Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Permaculture is one of those mysterious words that many have heard of but not many are sure exactly what it means! It is a word made up from a combination of 2 others PERMAnent agriCULTURE or just CULTURE! It is a system of sustainable production that takes its cues from what is happening naturally and relies on a period of observation before rushing in and changing things irreversibly! For example there are reasons why bog plants grow in boggy areas........so rather than draining the boggy area and putting in great effort to grow something that needs dry ground it would be easier and better environmentally to grow what likes damp ground! And whats more rather than use gallons of water to irrigate bone dry ground it would be better to grow drought resistant plants!
This may seem simplistic but basically its true! Problem is everyone wants to grow the catch crop of the moment.........sustainable agriculture based on permaculture principles of which i have only just touched upon is probably the most environmentally and climate friendly option.
Industrial agriculture is not the fault of the farmer........although he or she often takes the blame in the eyes of the public..........it is the fault of the consumer demanding cheaper and cheaper food....we now pay about 10% of our income or less for our food and we expect better quality and rather than eat what is in season we demand strawberries in January. Therefore farmers have to produce more for less........a very unsustainable position!
I read the other day that in Britain we throw away four and a half million apples per day.......this is waste on a staggering scale! We also throw away 5,000 unopened whole chickens every day......that is approx 5 broiler houses full per day..........and the farmer gets paid 10p per chicken produced for Tesco and the other supermarkets to sell at £2.50/$5......makes you want to weep! I want to give you an idea of what industrial farming is like and how soul destroying it can be. Paul, a friend of Stuart who writes the Permaculture in Brittany blog keeps pigs.......indoors. Pig prices across Europe are at an all time low at the moment with many people going bust . Take a look at the short videos of Stuart driving Pauls tractor to get an idea of what it can be like! If you want cheap food the environment will pay.....and people like Paul will work for decreasing returns.
The chicken situation is an interesting one...........it costs me around £7 - 8 per bird, not including my labour, to raise the 33 meat birds I have here who are now 4 weeks old and about to go outside onto the grass.
to cheer you up after such a heavy post here is a picture of one of my wensleydale cross rasta sheep with her lamb by a suffolk ram


hen said...

I am a passionate Permaculturist and have been for over 15 years.

I've experienced very strong feelings in the Permaculture scene, as I have in other 'activist' attractive ideologies, of which Permaculture is certainly one.

I happen to think that this is the reason Permaculture has been held back in the UK. We have to accept that there are a lot of people in this country, all of which require feeding throughout the year and in this climate that means meat. There is no two ways about it. This is a conclusion I have reached and although I don't like it much, that's tough, because this is my climate and my environment and I should live accordingly.

Middle class 'hippies' shouting about "how crap farmers" are while they sit on their backside around a fire they didn't build, smoking rollie's, taking drugs, going travelling around the world without a care and driving around in stinking diesel transits, singing about how spangly they are, make me mad.

The consumer demands, the middle man profits and the farmer pays.

I wonder how everyone would react if farmers went on strike and only produced food for themselves?

How's that for a rant? *Grumble...shuffle...grumble...*

Val Grainger said...

You made me giggle a bit with your rant coz I couldn't agree more!!!