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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Experiment in Backyard Sustainability

Experiment in Backyard Sustainability

Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 508
This is a great video. I take a bit of issue with Scott McGuire's characterization of permaculture as something that can only be done by property "owners" and his notion that it doesn't embrace annuals at all.... But otherwise, very inspiring:

http://www.youtube.co...­
Merry & Burl H.
BeMerry
Portland, ME
Post #: 79
Hasn't McGuire heard of seed-saving and seed-sharing as time honored parts of sustainable agriculture? Ah well...the best of us have our blindspots and prejudices.

Merry
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 220
This reminds me of the spin farmers plowing up their yards. He will rue the day he planted the amaranth. His planting will create pernicious weeds in all his beds. The seeds can stay dormant in the soil for 30 years. All you have to do is garden and it will show up eventually. They are certainly edible. Lamb's quarters and amaranth are both considered "pigweed". Everybody has seen it and sworn at it I think. Just eat it. Puslane is an edible weed too. Not bad at all. It also is likely to just show up and be pernicious.


I think there are limits to the amount of amaranth or lamb's quarters you should eat. I cannot take in a lot of oxalic acid or I get painful gout symptoms. Things like spinach, amaranth, black pepper, the sorrels, berries and many other very normal foods contain oxalic acid. It can cause kidney stones, inhibit calcium uptake, or be a problem for gout or rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Taking in calcium with oxalic acid causes them to combine neutralizing the effect of the acid but also making the calcium unavailable.

I find that eating sour cherries helps with the gout symptoms once they have started. They apparently dissolve the sharp crystals that accumulate in your joints stabbing you from the inside.

Once again, where are the fruits, berries, perennials and other edible weeds? You have to be an actual farmer to do this. Not only is he growing a lot but processing it as well. Whew! Trust fund baby? I don't think I saw anything revolutionary in that video. A bit long too.

David
A former member
Post #: 178
Someone may have mentioned this film a while back, at any rate I did watch it and quit watching when I realized I'd seen it before. So, maybe that's the reason I feel that the film was not very informative... For one thing, his ideas to just let the pests run wild because that is the way of nature is not necessarily natural. It is not at all unnatural to figure out strategies to outwit others that are looking at the same food source that you want for yourself and your family. In particular he mentioned cucumber beetles and said he made no attempt to get rid of them suggesting that each pest will bring its own predator if left alone. Well, good luck at that! What works on a large scale does not necessarily work in small confined areas where there may be a great deal of competition.

It was reading Alder's post about the problem that he's having with porcupine that brought this film to mind again. If I was having the problem that he is having and found that my garden and fruit trees were being destroyed and nothing worked to stop it, I'd get rid of them. If they can't be trapped and moved, I'd shoot them.
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 513
Yes, good points, all. I think the most compelling part of the video is the fact that it may inspire others to make better use of their yards for edibles, whether they own the space or not. I prefer the "path to freedom" people (google it if you haven't seen it before...) for inspiration on food production on small urban spaces, pasadena climate nothwithstanding.

Mary, your comment about his letting pests run wild reminds me of the article 1491 - it is long but very interesting. It came out a few years ago and he has since expanded it into a book. It really pushes us to reconsider the pastoral notion of native peoples of this hemisphere as "not impacting wild nature." They, in fact, interacted and shaped "it" significantly. Well, that's a huge simplification of his argument but even after years of studying environmental history, it caused me to really dig into my thoughts about humans as part of an ecosystem ... I'll post the article under files and if anyone has the time to read it all, perhaps start a separate thread. It was required reading for the recent permaculture course.
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 227
I'm glad someone said it before me. Varmints. I relocate them if I can but often that is not possible.

I also thought his ideas about pests were ridiculous. Sure, you can manage your own little ecosystem the way you want but what about your neighbors? He's not living in a bubble.

Ecosystems! They are all artificial. Maine has been cut and regrown so many times. The strongest weediest things grow back. It's not like it was originally at all. Native Americans certainly altered their ecosystems but their impact was minor.

Darwinism is dead. Darwin's evolution existed in a world where there was little or no intervention by man. There is almost nowhere on earth that it is true any more. Evolution proceeds along different lines now. Faster, more radical changes including extinction are what we will see.

David
A former member
Post #: 182
Yes I think David is correct. This is the reason I welcome the energy crunch. I read somewhere that it took the Native Americans 300 hours of work to do what we now do in one hour. The result seems to be that our diseases are now directly related to chemical and air pollution, overweight due to overeating and eating the wrong kinds of food, and lack of exercise, not to mention the mental disease related to an unnatural lifestyle. We have gone crazy and if we can't stop ourselves, then something must stop us before the world is destroyed.

Well, I could go on and on about that!wink I will say that from my reading, and especially reading Joseph Campbell, the Native American was well aware that we are brothers and sisters to all of nature rather than this idea that we are the masters and they are to be our slaves. If we work in harmony with Nature she will be our friend.

It is interesting that most of the food Americans eat has come from animals that live a life of pure hell confined to small overcrowded, filthy pens and never see the light of day, and yet thousands of dollars and man hours will be spent to free one stray wild creature that has been injured or lost its way.

Years ago when I lived in Minnesota my neighbor Thelma had a small old-fashioned family farm. They had dairy cows and pigs. Each year "the men" (her husband, son, and the hired man who lived with the family) would make a pet out of one of the pigs. That little pig was treated like a little dog, getting to come with on the tractor and so on. But in the fall, that little piggy had to go to market along with the rest of them. That is the facts of life that one learns on the farm when one lives with their own food supply. We have lost sight of that connection. Out of sight, out of mind.

In my world it is not evil to kill a porcupine if it repeatedly destroys your garden if it is done with the right respect for the intruder. You say I am sorry to do this but I have no choice but to put my well-being before yours. I suppose it would be a good idea to then work to be sure that wild places are kept from development to keep places free for wild animals. And I REALLY liked the post by the person that buried the porky in the potato patch!
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 516
Ecosystems! They are all artificial. Maine has been cut and regrown so many times. The strongest weediest things grow back. It's not like it was originally at all. Native Americans certainly altered their ecosystems but their impact was minor.

Well, yes, that's my point. The notion of "ecosystem" as something that is separate from humans is just a mental construct! Ecosystems are not artificial, but nor are they genuine. They just are. Sometimes they have certain attributes we value and sometimes they're crap. But we are intimately involved with them no matter what. For example, a backyard can be a dead-zone monocropped toxic lawn [poor, in my opinion] ecosystem, or it can be an edible, diverse, food-bearing bird/pollinator/animal/people oasis. A forest can be a thrice-cut-over woodland now planted to one or two species in straight lines or it can be.... Anyway, they're all ecosystems and we play a role.

The act of simply being a creature on this planet means you have an impact in order to live. There's no such thing as "impact-free" living. (But we of course need to be a hell of a lot smarter about the impacts we choose to incur). Read the 1491 article. Some tribes had a huge impact (note that "impact" does not equal "destruction" or "irreversible poisoning). It just reminds us that humans are a part of it, not separate from it or meant to dominate over it, etc etc.
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 230
A famous point of view:

The earth was created by the assistance of the sun, and it should be left as it was.... The Country was made without lines of demarcation and it is no mans business to divide it.... I see the white all over the country gaining wealth and see their desire to give us lands which are worthless. The earth and myself are of one mind. The measure of land and the measure of our bodies are the same. Say it to us if you can say it, that you were sent by Creative Power to talk to us. Perhaps you think the creator sent you here to destroy us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the creator I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me. Do not misunderstand me, but understand me fully with reference to my affection to the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I chose. The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilage to live on yours.

Heinmot Tooyalaket "Chief Joseph" Nez Perce
Ted M.
TedMarkow
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 93
Some tribes had a huge impact (note that "impact" does not equal "destruction" or "irreversible poisoning). It just reminds us that humans are a part of it, not separate from it or meant to dominate over it, etc etc.

Fascinating thread!

I think this is a key point, Lisa. Impact is unavoidable. The second we're born we impact our environment. Everyone impacts everything everywhere...and all at the same time! (ok, a little metaphysical here).

Your point about dominance is also key. That is one of the major differences between our "younger" culture as compared to aboriginal "older" cultures that were successful (note: some were not successful - but they were dominators). All peoples have needed to hunt/gather/grow/forage in order to eat. The cultures that systematically killed off their competitors in order to secure more food are the ones that ultimately failed. History has shown this time and again.

This is what makes so much sense about permaculture - it is about symbiosis, not deathly competition.
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