Plant DB

Richard Morris pfaf at
Fri Dec 28 05:35:39 EST 2001

> Subject: Re: plants db - fundraising
> From: Allan Balliett <igg at>
> Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 09:08:59 -0500

> I was off the list for a few weeks.
> Can someone update me on the need for funding for the database?
> Thanks

It might well have been me who firsty asked. I'm a trustee of Plants For A
and maintain their web-site and online version of the database.
PFAF is in a bit of a tricky spot financially and we seriously need to
get some funding for our many projects, database development is one of
We are throwing the idea of releasing the database as open source, some
could easily help prod us in the right direction.

This is of course different to funding the database being discussed on the
Funding for this would be nice as it is a really big task compiling the
(many man years have gone into compiling the pfaf database).

If you have any ideas re fundraising I'd love to hear from you.
(webmaster at

> Subject: Re: Plant DB - data & user friendly
> From:     1earth permaculture <permaculture1 at>
> Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2001 10:59:00 +1000
> X-Message-Number: 7

>>> _Useful_/_may be used_/traditionally used in PC zone 2, 3, 

>> To me this is not useful information, at least not in a PC sense of
usefulness. I also think it can be misleading in a very basic sense.

>> If I am ignorant of the PC emphasis on relations, it makes me *think*
I know something about this plant in a PC sense (aha, it goes in zone
2 or 3!) when I really do not. 

But I am ignorant. By having the zone indication it could help me to
think about zones more. It could help me think about a plant in a
different way
if it was listed as being in a zone I was not expecting. 

It is also a political tool. By using the database people are introduced
to the concepts of zones and hence to permaculture. 

>> I can stick it in zone 2 or 3, it says so in the PC plant what? Where, what context, in what sort of guilding,
what relations to other plants (which ones?), what functions does it
provide and support in zone 2, in zone 3 (same or different for each

Done well it could help people think about relationships. Say
for zone 4 you could list the different functions of plants in that
	zone 4 - standard trees
	zone 4 - understory plants
	zone 4 - ground cover

so now from using the database I am already begining to think about
how diferent plants can be combined.

> Different people search information in different ways. The same person
> also searches the same information in different ways at different
> times.

> A "Permaculture Zone" search might not suit you (right now), but it IS
> USEFUL for other people who are searching with a different mindset or
> purpose than yours.

> Permaculture zones are one effective way that permaculture
> practitioners sort their information, so the idea of a permaculture
> zone search function in the Plants DB is at the very least worth
> exploring for it's possibilities.

Broadly agree.

Form (lost atribution)
>>Seems the (information) rich get richer and the poor get nothing -
again. The people that would most benefit from a Plants DB aren't
being considered. Asia, South America and Africa should be catered
for! And don't forget Australia and the Pacific :)

Now if we are thinking of broading the use of the database to Africa
we do need to think about an offline version. Computers are scacer,
computers connected to the internet even more so, and costs of
internet conections sky high. The technology used also needs to be simple
(must run under win3.1). Language is also another major hurdle.
I did a breakdown of hits on the pfaf site by country a while back
with virtually no hits from Africa and a big skew towards the richer

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