Tours and Workshops at Paradise Lot

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Eric and I are very busy with our businesses this time of year. We are also super excited to show you how the garden is coming along. If you are interested in attending one of our onsite events this year, or come take an informational tour, we’d love to have you join us!

For more information, go to the:

Tour Signup Page

or, Upcoming Events Page

See you in the Garden!

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Paradise Lot nurtures leaders

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It seems there is another wonderful “yield” from the cornucopia of life coming from Paradise Lot. We nurture leaders!

I wanted to congratulate two great people who have helped make Paradise Lot what it is:

Eli Roberts was a garden intern in 2012. Coming to us, and supported by the Allegheny Mountain School. He was critical support for us building the bioshelter, helping at workshops and digging out the poopy chicken bedding. He is passionate about helping young people learn new ideas, and is devoted to finding and spreading solutions to climate change. We just found out that he was excepted to Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and will be studying agroforestry and agroecosystems. I’m sure his work at Paradise Lot provided him with some inspiration towards this new adventure!

We befriended Jamie Pottern in 2011 and invited her to help improve our garden with us. We grow lots of awesome vegetables that year thanks to her, and couldn’t have maintained many plantings without her initiative and energy. After graduating from the Conway School of Landscape Design last year, she is now fully employed as a Land Conservation Associate with Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. I am so proud that she will be helping the trust to use “new innovative models that protect the land, support the local farm economy, and secure the future affordability of farms for new farmers.”

Let’s hear it for Eli and Jamie!!!

Working less could help solve climate crisis

Working less could help solve climate crisis | TG Daily

Designing our lives to be more relaxed and productive seems like a good idea, it just “feels” right. Meg and I have been utilizing the abundance of Paradise Lot, through food preparation, the sale of plants and teaching of knowledge, to maximize flexible time in our lives. According to the following study, science is now saying it is the best way to live!  We can feel good about being lazy!

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From an internet news report by by Emma Woollacott…

“Want to help save the planet? Turn that PC off, sit back and put your feet up, says Washington thinktank the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Cutting back on work hours and playing more instead could help slow global warming significantly. Indeed, sys CEPR, an annual 0.5 percent reduction in work hours would cut between eight and 22 percent of every degree of warming from now until 2100.

While 40-60 percent of potential global warming is effectively locked-in, it says, as much as half the rest could be cut through this reduction of work hours.

“As productivity increases, especially in high-income countries, there is a social choice between taking some of these gains in the form of reduced hours, or entirely as increased production,” says economist David Rosnick.

“For many years, European countries have been reducing work hours – including by taking more holidays, vacation, and leave – while the United States has gone the route of increased production. The calculation is simple: fewer work hours means less carbon emissions, which means less global warming.”

The team points out that this is easier said than done in countries such as the US: already a very unequal society, and one where inequality is growing.

Here, for example, just under two-thirds of all income gains from 1973 to 2007 went to the top one percent of households. In this type of economy, most workers would have to take an absolute reduction in their living standards in order to work less.

However, the authors say that if society can once again become more equal, productivity growth could become a benefit for all.

“Increased productivity need not fuel carbon emissions and climate change,” says CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot. “Increased productivity should allow workers to have more time off to spend with their families, friends, and communities. This is positive for society, and is quantifiably better for the planet as well.”

Read the study here

The Businesses at Paradise Lot

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As we evolve along with our garden, opportunities continue to show themselves. You might have read in the book, both Eric and I have started successful businesses here. He focuses on consulting, writing books and teaching, I thrive on teaching and selling plants.

Both of us have built our enterprises around permaculture. My business particularly, Food Forest Farm, is a business that includes a nursery, and with that I consider myself a farmer. Since the beginning of the business, I have defined the farm as a permaculture farm. It was born out of a edible forest garden, and we strive to follow the permaculture ethics the best we can.

I came across an insightful article by my friend Rafter. It brings to light some aspects of the struggle I sometimes have with having a permaculture business. You may find the article useful as well. I’ve copied it here:

Toward Financial Permaculture: New Farms in the Old System
by Rafter

Permaculturists face a wicked contradiction. We want to create, and support the creation of, businesses and organizations that point the way toward a new way of doing things. If we want to claim that permaculture is ‘design that meets human needs while increasing ecosystem health,’ then we need to be able to demonstrate how the enterprises we design are meeting this description. Otherwise, our ethics aren’t meaningful, and the claims we make about the value of permaculture aren’t credible.

The trick is that these enterprises also have to thrive right now, under industrial capitalism. If no one but the independently wealthy can use permaculture systems to both survive the current society and transition to whatever comes next, then permaculture isn’t much help at all. I don’t want to make lifeboats and pleasure gardens for the rich, and I don’t want to have to wait until after the apocolypse for permaculture to make good economic sense.

So there is our contradiction: we have to make truly regenerative enterprises that can succeed right now, enmeshed in a grossly degenerative socio-economic system. We have to make a future that can survive the present. I’m grateful that the Financial Permaculture series is helping address this challenge directly and with great intelligence – which is why I’m teaching at the upcoming course for expenses only.

The permaculture literature mostly deals with the tools and the opportunities available – so I’m going to keep focussing on the challenges. With this post I hope to frame some questions, and generate discussion, about the challenges we face –  particularly the two major challenges that I see for permaculture farms (and for the many who work and farm permaculture-style without having been influenced by permaculture proper).

    • At the scale of the farm itself, very few planning tools exist to support the level of diversification that permaculture farms will usually show. Even fewer tools exist to support successional budgeting and planning for perennial systems – the yields of which will change over time. Permaculturists who integrate animal, perennial, and annual production face a significant challenge in figuring out how to integrate the tools that are available – or create their own – so that they can do the necessary planning to ensure the viability of their business.
    • Beyond the farm boundaries, permaculturists find themselves in competition with cheap industrial food, whose price is subsisidized by cheap oil (and the wars that secure it), pollution, exploited labor, and tax dollars (via government subsidies). We have the local and slow food movements to thank for a growing base of educated consumers who will pay a ‘premium’ (ha!) for food whose price isn’t kept artificially low by degenerative practices – but these niche markets don’t exist everywhere, and they won’t get us all the way to where we need to go.

If you would like to comment on this article here you are welcome to. You may also want to continue the great conversation that is on Rafter’s blog.