A Farm for the Future

Back in February, Chris Vernon wrote a post called "BBC Covers Peak Oil: A Farm for the Future". The peak oil documentary is now available on Google.

Below are some comments from Chris' original post. The Oil Drum is listed in the credits!

From Chris's Post:

On Friday the BBC will be broadcasting an excellent peak oil documentary; it focuses on farming. Presenter and co-producer Rebecca Hosking explores the importance of oil in farming and the potential impact of peak oil. The film has a passionate narrative centred on Rebecca’s small family farm in South West England; can she make her farm fit for the future?

The subject mater is top notch. Colin Campbell and Richard Heinberg contribute, permaculture, forest gardens, gardening vs farming, biofuels, biodiversity, industrial farming and no-till farming are all covered. It seems certain that present methods cannot go on feeding Britain as they are highly dependent on fossil-fuel. The film concentrates on the necessity to find a new way to feed the nation.

Above all, the presentation comes from the heart. It is sure to capture the imagination of many people who, not least due to the deepening recession, are primed for new ideas like never before.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this film is that it exists at all. Within the BBC, the Natural History Unit is one of the most conservative. The producers of 'A Farm for the Future' had a tremendous struggle getting this film made. BBC executives were not keen; the big global travellers even called the film "messed up propaganda". However two years after I met with co-producer Tim Green at the inception of the film; it does now exist. The hope is that with the Natural History Unit producing a film with peak oil at its heart, the gates are now open to all the other departments such as News at Ten, Panorama, Horizon etc. to cover peak oil. There is knowledge and understanding of peak oil within the BBC but also nervousness about reporting.

Rebecca and Tim would like to thank the community here at The Oil Drum for providing much of the information needed to make this possible.

Between 1700 and 1900 England's population grew from just over 5 million to over 30 million. This took place way before oil-based agriculture, and long before vast food importation projects were in place, so I'm wondering: What changes in agriculture occurred between 1700 and 1900? Could those same changes we used in a reversion to non-oil agriculture? Just this week, someone in the UK urged reduction of the population to 30 million or so, so where did they get this figure of 30 million? Did they use it because they know that since the UK fed that many before, they could do it again?

I also wonder about the near hysteria over food production. We did it before, why can't we do it again? Is the problem less technological than psychological? It appears that people resist change and may be reluctant, unless forced, to do what people did in the past, pre-technological era, unless forced into it, so it may be that what we have here is cognitive dissonance rather than technological (or, in this case, agricultural) incapacity.

The British Agricultural Revolution and The Industrial Revolution.


Where are we going to expand to next?

"that what we have here is cognitive dissonance rather than technological (or, in this case, agricultural) incapacity."

Ultimately, a bottleneck is a bottleneck. Saying it is one not the other seems to imply that unplugging the blockage is therefore no big deal.

As with the arguments we hear saying 'There's plenty of Sun and Wind, so there's no energy crisis to worry about..' These transformations take time, training and often new tools and attitudes.. and as they said, there's real doubt that we have enough time to do these things as an Eleventh-hour patch-job. Those Hedge-gardens with nut trees and carefully designed combinations and accumulations of plant and animal species also do not arrive overnight.

.. I would say that this film was extremely serious about some well-reasoned cautions, but never really got to 'Near Hysteria'.

Thanks for the enlightening info Dayahka. I remember when my English grandfather was alive. He worked in the garden providing not only his family, but ours as well, until the day he finally didn't get out of bed to fetch the eggs from the hen house. As for:

"We did it before, why can't we do it again? Is the problem less technological than psychological? It appears that people resist change and may be reluctant, unless forced, to do what people did in the past, pre-technological era, unless forced into it, so it may be that what we have here is cognitive dissonance rather than technological (or, in this case, agricultural) incapacity".

I recommend Nate's recent post:

"I Don't Know"


Is the problem less technological than psychological?

Technically, yes. If you accept the contention that an acre can feed ten, then definitely, but it's an over-simplification to say we can technically do it.

Can the US? Yes. There are 1.3 acres of arable land per person. At 10 people per acre, we can feed ourselves and another twelve people. That's 3.7 billion people. At the historically stated rate of 1 person per acre, the US can still feed another 100M besides ourselves.

South Korea, on the other hand, couldn't feed themselves even at 10 people fed per acre because there is a shortage of arable land due to the country being very mountainous and the pop. density being nearly 400/sq. km. This is why a Korean conglomerate wanted to buy half of Madagascar.

Obviously, some trading will need to occur to keep the current population level fed.

Another consideration is time. Do we have time to transition to permaculture? Probably not. It would involve a massive movement of people back to the land either as laborers for Big Ag or as land owners. Let's say I work three acres for my three person family. Let's assume I can grow enough for ten per acre. That still means one in ten must farm to avoid mechanized agriculture. That's 10,000,000 Americans back on the land.

This link says there were just over 2M farms (A farm is any establishment from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were sold or would normally be sold during the year) each averaging 449 acres in size in 2007. Many of those must be corporate. Those privately held are almost certainly run by one farmer for the most part. Figure with the spouse included and the occasional offspring sticking around, we're still way under 10M.

Regardless, running over 400 acres by hand is gong to be impossible no matter how little work it takes, so those farms need lots of farm hands or to be sold off as small holdings.

It would be great to see farmers break up their holdings, get a little nest egg out of it, retrain themselves in the P/NK methodologies and then act as mentors to the new farmers they've sold to.

My inexpert 2c.


In the sphere of deviance we find “political actors and views which journalists and the political mainstream of society reject as unworthy of being heard.” As in the sphere of consensus, neutrality isn’t the watchword here; journalists maintain order by either keeping the deviant out of the news entirely or identifying it within the news frame as unacceptable, radical, or just plain impossible. The press “plays the role of exposing, condemning, or excluding from the public agenda” the deviant view, says Hallin. It “marks out and defends the limits of acceptable political conduct.”

The point must be to frame the Bush regime as a lone nut regime. *phew* They’re gone now. Sleep well. Nighty night. Pleasant dreams of Change, etc."(to give the BBC World MSM propaganda)

Here's how bad it is:

"What we have to do is turn a portion of all the waste of agriculture into charcoal and bury it. Consider grain like wheat or rice; most of the plant mass is in the stems, stalks and roots and we only eat the seeds. So instead of just ploughing in the stalks or turning them into cardboard, make it into charcoal and bury it or sink it in the ocean. We don't need plantations or crops planted for biochar, what we need is a charcoal maker on every farm so the farmer can turn his waste into carbon. Charcoal making might even work instead of landfill for waste paper and plastic.
(24 March 2009)"


There is no such thing as waste on a farm. Lovelock is wrong.
Major blind spot.

Before oil, farmers used draft animals to do their heavy work. They powered their draft animals by growing hay and oats on about 30% of their land.
Today a farmer can grow enough oilseed crops on 15-20% of their land to power their tractors, trucks, home and barn heating, crop drying etc...
Farmers can go back to raising enough livestock by pasturing them in the summer and collecting their manure in the barns in the winter for field fertilizer.
Add in crop rotation with crops that fix nitrogen for fertilizer and what you come up with is sustainable farms.
But these sustainable farms will only be producing "for sale" grain crops on about 1/2 of their total tillable acres. So world grain production may get cut in half when this happens. Farmers will continue to get along just fine for food and financially. But there will be mass starvation in the third world and perhaps in some cities in the first world.

I see no point in pursuing Greenwashed BAU.


Today a farmer can grow enough oilseed crops on 15-20% of their land to power their tractors, trucks, home and barn heating, crop drying etc...

But (assuming you're correct there) then there's also the greater energy requirements of the food supply system such as transporting to processors and stores and from there to homes, and all the associated support industries this entails. By which time perhaps it might be 80% used for oilseed crops?

Michael Shuman was talking today in Portland. In passing, he mentioned livestock grazing in Detroit and this survey from a few years back.

Just in the city of Detroit, shifting twenty percent of food spending would increase annual output by nearly half a billion dollars. More than 4,700 jobs would be created, paying $125 million more in earnings. The city would receive nearly $20 million more in business taxes each year.

The livestock are already grazing. That was present tense. Under the radar he said.

To replace 20% of the food puts nearly 5000 people to work in agriculture. In Detroit. And it seems parts of it are already happening. I have to work through the numbers; is that more or less than one would expect for 20% of the food?

cfm in Gray, ME

"What changes in agriculture occurred between 1700 and 1900?"
This happened.


The basic plough with coulter, ploughshare and mouldboard remained in use for a millennium. Major changes in design did not become common until the Age of Enlightenment, when there was rapid progress in design. Chinese ploughs, with mouldboard, were brought to Holland in the seventeenth century by Dutch sailors. And because Dutchmen were hired by the English to drain the East Anglian fens and Somerset moors at that time, they brought with them their Chinese ploughs. The English called these Chinese ploughs the 'bastard Dutch ploughs' instead of 'Chinese ploughs'. Thus, the Dutch and the English were the first to enjoy the efficient Chinese ploughs for the first time in Europe. The Chinese-style ploughs were spread to Scotland from England, and from Holland to America and France.[12][7]

"What changes in agriculture occurred between 1700 and 1900?"

Don't forget my prior posts on the UK deadheading 3.5 million 'immigrants'/year as O-NPK deadweight tons, mummified Egytian cats by the pitchfork ton, and the lethal grab for naturally superphosphated seabird & bat guano, plus Atacama Desert Nitrates sailed across the blue seas.

The UK had quite a bit of imported O-NPK topsoil enrichment before the industrial development of Haber-Bosch ammonia & urea [natgas-sourced N-products], and the logical mining enlargement of the P & K mines from pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow infrastructure to the subsequent giant draglines, multi-mile conveyor belts, multi-head rock-grinders, huge 3500 ft deep multi-ton lift shafts, and giant beneficiation factories using globally moved megatons of sulfur to make phosphate ores in water-soluble finished products.

Recall prior postings whereby a 40 lb bag of high potency [High NPK ratio] I-NPK may have 5 gals of gasoline equivalent energy embedded into the product when it is finally dispersed to the final topsoil square foot.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? There are No Substitutes to the Elements NPKS to leverage photosynthesis above a Liebig Minimum!

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


This government paper gives a good idea of how and when the UK became less self sufficient in food. By 1870 40% of food was imported. At present the figure is between 40 - 50% imports, with a population of around 65 million, using intensive oil-based agriculture. I have heard the suggestion of 20 million or lower as being sustainable. Depends how much we eat, and what.

I cannot recall a video or film that grabbed me by throat and compelled my total attention the way this one did. There is hope! This video shows the direction in which hope lies.

I've always been a science and math buff, from ham radio in the early 50s, on to relativity and quantum mechanics, and so on and so forth, and even now I find the exploration of the exoplanets quite fascinating. But none of this will save us. Not fusion, certainly not fission, not any of the great technical achievement of the last hundred years.

If there is hope, the hope is in understanding what's going on in the garden, and learning how to bend it (what nature wants to do) toward our benefit. As the guy said someplace in the video -- there's no choice.

This little video is quite revolutionary, subversive of the present world order. We are headed in the entirely wrong direction in almost everything that we are doing. That's what this video is telling us.

I cannot recall a video or film that grabbed me by throat and compelled my total attention the way this one did.

Then "Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way" will be even more exciting as it is the equivalent of Food Forest 101.

What I like about the BBC video is it shows the process of research and discovery at a personal level. That should make it resonate with beginners/neophytes. Perhaps that with the video mentioned above would be a good 1 - 2 punch for getting people motivated to start.


I saw this video a couple of weeks ago.

An excellent video and well worth spending 50 minutes to watch.

Providing food I believe will be the most difficult part of the energy decline slope.
Sod mobility.

It's cute film and gives a warm fuzzy feeling, but it doesn't tackle at lot of hard questions.

Like why in a post peak oil world agriculture will not be given priority. Are to believe that the auto centric life style will continue even as we starve to death? I don't think so.

It also overstates the amount of oil used in agriculture compared to the amount of energy that is produced. On my farm the cost for diesel is a small fraction of other expenses such as rent, seed and fertilizer. And while oil is used to transport fertilizer most of it is not made from oil. Phosphorous and phosphate do not come from oil which is carbon and hydrogen based. Natural gas is currently the source for most nitrogen fertilizer, but some of the nitrogen requirements can be met with crop rotation which the film ignores.

The film ignores what every gardener learns quickly. That is what to do with the abundance that comes with gardening. The film is correct to point out the big yields from gardening, but that is the problem. The yield comes all at once and there is no market or easy way to store it. That is why grain is grown. It is not that we are addicted to grain as the lady states, it is that grain is easy to store when dried. And there is a year around ready market for it. And in any case corn is the grain that is dried artificially by some. The other grains are sun dried. I have not dried my corn with fossil fuel for over 10 years. Modern corn dries down enough that it keeps through the winter, and electric fans can dry it down the rest of the way in warm spring weather.

The film condemns plowing which is correct. Few American farmers use the plow anymore. It is obsolete. I'm surprised that plowing is still done in Britain. Perhaps they do not use genetically modified seed which enables no till grain production. The film overstates the amount of pesticide and herbicide used in modern farming. On my farm I spray corn with glyphosate (Roundup) once when is about knee high. That is it. I do not plant stacked genetic hybrids, but those who have problems with corn borers and root worms do instead of using pesticides.

All in all the film plays fast and loose with a lot information and the critic who said it was messed up propaganda is not far off.

Thank you for this.

Like why in a post peak oil world agriculture will not be given priority. Are to believe that the auto centric life style will continue even as we starve to death? I don't think so.

We are close to a post peak oil world if not there, and agriculture is certainly not being given priority now. So unless there is a very quick reversal, we may well see starvation.

I'm not a farmer, so I'll listen to others on your other points. But if the direction pointed to in the film is not feasible, then it seems to me we are screwed. The energy won't be there. We are going to have to farm without fossil fuels and high energy at some point. How might it be done?

The one thing there will be is plenty of labor available, although untrained. That's the big problem I see. Millions must return to the soil, but they are like me: don't know what kind of tree carrots grow on. There's a huge learning curve ahead, even learning what's already known, never mind learning some of this stuff discussed in the video.

It's good to see comments from a farmer. I estimate the US farmers use on the 340M cultivated acres about 5gallons diesel/year, which would be 120,000 boe/day, 4% of diesel use, <1 % of oil use. Easy to give that a priority not much behind hospitals, police, fire.

Does that sound about right? This is not including transport to and from farms( that a transport issue, also important but if push comes to shove we can use bicycles / trains/ etc.)

Not sure why the focus on "local food" when US and Canadian grain farmers are growing >100 Million tons of grain, and it uses less than 1gallon of diesel to move half a ton 900 miles by rail.
The oil gluttons are not farmers, but the rest of us, one days driving uses more gasoline/diesel than transport of a years food supply.


Glad to see you still plugging for Monsanto, and when you misstate what the film said it reinforces my doubts about your intentions.

Make me feel better: watch it again and report back what she *actually* says about I-NPK and pesticides.

Why are you so concerned with people *not* needing to use I-NPK and fertilizers? Why is that a bad thing? Shouldn't you be thrilled you can grow your food without either?

Re: the grain comments. We are, in fact, addicted to grain. Rather, carbohydrates. It's a major factor of obesity. Why pretend otherwise? She didn't say there should be no grains, but the one gardener did offer that nuts might be a good replacement. I like the idea, myself, but would still want to grow grains just because I like certain foods, such as wheat bread.

Also, can you back up your contention that very few American farmers plow their fields? I have serious doubts about this. Link?



absolutely agree that agriculture would be prioritized as oil supplies decline although judging by current politics I think we would have to see a fairly major crisis (not just the prediction of one) before that happened. Last year in the UK during the price spike there didn't seem to be any move to stop farms going out of business - government were happy to leave it to market forces. Also the prioritization of farms for available FF won't be much of a help if an economically driven societal collapse scenario unfolds as many peakers believe is possible.

Fertilizer was the major cost that drove farmers out of business last year (like yourself, this is the major cost input to arable farms here in the UK). The price of NPK rose dangerously with the price of oil. I guess this is because the N is derived from natural gas which roughly tracks the price of oil (and most think is going to b peak not far behind oil and decline at a much faster rate post peak). Phosphate and potash are both mined in hugely fuel intensive open cast systems largely in north Africa and Canada respectively. Apart from the huge input of FF in mining and processing, from a British point of view (which was the subject of the film in question) these places are far enough away for transport fuel to be an issue. I think the film should have mentioned the phosphate peak but that would only have strengthened its argument for major agricultural change.

Again crop rotation can play a part in nitrogen fixing but obviously vastly reduces grain yields because of the fallow years (soya does not grow in the UK climate so we are left with field beans, alfalfa? or clover. In the UK we already import over 40% of our food and do not have the agricultural acreage per person to throw away production to clover without making things very tight.

It's worth baring in mind that diesel to run machinery is only the obvious use of FF in agriculture. I wonder how much is used in manufacturing that machinery in the first place. I recall reading a story recently about a shortage of tractor tyres in one region of the US with John Deere resorting to supplying tractors to dealers with no tyres. A tractor with no tyres is just a lump of metal. And regarding grain drying, clearly your climate is better suited to grin production than ours as grain drying (wheat, barley, oats etc) is commonplace in the UK. Last 2 years in particular as we had very wet summers that nearly put pay to a large part of the harvest.
The big yields from gardening as far as I am aware are designed to be staggered (particularly in permaculture) throughout the year. One big harvest to market (and subsequent grain storage) is very much part of industrial agriculture and is rarely the case in subsistence/small surplus farming which I believe is what the film was advocating. Even now in my home town there are many small scale gardener-farmers who supply salable quantities of many foodstuffs directly to the local shops many times throughout the year. That system could easily be extended.

Genetically modified crops are not legal to grow in Europe. I think the majority of Europeans would like to keep it that way (often for irrational uneducated reasons but equally because of legitimate concerns regarding food and environmental safety, farmers indebtedness to unscrupulous agri-giants and a complete lack of knowledge of the long-term implications. I think Europe is happy to make the USA our guinea pig on that one. The problem with plowing is that is kills the soil fauna which are essential to maintaining natural soil fertility - no till using herbicides and fungicides may reduce erosion but does not exactly encourage a thriving living soil.

I personally think the 12 miilion part-time growers feeding our 62million population is feasible and desirable (socially speaking) but also think it will require a collapse of the current system before we get round to doing it. That makes at least one season of very hungry Brits.

"I recall reading a story recently about a shortage of tractor tyres in one region of the US with John Deere resorting to supplying tractors to dealers with no tyres."

Last year their was a shortage of large tyres used for heavy machinery, due to the commodity boom in coal, iron ore, etc. You may have noticed no shortage of tyres for automobiles. The reason is that natural rubber accounts for 40% rubber but much more is needed in large tyres, car tyres can use oil based synthetic rubber. Natural rubber supply takes 7 years for new trees to grow, so a shortage( should be over now), just as much food being grown this year as last year.

I think agriculture uses less than 1% of oil use, but just a guess. Potassium and phosphate would not use very much energy to be dug out of ground, for example iron ore costs are <$20/tonne, shipping around the world another $7-10/tonne.
Many mines use electric vehicles. Car and light truck(SUV) drivers are the big users (>55%), lets hope fuel rationing will be introduced long before food rationing.

Hello X,

Your Quote: "..Phosphorous and phosphate do not come from oil."

I don't quite know where to begin to refute this again as you have been a TODer for sometime, and I am assuming that you have read most of my prior postings on this NPK subject.

I will just say that the mined Elements phosphorus[P] & potassium[K] come from massive amounts of applied energy [plus sulfur] and mega-billion$ infrastructure, much in the form of electricity [coal,natgas,nuke,hydro], plus the more direct embedded route of oil for transport movement.

To refute this to my satisfaction: I will happily accept posted photos of truly massive, modern day pick & shovel mining for P & K, predominant movement by wheelbarrow, draft animal, wind-sailing Clippership around the globe, and hand-sprinkling the I-NPK across mega-acres of wheat & corn versus tractor & tool fert-injection.

Your statement;
"I will just say that the mined Elements phosphorus[P] & potassium[K] come from massive amounts of applied energy"

misses the point, K, P (and ammonia), do not come from oil or use massive amounts of energy. NH3 uses moderate amounts of energy( less than tractors) but not oil, and K and P use very low amounts of oil. The oil used for transport of these is what 0.1% 0.02% of oil use? Several hundred million tonnes of iron ore, coal, grain is moved each year by ship, using <3% of oil, how much NPK is moved ??

"Massive amounts of energy" would apply to airline travel(10% oil) cars and light trucks(>55%), not <0.1%. I would call oil use accounting for >2% of all oil use significant, >10% massive, >50% just wasteful. We are not going to run out of NPK but higher prices may reduce excessive use of NH3.

Thanks go to Rebecca and Tim. And for the post here. That was a powerful piece of both hope and information. It was interesting to see some of the permaculture practices I've been reading about. Very much enjoyed it.

While watching it, I could not but help think of the great grasslands that we now call the wheat and corn farms of the midwest. Long grass that was as tall as a man, short grass that flourished in the drier western parts of the prairie, grass that fed bison, elk and antelope and needed no irrigation. Grasslands that had been growing for 10,000 years since the last glacial melt and had built up some of the deepest top soils in the world.

Oil is not the only constraint on future farming. The Ogallala Aquifer is being drained at an unsustainable rate. It gets little recharge from snow water. I've always thought it was a resource also created by glacial melting but wiki tells me that it is millions of years old. Some regions will be dry in 25 years or so.


It seems animal/meat based , which will require a lot more space and not sure is very efficient or sustainable.

The natural cycle defined by "rain+soil+sun -> grass -> bison+elk+antelope" was almost by definition the most efficient use of the land. It required no human input - no external inputs besides the rain and the sun (and the occasional grass fire).

Today we plant corn seed and add ground water, fertilizer, and pesticides to grow a particular grass (corn) to feed to cows and pigs. We've destroyed a natural ecosystem and replaced it with an artificial one that does almost the same thing it did before which is to convert sunlight and soil into mammal meat. I seriously doubt that we are doing it more efficiently than the system that was already in place. What we are doing is using inherited, irreplaceable inputs in the form of fossil fuels, fossil fertilizers, fossil water, and depletion of top soil to force an unsustainable output.

One might almost be forgiven if the thought arises that this is an ecosystem designed by Mary Shelley.

I agree ... that is what moving from Hunter/Gatherer to Agriculture was about.

So what do we do now ??

Wait till the population gets back to Hunter/Gatherer or is there a way to support Sustainable Agriculture with more people ?

No. This isn't about the move from Hunter/Gather to Agriculture.

The move to agriculture was not about the use of fossil fuels, fossil fertilizers, and fossil water. That is a distinctly 20th century phenomena. In some times and places, agriculture was certainly practiced unsustainably - on the other hand, there are many regions that have been cultivated for thousands of years.

Its been estimated that there were between 60 and 100 million head of bison on the prairie. Today's corn industry support US/Canada beef herds of just a little over 110 million heads. Considering how much larger bison are, we might not even be producing as much meat off the land as was here naturally 200 years ago. Of course, we export a large amount of grain to other countries and eat some of it too. But I have to wonder if we wouldn't actually be more productive if we just stopped trying to farm west of 100deg W. We might literally produce more meat by hunting than by agriculture on the high plains. I'm not suggesting that this approach be generalized everywhere.

Intensely managed rotational grazing is something like 2-3 times more efficient that just putting steer on a field and then shoveling grain into them.

It works by mimicking the movement of natural, multi-species herds over a landscape and keeping the pasture species within their maximal growth phase and nutritional quality.

So yes, I'd expect getting rid of vast areas of grains, putting native pasture back, and managing for high productivity would be a highly efficient way to produce food thinking broadly about the many costs involved.

I'm not talking about raising grain for animals ...
but a plant based diet for people.

I get that. It's a commonly known fact that you can feed more people from a bucket of corn if you feed it straight to people and not to cattle. (We won't get into the different types of corn.) But large scale agriculture in the high plains is not sustainable. I don't care if you are feeding 10 people or 1 cow with Colorado corn - that corn is being produced with fossil fuels, fossil fertilizers, and fossil water.

So permaculture in the high plains isn't about reducing meat production. It's about restoring the natural grasslands so that we can eat the meat that feeds on the mixed grasses naturally. You can't garden Wyoming the same way that you garden England or Oregon. It's too dry.

As the film pointed out, if left to nature, the woods would move and fill in the grassy pastures in England. In eastern Montana the situation is just the opposite. Left to its own devices, nature would favor the grasses. And except for a handful of carefully selected and bred grains, people don't eat grass.


Not that I don't have the occasional fantasy about returing the west to the elk and the buffalo, but we are going to have a bit of a problem as the great mix of native grasses that they fed from have largely been eliminated from existence. All most all of the range grasses found in the west today are imported from other parts of the world. That great sea of buffalo grass as high as a man on a horse has not been seen since the 1800's. Over grazing, a drier climate and ag policy resulted in the introduction of alternate grasses more suited to cattle production. How are we going to restore those grass lands given all our other problems?


factor in the lifespan of bison 250 yrs. ago

Good point.

Cattle and Bison have similar natural life-spans. But your real point is how much can you harvest from each supply on an annual basis: ranched cattle herds -v- free range bison.

Answer: I have no idea.



If we are serious then the best choice is buffalo. I don't have links for the data but I have been told by those who have raised them that buffalo (bison to you obviously, but we always called them buffalo) take only a fraction as much input calories to reach full size as a cow does. The meat is naturally very lean. There is absolutely no need to feed them grain. They are virtually indestructable when compared to cattle (and that is saying something as cattle are seriously tough animals).

The downside is that they do not much like fences and if you want to keep them at home you have to have a much greater expenditure on fencing and pens and, to some extent, on slaughter facilities. That beastliness factor has two sides to it. They will also quite willingly squash you as they are not the even tempered creatures that cattle are. Best just give them everything west of the Missouri and send some intrepid folks out to harvest a few occasionally. Ahh the good old days. A painted horse, wind in one's hair, a good bow, the thrill of the chase....


Not to mention buffalo/bison is very tasty. Not gamey like deer or elk.

I know they're 'buffalo.'
But I was using 'bison' out of deference to the English origin of the topic of this thread.:-)

Care to yack about Yaks as a choice?

When I was a kid I wondered why people killed off all those bison, that didn't need any of their care, and put in European cattle that did. And then I wondered why a lot of power and evaporation was wasted by spraying water up in the air from those rotating irrigation things when it could have just been dropped straight down and covered the same area with far less power and evaporation loss. And now I wonder why those big windmills have huge expensive hard to fix transmission-alternators sitting way up in the air on that stick when all they need is a simple fluid pump on the windmill and all the rest of the stuff on the ground where they can get to it, as well as pumped fluid storage as a freebie.
And I have always wondered why people just don't have a few kids so they don't overload nature, and can sit around picking up nature's bounty for almost no work at all, and a lot of fun instead.

I conclude we have some evolving yet to do, and hope we get around to it before we run out of planet for good and all.

[From a 2001 article in High Country News] The Poppers are clearly thrilled these discussions [regarding a buffalo commons] are on the table. As Frank Popper points out, planners are used to dealing with issues of growth, but not with issues of decline. They talk about smart growth, never about smart atrophy, or even smart stability. Which is why the Poppers are excited about their next project, working with the state extension agent in Kansas to help compile data on such variables as natural and human capital - the good stats rather than the grim ones.


The Poppers first suggested a Buffalo Commons in a 1987 paper. Nothing to do with peak oil, but with an analysis of social decline due to other sources in the high plains.

Vertical farms that utilize waste heat from power plants are probably the long term solution since such facilities would dramatically reduce both land and water use.



I just don't see how this will solve our problems? In a post peak world, building a 7 story building is not a very good idea. We have to move to system where farming is less dependent om fossil fuels. Building a 7 story farm is very much dependent on energy. Why not try to be more efficient end eat less meat and dairy products? That will help the world much more than trying to find a hi-tech solution for the problem.

John Michael Greer has a good blog entry about this problem: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/03/galloping-with-blinkers-o... He wonders why we spend billions on hi-tech solutions that will probably never work and almost no money on simple solutions that can contribute enormously in the transition period.

People in government with the mindset of Mr. Chu....that's why.

There would also be huge potential for aquaculture (combined fish farming and hydroponics) with a system such as this and it would be an ideal place for farming insects (meal worms and crickets) for human or animal feed.

There's also a downloadable copy available at the following link A Farm for the Future

I think that its great that the message is working its way on to mainstream media. But for a subject so important, they really played down the threats the problem creates. Talking about the a change in situation at the end of the century is wildly optimistic. We dont have the time that this documentry implies.

The fact that this documentry is about farming is the only reason it was made, if people looked at the changes to the economic framework, i doubt there would be as much optimism, or coverage. After all, the peaking of oil production is fundamentally an economic problem. The gradual change in our lifestyle is long and progressive, outlined very well in this film. However our lifestyle is determined by how the economy operates. Any business cannot survive without profit and growth, whether it is a farm or an international coorporation. The difference being that a subsistance farm would need to grow with each successive generation, while an international coorporation would need to grow with each financial year.

The peaking of oil production is very anti-growth, and creating this mindset in business is virtually impossible. Changing our farming methods is no doubt one of the most important parts of our society we need to address, but it needs to come from a complete redesign of our economy. One that i think cant happen in a globalised world. Localisation of our economy should be the most important subject for people to address. - And people are already doing it. In Britain, the totness pound has become a symbol of the transition towns movement. A currency that provides an incentive for farmers to produce for thier local area, and a framework for businesses to operate.

My fear is that in a time of economic upheaval, natural farming methods wont provide for our vast population if we needed to separate from the global economy. My hope remains either on an international depletion protocol which takes into account all countries, or a transition period of local planning and restructuring lasting 20 years or so.

It seems as though through climate change initiatives and geopolitical posturing, that the governments of the world are creating depletion strategies by holding on to the economic framework, monopolising oil production, and fighting for a control of distribution.

You need to begin to look upon the ground where you are and look at it with different eyes.

Step out your house. Look around you. Do you see asphalt,concrete and more houses all about you? If so you may just die there.

Do you see a vast dessert that has imported water from elsewhere? You will likely perish there.

Do you see nothing but tall buildings stretching all over the skyline? You will not live long here.

But if you see some open ground all about you with interspersed woodlands and note the presence of good rainfall,nearby waters and only one road running somewhere nearby? If so you can persist and live your natural lifespan there.

Its just that simple. Of course you must learn how to live with that precious soil and woodlands but what you need is there. It just needs some knowledge that is gained with experience. You can heat yourself, cook food and set some by. You will need some animals,mules/horses/oxen for draft purposes. Hogs and chickens for the rest of your diet. A good sized barn and a house for shelter. All can be built. You will need to become a part of the community that surrounds you in order to barter and trade off work.

Thats all there is to it. Vast almost deserted areas still exist in the heartlands of America. You will live a healthy life style.

I was alive when this was done. I lived it. I am migrating back to that now.

Yesterday I ate stewed tomatoes with homemade bread. My own canned tomatoes. Cream style corn from my garden. Bacon a friend had cured. Asparagus from my garden I gathered an hour earlier. I did have some purchased milk I must admit.

I can go for days and days without leaving my place.

You can do it too. You can survive while all about you chaos is starting to rain down. You just need good land and initiative. Two youngsters can be a blessing in this. You need hands and strong backs. You need a family. A farm. Some community.

All the rest is fugazi. Fugazi is just the eye candy of trinkets.
Trinkets are worthless. A good anvil is not fugazi.A good laying hen is definitely not fugazi.

We all know what fugazi is. Its most of what you live with that returns no value. Throw it in the ditch as you drive to that piece of land where you will spend the rest of you days.

Airdale-"lay your corn by and then go fishing",as an old timer once told

I very much enjoy reading Gene Logsdon's pieces. Calm in a sea of confusion.

Vast almost deserted areas still exist in the heartlands of America.

I was a little shocked last night. I was cruising landandfarm.com and found many partially wooded parcels of 40 acres or more with streams or ponds for just $1000-2000/acre. Semi-arid desert with no water in Colorado can easily go for that or even higher if it has a view.

I have asked before but will do again ...

Where is there a Sustainable Permaculture unit ?

OR even one that grows its calories ?

Nice in theory and books but in the real world it is not happening .

So why profess it is the answer ??

I don't understand your question.

by 'Sustainable Permaculture Unit', do you mean a Permaculture-based farm or farming business?

In fairness, the Narrator/Filmmaker said she had both hope AND skepticism with their claims.. she also seems to conclude that it might be AN answer, not THE answer. Even as an answer of sorts, it is presented as a complex process that involves knowing and observing what's possible in your own land, which clearly means the mileage and possibilities will vary from place to place, and grower to grower.. but that such a diversity would be a better breeding ground for varied combinations and solutions than the oversimplified and automated system we currently overrely on.

"The word permaculture is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture"

"The term permanent agriculture was coined by Franklin Hiram King in his classic book from 1911, Farmers of Forty Centuries: Or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan. In this context, permanent agriculture is understood as agriculture that can be sustained indefinitely."


Not sure what you mean by " a Permaculture-based farm or farming business ?"

I have looked for a Permaculture Farm/Forest/etc. that raises its food and have not found any.

So how is "Permaculture" an example of a way out of this mess ?

It seems she was walking through two of them that were producing food. I saw berries, squash, greens, nuts..

There is a Permaculture group here in Portland, and the people in it have much better meetings than the Peak Oil meetup, because I hear they bring lots of food. I'm told it is food they are growing.. They have workgroups to set up Hoophouses in each other's yards and other means to get stuff into the soil. Is is 'Permaculture' soil? I wouldn't know.. but remember the guy who only discovered near the end, that he had been, in fact, speaking "Prose" all of his life!

Permaculture is a "toolkit" for living sustainably. Actually, permaculture goes BEYOND "sustainability" as most people currently employ the term. It is regenerative.


Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. It offers positive solutions to the problems facing the world by using ecology as the basis of organizing systems of food production, housing, technology, economics and community.

It seems that 'Permaculture' is a goal, like Organic or Sustainable.. eminently arguable ("I thought this was contradictions") .. because it's an ideal, a process or a direction.. not just a Container that you are In or Out of.

hi jokuhl - yeah, i organize the portland permaculture group and you're right to say that permaculture is often treated as a process, rather than an end. i like to think of it as a "strategy" (among others)or set of flexible principles for rapidly trying to become more resilient, using fewer fossil fuels and basically sourcing as many of my phyisical needs as locally as possible. the "rapidly" part is completely relative depending on time, energy, money to implement some of this stuff. it's not expensive but it just has to make its way into the priority chain, as it were.

we *do* have great meetings, darnit, and share food and good cheer and comradery. not for lack of having a full understanding of how much the oatmeal is likely to hit the fan, mind you, but in SPITE of it. part of that probably has to do with my philosophy of refusing to stop having a good time and enjoying the society of humans, even during energy descent. cuz if we stop having good times then the bastards have already won. i totally own that as my own opinion and i'm not prescriptive about it, it's just my approach, one approach.

oh, for the record, we *try* to bring foods made from things we've grown, preserved, etc. but that's a tough one here in maine for many of us. we're all on the path, however and all are welcome. it's a blast. mmmmm, can't wait for that staghorn sumac lemonade again this year! and even though i live on a small lot and i'm only part way through implementing some of my permaculture plans, i'm getting a TON of food without a ton of work.

I have looked for a Permaculture Farm/Forest/etc. that raises its food and have not found any.

What exactly do you mean? Are you looking for a Permaculture site that raises all of its own food? Or simply one that raises enough food to sell? Could you be a little more specific?

So how is "Permaculture" an example of a way out of this mess ?

It may not be, but it is pretty obvious that what we are doing now is going to fail.

Having been a certified Permaculture designer for the better part of the last decade, I am unsure that applying Permaculture design principles will be a complete solution to our agricultural predicament. Certainly it can solve some types of problems. It does take some considerable time and careful observation to establish. One human lifetime is probably insufficient to witness a temperate or boreal food forest complete its full evolution.

Permaculture may not replace broad field farming, but it can substantially increase the productivity of urban and suburban yards.

Okay ...

A Permaculture site that raises all of its own food

Or is attempting to ... What is the diet ??

Ok, maybe this starts to answer your question.. while you seem to be asking for 'An Answer', 'The Answer'.. and it's not ever going to be as easy as that.


Blue Ridge Permaculture Network


Joel Salatin, third generation alternative farmer, creator of Polyface Farms, and author of many acclaimed books will be giving a community talk on Broad Scale Agriculture: Creating a Local Food System that Works from 7:00 - 9:00 pm on Saturday, March 14 as part of the Blue Ridge Permaculture Institute's Permaculture Design Course: Sustainability Strategies for the Blue Ridge.

While it's been mentioned before, Salatin's farm seems to use many of the approaches that are championed by Permaculture.. while I don't know if he or they 'count' Polyface farms into this category or not. But in 'Omnivore's Dilemma', he calls himself a grass farmer, and the Chickens, Rabbits, Pigs, Cows and Veg crops are essentially 'value-added' processed versions of grass.


Welcome to Polyface, Inc.

Polyface, Inc. is a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

We produce:

Salad Bar Beef
Pigaerator Pork
Pastured Poultry (Eggs, Broilers, Turkeys)
Forage-Based Rabbits
Forestry Products

We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture. Writing, speaking, and farm tours offer various message venues.

A number of examples have been posted on these boards. Have you just not noticed them?

Start with Sepp Holzer, Bill Mollison's Global Gardener and the video I mentioned in a post above - all of which I've posted a number of times.


One problem with the way you are framing your question, even the clarified one, is that it sounds like a Mono-culture or Culture-dish way of looking at things, which is largely what permaculture works to dislodge..

"A Permaculture site that raises all of its own food"

This sounds like the demand I hear sometimes that a Solar PV factory is only justified when it can make ALL its produce from the energy of its own installed Solar Electric equipment. Much of Permaculture, like Alt-energy is functional because of synergies, the benefits of combined and intermingled systems, not trying to boil everything down into Closed Systems, each of which gets stood up before class, and quite alone, has to prove its worth. Some things and some people just don't work well alone, and perhaps shouldn't be asked to.

The largest permaculture operation I know of is New Forest Farm, in Viola, Wisconsin. It is 100 acres that is being planted with mostly chestnuts and hazelnuts.



They try to host tours every year, but none are posted yet.

I believe they work with Badgersette farms based on a conversation with the MN hazelnut grower.


Interesting documentary, though it focuses on mostly cattle farming, admitting that red meat is not very sustainable, at least at anything like the current level of western consumption.

Grains and beans need to be one of the foundations of a revitalized agricultural approach. No-till rolling of cover crops appears to be one answer (can be accomplished with horses/mules/oxen), and some are balancing the nitrogen-fixing of legumes as the basis of fertilizing the grain crop.

Ostrich Farming?

Ostrich have the potential to be as feed efficient or better than Pigs and Poultry. Ostrich produce a red meat, thus providing the consumer with greater choice. Ostrich meat is low in fat and proven to be very acceptable by the consumer.

Another environmental benefit that volume Ostrich production will bring is that in excess of 40% of a productive ostrich grower/fattening ration is dehydrated Alfalfa. Alfalfa, when produced correctly, is a nutrient dense forage that fixes nitrogen in the soil. Alfalfa can therefore play an important role as a rotational crop in the production of cereal crops and helps to reduce chemical inputs into the soil.

Most of the posts on this Post are rather of the 'feel good' nature.

Really you don't care what the rest of the world or even what the rest of the USA does or becomes.

You need to be worried just about yourself and your family and if you have them nearby your kinfolks.

Sitting around waiting for the government of some other entity to somehow come to your rescue is folly.

Only you can take care of you.

Light rails,Kunstler style smallish towns, varying forms of green energy production..not going to make it.

And the time is mostly aready past to really start doing something that is almost totally self-sustaining. Thousands of years without FF energy we lived on this planet. It can be done.

And you can if you go about it right actually benefit nature.

As to the 'farmers' like X? I suspect he is just a Agriculture Businessman. Not a 'true' farmer. They pretty much rape the earth to make a profit.

This is not the way we will survive. Its what brought us here. It won't work anymore.

I think I could get a little traction here with this and my above comments from those who used to be here and active but I think they have all left to do what has to be done and have little time for posting on TOD.

The land and taking care of it. That is what this is all about. Not feeding the huge masses of people in other countries for profit while you destroy the soil and forests and nature. We have done enough of that.

Right now you should be part way thru your gardening. Time to have early vegetables already in the ground. Time to have your seeds sprouting inside in containers so you can transplant them in a couple more weeks.

There is a brief period most every spring here in my area where you have a dry spell before the onset of lots of spring rain. That window of opportunity here does not need to be passed up. Else if you do then it could be May before you can work your garden...far too late.

Its rained here every day since I planted my potatoes and all the rest of early stuff. Rained for 5 days now. The garden won't dry for a week..and then maybe another rain and rain and rain as the back water comes up and low lands are flooded.

Those who waste opportunities to plant when they can are amiss.
They will face insect infestations. They will find too much high temperatures.

This is simply the way it is...for much of this area. The heartland its called. YMMV if you are far away. Good luck then. This is the way it is for me and those here. We live by the seasons and weather.

Airdale-many of my friends are not 'farmers' but they like to be labeled as such...a ploy to be sure...they are simply businessmen who used the planet as their industry. An industry that is and will surely die. Its un-sustainable. Isn't that obvious by now?

"Light rails,Kunstler style smallish towns, varying forms of green energy production..not going to make it. "

From your lips to God's ears, Airdale. Lots of different things will be making it, and some of them will be done because people petitioned their local or their national governments, worked together, made big plans with lots of other people.

I'm a small-scale DIY guy myself. When I'm building my wacky inventions, which usually look awful, but they also tend to work and to last.. I frequently reinvent parts that I could be getting off the shelves at the store, but I'm Maniacally DIY.. I seem to have to prove that I can come up with my own solution for everything, and I'm very stubborn about avoiding asking for help or coordinating a bigger effort to get a more efficient system built at a smarter scale.

As a now-famous friend from College says in his raunchy comedy routines, "A strong man can lift a big chair, TWO strong men can lift a big couch.. and a single Woman can GET two men to lift a big couch, repeatedly." Dave Attell

There's a lot of stuff we need to do, that we can't do alone.

Ahhhh, I must apologize for posting on what I thought was a Campfire essay/key post.

I stepped in the middle of somewhere I promised myself I would not do.

As a doomer in full array I tend to go overboard at times but really try to stick with the thoughts that brought forth the Campfire series.

My mistake.

This area is for discussion of what might be possible and my thinking is that much spoken of is not really possible. Farming sustainably is IMO very and the only way of sustainabily. That is real farming as opposed to city or suburban lots turned into vegetable patches.

Reading Steve Solomon's 'Gardening When It Counts' I agree with his assertions that unless you go full fledged only then will you have 'inputs' to keep your food production viable. The inputs must come from somewhere and that somewhere has to be via cover crops and other means whereby the necessary inputs come from other acreage.

His statement pretty much kills the idea of using a suburban plot and making it sustainable. It just won't work...

But I digress....and shouldn't.

Back to your regular programming then.

Airdale-Sorry Gail and Jokyuhl,,people gotta have hope and whatever gets them thru the night...for me I don't sleep too good what with all the planning and gardening running thru my thoughts. The madness of what is happening.

One last comment.

I posted above before watching the video. It was an hour almost and I had to go to a farm auction.

Now I have finished watching it in its entirety. I find nothing in it that I can disagree with.

What I come away with is this:
Work with nature. Embrace nature. Replenish nature instead of destroying it as our modern farming practices do.

I see no honey bees here anymore. Very very little birds. No geese to speak of. Few ducks. Much loss of wildlife here. Land scalped and trees pushed in huge piles and then burned. A big loss.

The runoffs destroy other life. The chemicals alter the balance of nature.

So the program spoke of sustainability by living and dealing with the natural aspects of nature. This means no big cities and no suburbs.
Many would have to return to the land and there isn't enough for that to happen. Create small enclaves with nature. So no more trucking,grocery stores,convience marts,shopping malls and the list goes on and on.

So it country living for us according to the program. Perhaps smallish communities that can trade and barter..within walking or riding distance or a wagon trip of a few hours.

This was my youth. One a 100 acre farm where most was not tilled except for a corn crop and that was rotated. Plowed with one mule and a walking plow. Corn picked by hand and put in a crib.
Sheep,chickens,hogs, milk cows. Great big garden. No fossil fuels but kerosene(we called coal oil).

Slowly it all changed to what I see now.

We have to go back then. We must go back. We have little choice if this program is true.

Again I found nothing in the program to disagree with. It was very very good.


PS. I have given up mowing a lawn. I am planting it all in berry bushes and fruit trees. I have a 40 X 100 foot garden. It supplies more than I can eat and store. I need to down size it at that. Plant the rest in comfrey or vetch. Already the hairy vetch is springing up all over my place. This summer I intend to save the vetch seed and sow it in large patches.

Please don't apologize, Airdale. Glad to see you back, for whatever reason.

Question: You write:

Reading Steve Solomon's 'Gardening When It Counts' I agree with his assertions that unless you go full fledged only then will you have 'inputs' to keep your food production viable. The inputs must come from somewhere and that somewhere has to be via cover crops and other means whereby the necessary inputs come from other acreage.

Must the inputs only be via cover crops? Can't I "keep food production viable" on a city lot via composted kitchen scraps (including coffee grounds, eggshells, etc) and leaves? We live in WI and have LOTS of tree leaves. Currently, I'm following Mike McGrath (who asserts in his Book of Compost that shredded tree leaves are the best "brown" material for compost and are "filled with trace minerals and nutrients the tree's roots have extracted from deep in the earth") and Ruth Stout who advocated deep mulching for building soil. I'll also soon be keeping some chickens and will compost their manure as well.

I have no illusion that I'll ever be self-sufficent on a city lot, but certainly I think I can produce a large proportion of the fruit and vegetables my husband and I will need. I'm discouraged by "Gardening When It Counts" - unless you have a lot of land, his method won't work. But Stout claims that once you have built up your soil, you can plant veggies a lot closer, and with the heavy mulch, avoid excessive irrigation.

Your thoughts?


Edited to say "irrigation" rather than "irritation" - Freudian slip!

Hi Lilith,

Steve's book is fairly harsh on backyard gardeners.
He also says that good quality compost is not easy.

I too was taken aback by Steve's assertions.

Right now I am off of N,P,K in the normal forms(bagged,etc).
Instead I am using his COF...Brought a 50 lb bag of cottonseed meal,
some bone meal and some ag lime. Couldn't find dolomite lime but what I got seemed to have the trace minerals he indicated for dolomite.

This is my first season to try going without the store brought N,P and K.

Of course using COF is not sustainable. For you have to go somewhere and buy it. Yet it allows me to transition off the hard stuff onto something more useful to the soil and plants. And then I can move on into attempts at full sustainability. Such as hairy vetch and perhaps comfrey.

I am trying to make compost but what does one do in the winter except stockpile it? The temperature and mix is very important. So I am working my way towards my goals yet not completely into the reality of zero inputs from off the farm.

I also am thinking of chickens and a horse. For manure and food purposes and to ride without using gas. Maybe get a small buggy like the Amish for trips to town,etc.

I keep a 5 gal bucket in the kitchen. I have a 55 gal drum almost full. Yet my garden size is going to require quite a bit more. I have allowed my OM(orgainic matter) to become somewhat depleted.

Let us know how you do this growing season.
Compare notes.Etc.


PS. I have great hopes for my vetch. I hope to start alternating it in half my garden and switching each year. It dies off nicely in the middle of summer and mats down very well. Underneath vetch that has been growing some time the earth is very dark and full of life.
This is hairy vetch, not crown vetch. It grows wild all over my place.

Hi Airdale. Have spinach, salad greens & snow peas up. Snowed yesterday, altho we are entering the driest time of the year. May not get anymore precip until the summer monsoons in July. Ditch starts flowing 4-1 tho. Ditch downstream from my headgate is in bad shape. Overgrown with Russian olives like you wouldn't believe. Can't even crawl thru there in many places. Been >10 yrs. since it's been cleared out. Track hoe can't even get thru. Me & my son have been cutting it. It's grueling work but we're harvesting firewood off other landowners' property as we go, so there's some compensation besides just ensuring the water keeps flowing. It's funny how neighbors who in years past could've cared less about the ditch are now all concerned about it. Worried over the economy, I reckon. Not worried enuf to lend a hand clearing it tho, just cheering me & my son on. Have chilis & tomatos started in the hoophouse, but a mouse has been nibbling on some of them. Kind of late to replant them but I started more than we'll need in case of something like this. Asparagus is coming up. Have been spading beds by hand this year - no rototiller. Going to emphasize legumes this year. Have F1 generation beans grown from P1 excavated from an Anasazi ruin that were 800 yrs. old. Should be interesting! Getting 6 pullets, 4 turkeys, 2 ducks & a goose now that bobcat proof (I hope!) poultry house is completed. Should be a good year altho apricot blossoms got frosted. Apples, pears & plums haven't bloomed yet. Good to see you posting again. DD

Everything is blooming here. What can that is with a lot of the timber on the ground. We have rising back waters and now creeks overflowing as well.

A big surge is on the way down the Mississippi.

Have been eating asparagus for the last 3 says.


I'm jealous Airdale, still snow covered mostly,nasty brown snow now, we don't dare do much outside growing till after the full moon in may. Although I am really looking forward to my first batch of fiddleheads.

Wild turkeys and deer are moving so that is a good sign. There's always food up here, if you know where to look. Cold climate keeps the weenies out, the weak ones, the non-survivors. Fine with me.

Just morning and evening fires now, evening fire I crank a bit, my sweetie has a tendency to shed clothing when it's warm, better than watching TV.

Jokuhl, you'd be proud, I managed to score a 16'X 20' old style greenhouse, actual glass panes but the cyprus frame was pretty much shot. A huge pile of glass. Fancy $$ on MDI, and they are putting in a new expanded greenhouse. Mine for the hauling, but tells you something. Big money expanding gardens and greenhouses.


Don in Maine

I did send you an email. Never got it? Maybe went in spam bin?


A Farm for the Future inspired me and stands out from the armageddon brigade. Heartfelt, yes. All the answers, no, but it offers hope and direction.

I gained a degree in Agriculture in 1970 and I wanted to show my gardening father that his soil (which he had used organically for 15 years) could benefit from some ammonium nitrate and other labour saving chemicals. Proudly using my newly acquired soil testing kit I took samples and used the reagents to indicate the level of both organic and free nitrogen. Both tests were off the top scale. His soil was already rich in nutrients and full of life. Sadly it has taken me 40 years to let go of "expert" advice and conventional practice and embrace a more holistic intuitive approach.

At the Findhorn Foundation we have a second conference on this topic from 3-9 October entitled POSITIVE ENERGY 2. (Building Bioregional Resilience) Speakers include Richard Heinberg and Rob Hopkins.

To be __REPEATED__ on BBC2 on Saturday 4 April at 5.30pm

This repeated Natural World documentary is a brilliant blend of problem (Climate Change and especially Peak Oil) and solution (transition to Permaculture). Please watch it (again), and publicise it as widely as possible.

Since this is a repeat it is already on the BBC iPlayer:
(it will probably be on there throughout April).


Many people got in touch with Transition Network to ask how they could get copies of Rebecca Hosking’s seminal ‘A Farm for the Future’ programme. It can be viewed on Video Google now, but it is proving tricky for us to distribute copies of the film. You may therefore be interested to know that due to popular demand, the programme is being screened for a second time on BBC2 Saturday 4th April at 5.20pm. Set the recorder, and enjoy this wonderful programme a second time.

Original post by Chris Vernon: http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5120