[permaculture] Large scale farming - sustainable? Profitable?

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Mon Dec 21 13:34:55 EST 2009

Tripp Tibbetts wrote:
But my point was that there is ample land for the world's 
population....IF we adopt ecologically sound lifestyles, like permaculture,
utilize existing tools and technology to get us started, and redefine 
what wealth means, moving from a linear economics of scarcity
to a cyclical life of abundance.
It's certainly a tall order, but it's a wonderful paradigm shift, and I 
hope more folks find it soon.

Very well said! Classic. That sums it up. I would add the detain about 
the need for paying attention to local economies, in paprt to reduce the 
energy factor, i.e. walk to work, walk to shopping or at least not 
travel so far and have to spend so much time.
The following is a little off topic but pertinent to the discussion, at 
lease as far as self help and local economies are concerned. After all, 
this thread was about making a living on a permaculture farm (new name 
for market farm).

Here's a new thread I started in Practical Machinist, talk about cross 
pollination between entire forum sites! This idea applies to market 
farmers too, informal trade associations. You might enjoy this:

Emphasis on production in American manufacturing.
New Republic/BB article.
Cory Doctorow
POSTED AT 9:50 PM December 20, 2009
Business • business • maker • management • manufacturing • mba • usa

"America can't make things because managers all learn finance instead of 

In a provocative New Republic article, Noam Scheiber proposes that the 
collapse of American manufacturing is due to a general shift in 
management to people who have MBAs, and to a shift in MBA programs to an 
emphasis on finance instead of production:

Since 1965, the percentage of graduates of highly-ranked business 
schools who go into consulting and financial services has doubled, from 
about one-third to about two-thirds. And while some of these consultants 
and financiers end up in the manufacturing sector, in some respects 
that's the problem. Harvard business professor Rakesh Khurana, with whom 
I discussed these questions at length, observes that most of GM's top 
executives in recent decades hailed from a finance rather than an 
operations background. (Outgoing GM CEO Fritz Henderson and his failed 
predecessor, Rick Wagoner, both worked their way up from the company's 
vaunted Treasurer's office.) But these executives were frequently numb 
to the sorts of innovations that enable high-quality production at low 
cost. As Khurana quips, "That's how you end up with GM rather than Toyota.""

Upper Mismanagement (via Making Light)

* MBAs: Most Bloody Awful, Aussie radio documentary on the problem ...
* The MBA/B.Eng Rosetta Stone - Boing Boing
* People more prone to lie in email? - Boing Boing


Solutions exist for machinists as they do for market farmers. One 
possibility is 1) utilize PM to the max 2) independent machine shop 
owners could form a loose association or informal trade association, 
referring work within their group and promoting them selves 
independently and as a group, that is if there are no significant legal 
loopholes or insurance issues to overcome that would require their 
having non profit corporate status.
The NC Central Piedmont Independent Machineshop Owners Association, for 
example. Repeat, an informal association but with active participation 
by its members.

And this thoughtful response from Arthur Marks (this is going to keep me 
busy for a while!)

Cast Iron
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: mid south USA
Posts: 376

Originally Posted by Arthur.Marks:
LFLondon, I think one other issue is raised with your "solutions" post. 
What, if any, human aspirations can guide a new business paradigm? If it 
is single-heartedly money, I would argue that route is doomed for 
failure. It will always be beat by someone with more too lose. "Active 
participation by its members" is guided by more than profit. That has 
always been my experience with "informal associations".

As with market farmers, same with independent machinists and woodworking 
shops; they are subject to competition from larger business entities, 
imports flooding the market, a waning economy, hopefully no 
innapropriate government regulation and neglect by potential customers 
not willing to spend even to keep local economies alive. Motivation to 
do this would come from a common interest in demonstrating their pride 
in workmanship and their ability to offer a quality product at a 
reasonable price to those willing to spend a little extra to keep money 
in those local economies, consistent with American tradition.

I connected a Japanese woodworking tool vendor in Massachusetts who was 
having considerable difficulty finding a shop to prototype and possibly 
manufacture an invention of his with a job machine shop in Alamance 
County NC. They worked out an R&D and production deal and began making 
devices for my friend to sell through his company. It is a good product 
and sales of it are good. One success among many similar ones that could 
happen. Interstate and intrastate sales through Web marketing and mail 
order is a first class way to sell but it is also extremely important to 
generate local sales, walk in trade to generate local interest in new 
ways to market a product and keep money exchanged between local 
businesses. I think this is a direct and effective
way for self employed folks to generate income and remain in business 
over the long haul, overcoming problems emerging in the national economy.


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