Episode-802- Permaculture Misconception vs. Reality

The Forest is the Teacher, Not the End Goal

The Forest is the Teacher, Not the End Goal - Photo Credit to Axel-D via Flickr

I keep quite a few things set up on Google New Alerts.  That is where you run a search for a term on Google News and ask them to send you an email when ever a given word or phrase pops up in the news.  So as you might imagine I do this for terms like “pandemic”, “economic collapse”, “natural disaster” and many others related to the preparedness industry.

I also have terms set up that are more on subjects connected to basic self sufficiency and homesteading.   As you might imagine I include the term “permacuture”.  The other day that alert sent me a link to an article called, “Traditional Farming in the Rain Forest”, it led to an article that was a scathing retort on permaculture calling it basically useless.

The author gets almost every single part wrong.  It wasn’t that we disagree mind you it was that his claims and assertions were simply 100% inaccurate.  Despite this it  has helped me to better understand many of the objections I hear about permaculture.  Today I plan to discuss them and try to answer some of these objections, hopefully with a now better understanding of what the objection is really all about.

Join me today as I discuss…

  • 1 Prime Directive + 3 Ethics = Permaculture
  • Common Objections to Permaculture (none of which are based on reality)
    • The Rain Forest can’t feed as many people per acre as a farm
    • If we don’t do anything and let nature take its course we will starve
    • We need annual crops too not just perennials
    • Permaculture only produces weird things no one eats
    • Permaculture is limited to forest gardening
    • All permaculture amounts to is good organic gardening
    • Permaculture is all about growing food and plants
    • We can’t have productivity with out fertilizer and irrigation
    • We have to till soil to plant modern crop

Resources for Today’s Show…

19 Responses to Episode-802- Permaculture Misconception vs. Reality

  1. Here is a link to a Youtube video about how Cuba recovered using local culture and permaculture after the Soviet Union collapse since they lost a lot of funds and fuel that the Soviets supplied.

  2. Great work as usual. Thanks for the note on the F word. Not an issue for me, but sometimes I listen to the podcast with my kids. I’m loving all the information on permaculture.

    • Modern Survival

      @Cesar, just to be clear that isn’t for this episode but the interview on Paul’s show. LOL

  3. A friend of mine used to spray crops from a plane in the 70’s. He said the farmers used to call him when they had a problem. Now, they have to use chemicals to get the seed to come up out of the ground, then to get it to grow, then to keep the pests away. More and more chemicals. Then he said, “Have you noticed the little creeks and ravines that used to have water flowing thru them are no longer there? Because of all the chemicals it kills the life in the creeks and when life goes…….”

  4. Hi Jack,

    I have a great idea for show number 1000 !! THE GOVERNMENT BUILT ON PERMICULTURE TECHNIQUES AND DESIGN . What would be better than that , and maybe listeners could send in there idea’s as well. I think it would give people something to hope for and dream about that is positive and doable. Thank you for living your life the way you do, and sharing it with us.

  5. Re: Your hillside

    It sounds like you may want to consider blueberries on that hillside. Pine needles are often used to create acid soil – perfect for blueberries. Blueberries also often have a shallow root system, which I believe you said is the case on that hillside. Blueberries will provide forage for you and your wildlife. Rosemary is also a good idea and provides a nice herb; the blueberry would be a nice compliment rather than a monoculture of rosemary 😉

    • Modern Survival

      @Josh, good thoughts but the answer is probably not, not due to personal taste but due to something you just stated very accurately.

      “Pine needles are often used to create acid soil”

      This is true to a degree and exactly why you don’t want an acid loving plant in this place. First pines only acidify soil with freshly dropped needles. Dry needles don’t effect PH a bit. So you have to have pine there permanently to get any real long term effect.

      More complex and more important though is this, pines do “create” more acidic soil, so if you have a place that is bare and where only pines are growing (as regrowth) is your soil likely acidic? The answer is counter intuitive to a degree but the answer is no. Your soil is likely alkaline. Pines don’t grow in acidic soil they create it. Just a dandelion opens soil and therefore will grow mostly on compacted soil. Make sense?

  6. um, while not to take from your point, a “chip butty” is brit for what is basically a hot chip sandwich, and tends to be pronounced “buttie”.
    However, the important parts of what you are saying, are correct.

  7. Just a brief FYI (I’m sending this from my phone), a ‘chip butty’ or ‘chip buddy’ is essentially a french fry sandwich

  8. Pingback: Permaculture – Why Be a Hater? | The Self-Sufficient Gardener

  9. When I first found out about permaculture it seemed the only info I could find on the subject was spirals composting and peeing on your garden. Seems so many say it’s a how to more than what it really is a design system. More a way to than a how to. A way to look at your land think about your land yourself and actions. Than a put spiral here tree there step by step guide. Thats what makes it so great. Good show I think that will clear it up for people.

    You may have a pine problem good solution to solve it. I have a Canadian Thistle problem so far no luck in finding a solution. Since the seeds are going to blow over from the neighbors until mother nature gets growing over there we will be fighting a loosing battle I am afraid. Until then I guess we just keep cutting and burning. Any suggestions in your bag of tricks?

    • Modern Survival

      @Roundabouts, my pine problem was more a wife problem then a plant problem. I had to not just find a specie to fill the niche/function I had to appease the wife so I would be permitted to implement it.

      Why not post a question about the thistle issue on Paul;s forum, in his are he has a lot more experience with this particular problem then I ever want to have.

    • Rent a goat? Some folks will rent their goats to eat weeds. Just chain them in an area until the weeds are eaten, then move them.

  10. Best definition of Permaculture ever, Jack.

  11. Great points you make in this show. One thing I’d like to correct, though, is that on diversified, homestead-style farms – including permaculture farms – you may not need as much hired labor at harvest as you think. This is because diversified farmers will tend to structure their farm enterprises to employ people year round or close to it (mostly their own family, traditionally). So they’ll have the labor necessary on site to handle the harvest. 4 acres of corn is not an overwhelming amount for a family, or a couple hired guys, and the that labor can be kept employed the rest of the year at other tasks due to the diversity of on-farm operations; e.g. livestock, forestry, fiber, homestead activities (fixing the roof), etc. I’ve been breaking this down on my blog, researching the traditional economics of peasant farming. That’s really the model – minus serfdom – that you’re talking about replicating. It’s legit. Here’s where I respond to your episode: http://thesparrk.blogspot.com/2011/12/first-application-of-peasant-economics.html