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Hey, sure! I think one of the values that both me and Tim share regardless of the differences in our approaches is a dedication to a very conscious horticulture. So, I’d say “sufficiency” is really being aware of what is enough for your needs and the needs of your local ecosphere, and not feeling somehow obligated to do more than that because of some silly “work ethic.”

What that means is different for each operation, of course. I think factoring a surplus into your needs is important, as long as it can be reincorporated into some kind of system (compost/mulch/gifts for neighbors or food for those in need). However, when is the drive for a surplus going to start to detract from you/your laborers’ quality of life?

I don’t have laborers or anything, and since I’m not in a market situation like Tim won’t likely, any time soon. But, one of my backgrounds is as a cubical-dwelling low-level bureaucrat, and I see this pattern over and over again:

  • A manager has a project.
  • Laborers are asked to work on the project.
  • Laborers finish the project well, in a timely fashion.
  • The managers want to know why the laborers didn’t do “more,” because “EFFICIENCY.”
  • The laborers’ tired souls sink down into yet another morass of depression and despair.

I think in a lot of ways it’s the elimination of “busy work” and the implication that you need to “go big” in order to be successful and operate efficiently. Instead, asking “what is the least that I can ask my laborers to do,” or “what is the smallest possible change I can make that will have the greatest effect,” would, in my mind, make for happier laborers and a less harmful practice.

I dunno if that addressed your question?

(As an aside, do you believe in “self-sufficiency”? It’s an interesting term — I’m still not sure I’m a fan of the idea. I don’t think there’s any real way to live without depending upon other beings, human or otherwise, and the nearest culture, to at least some extent. I also think there’s value in depending upon some kind of community structures. It would be worth unpacking this idea a little more, too!)

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