[permaculture] A small-scale farm report. Was: Large scale farming - sustainable? Profitable?

Tripp Tibbetts slowfoodguy at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 20 20:47:54 EST 2009

I'm not going to try to answer the question since I've never come close to providing for my needs in a truly sustainable way.  Yet.  But I'd like to throw down a parameter on the discussion.
A little net surfing turned up that there are roughly 5 - 5.5 acres of land on the planet per person, and only about an acre of that is arable.  Seems a bit tight to me, but let's roll with it.  So the social justice factor in this question is, can we do it on the land we're allotted, per capita, as a global population?  Let's throw in the Geoff Lawtons and Darren Dohertys (among many others), and the internet, and say that we could reclaim that much land again in a couple seasons.  So two acres per person.  That brings us to Pilarski's ideal.  Per person.
That's quite a lot of food really, in a permaculture setting, but what about building materials and firewood?  And what do we use to capture and contain drinking water?  Not all sites will be endowed with quality building materials - no trees, sandy soil - so trade would automatically ensue.  A monetary system perhaps.  Bankers evolve.  And of course it's a slippery slope from there!
So personally I think we really have to utilize existing tools and technology in an abrupt establishment period to have a chance of keeping 6.8 billion people alive.  Even a chance.  And we'd have to change our minds about almost everything we consider necessary pretty quickly too.  I think it'd be very interesting to see how high a standard of living one could achieve sustainably from two acres of land, and no more.
Of course, I'm sure you've thought of all this baseline stuff already, and are shopping for details from individuals.  Personally, I'd establish as many fruits, nuts, mushrooms, a laying flock....you know, a permaculture system!  That's why we're here, right?  To save the world?  
Serviceberries apparently made a fine currency once upon a time.  I got some of those;)
Happy Solstice, everyone.

The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
-Chinese proverb

--- On Mon, 12/21/09, Lee Flier <leeflier at comcast.net> wrote:

From: Lee Flier <leeflier at comcast.net>
Subject: Re: [permaculture] A small-scale farm report. Was: Large scale farming - sustainable? Profitable?
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Monday, December 21, 2009, 12:49 AM

Great info Michael!

And yes, I realize there are a zillion variables... which is why I asked 
what *you* (meaning each person on the list) would do (or are doing), 
not what all the variables are!

I'd be very interested to know the specifics of what annuals you 
plant(ed) prior to year 3, and which perennials/trees you planted which 
cause the property to be less labor intensive after year 3.

Also, you say 2 acres given reasonable soil/water could support one or 
two families - I assume this means you have some cash crops that you 
sell, not just for those families to feed themselves.  If so, how many 
people do you think your 2 acres supports including the buyers of the 
cash crops, and where do you sell them?

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