I'm going! Yay! I'm excited to have received a scholarship to attend via Black Permaculture Network! I wanted to go. But since I was let go from work in December I had no way to fund it. I'm barely going to be able to gas up the car to get there and back from Long Beach. I sure could use a couch surf or something. Not being able to pay for lodging, I was considering seeing if I could get away with sleeping in the car on the street somewhere. Then I saw this thread! If anyone still has room to host, please let me know.
Has anyone made a formal urban homestead business plan they could share with me. I'm interested in attracting funds to raise funds for a home rental and operational costs for an urban homestead. While I'm not a stranger to business plans, I'm a bit clueless on putting one together for a venture like this. How would you even get figures for a market and competitor analysis? I figured if someone else has put on together, it could serve as a guide for me.
At the same time, putting that word out there puts it in the mind of your customers. Now you have an opportunity to educate them! Don't we want people to know why polycultures are better?
The proof of the likely results of running a market garden business and giving potential customers information that only makes them doubt you is in the original post:
"But when I tell people I'm going to do 'polyculture' for a market garden business I get worried looks."
Why suggest to someone looking for business advice that they should do the very thing that is already being a source of friction? You don't want friction in business. You want customers to easily do business with you. Isn't the better way to grow the food, market it, then show/tell them the techniques you are using? For most customers, knowing their food is grown without chemicals is enough. Telling them more when you have nothing to show just makes them look at you sideways...unless you're only marketing to people who are already sold on polyculture or you just like constantly "educating" and trying to overcome misunderstanding, objections, and confusion. I wouldn't think that's a good use of time for a business, but your mileage may vary.
I totally get Collins question! From my experience, there are a ton of people who are "into" permaculture that do little to nothing with it. I can't count the number of people I'm known or come across throughout the years who took workshops and design courses and didn't produce as much as a few salads a week. I've never taken a class and probably won't and have out produced them on the tiny plots I had. Even when I lived in an apartment, I had food growing in cardboard boxes and plastic planters outside. It has been rough the past year and a half not having a garden, but I've just bought six acres of land and I'm eager to get my homestead going.
It can be easy to lose confidence in permaculture if you listen to people who flap their gums all the time but produce nothing. They often have loads of criticisms about what you're doing and love to tell you how you should do it. I've learned to ignore them and press on. While they're exercising their vocal cords, I'll be enjoying fresh veggies with little work to maintain them.
Ask yourself why you need to tell people you will be doing polyculture. I don't think it is necessary to tell people that. It may only serve to hinder you. I would simply get my farm going and produce food. If you do that, you'll be demonstrating what you do. People will be more convinced by what they see than what you tell them. If you are producing delicious healthy edibles, they won't care if they are polyculture or monocropped except for the few who are already sold on polyculture. Go for it!
Above ground pools seem to last just fine. I'm not sure why straw bales around them would be needed. They have metal frames. You're thinking the frame wouldn't give out? So far, above ground pools seem to be the cheapest way to store thousands of gallons of water. Of course, I could dig a big hole in the ground and line it. That would be lot of work to make a hole large enough to store what I'm going for (a 3-6 month supply).
I might be interested in living there. I've been doing permaculture for a long time and my interest is primarily in agriculture. I'm a drylands permie and I'm itching to homestead and nurture a food forest. Let's talk. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm moved to Georgia from SoCal and looking to get back. I would be interested talking about your project and finding out if it would be a good match for me. It's better to reach me at email@example.com. I don't check messages here frequently.
I'm looking to buy something for up to $10K. It can be an empty lot in/near the city or a house that needs rehabbing. (There does need to be utility hookups on property already.) This property will become my little urban homestead and homestead educational center. If you have something (or know someone who does) that would fit the bill, please let me know.
Ah...California isn't part of the southwest - at least I've never heard a fellow California think of it as southwest. I doubt any northern California would consider themselves living in the Southwest. If people like me are looking for a forum for CA, I don't think they would even think to look there in that region folder. I request that "California" be put in the region name so that it is clear that it is meant to include CA? Would the webmaster be willing to do that?
I don't really care for it when Paul gets all negative nelly on the show. For a few podcasts he seemed to be on a ranting kick, but not once did I email him to tell him to change what he was doing. I don't pay jack-shit for the privilege of hearing the podcast. So, if I don't like how Paul is doing HIS podcast, I can...shall we say...stuff it. I have this wonderful ability to not listen to any podcast I don't want to hear.
There's something I like to tell people. I like to remind myself of it when I feel the need to complain about something - especially something I'm not putting my time or money into:
"Never complain about that which you do not have to be subject to." Fair enough?
If you run up against regulations that limit tank water storage, dig ponds and provide shade for them somehow to reduce evaporation. As someone else already said, planting in swales and other depressions will help. Also, make sure that you raise crops that tolerate or require drought. You'll just frustrate yourself and create way more work than necessary if you try to grow thirsty crops.
It might be helpful to limit your vegetable garden to a small area around the house and get really good with intensive growing methods. Then you can spread out your growing space from there as you can make use of the advancing edge to make the land more hospitable to food growing.
Growing high biomass crops will help a lot. If you want to speed up the ability of your land to hold water, it might be worth dedicating your first few years to doing a lot of composting of that biomass to help build up soil humus. If you start with a small area like I suggested above, this can be very manageable.
If you're very ambitious and have the money for seed and/or plant starts, you could plant big tracks of the land, if not the whole thing, with high biomass plants. (Think big bushes, bamboo, and trees that can be coppiced annually!) Then cut the whole lot down once or twice a year depending on how fast it all grows, chop it up a bit, and make compost piles of it dotted across the land. In other words, turn the place into a compost farm. You could conceivably build the topsoil up by a foot or more in just a matter of 3-5 years and you will have greatly increased the water storage capacity of the land AND created a fertile place for food crops. If some of the biomass crops are food crops, you can eat from the land while you do this. Once it's done you can turn to more of a chop 'n drop method to continue the soil building and reduce your work load.
Nancy Sutton wrote: Prof Dan Nocera, MIT, has found catalysts that make the hydrolysis easy and cheap, with any water, and powered by solar and wind ... it solves the storage/battery problem.
But there are water shortage problems all over. I can see this being useful if you are on the coast, but inland? Wouldn't there be negative effects? I imagine doing this on a large scale would further deplete our water resources.
paul wheaton wrote: I think the point is a good point. And it has been shown to me over and over. When I give information away, most people (90%+) think the information has no value. And when I charge huge amounts of money for the exact same information, the information is universally respected.
I've experienced the same thing when I give people stuff who have no real incentive to do something with it especially when I didn't make their action an intrinsic part of what it is I'm giving. People who do seem to have a demonstrable incentive that has nothing to do with me, have always stepped up to the plate. I think in the United States we may have inadvertently focused on certain demographics with our permaculture that really don't do us any good. I see permaculture happening in low income neighborhoods than I do in anywhere else. And it's rare that I meet many there who paid for a class. Even in other communities where permaculture is happening I don't think most of the people actually doing the work took courses. How do we account for that dynamic? Some people will pay and do or not do something with the knowledge while others will not pay and actually do something with it. Neither is wrong.
leigh gates wrote: Just a "think outside the box" moment.
Another think outside the box moment...
What are the unintended consequences of charging big bucks for this knowledge? Do we miss the opportunity to perhaps draw in the very people who might be most likely to implement that knowledge? Certainly, the fees I've seen being charged hasn't led to a groundswell of permaculture change in communities. Most who pay do the high prices do so as a luxury and therefore have no natural incentive to do anything more than use courses as mental masturbation. When I look around the world, I think I see that most of the people who are actually doing permaculture paid little or nothing for the knowledge. Money is also not the only way to "charge" for knowledge.
If you're goal is to make money off of people, then charge whatever. If you goal is also to have the biggest impact you can, think a bit about how you charge. After all, Paul has offered these forums that contained a lot of knowledge to the world for free and touched far more than he could if he charged for it all.
DougOwen wrote: H Ludi Tyler is in a tough situation. S/he needs a good solution to retain water during a mega drought and needs it immediately. If and when a good rain comes it would be best to be prepared for it. For now I would be looking at liners as effective short term solutions while we permies develop or create better long term solutions.
For the long term, I think rain barrels or other enclosed water storage would be good. Since she's noticing that it's so hot for so long that the ponds where she is are drying up, it makes no sense to dig one. And, as I know from living in a dry climate, her evaporation rates are quite high compared to a climate with higher humidity or lower temperatures. So, it's probably better to make sure that water storage is not uncovered.
If the trees are dying, she'll probably have to let the tree go and focus on smaller edible vegetation grown together in an easily controllable area. Deep mulch combined with some shading over the garden (shade cloths maybe) may be enough to reduce soil moisture evaporation and plant transpiration and lower temperatures for the plants. The shading would need to be larger than the garden to allow more cooled air to flow over the plants - perhaps 30-50% larger. I imagine the garden would need a good soaking to fully recharge soil moisture.
pebble wrote: Yes, I know we can make plastics from plants. I'm just not sure they fit the definition of 'biodegradable' that I use. There are hard cornstarch containers that when wet go soft, and these compost fine. But I've not seen a 'plastic' bag or pottle that biodegrades naturally and easily.
John Polk wrote: Besides nuts and avocados, few plants provide us with sufficient oils for proper health. And avocados grow in limited regions...damn it! With, or without meat, nuts are essential for any permaculture planting. If you live where nuts will not grow, you are pushing the ecological limits of "sustainability" unless blubber is significant in your diet.
We can grow plenty of seeds with good fat content in a home garden: sunflower, sesame, chia, (remember Chia Pets?), and flax (I don't care for their taste though). Then there are the seeds that can be grown as secondary crops such as pumpkin, butternut squash, and watermelon, cantaloupe. If your zuchini, cukes and other squash get too big for good eating, let them continue to grow and harvest them for the edible seeds.
I'd like to get a press so that I can express my own plant oils.
I do use diagrams as a part of my process, but it's just a tool - not something I feel like I have to stick to. I usually spend a far amount of time just "listening to what the space has to say to me" as I call it. I do a bit of research on the local climate. After I do my initial assessments I make lists of plants for each microclimate around the space I'm gardening in. Then I make a rough diagram of how I'll arrange my plantings. I usually reserve a lot of space for just broadcasting a bunch of mixed seeds. I've had the best success broadcasting seeds and letting them grow wild. That gives me an opportunity to really see what grows best in which of my areas and which ones don't do well at all. Then the next time around, I don't bother with the ones that don't thrive in my space.
I put more care into where I plant perennials. Since they will stay in place rather than dance around the garden like my annuals will, I want to make sure I get their planting location right. They are the first things that go on my diagrams. That has been even more important for me because I've always had small spaces to work with. The smaller the space the smaller the margin of error you have. Of course, other things might go on a diagram: where rabbit cage, pond, rain barrel, compost piles, etc.
This topic is a sticky wicket for me. I'd prefer to use as little petroleum as possible because of what petro use is doing to our environment and health. That said, I recognize that the best way to dramatically reduce that damage is to eliminate oil as a feed stock for fuel since the whopping majority of it is used for fuel. Another thing I'm considering is will my use of oil in permaculture system (in this case in the form of plastics) end up meaning a substantial reduction in my overall use of oil.
Our modern lives are inextricably tied to petroleum. Without it there are no computers or no safe electricity. I really don't care to live without those wonderful inventions. There are a lot of goods that contain plastic that don't have to, but they would loose the benefits of plastics. Plastics allow us to have things that are flexible, but lightweight or very rigid, but lightweight and able to absorb impact energy. We would do well to ramp up research into creating other more environmentally friendly materials that get the job done especially since we have already hit peak oil...if we want to continue to have modern creature comforts. However, what if we get off off petroleum as fuel, I wonder how long we'd still have oil to make plastics. Probably a much longer time. Some products though should probably not be made with plastic at all.
H Ludi Tyler wrote: I agree, but even in permie discussions people seem to fixate on grains as a staple food, even though roots and tubers take up less growing space.
H Ludi Tyler wrote: Even here on permies.com I often feel like I'm trying to pry details from people about their gardens. In the new year I'm hoping to have my act together enough to set up a record-keeping system to document my efforts.
I think I understand. In my short time here, I have felt a little frustration myself. I must have known a few hundred people into permaculture by now and so few have done anything much other than yackity-yack-yack. And sometimes over the years I've been made to feel like I'm the one who doesn't fit in because I want to see some results to go along with all the flowers and rainbows. If we can't produce the goods, maybe we need to stop "running off at the lips" (to quote my mother) with all this nice sounding talk and feel good parties and admit that we have failed to fulfill what we said we could do with this permaculture thing. I'm convinced though that we can do a great deal more once we just decide to do it. From my vantage point more people are starting to do that out of necessity. But whatever it takes, right?
You have the special challenge of working in some harsh climate conditions. If you end up mastering gardening there, people will seek you out for your knowledge.
H Ludi Tyler wrote: I think most people who learn about permaculture aren't farmers, but instead are gardeners. So there should be loads of examples of people with yards who have been practicing permaculture a number of years and grow virtually all their own food...
Ain't that the truth!...in my opinion. (Don't want it said that I 'stating' the truth in a confrontational way. )
(except possibly calorie crops, because of the space issue).
Why not? It may just be a matter of picking calorie crop carefully. If I want to grow root crops, but growing them in the ground would take up too much of the precious little space where I can grow other thing, I'd grow my root crops in containers on an appropriate paved surface or indoor if I can. If not, I'd skip the root crops. The key to growing calorie crops in small spaces it to grow vertically. Grow calorie crops that grows vertically (like sunflowers for seeds or cordon fruit trees) or that can be grown vertically (every vine goes on a trellis or pole). As you build up soil fertility, increase the water holding capacity of the soil, and limit moisture evaporation and runoff, you should be able to plant things closer together over time and bump up the quantity of food that can be grown in the same space.
Nancy Sutton wrote: Questions - since permaculture has been around for more than 5 or 6 years, where are the productive/profitable PC farms/forests?
That's what I wanna know! We need to step up our game. As is said: The proof is in the pudding.
Nancy Sutton wrote: Other than Sepp, of course, who inherited considerable acreage, and profits from more than his produce, I think.
You hit some important for me. It's probably too limiting to think of only think of income from food. In fact, the program that I will be launching in Atlanta comes with producing free produce for all - all participants. The program will be heavily incentivised to make it very attractive to participate and stay involved for the long haul. (I can talk about that in another thread if people are interested.) Income will be made through services and other value added items from the gardens. The food gets raised incidentally.
Produce will be free, but if you want someone to cook or process it for you (such as grinding, canning, dehydrating, etc.) you pay for those services. The value added products are things such as:
- fibers turned into yarns, rope, paper, etc. - plant dyes for milk based (and other natural) paints - ornaments plants (indoor and outdoor) - seeds - urban agriculture/urban permaculture classes - food processing and cooking classes - and other things
The first two are be aimed at growing a local textile industry. The idea is to also establish a recycling program as a cooperative business owned by community member-employees (ala the Mondragon Cooperative). Member families bring us their refuse and we recycle organic waste into compost for sale and we re-purpose and recycle inorganic items into other products -- including mining spent electronics for precious metals.
We need to think broader than farming to sell produce. In this way we can make sure everyone has access to food as a part of the commons AND provide ourselves income.