by David S. Hestrin
There are many ways improve land’s hospitability to humans (as well as other creatures).
In some places merely introducing the seeds of some plants, without adding fertilizer or directing water, will lead to the growth of those plants and the consequent growth of other plants. Perhaps one plant grows which attracts animals and the animals bring both urine (source of water) and feces (source of fertilizer and other seeds) and this leads to growth of new plants. This animal may also lead to the presence of other animals which leads to more urine (source of water) and feces (source of fertilizer and other seeds) and the cycle continues.
Other places could require some simple irrigation and the addition of seeds and soil matters to increase fertility and catalyze the processes discussed in the previous paragraph. I say simple irrigation to mean methods such as digging trenches or setting up simple systems of water containment and distribution – methods that may have a reasonable labor cost but low dollar cost. Ideally, we can figure out something like “dig a trench near the bottom of a hill that will collect water such that more plants can grow” – this process would simply require working with a shovel – work that many people can do.
We want to facilitate change in ways that people can do on their own with little training and little funding; we cannot wait till everyone has an extra $100,000 to create some rural side-projects. Perhaps the government will decide this to be a worthy task and will create permaculture paradises all over the country, but until then – it seems better to work towards facilitating the simplest least expensive in dollars methodologies.
Orienting towards methods of relatively unskilled labor turning to things like: food production and shelter production leads to real empowerment and freedom that rises above economic competitive factors that can otherwise put someone in a crushing position attempting to sell their time as low-skilled labor – which is ever more difficult when that person must pay rent or buy housing for tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If everyone could build their own shelter and grow their own food – AND they owned their own shelter space and foodspace AND their annual costs associated with these assets were relatively negligible – THEN they would be able to accept a wide variety of work for much lower pay without losing out so much.
It’s not that people of today actually NEED to even earn $1,000 a month to live. It’s that people of today that do not have housing paid for nor food readily available for direct acquisition not requiring financial exchange – that need much more than $1,000 a month to live.
I’m envisioning situations in the US where people have perhaps an acre and a shelter and they paid $5,000-$10,000 for it (or less). Their annual property tax may be $50-$100. And that’s it. Their water comes from the earth and sky. Their food comes from soil, sun, and water. Their home comes from the earth, trees, rocks, water, and their labor.