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$100K per acre?

 
nancy sutton
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Ran Prieur just put a link to this website in his excellent blog -

http://extension.osu.edu/news-releases/archives/2010/december/osu-urban-farming-study-whats-the-best-way-to-turn-a-parking-lot-into-a-garden

It's about trialing three ways to grow crops on abandoned asphalt areas.  But, about paragraph # 11,  I see this -

"Kovach recently completed a six-year study of fruit and vegetable polyculture: “ecologically designed” mixed-crop plots that maximize biological diversity, minimize pest problems and earn the equivalent of nearly $100,000 an acre a year....."

So he's done polyculture and quantified the economic results....hmmm.... must research farther....this is in Ohio, btw. 

 
                                  
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i kinda wish paul stamets would engineer mycelium that would eat asphalt.
 
Tyler Ludens
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ferndale wrote:
i kinda wish paul stamets would engineer mycelium that would eat asphalt.


Might not be a good idea, they might escape and eat all the roads!   

Asphalt can be recycled.

I too would like to see details of how to earn $100K on one acre!    Is that gross or net, I wonder?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's some links I found about Kovach: 

mtngrv.missouristate.edu/assets/commercial/​Kovach-Polyculture.pdf

http://ourohio.org/index.php?page=piece-of-eden

http://www.the-daily-record.com/news/article/4833064

 
John Polk
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$100K/acre?  What are they growing...coca leaves, or opium poppies?
 
nancy sutton
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Thanks to Ludi's links, it appears that blueberries were the only (but big!) winners for Joe Kovach.... using 'eco-mimicry'.  He's not exactly permaculture (using beds, weed cloths, etc.) but seems pointed in the right direction.  And he's  big on urban farming .... unused lots, big lawns, etc.
 
Nicholas Covey
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According to my old-fashioned math... In order to glean $100,000.00 from 1 acre, you would have to make $2.30 per square foot, multiplied 43,560 times. That is mighty dense profitability for anything short of a mine.
 
Pat Black
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$100K gross revenue per acre of mixed produce with direct marketing seems perfectly doable to me. Do your market research before you plant!
 
Mark Allen
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I have an acre.  I think I'll try it!!!
 
Tyler Ludens
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I hope you'll let us know about your progress, Mark. 

 
Leron Bouma
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I've heard of folks making huge profits growing pricey salad greens; microgreens, pea tendrils (shoots) and sunflower shoots. Will Allen in Milwaukee has a very intensive polyculture growing on three acres.
 
S. G. Botsford
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The devil is in the details.

If you read the story (the ourOhio one) he's saying that the retail value of his crop is abouat 90,000/acre with 100K his goal.  He also admits it cost 25K to set up.

Unless you are running a street stand, you will have to wholesale it.  We have a local co-op that does this, and they take about 1/3, with the rest going to the farmer.  But the farmer has to deliver to the co-op once a week in the amounts they request.  So you aren't guaranteed a market.

So 100K turns to 66K. 

Now he's growing a raft of different things.  Choose your different things carefully, as you can easily end up with situations where everything happens at once.  You want a harvest season that is fairly long so you have an extended income stream.

To get that kind of $/acre he's using every trick of intensive growing.  Lots of growing projects like this are a LOT easier if you have more room to work.

Here's something to think about:  If you get an average of $1/pound (low for blueberries, high for mellons and lettuce) you are transporting 50 TONS of produce (not counting the boxes...) to the market.

Running a raft of different crops makes hiring help tricky.  You either have to pay enough to keep them coming back, or you have to train new people all the time, or you have to do it all yourself.  I find it takes me about an hour to train someone to transplant a tree to my standard, and another few hours for the person to get fast at it.  Generally I find that I have to work with people to get good value for my wage.  If I'm not there, only half as much gets done.  (I use mostly high school kids)

Farming is hard work.  This kind of farming is physically demanding, often boring work. The advantage to polyculture is that you aren't doing the same thing day after day.  Boredom is less likely. The disadvantage is that you aren't doing the same thing day after day, so you have to pay attention.

On top of the farming work, you have to market your stuff.  That's a whole new learning curve, which I'm still trying to pick up.

In my case the co-op market is a 90 minute drive.  Costs me $50 for gas to make the round trip in my pickup.  It also costs me 3 hours.  That's 3 hours I'm not weeding, planting, watering, harvesting.

On the other hand, I've got more than an acre to work with.
 
R Hasting
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Nicholas Covey wrote:According to my old-fashioned math... In order to glean $100,000.00 from 1 acre, you would have to make $2.30 per square foot, multiplied 43,560 times. That is mighty dense profitability for anything short of a mine.


Yep. You can sell, for example, a lettuce for $2.50. It takes .5 sf to grow that lettuce. You can grow out a lettuce in under 60 days, and where you have a 6 month growing season, you can grow at least 6 lettuces per SF in one season.
So that means that this SF gives you $15. that acres is 1/2 walking path, then you can glean $7.50 revenue per SF. which makes this math perfectly acceptable.
But that would be a very intense cultivation...
 
John Wolfram
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Listening through the Urban Farmer series by Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices, it seems that they are grossing well above $100k an acre. Of course, they have two people working on roughly 1/3 of an acre, so the net profit after labor costs would a lot less.
http://www.permaculturevoices.com/its-winter-know-the-farm-numbers-the-urban-farmer-week-1/
 
Steve Rivas
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It is quite possible to net more than $100K per acre by raising "difficult" high value plant and animal species for niche markets. There are people doing this. In most cases they keep a low profile and don't offer seminars, workshops, how-to manuals, or books. They make their money by actually raising and selling a product. They don't have local customers. The last thing they want is for someone to go into business against them (competition). It isn't permaculture because feed and other materials must be sourced from off the farm. There are a lot of "wild" animal and plant species just waiting for somebody to figure out their life cycle and turn them into a profitable farmed product.
 
R Hasting
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John Wolfram wrote:Listening through the Urban Farmer series by Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices, it seems that they are grossing well above $100k an acre. Of course, they have two people working on roughly 1/3 of an acre, so the net profit after labor costs would a lot less.
http://www.permaculturevoices.com/its-winter-know-the-farm-numbers-the-urban-farmer-week-1/


True, but Curtis Stone has set it up so that his labor costs are less than half of his revenue. But this that wage is a profit to the worker, so in a sense, there is profit in it, but not all to the proprietor.
What is important here is that 1/3 of an acre supports more than two people.
 
R Hasting
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Steve Rivas wrote:It is quite possible to net more than $100K per acre by raising "difficult" high value plant and animal species for niche markets. There are people doing this. In most cases they keep a low profile and don't offer seminars, workshops, how-to manuals, or books. They make their money by actually raising and selling a product. They don't have local customers. The last thing they want is for someone to go into business against them (competition). It isn't permaculture because feed and other materials must be sourced from off the farm. There are a lot of "wild" animal and plant species just waiting for somebody to figure out their life cycle and turn them into a profitable farmed product.


There is some truth to this, but How hard is it to grow lettuce and chives? Or are you implying that you can not grow annuals in permaculture. Curtis has those seminars, and videos. He has a weekly podcast with Diego Footer.
So there is at least one counter example to your statement of "Fact".

Which means it is time to reconsider what the truth is.
"The smaller the area, the greater the limitations, the greater the intensity of the system" - geoff lawton

 
John Wolfram
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R Hasting wrote:True, but Curtis Stone has set it up so that his labor costs are less than half of his revenue. But this that wage is a profit to the worker, so in a sense, there is profit in it, but not all to the proprietor. What is important here is that 1/3 of an acre supports more than two people.

We might be muddling definitions here. I would define "net profit" as gross sales minus employee labor costs minus other expenses (taxes, farm equipment, rent, etc.) minus a "reasonable wage" for the owner of the business.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Steve Rivas wrote: It isn't permaculture because feed and other materials must be sourced from off the farm.


This is a little problematic to me, because even Geoff Lawton sources such things as mineral supplements and compost from off the farm. Does that mean he isn't practicing permaculture? I'd bet a lot of folks here source some materials from off the farm/permaculture site.
 
R Hasting
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John Wolfram wrote:
R Hasting wrote:True, but Curtis Stone has set it up so that his labor costs are less than half of his revenue. But this that wage is a profit to the worker, so in a sense, there is profit in it, but not all to the proprietor. What is important here is that 1/3 of an acre supports more than two people.

We might be muddling definitions here. I would define "net profit" as gross sales minus employee labor costs minus other expenses (taxes, farm equipment, rent, etc.) minus a "reasonable wage" for the owner of the business.


As a business, I concur. But this does indicate that $100K revenue on an acre would be a slam dunk on the right systems. I suspect that in a good market, $200-$300K per acre might be possible if the right systems were in place.

Which is what the original objections were. As for whether something is defined as permaculture, if you define permaculture in terms of being totally self sustainable with NO outside inputs, I dare to say that there will be few if any systems that can survive without electric, fuel, cooking oil, DE, NaCl, minerals, and all the other things that we all use from off the farm. If someone is able to grow their compost on one acre, and grow their garden vegetables on the other acre, is that not permaculture because the acre needs inputs?

I think that Purists are purists because they have never tried (or had) to do it.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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