[permaculture] Questions of scale....

Claude Genest genest at together.net
Sun Sep 1 10:11:34 EDT 2002


I've been following the discussion on big ag, but there was too much to read
it all, so excuse me if these thoughts were covered elsewhere:

1. There is a limit to the scale at which PC will work, and its not related
to size necessarily - it's when the ability to use "waste" productively is
exceeded - 

2. With regards to applying PC to large operations, there is an intrinsic
assumption at work that maybe needs to be challenged and that is that
machinery is necessary to productivity/efficiency and profit - as Paul
Hawken points out in "Natural Capitalism" : in a world with more and more
people needing more and more jobs, where is the logic in continuing to
promote expensive,  unsustainable technologies that result in less and less
people being needed ?
We need more hands on more farms...the most productive farms in the world,
by a long shot, are in the 3 to 5 acre range.... ( productivity measures
cahnge dramatically when you factor inputs as well as outputs....)

> From: "Charles Knoles" <charles at growfood.org>
> Reply-To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 15:10:31 -0500
> To: <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: [permaculture] Re: big ag in Pc
> 
> I think it's important to make a distinction between "big agri-businesses"
> and
> large scale farms/farmers.  The former are amoral, market driven
> organisations.
> They are just as happy selling organic produce as they are selling
> landmines as
> long as it makes them a profit.  The latter are people who grow crops on
> large
> tracts of land.  Large scale farmers have a vested interest in taking care
> of the land
> they use and generally aren't as rapacious as some people on this list make
> them out to be.
> They are however, extremely conservative by necessity and will not try new
> methods unless they can be shown that they work (usually this job falls to
> the
> extension agents in the U.S.A).
> 
> Since it is the large scale farmers who own the land where the
> overwhelming
> majority of the worlds food is produced the only way to get a sustainable
> food
> supply is to get these people to start farming sustainably.   In Cuba they
> are fortunate
> enough to have a dictatorship and so when Castro says "go organic" everyone
> jumps.
> Burdened as we are with the hassles of democracy, the only option open to us
> is
> continued research, education and demonstration.  I think that we need to be
> much
> more effective in the way we go about these tasks however.  Here are a few
> ideas
> about how to go about this:
> 
> 1) Start a research organisation similar to ATTRA but it would be devoted to
> Permaculture.
> It would give farmers of all scales, information on well proven techniques
> for their bio-region.  We
> would also start a library of research that has been done on techniques such
> as alley-cropping
> silviculture, mechanical harvesting of perrenial polycultures, agroforestry
> etc.  These studies
> would be made available to farmers in a simplified practical format.
> 
> 2)  The development of a software program that can bring together the
> enormous amount of
> information that a farmer needs to consider.  From this info, the program
> could reccomend
> how the farmer can minimize their inputs, reccomend remediation strategies
> etc. We could napsterize
> Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, etc........  ;)
> 
> Whattaya reckon??
> 
> Love
> 
> Charles
> 
>>> On Friday 30 August 2002 10:47 am, you wrote:
>>> You assume these are mutually exclusive.  IMO they are not.  The fastest
>>> way to increase PC acreage is by moving "industrial ag" in our
>>> direction.  This will take time and no doubt will not satisfy PC purists.
> 
>> What is a Pc purist?
> 
>> Isn't this just a question of how we define Pc.
>> I've always viewed it as a design system based upon
>> ecology and sustainability.  You can't design without
>> an objective and for Pc the objective seems clear.  If
>> we believe in this definition then i would think most of
>> us would be uncomfortable with industrial ag.  Does this
>> make us purists?
> 
>> jeff
> 
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