[permaculture] On the pain of desiring land

Juergen Botz jurgen at botz.org
Tue Dec 8 16:21:40 EST 2009

On 12/01/2009 04:34 PM, 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.

I don't know that anyone is "playing down" the difficulties.  But your
PDC probably doesn't do enough to teach people the differences between
good and poor land and how to evaluate them.

As for coaxing marginal land... I don't think it has to take all that
much work,
money, or energy... only time.  If you don't /expect/ to get much out of it
for the first 10-20 years, you can use accellerated natural succession to
develop a rich food forest on almost any land, no matter how poor the
soil, and it really doesn't take a lot of work or money, just patience and
an appropriate selection of pioneers.

But... this is important... in very poor soils only forests can be
productive, and none of the other "techniques" of permaculture amount
to much.  This is doubly true in the tropics (where I am), where you can
grow rich forests anywhere where there's enough water no matter what
the soil quality and where on the other hand any place stripped of forest
will sooner or later become marginal if you don't let it return to being

The only alternative to agroforestry / food forests I know of for improving
marginal land (but haven't tested yet, although I'm planning to do so on
a small scale) is Voisin pasturing... if the land is poor you may have to
start with very low animal density, but done right it's supposedly faster
at building soil than forest.  (In fact, in the tropics a natural forest
"build soil" at all... all the biomatter is tied up in the living forest
at all


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