Permaculture Tips

The Trouble with Facebook Permaculture

Facebook Permaculture.

That’s my new term for the day. And it has really been bugging me.

The problem is that I’m guilty of it myself.

I need to say that at the onset. I don’t want to come across in a condescending way, because I do it.

I don’t think we really mean to, but it happens nonetheless.

We get excited about getting something done. We are proud of it. We want to tell people about it. So we do. We get on Facebook or Instagram or whatever social media, photo-sharing website/app we use, and we show the world the wonderful thing we have just accomplished.

We are happy when others “like” our post. We love the positive feedback.

Now, before I get too far, please don’t get me wrong… sharing our successes and accomplishments is important to do. In fact, we ought to do this.

I often think of the people in the mid-1960’s and 1970’s “back to the land” movement. They were one of the first groups of people who left the city to try and be self-sufficient. Most members of the previous generations knew how to be self-sufficient, because that was how they were raised. The earlier generations grew up with backyard gardens and chickens and a more self-reliant know-how and confidence. But by the 1960’s, at least in the United States, there was a gap in the transfer of this knowledge. The people who left the city and moved to the country didn’t have first-hand knowledge. They had to learn it or figure it out.

They may have had a few Foxfire books.

If they were lucky, and not too arrogant, they were befriended by a neighboring farmer or homesteader from a family that never left the homestead. They were fortunate if they had some early successes to build the confidence when tough times came… when a harvest was destroyed or an animal was lost.

Unfortunately, far too many of these “back to the landers” gave up. This whole “living off the land” thing was way too hard. It was all but impossible. So the “back to the landers” went back to the city. Defeated. Disillusioned. Depressed.

Today, we are incredibly fortunate to have the enormous wealth of knowledge found online. We can find how-to’s and problem-solving-solutions within minutes of when we need it. We can find success story after success story. We can find inspiration.

This next generation of “back to the landers”, of which I am one, are not giving up quite as quickly as before. I have no scientific data to support this claim. But I daily see success story after success story from people who are not giving up, not throwing in the towel, and not moving back to the city. It’s not that we are better in any way. I firmly believe that this generation of “back to the landers” are succeeding, in large part, due to the vast resources we have at our fingertips, which sadly the previous generation did not have. We run into roadblocks, and we can more easily find solutions and work-arounds. We are able to Google our way to success.

But this is only because we share those successes.

This is because we are getting on blogs and Facebook and Instagram and telling the world what we did and how we did it.

So for that I am immensely grateful.

But there is a down side to this story. And this is not only found in Permaculture or Homesteading or with the “back to the landers”. It is found throughout this entire generation of people who compare themselves to those they see on social media.

“Gosh,” they say, “Everyone is so successful with everything they do. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I be so successful? I’ll never be able to ____  Maybe I should just stop trying. Maybe I should just quit.”

This is especially true in the Permaculture world.

We share photos of our huge harvests, of our beautiful pastures, of our new lambs or piglets or chicks.

But we don’t share struggles. We don’t share our failures. Some do. But most do not.

It is not malicious.

It’s just not fun. It’s not exciting. We are not proud of failing.

Our compost pile... that will be in the wrong place for over a year before we are finally done with it.

Our compost pile… that will be in the wrong place for over a year before we are finally done with it.

When all we do is share our success, we make it appear that failures are not common and are not part of the path toward success.

But I think it is important for us to be real.

So I’ll start…

  • We had a litter of piglets that were all stillborn.
  • We had another litter of four piglets, and only one survived.
  • We had a dump truck load of compost that is still sitting on the driveway. We used almost half of it, but we probably will have that pile sitting there for another 6 months… much to my wife’s chagrin.
  • We randomly had one of our ewes die. No idea why.
  • We had two of our pigs die. Not at the same time. But it happened, and we don’t know why.
  • We had a significant drought this Summer, and I lost close to half of the trees I planted a few months earlier.
  • I sliced my finger while breaking down chickens after processing, and I needed to give myself stitches.
  • We got our garden going too late this year, and we didn’t get a harvest from the broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels spouts. (You can see the photo at the top of the page… this was a quick harvest before the frost… all we got was cabbage, but none of the other crops had time to mature, because we got them going too late.)
  • We still have a section of perimeter fence down from a windblown tree, and I have yet to get it cleared and the fence repaired. And I’ve known about it for at least 6 months.
  • Our geese made multiple nests, laid eggs, and abandoned all of them.
  • We lost every single one of our 23 Guinea Fowl to an unknown night predator.

That’s all I can think of in about 30 seconds. But I am sure there is a whole lot more.

We have had a lot of bad and sad and frustrating things, but the good thing is that our successes have outweighed our failures and our delays. And that is really important.

But it is also important for people to see that this life is not always simple or easy or carefree.

I’m not planning on quitting and moving back to the city. Not at all!

But I am trying to keep it real.

 

Subscribe to TCPermaculture.com and receive updates whenever a new article is posted!

  • Permalink Gallery

    Permaculture Tips: Tree Identification Apps for Mobile Devices

Permaculture Tips: Tree Identification Apps for Mobile Devices

While watching a video lecture from Geoff Lawton, he referenced LeafSnap (see below). This got me thinking about appropriate technologies we can use in our Permaculture designs. I wanted to share a few tree identification guides. Unfortunately for my international readers, these are just for North America. There are a few available for England (TreeID and ForestXplorer are two I know of).

LeafSnap

LeafSnap.com

LeafSnap is a tree identification app for Iphones and Ipads. This is the product of a collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian. They use the technology in facial recognition software to identify tree leaves. After doing a bit of research, I think this program has the most potential, but it is not quite there yet. You need connectivity to a network, and not all places in the wilderness have it all the time. Because, this is a new program, the data recognition database is still being built. So the more people use the app, the better it gets… it learns as it grows. You take a photo and submit it, then the app gives you a listing of the possible tree choices. You look through the choices (and description and photos) and you can identify the tree. It is a bit more work, but it should get better and easier with time. But it is free, and has pretty good photos of all aspects of the tree (leaves, fruit, trunk, etc.).

 

Mynature

MyNature.com

MyNature Tree Guide is an app you need to buy (it costs $6.99 USD). Instead of visual recognition software to identify the tree, the user needs to work through an algorithm… simple yes or no questions that guide you to the right tree. I have used these in booklet form as well, and I really like this system. It is easy. It requires no connectivity. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the app yet, but I like it quite a bit. This will likely be my go to app until LeafSnap improves.

There are a number of other online tree identification guides, but these two are the only apps worth looking into right now. I do think the best online identification guide is What Tree is That by the Arbor Day Foundation. This uses a similar algorithm of simple yes or no questions as well… in fact, I think they are the first ones to take it mainstream for trees. I have used their booklets many times and really like them. And, for that matter, you can buy the booklets themselves on the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Take a look at these. Load them on your mobile device. I think it is wise to use technology in appropriate ways to further our knowledge and aid in building sustainability.

 

 

Subscribe to TCPermaculture.com and receive updates whenever a new article is posted!

Photo References:

  • http://www.creativitysparkslife.com/sheblogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2-leaf-anniv-tree.jpg
  • All other photos are from the referenced sites.