Jun 4, 2012

AM950 Food Freedom Interview

Live interview about Permaculture on Food Freedom  AM950 
Original Prepared script (not likely on live radio).

K:  Welcome back to Food Freedom Radio, where we are planting the seeds of change on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota.  I am Karen olson Johnson
 L:  And I am Laura Hedlund with us is Permaculture designer Dan Halsey.  For someone who is hearing “Permaculture for the first time”

Dan… how do you get involved

videoPermaculture is a ecologically principled way of living and many people find it in books, magazines, or websites that have information. I ran across Permaculture magazine at my local co-op about ten years ago. I then discovered that there were many people in the Twin Cities teaching each other the different aspects of through learning circles, which eventually became the Permaculture Research Institute, Cold Climate. Across the nation and the world there are thousands of organizations and individuals teaching the permaculture principles and lifestyle. Most people start with Toby Hemmenway’s Gaia’s Garden as a foundation and then move into the more detailed books by Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture, or Dave Jacke, but there are many great books about permaculture.
Locally, SouthWoods Permaculture and PRI have numerous design workshops and urban farming programs. Today there is one in Welch, Minnesota through PRI  and next week in Minneapolis by SouthWoods.

What Organizations are you involved with.

Southwoods permaculture of course. I am on the board of Gardening Matters and the Woodhill Urban Agriculture Center in Burnsville. I teach with PRI, Midwest Permaculture in Stelle, Illinois, and have recently begun courses through Permaculture British Columbia. I am also Graduate Research Assistant and TA at the University of Minnesota. Having designed a few community gardens in the Twin Cities, I am heavily involved with developing best practices for small urban gardens and expanding the Natural Capital plant database, which is used by permaculture designers.

Tell us about Permaculture in urban areas

The great thing about permaculture is that it is scalable. Systems that work well are designed be sized to any situation. In urban settings, intense planting systems and urban cultivars can produce huge amounts of fresh nutritious food with small spaces. One famous agrarian family in Pasadena, California, the Dervaes, harvest 3 to 5 tons of produce off their ¼ acre lot each year…… A documentary called Homegrown is about them.

Many of the reasons we do not harvest as much food as we can from urban lots has more to do with cultural and social expectations than the space. Raised beds, container, and vertical gardens with well-tended plants will supply a good portion of a family’s meals, not to mention chicken eggs or in some places goat milk and cheese.

Also, Minneapolis just passed new urban and market farm rules that allow renters and homeowners to grow and sell their produce on-site. Full time market gardeners can grow their income crops in the city, and that has been illegal since 1963. So urban and municipal attitudes are catching up to the urgent need to grow food locally and within reach.

And you know what?  This fresh food tastes better, lasts longer, costs less, and is more nutritious than long distance food. It also reduces hunger and weight. I know immigrant gardeners that have lost 20 to 30 pounds in a season, just from going back to their traditional diet with homegrown ingredients. Being green means eating green.

Why important at this time?

With energy decent, the end of cheap oil, climate change, health care issues, and economic insecurity…permaculture is a simple solution to all the complex issues and you can still be happy.

These are the principles of permaculture that are the broad solutions to the big issues.

First we have three ethics:
Care for the Earth
Care for People
Fair Share

Then there are 12 principles.  (Holmgren)

Carbon footprint of Permaculture vs industrial food sysem?

Let’s  talk about the Philosophy  behind Permaculture such as no waste.

If you have a problem or a situation that needs correction, you have three types of solutions. Cultural, Ecological, or Technological. Most permaculture solutions are ecologically based with a cultural adaptation. We relay on nature’s natural capital to supply our needs and shift culturally to adapt to our environment, not fight it. Technological solutions are high maintenance, expensive, usually toxic, and short term. Ecological solutions are self-repairing, multifunctional and long term. Also when an ecological solution has run its course, it is disassembled into the organic material that created it. Almost everything in permaculture is based on nutrient cycling so that there is no waste, only food for something else.

Does anyone NOT like Permaculture   green who idea of beauty?  

The cultural aesthetic expectation of straight lines and sterile landscapes are not conducive to permaculture design. We like edges, curves, and transition zones of foliage, not pavers or retaining wall block. Conventional landscaping is hard-edged and high maintenance. A contained and contrived environment extended from architecture.

re Zoning, popularity…

As far as zoning, again it’s the cultural expectation separating the agricultural food spaces from the “living” spaces. Definitions have changed over time. A properties value is based on sterile opulence, not its ability to sustain its occupants.

Thom Hartmann had great conversations this week about corn syrup.  He and his wife have  not had corn syrup for decades.  Thom talked about how poor people turn to corn syrup products because it is the cheapest way to get lots of calories.  We need to figure out how to get healthy food to poor communities.  Can Permaculture do this?

Permaculture systems can place an abundance of edible and nutritious plants, but people have to want to eat it. If gardening was part of a school day and community gardens were the summer school opportunity, children would learn what good food tastes like, how easy it is to grow and choose that when they get older. Cities need to accept food production as a vital resource within the city. Can you inmage closing a street and making it a market garden?  Local food will come from places such as this and tiny restaurants on corners, community kitchens where large harvests can be processed or canned, and neighborhood stores that are willing to buy produce from their neighborhood. But overall, poor eating habits are a sign of a dysfunctional community, either the resources are lacking or the social structure pressures bad choices. Snacks are not intended to be a meal, but if you are hungry, you grab a bag of Doritoes and a 2 liter Pepsi.

 Urban Agriculture, recent Mpls zoning changes
 Can we create a Free food movement?  Raspberries in alleyways? Fruit tress?

Until the diesel runs out or its too expensive, we will have big ag in the rural areas growing a majority of the food, but sooner or later either we will have to move into the rural areas where the food will be or move the rural lifestyle into the city and grow it here. .

Nut Trees
Community Orchards

 Why so important to the energy of the planet
Food freedom..  how does Permaculture fit into food freedom

Laura:  We will take a short break.  We welcome your calls 952 946 6205 when we return we get into the nitty gritty of how to create our own food forest.
Karen: You are listening to Food Freedom on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota

Segment Three:

Karen opens:  Let’s get into Practical information about how we do this in our yard…. Dan what is the first thing…

The first thing needed is observation of our yard. Where does the sun shine? Does is shine anywhere? A southern exposure will be the most productive. What is already growing there? Do I have soil to grow in or do I need to build a raised garden bed. Is the soil contaminated? Then walk the neighborhood and see what people are doing. There is much to be learned from a conversation with a local gardener.

City living what can do in small spaces.

Popular with urban farmers are the smaller urban cultivars. Krista Lerass of Harvest Moon and Russ Henry of Giving Tree Gardens grow smaller vegetable cultivars and use vertical beds to increase the variety and relay the harvests so plants mature at different times. Any south facing wall can become a green wall of vegetables using planter trellises and hanging baskets.

What types of food forest work  best for the city?

Fruit trees can be sized for about any yard. You can get a 10 foot or 16 foot dwarf apple tree. Cherry trees fit well into an urban setting. Kiwi vines, grapes, and numerous fruiting shrubs can fill a yard in no time.
Underneath the taller plants are layers of edibles. There are seven layers to an edible forest.   Each protects or supports the others.

Robert Hart:
  1. ·  Canopy layer’ consisting of the original mature fruit trees.
  2. ·  ‘Low-tree layer’ of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.
  3. ·  ‘Shrub layer’ of fruit bushes such as currants and berries.
  4. ·  ‘Herbaceous layer’ of perennial vegetables and herbs.
  5. ·  ‘Ground cover layer’ of edible plants that spread horizontally.
  6. ·  ‘Rhizosphere’ or ‘underground’ dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers.
  7. ·  ‘Vertical layer’ of vines and climbers.

Can you grow any Food in shade?

Certainly, that is what a rain forest is.  Here we have many plants that can photosynthesize in low light. Many are leafy greens like miners lettuce, but also Broccoli, potatoes, and then others that will grow in partial shade, pumpkins, beets, squash, Kohlrabi, and chard. 

Companion planting.  After I went to one of your workshops, strawberries around our fruit trees.  Tips?

Fill the understory of the trees with smaller plants, fruiting, perennials… The biggest competitor to trees is grass. Use the trees closest to each other to create a curvy planting bed and fill it with perennials and small shrubs. This connects the trees, reduces competition and creates a unifying element in the landscape. It also creates beneficial habitat for pest control. Depending on your soil, anything is better than grass.

Both Karen & I have experience with gardens traits similar to Permaculture. Karen your dad called it reseeding..

I get gallons of raspberries from my suburban yard. We’ve given plants away
Dan you are inviting listeners to visit your food forest..

Yes, thanks, we have a permablitz picnic today where visitors learn about permaculture and help build or maintain some of our plant systems. Its from 9:30 to 1:30 BYOL. The design classroom studio will also be open.

Laura will signal Karen at 40 seconds
Karen begins wrap – up & review:  Thank you Dan, you help us understand the bounty of our world and our potential for creating  food forests.  We talked meat and in the next segment, Laura & I will share our food confessions & hero moments, our frugal recipes

Laura: You are listening to Food Freedom Radio, where we plant the seeds for change on AM950, the progressive voice of MN

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Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design
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