Mark Shepard’s Proven Technique – “Sheer, Total, and Utter Neglect” (video)

Broadacre permaculturist Mark Shepard takes us on a tour of his 106-acre farm, where he grows dozens of crops with almost no care at all.

Mark tells you how, twenty years ago, he and friends put thousands of varieties of perennials in the ground, and left them there. Now, parts of his farm that are completely unattended are growing 14 different kinds of food.

He also shows how to selectively breed for hardiness, speed of reproduction, and high yield by doing, that’s right, nothing at all. By completely neglecting his early plantings, he weeded out any that need to be taken care of, and selected for the ones that would thrive.

Brushing aside urban permaculture as too small-scale, Mark calls for this kind of neglectful, and thus effective, ecosystem seeding to take place all across the planet. All it would take, he says, is a 2% increase in the organic matter in the world’s agricultural land to draw down enough carbon to return atmospheric CO2 to pre-industrial levels.

Keyline [plow], plant the grass, graze with animals, put in woody crops – and then over time, we get our first knockback with the grass, and within 3-5 years we have our 2% [increase in] organic matter, while not having any less food in the food chain. And then over time, we develop these [woody perennial] systems and take even more of the gases out of the atmosphere.

Let’s not tell anybody it’s easy! The whole doom-and-gloom fear industry might go broke. — Mark Shepard