[permaculture] On the pain of desiring land

Kevin Topek ktopek at att.net
Wed Dec 2 08:58:46 EST 2009


Dear Christopher,

I apologize for jumping to conclusions and taking offense to your  
observations. The Cedar Creek, TX  you refer to is just west of  
Bastrop. I assume it has Colorado River silt atop a clay and caliche  
base. I remember cotton being farmed there for many of the last few  
decades. You are correct that Pines grow near riparian areas and scrub  
Oaks in the uplands and creek channels. I have also been planting  
Palms in the Austin area caliche and it appears to work. Please drop a  
line the next time you visit the Lone Star State. I am truly humbled.

Happy Trails!
Kevin Topek

On Dec 1, 2009, at 9:51 PM, christopher nesbitt wrote:

> 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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>>>>
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>>
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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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