[permaculture] Large scale farming - sustainable? Profitable?
leeflier at comcast.net
Sun Dec 20 18:40:28 EST 2009
This could be a fun exercise to get all our brains working.
Mollison defines "sustainable" thusly: "A sustainable system is one that
can produce or store as much or more energy over its lifetime as it
takes to create and maintain it."
Of course some people are going to be pedantic and say that such a thing
isn't physically possible, which technically, it isn't. :) But as a
practical matter, the energy from the sun, wind, gravity, etc. is "free"
so far as we are concerned. So it is indeed possible to create
It's also been pointed out that although you may use a lot of energy
establishing a site, it can still become sustainable over its lifetime,
e.g. you use a bulldozer to dig a swale and plant trees in the swale...
by the time the trees mature, the water savings engendered in the swale
make the system sustainable and of course you can harvest the fruits or
other parts of the tree as surplus, use the leaves as mulch, etc.
So my question is: what's your idea of a permaculture site that is both
sustainable in these terms, and profitable (at least enough to make you
a decent living)? How much land would you need, how long would it take
to become sustainable/profitable, etc. and how would you do it? Some
people say that if you can't farm with only hand tools, it can't be
sustainable... others say large scale farms can't possibly be
sustainable while small farms can't possibly be profitable. Where is
that line for you?
I realize this is different for different climates, etc. but maybe we
the question can be answered something like this:
I would own ___ acres in a _______ climate, and I could make it
sustainable in ___ years and profitable in ___ years. I would do this
by planting ___ the first year(s) then moving on to ____. I would use
______ equipment and/or hire _____ manual laborers for ____ years and
then reduce and/or increase to ___ over ___ years.
Etc. You don't have to use exactly that format obviously... but just
looking forward to hearing what everybody's ideas are! And if you don't
think your "ideal" is possible tell us what you would do instead, i.e.
what compromises you would make (remain sustainable and continue to work
another job, sacrifice some sustainability to be able to make more
money, etc.) And obviously if you're already doing this, even better!
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