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I have an anti-permie job...  RSS feed

 
John Brownlee
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Hey permies,

A little background. Last summer I decided to begin gardening. Due to lack of funds I decided to go the organic route, which I also knew was a much healthier way to garden/eat, and I didn't want chemicals around my kids. So in studying about organics I began to learn just how bad the toxic crap I spray on peoples grass really is. Add that to the fact that I've hated my job for a long time and felt that the company I work for is not honest, now I'm really having a hard time going to work. Not just that I hate my job, but now I have ethical issues with what I do for a living. I have already told my boss that there a few pesticides that I refuse to use.

I've been looking for a couple of months for something in the green/organic field, but I have not found anything in this area so far. I want to take a PDC and I am already putting in a food forest permaculture style veggie garden for a small CSA (maybe 5 shares) for this spring. The other problem is that I rent the house and 3.7 acres from my parents, so I can do a lot of things with the land, but not everything that I want to.

I would really appreciate any advice or support.

John
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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With 3.7 acres you can do alot more than just 5 shares.
I would make extra, donate to build word of mouth and possible add 1/2 shares at the middle of the csa if others want to join in late.
The fact that you get to visit alot of places with your current job means that you can advertise.
You could tell alot of people that at your parents place they can get organic food and not eat stuff with the toxic chemicals that you spray on their lawn.
While you are not able to do every thing that you want to do with your parents land.
You can start little and then slowly convince your parents as the years go, with your bigger market and better vegetable yield.
Practice alley cropping at 1/4 density trees and then add them as the years go by.
Hopefully in 5 years you will have enough to lease or buy your own 3.7 acres to do whatever you want to.
So yeah, save up and get your own 3.7 acres.
 
John Brownlee
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Yeah I absolutely want to do more than 5 shares, But at this point I don't feel I have enough experience to do larger scale. And also getting our own acreage is definitely the ultimate goal. Of course becoming a full scale permaculturist and putting on PDC's, Selling from a food forest, Maybe even installing and designing food forests and edible landscapes for others. I would love to do those things but money at this point is the limiting factor. I'm also going to need to be off this property in the next couple of years because my parents will want to retire here.
 
Lonnie Caldwell
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John you may want to look into SPIN farming, Small Plot INtensive... there are books and resources to teach the methods and it is possible with some luck and maybe a little help to make $20,000.00 a year which would probably just about replace your income and leave you with about 4 or 5 months of "down time" to work at something else to replace what the SPIN farming doesn't. I looked into it and it is just too intense for me, it requires that you really go at it hard, and I am just not into the high stress lifestyle anymore... Blessings on your path
 
John Brownlee
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Lonnie,
They put us on 4 ten hour days this year, so with 3 days in a row off I will definitely be looking up this spin message.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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So when you said that you dont have enough money.
How much do you think you need and how much do you currently have for this project.

How many hours do you have to invest per week if you keep your current "bad" job.
If you do just 40,000 sqft (1acre) with just 12 different vegetable you could make 40,000
or how much would that cost you in seed. maybe $500 +$150 in tools +$150 soil conditioners.
So with less that $800 upfront and you could be making alot if marketed right.
LOL now I want to join you and make alot of money except I dont have 1 acre to farm. lol
 
John Brownlee
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Bengi, by soil conditioner do you mean organic fertilizer? The biggest issue I have is getting things cleared for the gardens, but I talked to my parents last night and I think we'll use chickens. For fertilizer I have friends with cattle or horses, and there's a rabbit farm about an hour from me where I can get a tractor bucket load of pellets for $15.
I don't mind off site inputs for the first year while I get the soil in better shape.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Soil conditioner: gas powered tiller/fertilizer/compost/minerals/mulch/etc.
http://www.amazon.com/s?rh=n%3A553956&ie=UTF8&psrk=tiller
http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Earthwises-TC70001-8.5-Amp-Electric-Tiller-and-Cultivator/5520311/product.html


So it seems that we have somewhat "solved" the money problem.
But it too much "work" for you to manually clear 1 acre of land.
How do we solve it too much work problem.
I do not know where you live but assuming that you have 2 months of unfrozen soil before planting time.
You would need to clear 5,000 sqft (70ft x70ft) each week.
You can use animals, you can use hand tools and you can powered tools.
Pigs would seem like the best animals, but take any help you get.
So till, mulch, sow, weed, harvest.

Do you have to cut down timber to get one acre cleared?

 
John Brownlee
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Bengi,

For me tilling is not an option, kind of an ethic that I've laid in stone for myself. When I spoke to my parents they really like the idea of using chickens, in fact they offered to buy the portable fencing to clear the plots using the geoff lawton PRI method. Then I think I could use the "Back to Eden" method of deep mulch for the gardens.
I can't really do too many permanent things or put things where I want since it's not my land, but, my 'rents do want to have big gardens here because they want to retire to this land and be self sufficient, so I do have a lot of freedom as long as I place things where they want them. (run on sentence anyone?) They are also willing to buy a few of the permanent things like blueberry bushes as long as I install them.
By the way I live in Georgia, so frozen ground is not an issue. In fact I'm planting my 2nd crop of cool season veggies this weekend.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Ok so fast do you think the animals can clear an acre for your organic CSA.
How much can they clear per week per month.
Whatever they clear per week you can plant and in no time the area will be done.

I am just spewing random numbers here.....
Let say one acre can support 40 CSA ( 1,000 sqft per CSA)
And the animals can clear 500 sqft per week then every 2 weeks you could add a new CSA member.
Obviously there is going to be a couple weeks lead time from sowing seeds to harvesting to give to customers.
Now the question is really can you market your good enough to get a new customer every month.
Most people wish they have a marketing system that good.

Now with a 8/9 month growing season and the ability to harvest kale/sqaush/root crop the other 3 months.
You can sell two sets of CSA a spring/summer and a fall/winter.
So you really have like 80 CSA per year.
At $500 per CSA you could sell $40,000/year (80x500)


My numbers are most likely wrong but lets say you only make $20,000
Would you be happy with this?
 
John Brownlee
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The only other organic CSA in the area is doing about 20-30 shares per acre. The soil here is moderatly clay, and in the area where the birds will be doing the clearing had horses on it for about a year, but that was almost 2 years ago now.

There is roughly 1 acre that can be used for growing. 1/4 of that is set aside for my family, me, my wife, 2 little kids and a baby.

I think that with a lot (alot?) of manure as fert I could get it to produce up to 20 shares, but at this point I have only been gardening for less than a year and I feel like I need to start slow due to the learning curve.

I do feel I have a bit of a head start because of 7 years experience growing landscapes and a good bit of hort knowledge. I used to be the agronomics trainer at the branch where I worked in Orlando. Also gardening/farming goes back at least 4 generations in my family, so it's in the blood.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Do you realize you can do two CSA session per year. A fall/winter(26 weeks root crop, kale, spinach, squash, etc) and a spring/summer (26 weeks vegetables, tomatoes, melon, etc)
So with 20 CSA in the spring/summer and another 20 CSA in fall/winter, that 40 CSA at $500 a CSA that $20,000.
Do you think that the two 26 week CSA session is not doable.
Do you think that the 20 CSA plots is too much work.
Do you think that if you cut the land (3/4 acre) into "20 plots"
Each plot will not be able to provide $500 worth of organic food in 26 weeks.
Would you like to see examples of how someone made those tiny "plot" made $500 in 26 weeks?

I am not saying that you should quit your job and take out a loan because you are going to make $20,000 this very year from the CSA.
What I am however saying is that you should design for that much and maybe the land only grow 1/2 as much food
And you only attracted 1/4 as much customers, so you ended up only making $5,000 and donating the rest of the food.
But at least you would have started at full production design and you learn what you can improve on next year.

I dont think that "farming" 3/4 acres is going to be that much more stress on you vs doing just 2/4 acre.
So plan for great success but be prepared for setbacks.
 
John Brownlee
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I absolutely agree, I think the other CSA in the area does a 30 week spring summer and a 10 week CSA for fall. What I am thinking is starting with 5 shares and if that starts out really well we can add more at the beginning of summer (sell 5 shares and plant for 15). That would give me almost 100% profit and a good chunk of change to really expand the following year. it would also prove to my parents that it can be done and I would have A LOT more help for that second season.

Ok, last issue to overcome is mulching almost a 3/4 acre.

Just thought of something. Could I do this. 1) chickens clear the plot, they get moved

2) plant a ground cover legume really thick

3) plant veggies as seedlings.

Therefore ground cover suppresses the weeds and feeds the veggies, at the end of the season it all gets mowed down and feeds the soil increasing fertility, and just start over at step 2?
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I would not try to make the chickens clear all 3/4 acre all at once.
I would let them clear it in "20" or so weekly partitions.
As soon as 1 out of the 20 plots is clear I would then add leaves/mulch and plant the sported seeds/seedling vegetables.
This way you will be planting "kale" for 20 weeks straight vs just on march 2, and sept 2.
As soon as you cut down plot number 1 to sell to 5 people I would replant it with new seedlings and a bit of mulch.
That way you are continuously planting and harvesting and the soil is never "bare"
As to how to keep up the fertility of the soil.
I would randomly plant another 1/2 acre with winter-rye/winter-wheat and summer corn/millet
I would then cut down these stalk and compost (worm) them. That will take care of the humus and possible mulch.
As to how to keep up the Nitro level. You could add some chicken/animal manure to the compost.
If you do the inground/no manure way then 25% of your 3/4 will have to be legumes.
I suppose you could sell string beans and lentils are also pretty low so they can be under tomatoes.
 
Alex Cortez
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John Brownlee wrote:Hey permies,
So in studying about organics I began to learn just how bad the toxic crap I spray on peoples grass really is. Add that to the fact that I've hated my job for a long time and felt that the company I work for is not honest, now I'm really having a hard time going to work. Not just that I hate my job, but now I have ethical issues with what I do for a living. I have already told my boss that there a few pesticides that I refuse to use.

I've been looking for a couple of months for something in the green/organic field, but I have not found anything in this area so far.

I would really appreciate any advice or support.

John


Hi John,
Lots of people like me want to keep pests out but have no choice but to call the chemical guys or do it themselves. A service that takes care of pests and yard problem using no chemicals should be very popular. I would personally pay someone to come and put diathomeocous earth around my house and pout boiling water in my invasive ant hills or plant peppermint around the wall of my house to confuse pests so they do not go in... I know it is not very hard but I world long hours and then have to take care of the garden, the kds.. and lots of people do to. You should check into that. You should have an easy time selling your services if you come up with a list of decent solutions for pest problems.
Best,
 
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