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Building our permaculture dream, working alone: it just takes too long!

 
pollinator
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We're stuck. Again! We need a new strategy, at least we think we do... Please help us find the way...
A bit of an intro:
We bought a farm that was in total distress. Because if permaculture is indeed the answer to the problems of the world, we would be able to bring it back to life. What stronger proof of the value of permaculture than that? See also: https://permies.com/t/50564/Permacultura-San-Joaquin-Colombia

This farm we want to turn into a demonstration farm, so people can see how great permaculture works out here in the tropical mountains of Colombia.

We started 5 years ago, with what we still think was a good plan. But then we got punched in the face a couple of times: El Niño of 2015/2016 gave us 16 months of drought. That didn't speed things up very much. When the rains came back we got a Chikungunya virus infection. It's similar to the Dengue and Zika virus infections (https://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/index.html). It should have passed in a few weeks but it didn't. Similar complaints kept coming back and only after more than 2 years we found a doctor who knew what the problem was (nerve damage done by the virus that didn't heal and caused auto immune problems) and helped us get over it. Anyway, you know, the stories of life, nothing special, but not helpful either, because we lost many months of work being immobilized due to pain and stiffness.

Before we started we talked with friends, sympathetic to our plans, about our needed backup and the help we would need to overcome unexpected problems. We arranged for residual income for years to come. We offered options to poor relatives if they would work with us.

It wasn't just drought and disease, also all our other preparations fell apart, nothing went as planned. Our "friends" were only interested in holidays on the farm, not in helping with an idea bigger than just themselves. Our relatives just wanted a paying job, not an opportunity for something bigger. The residual income also initially failed, but then came back to life and  helped us through the past 2 years.

We pulled through every time until now. Five years of learning important lessons that had to be learned. We now consider ourselves experts on our climate and how earthworks can improve the situation for anyone here.

A little over a year ago we reevaluated where we were. We decided to start from scratch again, but on our own land and with all the understanding and knowledge we now had. https://permies.com/t/113644/Mountainous-Farm-Earthworks

So why are we stuck?

We can teach and have interns, but we don't have buildings to house anyone. We're in the process of building them, but we don't have a budget to finish it.

We can advise and do consultancy, but we cannot show our systems. They're just not finished. We need another year at least, maybe two, and a budget for an excavator every now and then.
Our place has stunning views and is great for (eco)tourism, but we need decent cabins to make people come over and pay decent rates.

We figured out that we can make a good income out of animal products, IF we can feed them from our own land. But for that we need that excavator to come back a few more times to help us bring more of our degraded land back to production.

We made a big jump, giving up on everything we had before. We're still happy about that, best move we ever made! But we cannot do it alone. We never thought we would have to do it alone. These issues we're working on touch all of us. How do we stop this mass extinction of life that's happening right now? How do we get our climate back in balance?

In our view it does take too long, way too long! We loose so much time because we're convicted to live as poor Colombian farmers right now. No matter that our ideas are so much bigger, if the only thing people care about here is price and not quality, we will never be able to get ahead.

Why can't we find ways to speed this up? What should we do? Maybe a crowdfunding could help? But who is going to like our project enough to want to fund it? What can we offer people?
What did we miss or fail to recognize?
 
gardener
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I have no advice but i wish for your success!
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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wayne fajkus wrote:I have no advice but i wish for your success!


Thanks Wayne! Just hearing that made my day. I have no answer either,  but I know a bunch of good wishes can move mountains!
 
Posts: 483
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I sympathise with your current troubles, some of which have been noted by others on this Forum who have jumped into Permaculture and were unlucky to be victims of unforeseen circumstances – weather, illness, family issues, etc.

It looks like you need another income stream to help fund your plans. Crowd funding is an option but it comes with problems too e.g. an all too easy crutch to rely on, nothing really learnt, etc.

Alternatively, what skills do you have that could be used to make money? What was your life before doing the Permie thing? Internet/computer savvy enough to sell your skills to nearby farmers? A profession or trade? Make and sell things?

I note from your website you grow pigs and chickens and use them to make a profit? What about value adding like making bacon, smoked meat cuts, etc? Bee hives for honey? Making jam from tropical fruits? Higher prices paid for unusual items like that. (For example, growing and selling mangoes in an area where everyone has easy access to them won’t see good profits.)

How about a very strict and focused business plan/strategy which identifies priorities e.g. maybe get accommodation constructed so you can host WWOOFers that will help you fast-track work … but they need somewhere nice to stay and food to eat! And, they need a strategy so time, resources and labour aren’t wasted on trivial or redundant things.

Wishing you the best of luck!

 
pollinator
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I think it might be time to return to your old life for a while . If you had a 9 to 5 that was paying the bills and providing savings before , then it might be time to go back to that and either leave the land in Colombia with a caretaker or just leave it to nature and hopefully you won't come back to everything stolen.

I have also moved to a tropical climate where there are likely to be unforeseen difficulties. Mostly of the two-legged variety. So I have a backup plan. The number one backup plan is that I'm only investing about 20% of my net worth.

But, if I didn't have that , and l began to run out of money here in the Philippines , I would get my ass back to Canada and start working, while living very frugally . History has shown that I can save about 75% of my income when i do that. I'm talking very frugal . I don't pay for a place to live and don't have any vices.

I know that there's not a chance in hell of my friends or relatives being willing to finance anything and I have no idea how to go about squeezing money from people on the internet.

If you don't have a successful working system , i think it's premature to invite woofers and certainly premature to think you can teach others in that climate. Probably about the same with attracting tourists. Unless there is some nearby attraction , i can't see why anyone would go. I plan to stay at a few organic farms here , but i would never go to one that is in the startup stage, since I don't see that there's much to learn by that . I'm only interested in visiting places that are already successful.
 
pollinator
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It takes ages.

It sounds like you've really fought hard to get this far. This is probably a shitty consolation prize, but it *is* something to be proud of. Most people never even try to do something so good, so important, or so hard, let alone all 3!


Suggestions... well, nothing too exciting.

Is there any way for one person to get a decent off-farm income for a while? Online, or maybe in a city, stating with relatives or any other cheap but safe housing to avoid commute costs?


How about volunteers with low standards to boost avilable labour hours? My experiences as a helpXer and working with volunteers as a longer term resident on farms have led me to believe that around 85% are useful if supervised/guided well. Maybe 10% need little to no instruction and 5% are useless mouths that gobble time. Fortunately the useless ones tend to leave, whining all the way..

Many are willing to live in their tent, van, car in the summer, as long as you can feed them and provide potable water, a bucket toilet/outhouse, and a pleasant working environment...


I have hit fewer speedbumps, but am earlier in the process, lots of time for more exciting problems... I bought my equipment, so that is a major gamble as it is all old and could fail any time. Doing it solo sucks.

 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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Gotta disagree with you for once, Dale 'If you don't have a successful working system , i think it's premature to invite woofers'.

My experience of WOOFers/helpXers has been that at least 95% have no long term interest in farming/permaculture etc. They are travelling cheaply, enjoying varied experiences... but unfinished, not yet ideal projects don't seem to be an issue, I think jn large part because they are not trying to visit Ideal Permaculture Examples in order to build their own later.. I would say that a great many WOOF/helpX hosts are relatively early work-in-progress type places...

There will be plenty for novices to learn and experience, and basic living conditions is just part of the adventure for many!
 
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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I would agree that you don't need decent living for volunteers or holiday makers, but.. What is your house like? can you rent that out to holiday makers and live in something else, at least in season? with the volunteers it would just be important to be up front and explain that it is not finished, they would be helping to start something not coming to view the finished thing.
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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Just woke up, wow! More replies than I expected! My first thought after reading is that I need to refine more of what it is we need. The great thing I feel right now is that there is support for our efforts. After 5 years of struggling you sometimes doubt that too... Making a coffee now so I can wake up and think.
 
pollinator
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Hi Rene,

I can relate to what you are expressing. It seems like so much of permaculture is practiced as hobby and luxury. So my hat is off to you for going for the real deal.

I have one question: are you able to grow your own food? I would start there. IF people don't want to pay the prices your food is worth, then you can simply enjoy it yourself. To those of us who come from a Western country this sounds like isolation--no residual income!!!? However, perhaps it will bring things into focus to calculate not for income but for basic living: food, shelter, clothing. If you have those, volunteers would be happy to come.
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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Ok, on my second coffee now...

I'm thankful for all the advice so far, but nobody managed to address my point that it just takes too long. So I think I need to rephrase it.

It just takes too long!

We're in an extinction event! We're moving to be in a climate catastrophe!

And we have solutions, be it permaculture or something similar where we people work together with all life on our beautiful planet, so we can bring back a balance.
We have some brave souls willing to risk everything to work on these issues to find better ways. Like all of you who commented above!

But we can only do so much. We are often in a situation of poverty and very limited resources, where the bad guys who just extract for profit only, have all the options they need and then some...

I remember Paul started a topic on this some time ago, because I replied to it that we're just early, that the masses will one day wake up, see the light and do something. I looked it up, it's here: https://permies.com/t/60886/solutions-simple

Here we need cash, or volunteers, or both... We simply cannot do it alone. How do we get that fixed.

End of rant... Back to thinking more... I know ranting doesn't bring solutions, but maybe it clarifies where I'm coming from right now.

Say we would do a crowdfunding, how do we make that work out?
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
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2 Questions:
How much land do you have?
Can you state your goal for that land with very specific language in one sentence?
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:2 Questions:
How much land do you have?
Can you state your goal for that land with very specific language in one sentence?



We have no simple answers, but let me try:

We have 10 hectares of land, of which 5 are on steep slopes above the middle, 2 on steep slopes below the middle, 1.5 on semi flat in the middle and the remaining 1.5 on semi flat at the edges.

Many goals, but to summarize: to create a visible example of living in harmony with our planet as an inspiration for humanity to change our ways before it's too late.

If I may add, I've done some complicated sh!t in my life, but this project tops all of it...
 
master pollinator
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From my own experience, I think it is so important to follow Bill Mollison's model of working from the home outward through the zones.  My permaculture system only started to function efficiently after I started over with gardens right next to and around the house.  If one is trying to set up a functional model of permaculture, producing food for the household is of primary importance and that food can all be grown around the house, using an acre or less.  Could it be, Rene, that your model system started out too large?  

An example of a tiny impressive model permaculture system is the Greening the Desert project in Jordan.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HXCpVRmOYk
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Could it be, Rene, that your model system started out too large?  



It depends on how you look at it.

So yes it did. And no it didn't...

About a year and a half ago we decided we had to start all over again. We could only decide that because we learned our first lessons. Without the experience we only have theory. With the experience we have power to teach and to do better. So that's where we are now. That is also why right now we feel that it takes too long. We're ready now to gear up! But we lack the resources to do so. We need to figure out how to solve that...

So we are extremely fortunate to have permies.com where we can just express that so maybe we do not have to do it all alone, which would be a pointless thing anyway. All of us are in this together...
 
Rene Nijstad
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Maybe I should put some numbers here?

Ideally what would we need?

If I just look at finances it's not even all that much.
- Some excavator work to dig more terraces, so we can plant more, $5000 would get us quite far
- We're building a new house, nothing fancy just a livable space in the right spot, another $5000 would probably help us finish the construction
- Now if we could put in a bit of a good kitchen instead of improvising something ourselves we would make life easier and free up our hands to speed things up in other areas, another $5000 at most for floor tiles, a work blade and some cabinets.
- If we could then renovate the old house, we could rent it out to tourists. It needs a new roof (the current roof is one strong storm away from being blown off and it leaks), a bit of flooring, some electrical work and some windows because right now it's an unhealthy unventilated bunker... I would think for another $10,000 we could make it a decent space.

I think if we can cover these things, the wwoof-ers and other volunteers will show up in bigger numbers (they already show up from time to time without us advertising our place), and our income in general will rise enough to pay for future investment needs. The opportunity is all there, it just takes too long to get anywhere.

$25,000... It's ironic to me, I used to have a business with a turnover of more than a million per year and now look at this :/
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Have you considered workaway.com for some of the labor?
 
Rene Nijstad
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Have you considered workaway.com for some of the labor?



Yes, but we cannot really house anyone. Our current house is of bad quality and has very limited privacy. We have had 6 people volunteering but none of them wanted to stay longer than a week, for not surprising reasons. So the new place we're trying to build is extremely important for us to get done.
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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Re-reading and re-thinking...

The suggestions and ideas above to make more money of the land / animals / added value products is something we tried for years. For a variety of reasons it doesn't really work out. I can go into it deeper, but I don't want to make it all too long. Just to say that the market for food is difficult here and people here care only for price and not for quality. Also we need more terraces, because the original slopes are compacted and ruined soils that do not produce.

As I mentioned probably the way to go is a crowdfunding. Because it's a one time funding thing to get over the threshold without us taking ages to get there by ourselves.

Never done a crowdfunding though. Is there anyone with experience how you get enough people to like a project enough to actually want to help it? Because I think many crowdfunding attempts fail.

The only thing I think we can offer people is a holiday option, especially if we can renovate the old house. This is a very beautiful country and only since recently more people are spending holidays here.

I could also do permaculture consultations through Skype, but is there demand for that? What are the experiences of other people?
 
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I've had way more failure than success as well. A huge influx of money would make everything easier but that's not going to happen for us so we just do what we can when we can.  Either my husband or I have always worked off the land to pay bills/create funds for things. I'd say if it's possible one you needs to do the same. It sucks, but it's pretty reliable income you can put towards doing amazing things.

I'd also say that I live in an area where selling things just isn't great. We don't have a big population and the population we do have doesn't spend money on luxury meats/etc usually anyway.
 
Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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And to show that we're really doing something...

Yesterday we put up the first part of the new house... We're building it very simple, but also very strong and flexible. The roof will go up first, that keeps us out of the sun while building. Then the walls, we'll try the super adobe method for the lower part of the walls, because we have a lot of empty pigfeed bags... And it won't cost a thing... some insect screen for windows, and any type of plates or boards that we can get our hands on to finish the walls...
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Rene Nijstad
pollinator
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elle sagenev wrote:I've had way more failure than success as well. A huge influx of money would make everything easier but that's not going to happen for us so we just do what we can when we can.  Either my husband or I have always worked off the land to pay bills/create funds for things. I'd say if it's possible one you needs to do the same. It sucks, but it's pretty reliable income you can put towards doing amazing things.

I'd also say that I live in an area where selling things just isn't great. We don't have a big population and the population we do have doesn't spend money on luxury meats/etc usually anyway.


Thanks Elle!

I agree, that's what we've been doing for 5 years.

But because it takes too long, everything else takes too long as well. That means our goal of demonstrating permaculture, which we consider urgent, also takes too long. That's the thing I'm trying to address. To find yourself troubleshooting for years without getting to the point why you started it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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After having worked on our place for about 20 years and just now beginning to see real results and feel confident about it, 5 years doesn't seem "too long"!  (But I'm a slow learner!)  

 
Rene Nijstad
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Tyler Ludens wrote:After having worked on our place for about 20 years and just now beginning to see real results and feel confident about it, 5 years doesn't seem "too long"!  (But I'm a slow learner!)  


Hehehe, you made me laugh!

I'm not sure if I managed to explain myself good enough. Maybe I did, but just in case:

We started our project with the goal of demonstrating and promoting permaculture. The reason: we people need to re-learn how to live on our planet before we destroy it. We think that's urgent. But to demonstrate this we need a functional system that we can show people. Without that all we have is talk.

To build this system takes time. We have now learned and understood what we need to do on our location to make it work. That will still take us years to get there if we continue like we do now. If we want to get to our demonstration goal faster we need more hands. To get more hands (interns for example) we need some simple but reasonable accommodation. We could pay for that if we had a properly working system, which we don't have yet. We only have the start of that. So we're stuck that way.

I don't want to be stuck. I want us to show people what they can do and why it's good for them.

If we made any mistake in all of this is that we bought a totally ruined farm. So we started with nothing to fall back on, except for a bit of capital. That's finished now, so we're now officially poor Colombian farmers who cannot really get much done except survival. So I am looking for ways to break out of that circle we're in now.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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Rene, I guess I'm still confused - what is your source of income?  Without an income, how would you pay for necessary tools and materials?

 
Rene Nijstad
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Rene, I guess I'm still confused - what is your source of income?  Without an income, how would you pay for necessary tools and materials?


Royalties from work done in the past, which is going down now. Slowly coming up income from our work on the farm, but that's too slow right now. It will be better over time. Materials we buy whenever we have a bit of a windfall. That's not often, which is a reason why things take too long. By itself that's fine, we can live like that. But our goals are bigger than just us.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think modeling home-scale permaculture is a worthy goal.  Bigger goals are great and admirable!  I just think that, for many of us, modeling home-scale permaculture is a sufficiently huge goal.  Can your goals be scaled back for the time being, and ramped up again when things seem less overwhelming?



 
Rene Nijstad
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I think modeling home-scale permaculture is a worthy goal.  Bigger goals are great and admirable!  I just think that, for many of us, modeling home-scale permaculture is a sufficiently huge goal.  Can your goals be scaled back for the time being, and ramped up again when things seem less overwhelming?



Yes of course... But that was exactly my point. If we have to do that, and focus mainly on survival, then it just takes too long.

I'm not overwhelmed by what we have to do. I think it's nice to have such a huge challenge. I'm just frustrated that we have so many obstacles outside of our goals.
 
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At first my response was that we all have our dreams, sometimes they happen sometimes not.  
Money isn't always the answer but it certainly helps.
We are only a tiny 'blip' in the scheme of things

Now I think I understand that your goals are similar to Paul Wheaton's!

Thinking along those lines, Paul spent years developing a platform to share and gather information, even before having the land.
He had a huge following before attempting crowdfunding.

It sounds as though you have the dedication and knowledge and passion to make this happen, just not as quickly as you had hoped?

Wheaton Labs didn't happen fast and is maybe just now really building up some steam....on an ongoing roller coaster ride







 
pollinator
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Rene,  I've seen this theme come up a few times in your posts:  

How do we stop this mass extinction of life that's happening right now? How do we get our climate back in balance?  

 You also say that you don't have your systems in place, and that you don't have anywhere for people to stay to help you get your systems in place.  

It seems to me that you're trying to fly before you can walk, let alone run.  One farm isn't going to "stop this mass extinction" or "get our climate back in balance", though those are worthwhile goals.  My suggestion is that could be beneficial to take a step back, determine what you're trying to accomplish, set out a progression for those accomplishments, look at the steps required to get there, and then evaluate if the whole plan is feasible.  Here's my take on what I think that means to you.  I know it's simplified and based on my understanding, but it's a start:

Goals (in chronological order) :

1.  Get a permaculture farm up and running.
2.  Have people recognise the benefits of such a farm and way of life.
3.  Get everyone to buy in to change the course of the world.

Steps to Get There:

1.a)  Secure capital to implement changes needed to start process (you have the land, you need shelters, amenities, earthworks, etc)
   b)  Build shelters and amenities for guest workers and/or to attract ecotourists to pay for ongoing works
   c)  Get systems in place with help of workers or ecotourism income to make farm viable
   d)  Sell products to make farm self-sustaining

2. a)  Once you're up and running, start a campaign to gain recognition and educate people
    b)  Not my bailiwick, so I don't know what to do to make this happen

3. a)  There are many, many people trying to change the world.  It hasn't happened yet, but it's worth trying if you think it is.  I have no desire to fight this fight, so I'm no help here.

Once you've filled in all the above, you need to figure out if it's within your grasp and then how to do it.  As Dale, and possibly others, said, you may need to leave the land and return to a way of life that can fund your goals, even if only for a short time, or periods of time.  You have things going for you: the land, your experience, your infrastructure, and you have things going against you: setting up in an area where there's no market for 'high-end' or sustainable farm products, possibly an inability to make money off the farm, and others.  You need to decide what's achievable and what's acceptable.  One of the big issues I see is that, if you want to make a living from farming, you need to have a market for your products that pays enough to make your farm viable.  If all you can sell to is the local population, you'll only be able to get what the local population is willing, and able, to pay.  

As for the rest of your goals, it took the powers that be generations to take over even a substantial part of the known world:  Egyptians, Greeks, Mongols, Romans, British, etc, so don't think it would take any less effort or time to change the world.  We all have ideas of how long things take, and I would say that setting up a permaculture farm to the point that it starts producing a decent return, is about 5 years, maybe more.  

You keep saying that it just takes too long.  I think that means that it's taking too long for you to see the progress that you'd like.  I can't really comment on that, except to say that it takes exactly as long as it takes.  Another thing to keep in mind, when getting frustrated about your actual progress compared to expected progress is this:  It is what it is.

Sucks sometimes, but that's how she goes.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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I do not agree that you need to go back to another job to fund your goals. But it seems that your expectations are coming into conflict with reality. Why? Your goal of quick permaculture ignores some really fundamental permaculture principles. The permaculture founders told us over and over again: sustainable change is slow. Think of some of Molleson's key concepts: the intensive nucleus, incremental change, forest succession, three days of observation for every day of action, etc. These principles indicate slow, steady, change.

I don't have anything against crowdfunding. If you can pull it off go for it. You're basically starting an educational facility, so granted, that will need some cash. But I do wonder: what will you have demonstrated? That you can do good permaculture if other people give you lots of money? This is fundamentally the critique that many people level at permaculture leaders. Some have built their farms on the backs of free labor and paid courses. Is permaculture sustainable? I believe so, but crowdfunding is not.

I hear ya, the need is urgent. But that urgency doesn't change a fundamental of permaculture: sustainable change is slow. How about demonstrating that? Permaculture is blood, sweat, tears, and years of hard work--and totally worth it!

I've been on my property for five years. I have one hectare. And I've only worked on half of it so far. And only now, after five years, do I have something I can show people--and most of the trees still aren't in production yet!

Sounds to me like you're totally on track. Another principle: nature is already working.  Set your plan aside for a week. Wait. Walk the land. Observe. Then do one thing.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Permaculture is blood, sweat, tears, and years of hard work--and totally worth it!



I think it's fun. I believe it is keeping me healthy and happy!  I enjoy "hard work" - digging, toting rocks, sifting dirt, etc. but I don't have much stamina.  I like to try to find the easy and lazy way to do things (not always successful, what with all these rocks)...  Easy and lazy may also be slow.

I guess I like to downplay the "hard work" aspects of permaculture, because a lot of people don't like hard work, and a significant number (older, disabled, ill) can't work hard.  I want to make permaculture appealing to everyone, not just the young and fit.
 
Rene Nijstad
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First a thank you to everyone who responded. It's nice to be part of such a community!

I've taken look in the mirror for the past hours to figure out where this seemingly sudden outburst came from. I think I have a better idea now.

Our main problem is our diminishing income at the moment. I've been there before. In 2008/09 when the last economic crisis hit, I lost 80% of my income over a period of just 6 months. I'm seeing a similar thing approaching. And it frustrates me that after 5 years we still did not managed to get our farm to be a regular and sufficient income. I know why that is, but it's still a scary thing to deal with.

Then you wonder what the value is, and for who, of all the efforts we made. Maybe the reasoning in many of the above comments is that our work only has value if you have products to sell to clients who buy?

I cannot go back to my previous profession. It would require the same amount of time to rebuild that, as it will be to get the last stage of the work here done. When that last stage is done we will be able to call this place a working permaculture system.

I know permaculture is not a quick thing. So I'm absolutely not implying that the work will be done at any moment in the future. What I was referring to in this thread are our basic infrastructure elements. I our case that is roads, buildings and terraces. And not all of them, but enough of them to make this place functional. Mostly because I firmly believe that with these things sorted out, we have enough done to go to the next step, which is promoting permaculture and start with consultancy.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Rene Nijstad wrote:

Then you wonder what the value is, and for who, of all the efforts we made.



#1  The Earth

#2 Yourself and your family

#3 Other folks

In my opinion!  

I see no lack of value in your work.  Lack of money, maybe, but money is not value.

 
Timothy Markus
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To follow Tyler's post:

Maybe the reasoning in many of the above comments is that our work only has value if you have products to sell to clients who buy?  



That's true when speaking of monetary value.  
 
Rene Nijstad
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Ok, with that cleared up, now the only thing still missing is a solid financial strategy to get through another year with a bit of money for materials and tools. Some cash we'll be able to get with things as they are now, but I don't think it'll be enough.

We gained a lot of knowledge over the past years, and I'm a good thinker most of the time. Research I can also do. If anyone knows of a job I could do over the internet, then please let me know!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Is there any way you could parlay your previous career into a consultancy?  Or can you write articles about your previous field of expertise?

My husband turned the expertise gained from one of his previous careers (model making for show biz) into his current home business (supplying figures for slot car enthusiasts and model builders).
 
Dale Hodgins
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In looking at your shopping list , the one that stands out for me is the amount you plan to spend on a house . I can't think of any environment on earth where I couldn't construct a suitable structure for $5000. I've been in several quite livable spaces here that could be replaced for $2000. Not very fancy , just walls and a roof with a hand pump and simple kitchen. Plumbing usually involves a simple pit toilet. A modest sized house could later become a tourist rental or worker housing. This would require an adjustment in expectations, but would greatly reduce your immediate budget.

I'm not sure how far gone the original house is. This would be my strategy if that house is considered unlivable or too expensive to fix . After conducting the repairs you mentioned , do expect the existing house to be worth more than the value of those repairs ?
............
Here's another subject entirely . I like Mollison's idea of starting at the main house and working outward. But I think for many of us , after we have a roof, water and toilet, a source of outside income trumps anything else we might try. For me , this will be moringa powder for export. I wouldn't try to grow rice and bananas for the local people . The market is already flooded. But there is a worldwide shortage of this food supplement. It can be in full production within 1 year. There will be something to sell within six months.

Is there any high value item that you could ship in dried form, to people who do care about quality ? I'm thinking it would have to be leaf or spice of some sort.
 
Rene Nijstad
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Hi Dale,

The $5000 has everything to do with us not wanting to give up on permies.com and electricity yet. It includes 100 meters of cable to bring the power to the new place and sockets etc. This new house is planned to later change into the worker house, if we ever get that far. Yes, we could construct cheaper, but why? Do we need to prove a point with this? 5000, 2000? How does it compare to several 100s of 1000s for what's considered normal these days?

It's funny you mention moringa. We got a 100 seeds from a neighbor about 3 years ago. We seeded them directly into the soil back then. 5 germinated... 4 of them died. The remaining one is now about 4 meters tall and we already got 20 offspring on several spots. More were just recently seeded in bags. We're now growing them mainly for ourselves, surplus for the chickens, seeds to reseed until we have at least a couple of 100s or more going... But as you probably know, you need a helllufalot of trees to bag a kilo of dried leaves or seeds...
 
She still doesn't approve of my superhero lifestyle. Or this shameless plug:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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