Permaculture on a Canadian Farm: Must We Be So Pessimistic? (Video)


Image credit: The Healthy Footprint

When I posted on a video tour of my friend Mike Feingold's permaculture allotment, many folks were inspired by his haphazard yet productive approach to urban gardening. But others just felt he looked like the Unabomber. And when Warren posted on the Greening the Desert permaculture project in Jordan, some were fired up, while others dismissed permaculture as just another form of survivalism. So what will folks make of Ian Graham's permaculture farm in Canada? A man who on the one hand is growing food with minimal fossil fuels, and on the other hand seems to believe that we are all doomed. (As an irrelevant but amusing aside, his sheepdog seems to be scared of sheep.)Based in Ontario, Canada, Ian Hamilton is operating a diverse farm that includes veggie gardens, livestock and poultry. He seems to know his stuff when it comes to permaculture principles, and interesting plants you can grow in a temperate climate. I was just disappointed to get to the end of the video and hear him pronounce that it's probably not worthwhile—permaculture and other low-impact lifestyles are unlikely to take off until it's too late.

Whether Hamilton is right or not almost seems beside the point, I've just gotten tired of hearing folks who seem to know what the future is likely to bring. Yes, the challenges we face are immense, and the idea that everyone is going to get back to the land, grow their own food, and reduce their own footprint to a point where we can reverse climate change, or avoid peak oil seems unlikely. But whether it's even desirable is another matter. Sustainability is a team sport, so focusing on the idea that we should each cut our own footprint by any means necessary may be a distraction from the core challenge of societal change.

Permaculture is just one tool we have at our disposal, alongside green design, new urbanism, large-scale renewables, sensible (and palatable) climate legislation, ultra-small modern urban living, and any number of other concepts, ideas and technologies. I don't know if any of these things will get us to where we need to be or not, but I know for certain it becomes less and less likely with each person who declares that it's probably too late already.

Permaculture on a Canadian Farm, Part One

Permaculture on a Canadian Farm, Part Two

Tags: Agriculture | Canada | Local Food | Permaculture

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