Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas


This is fiction.  I made it up.  Mr. Rogers said it was okay to do this.

My fiction starts with fact.  In 1608, a boat comes to the shores of what is now known as the United States of America.  Then comes my fiction.  Rather than things working out the way we now know, things go a bit … different.  Pocahontas turns out to be a bit of a warrior genius and next thing you know, the Europeans decide to not stick any more flags in this soil.

Continuing my fiction, the centuries pass and the borders for “The United States of Pocahontas” just so happen to be the exact same borders that we now know as the USA.

There is trade between the USP and other countries.  And the USP has values that are a bit different than other countries.  Especially when it comes to agriculture.  Before Pocahontas, agriculture was practiced.  And permaculture is a lot like that.  And when folks outside the USP said, “Hey, this plowing thing is awesome, you should try it,” the folks in the USP said, “That seems like a practice that is disrespectful to mother earth – we choose to not do that.”  Similar sorts of things happened with petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides.

The culture within the USP evolved a lot, but these values about respect for the earth remained.

In my imagination, the amount of food produced per acre is far more than what other countries can accomplish.  Plus, the lifespan and overall health exceeds all other nations.  The #1 industry in the USP is a sort of health tourism – when people come here, their ills tend to just fade away.

I am curious to know what their practices are.  Since this is all in my imagination, I am the only one that can possibly paint this picture.  Oh sure, other people can take this idea and paint their own pictures, or send ideas my way about what I might wanna put in my picture.  But overall, I am trying to express something that is in my head.

For the last two years I’ve been thinking a lot about the USP and agriculture/horticulture that happens there.  And how we might accelerate our learning about permaculture to end up some where way beyond permaculture.  So I’ve decided to make up a new word:  “husp.”  This is actually an acronym for “Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas.”

Considering today’s reality, I wonder a fair bit about how we might go about re-creating HUSP 2012.  Since I don’t know what that is, then I know I need far more knowledge than I have now.  And I need to accelerate the collaborative innovation of millions of people over the last 404 years.  The foundations seem, to me, to smell a bit like permaculture, bio-dynamic, respectful harvest and an overall more symbiotic relationship with nature.  As opposed to the current model which kinda seems like “make nature my personal bitch.”

Here is a graph I made to illustrate what is in my head:

I wonder ….  what if there was a plot of 2000 acres that was broken into a couple dozen chunks.  Some chunks might be 200 acres and some chunks might be two acres.  And folks keen on permaculture were put on some chunks and folks keen on biodynamic were put on other chunks and folks keen on native plants were on others.  Each person is looked at as sort of an artist, and is asked to construct their masterpiece in seed and soil on their chunk of land.  And every few months, these people gather, visit and see the art created by the other artists.  Thus allowing a sort of “cross pollination” of knowledge.

Perhaps, in time, we will get closer to husp 2012.  Thank you Mr. Rogers for convincing me to create my own land-of-make-believe.


Paul Wheaton is is the tyrannical ruler of two on-line communities. One is about permaculture and one is about software engineering. There is even one for Missoula. Paul has written several permaculture articles starting with one on lawn care that he presented at the MUD Project 17 years ago, including articles on raising chickenscast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul also regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts. In his spare time, Paul has plans for world domination and is currently shopping for a hollowed out volcano in the Missoula area, with good submarine access.

See all of Paul’s contributions to Make it Missoula here.