The Permaculture/forest garden smallholding and AS

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Niall
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28 Oct 2015, 7:19 am

I've been working on dropping out of human society and setting up a permaculture smallholding (sadly my plans recently fell apart, and I'm now back at square one in terms of finding somewhere and the right person to do it with, but I feel like I'm short on alternatives).

Anyway, I got involved in a discussion online about how a smallholding, especially a permaculture or forest garden smallholding, might be an ideal environment not just for aspie children but adult aspies as well.

Speaking initially for myself, it meets my obsession with ecosystems, while also being compatible with my value system, which of course won't apply to all aspies, but the rich but low artificial stimulation environment seems ideal for both a growing and an adult aspie. I'm hopeful it would also lower my anxiety levels, which have reached a level that makes them downright debilitating.

The design of a forest garden is also intensely suited to the systematic, pattern-recognising, obsessive mind of the aspie. It's a life moving closer to my pace than living in a city somewhere, or even this suburban hellhole I'm now in. I think I'd be better adjusted to the permie smallholding.

There was also a discussion about aspie children growing up in such an environment, but that I don't feel qualified to comment on intelligently, as I have no kids and really, really don't want any, but that might be a subject for another thread by someone else.

What do others think?

And as an aside, if you are also interested in permaculture, forest gardening and getting off the grid, feel encouraged to PM me.


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Mountain Goat
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28 Dec 2021, 7:44 am

I grew up on a smallholding and we live on one now, though we no longer keep goats so we don't use the land.
It is difficult to live near too many people. I don't know exactly how people can live in cities without having wild space around them to relax in.
Some houses may not have much of a garden of their own, but if one lives next to some sort of wild parkland it acts as the space one needs. Wild land to explore and do fun things in like build dens or things like that.



ToughDiamond
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28 Dec 2021, 3:03 pm

I can see some advantages in the idea for people with ASD. I've usually got on a lot better with "alternativist" people than I have with mainstreamers, and a number of those alternativists have been very interested in horticulture. The nearest I ever got to my best ever phase for relating to people and having good friends was when I worked in an organic growers' worker co-operative. It's not a foolproof formula of course, but my experiences suggest you could do worse than to get into growing plants.

I think there's also something very calming, and physically and emotionally healthy about growing plants. It won't solve all your problems of course, and if your livelihood depends on it and the business side of it gets into trouble, it could become a source of anxiety. But as a thing to do, I think it's got a lot going for it. I've felt for a long time that a lot of modern people are living too far away from nature. I should probably do more gardening, but my place of abode has kept changing, and it looks set to change again soon. Still, I managed to grow a few tomatoes this year, and I think that was quite a cathartic exercise.



blazingstar
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28 Dec 2021, 7:03 pm

Currently I live in forest/swamp land. I grow tropical fruits and tropical vegetables, but am not in any way self reliant.

I consider living as far away from other people as possible essential for my mental health. And I have always found botanists, as a group, to be quiet, kind people.

So I think you are on to something.


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Magicklore
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28 Dec 2021, 8:29 pm

I've recently started to get interested in permaculture as well! Right now I'm working on being able to identify local plants and animals. I don't think owning land is feasible for me anytime soon but learning about how nature interacts is really interesting. There's so much to learn about when it comes to nature that it's easy to fall into a research hole for hours lol
I think a Co op or homestead environment would be ideal, at least for me. A lot of other neurodivergent people I know have expressed the same thing so there is definitely interest.



Mountain Goat
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28 Dec 2021, 8:59 pm

My brother specializes in making "No dig" gardens.

Regarding plants. What is important is to learn the plants that are posionus or deadly posionus and learn the edible plants. The other plants are somewhere inbetween like the grasses etc.



domineekee
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29 Dec 2021, 5:39 am

I'll probably move onto some woodland on the next few years, try putting a trailer in there, see what the neighbours will tolerate. Getting somewhere with running water might be difficult, there's a lot of people where I am looking for the same thing and discrete little shacks popping up as people repopulate the countryside.

I've had various stints living off grid, the longest being 4 years in Wales. Wales was the most organised... wooden house built onto a showman's wagon, bore hole, veg garden, pot plants, 12 volt system, woods, chickens, the lot. I must admit though, the cabin fever got quite intense in the winter and living somewhere so remote social norms kind of slid away.

I'll try and stay in the sunny South West next time, Wales was cheaper, more land available but it was tough going, cold, remote.

I had a couple of years living in the woods, before I knew I was autistic, it was primitive, I smoked pot and drank tea, cooked on a woodstove. It was nice being in the shade of the trees, hiding out, drinking coffee by a fire looking at the stars, sleeping when it got dark.

I'd say all in all that kind of lifestyle in this modern age is good for healing, good for a spell. If it's something you plan to do for years it probably helps to have some community /community project going on.

I'm not sure how my plans will pan out, it could be great, it could be a quick route to depravation and isolation but there's no guarantee I'd fare any better in a town.


Good luck with your own plans.



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29 Dec 2021, 6:37 am

the idea is super appealing. I raised my kids on a "fun farm", 3 acres 13 miles from town and 1/4 mile from the nearest neighbor. Ideal setup, I was so lucky. I always wanted to have a small home and to be as self sustaining as possible, but I picked the wrong spouse to do that. He supported us for 20 years in that place but tired of living so far from town. We do not share that self reliance interest. So, self sustaining , maybe in another life... <3 I'm 70 now and it would be physically difficult to do because of the intensive physical labor involved. Best wishes!


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Dear_one
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29 Dec 2021, 4:06 pm

My best friend has lived off-grid about half his life, and just went off again after 20 years. He had prepared for a milder climate, but changed plans suddenly, so he is challenged but feeling zest for life again, even if his workday has gotten shorter and less vigorous. I've been interested in moving off-grid for years too, but I'd want to do it with some other people, to share lookout duties and ensure variety. I might even enjoy their company, but I'd want to rely on them to deal with strangers.
I think I'd be a major asset to a young couple going off-grid as an adopted grandfather. I have tools and know-how, and a pension that follows me anywhere. I have no idea how to meet them, though.
Re: Permaculture. I've done some gardening, and a lot of reading, and think that permaculture is the way to go, but doing it well takes more education than most people will want. I'd like to see it being done by small robots running on narrow, shaded paths, keeping track of every plant, harvesting at peak ripeness and saving the very best seed according to the 'net.



domineekee
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30 Dec 2021, 5:43 am

Dear_one wrote:
I've done some gardening, and a lot of reading, and think that permaculture is the way to go, but doing it well takes more education than most people will want.


From my experience people like to make a big deal about gardening, when 99% of the time if you just get on with it you get an alright crop. Sitting through community meetings, listening to people greensplain might prove infinitely harder!



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30 Dec 2021, 6:07 am

^^ Granted, it is hard to fail completely at gardening, but doing it really well on minimum land without chemicals takes a lot of know-how, years of soil improvements, and special seeds. My own garden was defeated by occasional flooding, and increasing shade from nearby trees. What really discourages me, though, is the constant attention needed, in case some correction is necessary. I can't really focus on other projects or get away.



Mona Pereth
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30 Dec 2021, 6:21 am

Readers interested in larger societal questions related to permaculture (vs. agriculture) may wish to look at this thread here, in which a discussion of these questions begins at the third post.


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30 Dec 2021, 6:52 am

I'd love nothing more than such a wonderous place but I would probably upset people by 're-wilding' by planting trees... and having a big barn to indulge my creativity.


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