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Getting More People to Buy From Permaculture Farms  RSS feed

 
Posts: 418
Location: Eugene, OR
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I just started this thread to prevent the Wheaton Eco Scale from going off topic. Please continue this new discussion here. Thanks!
 
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Thanks Kirk.

I think I got off topic within my own off topic mini thread    The point I was trying to make was that I thought "the masses" are probably not going to change how they shop of their own volition.  The few that might probably have already (eg: people that go to farmers markets, etc.).  I am not sure how things are in US, but in Australia there are basically two supermarket chains that control 90% of the market or something (Coles and Woolworths), and a third 'franchise' chain that probably controls another 5% (IGA).  I have trouble convincing my wife to buy our fruit and vegetables from the green grocer because of the perceived inconvienience of going to two places even though they're in the same place.

I think that a viable alternative route for selling permaculture produce might be to appeal to the lazy masses by home delivery of produce.  But the scale of most of permculture operations (based on my limited knowledge) you'd need to a co-op to ensure a decent supply, and that's going to take a fair bit of coordination (paid staff?) and logistics (delivery drivers).  And that kinda undermines the eco factor.

My own believe is that the best outcome would be to decentralise food production to the home level as much as is practical.  There would still need to be suppliers of things that are impractical to farm on a small holding (as an 'organic' beef farmer, I know how much land cattle need) but maybe with the money people were saving by growing their own vegies, a premium on meat would be more acceptable (thus allowing it to be produced in a permaculturally sensitive manner).  If you can convince "the masses" to grow some vegies, you have a foothold to convincing them that food without chemicals is better, because they can taste it for themselves!
 
Phil Hawkins
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Further to my last post, I had a bit more of an idea.  Let's say we had a co-op of farmers with animals to sell for meat - the more farmers in the co-op, the more stable your supply is, and the more likely you are to have consumers coming back as regular customers.  At any given time, you're going to have a certain number that could "go to market" for the right price. 

The consumers go to the website, and bid on each cut of meat they're after (much like an eBay type system - I am prepared to pay X, and the farmer's reserve is Y).  When sufficient cuts have sufficient bids, the cow "graduates from bovine university" (to quote the Simpsons), the butcher prepares and packages the cuts for delivery.  Any cuts that weren't sold through the online marketplace could be sold via an alternate channel (local butcher shop, smallgoods producer, etc) for a separately negotiated, or at worst, market price.  If the butcher was mobile, it would mean that the non-salable parts (bones, skin, etc) could stay at the farm for whatever purpose he/she saw fit (compost, pig feed, etc).

The farmer gets probably a better price, the consumer gets a better product, and the middle men are fewer.  This sort of thing would probably work well with AgriTrue, creating a sense of knowing your producer.
 
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In my locale the reason people aren't buying from permaculture growers is that there aren't enough permaculture growers for people to buy from conveniently. 

Until we provide a service, we can't very well expect people to partake of that service.

You can't very well have a co-op of permaculture growers until you have some permaculture growers to form the co-op. 

Although I love the idea of convincing "the masses" to grow some vegies, and I think we should keep on doing that, those of us who want these changes should maybe grow the vegies ourselves and sell them to folks who really probably aren't all that interested in growing vegies.  Personally I think it's probably  even harder to convince folks to grow their own food than it is going to be to convince them to buy food from their neighborhood permaculture grower.


If there are any permaculture growers here on the boards, in the Central Texas region, specifically the south-eastern Edwards Plateau, I would love to form a co-op with you if I were actually in a position to sell food to people.  As it is, I can't even feed myself! 
 
                                      
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and that's going to take a fair bit of coordination (paid staff?) and logistics (delivery drivers).  And that kinda undermines the eco factor.



why? i dont see exactly how this would be less ecologically sound.

transport will always exist, if a co-op will make the distribution part for polyculture farms more efficient i think i will make it more eco. Of course minimizing the transport by decentralizing seems essential when going down this road, not only for food.

So I agree with you that there will need to be an emphasis on homegrowing. Growing as much as possible at home as possible. Though this will be much easier in australia, with the low population density you have. In the netherlands we have 16 million people but our total surface area is only 4 million hectares...

As to ludi's point, i think this is a major one. I hear a lot of people voicing out this need. 'How do we convince "the farmers"?'. I think we dont, i think we should become the farmers....

Over here in europe farming means hardship, it is not a popular profession and farmers are not looked up on, to say it mildly. In the netherlands alone two farmers go bankrupt every day. Their farms being usurped by big scale monoculture farms (i call them factories) next door. This means there are less and less farmers to begin with.

I think we need to rehabilitate the profession of farming and rehabilitate farmers. They do some of the most important work for our society.

Like ludi said, there are just not enough (in the netherlands none) permaculture farms, some organic ones,but they are still big-scale monocultures. Some small-scale polyculture organic farms exist, but thats marginal.

I think we need to stop talking about convincing others and start doing it ourselves. We are the farmers for the future. And we'll probably need lots of us.

[offtopic]So my main problem here is getting land. you can imagine the prices of land in a country so densely populated. I have a three year plan though. within three years i want to be planting tree's on my (minimum 12 ha farm).[/offtopic]
 
Tyler Ludens
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:

I think we need to stop talking about convincing others and start doing it ourselves. We are the farmers for the future. And we'll probably need lots of us.




Super 100% agree!  And if we do want to convince others, the most convincing thing is to show it can be done by doing it ourselves.  That's why I keep trying!  (in spite of drought and varmints) 
 
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:

Super 100% agree!  And if we do want to convince others, the most convincing thing is to show it can be done by doing it ourselves.  That's why I keep trying!  (in spite of drought and varmints)   



I agree with this, also because permaculture has so much less in the way of inputs one of the easiest ways to drive interest is through lower prices. So a customer of a permaculture farm would get the benefit of both healthier food and a lower cost in comparison.

In my opinion these two combined should sell itself.

Jeff
 
Phil Hawkins
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I'm not an entrepreneur by any stretch, but I was talking to a friend that is about this "meat co-op" idea.  He said that the main value add is to address the "equilibrium imbalance" between producers and consumers.  So as a producer, I have a minimum of one cow to sell, but that takes many consumers to buy it (end user consumers, I mean) from me.  Similarly, someone might want three racks of ribs, which I couldn't fulfill with one beast.  I know I keep focusing on meat, but I think that really is a tougher problem to solve than fruit/vegies/nuts/etc.

On the topic of logistics undermining eco-ness, this was more a response to the idyllic notion of shopping locally, farm gate sales, etc.  As soon as "local" is more than a mile, you're realistically going to involve motorised transport (well, horse and cart might work for a few miles, but not practically for tens of miles where time sensitive cargo is a factor).  That being said, I think any such "management system" could be more sympathetic to reducing transport distances than traditional eCommerce.

On "backyard" gardening, even though I already owned a small farm, I was turned on to growing my own vegies by a guy from work that has a couple of 8' square raised beds in his suburban yard.  He gave me and another coworker (who also has a small vegie patch) each an envelope of Kent pumpkin seeds he'd saved from his "prime pumpkin".  Now I am encouraging my boss (an apartment dweller) to grow some tomatoes in his balcony so his kids can see where their food comes from.  It really is infectious.  I saw something about Michelle Obama growing vegies in her backyard - I wonder if that has inspired people?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Phil H wrote:
this was more a response to the idyllic notion of shopping locally, farm gate sales, etc.



Um, don't you think permaculture itself is something of an "idyllic notion"? 

 
Phil Hawkins
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Um, don't you think permaculture itself is something of an "idyllic notion"?   



No, actually I think it represents the pinnacle of human ingenuity with respect to agriculture.  It takes our best scientific knowledge, and moderates the worst aspects of our natural greed with the understanding that if something isn't sustainable, then it isn't good enough.  Industrial agriculture uses the science, but ignores the sustainability aspect - we are running out of superphosphate globally, so how can I pass on a productive farm to my children if it requires something that simply may not exist in their lifetime?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) this "practical" side of permaculture is strongly associated with a whole bunch of stuff that probably alienates it from the mainstream.  I know for a long time I associated the word with people living in "eccentric" houses, wearing garishly coloured pants, sporting dreadlocks and a bong.  Now I don't have anything against any of that, but that's not me (not is it "the masses") so I dismissed it.  I think in one of Paul's podcasts (or perhaps it was one of Jack Spirko's), he mentioned a practitioner who went into a school and helped them build a sustainable, low maintenance food garden.  Much later, when everything was up and running, and everyone was happy, the practitioner used the word "Permaculture" for the first time to describe what they had built.

So I used the word "idyllic" because whilst I would love to live in that world, if you're talking about increasing the amount of permaculture food being sold, I think you need to move past that model to something that combines the best production methods, with the best of modern sales and distribution infrastructure.
 
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