[permaculture] On the pain of desiring land

christopher nesbitt christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org
Tue Dec 1 22:51:44 EST 2009


Hi Kevin,

Whoa! Slow down, pardner.

No slight on Texas, at all. I have spent a lot of time in Texas, and a  
lot of time in Austin, Bastrop, San Marcos and Cedar Creek, and loved  
it. Have also spent time in east texas, south Texas and west Texas,  
and even up in the panhandle.

You asked this as a question, "To which part of Texas are you  
referring, Christopher?" so will answer it as such: The land in Orange  
Walk that is not suitable for agriculture looks a lot like a friends  
place in Cedar Creek, Texas, which is right outside of Bastrop. The  
land in Cedar Creekk that I was referring to is similarly not suitable  
for agriculture. That is the Texas I was referring to, and it is a  
part of Texas I know very well. I don't know if you have been to  
either of these locations, but I assure you they strongly resemble  
each other in plant communities and poorness of soil.

The soil is leached, and the dominant tree species is oak on both  
pieces of land. If there weren't cahune palms on the horizon, across  
the savana, I would have thought I was in Cedar Creek, Texas, and not  
Belize. The grass on both pieces of land is stunted. The soil on my  
friends land in Texas is significantly better than the soil in Orange  
Walk, but still poor, and I wouldn't want either of them for farming.

Sorry for any perceived insult to the great state of Texas. I assure  
you none was implied.

Best wishes,

Christopher

On Dec 1, 2009, at 8:15 PM, Kevin Topek wrote:

> Christopher Nesbitt also wrote this line.
>
> "Nothing much grows there, some oak, some pines. It looks like Texas."
>
> Do you imagine
> Texas to be a vast wasteland. It most certainly is not! Currently I'm
> awash in flood waters. Texans do not appreciate being denigrated.
>
> Kevin Topek, native Texan and damn proud of it
>
> On Dec 1, 2009, at 7:51 PM, Toby Hemenway wrote:
>
>> I'm curious where you are hearing the difficulties being played down.
>> Specifically, if you would, as I'd like to know who or what to put
>> on my
>> "ignore those idiots" list for my students.
>>
>> Bill makes many references to the importance, if you want to farm, of
>> finding land with good water, good soil, and good microclimate, but I
>> couldn't find anything about how easy it is. I was trying to find
>> statements in permaculture books, or Permaculture Activist articles
>> about it being less than a lot of work to rehabilitate damaged land.
>> All
>> I can find is descriptions of projects that involve a great deal of
>> work
>> ("first we dug 8 km of swales and put in two 1/4 Ha ponds, then
>> planted
>> 4000 trees while living in a tent for the first 3 years because we
>> were
>> too tired to build . . ."). Holmgren's Meliodora book, one of the few
>> detailed case studies out there, talks about 8 years of hard work and
>> then years more of modifications.  Yes, Bill jokes about how after 5
>> years of work, the designer can become the recliner, but that seems
>> close to the truth from my own experience on 10 acres of degraded
>> land.
>> Of course, I finally figured out that most of that land wanted to be
>> forest and not farm, so I only gardened on 1/8 acre of it, which
>> wasn't
>> too hard. But Bill writes repeatedly about asking what the land wants
>> instead of imposing our will on it, and I eventually listened to him.
>>
>> So who are these ignoramuses you keep running into?
>>
>>
>> and, Christopher Nesbitt wrote:
>>
>>> it is just land that is not suitable for agriculture.
>>
>> Boy, if there's one lesson I could get across, that would be it.
>>
>> Toby
>> http://patternliteracy.com
>>
>>
>> Rain Tenaqiya wrote:
>>> I grew up with an intense hunger for my own plot of land, and was
>>> desperate by the time I had the resources to buy some.  I really
>>> identify with the lust for land of the US "pioneers" and landless
>>> peasants.  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.
>>>
>>> On the other hand, it is less likely that permaculturists would
>>> create dustbowls, because our practices are diametrically opposed
>>> to such outcomes.  We don't like tilling, bare soil, and
>>> overirrigation or unsustainable water use, and we like mulching,
>>> perennials, appropriate earthworks, etc.
>>>
>>> Rain
>>>
>>>
>>>
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_____________________________
Christopher Nesbitt

Maya Mountain Research Farm
San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
BELIZE,
Central America

www.mmrfbz.org






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