[permaculture] Permaculture, Credibility, Relevance: Lessons from Agroecology

Dieter Brand diebrand at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 23 07:44:36 EDT 2009

I holistically agree with most of what you said.  Considering the way human society has developed over the last few centuries, there is very little chance that we can manage without science and technology as we know them today; yet, at the same time, it becomes ever more apparent that technological solutions will run this planet into the ground.  Still, any effort at reconciling analytical science with a holistic view of live seems ever more like the squaring of the circle.  I’m none to keen on permaculture as an “ideology”, nor on any other ideology for that matter.
I think it could help if we could learn to take scientists and their analytical findings with a grain of salt instead of treating science like a modern day religion.  I recently got involved in some rather unfortunate discussions about the necessity of soil tests.  In essence, I was told that it didn’t matter how much I improved my soil by natural means or how well my plants grew, as long as I didn’t get my soil analyzed and then added whatever soil amendment was judged necessary by the agrochemists, all I did was worthless.
What we need is a framework of reference that will allow farmers (and gardeners) to grow by organic or natural means without being intimidated by industry with its paid scientists.
Dieter Brand

--- On Thu, 7/23/09, woody~debris <woodydebris at gmail.com> wrote:

From: woody~debris <woodydebris at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Permaculture, Credibility, Relevance: Lessons from Agroecology
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2009, 10:39 AM

On Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 6:51 PM, rafter sass <rafter at liberationecology.org>

> Permaculturists, the time has come to invade academia!

I work in academia and enjoy that life for its simplicity and intellectual
rigor but wonder...if permaculture is really suited for
institutionalization. Or if you'd want to to be...

Much of academic research relies on dissection- i.e. if we're ever going to
grok it, we need to tear it apart first.  A devitalizing process.  To me,
it's no small irony that the animal used to instruct biology students for so
many years- The Frog - also happens to be the most endangered class of
vertebrates on the planet.

A lot of progress in the biological sciences has suffered from too much
"physics envy", trying to boil down complex life processes into simple
atomic principles.  We've learned a lot in abstract but in the process we've
also lost a lot of our direct connection to nature, to the realities of our
local ecological contexts that make all of our diverse life pursuits
possible, whether that be playing with test tubes in a lab or playing the
bongos around a campfire.

The ideology of permaculture is a pleasant antidote to that sort of thinking
or at least a compliment to it.  I was attracted to permaculture because it
places so much value on intelligent design and information gathering (like
science) but also finds room for ethics and the intuitive processes as well.
Permaculture leaves space for play, playful interactions with some of the
hardcore elemental realities that we all face.  There's hope in that.  That
playful energy makes life beautiful and over time works to evolve complex
traits, interactions and behaviors...without it we'd all be slime molds,
cyanobacteria or other protoplasmic self-cloning ooze creatures.

Perhaps as our culture evolves, permaculture-like sciences will develop.
That's my hope. That's the only hope there is during this time of
ecological crisis.

Not to say that there isn't room for research and the scientific method in
permaculture approaches to creative ecological solutions.  So much

Steve Waldron
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