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Harald Jezek

Owner, Nuada beauty+wellness

TEDCRED 50+

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Is permaculture a feasible alternative to traditional agriculture?

Australians Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton created (or re-created) the concept of permaculture as alternative to traditional agriculture, but goes much beyond only agriculture. According to them "permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the stability, diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems." The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather against nature. It appears that systems based on permaculture can offer the same or even better yield than traditional production.

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    Feb 15 2011: It took ages for me to find the "natural-organic" tomato seeds even in Turkey, a country that used to be the wonder of agriculture. Therefore, Mark, I get the point in your comment very well. Still, I could not make it in my balcony, the sun was my problem, I assume.

    Lately I was in Tanzania, and to my surprise the tomatoes and the onions we bought went bad so quickly. When I asked, they told me the villagers cannot afford to pay for the scientific agricultural methods that are used nowadays to help them keep their vegetables fresh. To be honest, their taste took me back to my childhood. So delicious!! I could not have enough!

    Dear Harald, after reading your comment I remembered and went back to Dan Barber's lovely talk; "How I fell in love with a fish" http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish.html

    Re-watching the talk, I realised the minor points I missed during the talk; Miguel, Dan Barber's hero, was from Tanzania and he started his career in Mikumi National Park, and that is where he had his inspiration. And That was exactly where my Tanzanian tomatoes were coming from. From a small village 30 mins away from the park. A funny and sweet coincidence.

    I believe we need more scientists whom are also experts on relationships just like Miguel!...
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      Feb 16 2011: Hi Ayse ! Good to see you again ;-) True, a balcony is a limited environment for planting your stuff, but even there you can plant a lo. You would be amazed how much you can grow on just 1 m2. The key to success is knowing the demands of the plants you like to grow and plan/adjust accordingly. As to tomatoes: they actually like it hot and sunny, But they also need sufficient water and a good soil. Maybe that was the problem in your case.
      I think growing your own stuff is not only convenient, but it provides you with fresher and tastier food for much less money and it also provides you with satisfaction (at least it does for me) when you go out at the garden and just pick whatever you want, whenever you want. ;-)
      But permaculture is much more than that. It's a way of integrating with nature instead of just abusing it.
      For anybody interested, check out Bill Mollison's "global gardener" video clips. You can probably find them on youTube. Or for somebody with deeper interest, Bill Mollison's "Permaculture design manual" which goes into detail about philosophy and design principles of permaculture.
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        Feb 20 2011: The documentary "Power Of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" shows how the city of Havana has become an Urban Garden, growing on rooftops and balcony's all over the city. Although in crisis and forced to make these changes, the Cubans were forced to respond to doing something about lack of food and transportation. This is a great documentary and can be seen online in its entirety.
    • Feb 17 2011: Ayse, the 'scientific method' that agriculture uses today to keep their produce fresh is to pick the fruit (tomato) at an immature green stage, then to transport/store for long periods, then to ripen when convenient for them, by using a gas that stimulates the plant to ripen. So the plant isn't really 'ripe', like if it was ripened naturally in the sun- which is why the ones you ate taste so good- but they are artificially stimulated, and still under-ripe, and almost flavourless.

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