Re: Permaculture market garden [PC class file under nutrient cycles, cr economic

In a message dated 1/24/97 5:47:14 PM, rhys@macquarie.matra.com.au (Rhys
Howitt) wrote:

>Does anyone have any comments on this approach?

Yes, this works if you have the space.  Depending on climate, soils, the
value of eggs vs vegetables in your profit margins, etc., you can have
several plots and rotate them.  The trick then is to get your companion
planting to work while you plant gardens that will be harvested all about the
same time, despite the fact that they are mixed crops.  More divisions also
allow for more space to veggies, which can be important to people on smaller

It is easy to protect the mulch around trees, on terrace banks, etc., by
overlaying brush and tree top pieces, prunings (from unrelated species) etc.
down so that the chickens whack their legs when they scratch.  They'll
scratch elsewhere.  

In places where I have had mulched isles and intensively planted unmulched
beds, I've noticed errant chickens stick to scratching in the paths and lean
over into the beds to nab the odd insect (or bit of cabbage leaf!).  I shoo
them out anyway.

We are in a wet area, high water table, the flood line being 56 feet (3
feet=approx a meter) above sea level.  We are putting in chinamaps, gradually
because they are laborious and we have no necessity to hasten, to utilize
this space.  The chinampas will include dug canals wide enough and deep
enough to handle the smallest of the row boats that came with the place, and
with smooth bottoms so we can net aquaculture productes.  In the already deep
water where we will not bother to smooth bottoms, we'll harvest crawfish.  We
are also shopping around for a few asian water buffalo to help keep the water
open (they even dive for the deep stems and corms) and serve as draft and
meat animals.  We have a lot of regular pasture too, though about a third of
it will eventually be fenced for chinampas.  We feel that despite the
original labor, this will give us very good returns.  I'm looking to crops
like crawfish, which are high cash value with no requirement to gut them like
fish, and cullinary ginger, well adapted, low maintenance, and high cash
value, to provide the economic engines.  I don't mind a little more labor
intensive crops for personal use, with enlough planted for bad years that we
can sell in good years.  But I'm not going to pick blackberries or gut
catfish for market, thank you.  There's where animals, especially poultry and
ruminants, come in as they harvest and convert surplusses and drops and
convert them to low input, high value products, such as meat and eggs.  I
don't expect to sell dressed chickens either, of course, though I'll sell a
stewing hen live to a friend now and again.  

One trick I learned with poultry is to catch the older hens when they are
broody.  I put a broody hen and a dozen fertile eggs in a crate and took them
to farmers market where parents and school teachers bought them to show the
miracle of hatching (not exactly birth, but close).  These were enormously
popular, got rave reviews, and sold for 5 to 10 times the price of a stewing
hen and a dozen eggs.  
Everyone felt like they made out, which is the essence of good transactions.

Also, lets not for get the basic permaculture principle:  empowerment.  If we
produce seeds or propagate plants of varieties and species that do well in
our area, our experience increases the value of the plant or seeds.  A piece
of paper saying why you like this one, where you grow it, how you grow it and
how you use it can really boost sales.  People like to feel confident that
they will know what to do.  Then we are moving people toward self-reliance,
spreading awareness of permaculture, and also making more money than the same
labor in just growing food.  Again, everyone makes out.

Bill and others stress value added steps for good reason.  However the profit
on grazing animals on good land per unit labor is quite nice if you have the
land.  We are buying calfs now, when feed is scarce in the US and prices are
very low (I can buy four calfs for the price of the Designers manual if I
shop around).  We have lots of grass and space that won't be implemented in
chinampas for a few years at least, even if we get good interns.  By the time
they are market size, beef will be in short supply, being almost two years
after herds were cut.  We can expect the price to be good and we can afford
to play around for a few months to get the right price.  Moreover, we will
offer the animals first to people where Cynthia works (hospital and health
department, she's a midwife) on an arrangment similar to CSA's which will net
a premium for organic beef (they don't care at auction).  

Even on a much smaller scale, animal integration can make the difference
 between a comfortable living and just scraping by.  Just scraping by isn't
permaculture.  Permaculature stands for the good life.

For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now correspondence
permaculture training by email. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O.
Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 USA  YankeePerm@aol.com  

We don't have time to rush.