The Resilient Farm & Homestead
Updated: Jun 28, 2020
Ben Falk's The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a real joy to read. The book documents his experiments and strategies for site development at his permaculture research farm. The result is a blueprint in regerative agriculture
and modern homesteading.
The theme of resilience and adaptation is mentioned throughout he book as Falk offers techniques for regenerative site development in the complex farm ecosystem. Falk describes the resiliency principles that he discovered through his work. It is instructive that many of the the same principles and patterns are seen in other domains as well.
Here we present some of Falk's observations.
Resiliency = Diversity x Redundancy x Connectivity x Manageability
The ability of a system to recover from disturbances is highest when:
1) the system is composed of a high diversity of elements
2) there are backup elements to all crucial components of the system
3) the connections between each component form a web with as many connections and modularity as possible
4) the system is simple enough to be legible, manageable, and accessible for human participation, where the system's need for optimization do not overwhelm the capacity of the human occupants to help meet those needs.
Regeneration Metric = Biomass and Biodiversity
An action is regenerative if increases biomass and biodiversity. Conventional farming is focused solely on biomass production, while conservation biology and ecological restoration is focused on biodiversity preservation and increases.
Stress as Stimulus
There is a rhythm between rest and stress that promotes the most biodiversity and biomass.
All Design Should Be Modular
Since the future is unpredictable and guaranteed to change, good design and developments must be able to be added to, subtracted from, moved around, and adjusted constantly over time.
Structural Diversity Begets Biological Diversity
Organisms exploit edges and structure constantly, when you add structure you see the results quickly. Life flocks to a situation where little existed before, e.g. a sunken ship landing on a bare sandy sea floor, at the edge between field and forest, and other situations where three dimensions of complexity exist rather than two.
Multiple Functions from Single Expenditures
All elements and actions / processes ideally always yield more than one desired result.
Value Across Time
The most potent values in a system are are yielded across the greatest length of time. Examples of durable abundance and vigor in human cultures are always most manifest in examples of people living in close contact with one another and their physical places for many generations. The best things usually require a wait.
Essential Functions Provided by Multiple Elements
If it is essential, ensure that you have multiple ways of provisioning that need.
Simplest Solution Is the Best Solution
The simplest approach involving the fewest steps and least energy, materials, and time is always the most effective, long term, viable solution.
Efficiency Does Not Equal Resiliency
Simply because a system transfers energy pr materials quickly or with little waste does not mean that such a transfer is durable in the face of shifting conditions. Take any one of the inputs needed to make this system work out of the equation, however, and you'll see how brittle the system is. highly efficient system often compromise resiliency.
Read Ben Falk's "The Resilient Farm and Homestead."