[permaculture] Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

Forest Garden forestgarden at gvtc.com
Tue May 30 10:52:59 EDT 2006

There is no official 'Jeavons' model for Central Texas, although the
research and demonstration of the Mexican diet could be quite close.  There
is quite a bit of discussion if the Jeavons method could be done on as
little as the 4,000 sq.ft. Jeavons suggests here in Central Texas - the
thought leaning towards more space and inputs required (especially more
compost needed due to our poor soils).

The Jeavons method was used as a baseline of necessary inputs to sustain a
given population because the method is so well researched, is clearly
documented, is fairly uniform in implementation, and is astonishingly
resource conserving.  It is quite difficult to quantify what is needed in a
'permaculture' design for this kind of analysis.

The results of the study show clearly there are not enough resources in
terms of land, compost, expereince, and seeds, to sustain the population of
1+ million in Central Texas.  The results show there is less than what is
needed by a large factor - not a slight margin.  There may be more efficient
ways of creating food, but I doubt they are that they are significantly more
efficient, and they certainly haven't deen demonstrated in this area.

Personlly I think a 'permie' or agroforestry method of creating food is much
more pleasing and wholistic.  My gravest concern is that neither method -
nor much of any other - is actively being implemented on a large scale.  No
matter which way you try to go, it takes time, experience gained from many
mistakes, organic matter, seeds, and lots of sweat.  Instead we are
constructing  massive super highways and more housing developments.

Gene, If you could provide me with an example demonstrating the higher
efficieny of a 'permie' design that was more productive and at the same time
required less inputs than the Jeavons method, please share that information
and I'll be happy to see if we can re-do the analysis.  Heck, I'll start
trying to implement it!


----- Original Message -----
From: "Gene Monaco" <efmonaco at comcast.net>
To: <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, May 29, 2006 8:56 PM
Subject: [permaculture] Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

> There are mounds in southern Ohio and other areas in the eastern woodlands
> (as well as other places) that are evidence of prehistoric cultures
> cities.  Quinn postulates that they just walked away from them (back to
> woods) because life there basically sucked.
> I have theorized that transportation was the limiting factor.  It just
> too much to transport the food from the bleeding edges to the cultural
> centers, so they collapsed.  Until oil.  Yet, I think advances in
> transportation technology will continue making it less of a problem; and
> that locally produced organics (as was said) will continue to increase,
> offsetting the costs of oil.  I also think that the transportation thing
> far worse in every other area than just agriculture.  EVERYTHING comes in
> trucks, and most of it in ships from Asia returning empty through the
> Canal.  Locally produced stuff of all forms is in order.  I saw a
> cartoon that showed tomatoes in the supermarket at $20 a pound grown and
> picked by union-waged American workers (related to the immigration thing,
> which is a joke--trying to stop migrant workers from flowing to the work
> like trying to stop the birds from flying south--yet we persist--450 miles
> of new fence in the southwest).
> $75/barrel oil, $3/gal gas were unthinkable 10 years ago.  With tomatoes
> $20 per pound, folks will go back to the small farms, or if you prefer,
> horticultural sites (we love you Toby).
> And for the Central Texas Jeavons model, 4,000 SF per head: Mollison
> mocked double digging and the like.  To quote his (sometimes made-up)
> statistics, one large tree has 17 acres of leaf area.  Figure tree crops,
> mixed horticulture, animals in the landscape, ponds, call it Permaculture
> you must, versus Jeavons-style gardens and vegetarianism (as religion),
> I'll bet the numbers come a lot closer to doable, even in Central Texas,
> unless you can't stand the heat.
> -Gene Monaco
> in East Tennessee
> -----Original Message-----
> From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
> permaculture-request at lists.ibiblio.org
> Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 12:00 PM
> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: permaculture Digest, Vol 40, Issue 22
> Send permaculture mailing list submissions to
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> From: Marimike6 at cs.com
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point
> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Message-ID: <47d.a87acf.31a1acca at cs.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
> Mitch says:
> "Oil shortages and fear of shortages will cause significant transportation
> cost increases. At some point, some transportation services, including for
> food,
> will cut back or go out of business. I believe that, within our current
> financial system, transportation and distribution will be affected sooner
> and more
> dramatically than agricultural production. Thus our supermarket system
> face dramatic change. It seems likely that farmers will, for a while, have
> food
> that can't get to market. Without an outlet for their products, and
> income, the farmers will have to cut back on production. Then what? Will
> financial system provide some interim methods?"
> The supermarket shelves are stacked mostly with the products of
> owned factory farms, not products of small family farms. And even when the
> primary producer is a small farmer, that person sells to a corporation. So
> think
> we need not worry about a time when producers produce less due to market
> economics. These people are not accustomed to taking a loss or going out
> business. The only thing that will happen is that food prices will
> There is opportunity in this for small farmers. As it becomes less
> to ship strawberries from California or grapes from Chile up to
> Massachusetts,
> small local farmers will be courted by the major distributors. It has been
> my
> observation here in NC that there is much pressure on the chains to stock
> local produce, both from the farmers and from the customers. But there has
> been
> strong resistance because it's just too much trouble for them. That is
> likely to
> change in an environment of expensive imports relative to locally grown
> goods.
> In the extreme, if people return to eating the major portion of their
> from sources within a hundred miles of their homes, northerners should
> anticipate a return to a winter diet of beets, pickles, cabbage, turnips,
> carrots and
> potatos. No kiwis.
> M. Elvin
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