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anyone here make money from permaculture?  RSS feed

 
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Curtis Stone, Green City Acres:
http://overgrowthesystem.com/meet-your-urban-farmer-green-city-acres/
 
Manfred Eidelloth
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Joel Salatin on how to start farming:

http://overgrowthesystem.com/joel-salatin-on-the-next-generation-of-farmers/
 
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Was going to post here, but didn't want to hijack thread, so started THIS thread on Calorie based economy.

Secondly, I recommend listening to Bill Mollison's "Funding the Revolution" available for sale HERE or for you internet savvy types, you MIGHT (depending on how you feel about it ethically) search for it on torrents. This might need to be it's own thread too.
J.J.
 
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I have not read all responses, but am responding to the initial inquiry. I believe that if you approach your permaculture farm as a business you can make money from the crops (not just instruction or hosting people.) To do this you need a business plan like any other farm. And you need to identify things such as, what is your target market, and what crops/products will do well there? Value added products are a great idea for a small scale farm. Fermentations, canned goods, dried goods, baked goods, juices and so on. Permaculture is a way of life. It is also surely possible to build your farm on permaculture principals and intend to generate income.

Thinking in terms of a cash crop is wise. Take "blueberries", mmm, high price point, grows well in my area, not much competition at my local grocers/farmers market/direct sales. Okay, now I know I want to grow blueberries, how to do that? Have your cash crop pay for other no income generating parts of your farm. Be strategic. And follow principals that income generating farms follow; ie don't model yourself on a permacultural farm that doesn't produce food, or make money! Model yourself on operations that do. Or if you don't have good models, get to know some farmers that are making it, and see what they do and adapt that to a permacultural model. The reality is that lots of permacultural principals are not money makers, but may save you money over a decade or more. So you have to truly have a long term plan and a long term vision, and some start up capital to carry you through, as well as a genuine love of physical work.

It takes time, a plan, and vision, but doable!!
 
Violet Heart
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ohyeah and farmers making money do not spend time posting on the internet. Im only on here looking for labor.
 
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This is a very interesting thread to me, because I am offering an opportunity . . . and I can't find anyone who wants to be a serious farmer and make a living. I had a dozen applicants this spring ~ and not one of them was able to provide a 'plan'. My requirements are simple, no tabacco, no illegal drugs, no religious zealots. They all claim to be hard working, but not one of them offered to work more than 40 hours a week and most wanted to work less. Not one of them had a 'goal' wage.

I am all for good food and light foot prints on the land, but if you do not make enough to pay the taxes, let alone a mortgage, you will not be able to keep land ~ even if you get it free for the taking.

Money is not evil, it allows us to pay for tractor parts and build structures and haul in a load of gravel to keep the lanes functional.

I am still looking for a young couple who wants to make a go of farming. I have land, equipment and livestock. It is not perfect, and it a lot of work. I worked hard to get here ~ way more than 40 per week ~ and I worked hard once I was here to improve it. I am looking for someone who wants to make further improvements.

I am offering use of my land, use of my equipment and possibly room and board in exchange for some cooking and cleaning. Eventual inheritance is a very real possibility. I am offering seed money.

Where are the young people who can look at this as a BUSINESS and put in the dedication that any new start up requires?

Making money is not evil. What you do with the money once you make it might be. Sacrificing the planet for profit is evil, but farming for profit is not.

 
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Location: NW Missouri
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Ellen you have a great point. No one wants to work more than 20 hours a week hard labor, much less 40. Those not willing will try, fail, complain, and make it that much more discouraging for those who really can make a go of it succeed.
Most of us are coming into this with another job to pay the start up bills, and then hope to one day make that leap into self sustainment. I am active duty army, work 50 hours a week (will retire in 2 years), and then get home and add an average of 3 hours of work a day on the farm we just purchased.
Labor of love and ideals at first.
Labor of love and income second.
I don't think there is any other way to do it, lottery winners and tycoon inheritances excepted.
 
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Violet Heart wrote:ohyeah and farmers making money do not spend time posting on the internet. Im only on here looking for labor.



What an odd statement. That would be like saying "farmers making money do not read books or use libraries." The internet is a valuable research tool. I farm profitably. That is how our family earns our income. We have no outside jobs or other income. We use the internet to research all sorts of interesting thing. We are too distant from hard copy libraries so the internet is a valuable, efficient tool.


Brandon Halsey wrote:Ellen you have a great point. No one wants to work more than 20 hours a week hard labor, much less 40. Those not willing will try, fail, complain, and make it that much more discouraging for those who really can make a go of it succeed.
Most of us are coming into this with another job to pay the start up bills, and then hope to one day make that leap into self sustainment. I am active duty army, work 50 hours a week (will retire in 2 years), and then get home and add an average of 3 hours of work a day on the farm we just purchased.
Labor of love and ideals at first.
Labor of love and income second.
I don't think there is any other way to do it, lottery winners and tycoon inheritances excepted.



Another odd statement.
 
Ellen Schwab
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No one is asking for 20 hours of HARD labor . . . most of my labor is walking between critters, lifting 15 - 20 pounds and walking again.

There is a small portion of the day where I throw 30-50 pound hay bales . . . a very repetitive task, but I make my bales lighter so I can throw many.

A couple time a year there is an equipment change, which could be consider heavy lifting without the jacks.

A couple times a year there is fence maintainence, which while not heavy involves a lot of walking.

Gardening does require some hoeing, which could be considered heavy labor, but I mulch a lot, so not so much with the hoe. Wrestling the rototiller is one week max.

I am not asking for a lot of ditch digging or gravel shoveling. Most of it is pleasant, but outside. So hot, cold, rain, snow and sunshine.
 
Brandon Halsey
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Ellen Schwab wrote:No one is asking for 20 hours of HARD labor . . . .



I completely agree. I don't call it hard labor either. However, I have 5 teenage sons (1 set of twins). The younger three have taken to the land much better than the older 2. The 2 eldest say a chore as simple as gathering eggs is to "hard" and they should be entitled to lie around all day and do whatever they want while others do the 'hard' work. This younger generation think anything that doesn't involve sitting around eating pizza and Twinkies while playing on the computer is too hard. This was my point. Though there are many who are willing to go outside and enjoy the time, fresh air, quiet, tranquility, and peace of farming/gardening/permiculturing most, alas, do not.
 
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Ellen, don't lose hope. If you were in my area I'd jump at the opportunity. The right partner/s are right around the corner for you I hope.
 
David Miller
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And for the record, spouting off that 'this younger generation think anything that doesn't involve sitting around eating pizza and Twinkies while playing on the computer is too hard" is offensive if one wants to care what other people think 'about their generation'. I've met thousands of lazy people, of all ages, they're called humans. I tend to think like you do, but without the lumping of age groups. I think humans are inherently lazy, not many of us were born with the itch to be a productive human while we have the chance. Try not to alienate your potential partners by generalizing them into preconceived notions. Perhaps you've been trying to draw water from the wrong well?
 
Ellen Schwab
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WEll, if they are on thier way, they better hussle, because I am on the edge of selling off the livestock. <G>

I am going to retire one way or another. I can pay someone to cut the grass and just enjoy the farm, or I can share with someone who cuts the grass. <G>

 
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Just a reminder...

Diego de la Vega wrote:Does anyone here make money? This is a very blunt question, but let me be more specific. Does anyone here make enough money on their agriculture (permaculture) sales to support themselves (pay bills, mortgage, clothing, electric, etc).

I know there are designers and consultants making money teaching people permaculture, selling books, etc. However, I have searched this board over and have not really found anyone who said that they themselves made enough income from their homesteading/farming operation to support themselves throughout the year. People mention Sepp Holzer, but no one seems to know how much he makes and his income is clearly supported by his book sales and tour fees.

I have read many of the things that Paul Wheaton has written, watched EVERY youtube video, and listened to some of his podcasts. I agree with him that to make this work you have to make money. Otherwise you become just another failed farmer without a farm.

I believe that farming is going to be one of the most important careers, and quite a lucrative as well, in the future. Food shortages are just one step away from where we are today. The prices at the grocery store are already out of control. Portion sizes have decreased significantly in an attempt to falsely keep prices from skyrocketing.

Can permaculture be the farming of the future? From all I have read and the production claims people have made you would thing the answer is yes. If all this is true why isn't anyone making any money? Is anyones net income from sales of food, medicinal plants, animals greater than $50,000? $100,000?

Why am I asking? I want to believe that permaculture can be as great as it sounds, but I have not seen any evidence that it has worked for more than possibly one man (Sepp Holzer). If the production is as great as people say, than we should be able to make a good living without the government subsidies that other farmers rely upon to survive.

I am a potential investor in permaculture. I make a significant annual income. I am not independently wealthy. I work very hard for every dollar I earn, but it is enough to easily support my family and a permaculture farm for some years while it is in it's infancy until it can start producing enough to become profitable. The question is if I did so, would I ever get my money back? Would I ever make any money. The problem that many permaculturists have is that they cannot get banks to loan them the money for a full scale piece of property. The answer to that is an investor/partner who is willing to take a financial risk for a potential reward. But is there a reward or just all risk? Are there more financially rewarding investments out there? Of course, but I want to support something I believe in. I want to support something that makes a difference. If i cannot retire till later, fine, as long as I can retire before I cannot work anymore.

Honestly, I was disappointed when I came to this board and failed to find evidence of financial success.

Maybe permaculture is great on a small scale to help individuals and families to be more independent and to eat better food. Maybe it cannot work on a larger scale. Please prove my impression wrong.

Diego

 
steward
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Great forum topic!
I've been wondering the same thing. Can an income be raised by means of permaculture, or is supplemental income necessary, at least at first?
I am a person who ignorantly made the mistake of getting a college education without being educated on the meaning of the dollar, nor the abyss of debt. I went to college to look for meaning in life, and have since found it in the idea of taking part in regenerative agriculture, and reversing the trends of some of society's destructive habits. I found this meaning on my own and not through college study.

So, now what do I do? I have a goal, being to use permaculture to regenerate the land, and to provide food for myself and others by means of regenerative practices. But the biggest obstacle exists: money. I have debt, and a lot of it. However, I am sick of playing the victim! I can no longer live a life of monotonous money-making merely for the sake of giving my earnings back to a deceptive institution! I refuse to allow debt to hold me back any longer.
So, can I make enough money in permaculture to support a modest living for myself and my family AND feed the wolves their debt money and ridiculous interest rates? I don't know, but permaculture gives me hope. Once I find a place to practice, I expect to have to work on the side, but I have hopes that if I plant the seeds of permaculture, it will grow for me into a fruitful endeavor. Until then, education is preparation, and should not cause desperation.
 
steward
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I get $2.50 per pound, have turnip ready to pick.

No fertilizer, No pesticides, No herbicides, No fungicides
No Problem!

These 5 turnip have a total weight of 3 pounds, 3 ounces.
Rounding it down to 3 pounds, at $2.50/pound = $7.50
For comparison, minimum wage is $7.25.
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turnip4.jpg
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Primal Pastures is doing it. On leased land. http://primalpastures.com/

Curtis Stone made over $50k last yr, net, and he farms other people's yards. No land purchase necessary. He started in '09, I think.

 
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Have to say I do enjoy this thread.

I just bought a small farmling, a forested plot twenty minutes from a small town just under seven acres. It wasn't too expensive. I spent the last three years trolling through land for sale sites, checking things out, looking at maps, trying to find the right location to fit into my life. The quick of it, is that with a about 15K down, I was able to work out a mortgage that is close to $150 a month for a spot about an hour and a half from Washington DC. I live in Richmond and do a lot of my work in the DC area, so was looking for that halfway stop where I could cut my travel in half, and have a camp/garden spot. I knew that if it wasn't part of my natural flow, I wouldn't do anything with it. This thread is inspiring me to keep track of my investment costs and returns over time with the intent of sharing this info with folks. There certainly seems to be an informational need for it. Not that I'm an expert, but I'm not afraid of trying different things. Although I'm not in it 100%, I now have a toe in playing with the idea of spending some of my life time, off grid getting close to nature and people.

I'm not short term income motivated at the moment because my job works for me right now. I'm really just setting us up for our old person life as a long term project for fun and trade. We've been having a good time harvesting some of our products and giving them away or trading them for foodstuffs and other items. A lot of my local farmers that are in it all the way enjoy getting presents of weird strawberries, carrot seeds, passionflower herb, comfrey herb, persimmons, elder flowers, etc. We're constantly getting hooked up with things like chicken coops, goat cheese, mushrooms, beans, plants, etc. Not being money obsessed has reinforced the idea for me that when I give, I receive. Still, I do find the economy of it fascinating and will be making an effort to track progress and build models that can be replicated for value or profit. I would really like to emphasize that there is a lot of value in trade, much more so than when a product is abstracted by money through a transaction.

One thing that I've learned is that land ownership is not necessary to get started. There are a lot of folks out there that have land that are very receptive to having someone else work projects. For example, one farmer that I know has given me access to some areas so that I can work some sea buckthorn and elder breeding patches. I built a strawberry tower in someone else's yard, planted an Asian pear in a neighbor's lawn, started a few blueberries across the street, etc.... The sharing and resulting relationships open doors to value.

One thing that I've discovered is that there seem to be a lot of folks that are highly motivated to help, simply because they love the idea of being able to camp out in a food forest.

Anyway, thanks for all the posts. May your projects enrich your life and the lives of others.
 
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Ellen schwab, do you have email where I can ask you some questions? I am Interested in speaking with you.
Lucas_branham@hotmail.com
 
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Ellen schwab have you tried the website helpx 'Help Exchange' I think you may find the people you are looking for somewhere like that.

I would of jumped at the chance of your offering a couple of years ago
 
gardener
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My garden/farm production has increased several fold since last year. The space has quadrupled and total production should be about 8 times more than last year. My friend who does most of the work, has sold small quantities. Yesterday I prepared about 25 lb. of leafy vegetables for freezing. That's a huge amount of chard, kale and mustard greens.

Three of us are involved and I expect production to be enough to feed at least 10. The lady who does the bulk of the day to day work will likely realize $10 per day or so. It's a serious hobby at this point. She feeds herself, customers (they're good tippers) and other visitors.

My farm has the lowest production of our 3 spots. When farm production increases, I'll get my gardening partner to market the surplus. She's currently marketing spicy Thai dishes to those hosting parties. Her client base are mostly other Thais. This market is too small, especially when you consider that most families have at least one good cook and gardener. She gets invited to all of the social events where the food goes. The hosts introduce her to other potential customers. A fun hobby for a semi retired lady who likes socializing.
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It is difficult to start and keep a viable business, regardless of the industry. but you can make money farming. It depends on how well you control costs, what the supply/demand is for what you grow. http://www.profitableplantsdigest.com/10-most-profitable-specialty-crops-to-grow/

Even if this article (http://www.profitableplantsdigest.com/how-to-make-40000-or-more-growing-potted-trees/) exaggerates by 50%, with 4 acres dedicated to trees you should be able to clear enough to cover your overhead expenses and then some.

I don't expect farming income to come anywhere near what I make as a software engineer - that would be naive, but to think I can work as a software engineer until I'm 67 is delusional!
 
gardener
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Adam Klaus, biodynamic dairy farmer in Colorado ,and
Stefan Sobkowiak, permaculture orchardist in Quebec.
Gabe Brown, grain farmer in N. Dakota
Will Harris, large scale farmer in Georgia.
Mark Shepard, permaculutre farm in Wisconsin.
All successful as farmers/orchardists, not just teachers and sellers of books.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
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I believe there are many ways to make permaculture profitable. Buying property in the country and starting a farm could be one of them, there are many small farmers some doing permaculture and some just organic that provide for their needs doing what they love.
I left my rat race job a year ago to pursue fulfilling work in permaculture. I live in the city and so I have been doing designs and installations for other city dwellers. This year I have done 4 jobs and made $4000. Obviously this is not an income that could provide for my family of 5 so I have been bartending 2 nights a week to pay the bills( my wife also brings in a modest amount of income from singing). This being my first year I did not charge what the work was worth and underbid all my jobs. This is an expected learning curve. If I had charged what I should have I would have made close to $7000. I have also been slowly working on my own property. I planted 10 fruit trees, a nut hedge, raised ducks for eggs and meat and grow almost all my families produce from June to November. I figure that my family can live well on 35,000 a year. This winter I am working on more designs to install in the spring including a rooftop farm for a restaurant that will bring in another small but valuable income stream every year.
I'm not sure how long it will take to make all my living from permaculture but between becoming more self sufficient and building a reputation as a designer and installer I am confident that in the future it will be a reality.
 
James Fleming
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Another point to consider is that, providing you develop the property properly, that you can 'flip' that property eventually, and much of your improvements should yield a bump out at the end. For example. Let's say you've planted several acres of walnut trees. These won't provide you any real income, but they will certainly increase the value of the land in 7+ years.
 
John Saltveit
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Also Will Allen started an urban permaculture project where he feeds the poor really healthy food and provides jobs for many previously poor people in Milwaukee, WI. He makes salaries for people and food for many.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Amedean Messan wrote:With this said, yes, you can make a decent living. Because a "decent living" is relative, to describe the emotional constraint I would say that no, you will not afford the mega-yacht with permaculture. But to add, I will also say that yes, you can facilitate a life of fullness, balance and spiritual well being as well as provide a reasonable surplus (including economic) to you and your family. The rat race is yours to choose.....



I think that @Amedean_Messan has it just right. Before you make a decision to pursue anything in life, you must decide how you want to define "abundant life." Is it a nice first home, a summer home, 3 cars, 2 storage closets full of junk, and spare change to explore the world? Or is it something else... Something less... tangible... Few recognize that the pursuit of "things" is also, at the heart, a pursuit of the intangible. And it's a poor pursuit at that.

Sometimes we also forget what permaculture actually affords us (beyond money). For example, many subsistence farmers here in Haiti eat an organic diet that is the envy of all of Hollywood. As a result, I know some 110 year old men here who are as sharp and strong as an American 50-year old. Good food = good health. How much is good health worth to you?

And why worry about bills when permaculture embraces many forms of renewable, grid-free energy? Why pay a mortgage when there are so many reasonable and cheap building methods? We often work hard to pay for things that can be better supplied through other means. Whether you incorporate one element or if you go all out, permaculture is bound to add something to your life that millions are willing to pay good money for, and something that you wouldn't sell for the world.

The lie of the Rat Race is that life can be quantified. It cannot be, not by any metric or means, especially not by money (which, by the way, is an imaginary concept). So instead of wondering how much money you can make, think, rather, of the things that one life or the other can afford you, and what it would take for you to obtain that life. If you can't seem to clear up those questions, you'll never be happy without money. And heck, you'll probably never be happy with money either.

Best of luck to you.
 
James Fleming
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pollinator
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we are teaching farming with permaculture and natural farming methods with one of the goals being to make a significant income at terra lingua farms in kimberly, oregon. http://www.permies.com/t/55183/cascadia/Teaching-farming-permaculture-natural-farming
 
pollinator
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Walter Jeffries wrote:The problem is your numbers are based on averages. Never strive to be average. Be extraordinary. Make choices that lift you up.

And as you know: People with a mission tend do make economically unreasonable decisions.



That is rather insulting.



I'd just like to point out that the poster isn't using their first language.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have been making some money doing permaculture for others. They may not call it that.

1. I've set up garden beds that utilize lots of mulch that customers used to ship off site.

2. Pruned trees without spraying anything. No painting of cuts or other useless steps. Firewood is given away.

3. Maintained dozens of hedges using cordless electric equipment and used deep fry oil as the only lubricant.

4. The landscape of a large commercial site, is maintained using only hand and cordless electric equipment.

Services range between $40 and $50 per hour. Canadian funds. This is pretty easy to quantify. Costs are very low, now that I have every tool that is needed. No gas or oil. I sharpen tools myself. Average customer lives within 5 km.

The greatest challenge is finding customers and managing fatigue. Other than for clean up tasks, employees have not been useful.
 
charlotte anthony
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i feel strongly about this topic. our demonstration farm in eastern oregon will show that any farmer, wine grower, etc. can make a decent living by using ecologically sound practices which increase the carbon content (water holding content of the soil. they can use no irrigation and no fertilizer. they can also increase ground water holding capacity, increase rain fall. there is an attention to detail necessary to be a good farmer, but once this is learned, people can make good money from farming. a video that well demonstrates this on a 2000 acre farm in north dakota with 15 inches of rain a year.

:


Keys To Building a Healthy Soil - Organic - Permaculture and Polyculture
Gabe Brown Soil Conservationist - Explains how to remediate and build up your soil quality. .

many folks do not want to be farmers and want to earn their money in other ways and that is great. for those who do want to earn their money and stop droughts and desertification, there is a great need for this kind of farming.
 
charlotte anthony
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some small ways to earn an income with permaculture.

http://pioneerthinking.com/raisinglivestock/homesteading-income
 
charlotte anthony
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just found this on geoff lawton's Friday 5. thought you all might like to know about it, both the friday 5 and the people doing 1.5 acres for 100,000 an acre.

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What is your business?
Do you know anything about food producing business, have you got experience?
Are you a good businessman in what you been doing along your life?
This is the question that you have to ask to yourself?

Of Course there is money in permaculture.
But be careful because if you don't have the expertise that any kind of business required... well...
Just Look for people that have the knowledge.
Study the market just like any other business

Work hard and you will find yourself

Good luck



 
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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The problem with permaculture and people today is that we get two broad groups of people doing this. One group sees it as a way to have their work provide a more fulfilling life and others who see it as a way to halve their work, the former works the later doesn't. And yes, I worked on that sentence a long time.

Growing anything requires work, some of it backbreaking. Sure, working the same ground over a number of years produces soil that has less weeds and the fertility increases production but it takes work and effort.

Clearing land or making urban land fertile again takes real effort, creating animal enclosures and feeding and caring for them takes work.

The difference is some of us see this work as the "wealth" that it is, seeing once barren soil become verdant and providing better tasting and more nutritious food than anything found at a luxury market. Staying up late to watch an animal birth, seeing the first fruit from a tree you planted, knowing you are making the earth a better place makes all that work seem like not work, to SOME of us.

That said, money has a very real place. Doing the above but going to be stressed that if anything happens to your car, you are SOL, or that you are going to be unable to pay your bills, or all the things that one needs money for. Sure you can ride a bike to work as I do but even that bike has costs, sure you can put up solar (which I wholesale for $1 a watt for complete systems) but you have to pay $1 a watt for the equipment. At some point, we all grow old and our medical costs grow and grow and grow but our income shrinks and shrinks and we need to have enough money to bridge that gap.

So a person, as the OP did asking about "can you make money" isn't an immoral question, its in many ways the most important one. There isn't enough land for all of us to have 10 acres, goats and pigs, and a rotational crop system so if we actually want to change society as a whole, asking how someone with a family does "this" while putting money aside for education and retirement is a vital question to answer, we can't all get licenses to teach PDC courses to each other! I grew up doing much of this "permaculture" stuff long before it had a fancy name, my mother turned a desert half acre into something of a productive place with chickens, a goat, pigs and gardens. I believe their is both a "better way" for society as a whole but also that we need to understand some people have a 10x10 concrete patio to garden on and raised beds is their highest achievement and that is good, not a moral crime to be derided as much of what we all use or at least depend on being out there are those very people. Who else has the money to pay for fancy CSA baskets, PDC courses, organic hand picked craft made whatever?

That said, you can make a living doing all this but you very much need that outside world to make this all come true. I have a 1/2 acre in the urban core of Sacramento and between AirBnB renting our little cottage, teaching woodworking and various farm/garden arts, as well as providing high end produce to restaurants selling to people driving new cars and who are fully involved in the very rat race we hate...it is well on the way to making a "living" but its more like buying a job but in this case, its a labor of love.

 
What's gotten into you? Could it be this tiny ad?
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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