03/03/2003 The Daily Illini - IIEA Director "Farmer Dave" Speaks on Permaculture

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Elie Dvorin
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Dave Blume brings Permaculture to the Midwest. Article only available via the Way Back Machine... http://web.archive.org/web/20030825080728/http://www.dailyillini.com/mar03/mar10/news/stories/news_story03.shtml

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Elie Dvorin
The Daily Illini

Photo (read caption below)
Adam Jadhav The Daily Illini

Dave Blume, also known as "Farmer Dave," speaks Saturday at the Independent Media Center about permaculture. Among doing other things, Blume stressed the importance of using resources for their full value. One of his examples: re-using human waste.

To most people, the idea of recycling human waste by using it to fertilize farms seems ridiculous. But to David "Farmer Dave" Blume, the self-described "grandfather of permaculture" and president of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, the idea is beneficial for the ecosystem.

Blume visited the Independent Media Center, 218 W. Main St. in Urbana, on Saturday for an all-day discussion about the benefits of taking permaculture into account when making agricultural decisions.

"Permaculture is the art and science of ecologically designing human beings" place in the environment. It is designed as an alternative to the inefficient system of modern agriculture, Blume said. Instead of focusing on money alone, agriculturists should focus on people and land equally, he said.

For example, farmers could focus more on diversifying crops to meet the hunger needs of the country, said Rael Bassan, the coordinator of the Chicagoland Urban Permaculture Group.

"When we look at agriculture from an industrial viewpoint, we see that it's low yielding in terms of food, fiber and fuel production," Blume told the crowd of more than 50 people. "Permaculture proves it's possible to manage land in an ecological way while profitably producing many times the yield of toxic industrial agriculture."

Permaculture focuses on transforming agricultural problems to solutions, as well as the ethical aspects of dealing with land, Bassan said.

"Not only can permaculture be used to solve world problems, but it can be used to solve problems in peoples' own lives and deal with their individual concerns," Bassan said. "If we use nature as a clue, we can learn how to provide better lives for people without hurting the earth."

Michael Walcher, volunteer at the Independent Media Center, said the people interested in learning about the alternative ways to work with nature realize the connection they have with the planet.

"Everything has an effect on everything and everything is somehow connected," Walcher said. "One of the problems is that most people are so busy with their forty-hour work weeks they don't have time to step back and enjoy nature and see that connection."

Blume believes the connection between nature and man requires ethical treatment of the land and of its inhabitants.

According to information from the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, any surplus of the production system must be distributed in a manner that is beneficial to the land and caring for fellow people.

When these ethical principles are followed in disciplines relating to food, shelter, energy, water, trees, wildlife, livestock, weather and waste management, they produce sound economic results, Blume said.

"The ethical aspects of permaculture go beyond sustaining the land," Blume said. "It's not good enough to not allow any further damage to the Earth. We need to restore the land."

The entire system of production in the United States is misguided, Blume said.

"The system is inefficient because it's controlled by corporate interests that have twisted America's agriculture into a distorted system meant to suit corporate needs," he said. "The system should be meant to feed people, but instead it's meant to provide employment at the farmer's expense."

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