The biggest problem for all farmers is the demands of the food chain and the expectations of the end customer. Farmers being played off against each other, with gluts destroying livelihoods, is always going to be an issue even if you diversify with polyculture. Supplying of blemish free produce to a market used to plastic food is another. So, in the end it is in the interest of the permaculture farmer to branch out and close the loop by supplying the market with an end product rather than a component.
By linking the farm to a restaurant you will be able to create a flexible situation to supply a menu based upon what is currently in season. By branding it as "organic" and "local" you will also hit a growing part of the market. By making the restaurant a certain size, you will be able to use the time that it is closed as a base to value add to your excess produce by making jams, relish, etc. which could also be sold in the shop. Depending on the size of the farm/s involved you could also use it as a base to set up a CSA system, though really priority should be to the processing of produce to add value rather than the demands of a potentially fussy market place.
The risk to this model is if the local farm is hit by any environmental or pest issue, but in this case you will still be able to buy in the lacking produce preferably from other local organic suppliers.
I believe that this will have to be the end game for all permaculture operations, to remove any and all middle men and get straight to the customer. After all, many of the grocery chains are quickly pushing down this path by the supply of their home brand items. I just can't see any real safety in being a small scale farmer in the future of corporate farming that is upon us. They simply outprice everyone till they have market control and then charge whatever they want. Farmers markets and CSA are just part of the solution. However the majority of consumers are driven solely on price and convenience.
Anyone know of any restaurants operating in this way? As the single outlet of a permaculture farm? Cheers.
That's actually a pretty big deal here in the Portland, OR area. We have many local organic farms that have relationships with restaurants. More, perhaps I've read, than anywhere else in the country. Not all of them are permaculture, of course, but many of them could be. For the restaurant, the produce has to look perfect, which is not necessarily the goal if you're growing for yourself or for selling organically.
I think its a good model if you have the skillset and patience to do both restauranting and farming. But I personally would not - restauranting entails another level of regulatory structures, liabilities, capital needs, and so on.
I'd rather find 2 or 3 restuarants that will consistently buy a few feature products from me (pork, duck, beef) to provide a somewhat stable income stream than to run my own.
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