“Farms, like other land-based permaculture projects, are faced with the formidable task of regenerating ecosystems and communities, while surviving in a system that rewards the destruction of the same systems. Permaculture projects have to compete with degenerative enterprises and institutions that are happy to take the efficiency ‘bonus’ from unsustainable and exploitative practices”.
This is a frighteningly true and important statement. And, for the sake of commonness, the word “permaculture” can be swapped with “organic” or “biodynamic”. Organic and biodynamic farming techniques are common. We can all buy the products of these projects. However, as we can all probably agree, organic and biodynamic products are more expensive than their “conventional” counterparts – products produced through “unsustainable and exploitative practices”.
“The consequence is that it’s hard for permaculture enterprises to keep costs as low, and therefore people with less of an economic buffer, who have to minimize costs as much as possible, find it hard to support regenerative enterprises as consumers. That’s most of the world, in case you were wondering. So the regenerative enterprises that we would like to create have a difficult time offering products and services that most people can afford, and most people can’t afford to support the regenerative economy. If we want real change, then this impasse demands our attention. We need new strategies for scaling up from gardens. We need new institutions – ones that can provide an interface between our regenerative practices and the degenerative economy.
Sass-Fergusson argues that permaculture doesn’t provide the necessary “systematic analysis of institutions”. He proposes we pay attention to the “Solidarity Economy” which I am now going to go off and read more about…