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  • Jeff
    UGH! did it rain everywhere today? at least 6 posts I want to respond to... so instead of doing that I ll just condense in one long one, ha Ask not what do I
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2008
      UGH! did it rain everywhere today?
      at least 6 posts I want to respond to...
      so instead of doing that I'll just condense in one long one, ha

      'Ask not what do I want to grow, but what will grow.'
      from Jamie Nicol

      This is perhaps the most pure statement of natural farming I"ve ever
      heard. It invites us to remember we are a member of nature, not
      outside, it further reflects on the cycles of the natural world. More
      on that later....

      From Kostas..
      I will repeat the quote from Socrates, that pretty much says "the only
      thing I know is that I don't know much" - that certainly applies to me
      and especially when it comes to nature/farming.

      I hate this quote, as it is a gross misrepresentation of what Plato
      was saying through Socrates. He was merely pointing out the ignorance
      of others by saying so. I also hate is because of what the quote
      represents. In the Judeo-Christain tradiation man has dominion over
      nature. This leads people to think that humans are outside of nature
      when they are not. And more importantly for environmentalist is seems
      to suggest that humans cannot improve the state of being better than
      letting 'nature take its course'. That is leave it alone. THere are
      many circumstances that humans can improve the healing of the land.
      Such as providing nutrients and organic matter in the form of mulch in
      depleted soil. Other cases involve mimicking or replacing keystone
      species that have been lost. Even the oft celebrated poet/philosopher
      Wendell Barry (i was not impressed), cites this limitation of humans.
      But evidence of pre-columbus America's assert a different picture all
      together. (see Charles Mann "1491")
      ps. thanks for the large scale scarifying method Kostas!!

      From Dieter
      'I’m not sure I can follow your idea of “disturbances” in nature. It
      does sound a bit theoretical.'

      Hardly theoretical- floods are great natural distrubances, and atleast
      in my part of the world they leave 1/8-3/4" new clay/silt behind.
      Indeed all the early cultures releid heavily on flooding to prepare
      the seed bed.

      In addition macro-sized distrubances are crossings performed by
      grazers at rivers. (think africa wilderbeast now, but formerly bison
      in North America, horses in the steppes...)
      Tree throw (windblown trees up-rooted)

      And finally micro-sized distrubances badger diggings, fox dens, ant
      and termite hills, gopher and other ground squirrel dens

      Again from Dieter
      'Regarding the discussion about annuals versus perennials, I think it
      is partly academic. We will always need annuals for growing our
      staple food. Nobody can say if and when Wes Jackson at the Lands
      Institute will be successful at growing perennial grains. Even if he
      does, what yield will it have? what will it be like? can we use it for
      baking bread etc.?'

      I've been to Wes Jackson's home. I've seen the work they do there.
      They already have sucessfully at growing perennial grains.
      They just don't currently compete with industrial methods.

      Wild Triga (intermediate wheatgrass) stock from the Rodale institute
      can make bread, performed well in taste tests, and has current yields
      of around 3 bu per acre. The Land Institute is working with this stock
      and wheat/wheatgrass hybrids in improving yields and stablizing the
      genetics.

      Maximillian's Sunflower is also in the improvement stage. They
      recently obtained annual sunflower/perrenial hybrids from the USDA
      sunflower research center. Sunflower genetics will be much easier to
      elicidate than the wheat hybrids because they are closer together
      genetically. This will be an oil crop, not for human consumption.

      Illinois Bundleflower a legume is in taste improvement tests. It
      currently has a bitter taste, but they didn't taste bad to me when I
      sampled them. Bundleflower also performs well in feeding trials for
      poultry.

      Wes Jackson's plan is to take around 75-100 years.
      Philosophically, they would really like to establish a core of 5-8
      species in polyculture. However, the wheat and sunflower could
      function adequately in a monoculture in a 3 to 5 year rotation.

      Continuing same paragraph from Dieter
      'Growing orchards or planning edible forests is all very fine, but it
      will never be more than a tiny niche and will never be enough for
      feeding 6 to 12 billions people.'

      I'm not sure this is the case. There hasn't been anyone who's tried to
      feed the masses this way. I can personally think of several 'staple'
      food trees to provide calories for the masses:
      Oaks of the White oak variety, Chesnuts, Hazelnuts, Monkey Puzzle
      tree, Coconuts, avocados, mesquite- of these coconuts are the only
      ones that are not suitable for conversion into protein via animals.

      Indeed, the largest weekness I see in the discussion of natural
      farming is the lack of animals. People can't eat grass, animals can.
      This is especially true of arid and frigid climates.

      SLUGS?! don't chickens and ducks eat those?
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