cornucopia
The Permacultivator - Journal of Cool Climate Permaculture
Back to the
Journal Index

Self Sufficiency Some Thoughts on the Subject by Pam Dombroski

Self-sufficiency is largely an illusion and largely impossible and attempts at it uneconomical. Yet this is in the absolute sense. For those of us that make a fair fist of growing what we eat and looking after ourselves there are many payoffs such as a profit producing hobby. In doing this we are actually practising Zen (saving Yen?). Zen is self contemplation as opposed to scriptural religion. It is wisdom from self study rather than the written word "presume not God to scan the proper knowledge of mankind is man".

Self-sufficiency is the big drop-out. We are not slaves bound by another’s bidding but heart and soul and mind and muscle autonomous and sovereign. We don’t have to be told what to do continually we have the power of thinking and deliberation and we exercise and develop that power.

Of course diet, exercise and health are central to the whole business of self-sufficiency. Basically to understand that health is the natural state of our beings and that we are by nature perfect for we are led by our minds...that is health. We are not expecting trouble so do not find it.

Plants that are well nourished are better able to withstand dry weather. A local character related how he had piled his grazing property up with fowl manure and in the dry weather visitors seeing the place so green could not believe he had not been irrigating it. Also a former resident of Condoblin, one of the driest areas of the state, relates how they would tip the kitchen waste out in the paddock and tomatoes would grow out of it and without ever having been watered produce the most delicious fruit you could wish for. Thirty years or more ago I filled a hole with mushroom compost and an asparagus shoot that grew out of it is still producing the biggest shoots on the property. Another patch where sixty or seventy years ago kitchen waste was thrown, is likewise producing similar shoots without either lots having further care.

One bushel of rice from a single grain was said to be Indonesia’s capability in the last century.

plus Comments from Ralph

Permaculture recognises that self-sufficiency is nigh on impossible and does not mention it in its texts. Instead it urges people to be self-reliant by doing what they are good at and trading the results/skills for their other needs. Because our cilivisation requires us to support incompetent and unnecessary parasitic bureaucrats, as well as the competent and necessary ones, then the people that work hard producing something tangible and useful have to work harder to raise the extra taxes.

A community that looks after its own roads, electricity, water, schooling etc could be nearly self-sufficient but would still need money for rates and taxes. So they would still have to sell goods/services outside for a bureaucracy they do not need or want.

Fowl manure spread over large areas have the desired effect, but spread thickly and often on the same area leads to plants and fruits with a high level of nitrates which could result in pest and disease problems.