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Community sufficiency technologies – the example of beekeeping

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
19th May 2012


This is based on David Braden’s organiclandscapedesign site, which is a documentation of efforts to learn how to build self sufficient communities.

Community sufficiency technologies are described as methods of achieving self-sufficiency, but rather than practicing this as a family, it is the community that works to achieve greater independence from the production of others.

Imagine a system of gardens and greenhouses that produced enough food for the entire neighborhood (Neighborhoods already own much of what is required). Imagine that anyone in the neighborhood could get a share of that food by doing what they enjoy . . . fixing cars, reading to kids, cooking, sewing, carpentry, home repair, gardening, making cheese . . .

Once you start an integrated system of production, it gets better the more things you can integrate . . . and, instead of labor being a cost, in this system, the more people that contribute, the less each person has to do.

Now here is an example of this from the world of beekeeping…

“In 2011 Don, our bee keeper team member, was a part time entrepreneur trying to break into the business of beekeeping after hours at his paying job. His son was between jobs and between them they managed to gather four swarms. After an eventful summer, Don had five strong colonies going into winter…”

You can read here in some detail how bees got lost in the winter and how, by various means, bee colonies are multiplied to where in prospective, bee swarms could even be sold on the market by next year. (Update on our relationship with the bees)

… We might be able to offer Colorado bees to Colorado beekeepers in the Spring of 2013.

We can now project the trajectory of the one business plan where Don owns everything and expects to keep all the profit, compared to a community sufficiency plan where the gardening team develops the capacity to produce. In the first plan, growth of the business depends on Don accumulating capital in the form of equipment and bees while minimizing his costs by doing most of the work himself. In the second plan, the more team members involved, the more resources we can tap, and the less labor any one member has to contribute. Comparing the two trajectories, we can see the potential in the second for all the colonies that the contributing team members can possibly use with an excess that can be sold in the market. We do not know how the details will work out so that Don can quit his day job and be full time beekeeper.

We also have to figure out how to distribute production from community contributions. That is the technology part of Community sufficiency technologies. It is a simpler problem to solve working with an abundance, than it is working with scarcity. The ‘better world we imagine is possible’ really is as simple as letting go of our scarcity mentality and embracing nature’s abundance.

More at David Braden’s Colorado community site www.organiclandscapedesign.org

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