Monday, March 18, 2019

A permaculture gathering

There is a young organization here in Wisconsin that is promoting perennial agriculture. Since I am trying to informally use a permaculture approach to our land, I decided to go see what others in the area are doing. The Savannah Institute hosted a gathering for permaculture approaches to food production couple months ago, so I signed up. ( I'm just now posting this!)

My first impression was, there are a lot of people here! Sometimes, when we chose an interest or specific path in life, it might seem eclectic or lonely, but the internet has enabled a lot of people to connect with their tribe(s). We are of course a tribal species. And let's face it, alternatives to conventional agriculture have been ascendant lately, so I thought the showing was good.

Second impression, since I knew no one there, was that there was a kind of "look" to the assemblage. Kind of farmer hipster look? Not suburban, but not full on bibs or clodhoppers? Or maybe I'm just out of touch on fashion for younger generations who also happen to be drawn to the land. Dunno.

I saw mostly young folks, but a few grey hairs sprinkled though the group. The oldsters were  pioneers, early adopters of sustainable food production methods. Good on them. The younger folks seemed to be very networked, and of course, full of enthusiasm, but short on resources to see their plans come to fruition very quickly.

Presentations covered orchard and fruit production, progress of hazelnuts as a new midwest crop, business plans for starting farmers, marketing, research reports, collective efforts, and so on.

Other thoughts on reflecting on the two days: There was a lot of enthusiasm there, both in the younger set, but also in the older folks, who were happy to see others taking up the quest. Farming is hard work, and trying to step away from conventional food production is even harder, but it felt like many there were "mission driven", to borrow a phrase.

The system as it works right now does not make it easy to acquire access to land, either conventional or alternative ways of growing food and stewarding the land. So these young folks have a tough row to hoe, so to speak. I wish them well, as they are the future.


  1. Hi, Steve!

    This was such encouraging reading. I would love to go to such a gathering as that. Good on you for making the effort! I have tried for a long time to incorporate at least a bit of permaculture principles. My oldest son and I share food production duties. In a sort of backwards way he is the more traditional "farmer" while I lean towards things like permaculture. It is interesting watching whose methods prevail, which so far is somewhat inconclusive. A lot of his improvements are geared towards efficiency and timesaving (a lot of which is aimed at helping me garden well into old age - I am 62), which I appreciate, though I suspect that permaculture will get one to that point in the end.


  2. I'm 62 also, and that is one more reason permaculture makes sense for me. Once I get the perennials established, the effort each year is less for harvest and management. Not sure yet how we'll transition the gardens to easier arrangements for older bodies.