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feed 300 people from 2 acres.

paul wheaton

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20973

This information is rather astounding.

For months a few of us have been discussing whether permaculture is economically viable and then somebody comes along and points out this essay (or maybe it is a response to something?)

Wow. Permaculture is far better than I thought.

"On approximately two acres— half of which was on a terraced 35 degree slope—I produced enough food to feed more than 300 people (with a peak of 450 people at one point), 49 weeks a year in my fully organic CSA on the edge of Silicon Valley"

"The farm produced so much income that I was routinely in the top 15% of organic farms in California (which has over 2000 organic farms) in most years on a fraction of the land that my colleagues were using."

"I'd like to remind everyone that in the 1850's, prior to refrigerated transport, New York City supplied all its food for a population of over a million from within 7 miles of the borders of the city. (It wasn't worth the cost of horse feed and time to go further than 7 miles to export food into the city). No one would discount a system of community food security for one million people as non-commercial."

"There are two main reasons known for the dramatically increased productivity of a polyculture?\the benefit of mycorhyzzal symbiosis (which is destroyed in chemical agriculture) and less solar saturation. Solar saturation is the point at which a plants' photosynthetic machinery is overwhelmed by excess sunlight and shut down. In practice, this means that most of our crop plants stop growing at about 10am and don't start again until about 4 in the afternoon. Various members of a polyculture shade each other, preventing solar saturation, so plants metabolize all day. Polyculture as we pursue in permaculture uses close to 100% of the sunlight falling on its mixed crops. Monoculture rarely can use more than 30% of the total sunlight received before saturation. How long could you run any business without external support at 30% efficiency?"

permaculture Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 - 4-DVD set
Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8898
Hey Paul,

I think this stuff is very very cool, but here's my problem...

It seems insurmountable to me. I haven't a clue where I'd start. It would be great if there were some beginner's instructions so that we could have some early successes, feel less daunted, and so on.


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
paul wheaton

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20973

I think the book gaia's garden is an excellent place to start.

I think the real value here is the knowledge. I have heard several people emphatically state that we must use petroleum fertilizers to grow food or 3/4 of the earth population will die. And this is a part of the body of evidence that proves that idea to be false.

Sameer Jamal
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 16, 2001
Posts: 1870
This reminds me Masanobu Fukuoka's one straw revolution.
Has anybody tried organic farming small/large scale, I was very keen on organic farming however I was a complete failure, most of the things were on paper I could not materialzed that, has anybody tried some kind of farming and was successfull ?
paul wheaton

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20973

Sadly, Fukuoka died a few months ago.

The good news is that "one straw" is being republished.

Organic is being done on a massive scale already - although it is mostly being done by the industrial ag folks.

I agree. Here's the link:
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