[permaculture] Toby, please define horticultural society
raincascadia at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 31 22:40:53 EST 2007
Could you please define what you mean by horticultural society? The sociology textbook I read in the early 90's did not characterize any cultures in the Americas as agricultural. The closest thing was "advanced horticultural society." As I recall, the definition hinged on the use of the plow, which never occured in the Americas due to the lack of domesticated animals suitable for pulling one. Many cultures in the Americas seemed just as sophisticated and screwed up as early agricultural societies in Eurasia, such as in Egypt and Southeast Asia, particularly the Maya. The Maya, of course, deforested and eroded the land they depended on without using a plow, so it seems you are referring to what this book called "simple horticultural societies." Many, or most, of these cultures practice swidden, or slash and burn, which can be sustainable and even promote biological diversity if the population density is low enough. However, it seems that we are a long, long way away
from getting the humun population down to that level, and it would probably require giving up all or most of the modern electronics and other industrial goods which most of us cherish (such as solar photovoltaics, plastic pipe, pumps, telephones, etc). A society with such as low population density probably could not support the kind of economy required to produce such things. Are you just describing the kind of farming that you think we should be doing, or the entire culture? Is it possible to separate the two? Is it possible to produce enough food with horticulture to support the people producing other things? I am really interested in the answers to these questions. What do you think?
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