[permaculture] defining permaculture
scott at moosepondarts.com
Mon Jun 18 12:50:14 EDT 2007
Charles, This might be the excerpt you mentioned. It is from my
interview with Mollison in 2001. We cut a lot of trees and probably
have more biomass standing in the forest now than when we started.
We harvest the trees like any other crop and use most of it for
firewood and building material and leave the slash for habitat. We
are also opening up some land to grow grass for a draft horse and
some chickens. You can link to the rest of the interview off our
website below. It was rather epic and life altering for me.
Mollison: Yes. Make the least changes that you need to achieve what
you want. Don't cut a tree down unless you have to. . . and I've
never had to since I've adopted that as a principle.
Vlaun: You've never had to cut a tree down?
Mollison: Never. I've never had to.
Vlaun: But you said the first place you went to, you went to the
forest and cleared an acre and a half.
Mollison: Oh, now, this was before permaculture. I was hatching
permaculture in that hole in the forest. In fact, I am a logger. I've
logged forests as a profession and broken down the logs with Canadian
twins and sawed them up into six houses every day, six days a week.
So I've cut up a lot of timber for housing.
Vlaun: What would someone in a situation like I'm in do? I live in a
forest, more or less.
Mollison: There are things I call type- one errors. The first one is
I say is, for Christ's sake, don't move into a forest if you want to
feed yourself because you're going to have to destroy the forest to
feed yourself. That's a type one error. Once you make that error,
error after error will follow. And the other thing is, don't put your
house up on a high bluff or on a ridge. We find it impossible to save
you from fire. We find it very difficult to get roads to you and it
will cost you much more for your roads than your house. We can't get
water up to you. We can't keep getting it up to you in emergencies.
Don't go there. Don't make the error of selecting that site.
Vlaun: In my case, this place used to be a farm 200 years ago. It was
abandoned. Trees grew up in the fields. Somebody came and cut all the
big trees and cleared a couple of acres for a landing. They left this
huge mess, holes where the stumps were, piles of slash, piles of
stumps. We're committed to restoring the forest ecology as well as
producing our own food.
Mollison: I know what you're talking about. You want to farm there so
you'll have to clear some of it and so you're caught in a bit of a
bind. And you want to farm there so you'll have to control the
animals. You're gonna have raccoons and possum and God knows what
after your corn ears, aren't you? So you're gonna eat raccoon or
shoot raccoon or set out wire fences against raccoon or something. So
you've forced yourself into a situation where you're not sure that's
where you want to be, you know, shooting deer and cutting down trees.
The whole of the peninsula of northeast Australia runs right up into
the tropics, it's called Cape York. When we first got photographs of
it, it was solid rain forest. In Sydney, though, we're noticing
little holes appearing in the rain forest all along the coast and in
the end, they turned into quite large holes with buildings in them.
So, they went to have a look, and the hippies were escaping the city
by going to Cape York, finding a nice waterfall ten yards from a
beach, cutting themselves a clearing, putting in a garden and
building a house and then getting a bigger house and asking their
friends to come. So the hippies were actually eating the rain forest.
And they're the very people who turn up in thousands to stop all
forests being cut anywhere. But they themselves, at home, were the
main cause of the disappearance of a very uncommon tropical rain
forest because they like to live in a beautiful place. What they
don't like to do is build a beautiful place to go and live in. They
like to go to a place that is already very beautiful. That's very
typical of rich people and hippies. You'll hear hundreds of hippies
say, "Oh, I've found this marvelous place. It's got a waterfall; it's
got beautiful trees. It's got thousands of birds, you know. I'm gonna
build there." It's right in a national park! You'll hear that a
million times, right? And I think, "You stupid bastard. You're a type
one error yourself!"(laughs) The hippy should go somewhere where
there's no forest, like I did, where there's just cattle-trodden
grasslands and build that beautiful place, which I did. I put lots of
lakes in it with 50 good dams, so everywhere there's water, and I
created paradise. It created itself even more than I did; I gave it a
three-year start. It built itself amazingly fast.
Vlaun: It's a frustrating thing for us. I never could have cleared
that field where my garden is. It just never would have happened. It
was a deep, dark pine forest. I never even thought about going in
there. T,hen one day, it was gone, and all of a sudden, there was sky
and a whole new vision occurred to us and we ended up buying the
land. I'm trying to reforest a little part of the cleared area but
the rest of it I want to keep open for gardens.
Mollison: Yeah, that's a bind. If you look at America, there's more
land cleared than will ever be used to grow food and maybe we need 2%
of the cleared land that now exists to grow all the food we need.
That's a fair estimate. Some people say 4% in England or somewhere.
You could close 96% of the farms down or 98% depending on which way
you're growing your food. Just reforest the whole thing again.
Moose Pond Arts+Ecology
Design Solutions for a Sustainable Future
450 Main St. Studio 2
Norway, Maine 04270
On Jun 18, 2007, at 12:31 PM, Charles de Matas wrote:
> <<<<is permaculture/food forest adverse to cutting trees at all, or
> is it
> permissable to clear some for letting sunlight reach crops, or just
> does the principles of "food forestry" consider to be permaculture?
> I live
> in a
> very forested area and I have been clearing small plots and building
> gardens. >>>>
> I once read the transcipt of an interview with Bill Mollison where
> he said
> that after he came up with the idea of permaculture he never had to
> cut down
> a tree. Amazing - not having to cut down any trees. I spent a
> few hours
> with some local permaculturists a few months ago helping one of
> them make a
> fire-break/terrace on a contour, and we certainly cut down a lot of
> trees. I felt a little guilty about this when I got home.
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