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Where do permies want land, and what are they looking for?

 
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Not sure if this is the best place to post this, so mods feel free to educate me and/or move it where appropriate please. :) I am curious, where do y’all look for land, those that want land outside the cities? What size parcels? How much slope, trees, type of soil, zoning? I’m looking myself, hoping to buy in the next 3 years or less, and not really set on too many things other than staying in Missouri, and desiring many trees and some slope to the land, at least part of it, ideally water if affordable. After attending the PEP1 meeting and seeing Wheaton Labs, I’ve got at least a better idea of what I want... if not nailed down totally!

One reason I am asking, is that I am investigating buying raw land, tax deed auctions, etc. Partly to see if I can buy low, sell low like some guys talk about, but also to watch for land I would want to keep for our long term family land. So, I was wondering if I can get some land for a really great price, and wanted to resell it for below market value, maybe owner financing it if folks needed that, where would y’all suggest looking for land, and what features? I’d prefer to work with permies or homesteaders more than any other “groups” of folks, as I think we’d see more eye to eye on what is attractive in land and nature friendly uses. I’m not looking to get rich or anything, but if I can supplement our budget and make enough extra to keep my wife from needing to work outside the house, so she can better concentrate on homeschooling and the home, that’s a big incentive for me. I found permaculture about 2 years ago or so, and have been hooked ever since, just feel very constrained living in a neighborhood with what we can do, and want to escape the city and (sometimes) bothersome neighbors!

Been thinking about this a lot, ever since I came across the idea, and was thinking that if I found permies interested in land I owned and wanted to sell, to try and help give them a discount below what I’d sell it to others for, some sort of discount code from here on the forums maybe. Forgive me if this isn’t the right place to post this, honestly I’m new to this concept even. Thoughts? Ideas? Good/bad/inappropriate?

If nothing else, help me out maybe with what y’all would recommend me looking for, please. The wife has actually mentioned starting off with a trailer, until we can build something better. She’s onboard with homes being for sleeping, winter/bad weather cooking, and the kids should be spending much more time outside and away from electronics. So, no desire for a large or really even medium sized home, especially after listening to the ERE book and interviews with Jacob Lund Fisher, along with others. My long term desire is for an economical retirement home that I can leave to the kids, a 20 year old son and 7 year old boy/girl twins. Thinking we’d like at least 9-10 acres, and maybe building multiple shed homes for now, as the wife hasn’t bought in to a wofati/Oehler style house. (When possible I hope to bring her to Wheaton Labs and let her really go see the wofatis there, warning Paul...lol)

Long term goals:a wofati, many fruit, nut, and black locust trees (in the Ozark foothills, probably), chickens and goats (maybe sheep too, but for now she is saying no to a cow and pigs), would like to be able to fell and process my own timber in time, so storage sheds for drying logs, lumber and firewood, earthworks like berms, hugelculture beds, swales, ponds/pig wallows, and I’d really like to have enough land that some other permies might want to come out and trade help/labor for a place to build their own home/garden/business.

Am I just crazy? Too strange a dream? Unrealistic? Has my brain gotten infected with something terminal? lol

Warm regards,
Leif :)
 
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My primary criteria was water access.

My fathers family lost their farm in Missouri after the big drought, my mothers family lost their farm in Oklahoma after the same drought. All my family impressed on me the importance of having access to water.

So I needed to avoid all drought-prone regions on this continent.
 
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Geoff Lawton has a good video on what to look for when buying land. I wish I'd seen it before I bought mine!

https://www.geofflawtononline.com/videos/video/property-purchase-guide/

Best wishes,
Kani
 
gardener
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I second Galen's view. Water is important.  Community is almost just as important though.  It really will make you or break you. For me that community is the United Methodist church of the Pacific Northwest,  because they accept everyone and many here are gardeners and support my food forest activism.  

Here's a post I wrote about my county:

https://permies.com/t/100135/Praise-Lewis-County#1013328
 
master pollinator
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Slope.
 
pollinator
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James Landreth wrote:I second Galen's view. Water is important.  Community is almost just as important though.  It really will make you or break you. For me that community is the United Methodist church of the Pacific Northwest,  because they accept everyone and many here are gardeners and support my food forest activism.  



We've become active in our local United Methodist Church and feel just the same way about it. Lots of farmers, ranchers, growers supporting and loving each other. It's a great feeling!!!


Certainly agree with the water thing. I am not in an ideal location. BUT land is cheap, regulation pretty low and we don't have a ton of garden problems because it's just too cold and dry for them.
 
James Landreth
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That's great Elle!!

Wherever you end up community will define your success and happiness,  at least for most people. I realized taking care of myself and my own family wasn't enough so I started organizing food forests with my church and other religious groups.  This is just one example of community. A co op or Grange is another.

Here's one such food forest:
.https://permies.com/t/127437/Shelton-United-Methodist-Church-Food
 
master pollinator
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We found out the hard way that it is location, location, location.

We had an ideal homestead situation, and had it for sale, but even the people that came here said, it was perfect for homesteading, but way too rural.

There are two camps though:

1. Buy raw land and build everything yourself
2. Buy the house and set up farmstead.

Either way it will cost you the same amount of money. I know a lot of what we did never translated into real estate values. For instance, our sheep fence here cost $37,000 but that was never reflected in the price. And a barn, no matter how nice, is considered an outbuilding so it has a set square foot price tag as a nasty ole shed at $10 a square foot.

IF a person can find the right place, places that have barns, fencing and cleared forest into field, the expensive stuff has been done for them. That stuff will not be fully reflected in the price, so they inevitably will get a good deal on the homestead purchase. But if the place has a really nice house, well a homesteader is going to pay dearly for that over that of raw land.

And then there is the time factor. It took us 12 years to get our homestead to a point where land was cleared, fences put in, sheep built up in number, barns built, and access roads made. 12 full years! So there is that aspect too. That is a lot of work, which can be fun, but it depends on what people want. Katie and I never got to the big garden, the orchards, and the other really fun stuff. Are you willing to wait 10 years for self-sufficiency, or do you want to do that kind of stuff now? It really is a hard decision.

But I really do feel, no matter what direction you go...#1 or #2, the cost will be the same. Pay up front, or pay a little over time...your call.

 
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Leif,

There is a short, quickie answer to your question.  The answer is Location, Location, Location.  Do you plan on living completely from your land?  In that case don’t get land near an urban area.  The price and taxes will both be higher.  Do you plan to work an off-homestead job?  Then live within comfortable commuting distance.  Do you plan to sell produce?  Consider living near a populated area.

As to how much land you will “need”, that also depends.  A single acre could give you a tremendous amount of food for yourself assuming that you tended to it regularly and gardened it intensively.  But do you want animals?  If so you will want a lot more land.  

Do you need trees for wood products, firewood, woodchips, forest products, etc?  I am going to throw out that you might want at least 3 acres of mature woodland, though what you do with that wood will dramatically affect how much you need.  Do you plan on selling lumber, then you might well need a hundred acres of mature woodland.  Do you need a bit of firewood?  The falling branches and other natural falling wood from that 3 acres might suffice for you.  Do you just want the aesthetics of woodland?  Be happy with what you get.

I agree with other posters that water is going to be highly important.  Perhaps there is plenty easily accessible ground water.  Perhaps you have a stocked pond.  Maybe a stream.  But I would throw out there that while water is important, beware flood zones.  If you have some land in flood zones but build on high ground, this might be acceptable.  But while my land sits high enough that Noah would have to return before we have flood problems, people near me were devastated by flooding earlier this year—and they did not have flood insurance!!

I will try to be a bit more specific.  My land is just a bit under 10 acres, has a pond, two small streams (that dry up in summer), about 3-4 acres of woodland and the rest clear.  With this land one could make a nice market garden, the pond could be stocked with fish, my clear acreage could support a small number of animals (a couple of goats? A Jersey cow?  Maybe sell milk/cheese/etc?).  It could easily support a lot of chickens/ducks/geese/etc.  It is located near a medium sized town.  But it cost close to $60k, and the taxes are not cheap.  I positively hate property taxes.  It is as if one never really owns one’s own land, like renting one’s own land from the county!

Leif,  this is a highly complex question you asked.  You are using tax sales.  This is industrious on your part.  But consider why this land is being defaulted on in the first place.  Is the land unproductive?  Are the taxes outrageous?  A host of other questions.  I wish you luck in your search.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Eric
 
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Hi Leif, good luck with your plans!  I think other permies would be looking for all the things mentioned above.  Some may have jobs and need to commute, some may want to be farther away.  So that's a big decision point right there.  I'm guessing the number of people who'd want to be remote could rise and fall with good internet access.

Other than that, I'm thinking things like water access, some terrain, some open areas for growing/grazing and some good woods for wood stuff would all be important.

One big selling point could be a source of off grid power.  Say a high head stream that you could micro power a bunch of homes from.  Or good solar aspect.  

Some permies may not want to be downwind of a paper mill or downstream of a mine or 1/4 mile from a gun range so keep those sorts of things in mind.

Also, the zoning and ability for you to parcel off a chunk of land to others could be exceedingly important before you purchase.  Perhaps setting up your "neighborhood" with a Permie HOA would be possible?  Set up by you of course

Good luck!
 
Leif Ing
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Well, thanks for all the responses! Community is important to me too when looking for land to homestead, also water, timber, slope, and low taxes. Frankly, I don’t want to be too close to town, maybe 20-30 minutes? Maybe we’ll have to have some minimal/small house to appease the county guys at the front of the lot, with hookups or whatever. I want berms to block off views from the outside mostly though, as well as to make micro climates. Paul’s place is just great with them berms between the road and the house and shop!

As/when I find properties that I can get a good deal on, is this a good place to post them? If not where is? It’d be nice to be in a position to possibly help fellow permies find their own place to set down roots and maybe realize some of their dreams too!
 
Eric Hanson
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Leif,

You have me thinking more about your inquiry.  Something to consider is what exactly do you plan to do with your land?  In particular, what do you plan to do to make a living (money) from your land.

The reason I ask is that if you have a basic idea, you can maximize that plan.  Say that you want to grow raspberries.  Great!  You could certainly sell raspberries at a farmers market.  Better would be to offer a special, unique type of item.

Even better would be to be offer a value-added product.  For example, take those raspberries and make them into a pie or raspberry crisp, etc.  maybe make some type of air freshener, or some other products.  The point is that you could likely sell the product for considerably more than the raspberries themselves.

Come to think of it, plain old flowers could be used to make soaps, lotions, perfume, or all sorts of fragrant products.  Specialization and value added products can take a very common (and therefore inexpensive) item and make it much, much more valuable.

These are again, just my thoughts,

Eric
 
Leif Ing
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James Landreth wrote:I second Galen's view. Water is important.  Community is almost just as important though.  It really will make you or break you. For me that community is the United Methodist church of the Pacific Northwest,  because they accept everyone and many here are gardeners and support my food forest activism.  

Here's a post I wrote about my county:

https://permies.com/t/100135/Praise-Lewis-County#1013328



James, thanks for that post on your county. I’ve eat other posts by you and think it’s great about being able to encourage your church and some others to plant food forest and educate folks. That’s just awesome!

We are pretty stuck on MO though, the wife too... so looking mainly near the Ozarks area. We like the homeschooling laws, gun laws, castle defense laws, etc out here, and taxes are pretty reasonable overall (although way too high in Kansas City...gotta steak a lot from each of us to redistribute for services some neither use nor want!) I know there are several permies down that way, and I’ll keep looking for more and hoping to share with others what I’ve learned once I get there. Thanks for your thoughts though! Oh yes, I think WA for us would be too warm, prefer to have more winter than it sounds like y’all have. Easier to heat with wood than cool with it, I’m thinking...lol :)
 
Leif Ing
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Eric Hanson wrote:Leif,

You have me thinking more about your inquiry.  Something to consider is what exactly do you plan to do with your land?  In particular, what do you plan to do to make a living (money) from your land.

The reason I ask is that if you have a basic idea, you can maximize that plan.  Say that you want to grow raspberries.  Great!  You could certainly sell raspberries at a farmers market.  Better would be to offer a special, unique type of item.

Even better would be to be offer a value-added product.  For example, take those raspberries and make them into a pie or raspberry crisp, etc.  maybe make some type of air freshener, or some other products.  The point is that you could likely sell the product for considerably more than the raspberries themselves.

Come to think of it, plain old flowers could be used to make soaps, lotions, perfume, or all sorts of fragrant products.  Specialization and value added products can take a very common (and therefore inexpensive) item and make it much, much more valuable.

These are again, just my thoughts,

Eric


Hey Eric, my thoughts for a yield from the land are focused on wood (firewood, would like to have plenty of black locust to copice), fruit/nut trees for a longer term yield, and some animal products (dairy goats/sheep for milk, cheese, yogurt, and my wife wants plenty of chickens for eggs and meat...although I’d rather raise a cow or two for the meat personally! Maybe a mixed herd? 1-2 cows along with some sheep if they get along, maybe a guard llama/alpaca mixed in?) also could make goat’s milk soap, and grow some of the herbs my wife uses the most, maybe plant some deer forage plots too for venison...
 
Mike Haasl
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When the time comes to sell, the Permaculture Real Estate section would be the place to do it.
 
Eric Hanson
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Leif,

So the Ozarks it is!  You are a couple of stones throws away!  I am in Southern Illinois, so I feel like you will be my neighbor!

Actually, this is not a bad place for Permaculture, for all the reasons you mentioned and also for many that were suggested.  My two favorite reasons, 1). You will have plenty of water, 2) you will get a winter!!  I love winter and don’t get much here, though as I write to you at this very second, it is 16 degrees outside!!  I love it!!

Can you swing 20 acres with half wooded and the rest gently rolling pasture?  Might be perfect and might be unaffordable.  I don’t know if I can specify an amount of land that you will need, but I like your plan regarding woodland, and your herd of animals.  It has been stated that if an acre of land can support a cow, it can support a goat or sheep as well.  You certainly don’t have to do this, but it is worth considering.

Sounds like you really want the rural life and I really appreciate this.  Given that you are talking about building some pretty massive mounds, have you given any thoughts to buying a tractor?  I find a tractor to be indispensable.  I know that this is quite far out, but for implements I find the following extremely applicable for you:

Loader
Box Blade
Rotary cutter
Grader blade

Flail mower (maybe)
Straw/hay equipment (maybe)
Logging equipment (maybe)

A tractor is amazing for much of the type of work you are talking about, but they are not cheap and the implements do add up.

I actually do have more to say but need to go.  Thought this is totally your choice, I strongly recommend a tractor.

Eric
 
Leif Ing
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Thanks for the response Eric, I think the logging attachments would be most useful to me. Definitely would like the 3 TRs when starting/early on though... tractor, trailer, and truck! ;-)
 
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For me I was looking for healthy young forest land that is great for foraging on, which is what I was lucky enough to get.  I can forage a lot of food on my land while getting to really know it and then slowly modify it to add desired species.  While I now harvest from the 100+ species that I've added, I still do a lot of foraging for the great species that were already here.  Some of them put to shame what I've been able to do here.  I'm very thankful and protect the land as best I can.  It pays me back with food as well as by sinking the carbon footprint of 3 households as it continues to grow and develop.  I love my land!!!
 
Eric Hanson
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Leif,

I get you on the 3 TR’s.  I am only on one TR, and that of course is the tractor.

But I tend to think of a tractor as indispensable on a patch of acreage.  Of all the implements, the one that I find undeniably, without question or hesitation the single most important and useful is the loader.  I just can’t tell you how often I use the loader.  Sometimes I use it like an overgrown, power wheel barrel.  Sometimes it is a tote to carry heavy, awkward or just miscellaneous stuff.  Every week I use it to haul the garbage cans out to the road.  Sometimes I use it for digging and hauling earth.  I use it for clearing snow.  THE LIST NEVER ENDS!!  

My tractor (and the previous one) have a quick attach/detach type loader,  this is nice, but I have never used it.  Why would I want to do so?

You mentioned the logging attachments.  Wallenstien makes some excellent products, but the one that jumps out to me is the skidding winch.  This is essentially a great big triangular plate of steel that allows you to pick up and drag logs.  Further, it has a winch built in so you can drag logs up to you.  I also like the bypass grapple which allows you to back up, reach down, grab and pick up a log and haul it away.  Pretty nifty, but definitely not cheap.  One last logging tool is the grapple that replaced your bucket on the FEL.  This can also allow you to pick up and haul a log or brush and debris.  And it also is not cheap.

Leif,  I can appreciate your tractor interests.  I have a possibly unhealthy fascination with them myself.  If you ever need to bounce a tractor idea around, I would love to help the bouncing.

Eric
 
Leif Ing
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Thanks Eric, I’ll keep you in mind for tractor tips... my only experience is driving Paul’s orange one so far. I’ve heard that sometimes to learn, it’s best to rent machinery like a bobcat or track hoe and have them deliver to a chunk of land, and ideally have someone with experience around to help with the basics, safety, etc, then just spend time... yes?
 
Eric Hanson
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Leif,

Nothing wrong with the orange ones, the green was best for me when I bought it.

Renting is not half bad.  Even better is if you can rent the actual model you want to use.

Actually, I am a big fan of renting big equipment that rarely gets used.  I would love to own a chipper, but the cheap ones are thousands.  Instead I rent a whopping 12” model once per year for $300, a far better deal.

I do love my tractors, so if you have questions, fire away!

BTW, I am a big believer in the smaller tractors.  Even the small ones are very capable.

Eric
 
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What I did was put a link in my signature line to a page that describes my available land and how it matches Lawton's video. It is not particularly for you but those that read this thread because they are searching.   My little peninsula has so much homesteading potential because it has such fertile soil and alto north where the summer days are long and the winter short the winters are mild because of the protection of water and surrounding mountains.
We have a ready market for our produce to the rich people that buy waterfront homes but hte interior land is limited to no smaller division than 5 acres. Unless planing on large numbers of large animals that can produce all you need in this climate 7b but more like 8b except for about 2 weeks each winter..
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Slope.



Could you elaborate just a bit more, thanks!

...We bought our land with recreational only intentions, and thought the slopes would be fun for trails to hike/bike/ride. That it is, but then I considered some farming.

I was actually disappointed in my choice several months ago because I feel like I didn't consider having enough "flat" to do anything with - out of 28 ac. barely an acre is level. We are way up on a rocky ridge.

My thoughts have evolved again over the last few months though and I now envision all kinds of beautifulness integrated into the hillsides (thanks to Geoff Lawton vids).


 
Leif Ing
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Ty Greene wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:Slope.



Could you elaborate just a bit more, thanks!

...We bought our land with recreational only intentions, and thought the slopes would be fun for trails to hike/bike/ride. That it is, but then I considered some farming.

I was actually disappointed in my choice several months ago because I feel like I didn't consider having enough "flat" to do anything with - out of 28 ac. barely an acre is level. We are way up on a rocky ridge.

My thoughts have evolved again over the last few months though and I now envision all kinds of beautifulness integrated into the hillsides (thanks to Geoff Lawton vids).


I like Geoff Lawton vids too, but also check Sepp Holzer... he’s got a bit of slope in the Alps! It’s just that maybe you have to look outside traditional/commercial methods, I think. Your slope-y land probably has the potential for MANY micro climates! I’ve even considered looking into buying land in Northern Texas... semi arid, higher altitude, would have challenges to be sure but land’s fairly cheap. Probably need to import a lot of biomass especially early on, get animals going ASAP, try to set up paddock rotation and have them help build the soil/sand through deposits, irrigation would be more challenging early on too, but have seen some cool YouTube videos of people doing it and creating an oasis over the course of years. One woman comes to mind, I think in the desert of AZ or NM, after 10-15 years she had built a stone wall around her acre or so, and all around was desert but she had a garden, trees, lots of birds and even butterflies in her lush private area. Truly inspiring!
 
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Leif Ing wrote:Not sure if this is the best place to post this, so mods feel free to educate me and/or move it where appropriate please. :) I am curious, where do y’all look for land, those that want land outside the cities? What size parcels? How much slope, trees, type of soil, zoning? I’m looking myself, hoping to buy in the next 3 years or less, and not really set on too many things other than staying in Missouri,



The Eastearn Half of the United States is really better for growing fruit trees without irrigation. Humidity is higher during the summer growing season, and you get some summer rain. Anywhere West of the Rockies and you've got at least 3 months of summer with no measurable rain.

It's a trade off between ideal climate for irrigation free growing of plants, and ideal climate for humans. The Midwest and the Northeast get bitter cold in the winter.  If you're not relying on the power grid or fossil fuel heating oils, you're going to need a lot of firewood to stay warm in the winter.

I personally plan to stay in Oregon and just do my best to get trees to survive on whatever moisture the soil holds over summer,  as well as plant cherries etc. On downhill slopes where groundwater seeps out all summer long.. or plant them by a creek.
 
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