[permaculture] On the pain of desiring land

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue Dec 1 22:03:17 EST 2009

Rain Tenaqiya wrote:
I feel that permaculture, in its current form, does a disservice to 
those seeking land by playing down the difficulties of marginal land.
It is true that a lot of land that is currently considered marginal can 
be coaxed into producing yields for satisfying vital needs,
but only with more work, money, time, energy, and other inputs than 
prime farming land.

Regarding: "playing down the difficulties of marginal land"

I think it may be a mindset prevalent among John Jeavons and Alan 
Chadwick advocates. Also, if you have no choice in the land you end up 
owning then you have to make the best of it and work with what you've 
got. This is where Jeavons comes in. His Bountiful Gardens project was 
built on poor land with steep slopes and yet he created a garden of Eden 
producing a bounty of quality food, a demonstration site. His circle 
gardening concept was documented and disseminated to people in countries 
all over the world, of special benefit to those on cropping on marginal 

I think the assumption is that the quality of the land you get isn't the 
issue but what you do with it and for that proponents of that approach 
will prepare you for the hardest task you might encounter.

Marshall in this list built a large market farm on top of mostly 
landfill. He improved the soil dramatically and it produced vegetables 
of exceptional quality.

On the other hand if one has any choice in the matter, never purchase 
land with soil of marginal quality.

Land with prime or good soil, and there's an obvious cutoff point 
separating that from land with marginal or poor soil, will or can cost 
more but the payback and long term investment required for reliable 
quality food production can be the same as when poor land has to be 
improved. Poor soil may dominate some tracts that have small areas with 
prime soil that make it worth investing in that land, good if you're 
homesteading and just need a big garden with some orcharding and tree 
crops on the rest. Also some marginal land may be perfect for siting a 
pond whereas other prime land may be too permeable for such a project.
Think also about vineyards which as far as I know do not require 
particularly good soil.


Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagl ftaghn

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