Large scale permaculture

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I am interested in any work that has been done on how practical and cost effective a large scale commercial growing operation using permaculture principles is or might be.
Does anybody know of:
1) Any publicly available study of the potential of large scale permaculture 2) Any case of a large scale permaculture operation now working or under construction
David
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

Lettuce, tomatos, cucumbers, You can find the latter two in the ABC landline archives.

As mentioned above.
BTW. "large scale" means having significant impact on the Australian marke, rather than large scale as in broad acre,
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Terryc wrote:

Woops, those are hydroponics. Real brain fart there.
Tried the Permaculture sites? Its whole focus is really small scale, although I believe they have organised a few village size sites in various places OS, such as Africa, Cuba, etc.
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look here: http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=permaculture+adelaide&metanot sure where you are but it's as close as google..... Jock

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g'day david,
there is this place here in south aus'
http://foodforest.com.au /
don't know that it fits your scale or not they are growing edible stuff using p/c principals, but it is still marginal land that is being used for less the habitat which it would serve the community better as.
permaculture is more a mind set of ideas to look after the planet better, once commercialism comes into it then profit will over ride.
anyhow the place above was featured on ABC landline last sunday.
permaculture would be all about farming sustainably, that is supporting a well developed habitat as well as being close to those who need what you are growing (food miles), it's not that you can produce something out of very marginal land.
On Mon, 7 Apr 2008 21:56:18 +1000, "David Hare-Scott"
With peace and brightest of blessings,
len & bev
-- "Be Content With What You Have And May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In A World That You May Not Understand."
http://www.lensgarden.com.au /
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I agree about the mindset. But we are embedded in a largely free enterprise society in which you have to be commercially viable to keep going. Mollison's philosophy is such that he would remake much of society, its values and motives not merely how we get our food. Although he does give a nod to "legality, people, culture, trade and commerce" as a component in creating a design. So perhaps he does accept that commerce and making a dollar is not altogether evil. The question is how do you do it in a society whose agriculture is based on permaculture?
I know of small scale operations where on a few acres a family is growing enough to mainly feed themselves and sell some to make a dollar to buy what they cannot grow. This makes that family very happy, they have the ability to live in the way that they see it is proper to live.
However Mollison puts forward the idea that permaculture could/should replace broadacre farming altogether. This leads me to a problem. I cannot see how every family can have a few acres nor the will/ability to farm it. I cannot see how we can get away from at least some specialists who use their skill to get food from the land efficiently on a scale that permits the feeding of the non-farmers who produce other things. In the long run the choice is to do it sustainably or to starve when we have mined out the soil. So what replaces broadacre?
David
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

They need to become organic.
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g'day david,
as humasn we need to get aways from the broadacre export farmer mentality, the cost to habitat destruction is huge, and it also impacts on our weather ie.,. reducing our chances of rain in the droughts that are part of earths cycle. the b/a farmers here decimate vast aeas of habitat on somewaht merginal ground, and after around 7 +- years they simply move on and leave the newly created desert behind there is no requirement as there is with mining to rehabilitate the area as they further encroach.
our farmers need to be in our communities where on small holdings maybe up to 40 acres +- they produce in season staples for those communities and supplied from farmer to consumer no middle man, the farmer then gets to share the common wealth of his community, instead of the way they now do it through a series of middle men who onsell not so fresh food at prices people can barely afford and not representative of what the farmers meager offering was.
like that adelaide hills thing that land should basically be returned to habitat is has always been very marginal land (why do people think the farmers walked away from it after they ahd milked it for waht they could?), anyone living there should alocate enough land use for their own personnal food needs, as any commercial venture sooner or later is driven by the need for more and more turn over.
people can grow enough of the non staples their family needs in a very small space, we had this type of system back in the late 40's and into the 50's+, fresh in season food was affordable for all families, and the food miles was very low so another positive factor, the farmer casme around a couple or so times a week selling fresh produce, or we went to the farm. eggs were right there as fresh as the day from the farm, and fresh unadulterated milk was delivered intoi 1 gallon stainless billy at our front door not sure may have been each second day?? homes should be modest enough and land sufficient enough for families to grow some of their own.
so to me the permaculture sustainable farmer is the one who is moving closer to his consumers, not lauding themselves growing stuff on denuded dry habitat land.
mollison uses those asian communities in asia where the farmer is a neighbour and produces all the staples for that neighbourhood, makes a lot of sense and no good putting it in the too hard basket because if the oil crisis is as bad as what is indicated then our broadacre farmers are going to have huge problems getting their produce to market at an affordable profit making price.
need to think outside the square, the answers will come and the sooner the better.
On Tue, 8 Apr 2008 11:15:17 +1000, "David Hare-Scott"
With peace and brightest of blessings,
len & bev
-- "Be Content With What You Have And May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In A World That You May Not Understand."
http://www.lensgarden.com.au /
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len gardener wrote:

How do you make this system work for Los Angeles or Mexico City or Bombay? If the largest city you've seen is Sydney you don't really understand the problem.
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On Tue, 8 Apr 2008 14:41:57 -0400, "J. Clarke"

problem"??
once you take the liberty to pidgeon hole what is current then you take away any thinking outside the square.
all tall buildings have rooves?
there are balconies?
most cities have large parklands?
melbourne is noted for it's culturaly diversified gardens shared by occupants who live in medium to high rise tennaments.
and back in the 40's and 50's over here what produce the market farmers had left they took into the general market situated in the city proper where all could access it by various public transport, now the markets are so situated it is a hectic drive to even attempt to get there.
and people lived in suburbs and business was in the city.
and in your scenerio or the current scenerio food is going to become very very expensive to buy i the cities, and much can happen to stop the harvest or the harvest being distributed, you may be affluent enough right now? but very many aren't and everyone could be in their shoes at any time.
in the US of A some of the so called fresh food can be in transit for up to 2 weeks from what i have read at various times?
i never said it was going to be easy, but when do we start? when it is way too late maybe?
outside the square and the comfort zone. With peace and brightest of blessings,
len & bev
-- "Be Content With What You Have And May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In A World That You May Not Understand."
http://www.lensgarden.com.au /
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Well "the when it's too late" scenario seemed to be what got the Cubans working on the problem so I wouldn't be surprised if it takes the same thing to get the first world doing the same thing. In Australia, given our problems, I don't think it will be too long before we are faced with the need to "do something" but for the US, I think it will take longer. There are many Americans who still don't believe in climate cahnage but I don't think there would be many Australians who don't believe in it. Till there is a shift in attitude in the majority of the popultion, no change happens as there is no pressure to do so.
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Did that. He sums up some of the problems quite well. Thanks.
Politics

That time will come although I'm not convinced that we are there just yet.
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wrote:

Len I agree with your sentiments that we need to change our way of thinking but it will take more than that.

Very harsh environments for growing, with much effort you could get some boutique crops but not enough to really matter. It would be very inefficient.

Yes but the people need them. Sure strolling through a nice vege garden is relaxing but what of those who want to play sport etc?

Melbourne is quite low density compared to the mega cities. The Aussie 1/4 acre block is very uncommon in many places. We have no experience of what really high density housing is like.

And those market gardens have been swallowed up by housing developments that can hardly be torn down now. The population is 3 times what it was then. The institutions and organisation of 60 years ago will not serve for the next 60.

I support your philosophy that major change in how we deal with the world is essential. And backyard and inner city growing plots would certainly be a step in the right direction. But this will never be more than a minor part of the calories required to feed a big city.
Look at the people who are doing this on a small scale (ie one or a few families). They need acres to do it. Evan if yields could be increased many times (doubtful, especially in Oz) those acres just aren't available in or near big cities, nor are the numbers of skilled people prepared to lovingly tend them.
It is this very problem of the efficiency of scale that made me ask the question in the first place.
David
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> > all tall buildings haverooves?

Please spare me the attitude. I will take it that you feel strongly about this and so get a bit carried away sometimes but I would rather hear from you in a civil way about your passion.
Are you seriously suggesting that the roofs and balconies of large urban buildings are a suitable place to grow food? Have you ever tried to grow anything in that situation? The wind and heat (and added heat island effects) make your water consumption huge and anything tender gets burned.
I see in your quote that the author claims this happened in the Cuban situation. I don't have the book. I don't know what the city buildings of Cuba are like or how they managed this, I will take your word that it happened at least on some scale.
I doubt that roof/balcony gardens in the big cities of my acquaintance (Sydney, Melbourne) are ever going to produce more than a supplement to the diets of the inhabitants and that would be at a great cost of materials. These cities are looking at permanent water restrictions and great increases in the cost of water. Squandering tap water in this way is pointless. Roof water is insignificant in high rise due to the high ratio of people to roof area.

You seem to be assuming there will be a great catastrophe and that drastic measures will be required to survive. My original question was about whether permaculture was a suitable replacement for broadacre farming, I am more interested trying to find ways of not having a catastrophe.

I did read it. Convince me that it translates to other situations.
How would it be applicable to a medium sized low density city like Melbourne?
How would it be applicable to a huge high density city like Tokyo?

You make it sound so easy. I would like to see numbers.

I am no sort of American. The references to Melbourne and the Aussie 1/4 acre block and the poverty of Australian soils was not there to confuse. But let's leave nationality out of it.

It's in that ring area about 1 1/2 hours from the city centre that so much good land is getting turned into housing estates. I agree with you and Len that there is a problem there. I don't see how to fix it though, do you?

This is the third shot you have taken, what's it for?
How did we go from agrarian economies to the present? By huge increases in specialisation and efficiency. Sadly broadacre farming has serious unwanted side effects and demands inputs that are going to be much more expensive or not available in future. I mention efficiency because it must be a factor in any system of sustainable growing that replaces the broadacre farming. In a future of very limited resources where the per capita consumption of resources will have to be reduced in countries like yours and mine how can we countenance inefficiency?
David
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you might be over-focussing on roof growing, here, david :-)
sydney & melbourne have a lot of land space in people's yards. while back yard (and balcony!!) fruit & veg growing seems insignificant, it's not really (particularly when you consider how common it was once and (i dearly hope) will be again. have you seen any of the designs (e.g. clive blazey's) for food gardens in the ordinary smallish yard? it's actually fairly impressive. considering that farming itself (on farms) isn't going away any time soon, i can't see that there'd be too many problems anyway, but certainly cities like sydney & melbourne would be fully capable of most (although not all) householders growing a surprising quantity of fruit & veg _if they wanted to_.
added to that, another of c. blazey's "things" is substituting food plants for ornamentals (food plants being handily ornamental as well, nice that). a tiny yard (such as i had myself in sydney, various locations) with some ornamentals can be refigured to a tiny yard full of food plants. i doubt that such a yard could meet all the householders' needs, but you need to consider how much they _could_ produce. as more people make such changes, we will know more. it's endless really - small town near here has a strip where the street trees are fruit trees (possibly planted by householders, i don't know). people are thinking of new ways to make gardening more vertical, to handle small spaces. etc. i have lived nearby to food-oriented gardens in the burbs of canberra! hence that is why i believe they're more common than we think, and are entirely practical too. anyone could do it.

i think the poster's point is that cuba actually had that catastrophe, but they turned it around. in a crisis, people are galvanised. until such a crisis, well, they're not, & until then tend not to think about the problem, even. this is actually a problem, because things like "loss of agricultural land" or even "climate change" don't really affect anyone in (say) sydney at this time. they cannot conceive what the problem might be. yet, we all know that in an unforseen severe crisis, you could starve the population out within a week (although it actually takes longer than a week to starve to death, of course - say 3 or 4). there's no food storage there beyond 3 or 4 _days_, it would be (relatively) easy (for an Organisation of Baddies) to block the roads so nobody could go in or out. really!
now, i doubt that will ever happen of course, but equally i doubt the populace even realises how vulnerable they potentially are. the cuban situation was apparently national, so therefore a bit more easily solved by the populace as a whole. gardening is entirely empowering, for quite obvious reasons. what a high-density mega-city could or would do i don't know, & i must admit it's really not my problem, so i don't have any intention of devoting more thought to that.

get the developers on the run! <g> seriously, in nsw it is looking like developers' days of doing whatever the hell they like are going to be, of necessity, numbered. not a bad thing, that.

no, because the industrial revolution happened!
"huge increases in specialisation and efficiency" really only occurred in the way that (i assume) you are thinking of, post ww2. hello, herbicides!
Sadly broadacre farming has serious unwanted

it's also not AT ALL efficient in the way (i assume) you are thinking of. for example, backyard veggie gardens are massively more water-efficient than a broadacre veggie farm & more able to supply their own inputs. small farms are more efficient than big ones. sheer magnitude does not equal something being genuinely efficient - it brings a certain economy of scale, but in every other way is less efficient - even growth and plant health is not so good, because it's monocultural, so you don't get the returns per square metre that you would on a small, mixed farm. so yes, the cost of inputs is inefficient as well, and the undesirable outputs impinge seriously on any genuine "efficiency". someone told me recently (no idea how true it is, but it doesn't sound "wrong" to me based on my observations) that with broadacre farming, you only expect to make 6% over your inputs (ie. make $106 dollars for every $100 spent) which doesn't count the eventual cost of damaging outputs. by any measure, that is wildly inefficient & is going to have to change rapidly.
I mention efficiency because it must be a factor in

we can't countenance it now, yet we do :-)
solutions would include: smaller, more mixed farms. farms focussing on growing crops or livestock which work in the conditions that exist, not to continue trying to alter conditions when it can't be done. the populace growing more of its own food (whether that means in one's own yard, or buying locally, as directly as possible). further reducing the import sector (which actually is quite small at the moment in terms of food, thankfully - to not allow this to increase whatsoever, and actively work on reducing it to near-zero). active governmental preservation of agricultural land (including putting their foot down re expanding cities even more). proper support for farmers - rather than bailing them out of disaster after disaster, to aid in remaking the farming sector a bit & utilising knowledge which is there, so that people are getting good outcomes for all, rather than struggling on as is, inefficiently & in some cases disastrously. to educate the public (this isn't going to happen this week - as i said the govt wants you to buy a cabbage, not to grow one. most governments need their heads read on this matter - they are simply _wrong_.) there are lots of things to be done, it's a question of will, not of possibility.
two other things i was told recently by different people, neither of which i have checked, but include as discussion points perhaps - firstly, that john macarthur's obsession with sheep put the mockers on other peoples' ideas for farming more suitable livestock. secondly, that a chicken farmer needs (iirc) 20,000 birds to be considered a primary producer. (20,000!!! i consider 20 birds to be primary production! ;-) clearly, there's a bit of re-thinking that needs to be done. re-thinking is good. kylie
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len gardener wrote:

Demonstrate that you can feed half the population of Australia on 150 square miles of land.
There is no "my scenario". We feed the populations of those cities now. The methods used may offend your sensibilities but they work. You are the one proposing pie in the sky without running the numbers and showing that they can work.
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whatever john?
for the records i haven't proposed anything i have merely help to raise the wareness that as supposedly (some of us maybe?) intelligent human beings we need to grasp the matter now as the changes needed in our cities and suburban planning are going to take some time to implement.
but i guess for now your square and comfort zone are well in place.
On Tue, 8 Apr 2008 22:03:35 -0400, "J. Clarke" snipped With peace and brightest of blessings,
len & bev
-- "Be Content With What You Have And May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In A World That You May Not Understand."
http://www.lensgarden.com.au /
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len gardener wrote:

So you don't have a proposal, you just want to "raise the wareness"? Why not instead work toward finding a solution that will work and then proving that it will work? But no, you'd rather just "raise the wareness" because that doesn't actually require any _effort_ on your part.
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J. Clarke wrote:

Who cares. Megatropoliss are not that great for the planet anyway and there is really no modern reason for them.

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How do we prevent them forming? How do take down the ones that are there?
David
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