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Reading about permaculture, thought I would share

I've decided to spend more time studying permaculture for my future move into a natural sustainable lifestyle. I think it's so great I couldn't resist sharing.
Excerpt from: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/images/uploads/Forests_in_Per...

Why did we neglect plants that produce all our food needs--
the trees--in favor of clearing? Why did we ever start wheat in
these quantities when we had forests that would out produce
any wheat crop at those equivalencies--food as good, if not better,
than wheat?

I’ll tell you why. There have been two great factors responsible
for the assault on the trees. One great loss of forest has
been for war, particularly in the era of wooden vessels, which
believe me, didn’t end at least until the Second World War, during
which vast numbers of wooden vessels were rammed and
sunk. Moreover, we had a wooden airplane precursor, the
Mosquito bomber. Most of the highly selected forests of Europe
went out as armadas before the Industrial Revolution. It
was in the early part of the Industrial Revolution that we cut
trees for charcoal. That caused great loss of forest everywhere
the Industrial Revolution reached. The tree, whatever its
yield, was ignored for the fact that it produced charcoal. It was
only when the supply of trees caved in that people started making
a transfer to coal. Eventually, of course, petrol came. Petrol
came along because of the urgent need to find fuel to continue
the Industrial Revolution.

The people who came to this country came from a society already
well into the Iron Age. If you want to look at the frontier of
the Iron Age today, just look at where forests remain in the
Third World. There they are--charcoal burners smelting iron.
When they started mining, they used huge amounts of wood
for smelting operations, and enormous amounts underground.
Who is shipping the wood out? Who is using it? Wood from
the people who have forests is being shipped to people who
used to have them.

The old Irish are always lamenting the death of the trees.
The little black Irish were the forest people. Their oaks went to
the British. The big ginger Irish were up on the hill slopes. They
were meat eaters, closer to the ice, and less in the forests--big
knees, big eyebrows, bit fat fingers, ginger hair, and they eat
meat. They have short intestinal tracts, and can’t deal with
much vegetation.

The trouble is, once you’ve done the damage, you grow up in
this naked landscape, and you think you belong in the fields.
Once the damage is done, we grow accustomed to the damage.
Our children are now growing up accustomed to extreme
damage. That is the normality, to perpetuate the damage.
We are in a third period of waste today, the paper period.
Every hippie you know is going to start a newsletter. Once, every
hippie wanted to build a boat, sail across the sea, get some
cattle and settle down. Now he wants to print a newspaper.
The Dark Ages were ages of forest culture. The information
that remains about those times suggests that the trees were
highly valued, highly selected, had high yields. You paid for the
use of land based on the richness of the tree crop. From the
forest, they derived all their bread, all their butter. The butter
was made out of beechnuts--highly selected beechnuts. There
are still casks and casks of beechnut butter in Europe, buried
in the peat, still in good condition. All the bread and cakes in
Tuscany and Sardinia and a few other places are still made
from chestnuts. Corsican muffins are made of chestnuts, not
wheat flour. All the bread was made from the trees, and all the
butter was made from the trees. There are your basics.

In your American southwest, the pinion pine nut is a staple
Indian food. In one day a family of six can gather thirty bushels
of pine nuts, and that’s a year’s supply. In South America, six
trees support a family of Indians. Those great supports
are a source of staple food. One white oak, in its year, will
provide staple food for about six families. A good old American
chestnut--how many pounds did we get off one of those trees?
At least four or five hundred pounds. There’s a couple of families’
food for a year, with no hacking and digging and sowing
and reaping and threshing. Just dash out in autumn, gather
the nuts and stack them away. There are still hoards of acorns
in America in the ground. Occasionally people find them. These
are hoards put down in old times and never used, never needed.
Maybe somebody put five pounds of sweet acorns down in
a bog, and when we dry the bog and start to plow, boom!
Acorns sprout up everywhere! They still germinate.

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here are some numbers

potato - 30,000 to 40,000 lbs/acre
corn - 2,500 to 10,000 lbs/acre
wheat - 1,800 to 3,000 lbs/acre
rice - average 3,500 lbs/acre

acorns - up to 2,000 lbs/acre
chestnuts - 1,200 to 2,200 lbs/acre

So what do you think you should be growing if you are interested in self-sufficiency? The potato wins hands down. Learn all you can about the mighty spud.

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson

Our very own DP member

called himself "Permaculture" was a treasure trove of information about permaculture! I tried to search out his profile page here but I am running out of time and have to go. If you can find him through the DP search his posts were nothing but fantastic links and explanations about how it works. I do not know what happened to him but the last time I talked with him he was going around the world helping set up communities with permaculture farms. He is an expert and it is worth finding his posts for sure. There is a "Permaculture Republican" but this is not the same user I speak of. Good luck!

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

Was his username

Was his username "Permaculture" or "Permaculture Republican"? I remember seeing member "Permaculture" in many discussions, but maybe it was "Permaculture Re..." (with his username cutoff). In any case, I found DP member Permaculture Republican if that is who you were referring to. Been a member for 4+ years.


It was just "permaculture"

I'm pretty sure, But I may be wrong. We emailed a bit back and forth but it was so long ago I don't remember his real name. I will go look again today to see if the one you speak of is him. The posts will tell. Thank you!

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

BMWJIM's picture

I don't know much about permaculture but

when I have soil in my hands it does an amazing thing to me. I see clearly what and how things should be. I smell the goodness of this earth that no one can remove. I see a light which cannot be extinguished. I am most at home when I nurture a plant and watch it grow into one of gods gifts to mankind.

I witness this love that gives to all. I thank you for this post. The gift of life is most important to me. It is all that we put into it that matters. To share a vegetable or a flower can never be sweeter than to do it with love. Knowledge is no different and you have done just that.

Thank you,


1976-1982 USMC, Having my hands in the soil keeps me from soiling my hands on useless politicians.

nice idea, BUT

I like the permaculture philosophy and I have read most of the permaculture books out there. However, the truth is that permaculture is not going to feed you. With the possible exception of the tribes in California, no natives people considered the acorn as a staple. Rather, the staple was corn. In South America, it was the potato. In Europe, it was wheat and barley. You just can't get a high enough yield from trees in term of calories/acre to feed a large population.

Also, have you ever tried to produce acorn flour from acorns? I have, and it is a pain in the ass. You have to leach the acorn meal many times to get the tannins out. BTW, if you are interested in low tannin acorns, check out these guys:

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson

I think the idea of the food

I think the idea of the food forest is really cool. Gaia's Garden and Vegetable Gardner's Guide to Permaculture are good books on the subject. You should also check out www.permies.com

ConstitutionHugger's picture

I just ordered Gaia's Garden (through the Amazon link here)

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

great book

That's probably the best intro to permaculture. Also check out "Paradise Lot."

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson