Farm scale permaculture, sustainable?
mpludwig at students.wisc.edu
Wed Jan 15 19:25:42 EST 1997
At 09:37 AM 1/15/97 -0500, you wrote:
>To be sustainable a food system must:
>1) Generate more energy than it consumes,
>2) At a minimum not deplete its resource base; preferentially build it up
>against difficult times (for the resource base),
>3) Avoid depleting off-farm and out-of-bioregion resources. (E.g. by
>creating strip mines for limestone, fossil fuels, depending on financial
>I have never seen a farm that meets all of these requirements which most any
>organic garden can meet quite easily. I am not sure if I have ever seen a
>farm that meets ANY of them.
I can't argue with this definition, and the general assesment of most of
modern agriculture. I do however believe that things can get better. The
Immage that Dan portrays later in this posting of the inept farmers unable
to feed themselves is real, but superficial. It is quite true that many
farmers lost touch with the land an the traditional skills involved with
feeding yourself. The County extention agents of this country told farm
wives of the 50's and 60's to stop gardening, and machinery carried farming
off to it's disasterous romp with overproduction, expansion and excess
mechinization. Soild fertility was reduced to NPK, horsepower was
substtuted for soil biology and good mangement was measured in dollars.
This is still the reality for some farmers.
Others have chosen other paths. Grazers are useing various animals to
efficently harvest permanent pastures. Biological farming maximizes
biological activity in soils by carfully ballanceing many minerals insted of
few. They reduce the need for nitrogen, horsepower and ultimately crop
land as the yeilds are high and consistant. Small farmers are finding
better ways to market more directly to the consumer through producer coops
and CSA's All farmers have an economic insentive to lower input costs.
Permaculture, HRM and other design systems are natural allies of this kind
of agriculture. I will certianly be using these ideas when I build my farm
(at least the house should be sustainable). I plan to start nursery work
this year and looking for land soon, so if people have ideas for plants and
critters for Zone 4 North America, drop me a line, (esp. Tamworth or Herford
hogs or Dexter cattle) . If your from SW Wisconsin I know great seed
Also, where the hell is my electric tractor?
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