[permaculture] Principles vs. techniques vs. data

Loren Davidson listmail at lorendavidson.com
Tue Apr 20 15:08:28 EDT 2004

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: Lisa MacIver <lisamaciver8 at yahoo.com>
Reply-To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date:  Tue, 20 Apr 2004 10:27:50 -0700 (PDT)

>As an engineer, and the daughter and wife of engineers, I don't find
>permaculture very like engineering.  However, at one time I was 
>involved with object-oriented software design, and that has parallels.

[nods] A former partner of mine, who is a computer programmer, pointed out that design elements such as chickens very strongly resemble objects in a programming environment - they have inputs, outputs, and characteristics, and they can be defined in part by what they do with inputs in order to produce outputs.

Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that object-oriented programming very strongly resembles descriptions of real-world stuff by design. But it's an analogy that does work, IMO.

>Not to change the subject, but this does I think bring up what I can't
>find, which is data, such as particular guilds that work well, and 
>better records of the input and outputs of (for example) sheep, and 
>(another example) on keeping poultry in orchards, what kind/stocking 
>rate/tree variety/s/tree protection works (ducks in the orchard were 
>not a sucess for me, though philosophically it sounded great).  Are 
>there resources with this type of information?  

Well, there are two answers to this sort of question.

First of all, Permaculture principles would indicate that the best way to develop this data is by careful and protracted observation, i.e. try some stuff out and see how it works. I think there's a lot to be gained by getting good at this, but it takes a lot longer to get something working that way at times. You've learned one way to not do ducks in an orchard, for example, and you might want to explore *why* it didn't work for you and how it might be made to work.

At the same time, there *is* information in a number of places about some possible guild associations, information on raising animals, etc. One good resource is Toby Hemenway's book, "Gaia's Garden." He provides a fairly good description of a couple of guilds that he's worked out, along with the methodology by which he did so.

I've also used books that are essentially encyclopedias of plants native to a given area - I don't have titles handy, but there are some good ones for California, which has some climate zones in common with Ashland. And there are resources online for plant lists for specific plant communities, such as blue oak woodland, etc. Try a Google search.

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