[permaculture] On the pain of desiring land

Mitch Triplett mtriplett at bctonline.com
Tue Dec 1 22:38:11 EST 2009

In 2005, my wife and I went looking for some degraded land - the idea being
that helping the ground work through it's particular trauma(s) would help us
work through ours.  As we work/learn with the property and study/learn via
books (thanks Rain & Toby!), classes, listservs, etc. this property's
potential unfolds as does our own.  

The first three years were predominantly spent learning & working in the
woods (67 acres mostly wooded, our Zone 1 is ~1.75 acres) and getting the
soil in the garden area to the point where it's started producing food.
Last year I began working on a food forest design and read the following:

"[We] recommend focusing your forest-gardening efforts on places needing the
healing touch of human hands.  We are more likely to mess up relatively
healthy landscapes, and the world needs less of that.  Working and playing
in damaged habitats is more likely to leave the planet in better shape than
we found it...  Forest gardening is an excellent way to do this, and the
potential for healing both the land and ourselves is immense."
	Jacke & Toensmeier, Edible Forest Gardens Vol. 2

Makes sense to me.

We planted 900 trees this year, will plant 400 next year and probably
100-200 each year following.  Next year we start prepping the food forest
area and are working on our timeline/budget for water catchment, chickens,
etc.  Spring of 2011 we'll plant fruit/nut trees... and on and on and on...

We have a lot of plans and will feel good if we can meet a fraction of our
goals.  20-30 years from now, I'll be posting a message to this list
advertising our place for sale and some plucky young permaculture advocate
will be able to find a place where much of the grunt work has been done so
they can focus on refining, enhancing, and yes probably in some cases
repairing what we've done for the benefit of all involved.

 ".stop rationalizing [your] own futility and get to work."
	Ralph Nader, Democracy Now!, 02/05/07


Mitch Triplett
Tri-Pearl Family Forest
Associate Member - FSC

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Lawrence F.
London, Jr.
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 7:03 PM
To: permaculture
Subject: Re: [permaculture] On the pain of desiring land

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
permaculture mailing list
permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Subscribe or unsubscribe here:
Google command to search archives:
site:http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture searchstring

More information about the permaculture mailing list