[permaculture] double digging PLUS machinery? etc.

Udan Farm udanfarm at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 7 15:37:10 EST 2009

A few days ago I was looking at someone's permaculture website, and they were talking about trattoria-I guess it's a fancy word for small tractors. I've seen a few "permaculture" websites talking about what I call BIG machinery (anything over a push lawnmower that cost more than about $500 is BIG to me), then the questions about double digging made me go back to thinking about what IS and is not permaculture...

And I began to wonder-is using machinery on a REGULAR basis good Permaculture? Is growing 6 or 8 thousand pounds of food on a small plot of land PERMAculture? Or is it market gardening with an eco-twist…Not that I'm trying to offend anyone who's doing it...I'm just trying to get clear in my head what Mollison wrote about.

I then was searching on this list, and found a thread about the Paleo diet and permaculture. Paleo-permaculture he called it.

This is pretty much what I keep coming back to, is that if you have a true permaculture site it's not tilled rows of greens to sell, or corn.  In MY thoughts, it's probably lots perennial veggies, some annuals here and there, hopefully lots of nuts if you are lucky enough to live on a place with trees old enough to harvest nuts, or even oak trees for acorns.

But in my imaginary perfect permaculture farm, there is very little corn, no soy, no wheat, maybe some quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat (I am very anti GRASS as food right now) and lots of sweet potatoes (I live in GA) and potatoes in the spring.
So there are starches, but not grasses. Everything should be appropriate to your area-so ok, if you live in Kansas you have more corn and wheat…

But I was still wondering about gardening vs. agriculture…the reality of having tractors and row-crops being not really what I'd call permaculture…wondering if any true premie uses machinery for more than earthworks upon setup of a site...

and I was listening to Mollison's 1983 PDC….and then he gave me my answer....

"Agriculture always was an unnecessary activity. It is not at all necessary to involve one's self in agriculture whatsoever. But it is very necessary to involve yourself in gardening...A garden is something that provides a HOUSEHOLD with it's nutrient. Agriculture is something in which you commercially sell off your product. That leaves the question of area right out of it. If you've got a glass house (greenhouse) in your back yard and you've only got tomatoes in it you're in agriculture because you intend to sell those tomatoes not feed yourself. If you've got a mixed garden in your backyard then your a gardener. And you give away or trade a little bit of product…." ( To get rid of your excesses and get something you don't have.)
"That's not commerce, that's rightful disposal of surplus where someone can use it…" 

Someone asked about wheat. Mollison said, "Wheat and bread and grains generally, and grain legumes are a great problem in the system. They are the central problem… In my house you won't find any stored grains-we threw them all out to the ducks. Because we can grow potatoes. And that's our staple diet. And if we start to eat grains, we need an agriculturalist."
He did then mention that they were just beginning to try non-cultivation method of growing grains. "But if we don't get it, we'll stick to potatoes, and in the garden."
On that note, I threw out a bunch of things like old bulgar, some buggy oats, and something I've had so long I don't remember what it is. Gave em to the chickens. We have 8 bushels of sweet potatoes to get us through til Spring.
Just my two centsIsabel


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