[permaculture] The Trouble with Permaculture

Koreen Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 25 22:22:25 EST 2014


I think my main objection to the article is that the author seems to have interacted with only the most ignorant armchair permaculturists and not looked at the positive. It's not a very balanced article and comes across as a bit of sour grapes to me.  I do agree that there is dogma in permaculture and there are assumptions being made by some in the movement. I agree we need to document our results and am happy that activity is increasing. But I'm not ready to throw out the concept of "lazy gardening" when I get such huge yields in the first year with little work from some small plots in my yard,  by using the old standbys of sheet mulch, hugulkulture, and unfamiliar (but delicious) perennial and tropical vegetables (which are far more suited to my ecosystem than lettuce and tomatoes). As Michael said, the work to yield ratio is very attractive. Is it economically viable? It certainly cut down on my fresh food bill, but I'm well aware that what I do in
 my yard is not viable for a market garden. Using true cost accounting and measuring inputs vs outputs, I made a very healthy net profit on it for the planet and my own well being however. Am I "wasting good urban farm land?" My yard was Florida sugar sand, til I transformed it with the local organic waste stream. Many urban plots contain depleted and compacted soil not to mention heavy metals and chemicals - far from ideal farm land! Am I growing greens and fruit instead of carbs? Guilty as charged, but I eat greens daily. What would be the footprint for me to buy them instead of grow them? I can buy rice in bulk once a month. I go to my garden daily for fresh greens. Do I like food forests? Yes, love them (but in an urban area would call them edible forest gardens as a more accurate term). Do I wait years for them to be productive? That has never been my understanding of how to design an urban forest garden, nor would it be the preferred way to do
 commercial agroforestry when possible to do otherwise. Do I think that market gardening is not "good permaculture?" I'm well aware of how much food my city consumes and where a good chunk of that realistically is going to come from. We need hundreds of market gardens that incorporate permaculture principles.  I am doing my part to make it easier for market gardeners to be successful. Meanwhile, I garden because I love it and I love the yield from it. It offers balance and a regular connection with the natural world. 

There is a place for both market gardeners and back yard food foresters. We do not have to fight or put each other down. :-)  There is so much good happening amongst new urban permaculturists who haven't gardened much before but nonetheless are turning their lawns into abundant jungles of edibles. What are they doing right? How can that be improved upon?   It's also really exciting to see the work that Darrell Frey (I enjoyed your book, Darrell) and other market gardeners and small farmers are doing as they combine the principles of permaculture with their already substantial knowledge of farming. 

Sometimes new designers pass judgment on the way I'm doing things too - I suppose it is human nature to some degree. I just tell them - "I will be very interested in seeing your project in 2-3 years. Be sure to let me know how it goes!" with a friendly grin. :-)  
 
 



On Saturday, January 25, 2014 8:31 PM, Darrell E. Frey <defrey at bioshelter.com> wrote:
 
Thanks Michael. Hawthorn has eatable leaves!. Who knew

Darrell E. Frey
Three Sisters Farm
defrey at bioshelter.com
www.bioshelter.com

Author; Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm. New Society 
Publishing, 2011

On Sat, 25 Jan 2014 15:43:19 -0800 (PST), Michael Pilarski 
<friendsofthetrees at yahoo.com> wrote:
Darrell,  thank you for the comments. I concur with you completely. 
>
> I too read the article being talked about and didn't think it was a 
> bad article at all.  She lambasted permaculturists who don't know 
> how to garden, and rightly so.  She poked at some holes in the PC 
> ideology/dogmatism, and rightly so.  We should all be alert for 
> dogmatism and applying permaculture techniques blindly (such as every 
> pc design should include sheet mulch, a hugelkultur and a food 
> forest). I went and viewed the youtube she was criticizing of Mike 
> Feingold's pc garden in the UK.  Mike's pc site looked good to me 
> and his gardening . His dialogue was good.  I am not sure what she 
> was complaining about. Maybe it was because Mike looked untidy. 
> Perhaps it wasn't as productive as a wall to wall garden at peak 
> productivity.  But for the amount of time he put into it, I suspect 
> the cost/yield ratio was good.  I am perhaps biased since Mike 
> Feingold is a friend of mine and we taught a pdc in Nepal together.  
> here is Mike Feingold's youtube if anyone wants to watch it, 9 
> minutes 37 seconds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3R1BZVnD4M
>
>
> Michael Pilarski
>
>  
> Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski
> Permaculture - Wildcrafting - Medicinal Herbs & Seeds
>
>
> Sign up for my newsletter at www.friendsofthetrees.net
> www.facebook.com/michael.skeeter.pilarski
>
>
>
>
> On Saturday, January 25, 2014 11:55 AM, Darrell E. Frey 
> <defrey at bioshelter.com> wrote:
>  I have to confess I have had similar experiences as the article 
> describes, many times over the last 30 years. Many people have 
> visited my market garden farm, who, with a limited view of 
> Permaculture Design, offered numerous critiques  and questioned 
> where the "permaculture " was?
>   I have been teaching permaculture design since 1987, with many 
> different associates, in various venues. We always teach permaculture 
> as a design system applied land, buildings,  businesses, farms, 
> schools lifestyles and regions and so on. Permaculture encompasses 
> all aspects of our human relationship to our planet and draws on many 
> disciplines and resources to achieve our goals consistant with our 
> ethics. As I heard Bill Mollison say in person in 1981, it is not how 
> you garden, it is just where you put the garden that makes a 
> permaculture design . As a permaculture design professional I help 
> clients, starting from where they are, to achieve their goals to live 
> a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle. Sometimes that includes a 
> forest garden, sometimes a biointensive garden, and generally a mix. 
> Some may mulch, sme may till. Generally they will do both in 
> different gardens.  Sometimes it is just about what they eat and 
> where they buy it, and what the do with "waste" But it also includes 
> time management, succession planning, resource conservation, and a 
> goal to achieve the yields the client seeks. So, back to the article 
> in question, I say bravo! Let us read such self critique with an open 
> mind and seek to broaden the view of our associates. The experience 
> the author describes predate the a forementioned Vlad by decades, and 
> comes from people short on experience .   A deep reading of Bill 
> Mollison does not really promise no work gardening. Do not confuse 
> his promotion techniques with real advice. Yes, such presentation by 
> Mollison may have led to short sighted comprehension by novices  of 
> permaculture, but I do not think he, or anyone else I have taught 
> permaculture with promised a yield with no work. And we did not think 
> mollison really suggested that entirely. I met Bill Mollison in 1981 
> and again in 1990 when he spent a day at my fledgling farm. He wrote 
> in my copy of the Designer's Manual. "Great Work!" as he signed it 
> for me. Work indeed!
>
> Darrell E. Frey
> Three Sisters Farm
> defrey at bioshelter.com
> www.bioshelter.com
>
> Author; Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm. New Society 
> Publishing, 2011
>
> On Sat, 25 Jan 2014 06:18:54 -0500, Holger Hieronimi 
> <holger at tierramor.org> wrote:
> Why Bad? I think this article is a good one, althought it is very
> > critical with some expressions of PC-
> > the author is not uninformed, since she aparently read though some 
> of > the basic literature plus seems to have considerable experience 
> in > organic food production... >
> > Its more than clear now that some of the "Mollsionisms" ("The > 
> designer becomes a recliner"/ "The problem is the solution"/ etc.) > 
> were great vehicles to draw atention back in the 80ies, but also > 
> helped to build "cult permaculture" & a cadre of enthusiastic PC > 
> illuminates described in the article. No problem...I have been one > 
> after my first PDC back in 1996....and I´m happy for that, since > 
> this motivated me (in my case) to actually try to establish some > 
> systems and realize that not everything works as well in realiity as 
> > described th the PC Designers Manual, a greant book but definitly 
> not > the "bible" and/or ultimate expression of PC. >
> > Every course of some PC celebrities (Geoff Lawton is one prominent 
> > example) adds some more to this number (and I think nobody in thios 
> > group wants to qualify him as some body who gives "bad courses"), 
> and > its only through a few years of practice "on the ground", > 
> establishing designs, getting dirtty, maintainig developing systems, 
> > producing food, experiencing how systems actually work and evolve > 
> over time in different climates & contexts, that the imaginative > 
> power of PC concepts get grounded. >
> > saludos desde Colombia (en este momento)
> >
> > Holger
> >
> >
> > El 24/01/14 04:14, permaculture-request at lists.ibiblio.org escribió:
> > > The Trouble with Permaculture
> > > 
> http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-23/the-trouble-with-permaculture
> > >
> > > a very bad article; Vlad fodder, awful - just to see what the uninformed
> > > are up to
> >
> > -- Holger Hieronimi - holger at tierramor.org
> > TIERRAMOR - Diseño Integrado
> > www.tierramor.org
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