Do you have any suggestions on strategies for finding 'low hanging fruits' to begin revenue generation from an already existing system?
i.e. how to get some rapid return for cash flow.
I could for example look at seed companies and see which seeds are high priced, contact them and find out their buying criteria, then collect those, start growing some as well. the difficulty with this is finding a good location for the seed source, knowing when and how to collect seed effectively, and screening for quality.
build a drier and start collecting and drying herbs. the research needs are how to create high quality dried herbs, find a market whose demand/supply needs i can meet.
or as you mention, contacting local organizations to gain access to a commercial kitchen which can then be used to value add
these are some quick thoughts, but I'm not clear on how to prioritize my research and actions to find quality niches near where I live and have access to resources and markets.
Is there a model or template that can be followed for doing the background research?
Is there a model or method for determining reasonable enterprises based on scale of application?
I can read and use the standard business plan methodologies, and I'm wondering if there are specific methods to apply this to different types of Permaculture business research.
From your podcast, one pathway that I hear you using is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the local ecosystems and climate analogues to discover potential products and resource streams, then correlating this to local demographics of product needs (for example ethnic restaurants) to find high value products that can fit into a perennialpolyculture system that is climate adapted.
I would really like to work on development of an assessment and plan like this, and it sounds like this will be part of the financial permaculture course in miami
Hey Neil, I'm definitely not Eric, and this isn't a detailed analysis and assessment model for you, but your questions made me think of value-added products that I have been looking for: fermented veggies and fermented condiments.
Perhaps more areas now have naturally or lacto-fermented foods available, but it's a relatively new thing to me.
I've tried them both and they are tasty, convenient alternatives for when my work schedule interferes with making my own.
Now that I'm reading Nourishing Traditions, the authors write that condiments used to be (all? primarily?) fermented foods. How cool is that? Now I want to make or find or buy naturally fermented ketchup, hot sauces and more. I tried to google fermented sauces in the shopping search and found...nothing.
That's not exactly a detailed assessment, but I imagine there is a market just waiting to be tapped. I'd be first in line.
The folks who started Firefly did it because they were crazy about nutrition and WAPF ways of eating. I recently read about a couple who started a bread CSA because they just loved wood-fired oven bread making so much that they couldn't stop themselves.
So in addition to factoring in what produce/products are abundant in your ecosystem, local demographics, local economic factors and distribution systems, etc., I think these example suggest also factoring in doing what you love! (D'oh.)
As for the quick cash or low hanging fruit, the bread CSA is doing some crowd funding, and one of the Firefly partners started out by making huge batches of kraut at the request of friends. I don't know if she was bartering or selling initially. Just read that two Wildbrine products were formerly sold under a non-profit. Then Wildbrine stepped in when the non-profit shifted focus and expanded the line of fermented foods. Interesting starts and relationships all around.
Would it help to further dissect the Firefly, Wildbrine or bread CSA business models? What would you look for and what holes would need to be filled in?
Hi Neil, all the hard questions coming now while I'm away from home of course!
I'll give a better answer in a few days when I have my computer and library but here goes:
Fermented products sounds great if you have access to commercial kitchen. In addition to food incubators most churches, granges, and masonic halls have them and rent them. We have used the culinary prgram of our vocation school to good effect.
For seeds, i'll post a good manual link for processing. Meanwhile, Johnny's, Fedco, and Prairie Moon all buy seed from small growers. In some cases you have a weed already growing with high price seed. PM will sometimes pay for local genotypes even of common things they already have like milkweed and cattails for example.
Herbs are not my area of expertise but I'll post some links. Frontier buys wholesale. Again a study of whats already on site may yield a medicinal crop.
Finally some easily grown annuals help fill the gap. Culinary herbs for restaurants, cut flowers, etc. i'm big on dried ground cherries - easy to grow, selling for $18/lb as superfood at the moment.
In livestock world broilers seem to be quickest return.
Process regular PC design with extras:
Goal setting including revenue
Site analysis inc desired products and heir suitabilityto site, and gen suitability of site to various crops and livestock, wood products etc.
Design concept and schematic involves fleshing out scenarios and runnign numbers.
Detailed design adds biz plan.
Great book on this is Planning your Small Farm from smallfarm.org which walks through the schematic phase and looks at land capability and location, market research and strategies, financing, and enterprise selection. I do a course based on it in MA, it is a great tool. The prequel is Exploring the Small Farm Dream which helps assess tourself and determine if farming as a business is right for you. After Planner try Tilling he Soil Of Opportunity farm biz class, was helpful to me and many friends.
Hey, can't have too many ideas!
Quick returns are possible, but obvious low hanging fruit is tough to fill up on especially with this economy. Plan to look under leaf clusters, behind branches, and bring a picking extension.
For example I'm noticing more freeze dried and normally dried fruit in stores which are two options, but where is real fruit leather in the mainstream? I would hand out free samples to children.
Online sales are quick with no initial investment on marketplaces like ebay, permies, your own website, twitter, anything! Shipping and ebay fees, especially with high value goods is often less than typical retail markup. Added benefit of knowing the possible price range.
Honor system markets...on and off your property. I recommend the book.
Vending machines could work...
CSA model fits perfectly with live cultures, sprouts, and microgreens. Deluxe salads could work with 30+ ingredients Martin Crawford style.
A nursery permit is easy to obtain and is the highest value ag per area.
Tinctures require no special equipment and raise herb margins. I get annoyed when most don't specify how much herb is in the tincture which I think is an open and ethical niche to fill if you go that route.
Looking for grant money is well worth the time.