Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by Russell Smith

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Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by Russell Smith

Postby George Collins » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:26 am

http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/smith/treecropsToC.html

From the preface:
Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith is the classic work on tree crops. First published in 1929, this highly readable blueprint for the development of high-yield tree crops proves that vast, untapped food sources can be harvested from common species of North American trees.

Smith's philosophy is based on the idea that agriculture must be "adapted to physical conditions," that "farming should fit the land." He observed worldwide the catastrophe of hill agriculture whose one-time cycle he described so accurately as "forest -- field -- plow -- desert."


Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by Russell Smith was first published in 1929. There are a couple things worthy of note about this work. First, permanent agriculture has been around long before David Holmgren and Bill Molison first began using the phrase. They may have coined it independently of any outside influences but if one independently decides that the earth is not the center of the universe, their name isn't given parity with Copernicus. That is not to detract from the work done by those two visionary men, but when credit is assigned to the development of the permaculture concept, Russell Smith's name certainly seems worth mentioning.

Secondly, Russeell Smith's concepts are more narrow in focus and as such, give one a more digestible bite. The vision expressed by Smith, is to use tree crops to a much greater extent where the products of some tree crop could serve some human need just as well or better than an annual crop. The true advantage being the lack of annual inputs required to annually generate yearly returns over relatively vast time periods. When seen in this light (input:output), the advantage of tree crops vastly overshadows the production of annuals. Smith does not argue for completely displacing annuals with perrineals. Rather he suggests an intelligent design of one's farm using both annuals and perrineals as determined by the lay of the land.

As I gear up my own farming endeavor, it is Smith's work that seems progressively more influential. My initial goal (subject to change as understanding evolves), is to raise pastured pigs with the vast majority, or perhaps even the entireity of their diet coming from sequentially ripening tree crops. As it stands now, the tree crops intended to be used in approximate order of drop are:
Mulberries (Apr - May)
Peaches/plums (Jun - Jul)
Figs (July)
Pears/sawtooth oaks/paw paws (Aug - Sept)
Chestnuts/chinquapin/persimmon (Sept)
Native acorns, hickories and pecans (Sept - Dec?)
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
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Re: Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by Russell Smith

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:02 pm

I have started to read the short version of his book that you posted George. It is Great. Alot of truth and common sense there. He was a vissionary and way ahead of his time. He just looked at nature and said what is working and what is not. When he talked about Oklahoma it had only been farmed for 40 years and was already showing major soil errosion, unbelievable. We all know what happened to Oklahoma in the great depression and the dust bowl. I agree with you that his method is a smaller bite and easier to understand than some other works I have read. Since I am a functional illiterate it takes me awhile to read and understand what he is telling us. My north facing steep hillside is now all in woods, not a food forest, but trees that will hold the soil very well. Since I thinned things out 3 years ago I have seem a major number of Black Locus trees spring up. I was hopeing for oak trees, but the black locus seem to be what is filling the void. Tulip Poplar and white sassiffras are 2 other 1st growth tree that are pleantiful on the 22 acreas that had once been pasture befor I got here. Nature is thinning them out now after 40 to 50 years and the chock cherry and maples are starting to fill in around them. I think I need to try planting some more walnuts as well as chestnut trees. I think I am going for the chinees chestnut though, I am still afraid of the blight, and I do not have 20 years to wait and see, and then try again. This is pretty much my only shot at this, so I do not want to take alot of risk, or take too many chances. Things that grow in 2 or 3 years maybe even up to 5 years, I can risk taking chances with and replanting diff varietys if they do not work well on the hill. But unfortunately I do not have another 20 years to play with . The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the 2nd best time is today. I don't mind planting a tree that I will never sit in the shade of, but I also would like to enjoy some of the fruits of my labors. ;)
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
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Re: Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by Russell Smith

Postby George Collins » Fri May 10, 2013 6:20 pm

Earlier today, I found a better, and complete copy of Russel Smith's Tree Crops.

Here tis:

http://www.fastonline.org/CD3WD_40/JF/419/08-302.pdf
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
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Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by Russell Smith

Postby boo » Sun May 12, 2013 5:45 am

Thank you George - I doubt that I'll ever have enough land to try this, but it'll make fascinating reading anyway!
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