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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Beauty and strength in diversity

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Maya Angelou
Despite what some may tell you, human diversity is a strength, just as having three toppings on a pizza provides a greater range of nutrients. But I'm about income here ("Obtain a yield"), i.e., clean earth, clean air, clean water, relatively clean fire, good clean local food, low-impact shelter.

It's worthwhile to widen the variety of vegetables, cover crops, shrubs, trees and livestock to be found on the premises where you do your food scene, as monocultures, such as only doing tomatoes, results faster depletion of specific nutrients and trace elements, which may lead to dependence on bought-in fertilizers and supplements, possibly damaging your soil and your watershed and affecting your health and that of your neighbors (including beneficial wild species in your biome).

 Apple juice tastes better when you use range of varieties in the press, perhaps including crabapples, but what about throwing in a pear, a pawpaw, two or three persimmons, a handful of goumis and some grapes and blackberries if they are on hand? You're on your way to creating a health food made up of what's happening around you, in much the same way as a bear, passing through the woods and over the streams, assembles a varied diet from huckleberries, salmonberry, thimbleberries, Oregon grapes, mushrooms and salmon.

Try it both ways, offering traditional apple juice to visitors (so as not to throw them for a loop), reserving the more intense stuff as a "medicinal" concoction for your own needs. You may find yourself more resistant to a range of diseases in this way.

A cherry tree can do many things for you, as can a maple tree, but each does it differently, with different end results, and with some overlap. We have both residing on the south side of the house, for shade, and have added butternuts and figs in the same area. And who's to say this is not beautiful landscaping?

And it can be an exercise of right seeing, right action, right livelihood, right awareness to study your surroundings and discover how yet another vegetable, herb, berry bush or tree fits into your surroundings, and its products into your life.

What things like partial shade? Which ones tolerate tree roots? Which "weeds" should I encourage? What do I do to get unsprayed filberts without worms (catch them on a sheet, not letting them touch the ground)? Who is around to trade vegs and seeds or sell me a pair of ducks for the slugs? I don't have enough land (patio, balcony) to do any of this ... do we have allotments, community gardens, vacant lots in the neighborhood for the use of which I can sign up or negotiate? Does the city give away leaves? Should I build a bike trailer to go after them? Is it legal to add a beehive here? If not, can I change that?

In every aspect of life, asking how one thing can do many jobs, or many things can do one job may add resiliency, which may be superior to its opposite, efficiency, in increasingly chaotic circumstances.

Though our place looks nothing like it, we have referred to this chart in planning:

a) House b) garage c) wellhouse d) garden shed e) barn/poultry house f) garden beds g) fruit trees h) chicken moat i) optional goats/sheep j) truck access k) walkway l) shade trees such as mature cherry or walnut. Not shown: plantings of tea, spices, berries, grapes, lavender, etc. m) place for humans to zone out.
With these for higher granularity in the concepts as they have played out:

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Our implementation, annually updated:

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Perhaps you wish to do these things and cannot access land of your own, a rental, or a community garden. In that case, you might try what Aaron Newton did in his neighborhood, and which he reported on in my all time favorite blog post by anyone ever.

Principle 10: Use and value diversity. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket." Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides. http://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/_10/

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