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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Obtain a yield

Here is one of twelve collages on The Permaculture Principles and how they might be applied, especially in the maritime Pacific Northwest. Concepts from David Holmgren's Essence of Permaculture.


"Obtain a yield"

This principle is quoted a lot in the context of PDCs, or Permaculture Design Certification courses. In short, pay the teacher something. I'm not against that (I support it), but until more designs actually provide the landowners with a living rather than just expensive landscaping, the twelve Permaculture principles will make slow headway in a world that is running out of time to implement them and thus save itself.

What's the holdup? BAU (Business As Usual). BAU does not like the systems analysis approach on which Permaculture is based, and defunded Systems science during the Reagan years.

In the BAU growth-for-the-1% economy, run by the likes of Monsanto and Walmart through bought officials, land will remain expensive and the majority of those (largely trapped in cities) who most need what Permaculture could theoretically do for them will regard it as impracticable and out of reach.

Those who wish to and can go WWOOFing or join an ecovillage or buy a small acreage and build a CSA should do so and not wait for the post-civilization agrarian revolution (assuming there will be anyone left to do that).

For the rest of us, I propose a smaller model: grow something, however small, and give it away.

[First, the big stuff that would really help with that: politically, consider working to expand Medicare to all and replacing the welfare/crisis industry with Basic Income (in other countries than mine, these may have other names/vehicles). Get the punishment mindset out of social interaction. Justice really does precede low-carbon productivity.]

Next, if your day job is no more than living on the minimum BI provides, and you are able-bodied, go volunteer. I would encourage as many as possible to spend their days urban farming, as my autistic son who is on SSI does -- in his case for a food bank, which would be less necessary under BI.

For the rest of us, who would then use BI as a springboard to some form of entrepreneurship or who already have a day job, all so inclined and able might consider doing our Permaculture on the scale appropriate to our means, be it one potted lemon tree. This might be Craft, alternative energy production, infrastructure maintenance, search and rescue (your favorite activity here), or microfarming.

It is traditional for women in the Vietnamese diaspora (and so probably back home as well) to work at a job or the family business until retirement age. Then they turn to the back yard to assure a supply of fresh vegetables for the family. They grow the things they do well, and trade with friends and neighbors. They are "obtaining a yield" yet do not subject themselves to BAU's punitive regulations on small/organic farming and small business commerce, or to BAU's regressive taxation.

1. Tomatoes, squash, eggplant, apple butter. People may not care for most of your home canning, but they will eat your apple butter.

2. Duck eggs and chicken eggs resting on a foraged bench. 

3. Greens being harvested for fresh consumption, for poultry, and for dehydration for later use by both humans and poultry. 

4. A persistent weed, Japanese knotweed, being collected for food, fodder, mulch, compost, trellising poles, bee hotels, and kindling.


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