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anyone here make money from permaculture?

 
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Thanks Dale - needed a chuckle~
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:

mick mclaughlin wrote:

The answer to the original question is very damn few are making money growing food through permaculture.



And there you have it. I guess I'm going to have to rethink everything and become a clear cut logger instead.
I knew we'd eventually settle this thing.



haha...you got me laughing on that one!
 
pollinator
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> off topic...

I disagree because I see the essence of the original post to be how permaculture sites fit themselves into the larger world - which means for all practical purposes the money world. Ie. _DO_ they fit into the larger world? Money is the central method of relating to the larger world (the one the other 99% gets to live in) so attitudes and beliefs about money relate directly to the original question.

And Paul and the Empire? (tip hat) From all appearances our peerless sponsor is very aware and concerned for the economic and financial aspects of the Empire. Money cannot be forgotten, avoided or ignored by those expecting to remain functional and progressing on their chosen path. To impact the world permaculture sites need to be financially healthy medium and long term.

IMHO they also need to serve a purpose _in_ the world (eg. provide food for millions). This does go beyond the original question of financial viability of individual sites so let that issue find its own topic.

> Daniel Boone

Supported himself in the way appropriate to his world.

> Ghandi et al

Raised money (often by proxy) to fund their cause. Just like our politicians and crowd-funders to today. No free lunch.

> system broken...

"...the best of worlds, the worst of worlds...". Still true, right? And that supports which particular of this discussion...?



Rufus

 
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Cortland please make a few more posts quoting yourself, that will get us all back on topic! I dont get your posts, no matter how often you repeat them, but ya got the right to make them.

The same as the rest of us.

Its called a conversation.

Dale, i only meant that i had followed your threads with interest. You have certsinly tackled bigger jobs than i, and i have neber made my living exclusivly off home salvage. I am a carpenter, and normally build more then demolish. The enviroment in the midwest is not conducive to salvage. Dump fees are low, and product is hard to move. I csn sell barn wood quicker then heart pine. I have only been opportunistic.

I do agree with you sbout employees. I hire as needed, but have no desires to ever have employees again.

On permaculture, maybe there are a bazillion people msking money off it. I dont know, and i would think this thread has continued long enough if many knew about them,i believe they would have been mentioned.

My take on this thread was that just because its not making huge amounts of money, does not make it a fruitless (pun intended) endeavor.

Sorry, posting from a phone. Swollen knuckles and touch screens dont mix.

Regardless, i eill keep growing food and trying to teach where i can. Maybe i will get lucky and make a buck, while i am at it.

I like hot showers.
 
mick mclaughlin
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Rufus,all those men died bankrupt, broke, busted, penniless.

Your original post said lack of money is sn indicator of worth to society.

My point was, uh, no its not.

I will take more ghandis and less donald trump, if ya dont mind.

Money, lack of it or rich as horse manure, is no guage of an individual.

Some are not motivated by money. Sure dont make em right, but it sure dont make em wrong, either.
 
pollinator
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So this is really getting out there. I have posted a rant under 'drivel' because I have a feeling we can go at this all month and not really come to a conclusion.
 
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These things never really conclude. They move ahead in fits and starts and evolve over time.Just so we don't ruffle any moderator feathers, I'd just like to say that we have all shaken hands and agreed not to fight. I'm sure I'd like any one of my fellow debaters if we met in person. The clunky nature of the written word can make light hearted banter seem like criticism or attack. I think that even those of you who are dead wrong most of the time are fine fellows.

Whole threads are often deleted once passions run high. I think a much better strategy would be a time out. Lock the thread for a week and see if anybody is still mad when it comes alive again.
 
Dale Hodgins
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THIS ONE IS JUST FOR FUN ----- Mick said it. I just report the news.

mick mclaughlin wrote: Maybe i will get lucky and make a buck, while i am at it.

I like hot showers.



Most men just hope to get lucky. Very few of us have managed to get paid for it. There are some very nice cougars who might take you up on the offer. They might even join you in the shower. To save water. They'll want to get their money's worth. --- Hot water is expensive.
 
mick mclaughlin
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No thanks, dean! I have a beautiful, understanding girlfriend.

That isnt motivated by money, either.
 
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I make money. Ha! NOT what ya'll were looking for it seems, but its the truth, in simple.

I dont make a lot of money. As has been beaten into a bloody pulp here, with somewhat good reason, our economy is skewed to undervalue food. That is frustrating, but my frustration doesnt change anything. I still make money, growing food using permaculture, and feel great about my life for that. Please dont measure me or my contribution to society by my income. Dale said it well when he described making 'paid time' something you value and enjoy. My time is mostly paid time, surely low paid time, but not free time at all. I love what I do, I make a little money doing it, and I dont wish there was less paid time in my life. I call this success.

I dont like money. I think it is distasteful and rotten. Without it, thugs with guns will take your land, which I seek to avoid. I pursue it, disinterestedly, as necessary. I focus on living a life according to principles that make me feel alive and human. That's just me, being genuine isnt a choice. Other people, their lives are their own. You do you and I'll do me, simple.

Permaculture is profitable. Duh. It generates wealth from the sun and the soil, and the hands of human labor. Gotta be an economist to act like it isnt so. I earn food and health, sleek muscles and a keen mind. I derive a bit of money on the side, enough to keep me out of the debtor's jail. A lot of the problem comes from wanting luxuries, things our ancestors never considered much less coveted. Permaculture isnt really setup to make money like a bank. It has a different primary currency. That works for me, so I work for it.

One more time, for the doubters and the haters, I make money growing food using permaculture. Much more importantly, I love my life.
 
Rufus Laggren
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> [income => value to society....... Disagree... heroes die broke...]

I'm not saying love it, sell out, give over your life... Not What I'm Saying. I'm saying deal with it honestly. It's a poor workman that blames the tools or points to life and cries "unfair".

"income = value" is a gross generalization. Pretty easy to find counter examples; doesn't change the overall picture, though: Would you want your sister to marry an impoverished dreamer with no history except of "tried this, tried that" who by every evidence you can find or see will provide her (after she puts him through school because _he_ doesn't have a dime) a life of menial drudgery for years after which he will disappear to avoid creditors? Sure maybe it'd work out - anythings possible after all. But "due diligence" requires that these things be looked at carefully. There is a reason it's called the REAL world!

You make a dream real ONLY by doing it in the real world. Otherwise by definition you didn't make it... real. Let's not trash what we have been given in a simplistic knee jerk fit of pique. Lots of people suffered trying to make things the way the are better than the way they were. I'd say some respect is due - a whole lotta respect! We are part of our culture of money, we are benefiting from it, we are exploiting it, we are living on it and from it. When you're taking a shower it's counterproductive to pretend you're not using water. Get real. Get honest.

What? Not part of the money culture? Leaving it as quick as possible?

> money is distasteful... use it to keep people w/guns (and money) from taking my land.

May I suggest that money is the only thing that allows you to own land; it's cheaper, more reliable and effective than if you yourself had to form your own "security forces" to conquer and establish and maintain your kingdom directly yourself. I'd go further: W/out this society and economy you are using for your own purposes - you would not be able "have" any land. You are depending totally on the laws, the markets, the exchange mechanisms of our fiscal society. Without them there would less opportunity, less choice, less means for the individual to pursue any dream at all. A whole lot less - like maybe NONE.

I'm saying Get Honest about what you're doing, using, standing on. Value it well because you are it and we all need to value ourselves.


Rufus
 
Adam Klaus
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groan......

dont misquote me. they are thugs, not people. you know, the ones with the badges and guns that you believe keep the world spinning round.

I take it you dont make any money from permaculture? Maybe sit down and let those who do have their legitimate say without your constant rebuttal?
You have made your brilliant contribution here, let it go.

There is a huge disconnect between those of us who work in the soil to make our sustanence and those who speculate from the city. It shows pretty clear in one's contributions, both words and deeds.

back to the soil for me.... a not at all poor workman...
 
Dale Hodgins
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edit -- Adam posted while this post sat on my screen during breakfast. So mine is a little redundant.

Rufus --- Is your garden pumping out any money ? Or, is it saving you lots of money ? If so, tell us approximately how much you figure your combined earnings and savings from this endeavor have contributed to or saved from leaving your wallet.

That information would address the original question.
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I said somewhere that I had no farm income. That's true of the farm. I share a garden in the city which provides most of my greens and I have an extensive network of fruit trees, wild berries and bushes in parks that provides most of the fruit that I eat from July through November. There's massive amounts that I could preserve, but I don't. I do take fruit whenever I'm invited to eat. That's all I bring to meals where I eat salmon and other good stuff. My van has a resident fruit fly population.

So, with minimal effort, I save a good chunk of money from gardening and gathering.

These Himalaya berries cover vast areas. I can pick them at a rate of $50+ per hour when compared to fruit at the organic market.

My friends from Thailand wanted a garden. I found this one a few blocks away. It was advertised on a garden share site. It was mostly grass on the very late start date of July 9. Six weeks later, we eat from it every day. I do the heavy lifting (sod breaking, bringing seaweed, ...) but I don't do any of the day to day stuff. The ladies like it that way and so do I.

One of the primary goals for many, is to create a system that pretty much looks after itself. It took me two days of hard slogging to accomplish this. Na na nana na....
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Rufus Laggren
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Dale

I don't farm or save from a garden. It's a smart thing to do, I've considered it but I'm not there right now; I have land city land which might work when resources permit. I have always lived in a city and am one of the lucky ones I alluded to who have the background and education to say something intelligent (or possibly bothersome) about growing small organizations and the use of money. I _do_ have a lot of experience working, making (and unmaking) a plumbing business and seeing close up other people creating their own systems (in most cases businesses). I am not well off, just pay the bills but I hope to improve our family business to the point that it is robust enough to continue to do that for my family in the foreseeable future..

Adam, IMHO you on the farm are just as human as we in the city and your efforts, politics and responses look a whole lot alike anybody else's. And I've seen a LOT of anybody elses in the past 50 years or so. Have some confidence, some faith. Your sacred beliefs are sound and safe - provided they really are sacred, of course. "In the valley of the shadow of capitalism I will fear no logic..." or something like that - provided you speak truly. Unfortunately that doesn't mean one gets to dis life's "realities" of which we all are part.

I do believe (and hope) that nothing I've said anywhere here or elsewhere has impugned anybody's wish and striving for a better life. I definitely _have_ tried to suggest that it is a falsehood with a high price (for somebody) to blame and vilify the world you came from and depend on, especially in an inaccurate and non-sensical way. Don't buy into easy cheap dogma. Capitalism, money, isn't what's keeping people down. Just like God, if capitalism didn't exist we would create something like it. There is a REASON things are the way they are.

Perhaps I should add that there are more truly tall and valuable (one way or another) people on this forum that any place I've seen recently and the themes generated here look like something I truly would like to see spread. (The Empire! <g>) To a great extent I'm a logic/linguistics machine with a fair amount of experience with people - so I tend to respond when I see something that doesn't "compute" or reasoning that silently skips over gaps or tries to build on or blame something in a way that doesn't make sense and will collapse down the road.

And Dale should probably get monitor credit for this thread. <g>


Rufus
 
Dale Hodgins
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Hey Rufus ---- I've been trying to help us avoid the deletion hammer . ( I never PM people over this stuff normally,but did on this one)
Rufus mentioned "things that keep people down". The number one trait that I see, over and over again amongst those who seem incredibly dissatisfied, is failure to act. It could be called failure to risk. Little, tentative steps can inch you in the direction you want to go. Bold, confident steps make for a more rewarding and fruitful journey. Can I get an amen. I think I feel a healing comin on.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When I first joined the forum, I looked around and said to myself "They don't seem to have a resident Simon Cowell. My acid wit will clean things up". Nope ): Every time I found an entertaining, train wreck of an idea to comment on, I got deleted.

It can be fun, but we're being watched. Ooooo. Big Brother, tyranny ...
----------------
This is today's farm income. About 80 lbs of apples which took about that many minutes to harvest from a wilderness park.

There will soon be a new thread about my wild harvest business. I'm putting students and others who are short of cash to work picking, as a means of paying for their vacations.


The cell phone buggered up my colors. The background is teal, and the freedom, friends and fun logo is purpley burgandy.
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This was well worth reading. it is examples of folks making a living on a half acre to 10 acres.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Dale

> avoid the hammer...

Yeah, appreciated that. Thought I'd toss a thought into your tip bowl (tip into the thought bowl???). <G> Your phone sure does have a weird color sense, though. Those are off the tree, right (not the ground)?

Terri - Don't see a link or anything...



Some of you might love this - confirms all kinds of worst fears! <g> It's the first interview but the others might be good too.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/423/the-invention-of-money?act=0


Rufus
 
Terri Matthews
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Dale

> avoid the hammer...

Yeah, appreciated that. Thought I'd toss a thought into your tip bowl (tip into the thought bowl???). <G> Your phone sure does have a weird color sense, though. Those are off the tree, right (not the ground)?

Terri - Don't see a link or anything...



Some of you might love this - confirms all kinds of worst fears! <g> It's the first interview but the others might be good too.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/423/the-invention-of-money?act=0




Rufus

I seem to have posted on the wrong spot.... I would post the link but I cannot find it again and now I must leave! It was an article about some tiny farms in the IK, all of which were profitable.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Terri

Sounds like good info if you find the link again sometime.


Rufus
 
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Maybe in the future we can get away from money, and have such things as time banking instead...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_banking
 
Dale Hodgins
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My brother has been slowly converting my parent's 7 acre weed patch into a permaculture farm. Most of what he plants are perennials. Jerusalem artichokes cover the most ground, but rhubarb has been his big money crop this year. He did a lot of work in the beginning, but this year, a construction job kept him busy. Almost all of his farm time has been spent harvesting. The rhubarb was sold for $2 per pound in the spring. He got another harvest in mid summer, when the commercial growers got none. It sold for $3 per pound. He tells me there's another $500 to $1000 he could extract, but he's worried about killing it.

The construction job will finish soon. All of these perennial crops are ready to be divided and spread to other areas in the fall. He has thus created a system that allows him to do very little during the growing season. He's a fall and winter farmer and a summer harvester. This allows him to take on better paying work, during the height of the growing season and save all other tasks for periods of unemployment.

He made about $75 per harvest hour on the rhubarb. He'll put in twice as much time digging and spreading it to new areas, under fruit trees. This would mean that he has earned $25 per hour overall. But, next spring he'll have a larger crop. Each season of digging and dividing is an investment that will pay a bit the first year and much more as time goes on.

He has no land cost. My parents eat lots of his produce and they pay less tax now that there is farm income. It's a trade that works for all of them.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:My brother has been slowly converting my parent's 7 acre weed patch into a permaculture farm. Most of what he plants are perennials. Jerusalem artichokes cover the most ground, but rhubarb has been his big money crop this year. He did a lot of work in the beginning, but this year, a construction job kept him busy. Almost all of his farm time has been spent harvesting. The rhubarb was sold for $2 per pound in the spring. He got another harvest in mid summer, when the commercial growers got none. It sold for $3 per pound. He tells me there's another $500 to $1000 he could extract, but he's worried about killing it.

The construction job will finish soon. All of these perennial crops are ready to be divided and spread to other areas in the fall. He has thus created a system that allows him to do very little during the growing season. He's a fall and winter farmer and a summer harvester. This allows him to take on better paying work, during the height of the growing season and save all other tasks for periods of unemployment.

He made about $75 per harvest hour on the rhubarb. He'll put in twice as much time digging and spreading it to new areas, under fruit trees. This would mean that he has earned $25 per hour overall. But, next spring he'll have a larger crop. Each season of digging and dividing is an investment that will pay a bit the first year and much more as time goes on.

He has no land cost. My parents eat lots of his produce and they pay less tax now that there is farm income. It's a trade that works for all of them.



Interesting post Dale, thanks for sharing. I'm hoping to take a similar approach (with perennials) to your brother in that my dad and I both work full time and have a limited amount of time to spend tending and harvesting crops, marketing and selling. Can I ask who his typical customers are? Do they come to him or does he sell through a store or market stall?

We're in a fortunate position here in Wales as there's a strong push from the government to establish food co-operatives - there's currently 300 across the country - with perhaps 20 within a reasonable distance of us. These co-ops, along with a veg box scheme I work for, generally focus on local growers/suppliers (of which there are few) and therefore offer an opportunity for us to sell in bulk. Although we probably won't receive retail prices for whatever we end up growing, this approach minimises the amount of time we have to spend finding and delivering to customers.
 
Dale Hodgins
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He's been selling at a farmer's market. He sells out of product and then socializes. His other work is highly physical, so market day is an easy day off. Some people sit in the sun all day with run of the mill products to sell. He sells out and takes orders from large users. Before choosing to hit the market, he tries to sell it to these bulk buyers.

The beauty of these perennials and his annual root crops, is that they have a large harvest window and a long shelf life once picked. When berries are ready, you must get them picked without delay and then either sell or process very soon. Rhubarb can wait a week, potatoes can wait a month or more and the artichokes can wait for more than a year. These crops are a labor dump, when other employment is scarce. And they are his bank account in the off season.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Greta Fields wrote:

People seem to have lost the vision of the 1970s homesteaders. --- I think you people talking about making money have lost the vision of "permaculture". You want money culture, sounds like. I paid off my land working, but not so I could make more money. I just wanted land to grow food. My clothes come from used clothing stores, and so do my stoves and furniture, but I feel RICH.



I don't care even a little bit about the thoughts and writings of 1970 homesteaders
(but I like Rob Roy). I want to make money in the here and now. I have also made most money from non growing enterprises but we have plenty of young people on the forum who are attempting to make a living largely from agriculture. They are interested in and they need to make some money to buy the many things that can't be grown. Many don't have a large nest egg saved up from other jobs. They need money now. They can't trade carrots for gasoline and can't pay off the mortgage with lettuce.

This thread is about making money. There are plenty of threads dedicated to the idea that it isn't needed. Those topics usually start or eventually find their way to meaningless drivel.
 
Rufus Laggren
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> I feel rich...

Then most like you _are_ rich Greta... <g>


Cheers

Rufus

 
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Terri Matthews wrote:I suspect that Diego has finished researching his question and gone away, which is a shame!

To his original question, I would say "What is your product and where is your market"? Permaculture is more a method of production than it is a business in its own right.

When I was going to go into business I was thinking vegetables, blackberries, and honey. Life happened, and I am no longer going into business so instead I am raising asparagus, a few fruit trees, and perrenial flowers. Both would have been permaculture, but what I am doing now does not have a business purpose.



I am still here. Had to take some time away from the site. Lots of work. I still want to make it happen and all of your insight and feedback has been quite valuable. I have also been listening to Paul's podcasts. Very informative. I am currently reading through all the posts I have missed and trying to catch up. Thanks again everyone.

Diego
 
Diego de la Vega
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Dan Trello wrote:Maybe in the future we can get away from money, and have such things as time banking instead...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_banking



I do not see time banking as a viable method of exchanging goods/services. It is based off of flawed logic: One persons hour of work = another persons hour of work. If you have ever worked with other people (even if you are doing the same job) you know this is simply untrue. Let's take it to the next level. Suppose you have someone who is a new carpenter who just finished training for 4 years (approx. 40hrs/week) to become said carpenter. Then you have a new neurosurgeon who completed 15 years of training to become said neurosurgeon (15 years @ 70 to 80 hrs per week, 4 years undergrad, 4 years medical school, 7 years residency). Are you really going to say that their "one hour" of work is equivalent? Clearly not, because arriving at that same ability did not take the same amount of time (hours). Time banking discounts all the investment someone has made in education and training. That being said, if there was a way to balance out the discrepancy (some peoples hours are worth more than others), it may work.

Diego

PS I know this is completely off topic, but I had to throw in my opinion.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Welcome back Diego. Have you been watching this thread since the beginning? Oops, he explains that in a previous post.

I made some more indirect farm income yesterday. Harvested enough leafy stuff to fill a garbage bag and froze it(not in the garbage bag). Mostly chard, kale, cilantro and mustard greens.
 
Diego de la Vega
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Welcome back Diego. Have you been watching this thread since the beginning? Oops, he explains that in a previous post.

I made some more indirect farm income yesterday. Harvested enough leafy stuff to fill a garbage bag and froze it(not in the garbage bag). Mostly chard, kale, cilantro and mustard greens.



Nice! Thanks for all your posts by the way. Great info. I would love to here about that apple harvesting you did. Did you plant the trees in that park? or did you just find them out there?

Diego
 
Dale Hodgins
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I just find the trees. I've also located many fruit trees by advertising. Many people don't harvest their fruit. This year's harvest was just a test run and totalled about 300 lb of various fruits.

When I get others to harvest, I'll work out prices so that average pickers can make $15 per hour against their trips. I may also trade wild harvest in exchange for campsite use at my place. I've eaten quite a few meals this summer, where my contribution was wild harvest and garden stuff.

For anyone who is growing in a good spot like my garden, it should be possible to produce most dietary needs for the year in under 200 hours per year. I'm much more efficient than that. And I'm not doing without. I'm eating a healthier diet than when I bought everything.
 
Dale Hodgins
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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The gathering has gone extremely well this weekend. I gathered about 35 lb. of apples in 20 minutes.

My friend gathered about 30 lb of these mushrooms in 3 hours. About 8 grocery bags. Processing for the freezer has taken another 5 hours of washing, cutting and steaming.

This really heavy juicer cost $25. Its a Champion in both name and performance. I ran apples through it and got a yield of around 80% by weight.
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Going straight to the pictures first, I was mighty confused by the "mushroom juicing" pictures The juicer for 1/10th the cost was a good price.
 
Posts: 41
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
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I certainly don't make money doing Permaculture, but my time commitment is generally in the single digits of hours per week. I really don't know anyone who makes money "doing Permaculture"; I do, however, have at least 3 friends who make a living farming full-time who do use Permaculture techniques. The distinction is that they are not "purists"; they are willing to do what they have to to make money. Not that they violate the ethical principles, but they aren't for example above growing salad greens in a greenhouse in winter to keep their income up.

In case you're wondering, here are their websites:
http://www.bioshelter.com/
http://blackberrymeadows.com/
http://www.silverwheelfarm.net/
 
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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I'll weigh in here a little, maybe share how we're doing things... We are a new commercial scale organic blueberry farm, since our plants are only 2.5 years old now, we're still not making money off of them, but we will be barring a catastrophe. We are as close to permaculture as a large operation can be. The two things we still bring into the farm are organic insecticides (since we can't produce enough on site) and sulphur. anyhow... back to money... When everything that we have already done comes to fruition, the income from our 1,000+ blueberry bushes should provide us with enough income to be self sustaining on the farm, the next large scale project in the works is a 250+ semi-dwarf cherry tree orchard, that should be producing a fair amount of income as well. Luckily we are close to several major cities (within 2 hours) and have several wholesalers to choose from as well as a commercial scale cannery project in the construction stages. This is in case the wholesalers don't follow through with promises, we can turn our entire farm's product into a shelf stable product. I think that is crucial, location of your farm vs. location of your market and backups to your original markets.

I mentioned we're new, that means we haven't produced 1 single penny from our investment, our smaller scale stuff we sell at local farmers markets, but would require far too much from us to see any return as to me too much diversification means not enough of anything. We are NOT a monoculture here, I don't really want to get into all we have going on to make us a near permaculture facility right now, that would take too long and wouldn't be in the scope of this topic. Right now, the way we make money is mostly on-farm activities, BUT it is due to my skill set. Having a diverse knowledge and skill base is crucial to making something like this work (in my opinion). I have a very well equipped garage/fabrication shop and do welding projects, car/equipment repair for money to make it by on. I am lucky to have parents who are contractors so I can always pick up some extra work from them when I need a little extra cash for various needs.

Back to the NEW farm part, this means while we aren't exactly "in the red" we are hemorrhaging money to a mind numbing extent with the hopes that it will pay off. Having startup capital is crucial for an operation like us. If we were even closer to our markets (not the local farmers market, but a real city based farmers market) we could possibly make due by selling our produce from our somewhat large gardens, but for us this isn't a reality. So, right now, we make our money from various different sources. Odd jobs mostly, I use our farm equipment to pick up bushhogging, plowing, garden tilling in the spring, small construction jobs and doing work out of my well equipped shop. Is it enough? I guess you might say that it is, but we cannot afford to do everything we "need" to do in the time frame that we want it done. We have had to limit our goals to a much longer time frame than we would like.

Our income when everything is mature and running should be pretty decent, provide us with living money AND enough to start rebuilding our savings IF IF IF we are intelligent and do not spend too much. The way we live has alot to do with our being able to make it. We drive older cheap cars and I maintain them myself. We eat well, but are frugal with our shopping, this means buying in bulk when we find great deals. We get wwoofers on our farm, this helps a little with the work, but mainly it is just good company . We keep our bills as low as possible, the only really "extravagant" thing we have is our internet. I heat with wood to cut our energy costs. Keeping expenses low is critical for us. While we would LOVE to be living in our dream home, we had to hold off on that project, I am 34 now, I expect to not even start building our home until I'm 40 (if I'm lucky). Right now we live in a used mobile home (trailer). I remodeled the inside to be nice and have done alot to make it as un-trailerlike as possible, but while it isn't "ideal" it is a good enough home and it only cost us 5 thousand dollars.

Right now, our biggest single expense is gasoline. I could cut this if I would limit my trips to town to get what I needed all at the same time, but that's easier said than done.

So, to pare this down a bit in summary... Right now, our farm is not earning money and while we are not exactly going into debt for it, we are not producing profit by any stretch of the imagination. Within a few more years we will be, and it will be suitable to live entirely off of the farm income. In my opinion, we are doing things correctly, having a larger attainable and realistic goal but realistic as to the time that it will take to reach this goal. We have a market, and we will have plenty of product (I try not to get too excited about the math, counting eggs before they hatch and all that). These things are crucial, don't just "start a farm" and expect to see an income. Sit down, take a LONG TIME (I'm talking at least a year) to research what you need to grow, who will buy it, who will buy it if the first person doesn't buy it AND what you can do if no one buys it...

Oh, and lastly... a backup plan to the backup plan... I have degree in medial radiography. While I despise working in a hospital environment, I do keep a PRN (meaning far less than part-time, like 1 day a month) job in this field so I will show a continuous employment history should I ever have to go fully into this ( I don't think it will be necessary). For me, the biggest hurdle and tight rope walk is until all of our investment pays off, I have to walk the line of working on things that make money and working the farm without burning myself out. I do not think I have that figured out completely yet, but we are making due and are able to keep going for now. I expect in 3-4 more years we will have enough farm income from our blueberries and in 5 years have the cherries added to it to be able to work entirely on farm and get our full potential out of the property. It is maddening though, to have all these great profitable ideas but not have enough capital to implement them all in the time frame that we would like.

I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful to some folks...

Ajila Ama Farm
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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M Foti

Thanks for posting. Congrats on your farm startup - it sounds like you are really surfing the plan for all it's worth! All the best luck to you.

> ...research... ...markets...

Amen. Truer words...

Your point about cities providing the major income source sounds right; I don't recall anybody actually spelling it out so simply. What size market (number of people) w/in what travel time did you consider? I assume the controlling factor is the minimum size; anything larger is gravy. There may be a trade off between market size and distance - how did you see that work for you? Was there any clear cut show stopper viz travel time to your minimum fresh-sell market?

I'd guess blueberries were probably chosen both on a market demand and personal preference basis and I'm also assuming you're selling wholesale mostly. After your book reading research how did you confirm the mark possibilities? Visits to city wholesale markets? Other types of customers?


Regards,

Rufus
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