyone have experience with the "no dig" gardening method made popular by "Esther Deans' Gardening Book: Growing Without Digging," (Australian author)

Here's a link to an LA Times article about this type of gardening. http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-nodig12-2008jun12,0,55177.story

I would be very interested to hear if anyone on this site has tried it.   (btw, the LA Times article is worth a read - very interesting if the method actually works)

 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Lisa G. My partner has used it quite a bit. She was started by Esther Deans book No-Dig Gardening & leaves of Life. It works well especially in places where there is no or very poor soil.

Don

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7 billion people can be wrong, very wrong

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?
AmandaPops wrote:

Crikey all this talk about suicide is depressing.  But so sadly probably going to be true.   Expletives expletives.  If I type the words about how frustrated I am I would get kicked off the site.  Isn't the government going to do something ????

I mean **** has it come to the point that we need to have a thread about the best way to kill our kids and ourselves because they are starving to death ? 

And why does the majority of humanity not get it that it is all not sustainable ?  Is the human condition that we are just such sheep that we can't think for ourselves ? 

More questions than answers.  I don't know if I am more angry or more upset.   OK so we all tell as many friends and family as we can about Chris Martenson, and we learn permaculture, and we join transition towns.  And we still have to watch billions of people die because that is not what they did.  I care about everyone.  I care about all those kids in America whose parents haven't got a clue about any of this.  And I blame the authorities.

Thanks for listening to my rant.  I shall go and do some deep breathing exercises.

I wish I could say that your efforts will make great strides.  But, IMO, I believe that many will turn a blind eye.  Most do not advocate population control.  The reason for this, and almost everything else ahs to do with their religion or their god.  God will "save" them.  They do not need science nor do they need another preacher (you) telling them that they have too many kids for god controls these things.  They do not need nor do they want to hear about global warming for god controls these things.  There seems to be no getting around the millions of people who will go to their church to solve the dire crises but will not go to their gardens, science, or logic.  They will do exactly as their church tells them to do; they will pray for food and water.  Rather than help themselves, they will let god (or their church) save them.  Most (80%+) of the country is filled with those that believe in, literally, what the bible says and what their ministers tell them to do.  You will probably not change that.  They will not need answers from you because their church has all the answers (and it doesn't, I assure you, include limiting the number of children).  Welcome to our theocracy.  Frown

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?
AmandaPops wrote:

  Isn't the government going to do something ????

I mean **** has it come to the point that we need to have a thread about the best way to kill our kids and ourselves because they are starving to death ? 

I mentioned to you in another thread that the politicians have their head in the sand. They are so focused on the short term ( and getting re elected ) Normal avenues are all but useless.

So far from my probing around people around politicians makes me believe you will have to "awaken" someone who has the ear in a big way of  a member of cabinet.

 Know anyone who knows John Key's daughter ?

In a way it would be pretty shitty to expose her to this, but if she "got it" she might hammer her dad with it.....

Think outside the square for a way into the box !

 

As to the starving bit. We are blessed to be living in a country that currently feeds more than 10 times our population. In a severe crash we personally are unlikely to see starvation like mega cities are so likely to see. But it weighs heavy on my mind that we may live to see billions die.

Hamish

 

Cheers Hamish

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Hamish

We feed 10 times our population because of our carbon subsidy. We will be unable to feed ourselves or to move food from where it is grown to where it is needed if this subsidy is withdrawn. And it will be withdrawn. The soil has suffered so much from intensive monocropping that it may take generations to recover. Even where I am at the top of the South Island it is almost impossible for me to conceive of us being able to feed ourselves in our present numbers without a carbon subsidy.

Don

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7 billion people can be wrong, very wrong 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?
caroline_culbert wrote:

Most do not advocate population control. Frown

 

The best method of population control is healthy communities, poverty reduction and higher standards of living - ie, security of food and shelter.

 

I think it is patently obvious that we cannot rely on our current manifestation of monopolistic violence (government) to provide any of these things for us, this is something we have to do for ourselves by forming healthy, sustainable communities.

 

Oh, and raised beds are the way forward!

 

Crash 

 

 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

"Sorry, but no facts here, I just have read in two different sources that organic gardening/farming will support much fewer people than on the earth at present."

Like a lot of things.....  that depends.

To grow stuff organically, you need to know your micro-climate well.  PC, BTW, is more than just organic.  PC is about resource conservation.  NO RESOURCE should leave your property, they must all be recycled and never leave.  Any food you buy you will convert into humanure, and that humanure (especially urine) will contain the imported resources and they must be used to improve your soil (at the farmer's expense, his problem!) 

On a small plot, making compost is imperative, as is the use of chickens to tractor the ground.  Worm farms are also essential.

Pest control can be achieved with the right plants and animals (our ducks love slugs and snails!).  Even when you kill fowl for dinner, the feathers should go straight in the compost.

I hate to agree here, but I think a lot of people will suicide too, unable to convert from their cushy lifestyles to proper work.  I'm very pragmatic about this, it's impossible to save everybosy..... :-(

Mike 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?
Crash wrote:

[Oh, and raised beds are the way forward!

Again......  that depends!

IF you have really crappy soil to start with, maybe.....  But even then, don't forget, you have to fill the raised beds with resources.  A large garden will require a lot of resources, not to mention the resources needed to make the edging to start with.

We didn't go this way, because we like to use chicken tractors.  Wherever the tractors have been is where stuff grows BEST!  The chooks do all the work for free too, and they lay eggs at the same time.  Everything should have at least two uses, preferably three.

 Mike

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

We don't dig either, BUT we decompact all the time.  This place used to be a dairy farm, lots of cows walking everywhere really compresses the ground, not to mention the concrete trucks when I built our house!

Compacted soil IS your enemy, nothing will send roots out in really hard soil, and water won't penetrate it either....  and the worms hate it.  Hard soil has NOTHING going for it. 

Mike 

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No Dig Garden beds

Lisa G,

We are helping with a grow-your-own-backyard-food group in our town and the basic workshop we're giving right now is this no-dig, sheet-composted in place bed.

 At home we have a couple hundred square feet of sheet composted bed started last fall and expanded over the winter as we've had thaws. I expect it to produce wonderfully. Our Unitarian church in town has grown fabulous crops in this style of bed the last two seasons and the gentleman who founded our group said he planted his backyard bed with this last summer, mulched and watered heavily and left for Maine for two months. When he returned it was bursting with veggies. I'll report back if you like over the summer but this is a recipe that other gardening gurus rave over as well. I found it through Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden, a fabulous primer on permaculture in a backyard setting.

 

fwiw,

sue

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

My $.07 (inflation adjusted...):

A friend of mine runs a CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture).  It isn't quite permaculture, but it is far more sustainable than general farming.  He is able to produce much more per acre than a standard industrial farm.  However, it takes much more human labor per acre as well.  And I think that's going to be the rate limiting factor.  I think that if today, a large % of the USAian population suddenly became experienced small farmers, I wouldn't worry too much.  But he has spent years building up his knowledge, and building up the land.  And it is that transition while people are learning that is going to be very lean. 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

LisaG,

Thanks for the great link.  I am part of a small group trying to start a community garden in Southern California--Riverside County.  Drought and water issues are concerns we are facing and the no-dig garden may just be the key...  not to mention my own personal gardening plans for spring. 

Nanette

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

I'm coming to the conclusion that the effects of oil are tomorrow's problem as far as the politicians are concerned.  What are they gonna tell the population at large for the time being?  "Sorry, folks 80% of you are going to die! Life can be ****, deal with it".   When politicians deal in 4 or 5 year cycles, there isn't a reason to do anything.  At the moment, there urge is to satisfy the "real" power and make sure everyone can go out and buy their new 50" flat screen TV and book their 4 holidays.

Whilst I am concerned for society, I am more driven by my need to support and protect my family (my imediate one being the priority).  Like us all and the small communities we establish, the others will have to fend for themselves, especially during the period of "adjustment"

We are starting a F&V garden on about 350m2 of land, just simple stuff at first to get into the habit and to teach the kids/have some fun.  I'm sure it will pay off.  Mean time, I continue to scan the media and government announcement for any signs of fundamental change and real messages rather than the window dressing we get so often

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Hi Mike,

[Oh, and raised beds are the way forward!

let me qualify that, raised beds are the way forward if there is a garage down the road willing to let you have they're used tryes and you use them to make raised areas (planting in them and between them) and you live in a semi-agricultural area and there are people with tons of horse manure they can't get rid of - until you turn up and cart if off for them! 

 

hugs

 

Crash 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

I'm not (hopefully) using any of my backyard soil.  I found out from a friend (very roughly) what can be done to create a great garden as he has done.  Okay... I'll write this to the best of my knowledge.

1. gather local dirt (some people offer free dirt)

2. gather chicken manure (from local farm)

3. gather your own compost

4. gather hay (feed it through your lawn mower to mulch it)

5. mix 1-4 together in correct proportion (you'll want to find this out)

6.  lay down newspaper (at what stage you should do this I am unsure)

7.  lay down cardboard (this will minimize weeds and weeding)

8. lay down another layer of 1-4

9. cut sufficient size holes within cardboard as to where you'll plant your seedlings

10.  to start your seedings, indoor, with biodegradable pots (Jiffy-Pots), using Pop Bottles as Biomes:

11.  cut, in half, empty 2-litre pop bottles

12.  insert biodegradable pots

13.  use soiless dirt to insert into bio pots

14.  plants seeds and cover with top half of 2-litre

15.  set on widow sill with sufficient sunlight

16.  monitor biome (dew covering inside but no running water should be prevalent)

17.  if too much CO2 in bottle make necessary holes

18.  No watering necessary

19.  Take out of sun if too much

20.  Watch your plants grow

21.  When weather gets nicer, start placing outside (while still in their biomes)

22.  Slight variations in methods.  I urge you to google this subject for more info.

http://panmidwest.ning.com/

http://containergardening.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/pop-bottle-science-inside-urban-green/

http://www.insideurbangreen.org/2008/06/pop-bottle-science.html

 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?
caroline_culbert wrote:

I'm not (hopefully) using any of my backyard soil. I found out from a friend (very roughly) what can be done to create a great garden as he has done. Okay... I'll write this to the best of my knowledge.

1. gather local dirt (some people offer free dirt)

2. gather chicken manure (from local farm)

3. gather your own compost

4. gather hay (feed it through your lawn mower to mulch it) <SNIP>

http://panmidwest.ning.com/

http://containergardening.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/pop-bottle-science-inside-urban-green/

http://www.insideurbangreen.org/2008/06/pop-bottle-science.html

 

This is fine Caroline.......  for as long as you can 'gather'  all this stuff.  If you have to drive for miles to 'gather', and gas is in short supply (just give it a couple of years!), how will you be 'gathering'?

This is why Permaculture is best.  There might be some gathering to start, but then you should be growing all this stuff on YOUR property, you should have chickens on your property, you should be making your own compost, and there are better things to grow for mulch than hay, you can grow pigeon peas and alfalfa and clover (all legumes that will FEED your soil) and even Ice Cream Bean trees (not in snow/frosty areas though).

If you do this, you'll never need any fertiliser ever again, and you won't have to drive anywhere for supplies either....

Mike 

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

Damnthematrix

I have a question for you.  Do you humanure ?  And if you do, how do you find it works ?  I am wondering if I really want to build a special out house designed for this purpose, nor not.  Thanks.

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Re: Can Permaculture and community really save us ?

If you build a new house today, just have a normal toilet on the plans, and install it to keep the bureaucrats happy,

Next to the loo have another wee room that has a hole on the wall where you can draw out the humanure when it is full.

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