We live on a fairly prominent corner in our village, and there’s a lot of foot traffic past, through and around our lot, which is now festooned with curvy swales, sheetmulched areas covered in loose straw, piles of various things, scattered creek stones and a number of straw bales at the back.
What’s taking place in the yard is generating a LOT of questions and commentary. So far, most of comments come with an air of either bemused skepticism or outright ridicule. There are also some notable exceptions.
So as part of the agricultural experiment, I’m also starting to track the social experiment. Will attitudes change once the garden starts to take shape? At what point? What will the comments change to? Will people still be interested? Will their interest increase and turn into action?
Here’s a sampling of some of the commentary so far:
- Looks like a lot of work. Maybe you should get a rototiller.
- Where’s the horse / pony / yak?
- What are you building?
- Hay! You gotta lotta hay! Lookit the hay!
Item 3: What are you building? Leads to the standard response: “It’s a permaculture demonstration garden.” The follow on to this is one of two:
- Eyes glaze over, look at watch, change the subject.
- What’s permaculture?
It’s about 4:1 so far for eyes-glazing. Only a couple of people have gone far enough to ask what permaculture is, usually repeat visitors like Mary who walks her dog past the house a half dozen times each day. The question is problematic, since even David Holmgren admits to the difficulty in answering this question with anything other than a 72 hour teach-in on the whole permaculture ouevre. I usually say something like “it’s a sustainable design system based on ecological principles.”
Interestingly, the process is starting to indicate who in the neighborhood is a potential partner, advocate, CSA customer, helper, future permaculture student and so on. In the spirit of having each element serve more than one function, don’t overlook the marketing, educational and promotional value of a site.