Yield and value in Permaculture


Permaculture intends to find a yield on every opportunity happening in the farm. This objective is necessary in order to create financial autonomy and improve the environmental services and quality of living.

The financial autonomy objective is a Manichean vision and should be tempered considering that a yield is not only a materialist concept. It is not solely the direct transformation of a product or a service into a currency. It exists yields that have no direct financial equivalence but different levels in abstraction or roles in the ecosystem; soil fertility, ecosystem resilience, water abundance, healthy habitat, air and water purity, food quality, to enunciate some of them.

Let’s clarify the notion of value;

Money is a general equivalent used to convert everything. Knowledge can be converted into a certain type of resource that can be exchanged against a certain type of goods, etc … Western culture tries to give a financial value to each and every thing. Sometime it may be used by NGOs in a genuine way for protecting nature inside our materialist system.

It may however results in philosophical aberration like the right to pollute or to patent life.

Certain cultures refuse this concept of “general equivalent” and define specific areas of exchange where a particular resource can be converted. Exchange of resources between two separate areas being forbidden.

A plant could for example be exchanged against another plant but not against a service or product belonging to another domain.

The advantage of such a system is to ensure intrinsic value (meaning) to thing that does not depend on a dominant system of thought, at the moment strongly dominated by international finance (meaningless) and globalization. For example, the work of a child, 12 hours a day in a developing country has a monetary equivalent in a global financial system. This could be avoided if there were here the creation of a compartment area defined as child care and education where no financial equivalence could be allocated to the elements belonging to this area. Globalization would then work on the basis of currencies related to specific vertical domains, but that’s a long term utopia.

Permaculture by pointing out the notion of levels of abstraction in yield tends to reconnect with this idea however does not propose a standardization of the different areas or any compartmentalization in resources exchanges. It gives the freedom to the farmer or the local market to apply his own labeling on what can be merchandised or in which domain resource exchanges can take place.

Zoning is a vector of such compartmentalization in the domain of biodiversity although others can be found.

This being defined and still being aware of the necessity to become autonomous in a financial paradigm, Permaculture can use its inner properties to create market values;

– Diversity enhancement; by using the resilient framework of biodiversity it become easy to develop the production of very demanded products or services having higher value because of their rarity, quality, sanity, using low inputs. Diversity allows as well to become independent and produce the material needed for habitat or other needs.
– Earth and ecosystem connection; by producing food and in many instance being able to produce its own energy (electricity, water, etc.) a Permaculture farm is able to enter in a “autonomous” mode where “surplus” is not used to pay bills but to create value added services and products through the emergence of resources, including time, for product transformation and services (food transformation, education, lodging, eco-tourism, art, handcraft, etc…).
– Knowledge intensity; through a learning curve based on the coupling of ecosystemic and analytical approach and the extensive use of internet and social sharing a field of opportunities may emerge related to local or global context.
– Community cohesion; By sharing the surplus (basic resources, functions designs, genomes, best practices, …) autonomy and diversity increase, accelerating the pace for financial autonomy.
– etc.


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