A forgotten father of Permaculture: Channing Cope

Chances are you've never hear of Channing Cope.... but 100 years ago, if you lived in the American South, you would have.... and you would have been very familiar with his vision of "a Permanent Agriculture". He had a popular radio show and wrote a popular gardening column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. At the time, it was said that the wealth of the South… it soil, was washing away. The South was the agricultural heart of all America. This was the pre-dust bowl. Kudzu had been introduced as an ornamental to America in Philadelphia, in 1876. A Florida gentleman promoted it to prevent soil erosion. Cope saw the soil washing away and came up with a system of rotational grazing of cattle, based on kudzu and native grassed. Kudzu is a leguminous nitrogen fixer. It grows like crazy in the my climate...."the vine that ate the South." Unfortunately, the Army Corp of Engineers settled on it merely for the prevention of erosion... left ungrazed or used by humans (it is nutritious, edible, medicinal and a useful fiber) it will overwhelm the landscape... in some places, some folks say it grows a yard a day.... I think it high time kudzu got the respect it deserves and is used as a useful part of Permaculture systems. I've been working on that for years and it will likely be my main contribution to Permaculture.... if it works out. Imagine, one container grown vine that could provide protein rich, spinach like leave that could feed an entire family through 3 seasons... or make hay for an entire flock... or produce a nearly constant supply of mulch, while fixing nitrogen int he soil... plus medicine, fiber and material for baskets... even fishing lines... oh, and you can make wine and jelly from the flowers... starch... who knows all the uses? Well, here is Channing Cope's signature work. He is much maligned... remembered as a kook and a drunk. He deserved a whole lot better. He should be mentioned in sentences with Yeomans and Fukuoka. ENJOY (and yes, I have mentioned this before, but THIS matters! If 100 or 1,000 people were experimenting with kudzu, my vision may come to fruition). Imagine Cope's vision.... much like Salatin in rotational grazing... but he dreamed of the farmer could sit on his front porch, watching the cattle graze, as the kudzu grew to feed them... with the soil getting deeper and more fertile every day.... The Front Porch Farmer. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924003340340;view=1up;seq=1


  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the book link. I've only read a few pages so far but it reads very modern.

    And just for fun, here is everyone's favorite vine in its native habitat.

    I took that while hiking with my sister and her friend; I don't remember the name of the town but it wasn't too far from Yokohama. It was an especially fun hike, because her friend knew a lot about botany and identified quite a few plants for me.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the book link. I hadn't heard of Channing Cope.