Plant it once, share it forever.

Vanessa feeding austrolorp hen

What’s this “perennial agriculture” I keep talking about you say?

In a nutshell, it’s creating a food system that, once planted, continues to produce food and useful-to-humans crops without human interference.

Hrm. That was a little clunky. Here, let me quote Mark Shepard, the author of Restoration Agriculture, in an article in Acres U.S.A. Magazine:

“Potentially three to seven times the energy capture as an annual field, and most significantly, it’s all perennial. Plant it once and you’re done. Forever. Any questions? No plowing ever again. It’s three-dimensional. It’s diverse. It takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and adds carbon to the soil in the form of roots, leaves and wood. It provides habitat to wildlife, wild pollinators. It recycles nutrients and attracts birds like you cannot imagine. Chestnuts, apples, hazelnuts, plums, cherries, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, currants, goosberries, grapes, mushrooms and animals. Sounds like a healthy farm to me!”

Did you catch that part? “Plant it once and you’re done. Forever.”

That’s perennial agriculture.

Forest culture, alley cropping, silvopasture, Fred — whatever trendy label or name is put on it, perennial agriculture is simply generating food more in line with how nature works.

It’s abundant. It’s sturdy. It doesn’t use oodles of petroleum in the form of gas-powered equipment or petroleum-based chemicals to force it into the levels of production required to make an annual cropping system profitable enough to keep up with the demands of, well, the high costs of an annual cropping system that’s working against nature.

This here farm we love so much has ooooodles of chestnut trees, which are a high-carbohydrate staple food. Around those gorgeous chestnut trees we will be planting heritage apple and cherry trees, for food, juice, vinegar and cider. Then come hazelnut shrubs, another staple food crop that’s good for both food, oil, and the shells can be used for fuel. Then more small fruits (raspberries, gooseberries, currants, etc), mushrooms, and critters. We already have chickens, and we will be introducing ruminants as we learn about them. (We intend to focus mainly on fiber animals, because while we’ve done both, raising chickens has confirmed for us that we much prefer to snuggle our animals rather than snack on them.)

We’re also going to plant sweetgrass, milkweed and a variety of pollinator-supporting wildflowers and useful perennial herbs. The land has a broad range of microclimates, and we can tuck all kinds of useful, self-maintaining nifties around the farm.

I’m personally really excited about planting all four ingredients for Essiac tea, and installing patches of woodland medicinals in the wooded areas. The idea of gifting useful plants — especially ones that people might be in dire need of — gives me major warm fuzzies.

Anyhoo! Perennial agriculture. Plant it once, share it forever. There you go!


4 thoughts on “Plant it once, share it forever.

  1. Eleanor, do you have any farmers market around you? This could offer cash for perennial crops such as medicinal teas, herbs fruit, and whatever else you grow. If you have a barn, you could dry medicinal plants, build an online store. Start off with eBay. It was important that you started a Blog. Build your audience and surely if you build it, they will come.

    You are in my intentions and lighted candles to send flame to your heart. Good luck!

    • Thank you for your wonderful energy!!

      Yes, we do have some nearby farmers markets — there are even a few new ones this year, which is SUCH a delight! I do a little volunteering for our local chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local, and it’s a real treat seeing how many farmers markets and CSAs are thriving.

      Your comment and suggestion are extra welcome, because it has inspired a whole new post which I’ll put up soon — one of the key things about how we’re doing this whole thing is the gift economy. We intend to gift the fruits of the land, because a) it feels so incredibly wonderful to do so, b) this entire situation is so uniquely situated for it — we are creating sustainable systems that will continue to create abundant resources, and we believe very strongly that in order to create positive change in a world being negatively impacted by a hyper-focus on profit and transactional economies, we need more examples and awareness about gifting and gift economies and how they work on a day-to-day basis.

      So long story short, we will definitely be growing perennial crops. If we do end up offering them at farmers markets, we will be doing so on a gifting basis, AND making sure that we’re working in collaboration as opposed to competition with other vendors. For example, offering teas on a gifting basis next to a potter who was selling mugs would be AWESOME, whereas offering teas on a gifting basis next to someone else selling tea herbs would be far less awesome.

      And yes! We *do* have a barn, and intend to repair some key parts of it and then in the upper part, have space for people to hold workshops and, if we can confirm that it’s okay zoning-wise, some small performances/live music on occasion. (The bottom stalls, however, will be fixed up to house additional critters which are an important aspect of the sustainable food forest plan, until we’ve built Holzerian housing for them. 🙂

      Anyhoo! Thank you for your support, your good energy and your suggestions!

      • Did you contact Rivka Kawano, 616 551-0253 re: Crowdfunding with her ability to reach a larger platform?

        Pleased you already have a plan. Now the focus is in funding, which I am watching right now. Keep opening doors to opportunity. Write each donor and thank them.

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