Restoration agriculture: Farming with no outside inputs

I never listen to podcasts when they are released – I feel like I have a never ending queue of episodes that I’d like to listen to someday. This episode of permaculture voices was one of the best things I’ve listened to in a while so I wanted to pass it on to you all. It’s about restoration agriculture, which Nate from The Dow Dominion recommended to me a while back.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Farming. It’s Damn Hard. The Real Life Journey of Starting a Permaculture Farm with No Money (Mark Shepard)

There are a few things about this that I loved:

  1. I loved the idea of starting with land that is not in ideal condition. There is a lot of degraded land around, and so much of it has been degraded by conventional agriculture. There is something poetic (and also useful) about using permaculture to restore that land.
  2. I love that Shepard started with very little equipment. So many people that I talk to warn me that it’s easy to go into debt buying equipment for farming. I only really use shovels now on my small urban lot, but I like the idea that even on a few acres I could use very little equipment. Everything I’ve read has shown that the more you drive over soil the more it becomes compacted (which degrades soil structure), so I’d like to avoid that as much as possible.
  3. I like that he is realistic. So many people that I talk to who want to start food forests want to start at the end – they want a mature food forest and don’t really think about what can be done in the meantime. In this podcast Shepard addresses how he planted different types of crops so he would have income while the perennials grew and developed.

What do you think – are you familiar with restoration agriculture? Have you practiced it?


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